If you are a guy who needs a little more out of his music and expects a dynamic listening experience from his audio hardware, the HE-400 headphones from HiFiman are a great choice for inexpensive Magnetic Planar headphones for you Audiophiles out there. The HE-400 are designed to work well without a headphone amp, like on your mp3 player or portable devices. So whether your love is dance, metal, opera, classical music, the HE-400s allow you to hear your music or HD audio the way it was meant to be heard.
HiFiMan has been around since 2009 creating some of the best consumer audiophile headphones and equipment available today. Whatever term you use to refer to them; Planar Magnetic, Orthodynamic or Isodynamic headphones, if you are an audiophile, you know they are NOT inexpensive. The HE-400 headphones give you an audiophile quality experience for only $399.
Our staff at Pinstripe Magazine recently had an opportunity to test out the HE-400′s from HifiMan and they did not disappoint. From Listening to a progressive melodic technical heavy metal to dance/electronic to classical, the HE-400′s were able to produce clear crisp sounds with very little or noticeable distortion. Clearly the HE-400 headphones can handle much more then your typical mp3 player or on-board PC sound will be able to drive. The headphones are amazing, but in the end only a conduit for the device that is driving the sound. So we plugged into a Harmon Kardon AV high-frequency receiver and were very pleased with the quality and clarity that was even more distinctive when coupled with an amplifier source, not to mention the volume increase. The HE-400′s also performed admirably without a separate amplifier source.
The HE-400′s are large studio style headphones, you probably won’t be wearing these around your neck, but if you are serious about your music and audio you are probably used to the size already. The HE-400′s are built on a metal foundation or frame, so it feels sturdy and solid. It is dressed with leather covered foam ear pads and padding at the top of the arc. They are relatively lightweight and very comfortable to wear for extended periods.
Detachable gold screw-in terminals for both left and right side earphones are handy, convenient and if your wire gets screwy or frayed, no need to buy new headphones, just a new cable. Additional or replacement cables are available for $15 through HiFiMan.com. HiFiman includes a second set of leather ear pads and a 1/8″ gold jack for amps and receivers.
Two small points we thought could use a little improvement; If you plan on detaching and re-attaching the cables often, better have nails, the gold connection takes a little concentration to screw in as the treads are a bit tight spatially to the earphone plastic. Additionally, when not in use, we suggest you detach the cables and use the velour sack they give you. It seems fairly easy to see that if you drop the HE-400′s with the cable attached that you can easily bend one of the gold connection points.
The HE-400′s output is measured at 92.5dB sensitivity and 350hm impedance providing an extremely efficient, balanced linear sound with low distortion. The Planar Magnetic technology provides a consistent, full robust sound with plenty of clarity of bass, mids and highs. The large diaphragm allows for clean rich deep bass, devoid of shaky or inconsistent sound waves like from a traditional dynamic cone style diaphragms.
Magnetic Planar or Magneplanar are terms coined and a registered TM of Magnepan and also known as Orthodynamic, which is Yamaha’s term for Magnetic Planar technology. Planar Magnetic drivers are a middle ground between a dynamic and an electrostatic drivers. The Planar Magnetic driver contains elements of both dynamic and electrostatic drivers, using the magnetic field surrounding a conductor to drive the diaphragm but apply the force evenly and consistently across the entire surface, as opposed to the center, creating variations and inconsistencies in the sound band.
The diaphragm is comprised of a thin flexible transparent film that has electrical conductors embedded within it. The general principle being that when the electrical currents pass by the conductors and magnets creating movement of the diaphragm to create sound. The Planar Magnetic technology exerts a constant amount force on either side of the diaphragm to create stabile sound with low distortion ratios.
If your a hardcore audiophile, these are not the headphones for you and you should probably shell out for something more expensive but if you are looking for an inexpensive entry level audiophile headphone this is a good way to go. The HE-400 audiophile headphones are made to work well with mp3 players and portable devices, like your iPod, iPad and iPhone that do not have a separate amplifier source, but they will still out power them and ideally should be used with a component amplifier to pump them up. Whether you are listening to rap, progressive metal, dance, classical or just looking for more clarity in your arpeggio’s, a little more detail in your sticcato’s and maybe enhance your mezzo forte’s or maybe you just want to immerse yourself in the odd noises and sounds of Pink Floyd’s, Umma Gumma. If your looking for an audiophile headphone at an affordable price check out the HE-400 headphones from HiFiMan.
Available from HiFiMan.com for $399
Photos by Ronald Lee