Test and review of HiFiMan HE-400S – the first affordable planar-magnetic headphones

HiFiMan HE-400S are conceived by the manufacturer as the most inexpensive headphones made with a complex and costly planar-magnetic technology. With the exception of the Fostex T-series, the average price for such headphones is about $ 1,300, so $ 300 for the new HiFiMan HE-400S – if not quite free (estimating the market as a whole), then a very interesting price. For example, the HiFiMan HE-400i model will cost significantly more: $ 500.

HiFiMan HE-400S

That’s what the founder and head of HiFiMan said in connection with the launch of the new model: “The original HE-400 model has become the best selling among the full-size headphones in the history of our company, and we still receive requests to produce them more. Over the years, we have invested tremendous forces in planar-magnetic technology, in ergonomics and industrial design of headphones. Our products like the new HE1000 headphones, of course, reflect these large investments, although the developments also apply to affordable models, such as HE400S headphones. Light, comfortable, with high sensitivity and, of course, with excellent sound – all this is a direct result of our comprehensive scientific research and engineering developments. ”

HiFiMan HE-400S

HiFiMan HE-400S – price. Where is the best place to buy?

The recommended retail price for the HiFiMan HE-400S in the US is $ 299,00. At this cost, you can order it on Amazon. Plus Shipping, so the total cost of HiFiMan HE-400S when ordering on Amazon will be about $ 320,00. I would not recommend ordering anywhere else except on Amazon. Since you are less likely to find cheaper, and if you do not take into account the fact that Amazon is probably the most reliable online store, it still very often provides free shipping.

Specifications HiFiMan HE-400S

  • Frequency range: 20 Hz to 35 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 98dB
  • Impedance: 22 Ohm
  • Weight: 350 g
  • Case: plastic, steel
  • Ear pads: easily removable, velor, foam rubber
  • Cable: straight, 1.5 m
  • Headset attachment: to both 2.5 mm juggle cups
  • Connector of connection: L-shaped minijack, complete with adapter for the jack
  • Complete set: printed user manual

HiFiMan HE-400S

The planar-magnetic radiator is clearly visible if you unfasten the ear cups. The essence of this technology is that the flat coil is located on the radiator membrane. In theory this gives its advantages over the standard dynamic head, but it requires a very complex design and powerful magnets. However, ideology is nothing, everything is decided by technical implementation. As all the “traditional” headphones sound differently, all the planar-magnetic headphones sound in the same way. You have to listen to everything.

It is interesting that in the passport the manufacturer recommends “warm up” the headphones on music of medium loudness of 150 hours. We listened to these headphones for 2 weeks, not detecting exactly the total time. In our opinion, headphones perfectly play from the very beginning of use and hardly need to be warmed up.

HiFiMan HE-400S

The headphones are connected (for reasons of economy) by the simplest and compatible cable. Thanks to the standard connectors and the mutual connection of the cups, it can easily be replaced with a balanced XLR 4-pin, which allows you to connect headphones to high-end equipment, for example, the Fostex HP-A4BL DSD DAC.

Measurements of frequency response HiFiMan HE-400S

RightMark Audio Analyzer Pro software-hardware complex was used for measurements. The measuring stand Brüel & Kjær 4153 – Artificial Ear / Ear Simulator (IEC 60318-1), manufactured in Denmark, costing about 5000 euros was used.
These changes are given as reference, it is not necessary to guess the sound of the model from them. The Brüel & Kjær stand effectively emulates the acoustic impedance of the ear to a frequency of 16 kHz.

Measuring the frequency response HiFiMan HE-400S
AFC HiFiMan HE-400S

In order not to confuse the most unprepared readers with measurements, we chose a smaller scale of the graph along the vertical axis, because it, in our opinion, better reflects the subjective sensations. If you make the scale large, then there are giant emissions, which are not as scary as they look. Below the same graph is given on a larger scale, exactly as in the previous articles, so that it can be compared on a single scale.

AFC HiFiMan HE-400S

The measurements show a lack of bass for low frequencies and any abnormal bursts on the high frequency, as is usually the case with dynamic headphones. The mid-range is record-breaking. Dips at 4 kHz and 12 kHz, as well as a peak at 10 kHz, are effectively eliminated by an equalizer, enough adjustments of 3-4 dB. This is not just a theory – we checked the correction on the music and confirm the beneficial effect of EQ on timbral reliability.

Impressions from listening HiFiMan HE-400S

The sound of HiFiMan HE-400S headphones is very good. It is clear that it is timbrally balanced, but it’s not even that. It’s a free sound at any volume. Headphones do not tear, but quietly, without tension transmit music, as high-quality equipment does. The sound is closer to the speaker than to the earphone. The stereopanorama is wide, it is not inside the head, but around. The sound is not dull, not devoid of high, moderately bright, but not tinkling. Rather, it’s closer to very expensive planar-magnetic headphones. From usual dynamic headphones sound is also different. The most close to the HiFiMan HE-400S are large open dynamic headphones, with the speakers removed from the ears for a significant distance.

AFC HiFiMan HE-400S

Unlike the most expensive planar models, the HiFiMan HE-400S is easier to feed. On the other hand, looking at the price tag, you do not expect such a high level of sound at all – rather, you are waiting for some kind of dirty trick, for example, that part of the frequencies will not be played at all, and you are preparing for the standard justification of all the scammers “but the price”. However, the first impression is completely different. On the contrary: “Wow! What good fellows HiFiMan! ”

The producer of rights, when he says that the developments and technologies for Hi-End are gradually being introduced into mass models. Here it is very tangible. An open design and a flat radiator give a powerful powerful bass reproduction, without a hint of mumbling. In the lowest area on electronic tracks, the bass is not enough. We tried to “give” low frequencies below 50 Hz – the headphones respond very well, they have something to play both 30 Hz and 20 Hz. That is, on compositions with very low frequencies, these headphones are quite capable of voicing the entire lower range.
AFC HiFiMan HE-400S

You can criticize HiFiMan, but with the caveat that the best sound is waiting for you, unfortunately, with multiple price increases. The stereopanorama is wide, but not record. I would like a little more detail on the medium and lower the color on high. Is it worth the possible improvement of a very substantial overpayment? Everyone answers this question individually, depending on his situation and willingness to pay for progress. In our opinion, the HiFiMan HE-400S is definitely a successful model, in its category it claims to be the leader. Well, there is no limit to perfection, as there is no price limit.

In comparison with the competitors HiFiMan HE-400S leave a very pleasant impression of comfort. The main advantage of these headphones is a comfortable sound and comfortable seating for long hours of listening. This is not a figure of speech: even after two hours of listening the ears did not sweat at all, the head is not tired. For the big head and ears of a European, such as the author of the article, the headphones fit perfectly. Ear piercers here are larger than those of German manufacturers, closer to Americans. The cushions themselves can be unfastened and can be fixed in four different positions, but by default they sit perfectly. The head also easily finds the optimal position – the design is taken from older models.

As for the requirements for the amplifier, you definitely need a good headphone amplifier. But the power of thousands of milliwatts is not required at all. If the 400i reeled up such a heavy coil that it squandered the sensitivity to almost 90 dB, then the coil is light. Loudness and good dynamics are possible on any mass models of headphone amplifiers, including all miniature and mobile models. Modern headphones are also on the shoulder, the positions of the 80-90% volume control are sufficient, but the bass is smeared, lacks sharpness and depth, and medium and high are dirty. The smartphone can not be cured by any equalizers, it is better to immediately find the appropriate class of sound source and amplifier. When you switch from a smartphone to a stationary amplifier, the difference in sound is simply enormous, in all respects.

Opinion of HiFiMan HE-400S

The manufacturer conceived the HiFiMan HE-400S model as a budget headphone in the planar-magnetic class, without sacrifices in ergonomics and sound quality. And it was quite possible to him. The headphones surprised us by the sound and seriously claim leadership in their class. Of the minuses can be called a modest bundle, which is explained by the desire of the manufacturer to reduce the retail price.

Video review

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