The HiFiMAN HE4XX is an affordable planar magnetic headphone launched by Drop (formerly Massdrop). It is a revision of the HiFiMAN HE400 and has garnered plenty of success ever since its debut. If you are planning to own a pair of planar magnetic headphones but don’t wish to invest too much or simply just started your journey, the HE4XX is definitely an ideal choice to consider.
Partnering a matching amp with your HiFiMAN HE4XX will be a good idea and finding the right one for the job will require us to learn more about these wonderful headphones. When we have gathered enough information and data about the HE4XX, we will then share with you a list of the best headphone amps to go for.
Sound Characteristics of the HiFiMAN HE4XX
Even though the HiFiMAN HE4XX has an affordable price tag, it still won a few accolades over the years, thanks to its amazing sonic performance for the money. A headphone amp will help bring out its full potential since the HE4XX has a low sensitivity of 93dB. The low impedance rating of 35 Ohms does give us a lot of headphone amplifier options to choose from. We will need to filter out most of these amp choices by considering the price point of the HiFiMAN HE4XX. Matching an expensive or high-end headphone amp is not really worth it.
It is already incredible for a planar magnetic headphone this affordable with such a level of sonic performance, and yet it is still comfortable to wear. HE4XX is not very tight and the earpads felt nice on the ears, you’ll probably be able to wear them for hours without feeling discomfort. The HiFiMAN HE4XX uses open design as its principle and the noise isolation capabilities are almost non-existent which is as expected. There are sound leakages as well and these may annoy people who are near to you while you are listening to your music via the HE4XX.
The bass performance is light and tight, and this comes to us as no surprise but what we didn’t expect is the accuracy and how detailed the low-end is. HiFiMAN HE4XX is capable of producing detailed low frequencies which are clean and clear, blending in nicely with the upper registers. It never once sounded boomy, still, the bass reproductions do have a lack of impact. The HE4XX doesn’t really bring out the sub-bass like the original version could, but it has more details and textures though, so it will be up to your preference to find which is better.
The HiFiMAN HE4XX stereo imaging is good, the soundstage on the other hand is not as spacious as we have come to expect from an open-back design headphone but overall it still sounded natural. The high-frequency reproduction of the HiFiMAN HE4XX is rather highlighted and can be too bright sounding at times. Still, it doesn’t reach a level of cringes that is unbearable. There is a sense of realism when it comes to vocal reproductions which are amazing for an entry-level planar magnetic headphone. The sound rendering of the musical instruments ain’t bad either.
All in all, you are getting a lot of sonic performance and value from the HiFiMAN HE4XX at such an affordable price. The overall sound quality is good for the money even though it has its flaws. HiFiMAN HE4XX won’t be suitable to play bass-heavy soundtracks and is not really meant for analytical audio enthusiasts. They are also more suited for music playbacks and not really great for movies or gaming. You can now take a look at the list of the best matching headphone amps which we have prepared for you below.
Best Matching Headphone Amps for HiFiMAN HE4XX
If you want the overall sound reproduction to be a bit fuller and punchier, you might want to match the Little Bear B4-X to your HiFiMAN HE4XX planar magnetic headphones. This is an affordable tube headphone amp with enough power to drive the HE4XX, not to mention, it is compact as well. The Little Bear B4-X doesn’t add brightness to the treble which is great. The smoother music delivery of the tube headphone amplifier also helps slightly ease the HiFiMAN HE4XX treble without losing clarity.
Not interested in tube headphone amps? Then the Schiit Audio Magni 3+ will be a better option for you. This is an amazing entry-level desktop headphone amp that could drive the HiFiMAN HE4XX efficiently. It could provide a richer musical performance and adds some weight to the overall sound reproduction. The subsonic bass performance is now more prominent and this is good for HE4XX, providing us with a more impactful music presentation. At such an affordable price point, the Schiit Audio Magni 3+ is definitely worth your time to check it out.
JDS Labs Atom Amp+ is another excellent entry-level headphone amp with a very modest price tag that will fit most listeners’ budgets and will be a good match with the HiFiMAN HE4XX. The Atom Amp+ may be a budget headphone amplifier but it does its job really well which is amplifying the sound without any colorations. This is thanks to the amplifier’s clean and neutral sonic characteristics allowing the HiFiMAN HE4XX sound signatures to shine. The JDS Labs Atom Amp+ is transparent as well and adds more details into the music presentation.
The Schiit Audio Vali 2+ is one of the best affordable tube headphone amps to go for and match with your HiFiMAN HE4XX. The advantage of having a tube headphone amplifier like the Vali 2+ is the option to do tube rolling where you can alter the sound signature to your liking. This tube amplifier works well with bright-sounding headphones and could drive the HE4XX without issue. Its soundstage is rather wide and will complement the HiFiMAN HE4XX. Schiit Audio Vali 2+ will also add some warmth to the final music delivery.
S.M.S.L SP200 is another solid performer and is powerful enough to drive the HiFiMAN HE4XX without breaking a sweat. The SP200 headphone amplifier has a high level of transparency and precision, able to unravel plenty of music details. It can provide its listeners with a clean and high-resolution music presentation which we can hardly detect any colorations. The S.M.S.L SP200 is a fast and agile amp as well, giving us an enthusiastic musical performance without fumbling the delivery.
Listeners who are interested in having a DAC but don’t want to spend more nor have the space for it might want to take a look at FiiO Q3. This is a headphone amp that comes with an in-built D/A converter capable of supporting up to 768kHz/32-Bit resolution and decodes DSD512 high-res audio files. The Q3 is not only able to drive the HiFiMAN HE4XX but will be an ideal match with the planar magnetic headphone too. It could dig out more music details and put on a bit more weight into the bass reproductions.
These are some of the very best entry-level headphone amps with most of them closely priced to the HiFiMAN HE4XX and will be worthy of your time to audition them. As mentioned earlier, we don’t recommend going with expensive headphone amps even if you have the budget for one. You might want to use it to get a higher-end planar magnetic headphone instead. Do remember to use your own HiFiMAN HE4XX during the auditioning of the amps.