Over the past few weeks I’ve been testing out the HIFIMAN HE400s Over Ear Planar Magnetic Headphones, after talking to a friend at CES about what company is set to take over the headphone market, and the first name they mentioned was, you guessed it, HiFiMAN. So let’s get into it!
If you’re not familiar with the term “planar magnetic” (I wasn’t either until having it explained to me) there are some significant factors. Unlike dynamic headphones that are what you’d find in more common headphones out in the market, planar magnetic headphones use two magnetic fields to cause motion within the headset itself. What you receive from your audio is that you receive less distortion in your music without needing extra equipment. Although HiFiMAN does say that you will actually get the best quality from their audio by using a headphone amp, so I purchased a Boomstick after reading Dan’s review earlier this year, just to test them out.
The HE400S are very nice after unboxing just to preface. At only $299, the first thing I thought was, “why are these only $299? They certainly don’t look, or feel like they even belong in this range”, because the packaging alone is something you’d expect of a product that goes for the $699+ range, which HiFiMAN also offers for other models. The headphones themselves are only available in a silver and black colorway with the black being slightly overshadowed by the brushed silver which is pretty welcoming after reviewing plenty of black headphones in recent months, it’s a nice change of pace.
Here are a few more specs of the HE400S:
Frequency Response : 20Hz – 35KHz
Sensitivity : 98dB
Impedance : 22 Ohms
Weight : 350g
Cable Length : 1.5 m
Plug : 3.5mm/6.35mm
HiFiMAN made sure that the design of the headphones featured an open back design with is great for the large ear cups. This being my first pair of HiFiMAN headphones, I admire the foam padding on the ears which I know will be perfect for that long flight (I’m currently listening to a podcast on the HE400S while typing this review to tune out the conversations in my local coffee shop).
With the horseshoe like brackets above (but not attached to) the headband itself, it does look pretty funky and unique, which is something I’ve missed in the over-ear brands of headphones so it’s a welcome feature, so thank you HiFiMAN!
Another bonus to the HE400s is the fact that they are actually pretty light, which surprised me not only over-ear, but in hand as well. You’d think with the metal headphone bracket and the black perforated grills you’d get a set of cans that would weigh down, but they don’t. I’ve comfortably thrown the HE400S in my messenger bag for work, as well as my gadget bag (in a separate pocket of course) with my iPad Pro and it didn’t feel like I was carrying a load of items. Most of this is courtesy of the HE400s’ ability to adjust to lay flat on any surface, as they do not fold up like their competition.
The HE400s are actually acoustic so if you’re wearing these while sitting in the park, or simply attempting to commute to and from, you can be able to hear your surroundings, all the while enjoying your tunes.
If you’re a DJ, you’ll be happy to know that the HE400S come with two different jacks, so you can easily go from the turntables or your phone simultaneously.
I wish the HE400S were Bluetooth, however they come with a 1.5 millimeter cable that attach to each ear cup on the HE400s.
Using the HE400s headphones on my iPhone 6 Plus is a delight. Seeing as though this is my first venture into Planar headphones, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was happy I took the leap, and now it’ll be pretty hard to go back. Aside from the obviously large look in public, they don’t feel loose, and don’t look too ridiculous for the average commute.
My daily 40 minute train ride into the office, even with a train full of passengers talking, and the train conductor signaling for the next stops arrival and departure, the HE400s still sounds crystal clear.
Overall the headphones sound great as is, even more with an amplifier, but are honestly fine without them. I will say that the headphone cable is a tad bit long, so adding the amplifier, wearing these out in public without a jacket or something to tuck the cable into will leave the threaded cable to look rather silly.
In the end, I personally love my HiFiMAN headphones, and cannot wait to try them on a plane for my next trip as well. My suggestion is if you can find a cheap amplifier on Amazon to pick one up if you must, but it’s honestly not necessary for the average listener. You’ll easily get through a 4-5 hour commute, or even a desk job where you might listen to a host of podcasts and need to feel as though nothing will disturb you.
For more information about the HE400S by HiFiMAN, check out their site today!
Source: Manufacturer supplied review unit
What I Liked: Overall quality build and adjustment of the headset fit my ears perfectly; audio quality.
What Needs Improvement: Possibly a shorter cable for those who might want to commute with them.