In our everlasting quest of the Holy Grail of Sound, we this time wanted to check out how much quality sound we are going to get while on the road. Many HiEnd headphones already come with good sound built-in, but not many can be driven by your iPhone. With a sensitivity at 98dB and a impedance around 22 Ohms, even a small portable device can drive the HE400S.
Plug and Play
Previous HE400 models had screw-in connectors while this beauty has 2.5mm plug-in plugs. You just slide them in the small holes and they snap in secure and tight. The advantage of these so-called TRS plugs is that should you step on your headphone cable, you won´t damage the HE400S, the pconnectors or the cable. The small mini jacks are also labeled L and R so you easily can identify the two channels respectively
The supplied cable is 1.5 m, you can order other lengths at the website: link
It´s a single crystalline silver plated copper wire, in an attractive design though a bit stiff during the first days of use.
Peter Hoagland from HiFiman comments with these lines:
1. Even though there has been an explosion in ultra high-end headphones (HE1000, Edition X) inexpensive headphones have also gotten much better. So for everyone that bemoans how expensive headphones are getting, I point out how much better they are at affordable price points too.
2. HE400S benefits from trickle down technology. The ergonomic headband, beveled ear pads and techniques to reduce weight all were derived from r&d on HE1000
3. HE400S of course will sound best with quality source and amplification however it sounds very good right out of a smartphone. A few years ago, who would have ever believed that possible with a planar magnetic headphone? And at such an affordable price?
Mix and Match
Listening to Grace Jones “Slave To The Rhythm” (from The Compass Point Sessions) reveals all the layers in the mix, from the bottom of the tight bass lines to the high frequency tambourines with exactly the right amount of reverb in it. Here the HE400S really shines, and even though the track is highly compressed, it really is a joy to hear the many details (some shouting in the background 03:41 into the song), things I swear I never have heard before. Jones´ vocals have been spiced up by an Aural Exciter, as well as the final mix maybe has too. And you know what? All this hardware (it surely was mixed before the ProTools plugins whereas the non plus ultra in every music studio - even the big ones) does a good, good job. HiFiman’s work is to convey exactly what the producer had intended you guys to hear.
Are there any bass worshipers around here? If YES then try these HiFiman cans with the deep voice of the German Henrik Freischlader´s (“Cry Again”), or the Israeli Cellist` Maya Beisers version of “Wish You Were Here”.
Or take a listen to “Heart” with Danish bass player Bo Stief, the bass drum and the percussion details are just wonderful to listen to with the HE400S. And that goes for the rest of the rest of the instruments also - not to forget to mention ;=)
“School” from Supertramps Crime Of The Century sounds as if its recorded yesterday. These headphones dynamic ability is just out of this world. My right foot´s tapping all evening just showed how good this music from my youth touched my inner rock´n´roller, though the HiFiman also revealed a little too much compression on the loud part of the song. But hey that´s not the fault of the cans, right.
Long term listening is cool with the headphones only weighing 350 gram, so no big deal. What did concern me a little bit was the pressure to the ears that these cans make. The HE400S can be a bit hard on the side of your head, but again, every one´s different, somebody likes it this way. But the feeling of sweaty ears is nothing to worry about with these ones. Even after a long evening with them on my head, the air circulation is just about top notch, so no wet ears here.
And the positive side of this is that the Hifimans adapts very closely to your ears, and therefore not let too much sound in from the outside. A thing you have to be aware of is that these cans, due to their open characteristics, do let sound in and out to your surroundings. So your better half might be enjoying the same music as you while listening.
You will also hear other sounds like the cabin crew or the screaming baby next to your seat than with other ´phones. Again, these cans are for the connoisseurs amongst the portable users, or even the top of the line home sitting guys (or girls) amongst us sitting with a glass of Single Malt and a big smile on the face at the home mansion after a long days work. Again it´s really up to you where and when you will let these HE400S do their job, one thing I can assure you is that you will be 100% satisfied with the sound you get from these cans, home or alone, on the street or on the beach. The price is 299 USD, and that´s really cheap for this sound stage, depth, openness and build quality.
Technology sure has been coming a long way from the yellow Sennheiser HD414 in my youth. They where groundbreaking at that time, to my ears these HiFiman HE400S too are revolutionary for the price/performance.
These headphones are a piece of art, nothing less. Go out and try them. Now!
HiFiman - the story and how it all started can be found at:
Price: 299 USD
Text and photos: ©Kurt Lassen 2016