Dr. Fang Bian made it to Munich – I bumped into him the night before the start of the show – but for the Newport weekender he sent his apologies. Bian’s now tucked up at home with his wife – they’re expecting. Things seemed to go just fine without the captain helming the show ship in Irvine.
HiFiMAN have been teasing their flagship HE-1000 for a good few months but now they have firm pricing: US$3000 – serious cash. Hooked up to Schiit’s Yggydrasil DAC and Ragnarok headphone amplifier there’s no doubting their prowess with transparency and speed. Mind you, at exactly half the asking, MrSpeakers’ Ether give the HE-1000 a serious run for their money. The bang for buck ball lands firmly in Dan Clark’s court. The Ether’s more understated stylings are also more this reviewer’s bag – one man’s stylish is another man’s gaudy. In Asia at least, one would expect the HE-1000’s show-pony aesthetics to play extremely well.
More understated in nearly every respect are the brand new and eminently affordable HE-400S. US$299 gets you across the line. Are these now the least expensive planar-magnetics in the world? Before you jump in asking for comparisons to OPPO’s PM-3, know that the HE-400S are open back – they leak sound. A commuter headphone they are not.
Still, that doesn’t mean they aren’t portable friendly. I ran the display pair from an Astell&Kern AK Jr. without it tearing a tendon. That’ll be the 98db sensitivity and 22-Ohm impedance at play. Also of note is the HE-400S’s weight…or rather a lack thereof: 350g. These are super-comfortable ‘phones with an on-head feel that’s none too dissimilar to AudioQuest’s NightHawk.
HiFiMAN have come a long way from the HE-6’s punishing stats – 502g, 50 Ohms and 83.5db – and I’m told by the Chinese company’s North American Sales Manager Summer Yin that the HE-400S are “HiFiMAN’s lightest headphone to date”. Underneath the covers sits a brand new, rectangular, single-sided driver that’s designed and made in China.
Oh, and the earcup cable connectors on the new entry-level model are 2.5mm TRS which will no doubt make it easier on after-market cable makers.
Further information: HiFiMAN
T.H.E. Show Newport 2015 coverage sponsored by LH Labs: