The HiFiMAN HE-400i is a rather affordable entry model to the world of planar magnetic headphones. Even though it has a modest price tag, the sonic performance you are getting is one of the best in its price range. You will need a headphone amp to drive the HE-400i so as to unlock its potential and we will be sharing with you a list of amplifiers later on so please continue to read.
This list of headphone amps will consist of the ones which will match and complement the HiFiMAN HE-400i. To find such matching amps, we will need to learn more about HE-400i sonic characteristics and prowess, so without further ado, let us start.
Sonic Characteristics of HiFiMAN HE-400i
As mentioned earlier that the HiFiMAN HE-400i will require a headphone amp to drive them, and one of the main reasons will be its low sensitivity of 93dB. Fortunately, the planar magnetic headphone has a low impedance rating of 35 Ohms which will give us more amp options to choose from. Other notable specs will be its frequency response of 20Hz-35kHz and it is considered good for a planar magnetic headphone at this price point. The HiFiMAN HE-400i uses a single-ended planar magnetic driver and it is supposed to provide high-quality spatial performance. It uses an open-back design and this will help provide a more superior soundstage when compared to closed-back designs of the same caliber.
There are also disadvantages of using an open-back design though and one of them will be the bass performances which are less pronounced than closed-back headphones. The noise isolation capabilities of the HiFiMAN HE-400i are also subpar due to the open design but can easily be resolved by listening to your music inside a quiet room. The HiFiMAN HE-400i is bulky and not portable enough for outdoor use anyway, not to mention, it also leaks sound so is best to use it indoors.
The bass performance of the HiFiMAN HE-400i is as expected, it lacks the punch and impact but trades it with details and tightness. HE-400i never once sounded boomy and the low ends blend in nicely with the upper registers. When it comes to subsonic bass frequencies, we find the planar magnetic headphone not extended enough. All these may not be an issue if most of the music you are listening to is not bass-heavy. If you listen to vocal-centric music then you are in luck as the midrange prowess of the HiFiMAN HE-400i is capable of transparent and sweet-sounding vocal reproductions.
What we didn’t expect though will be the size of the soundstage projected by HiFiMAN HE-400i, it is not as wide and deep enough. It is still considered amazing, partly due to the headphone’s excellent stereo imaging and separation. The HE-400i has a lively treble and a high level of clarity. This could sound overly bright for some listeners and we need to be cautious when partnering amps which may further excite the treble, causing the music presentation to sound cringe.
This is a pair of planar magnetic headphones not suited for bass fanatics. It is definitely a good headphone to get for audiophiles who have just started their journey. The HiFiMAN HE-400i is capable of delivering a high-resolution music presentation that doesn’t sound unnatural. It does deliver quite an intimate listening experience and this is what makes the HiFiMAN HE-400i so endearing. We will start sharing with you the list of the best headphone amps to match your HiFiMAN HE-400i and the price points of these amplifiers will be quite close to the planar magnetic headphone as well.
HiFiMAN HE-400i Specifications
- Wearing Style: Headband
- Transducer Principle: Open-Back, Planar Magnetic
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-35kHz
- Sensitivity: 93dB
- Impedance: 35 Ohms
- Weight: 370g (0.82lbs)
Best Matching Amps for HiFiMAN HE-400i
The DarkVoice 336SE will add some nice tube warmth to the overall sound reproduction when matched with your HiFiMAN HE-400i. This OTL headphone amp complements the vocal prowess of the HE-400i really well, giving them more details and clarity. DarkVoice 336SE also provides more details in the treble without adding more brightness. Another cool thing about the 336SE is the tube rolling option where you can alter the sonic characteristics of the amp further, adjusting it to your preference.
The Schiit Audio Valhalla 2 is another excellent headphone tube amplifier with a tube rolling option. It could drive the HiFiMAN HE-400i with ease and help to bring out more details, giving us a clearer sonic picture of the music. The Valhalla 2 does so without adding unwanted brightness which may cause fatigue. Its smooth music delivery and ability to project a wider soundstage will complement the HiFiMAN HE-400i overall performance. This also allows us to listen to the HE-400i without worrying about it sounding harsh.
For headphone enthusiasts who want a more affordable and portable tube amp to partner up with their HiFiMAN HE-400i might want to check out Little Bear B4-X. This is a compact and portable Dual-Mono Vacuum tube headphone amplifier which you can hold with one hand. It will provide its listeners with a fuller music presentation and gives us a richer midrange performance. Little Bear B4-X also has quite a polished background and is impressive for such an affordable headphone tube amplifier.
Schiit Audio Magni Heresy has similar sonic characteristics as the HiFiMAN HE-400i and is ideal for listeners who want more of what their planar magnetic headphones could deliver. The Magni Heresy is able to bring a clearer and crispier sound reproduction onto the table. It is also an agile and fast headphone amp, giving us a slightly more enthusiastic musical performance while still sounding natural. The Schiit Audio Magni Heresy is very modestly priced and is still capable of driving the HiFiMAN HE-400i.
Topping A30 Pro is an exceptional desktop headphone amplifier and can easily drive the HiFiMAN HE-400i planar magnetic headphones. The stereo imaging and sound staging capabilities of the A30 Pro will complement the HE-400i really well. The midrange prowess of the Topping A30 Pro does a good job in rendering vocals naturally and with plenty of details to boot. With its wide dynamic range and high level of control, the A30 Pro amp provided us with an entertaining performance with impactful crescendos.
If you are interested in having a headphone amp integrated with a powerful D/A converter then you should certainly take a look at the FiiO K5 Pro ESS. Firstly, the K5 Pro ESS has enough juice to drive the HiFiMAN HE-400i planar magnetic headphones. The DAC supports up to 768kHz/32-bit resolution and native DSD512 which is enough for most modern digital music playthroughs. It has a very polished background and doesn’t sound harsh when pushed. Furthermore, it is affordably priced and should fit most listeners’ budgets.
Headphone Amps Auditioning
Auditioning headphone amps is essential and easy, you’ll just need to shortlist a few of them from the list first. From there, arrange an audition at one of your local dealers and bring along your own HiFiMAN HE-400i planar magnetic headphones. You should also bring a library of music (analog/digital) you are familiar with so as to use them during the auditioning of the headphone amplifiers. By using your own HiFiMAN HE-400i and listening to your favorite music, you should be able to tell which amp sounds the best to you.