Gadgets HiFiManHE-400s

Published on September 6th, 2015 | by Greg


HiFiMan HE400s: Affordable Planar Magnetic Headphones

If you’re in the market for a new set of headphones, then the time is definitely ripe as we are heading into the season where new holiday gear should tempt every wallet and pair of ears. Audiophiles have high expectations, but plenty of people don’t think of themselves that way- even though they can definitely appreciate great sound. Sometimes it boils down to price and style, since serious aficionados don’t mind spending upwards of $500, and almost enjoy a lack of style.

Luckily, today’s product brings high-end planar magnetic technology to a sub-$300 price point, and they still look classy. HiFiMan is a brand name trusted in the audio world, and we’ve tested out several of their lineup in the past, including their top-notch audio players. Their new HE400s take the experience and knowledge from sets like the HE400i that we saw late last year, use some of the same materials, and make an orthodynamic headphone built for the smartphone world, capable of being driven from mobile devices. We tested it with digital sources, direct from laptops but even smartphone and tablets, as well as our traditional array of headphone amps (with and without separate DACs).

Usually, planar magnetic headphones are heavy and bulky- and certainly no one will consider these lightweight or svelte except in comparison. But at 12 ounces, they won’t weigh you down and feel both solid and comfortable even during lengthy listening sessions. They aren’t built for portability though and are best listened to at home or in an office, in a place where you can appreciate their sonic signature. Open backed, they aren’t isolating, so we wouldn’t use them on the subway or an airplane- but open back pairs are airier, allowing you to enjoy more space in and around your music. Velour earpads are a little cozier, but a bit less durable than the other models in their family.

If you haven’t tried similar sets, then you’ll immediately notice a difference. It can take a little getting used to- more detailed and lighter with a little less booming bass than traditional sets. The basics behind the mechanics are simple, as larger conductive layers cover almost all of the diaphragm, which means a broader surface to create sound and in turn less distortion. If you listen to mostly EDM, hip-hop, or low resolution files, you might not notice a big change, but with high-resolution files, anything with warmth and vibrato, all sound richer, more authentic, present. Easy on the wallet and on the eyes, HiFiMan’s HE400s are a set of orthodynamic headphones like no other. For those with more to spend, other options are compelling- we did like the 400is better for their additional detail and richer texture. But in this price range, if you don’t need to listen on-the-go, then do your ears a favor and give the latest from HiFiMan a listen. Available now, online and in stores, for $299,

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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