HIFIMAN HE-400I Full size Planar Magnetic Headphones Review

Editor rating

5/5 on November 7, 2016 Reviewed by: Peter Alexander

User’s rating

334 reviews


  • Planar magnetic drivers
  • Vivid sound
  • Detailed bass
  • Lightweight, comfortable design
  • Intimate vocals without any signs of sibilance


  • Might need amplification for portable use
  • Shorter cable (easily solved with an extension)


The HIFIMAN HE-400I Over Ear Full-size Planar Magnetic Headphones are a great choice for someone who wants to occasionally spend an hour or two listening to music from the comfort of one’s home and actually be able to pick up those little details that make some of the world’s best songs and albums so memorable and held in high esteem.

HiFiMAN Electronics is a designer and manufacturer of audio products that cater to the higher end of the audio market. The company was founded in in New York City by Dr. Fang Bian in late 2005, and they have since started two small factories in China, where they are also now headquartered.

The newly released and redesigned HE-400i promise an audiophile-grade listening experience for a price that won’t make your wallet flee in terror.

Build and Design

Once we got our hands on the HE-400i, we immediately noticed several improvements over the older model, the HE-400. At just 370 grams (13.05 ounces), the headphones feel noticeably lighter, the headband has been redesigned for easier adjustment and greater comfort, and all materials feel slightly more premium than before.

Also new is a set of “hybrid” earpads, which use the combination of pleather and velour to improve comfort, durability, and how the earpads actually feel against the skin.

Included with the headphones is a 59 inches (1.5m) large cord that attaches to both earcups via gold-plated connectors. The length of the cord is perfect for portable use, but we don’t believe that’s why customers buy headphones such as the HE-400i.

It’s hard to get the most out of the HE-400i without a proper amplification and a high-quality audio source. Unless you own a top-of-the-line smartphone and pair it with a high-end headphone amp, you might as well save your money and purchase a pair of dynamic headphones.

Sound Quality

What makes almost all headphones from HiFiMAN so special are their planar magnetic drivers, which are a dramatic departure from traditional dynamic speakers. They work “using the interaction of two magnetic fields to cause motion. However, instead of moving the voice coil, pulling the diaphragm in and out from one ring within the driver, here the charged part is spread across the driver, which is a thin, largely flat film,” explains Andrew Williams from TrustedReviews.

The result is a breath-taking depth of sound detail, which is often compared to how it feels like to look through a clean window versus an old, dusty one. HiFiMAN’s premium headphones, such as the HE1000, cost thousands of dollars, but the HE-400i are available for under $500, despite using the same technology.

Like most audiophile-grade headphones, the HE-400i have an open-back construction. After all, these headphones are meant for serious listening. Find an hour of free time, put the headphones on, and immerse yourself in HE-400i clarity and effortless sound representation.

What’s in the Box?

The headphones are shipped in a premium box protected by a paper sleeve with a list of features and a depiction of the headphones. Removing the sleeve and opening the lid of the box reveals the headphones in their full glory. The only other thing in the box is the cable with HiFiMAN’s proprietary connector. In this case, we don’t see the absence of a carrying case as a downside, as the headphones are designed for home listening.

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