The Terrific HiFiMAN HE400S Planar Magnetic Headphones

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In 1995, for Sennheiser's 50th anniversary, they produced the Sennheiser HD 580 Jubilee, which became the HD 600 introduced in 1997. And ever since, along with the 2003 introduction of the HD 650, these headphones have held a position of near reverence by headphone enthusiast—many of whom will claim they remain the pinnacle of price/performance value.

I, too, hold this this opinion. The HiFiMAN HE400S ($299), in my opinion, now claims this spot.

The HE400S is a full-size, circumaural (around the ear), open, planar magnetic headphone. Now sporting the new HiFiMAN headband and angled earpads that first appeared on the HE560 and HE400i, and the 2.5mm mini-jacks on the earcups that first appeared on their flagship HE1000, I find the HE400S a significant ergonomic improvement over previous models.

The large circular earpads provide ample room for my ears and are easily comfortable enough for long listening sessions. But the overall fit leave just a little to be desired relative to the most comfortable headphones—the feeling for me was a just a bit insecure, and a small amount of manual adjustment (tilting and moving the earpieces forward and back) is needed to optimize fit. I'm nit-picking here, comparing these cans to the very best I've experienced. I would say at it's price and category, the comfort level is quite high.

Adding to the comfort is the light weight of the headphones. The HE400S is 346 grams; Mr. Speakers Ether, which is considered a very light planar magnetic is 367 grams; HiFiMAN HE1000, 493 grams; and LCD-3 556 grams. I consider the HE400S a very light weight headphone for a planar magnetic. For comparison, the Sennheiser HD 600, a dynamic headphone, is 251 grams.

The styling of the HE400S is nothing to get too excited about; it's pretty plain Jane. The headband pad is a low grade pleather; other than the headband arch and grills the visible materials are plastic. Fit and finish are quite good however; I found no creaking or squeaking in the joints or headband adjustments. Considering the price and sonic performance I find the styling a non-issue. People won't be buying these for their looks, nor should they.

Accessories are sparse...heck, almost non-existant. You get the headphones, their five foot cable terminated in a 90 degree angle mini-plug, and a 3.5mm to 1/4" adapter. No travel pouch; no smartphone cable with remote; no fancy presentation case. The cardboard packaging with foam cut-outs for the headphones, however, is well designed to act as plane but functional storage case. Meh, who cares when you're talking about a headphone designed for indoor use that's a friggen sonic bargain.

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