HIFIMAN HE-400I Planar Magnetic Headphones Review
HiFiMan stirred lots of headphone fanatics when it launched its flagship the HE-400 several years ago. It was an authentic planar magnetic headphone priced a little more than standard closed-back headphones. Though a bit chunky it turned out to be the best-selling model in HiFiMan’s history outperforming name brands like Sennheiser and Bowers & Wilkins. HiFiMan later designed the HE-560 a more refined industrial version and decided to upgrade the HE-400 which resulted in the HiFiMan HE-400i. It delivers a crisp, dynamic sound and features HiFiMAN’s planar magnetic technology not present typical headphone drivers (often work like dome speaker drivers). The new model is lighter by 30% (weighs 370 grams) instead of HE-400’s 440 grams. It also features a new headband redesigned to deliver consistent clamping force (without applying too much pressure) and introduced a new set of ear cups that blend velour and pleather material. The ear pads improve not only the sound quality but also comfort.
Design and construction
The headphones come wrapped in a lovely presentation box making users feel special. The HiFiMan HE-400i takes to HiFiMAN’s new headband design that suspends it under the main support band to allow uniform distribution of weight. It also allows a wider range of adjustments for different user sizes than the previous model. The new FocusPads adopt a beveled shape with more padding behind the ear to improve performance and comfort. They are soft and breathable which lets users wear the earphones for extended periods. The ear cups are polished using high gloss paint instead of HE-560’s wood. Essentially the polish is in a black color, but some lights show a hint of color. And just like the HE-560, HE-400i fits snugly without clamping lots of pressure. It comes with a five-foot cable that boasts an excellent fabric sheathing which resists tangling and a 3.5mm mini plug for use on portable devices. The space between the base of the ear cup and the screw (allows twisting) makes connecting the cable to the new model a tad easier. Additionally, the port is located towards the front compared to previous models that had the connector positioned at the bottom center which allows the cable to lie naturally on the chest.
The HiFiMan HE-400i boasts a sensitivity of 93 dB and impedance of 35Ohms which is 0.5 dB more than HiFiMAN’s HE-400 thus producing subtle nuances of amplification. For example, when listening to Patrick Doyle’s Wedding Night track, HE-400i delivers clarity and a clearer bass compared to HE-560. It captures the double bass, and low-sounding bowed string instruments with a sense of authority and detail. The headphones bring out a clear, vibrant sound on acoustic genres on high volumes. When using the headphones to listen to heavily compressed tracks, they produce detailed drums, vocals, and guitars though the midrange and trebles are relatively mild.