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Updated September 20th, 2018
1,487 word post, approx. 3-4 min. read
Before I discuss the 400i, I would like to mention that after much research, I finally figured out why other people have been having issues with the poor build of the headphone when I have not had any. I frequently demo both this model and the 400S at my local Audio Advice, and both have likely been through hundreds (if not thousands) of hands and demos during their lifespan. Aside from some minor cosmetic blemishes, both cans are in perfectly great condition and have never broken.
Apparently HIFIMAN started cutting costs with a new batch of 400i’s that had modified yokes with cheaper materials. This explains a lot of the newer customers having issues with them breaking and thus leaving negative reviews on Amazon. As per my own criteria I never endorse a product with less than a 4 star rating (in most cases) but in this case it’s tough because the early models are perfectly fine whereas the newer ones have a clear defect and some QC issues. So I would say try and get an older model because the 400i really is one of the best mid-tier audiophile headphones.
My response below his post is basically thanking him since I hadn’t come across one person before that shed light on the matter.
So my advice is to be cautious about where you buy this one from. Not sure if there’s anyway to really know for sure if it was an old model or new, so you’re basically taking a gamble. The metal yokes he was describing are in fact used on another of my favorite headphones from them, the HIFIMAN Sundara.
Onwards to the review..
Hello there friend and Welcome aboard!!
Before we get into the HIFIMAN HE400i Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..
The HIFIMAN HE400i’s are quite a strange animal. Comfort wise, they’re excellent, although the pads will flatten out over time. Build quality is also very rugged and sturdy, and I love the rotating ear cups. The design of the headband is similar to that of the AKG line. It’s a sort of hammock for your head homie! It really works well. The ear-pads are also just a tad small, I agree with Z reviews; I wish they were a little bigger and more oval shaped. It’s kind of nitpicking though.
Sound wise is where it gets interesting for me. I love the crisp attention to detail that these cans provide, and unlike the Audeze LCD3, I don’t feel like it’s laborious or exhausting. There’s enough clarity to really make you stop and analyze the music in a pleasant way.
What really stood out to me was the Timbre of the instruments. What is Timbre? It’s like I discovered this newfound appreciation for how an instrument or a band is truly supposed to sound. Here’s the best way I can describe what I experienced:
It’s like a blanket was taken off of certain aspects of the recording. Imagine the true character of a person, the stuff we don’t see, the condition of their heart. This became especially apparent on Led Zeppelins “Over the hills and far away.” It was like hearing the song in an entirely different light. Granted I was plugged up to a Bryston BHA-1, and I’m sure the source file was immaculate, but I just couldn’t believe it. People talk about laser like precision with the HD600’s (which is true), but this took it to a new level. Learn more:Sennheiser HD600 Review! It was as if the guitars actually had a true personality in and of themselves. Like you were connecting with Pages heart (and the band as a whole for that matter) on some level. Like all our lives we always hear music, but this was more than just hearing. It was more of an enlightenment of sorts. And no I wasn’t high. 😛
Another example of this came on Pink Floyd’s “Time.” Unfortunately, this experience was neither bad nor good. It was more revealing than anything. I’ve heard the song probably over a thousand times, but it sounded different this time. Those jangly guitars started to really stand out, and not necessarily in a good way. It was as if someone stripped David Gilmour naked and exposed him. Don’t get me wrong, the guitars didn’t sound bad. But they had this raw energy that’s hard to put into words. I could hear them so clearly that it was almost scary. In the past, I kind of knew they were there, but the way they came off was muffled, perhaps a bit distant. But here, they almost take center stage and demand that you pay attention to them. They want you to notice how fast they are and how much texture they’re able to discern for you. Like a painter?
In a nutshell, that’s what the 400i’s are like. They demand attention. In a way, it’s sort of like a high maintenance girlfriend. 😀 I’ll leave it at that.
Crisp detail, clarity. Extremely accurate sound representation.
Great mid-range. Extremely intimate and realistic.
Phenomenal instrument separation and precision.
Articulate bass, but not over done.
Good Soundstage. It’s not going to blow you away though. Like theHD 600’s, you will occasionally pause the song to make sure no ones in your house. Lol.What is Soundstage?
Smooth, well extended treble with a bit of sparkle.
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Click to see the 400i!
Technically these will sound pretty good out of a phone given the low impedance and the fact that they don’t need a lot of power to perform optimally. However, their Sensitivity is also a bit low, meaning you’re limited on how loud they can get without an amp. What is Headphone Impedance?
I would plan to invest in an amp to get these to sound their best. I’m using the Oppo HA-2 at the moment, but I’ve also tested these with the Schiit Magni 2 as well. How to choose a headphone amp!
These headphones will sound good with most any genre. I find them to be fantastic with Rock predominantly.
Rock (Classic & Modern)
Intimate and warm, while still somehow retaining a sense of articulation, detail, and clarity. Crystal clear sounding mid-range that can be very revealing at times. Comfortable and durable. Nice bass extension and a treble that sparkles. Can be sibilant at times.
I really love the HE400i’s, but I like the 600’s just a hare better. Why? Because the HD600’s mid-range is more resolving, and I prefer a cleaner sound as opposed to a warmer one. By contrast, the 400i doesn’t sound quite as clear or refined when stacked against the 600. Also, the HD600 represents a true A+ price to performance ratio, and still remains a Gold Standard to this day. Interested in learning more about it in the most detailed and informative review I’ve written? Check out:
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.