2/23/20. Added Video Shootout and updates to the 400 series as a whole.
Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!
Small Disclaimer before we get into things: HiFiMan has been having ongoing quality control issues for quite some time now, mostly with the cable connection. My video shootout goes into much depth about my overall impressions of the big 4, including Drop’s HE-4XX, the original 400i, the 400S, and the Sundara. It should also be noted that Audio Advice (a store I frequent to demo these models) has stopped carrying HiFiMan products due to said issues. Your mileage may vary. More in the video below!
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 LCD-3, 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. All our lives we’ve always heard music, but this was more than just hearing. It was more of an enlightening. 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 overdone like your mom’s meatloaf.
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 one’s in your house. Lol.What is Soundstage?
Smooth, well-extended treble with a bit of sparkle.
Here I compiled all of my impressions of the big 4 since 2017!
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 almost 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 as a warmer alternative to an HD 600. If you’d rather kick back and relax with your tunes, the 400i is the way to go.
Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.