Hifiman HE400s vs HE400i

Which one should you get?

Planar magnetics!! That’s a phrase I will use once or twice throughout this review. So be sure to look it up, so you know what I’m talking about at the time. So you’re an audiophile, or you’re looking to get your pal who is a birthday present? 

Let’s say that by the time you finish reading this, you’ll be well aware of everything that these music lovers will be saying. Until you understand what headphones can do for you. You’ll never understand the hype that’s out there for a single headset. 

In truth, we both know that people are always looking for the next best thing. So when it comes to headphones you know that people are looking to but the best set that is available at the time. Not because they want to look cool or anything, but listening to good music goes a long way.

Hifiman 400s

First, we will look at the Hifiman HE400S. Well, what can I say? It’s a planar magnetic headphone. At the current moment, this one is quite popular in the market. Just checking the price your pockets may shake, then you’ll soon realise that the pricing as determined by the competition is quite alright. The 400s have this bulky design that you will probably spot from the outside. The ear cups, however, somehow they managed to make them look thinner. I guess we have the magnetic drives to thank for that. Plus it all looks pretty stylish and neat.

For a headphone it has some pretty good sound qualities and the performance is quite impressive. Many people claim that it has an engaging sound that lets you hear almost every beat and rhythm to the music being played. As for the comfort, they come with enough padding that feels comfortable enough when used. It has plenty of padding that will make sure to keep your ears well supported and greatly cushioned. I guess we can say you’ll be able to use them for quite a while before they start burning or hurting you.


Well, these little monsters definitely have something we’d both love to know about. The he400i just looks like it’s a sibling. With no distinct difference at all. You may notice a few changes like the padding and maybe the weight but physically I don’t think you’ll note any difference without actually touching them.

They have proven to be able to deliver a great and wonderful sound. Something that almost every audiophile has been able to approve of. They produce great quality by providing some clarity with a nice black background and good speed. However, that is mostly driven by the source of music. When it comes to comfort, this pair does not disappoint either. It’s still just as comfortable and you can wear it for a couple of hours before you start experiencing any form of discomfort. The cable comes at 1.5 m which is different in that it is shorter and I bet it is easier to walk around with.

Favourite Features

Physically speaking, both the Hifiman HE400i and Hifiman HE400S have almost similar looks. The only differences you’ll notice are if you actually carry them. Then you’ll notice a slight difference in weight and maybe the look. 

Then most importantly, both of them are open planar headphones with magnetic drives. This improved sound quality. Also the open back which might be weird but actually keeps a but of air circulating and getting to your ears. Keeping them rather cool.

Sound quality and performance

As I already stated before both pairs are open-back headphones. This feature has a slight effect on sound quality. This just means all the outside sounds would be quite audible to you even when you are listening to something and likewise the people around you will be able to listen to what you’ll be playing.

The Hifiman HE400i has pretty good and decent bass to its sound. It might not have the necessary rumble that people who love heavy bass may want. Mostly because the bass guitars and kick drums aren’t as pronounced as you’d want them to be. 

The same doesn’t go for the Hifiman HE400S. For this set, the kick drums sound refined and the bass guitars don’t sound as subtle nor as muddy at all. However, for this set, when in midrange the sound changes and that’s when it starts to sound really good.

Other features


When we look at the treble performance for both sets. The treble performance of the Hifiman HE400i is overemphasized a little but that is not noticeable. What might actually be of concern is the high shrill vocals or cymbals. It makes them seem as if they are louder than they actually should be. 

However, when you are working with the Hifiman He400s you will realise that the presence is truly well defined and well detailed. The shrill audios cut through the mix well and don’t dominate the overall sound at all. Making the song sound great and well balanced.

Hifiman HE400s vs HE400i

Earpads and comfort

Another difference that you may want to note is in the earpads and the comfort that each pair provides. Though both pairs have somewhat relatable comfort, the HIFiman he400i earpads are made of soft and plush pleather while the He400s has a velour material that can be quite a nuisance if it attracts lint. 

What could be better

At this point, the question of what could be better certainly makes things a whole lot different. I would go with the he400s. The sound quality is obviously better that means my reason for getting headphones is clearly satisfied. 


At the same time the he400i are more comfortable because they are lighter and the ear padding is rather comforting and supportive. That means longer hours of some good music without any issues or problems. Most headsets start to make the ears ache.

The verdict

In short, I’m just going to say that I would highly recommend the he400s. Good music always brings a good vibe. You won’t feel much of a disappointment. However, if you hate the ache that occurs after a while then the he400i would make the better option. Just make sure you understand what you are letting go of. 

Rob is a musician and audiophile at heart. He plays 5 instruments. Besides music, Rob enjoys a good whiskey and the outdoors.
Robert S. Thompson
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