The average cost of a high-fidelity headset typically sits somewhere in the thousands. This kind of price point may seem absurd to the average user, but audiophiles who seek perfection understand that true quality doesn’t come cheap. Having said that, HiFiMAN Electronics’ HE400S are flipping the audio industry on its head. This excellent $299.99 headset delivers such exquisite audio performance, the price seems like a mistake.
The HE400S is the finest headset under $500 that I’ve ever tested. Using the HE400S for the first time is equivalent to comparing Blu Ray over VHS in clarity and detail, and after the recommended 150hr break-in period, things only get better!
The HiFiMAN HE400S radiates luxury in both its performance and design. This is a gorgeously crafted piece of tech that doesn’t shy away from calling attention to its sleek aesthetic. The body is mainly constructed out of hard plastic and a steel frame for support, which makes the headset light and comfortable. I’ve been using the HiFiMAN HE400S on a daily basis for two weeks nonstop, and there hasn’t been a single moment of discomfort. Weighing it at only 350g, you can barely feel its presence.
The HiFiMAN HE400S ships with the following accessories: a ¼” (6.35 mm) headphone adapter, a Headphone Cable (1.5 meter or 4.9 Feet; 3.5mm plug) and one pair of stock velour ear pads. My only gripe is the cable. It’s sturdy and well constructed, but it’s a little too tough resulting in the cable frequently twisting when in use - but hey, this is seriously just me nitpicking! The stock ear pads could also be a little better, but they’re easily upgradable if you’re unhappy with how they feel on your ears.
"Using the HE400S for the first time is equivalent to comparing Blu Ray over VHS in clarity and detail, and after the recommended 150hr break-in period, things only get better!"
HiFiMAN has crammed the headset with impressive specs: a frequency response of 20Hz – 35KHz, 98dB of sensitivity and 22 Ohms of impedance. A headset like this needs to be used with an amp in order to fully appreciate everything it has to offer. For my tests, I used Creative Labs’ Sound Blaster X7, as well as their Sound Blaster E5. With the gain switch set to high, the HE400S provides a transformative experience. It’s also important to note that the HE400S is an open type headset, and the sound leakage is expectedly high. The headset isn’t meant to be used in an office or public place where others can easily hear everything you’re listening to, so keep that in mind prior to making your purchasing decision.
I’ve gone through 200+ hours of testing since receiving the headset, and I’m continuously impressed by the HE400S’ quality. The audio leans towards warm and neutral without ever losing detail. The mid-ranges are spectacular, giving vocals and instrumentals unprecedented clarity free of distortions. Bass isn’t overpowering and beautifully complements the wide audio stage. Some audiophiles may prefer a stronger kick from the bass, but personally, I like the HE400S’ more balanced performance.
"The folks at HiFiMAN have created something truly special here. If you’re someone who’s always wondered about high-quality audiophile gear but never felt like committing to the brutal pricing, there’s no better option than the HE400S."
Angel Haze’s “Back to the Woods” album serves as an excellent testing ground for varying tonal shifts. A song like “Moonrise Kingdom” mixes acoustics, beats, rap and acapella beautifully, and the HE400S handles the variance like a champ. Angel’s vocals remain sharp and energetic and the accompanying beats deliver punchiness and depth without overshadowing the performer’s spotlight. Coeur De Pirate is another great artist whose incredible vocals and piano performances truly shine on this headset. Even at low volume, the auditory clarity is truly remarkable.
Until recently, the Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250 have been my go-to headphones for daily usage, but the HiFiMAN HE400S annihilate the Beyerdynamic in terms of performance and comfort. I think it’s safe to say that a headset like this can last a lifetime, and for a lot of people (including myself), the HE400S may be the be all and end all headset until HiFiMAN conjure up another masterpiece.
The folks at HiFiMAN have created something truly special here. If you’re someone who’s always wondered about high-quality audiophile gear but never felt like committing to the brutal pricing, there’s no better option than the HE400S. The HE400S receives our highest possible score for delivering quality beyond what was thought was possible in this price range. As it stands, this is the best budget audiophile headset on the market.