Published on December 23rd, 2014 | by Greg0
HiFiMAN HE-400i: Accessible Planar Magnetic Headphones
We just posted our holiday gift guide for gadget-lovers, and mentioned a couple of our favorite headphones- including a special type of pair with a fairly unusual technology. We also featured a company that is well-known for their audiophile gear, and offers a wide range, including an awesome lossless digital audio player we checked out a few months back that made our “best of” list.
The company is HiFiMan, and we’ve most recently been listening to their high-end HE-400i orthodynamic headphones- full-size over-ear open-back monitors that happen to be 30% lighter than most competitors without sacrificing audio quality. Part of the weight savings comes from the innovative earpads and headband design they call FocusPad, hybrids that use pleather and levour. They are a little less heavy-duty and durable-feeling than others, but easier to wear for long periods of time, and well quite comfortable even over long periods of time. The finish is nice, with an unusual Mylar coating
As with many professional-level headphones, the cabling terminates in each side of the ear, meaning you’ll have a cable to both the left and right earcup. It seemed a little short to us, and prone to getting caught while moving a bit, so you may want to buy an extension or adjust your setup. It’s a nice braided cable, with gold-plated, screw-on connectors You don’t expect to be wearing these out and about, so there’s no microphone or remote controls (despite the ‘i’ in the name)- these are simply for improving your listening experience at home or in the studio. And while we tried them out with a variety of amplifiers, they are surprisingly adaptable and efficient, and didn’t require a vast amount of power in our tests- just about any amp, even a portable one, was enough to drive the HE-400is though we did notice improved transparency and staging as we upped the quality of our amp.
Overall impressions- “amazing separation”, “you can distinctly hear every instrument”, “vocals are forward and present while bass is slightly muted”, “well-balanced, great kick and explosive mids”, “a bit dry, most noticeable on country/western/folk music, the HE-400is can make some music feel over-produced”. They don’t offer immense bass response, as monitors are meant to be more neutral and authentic, with nothing boosted or artificial. Opera pierces, every piece we tried sounded more open, and reverbs sound incredible- if you’re looking for details, the HiFiMan HE-400i orthodynamic headphones will practically paint you a picture. They have a distinctive, signature sound that’s a pleasure to listen to- and at $500 online and in stores, they are aggressively priced, far lower than many other planar magnetic sets, without sacrificing much aside from some weight.