Compendium updated: October 11th, 2021.
In the audio world, major innovations typically occur in the hi-fi price range of equipment before gradually trickling down to mid-fi. And although many innovations become accessible to entry-level budgets eventually, some are so poorly implemented that they fail to capture the magic of the original innovation. Luckily, companies like HiFiMAN exist.
HiFiMAN has taken two hi-fi innovations--planar magnetic drivers and stealth magnets--and implemented them beautifully into the $150 HE400se. This is no mean feat. Planar magnetic headphones generally start at the $300 price range, and HiFiMAN’s stealth magnets have previously only been available in the $6,000 Susvara. Let those numbers sink in for a second.
We can tell you all day how much we like the HE400SE, but what does the rest of the audio world think? We’ve compiled reviews from across the web for your reference. What you’ll find here are the TLDR versions of the full reviews (which you can access with the provided links). We’ll continue updating this compendium as reviews come in.
From Joshua Valour’s review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on September 13th, 2021:
From Z Reviews’ review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on August 8th, 2021:
From Major HiFi’s review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on August 24th, 2021:
From The Headphone Show's review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on May 2nd, 2021:
From Geekanoids' review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on September 4th, 2021:
From Bloom Audio’s review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on August 18th, 2021:
From Gavin's Gadgets' review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on April 19th, 2021:
From Passion for Sounds' review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on July 24th, 2021:
From Audiofied’s review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on May 19th, 2021:
From Headfonics' review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on May 14th, 2021:
“I have one thing to say to HIFIMAN, you better rev up those production lines because I have a feeling the HE400se is going to sell by the truckloads because they strike a balance of performance per buck that can only be offered by a company that has the backbone and the know-how to pull off something like this successfully.
“The HIFIMAN HE400se has an ability to do well in all areas of sound and while not being the best at anything, are not the worst at anything either in any part of the sound signature which makes them an all-around generally good set of cans, not perfect, but great for the price and a well-rounded offering.
“The number of cons are practically eliminated by cleverly ticking off most marks to an acceptable amount of quality while maintaining the price low.
“I could be a critic and complain about things like a lack of a carrying case, or remind the reader of my dislikes of the included wire but honestly, these cans will probably remain in use rendering the case an unnecessary accessory and you could always get another wire.
“If you want to jump into the planar magnetic realm but are afraid of committing a large sum of cash to try them out, then start here, but, be warned. These will then open up your curiosity gland and you will start to wonder what the top tier planar cans sounds like and at that point, well, I will just have to welcome you to the club pal.”
From Headphones.com's review of the HiFiMAN HE400se:
“For nearly a decade, the HE400-style headphones HiFiMAN has released have been a go-to for audiophiles. They’ve always provided solid performance for their price, and with the HE400SE’s new $149.99 price point, I believe it represents one of the best-values available in the market for over-ear headphones. I think that this is a pretty good entry point for both people just getting into high-end audio, or listeners who have yet to try out a planar magnetic headphone. Without a doubt, the HE400SE--with its reliable sound signature and structural upgrades--gets a strong recommendation from me.”
From Headfonia’s review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on May 16th, 2021:
“You don’t have to know a lot about personal audio and technology to love these headphones. And for the very accessible price the Hifiman HE400se is going for, they’re the ideal recommendation to a whole lot of people. As a result I am adding the HE-400se to our list of best headphones to buy. The HE400i 2020 was already on the list, and as the se-version plays at the same level but sounds differently, it also deserves its spot their as an excellent entry level headphone.”
From MajorHiFi’s review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on August 19th, 2021:
“Who exactly is the HE400SE for? I think if you’re just starting out in the planar headphone game, but you don’t want to commit to the mid-tier selections like the Sundara then the HE400SE is a worthy choice. The price is generous and its level of build quality and comfort won’t disappoint. The sound signature is quite picky and a lot more relaxed, but its got great depth and detail retrieval. If you’re interested in planar, the HE400SE does the best job of showing you what planar is like and won’t burn your wallet for it.”
From MMORPG’s review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on May 31st, 2020:
“The HIFIMAN HE400SE make for a fun listening experience, especially at this price. Compared to the HE-X4s, these offer a nice upgrade in sound for only a moderately higher price. The cable could use improvement, and the headband did cause me some minor irritation at times, but overall these are a solid buy at only $149.”
From Audio Discourse’s review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on July 11th, 2021:
“Hifiman has come a long way over the past decade and a half, and they have a very competitive arsenal of headphones at every price point. They are quite consistent in their delivery and getting one of their over-ear planars is a lot of knowing what the expectations are. You may get so-so build quality, but you know the tonal balance and sound quality are going to be consistent and solid. Yes, sometimes their pricing is questionable, but their sale prices are more representative of what they should cost, and even then, they typically out-perform their competition.
“The HE400SE is priced low and I feel it could cost a little more. It's a spectacular offering at a low price and immediately renders its own budget lineup redundant and overpriced. There's no reason to get any of their under $500 headphones when you can get the HE400SE. Yes, I am saying that I would rather own this over the Sundara, and that's mostly due to the terrible headband design of the Sundara than its sound qualities.
“The HE400SE is a great little set that I think will sell quite well. Good work.”
From Bloom Audio’s review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on August 12th, 2021:
“The HE400se gives you a taste of top-end planar magnetic performance at an incredible price. Paired with a good DAC/Amp, you can hear detail, clarity, and speed that blows away most other headphones under $200. While its neutral to slightly bright tuning may not be what most mainstream ears are expecting (e.g. Beats owners), if you’ve been looking to dip your toes into the waters of audiophile headphones, the latest revision of the HE400se is the perfect place to start.”
From Audio Monkeys' review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on June 15th, 2021:
- – Above average technical ability, great imaging, well-rounded stage, neutral but still very musical
- – Build quality was definitely improved if we compare these to older Hifiman releases
- – Pretty efficient, although you won’t be able to fully enjoy them without an amplifier
- – You get much more than you pay for
- – Sub-bass extension could be better
- – Cable is horrible: it’s very stiff and has a very annoying microphonic effect
- – Pretty heavy on the head”
From Soundstage Solo’s review of the HiFiMAN HE400se, first published on May 10th, 2021:
“So the HiFiMan HE400se headphones are competitive with everything I had on hand priced under $500, and at least as comfortable and easy to live with as any of them, but they’re $149. The only disadvantage is that you’ll probably want to add an amp, but you probably only need about four times the power of a typical phone, and pretty much any amp will do that. I’d say these are one of your best possible buys in audiophile headphones, maybe the best.”