A little while back, I reviewed HiFiMan’s new HE-560.
It is probably one of the best headphones out there today. The HE-400i is aimed to be a an upgrade to their recently discontinued HE-400 and serves to give a light-weight package and be able to be drive easily, even out of something like an ordinary iPod or iPhone.
Driver: Planar Magnetic
Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 35 kHz
Impedance: 35 ohms
Sensitivity: 93 dB
In the Box
From a design perspective, the 400i follows suit with the rest of the HiFiMan line regarding the housings. They offer a similar shape to what has been offered in the past. The 400i offers a nice glossy, reflective finish that is sleek and stylish with a light blue tint to it. They look fun and stunning and overall the design is coherent. The headband has been updated to the new one that is also found on the 560.
From a sound signature standpoint, the 400i offers a sound that is warm over neutral, similar in a way to HiFiMan’s RE-400. The drivers are well voiced with good accuracy overall; they become a can that is easy to listen to and rock out too. As they are planars, they will improve with an amp, but can be driven quite easily out of an iPhone (the iPhone should be able to get them right over 100 dB).
As always, we’ll start from the low-end of the spectrum. The HE-400i has a slight focus on bass that is quite accurate but also offers a larger body and stronger presence as a hole. Sub-bass texturing is a little more solid and could use a little more fluidity to it (thought this is nitpicking at this point). Low-bass impact is strong and robust. Though the bass isn’t the tightest in the world, it is still controlled quite well. Though many were wanting a little quantity in the bass, HiFiMan decided they wanted to sit between fun and accurate; it’s a good place to sit.
As we step into the midrange, we find that there is a sense of lushness to the midrange that gives the timbre an overall warmer tone. This results in a midrange that is smooth and inviting. Though the mids do have a sense of smoothness to them, the detailing is all there but not in your face. Vocals have an emotional, lush tone to them making them even more inviting. The upper vocals are presented with good energy when needed allowing for dynamics to still flow when required.
Stepping up into the treble, we do find that they are soft in texture and continue with a warmer sound. They aren’t entirely bright and compensate for modern recordings quite a bit. Snaps aren’t faded into the background, but aren’t as sharp, but offer good detailing while up top, treble splashes are eased into and have just a hint of sizzle to them. This makes the treble detailed quite well, but never in your face. Separation and clarity is also done in a nice fashion with the 400i.
In many ways, the 400i is a headphone that has a characteristic, like the Westone W4, of doing nothing wrong. Though it doesn’t entirely excel at anything, you also can’t blame it. It’s a headphone that’ll play just about everything you throw at it in a musical manner, never overdoing, never underdoing.
The HE-400i share a near identical build to the HE-560 HiFiMan recently released. The main difference is that the 560’s have wooden veneer wrapped around plastic while the 400i has a striking glossy finish to the housings. That said, HiFiMan doesn’t include a case with the 400i, though one is available for purchase. For a headphone like this, I would recommend a stand over a case (it could be cheaper too depending on which stand you get). Personally I’d recommend either the Brainwavz Peridot or HiFiMan’s own stand (~35 and 20 dollars respectively) to match the glossy nature of the 400i or something like FireStone Audio’s stand which pairs nicely as well (pictured).
The housings on the 400i utilize a plastic exterior which has a gorgeous finish on it. It, in no way, feels cheap or brittle, rather it gives the impression of rigidity and actually strength. Yes, it is plastic, but it is not cheap plastic. That goes for the housings though. Coming out of the housings are plastic forks that connect to it. Like with the 560, the moving parts still utilize plastic which is worrisome for me. I’d rather some of these parts be made out of metal (sliders and rotating parts).
The rest of the headband has a nice metal core to it which sort of makes up for the plastic. The construction of the headband assembly is shared with the 560. The double headband design is very nice and the materials used on the rest of the headband feel high quality and very sturdy.
As with the rest of the HiFiMan lineup, mini co-axial, removeable cables are used with the 400i. The cable itself has some pretty great build quality. The fabricated exterior is as thick as that on the 560 and feels strong and sturdy in the hand. Its thickness allows it to resist tangling up… Honestly, there is nothing wrong with the cable itself.
Terminating the 400i is a 3.5 mm headphone jack allowing to be plugged straight into a mobile device without any adaptors (more rare for a full-sized, open planar). The jack itself has a nice large body and thick strain relief. Gold plating is also used to resist corrosion in the long run. As I said, the cable has absolutely little wrong with it build wise.
When HiFiMan announced the 400i way back in January, they made it a mission to tackle the issue of comfort with their headphones. That said, the double-headband design may look a little funky, but it helps distribute the weight (which has been reduced and is quite low for planars) more evenly on the head. Hybrid velour and leather earpads are thicker and soft enough not to hinder comfort.
Like the 560, the 400i can easily be enjoyed for hours at a time… Just don’t bother the person next to you.
Most people wouldn’t consider 500 dollars entry level… However, for planar magnetic headphones, this price point is entry. The sound quality you get for this price range is quite astounding and in contrast to others in the price range, this is pretty high on the totem pole. There are some issues I have regarding material selection; mainly the plastic on various twisting and sliding parts should have been metal. For 500 dollars I do expect slightly better material selection. However, the design is gorgeous and eye catching while comfort is top notch.
With the HE-400i, HiFiMan tried to improve the HE-400. The headband design has been improved from the original 400 to address and fix just about any comfort that could exist.
It should be noted that some plastic parts are questionable. The HE-400i sits at the perfect little place right between musical and accurate.