HiFiMAN HE400se

https://store.hifiman.com/index.php/he400se.html

This is the place to discuss everything to do with the HiFiMAN HE400se. I figured this needed its own thread because, well… this headphone is surprisingly excellent for the price. I say surprisingly because I wasn’t expecting all that much given the Deva/HE5xx fiasco, however the HE400se seems to have iterated on that design and ended up with a much better frequency response, and seemingly better technical performance as well.

HE400se Frequency Response (SPL calibrated):

I’m going to call this the ‘Baby Sundara’. It’s not as detailed and there are moments where you hear a hint of bluntedness and ‘sluggishness’ by comparison. But it also doesn’t have the smearing/haze of the HE5XX/Deva, and honestly I find it quite competitive for the price of only $150. The added benefit of planar instrument separation and space makes it even that much better compared to its competition.

In fact, I have no problem saying that this is the best sounding headphone I’ve heard at this price. Is it perfect? no, it still has a bit of a dip around 1.5khz - worth filling in with a bit of EQ, and the sub-bass has a similar slow dropoff that we’ve seen before from these types of HiFiMAN headphones. But for the rest of it, the tuning is really quite solid. Thumbs up from me.

On-head bass level check (not SPL calibrated):

Here you can see the on-head bass drop mostly agrees with the on-rig result, so at the very least it’s representative of an actual human in this case.

Air Gap Behavior:

Fairly standard air gap resonance behavior. Why is this important? Effectively it shows driver resonance behavior when the seal is compromised in some way. It’s maybe not quite as low as I’d like - not as low as what you get on the higher end HiFiMANs - but about on par with many other open-back planar magnetic headphones.

Overall, this is an easy recommendation for anyone eyeing this price point.

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What are the power requirements compared to the sundara?

I am in the camp that sundara sounds better when given more power than most mobile amps provide. That is the sole reason I don’t own it currently. In fact, it’s one of the few headphones I think benefits from more power than the specs would indicate.

Edit 2: I keep reading the specs wrong. Finally went to hifiman’s site. I wish people would put spaces between the number and Ohms so I don’t read 25 as 250.

These are FANTASTIC headphones for the price. I’ve owned them for about three weeks to a month, and I’m so impressed.

Can’t add much to what Resolve has added other than I’m really impressed with the control of these cans, which are my first planars. Everything’s in its right place – sorry, Thom Yorke! – as the sound doesn’t turn into a wall of mush in complex, busy pieces of music.

Nice separation and imaging, solid soundstage, good earcup comfort. Really nice, balanced sound with a bit of thump. No harsh treble, which is vital for my ears. I pair these with a iFi Hip Dac, and the sound is lovely to my ears. Ordering a Qudelix 5K this week, so I’m eager to hear how they sound with that little unit as a wired, portable DAC/amp.

My only quibbles are a VERY stiff headband upon the first few uses and a janky cable. The padding is hard. But it breaks in over time, and gentle kneading with thumbs accelerates that process. The cable is janky as hell, but it works and can be replaced. HiFiMan must cut corners somewhere to offer headphones of this quality at $150.

I like the HE-400se (International version) so much that I’m strongly considering selling my Meze 99 Classics and Sennheiser HD 560s and rolling with the 400se as only over-ears and Moondrop Starfield as my IEM. My 99 Classics and HD 560s are little but dust collectors since I got the 400se.

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Please report back on the Qudelix driving them. It’s my favorite amp, full stop.

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@Resolve That was for @pk500 (who is getting the qudelix)

I was curious how much power you think he400se needs. The sundara wasn’t at optimum performance on the dx3 pro for me. Hence why I didn’t keep it. (No mobile source that could top the dx3 pro)

Basically, if the he400se drives well on the qudelix, I want to have it. If not, it’s not worth the effort for me.

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Gotcha. Yeah it is one that needs some kind of amp in my opinion. Nothing crazy, but 91db, 25 ohm… So something there would help but maybe not as much as the Sundara? I think Sundara is like 93dB and 37 ohms, but I agree that one does need some amping.

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Yeah, on the other hand, the qudelix has driven stuff I didn’t think it should be able to.

At 150 I just want a sundara like headphone available to me.

For reference, the qudelix is happily driving a drop ether cx single ended (balanced adapter isn’t here yet). 23 ohms 92db. Will see if balanced improves things.

The he400se is looking seriously awesome for the money.

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Wow, this is great news! Getting a level of performance like what @Resolve described for this little money is a nice change of pace in this overly expensive hobby. Let’s hope this becomes a trendsetter.

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As @Resolve said, the HE-400se needs an amp. HiFiMan’s claim that it can be driven by a phone is pretty laughable if you want any volume and fidelity.

That said, these cans aren’t ravenous for power. I drive them just fine with a TempoTec Sonata HD Pro and even better with an iFi Hip dac.

I’ll let you know how the Qudelix drives them. Full disclosure: I like some volume but not deafening, ear-bleeding levels. I’ve been in rock bands and have worked in professional motorsports for the last 30 years. I need to protect my tinnitus-ravaged hearing as much as possible.

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Planars and power isn’t about volume. It’s about providing enough, or more than enough, energy to the driver at all times. Their quality potential with an “overkill” amp may surprise you.

I’m speaking in general about planars, and I have no experience with the HE400se.

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This is the general trend yeah, but there are some like the LCD-X and the Ananda (and HEKse) that really can be driven from just about anything. So, I think it also largely depends on how its designed as well.

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The qudelix will blow away the sonata on balanced. i used to own it. This answers the question. :wink:

I never used the Sonata on balanced. I don’t have balanced cables for any of my cans. That’s the next rabbit hole. :slight_smile:

The Sonata HD Pro is a remarkable device for the cost. I may be in the minority, but I like the sound and features of the hip-dac better. Yeah, it’s between two and three times the price depending on whether you get the Android or iOS version of the Sonata, but the extra features, better sound and better build quality are worth it to me.

The sonata is great for the price. Isn’t it single ended 3.5mm only?

I found it to be clearer than the apple dongle but not much more powerful. It couldn’t drive what I was trying to drive at the time (sundara).

The qudelix is next level. Phenomenal out of the 2.5mm balanced side. I gave up all desktop amps.

The qudelix does something magical with volume control that just works across wired and bluetooth. Whatever it is doing here seems to make it always sound better than the btr5.

You will see. And the app is crazy good compared to others.

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Yep, the Sonata HD Pro is single-ended 3.5 only. I found it definitely more powerful than the Apple dongle, but sometimes you need to use a 3.5-to-3.5 adapter to trick the auto-gain feature into high gain with certain headphones that are in the purgatory of impedance and sensitivity with the device.

For example, my Sennheiser HD 560s are 120 ohm. The Sonata HD Pro perceived them as only needing low gain, when they really need high gain to be driven properly. So, I had to go through this odd procedure of plugging a 3.5-to-3.5 adapter into the Sonata first, then plug the Sonata into my source and then plug the headphone into the adapter – in that precise order – every freaking time I used the Sonata with those and other power-hungry cans.

It was a enough of a pain in the ass that I returned the Sonata to Amazon, exacerbated by the fact that certain notifications on my phone also kicked the Sonata out of high-gain, forcing me to disconnect and reconnect again and again.

I’m very stoked with the hip-dac and eager to compare it to the Qudelix 5K. The Qudelix arrives Tuesday – can’t wait!

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Hip dac definitely has more power. But convenience will go to qudelix for anything it drives well. You will need a CCK to use it wired on an iPhone. I rarely use it wired. BT is also the best I have heard.

Listening to it drive the drop ether cx right now.

Enjoy it!

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Thanks, man. I already have a CCK for use with the hip-dac, as I’m an iPhone guy. Good to go! :slight_smile:

Got my Qudelix 5K today. Just posted some early impressions and comparisons – in a post and follow-up post – to the iFi hip-dac in this Qudelix 5K thread: Qudelix 5K Review and Comparison to ES100, FiiO BTR-5 - #15 by pk500

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Would you mind trying the latest Sundara pads with this? I’m curious how they sound and measure.

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