I think that’s spot on who knows what frequencies my hearing has been lost or more sensitive too. The shape of my ear canal, all kinds of things that are way over my pay grade on how my ears perceive sound vs someone else’s lol, It really just comes down to what everyone likes. I will say one pair of headphones we can all agree on would be the ZMF Aeolus!!
Thanks for sharing that article. Good information. I replaced the pads on my HE6SE with Dekonis since the original pads showed a separation on one of the ear cups after a few months. They are definitely excellent headphones.
I wonder if I could ask for some advice - I have the original HE 400 which I am happy with after some eq is applied but wondered if it would be worth upgrading to the Sundara as I have no way to compare at present? I am using them with Amazon HD music, the Waves NX 3D windows app, Equaliser APO and a Cambridge audio DACMagic/ Objective 2 amp.
Thanks for your help.
So… HE5XX is now available through Drop. Some say it is a repackaged Deva. Some were more positive about it.
The Hype Train has found a new engine to pull it. Choo-choo!
I’ve got the Non-Bluetooth Deva on my Christmas list …
Not really impressed with the write-ups on this HE5XX. Can’t win them all.
I’m looking to dip my toes into planars, but I don’t have $350 right now for HiFiMan Sundaras. So, I’m looking at their little brothers, the HE400 series.
But there seem to be about four active versions of the HE400 series, and damned if I know the differences besides price. The versions:
HE4xx – The Drop version. Quality is a worry with all HiFiMan products, but even more so with the Drop version. $180.
HE400i – The old version, with the suspension headband. $185.
HE400i 2020 – The 2020 version, with the padded Deva headband. These may not be available anymore in North America, as they’re no longer listed on Amazon for US sale, and HiFiMan’s website says they only can sell them to the EU. $169.
HE400SE – This appears to be the latest member of the HE400 family, with a price of $149.
What are the sonic differences between these cans? Are there fit and comfort differences between the suspension headbands of the 4xx and old 400i and the padded, Deva-style 2020 versions of the 400i and new 400SE?
Anyone have any experience with the new 400SE?
Thanks in advance for answers to any or all of these questions.
It’s on Drop for $150 now. See here
Edit: as far as quality being a concern, I’m not sure any one version is more likely to be riskier than the others. The key thing is to ensure that you’re well covered with a warranty; I couldn’t see warranty info for the HE-400i on Drop, as per my link above, but Drop is good about warranty issues, in my experience.
Got the HE400se with stealth magnets today from Amazon and am only an hour into them, so VERY, VERY early impressions.
– Good sonic balance across the spectrum. Nothing feels too hot or overemphasized. As Thom Yorke sang on “Kid A,” everything is in its right place.
– I’m not sure what I’m supposed to hear with “planar bass,” as this is my first planar. But I’m not getting anywhere near the slam I get with my warm, bassy Meze 99 Classics. Even my Sennheiser HD 560s have more present bass. Not punchy, but present.
– Average detail retrieval. My Sennheiser HD 560s are a touch more detailed.
– Soundstage much more narrow I imagined. My Meze 99 Classics (closed back) and Sennheiser HD 560s both put the sound further out on my shoulders than the 400se. The sound with these is very much inside the head. I expected more from a planar, even an entry-level planar.
– Very nice imaging. There is nice separation among the instruments. Maybe just a touch behind the Sennheiser HD 560s.
– Clear mids. These cans definitely don’t have any veil on the mids.
– VERY comfortable. Tons of room in each ear cup. Nice velour padding. Headband also padded in the right spots.
– The stock cable provided is janky as f*ck. I’ve seen $40 IEMs with better cables. This cable works fine, but it looks about as durable as a strand of tinsel on a Christmas tree.
– Don’t believe HiFiMan for a second that these cans can be properly driven by a phone. I’m running these with a TempoTec Sonata HD Pro tricked into high-gain mode by using a 3.5-male to 3.5-female adapter, and comfortable volume for me is about 60 percent up my iPhone 12. You’ll need to almost max out an iPhone to get proper volume out of these cans. Maybe a more powerful Android, such as an LG, will work better. But I would think an amp is almost mandatory for these cans due to their low sensitivity.
These are extremely impressive for $149 cans. But I can’t call them giant killers, especially with the Sennheiser HD 560s at $199. The 560s seem to have better detail and soundstage. But the HE400se are a bit warmer, more musical and a bit less clinical, if that makes any sense.
Again, VERY early days, but I think the 560s is better at detail retrieval and sound stage and probably has a more present and accurate bass.
More impressions to come. Feel free to ask any questions!
Quick update on the comfort after wearing for two hours. Plenty of depth and room in ear cups, even for the protruding pinnae in my right ear.
But the head band – ooof. I had a damn dent in the skin of my bald skull, with a red hot spot, after wearing for two hours. I’ll try to adjust the headband, as maybe I had the cups too low on my ears, forcing the band to do too much work.
Otherwise, I’ll need Dekoni Cubes or some sort of Velcro headband wrap for these.
Still quite impressed with the sound. A really easy headphone to hear.
I never use planar headphones on mobile anymore. A powerful desktop amp with strong current delivery is necessary to get the most from planars (see the amp threads for prior discussion). They can shift from congested, weak, and shaky to become authoritative.
I just looked up the TempoTec – never heard of it before. A small mobile dongle like this isn’t going to deliver anything close to what a planar wants for maximum performance.
Back in the day my HE-560s pinched hard. I tried to bend the headband but it was too springy and wouldn’t change. Eventually I discovered the metal yokes were not spring tempered, and was able to bend them out with ease.
Uhhh, Easter is just around the corner, so egg-shaped makes perfect sense
Quick follow-up on night three of ownership of the HE-400se. I REALLY like the sound of these headphones. Stunning for $150.
But … the headband might be the most uncomfortable I’ve worn on any headphone in my life. I get a serious headache within 30 minutes of wearing these due to seemingly all of the weight of these cans being centered on a small hotspot in the dead center of the band. I’ve tried adjusting the cups, with no luck.
I’m bald, so I don’t have anything to act as additional padding. And I have a pretty big head. But these are downright painful on the top of the head despite fitting very nice around the ears.
Maybe I’ll try the old style HE-400i with the suspension headband or return these and save for the Sundaras. No chance I can keep these if this fit persists. Bummer, as they sound lovely for $150.
Some more listening notes, after A/B comparisons to the Sennheiser HD 560s.
I was wrong about the soundstage on the HE-400se upon first listen. It’s wider than the HD 560s but not by the margin I expected. Same with the imaging. It’s better than I thought.
But I still think the timbre and detail of the HD 560s are better.
One edge that the HE-400se has is the ability to handle more complex, faster music better than the HD 560s. The instruments never collapse into a grainy wall of sound with the 400se. Maybe that’s a characteristic of a planar, as this is my first planar. It rarely happens with the 560s, but it does.
But holy hell, the 560s are immensely more comfortable than the HE400se on my head – especially the headband. The headband was the LAST thing I thought would be a deciding factor in which of these two cans I would keep. But it’s going to be tough for me to justify keeping a headphone that gives me a headache every time I wear it.
More to come.
The HE-400se looks like it has the same headband as my DEVA’s. For the record I’m not bald ( Yet. ) but I don’t have any real cushioning up top. There is no issue with the weight or any hot spot with the DEVA headband. Maybe I just have a different shape to my head?
I’m sorry that they don’t work for you @pk500.
Yeah, it must be the shape of our respective domes. I did find some relief late last night by dropping the ear cups lower. Maybe I’ll go down another notch tonight.
It’s weird: I’ve had problems with clamping force with headphones before, but never a pressure point this intense from just the headband.
I want to keep these cans, as the sound is lovely, especially for $150. But I’m not going to lay on a bed of nails just to use them.
Happy to say the headband pressure of my HiFiMan HE-400se has reduced with break-in, proper extension of headband for cups and pressing the padding with my fingers to soften it.
The sound of these cans is remarkable for $150 USD. I’m really enjoying them. Think they’re going to become my daily driver.
OK, it’s no secret by now I love the HE-400se International version headphones. But the stock cable is janky as f*ck. Does anyone know any good replacements? Thanks.
Also, what would be a good budget DAC/amp stack for the 400se International edition? JDS Labs Atom? Schiit Magni-Modi? I’m looking to stay in that $200-250 USD sweet spot, and I know every DAC/amp has different sound characteristics.
Thanks! These headphones sound so good $150 it’s scary.