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HiFiMan HE-400i Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.5
Updated Jun 28, 2018 at 09:21 am
HiFiMan HE-400i Picture
8.2
Neutral Sound
3.7
Commute/Travel
5.1
Sports/Fitness
4.4
Office
4.6
Wireless Gaming
6.7
Wired Gaming
1.6
Phone Calls
Type Over-ear
Enclosure Open-Back
Wireless No
Noise Cancelling No
Mic No
Transducer Planar Magnetic

The HiFiMan HE-400i are great critical listening headphones that are not really suitable for any other use case. They're comfortable and deliver an excellent sounding audio reproduction. However, they can sound a bit sharp on already bright tracks, and they do not have as much bass as the Edition X. They also have fairly weak hinges that are not very durable, unlike the HiFiMan Sundara, and may be a deal breaker for most critical listeners.

Our Verdict

8.2 Neutral Sound

The HE-400i are good reference headphones that shine in the sound department. They're comfortable for long listening sessions and deliver an excellent representation of instruments and vocals. They sound a little sharp and bass is a bit lacking compared to the Edition X, but their sound is sufficiently balanced and open to please most neutral listeners.

Pros
  • Great sound quality.
  • Decent build quality.
  • Comfortable.
Cons
  • Sensitive to ambient noise, by design.
  • Big and bulky.
  • High leakage by design, cannot be used in public.
3.7 Commute/Travel

Not designed for commuting. The open ear cups do not block any noise, which is not ideal for loud environments.

Pros
  • Great sound quality.
  • Decent build quality.
  • Comfortable.
Cons
  • Sensitive to ambient noise, by design.
  • Big and bulky.
  • High leakage by design, cannot be used in public.
5.1 Sports/Fitness

Not meant for sports. They're big, bulky and slightly unstable. Even if they can be powered by a mobile device these headphones perform poorly outdoors and will fall if used during physical activity.

Pros
  • Great sound quality.
  • Decent build quality.
  • Comfortable.
Cons
  • Sensitive to ambient noise, by design.
  • Big and bulky.
  • High leakage by design, cannot be used in public.
4.4 Office

Sub-par for office use. They will not block the office chatter and also leak a lot. Unless you work in an isolated environment, anyone will be able to hear your audio.

Pros
  • Great sound quality.
  • Decent build quality.
  • Comfortable.
Cons
  • Sensitive to ambient noise, by design.
  • Big and bulky.
  • High leakage by design, cannot be used in public.
4.6 Wireless Gaming

Mediocre for gaming. The HiFiMan HE-400i are comfortable, they sound great and have a low latency wired design. However, they do not have a microphone for voice chat when gaming, and no customization options which are typical for most gaming headsets. Also, they do not have the convenience of wireless design or multiple connection options for an optimized experience on Xbox one or PS4.

6.7 Wired Gaming

Pros
  • Great sound quality.
  • Decent build quality.
  • Comfortable.
Cons
  • Sensitive to ambient noise, by design.
  • Big and bulky.
  • High leakage by design, cannot be used in public.
1.6 Phone Calls
  • 8.2 Neutral Sound
  • 3.7 Commute/Travel
  • 5.1 Sports/Fitness
  • 4.4 Office
  • 4.6 Wireless Gaming
  • 6.7 Wired Gaming
  • 1.6 Phone Calls
  1. Updated Jul 22, 2021: Converted to Test Bench 1.5.
  2. Updated Feb 13, 2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.4.
  3. Updated Nov 21, 2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  4. Updated Nov 21, 2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  5. Updated Feb 16, 2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  6. Updated Aug 10, 2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1.
  7. Updated Mar 01, 2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.
  8. Updated Aug 15, 2016: Review published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The large and open ear cups of have a metallic finish and a slight blue tint that's eye-catching. That coupled with the soft suede padding and the old school leather headband give them a retro, yet premium appeal that will work for some. They do not look as premium as the Sundara and they're a bit too bulky to wear out in public, but they're not designed for outdoors so it shouldn't be too much of an issue.

8.0
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.81 lbs
Clamping Force
1.12 lbs

The HiFiMan HE-400i are comfortable, well-padded headphones. They're a bit tight on the head, but the suede-like material used for the padding is soft and pleasant on the skin. The ear cups are not as large as the Edition X, and the padding touches the tips of some listeners'ears. However, this smaller format might be more comfortable for some than the oversized ear cups of the more premium model.

0
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
No Controls
Ease Of Use No Controls
Feedback No Controls
Call/Music Control No
Volume Control No
Microphone Control No
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls No

These headphones do not have any controls.

6.2
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 6.4 ยฐC

The HiFiMan HE-400i, like the rest of the planar magnetic HifiMan headphones, are not very breathable. They have an open back design which usually does not get as hot as closed back over-ears. Unfortunately, since they are planar magnetic headphones, the larger drivers obstruct a good amount of airflow, so they will make your ears fairly warm after a couple of hours of continuous listening. You will have to take breaks if you have long continuous listening sessions when compared to some other over-ears like the Sennheiser HD 700.

5.3
Design
Portability
L 8.3" (21.0 cm)
W 7.1" (18.0 cm)
H 4.1" (10.5 cm)
Volume 235.44 inยณ (3,858.15 cmยณ)
Transmitter Required No

The HiFiMan HE-400i are big and not portable. They're a bit too cumbersome to comfortably carry on your person and do not fold into a more compact format. The ear cups lay flat but are bigger than average over-ear models, which doesn't save much space. On the upside, they are a little smaller than the Edition X, but you will still need a backpack or a large bag to transport these headphones. Also, they don't come with a protective case or pouch.

0
Design
Case
Type No case
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A

These headphones do not come with a case.

7.0
Design
Build Quality

The HiFiMan HE-400i have a good build quality. They make use of premium materials, which results in a sturdy design that can handle a fair amount of physical stress. The ear cups are not as well-built as the Edition X's ear cups. However, the plastic joints connecting the frame to the ear cups is thicker and sturdier, which makes these headphones slightly more durable.

Update 12/04/2018: Multiple users have experienced a build quality defect, resulting in broken hinges/yokes under mild stress. We have therefore adjusted our build quality score to reflect this manufacturing issue.

6.0
Design
Stability

These are not sports headphones. The large over-ear cups will sway and quickly slip off your ears if used during exercise or while running. They're a bit more stable than the Edition X and will maintain their position during casual or critical listening sessions.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  •  HiFiMan HE-400i Headphones
  • 1/8" to 1/4" adapter
  • Audio cable
  • Manual

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-4.34 dB
Treble Amount
-0.86 dB
8.1
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.38 dB

The HiFiMan HE-400i have a great frequency response consistency. The maximum amount of deviation across our five human subjects is less than 3dB at 20Hz, but the deviation happens across a very narrow range and the rest of the bass region is exceptionally consistent. The treble delivery is also very consistent across multiple re-seat, with the maximum deviation below 10KHz being less than 2dB.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
6.9
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
4.23 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
85.99 Hz
Low-Bass
-8.25 dB
Mid-Bass
-3.05 dB
High-Bass
0.05 dB

The bass of the HE-400i is very good. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 54Hz is decent, but not great. Also, low-bass which is responsible for the thump and rumble common to bass-heavy music is lacking by more than 5dB. So their sub-bass may not be heavy enough for the fans of heavy bass. Mid-bass, responsible for the body of bass guitars and the punch of kick drums, is also lacking by about 1dB, but this effect will be very subtle. High-bass, responsible for warmth is quite flat and over our neutral target by just 1dB.

9.1
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
1.21 dB
Low-Mid
0.08 dB
Mid-Mid
-0.3 dB
High-Mid
-1.36 dB

The mid-range is great. The response is flat throughout the range, which indicates a well-balanced reproduction of vocals and lead instruments. But low-mid and mid-mid are above our target by about 2dB. This thickens the body of vocals and lead instruments a bit, however, it won't be noticeable to most people. High-bass is within 0.6dB of our neutral target, which is great.

7.9
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.22 dB
Mid-Treble
1.32 dB
Low-Treble
-1.21 dB
High-Treble
-7.43 dB

The treble performance is very good. Low-treble is relatively even and flat. It is overemphasized by just 1.2dB, which won't be very noticeable. However, the +5dB bump in the sibilance range (6KHz-10KHz) makes the S and T sounds, mostly heard on vocals and cymbals, a bit bright and piercing, especially on overly bright tracks. The newer HiFiMan Sundara have a slightly better balanced sibilance range.

7.5
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
1.72 dB
Dips
0.87 dB
8.9
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.15
Weighted Phase Mismatch
7.07
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
0.44
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
1.12

The imaging performance is great. Weighted group delay is at 0.15, which is very good. The GD graph also shows that the entire group delay response is below the audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Additionally, the L/R drivers of our test unit were very well-matched in frequency, amplitude, and phase response, ensuring accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, and video game effects) in the stereo image.

8.7
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
3.4 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
5.43 dB
PRTF Distance
13.65 dB
Openness
9.7
Acoustic Space Excitation
9.3

The soundstage performance of the HE-400i is good. The PRTF graph shows a good amount of accuracy, and a decent amount of pinna interaction/activation. However, the notch around the 10KHz region is not very accurate or deep, which suggests a soundstage that is relatively natural and large but located inside the listener's head. Also, because of their very open enclosure, their soundstage will be perceived to be more open than that of closed-back headphones.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No App
8.9
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.085
WHD @ 100
0.070
Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
No Firmware
Power
Passive
Connection
Wired
Codec
PCM, 24-bit, 48kHz
EQ
No EQ
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Default
Microphone
No Microphone
Isolation
0.9
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-1.61 dB
Bass
-0.21 dB
Mid
1.08 dB
Treble
-5.43 dB

The HiFiMan HE-400i have a poor isolation. The architecture of these headphones is completely open, and therefore block very little noise. In the bass range, where the rumble of airplane and bus engines sits, they don't achieve any isolation. In the mid-range, which is important for blocking out speech, they don't isolate at all either. In the treble range, occupied by sharp sounds like S and Ts, they achieve about 5dB of isolation, which is barely noticeable.

0.6
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
67.38 dB

The HiFiMan HE-400i have a poor leakage performance. These are the one of the loudest and leakiest headphones we have measured so far. Not only the level of the leakage is extremely high, the profile is extremely broad too. Most headphones either level off at higher frequencies, or roll-off, but similar to the Edition X and Sundara, the HE-400i keeps getting louder as the frequency rises. The significant portion of their leakage is between 300Hz and 20KHz. In terms of loudness, with the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 67dB SPL and peaks at 86dB SPL, which is a lot louder than the noise floor of an average office.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
No
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
0
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
N/A
LFE
N/A
FR Std. Dev.
N/A
HFE
N/A
Weighted THD
N/A
Gain
N/A

These headphones do not have a microphone so the recording quality has not been tested.

0
Microphone
Noise Handling
SpNR
N/A
Noise Gate
No
Speech + Pink Noise Handling
N/A
Speech + Pink Noise Audio Sample N/A
Speech + Subway Noise Handling
N/A
Speech + Subway Noise Audio Sample N/A

The HE400i do not have a microphone so the noise handling has not been tested.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
No Battery
Continuous Battery Life
N/A
Additional Charges
N/A
Total Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power-Saving Feature
No
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
Passive Headphone
Charging Port None

These headphones do not have any active components and do not require a battery.

0
Active Features
App Support
App Name No App
iOS No
Android No
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
No
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

These headphones do not come with an app or software for added customization options.

Connectivity
0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
No Bluetooth
Multi-Device Pairing
No
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
N/A
PC Latency (SBC)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
N/A
Android Latency
N/A

These headphones are wired and do not have a Bluetooth connection. If you want a good-sounding wireless headset, then consider the Bose QuietComfort 35 II.

The wired connection of these headphones has negligible latency which is suitable for gaming and home-theater use. Unfortunately, they will not have the range and convenience of wireless headsets

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
9.5
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
Yes
USB Audio
No
Detachable Yes
Length 10.00 ft (3.05 m)
Connection
1/8" TRS
Analog/USB Audio Latency
0 ms

The HiFiMan HE-400i, like the Sundara, have a simple 1/8TRS audio cable with no in-line remote/microphone. They will only provide audio when connected to your PS4, Xbox One or PC.

Connectivity
PC Compatibility
Analog
Audio Only
Wired USB
No
Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
PlayStation Compatibility
PS4 Analog
Audio Only
PS4 Wired USB
No
PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
PS5 Analog
Audio Only
PS5 Wired USB
No
PS5 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
Audio Only
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
Xbox Series X|S Analog
Audio Only
Xbox Series X|S Wired USB
No
Xbox Series X|S Non-BT Wireless
No
0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

The HiFiMan HE 400i do not have a dock. If you need a headset with a dock that also has a wired connection for gaming or watching movies, then consider the SteelSeries Arctis 7.

Compared To Other Headphones

The Hifiman HE-400i are great-sounding headphones with a comfortable fit and a balanced audio reproduction. They're a good choice for critical listening but will not be as good for other use cases. Unfortunately, their build quality, though premium looking is a bit fragile and weak at the hinges. This may be a deal breaker for some, especially since similarly designed models, like the ones compared below, have an equally as good sound but a better build quality. See our recommendations for the best studio headphones, the best DJ headphones, and the best over-ear headphones.

HiFiMan Sundara 2020

The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are better for neutral sound than the HiFiMan HE-400i. The HiFiMan have better build quality, a more stable fit, and deliver sound more consistently. They also have a more accurate bass response, which some listeners may prefer. However, the HE-400i have a better passive soundstage performance. They also come with a longer, 10-foot audio cable.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO and the HiFiMan HE-400i are both good headphones if you like a neutral sound. The HiFiMan have less bass, but they also sound less piercing. They have a much more immersive soundstage as well. However, they feel a lot less durable, and there have been many reports of issues with their build quality. The Beyerdynamic feel much better-built, although their tight fit is less comfortable.

HiFiMan Sundara 2018

The HiFiMan HE-400i and the HiFiMan Sundara 2018 are fairly similar models, but the Sundara are better headphones. They are better-built than the HE-400i and they don’t sound as sharp in the treble range. However, these differences are fairly minor, and the HE-400i might offer better value for some since they are cheaper.

Beats Solo Pro Wireless

The HiFiMan HE-400i are better headphones for neutral sound than the Beats Solo Pro Wireless. The HiFiMan are planar magnetic headphones with an open-back design. They're much more comfortable and have a significantly better passive soundstage performance. However, the Beats are more versatile wireless headphones. They have a closed-back design, a much better build quality, and a great ANC feature. They also have onboard controls and an integrated mic, unlike the HiFiMan. 

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