First Listen: HiFiMAN HE-400i planar magnetic headphones

HiFiMAN HE-400i

HiFiMAN’s founder and President Dr. Fang Bian has the sort of restless and fertile imagination that simply cannot resist the impulse (or is it the temptation?) to make good things even better. Accordingly, HiFiMAN has of late begun been revealing a step-by-step revamp of its headphone product line. The first new model to appear was the HE-560 priced at $899 in the US (see my recent Hi-Fi+ blog on that model), a full-fledged review for which is presently underway. Depending upon one’s point of view, the HE-560 could be seen either as a major performance update on the earlier HE-500, or perhaps even as a potential replacement for the HE-6 (the jury is still out on the question of whether the HE-560 has the requisite performance chops to unseat the HE-6 as HiFiMAN’s reigning flagship, though we expect full break-in of the HE-560 will reveal much).

But now, we have the new HE-400i, priced at $499 in the US, which is plainly meant as a major performance upgrade to the original HE-400. Based on my brief “First Listen” experience I would say the HE-400i preserves many of the HE-400’s desirable qualities, while also taking a truly substantial step forward in sound quality. What does this bode for the future? Well, my educated guess, even during these early days, is that HiFiMAN is likely going to sell about a gazillion of its new HE-400i headphones, and for all the right reasons. Allow me to explain.

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