Current testing methodology is v1.2
March 16, 2021
12.05 x 10.51 x 7.09 in
The HIFIMAN HE400se is one of the brand’s most popular headphones following the 2016 multi-awarded HE400.
The one I have is the original version, which was previously only exclusively distributed in China before they made a move to release a variant available to the international market.
The international version, later known as the Stealth Edition came with new invisible magnet technology which the original one didn’t have.
Users have had trouble ascertaining which model they had purchased, so I found this discourse to be quite necessary to include.
Excellent build quality, sonic performance, and technicalities.
The Hifiman HE400se is an exceptional product with fantastic build quality and sound.
It has an excellent bass response with great dynamics, a flat midrange response with incredible accuracy and performance, and a slightly emphasized treble that sounds open and airy in its articulation.
It’s an excellent planar that’s tuned to be extremely neutral from the low end to the midrange with a little bump in the treble frequencies for shimmer and presence. It’s slightly hard to power though, so you’ll need to add a small headphone amp to the costs if you don’t already have one.
The HE400se is a great starter headphone for a beginner audiophile as you won’t find a full-sized planar headphone that goes lower than its price.
- Form: Open-backed, over-ear
- Drivers: 1 x Planar magnetic driver
- Impedance: 25 ohm
- Sensitivity: 91 dB
- Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- Removable Cable: Y
- Source Jack: 3.5mm
- Cup/Shell Jack: 3.5mm
- Weight: 390 g
What’s in the Box?
- HiFiMan HE400se headphones
- Headphone stand
- 3.5mm Y-split aux cable
- 3.5mm to 1/4-inch TRS Adapter
Stuff I like
- Wide and open soundstage
- Lean bass response and flat midrange response
- Great resolving power
- Accurate stereo imaging and good sound separation
- Overall balanced tuning
Stuff I like less
- None at this price point
My early thoughts about the HIFIMAN HE400se were critically positive.
The build on it was unlike any headphones I’ve ever used. I mainly just stuck to my Sony 1000-XM3 but even then, the HE400se is just built in a different caliber.
The sound was mainly driven off of my Shanling M3X DAP, which was enough amplification at the time, but I waited until I could get my hands on the VE Megatron to see how the sound changed with more power available.
Getting the HE400se powered through the Megatron gave it a lot of juice and made it come alive but I found the sound to be more or less the same with just 100mW at 32ohm of power as compared to the Megatron’s 170mW at 32ohm.
The sound was very open and detailed, and the midrange had a naturalness to it that reminded me of binaural recordings of the HD600. It was like a sliver of the Sennheiser performance.
The bass was pretty lean as you’d expect from an open-back headphone, but I thought that it depicted the bass pretty accurately without sounding underwhelming or absent.
My overall thoughts about the Hifiman HE400se remain very positive as the price-to-performance ratio is overwhelmingly good.
The HIFIMAN HE400se is built like a tank. I mean, I wouldn’t stress test it under any circumstance as you wouldn’t be using these on the go considering their bulkiness and size.
The body of the HE400se is a mix of metal and a durable type of plastic, which makes the headphones generally feel sturdy and durable without making them feel heavy when worn.
The headbands have faux leather padding while the ear cups are made up of a mix of faux leather and cloth which are very soft on the ears.
Overall, the build feels rugged and sturdy while looking elegant and premium.
Fit and Comfort
The fit of the HIFIMAN HE400se is an odd one.
While it’s comfortable and snug in your ears, the clamping force is a little lower than what I’d like. It doesn’t give the feeling of instability, or the unit might fall off any second but it’s different from everything you might’ve used until now.
The faux leather and cloth earcups are very supple and soft to the ears. I’ve never been uncomfortable while wearing them and they don’t trap any heat or moisture, making listening sessions pleasant and free from humidity and heat irritation.
The weight is a little hefty on the head, but it doesn’t take a toll on my neck even after many hours of listening.
Overall, the HE400se is very comfortable despite its bulky persona.
The HIFIMAN HE400se will render anything you throw at it with utmost neutrality making playback accuracy a walk in the park.
It’s tuned to be perfectly neutral in its bass and midrange and is elevated slightly in the treble.
The bass on the HE400se graph looks a little bit rolled off on its sub-bass frequencies which is quite a common occurrence for open-back headphones.
I tried covering the outer earcups, and it somewhat brought more bass back in as well as compressed the stage a little.
The thing with bass is that it’s generally going to be more present when it’s not escaping through an open earcup, as with the case on closed-back headphones. The response is more of a leaner one, but that doesn’t hamper its production of warmth and depth.
The midrange is super flat with no bleed from the bass frequencies whatsoever. The presentation sounds warm and natural and with a pleasant tonality and light character to its notes which resound brilliantly without needing to make itself extravagant or showy.
The treble sounds smooth on its lower 2KHz region and has a slight elevation on the upper harmonics that picks up around 6kHZ and strategically rolls off at 8KHz to avoid sibilance.
There’s a little bit of grit that shows on the upper registers making very crispy transients a smidge bright at times but never piercing.
On the subject of technicalities, the HE400se doesn’t compromise even at its price.
The soundstage is presented with good width, extending far beyond the listener’s immediate headspace.
Listening to orchestral music almost feels like you’re in a theatre with a wide and well-extended stage that stretches a good distance from left to right.
The depth is a little shallower than I would’ve liked but it performs better on classical music than modern songs.
The imaging on the other hand is immaculate, rendering good instrument placement and separation in the soundscape, allowing the frequencies to move around and meld naturally as opposed to congesting.
The transient response is excellent and presents percussion distinctly from each other.
Overall, the sound signature and technicalities of the Hifiman HE400se don’t disappoint and they perform gracefully above its price point.
The bass on the HIFIMAN HE400se is a leaner kind of response.
The sub-bass isn’t the strongest due to the nature of open-backs, but it doesn’t sound scooped out or completely absent. It’s not going to have that ultra-deep rumble, but it makes up for it with good depth and texturing that provides a lot of haptic to the listener.
It’s like sitting in front of a bass cabinet and feeling the plucks and vibrations of the bass guitar rather than sitting in front of studio monitors blasting out EDM.
The mid-bass has good dynamics to it, plus good slam and punch with speed to go along with it.
Overall, the bass submits to the contribution of a balanced tuning.
The midrange is flat. This statement makes it sound like it’s dull or too clinical so to speak, but that isn’t the case at all.
The midrange has great accuracy and will present whatever you’re listening to with utmost neutrality.
I did find that the HE400se was affected slightly by source pairing. Sources like the VE Megatron sounded more linear and neutral while pairing it with warmer sources like the Shanling M3X gave it a tinge of warmth that complimented its musicality.
The general midrange is full-bodied and yet light in its note weight. It’s kind of like an airborne feather without coming across as thin.
The presentation is natural and transparent with good presence and clarity.
The treble response on the Hifiman HE400se sounds smooth on its lower treble region positioning vocal harmonics and lead instruments slightly farther.
The upper treble has a little bit of grit, making the presentation energetic and splashy but doesn’t venture too far that it evolves into sibilance.
I love the spatial expansiveness of the treble and its ability to resolve macro and microdetails and, overall, I’m more than pleased with its extension and general performance.
The HIFIMAN HE400se is the most famous headphones in the brand’s catalog – and for a very good reason.
The value you get from these headphones is insane.
I think the price-to-performance ratio is a little bit skewed in favor of the buyer as it’s just a literal steal to get the kind of build quality, sonic performance, and technicalities the HE400se offers.
It easily beats a lot of overpriced competitors aimed at the consumer market.
The HE400se Stealth edition has some revisions in its treble due to the stealth magnets but the price-to-performance ratio is going to be better with the original version.
With that, I conclude that the Hifiman HE400se is the perfect planar for the beginner audiophile who’s delving deeper into the intricate audio hobby.
Gavin is a college student who has a lot going on. From collecting IEMs and modding mechanical keyboards, to different hobbies like digital drawing, music mastering and cooking. It is safe to say he is a complete multi-faceted geek (and he's kinda cool too)
This post was last updated on 2023-12-02 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.