Originally published 2/17/21.
- 4/8/22. Article revisit.
- 5/20/22. Article revisit.
Part of The Audiophile Rabbit Hole Series!
This series takes a look back on my experiences with headphones dating back to 2010. Enjoy!
Let’s review the HIFIMAN HE400i. Who is it for? How exactly will it change YOUR life?
All of these answers and more can be had for the low low price of about tree fiddy.
JUST PAY SHIPPING AND HANDLING!!!
LOL Just kidding.
What’s good, bass head? Welcome aboard.
Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music, all over again, so…
Who is the HIFIMAN HE400i for?
- Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay!
- 2020 Revision: Check Amazon!
- Type: Planar Magnetic.
- Fit: Circumaural.
- Impedance: 35 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
- Sensitivity: 93dB.
- Sound Output: Stereo.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-35kHz.
- Material: ABS Plastic, Polymer.
- Weight: 370g.
- Inputs Supported: 3.5mm, 1/4″.
- Cable Length: 1.5m.
- Additional Features: Detachable Cable.
I firmly believe this headphone is for folks who want to take a step up from the entry-level category into mid-fi. Just be advised there’s no turning back.
You may or may not have heard of an HD6XX, but that’s another recommendation in this category as well.
I’ll link you to an article I did on planars rather than get into it right now. What is a Planar Magnetic Driver?
How exactly will it change YOUR life?
The planar magnetic 400i represents what music sounds like in its most raw, visceral form.
If an HD600 made you want to re-discover all of your old favorites, the 400i takes that concept and magnifies it; both literally and figuratively.
With a good recording and a good Amp/DAC, you’ll soar to new heights like Lebowski, Lebowski.
I still remember vividly the moment I put on a 400i with a Bryston BHA-1 and fired up Over the Hills and Far Away.
It’s a moment I will never forget for as long as I live.
Day 1 homies are probably sick to death of hearing about the experience, but it’s important in the sense that it will completely change your perspective of music, again, as it did mine.
Remember when we discussed the MDR-7506 and how it will change your life (and perspective of music) if you’re brand-spankin’ new to audio? Well, the 400i is like the girlfriend after the girlfriend after the girlfriend you thought was the one.
YEAH, YOU KEEP GOING DOWN THAT RABBIT HOLE, HONKY – EVENTUALLY ONE WILL BE GOOD ENOUGH!
Yo dog I heard you like having cool girlfriends so we made a girlfriend that you can have after the future girlfriend you’ll have after you get sick of the girlfriend you already have now. You feel me dow?
Nah, everything about the experience was sublime, from the way the opening guitars sounded, to the way the drums and bass came in, to the intimacy of Plant’s voice, to the way the band played together as a unit and everything in between.
Bonham’s drum hits sounded so saturated and rich, that it’s hard to describe. You could hear each individual note on Jones’ bass, and of course, there’s Page. Enough said.
It was as if everything was rolling so effortlessly and gracefully, without a single inkling that the song was trying too hard to portray everything correctly. It was as natural as natural can be, while also having just the right amount of impact.
It was as if I got a glimpse into the souls of the artists, why they were bandmates, what made them tick, as well as just how proficient they were with their instruments. I finally understood why they were so close and why they worked so well together.
It’s been said that after John Bonham died in 1980, the band refused to play together anymore because it just wouldn’t be the same.
Because he was such an integral part of the group, it wouldn’t be right (I’m paraphrasing). They basically chose to disband out of respect, rather than replace him.
“We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend and the deep respect we have for his family, together with the sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were.”
After listening to Over the Hills with the 400i and the Bryston, I completely understood why they made the decision.
It honestly made me want to shed a tear. That’s how good it sounded.
The Timbre of the instruments, the impact of the bass, the delicate strumming of the guitar, and the realistic nature of the drums. It was all just too much for me. I was overwhelmed beyond anything you could possibly imagine. It’s something that you know when you hear.
It’s a feeling. A knowing.
A sense of, “Wow. I really get it now. This is truly how the artists intended for this song to sound.”
It was more open, more spacious, more live-sounding, etc., etc. It almost felt like you could taste the instruments, or reach out and touch them.
Keep in mind a couple of things:
- I had heard the song hundreds of times in the years before that moment. I even learned how to play it on guitar back in high school around 2003. I begged my best friend Dennis at the time to teach me how, and he did. I think he regretted that decision because after I learned it I wouldn’t stop playing it at all, ever.
- I was listening with a high-quality FLAC. Source quality is of the utmost importance, but don’t think you have to go bat sh** crazy with DSD, or even ultra-high PCM. What Is DSD In Audio? Is It Worth Pursuing?
“Oh my God, can you stop playing that stupid f’ing song!”
I’m exaggerating but his reaction was pretty funny.
Because the intro takes quite a bit of practice to get down, it seemed like that’s all I would play over and over and over. It’s hilarious to think about in hindsight.
The 400i is absolutely worth a purchase, but times have changed a little bit.
The older production run was flawless until they started outsourcing cheaper materials for the headband yokes.
The model I demoed at Audio Advice some years back likely went through thousands of hands and came out on top every time. It was built incredibly well and had the rotating cups that many people miss in the updated line.
The 2nd production run of 400is fell apart in no time at all and it looked like HIFIMAN was dead in the water for a while.
Audio Advice even dropped them from their line, but they made a comeback with the DEVA in 2020 and things seem to be looking up.
The 2020 revision 400i and 400se utilize the same incredible build as the updated DEVA, and by all accounts that I’ve read, it sounds the same. This is mostly a good thing, but the treble may still have a bit too much bite.
The DEVA has a similar problem, but it’s not a dealbreaker. It’s just a little annoying at times.
I’ve demoed the entire line including the 400S, 400i, 4XX, Sundara, 400se, and DEVA.
I feel confident in recommending the 400se because it mimics the now extremely robust appearance of the DEVA and I believe the connection issues have been fully rectified.
Related: HiFiMan HE4XX vs. 400i vs. 400S vs. Sundara (Final Shootout)
I’ve been listening to the DEVA since HIFIMAN sent it to me back in June of 2020 and I haven’t had a single issue with the sound cutting out, build issues with the headband, adjustment blocks, etc.
It’s incredibly well built and sounds fantastic with pretty much any genre of music: Rock, Metal, Hip-Hop, R&B, Indie, Pop, etc.
The fact that HIFIMAN actually used the criticism to improve their product line is refreshing, to say the least.
The DEVA also happens to be just about the most comfortable headphone I’ve ever worn (even more so than the original run of 400S, 400i, and Sundara), so you can look forward to that with the 400se as well.
Will you need an amp?
The problem is that the 400i (and HIFIMAN headphones in general) are known for being very inefficient, meaning they need quite a bit of power from an Amp to reach an acceptable volume level.
- Related: What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
Something like the FiiO K5 Pro would be a great choice!
Final Word & 2022 Update
I talked a bit about the 2020 revision in this article, but after reaching out to one of the HIFIMAN reps through email, he told me that the 2020 400i was essentially a stop-gap until the 400se was released.
Fortunately for you, I have a comprehensive article on the 400se and it just so happens to be my #1 recommendation in Mid-Fi at the moment.
The DEVA does represent a better value if you’re wanting a headphone that comes with a Bluetooth receiver, which doubles as an Amp/DAC. You can also use the DEVA wired as it comes with a robust 3.5mm detachable cable. It’s also better for gaming than the 400se.
With that, are you ready to venture further down the rabbit hole? Don’t miss out on this next one. It’s a fan favorite amongst patrons! 🙂
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this HIFIMAN HE400i Review and came away with some valuable insight!
If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
What did you think of my story? Does it make you want to purchase a 400i? Are you a Led Zeppelin fan? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,
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