HIFIMAN HE400i vs HE400S: Review and Comparison

HIFIMAN started its journey in 2005. It manufactures personal audio products in China. The products include headphones, earbuds, IEM, portable player, audio streaming device. It also has several accessories like Focus-A pads or HE-Adapter.

Among many, in this article, I will talk about the HE400i vs HE400S. what makes them special is their planar magnetic drivers that create broader soundstage with details and depth. They are not exactly opposite of each other and have several similarities. The differences lie in some technical specs and sound performance.

In terms of price to performance ratio, these headphones are outstanding. Although they will not eliminate outside noise they produce immersive ear-filling audio without any coloration. If you want to enhance the audio quality, then you can easily add a DAC/Amp with it but it isn’t mandatory to do so.

Quick comparison

Comparing the HE400i and HE400S, we see that their technology and build material are the same. Both are over-ear and open-back headphones that have the same frequency response. But the sensitivity and impedance vary along with the slight difference in the weight.

The sound performance is better in HE400i in terms of precision, immersive ear-filling sound but you will prefer the HE400S because they have a consistent and decent performance at all frequency range.

Driver typePlanar magneticPlanar magnetic
Frequency response20Hz-35kHz20Hz-35kHz

Compare and contrast: HE400i vs HE400S


When you are planning to buy headphones, along with a good look, they should be comfortable to wear. The design is classy and admirable. They are also quite pleasant and comfortable to wear. The HE400i and HE400s are over-ear open-back headphones. They have big earpads with soft plush padding which will firmly cover your ear.

The leathery headband has a frame around it which has a square-shaped design. The design is similar to our heads and you can adjust the leather by your head size. This ensures that the headphone will stay put on your ears instead of sliding.

Comparing HE400i vs HE400S, we see that the HE400i is a bit heavier than the HE400S. The HE400S has full velour padding and the size of the opening ear pads vary from 5 to 6cm. Whereas, the HE400i ear pads are made from ABS polymer with velour and pleather which makes it more comfortable to wear and the opening is 6cm on all sides.

The glossy material gives a unique look and they have used premium material to make it more durable. Both the headband and ear cups are soft which securely locks them on your ears to wear for long hours. Although they can withstand some physical stress, they might break under unsupervised pressure.

Sound performance:

One of the best things about the HIFIMAN HE400i and HE400S is that they use single-ended planar magnetic drivers instead of the fixed magnet and voice coils. This technology was vastly employed by Yamaha and has several benefits. The planar diagram has a thin and light film that has equally scattered conductive layers.

The layers are evenly moved by the magnetic force which results in reduced distortion, precise and detailed sound compared to traditional dynamic ones. The open-grilles of the headphone creates a broader soundstage. In terms of sound performance, the HE400S vs HE400i varies but their main attraction is the mid-section.

The HE400S is easy-to-drive headphones that have a natural and warmer sound. The mids are clear with a flat response that has pronounced vocals and lead instruments. The bass is not ‘shaking’ but it is decent and deep. The bass is not for the bass heads but it is not muddy either. The Treble section has clarity and detail, it blends with the sound naturally. But it could be improved.

Comparing HE400i vs HE400S, we see that the bass is almost similar, it is moderately deep but lacks depth. It is enjoyable for general listeners. The mids are well-represented and are ‘forward sounding’ with upfront vocals. The treble is better than HE400S which is more accurate and precise. In general, the mids and lows are impressive but the treble might need improvement.

A massive change was identified in terms of bass and detailed audio when the headphone earpads were removed and the Brainwaves HM5 pads were used. So you can try that but you need to buy the plastic ring also.

How to wear it:

Wear the headphone on your ear and see whether the headband touches your head so that it will sit firmly. If not, you need to adjust the sliding black block so that the headband lies on your head. It is recommended to always use the earpads with the headphone.

For the HE400i, the ear pads come in varying thicknesses so if you put on the pads, then make sure the thinner side remains on the front side and the thicker side on the back.

Indoor or Outdoor:

The HIFIMAN HE400i and HE400S are quite heavy. They are not designed to use during sports or heavy workouts. But you can use them while walking because the open-back feature will allow the surrounding sound to reach your ears so that you can be aware of a car horn or a dog barking.

If you wear them for a long time they will start to feel heavy on your head. The open grille will also allow the sound to leak which means you can’t wear it in places like a library or office. They are made for indoor use but in some cases, you can also wear it outdoors with caution.

They don’t come with a headphone casing so carrying it will also be an issue. Sitting on your desk or in one position is the ideal use case for these headphones.


The HE400S has a 6.35mm headphone adapter. It has a 1.5mm cable that has a 3.5mm plug. The HE400i has the same adapter and similar sized wire and port instead of the 2.5mm plug that was found in previous models.

It is made of crystalline metal and oxygen-free copper and silver. The headphone has an individual lead for each channel that helps to minimize crosstalk.

Who are these best for?

These headphones are best for desk uses. They are not professional or audiophile headphones. So you will not be blown away by the bass or the sound will not be that isolated from any outside noise. With that in mind, these headphones will work better with anything you play on it.

These are mid-fi category headphone that is pleasant to listen for long hours. They are also very comfortable and if you don’t want to strictly analyze the sound performance, they will definitely satisfy you.

Parting Words

The HIFIMAN HE400i and HE400S are decent headphones of good quality. They are not high-end products so you can’t expect earth-shaking bass with noise-canceling techniques. These products are ideal for mass consumers who love using the headphone for fun listening to casual movies, music, or games.

Between the HE400i vs HE400S, the HE400i has warmer and smooth sound whereas the HE400i has decent bass, wider soundstage with precise and balanced audio. The HE400i is more comfortable and gets less warm than the HE400S. The HE400i is also 30% lighter than other comparable headphones. In terms of build quality, the cables aren’t durable but the headphones are quite sturdy.

Although the bass and overall sound quality don’t fulfill the audiophile’s taste of music at the price range, it is decent. Depending on hip-hop, jazz, or classic genre, the sound of a certain frequency might be emphasized but you will enjoy the soundstage and clarity of these headphones.

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we are almost at the end of the article, and this part is going to talk about some questions and answers. let’s find out more about it.

Can I use these headphones in planes?

You may use these headphones during a plane journey but they are not designed to do so. The sound will leak heavily from the open-back grille of the headphone so it will not be convenient for someone sitting next to you.

How to clean the headphones?

To wipe away any dirt from the headphones you should remain gentle. You should take a soft but little damped piece of cloth to clean it. For the leather headband use cleaning products for leather. You should remain cautious so that no soap/detergent or any liquid enters into it.

Should I use a DAC/amp with it?

Using a DAC/Amp with these HIFIMAN models are not mandatory. You should hear the best audio if you have high-quality audio files. However, if you have a DAC/Amp then you can use it and you will hear a noticeable difference once you plug it in.

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