HiFiMAN HE-400S – PLANAR MAGNETICS ON A BUDGET?

Recently I did an article on Audeze and their planar magnetic headphones. When you’ve read the article, you’ve probably noticed pretty quick that planar magnetic headphones are not the cheapest on the block. This is about to change…

HiFiMAN, another well-respected company amongst audio enthusiasts, have just released their newest addition, the HiFiMAN HE-400S. An open-back full-size planar magnetic headphone with a retail price of $299. That’s pretty unique! Considering that HiFiMAN is well known for their great-sounding, but expensive planar magnetic headphones. Just like Audeze is…

tai-nghe-tu-phang-HiFiMan-HE400s-660x371

So, did HiFiMAN succeed in delivering a great sounding planar magnetic for a very reasonable price? To be honest, I personally haven’t got the chance to listen to them, but Tyll Hertsens from Innerfidelity had a chance to listen to them at T.H.E Show Newport 2015. This is what he had to say: “Well, if the HE-400S really performs as well as the impression I got at the show, these cans are going to totally disrupt the price/performance expectations at $300. What I heard has me questioning not whether they’ll make the Wall of Fame, but how many headphones will be knocked off in its wake.”

Everyone who knows Tyll also knows he does not make these bold statements lightly if he didn’t think they were true!

he400s

Alright, we can rest assure that these cans will sound very nice. So where’s the catch huh? Let’s talk about build quality. If you compare these with the more expensive HiFiMAN cans, you’ll immediately notice a difference in materials used. Considering the price difference, that’s pretty inevitable.

But let’s look at the HE400I which costs $499. Putting them next to each other like in the picture below you can clearly see the HE400S looks cheaper, but design wise they are identical!

HE400IvsHE400S

HiFiMAN HE-400S vs HE-400I

The HE400S weights only 350g, which is 20g lighter than the HE-400I. That’s a nice plus for the portability of these cans. Speaking of portability. HiFiMAN promotes these as “easy to drive” and that they’ll sound terrific on your smartphone. This statement however, is still a bit of a question mark. Tyll mentioned in his quick listening session that these cans didn’t sound very good with the standard rig at the audio show and that they only really came alive on his portable AK120, CEntrance M8. Just to be clear, that’s a $700 portable amp!

Considering everything, the HE400S looks to be a headphone to watch out for. This could possibly be THE headphone that brings planar magnetics into the mainstream audience.

Let me know what you think guys. Did you always want to deviate from the path of standard dynamic headphones, but thought the price was way too expensive? Well, here’s your chance. A HiFiMAN planar magnetic for $299 sparkling new seems too good to pass on.

 

18 Comments

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