HIFIMAN HE-400i 2020 Review

Hifiman HE-400i 2020

In this article we review the Hifiman HE-400i 2020 headphone, selling for $169 USD.


Disclaimer: Hifiman sent us the HE-400i 2020 free of charge in exchange for this review. The unit doesn’t have to be returned as far as I know.


It is simply impossible that you have not heard of Hifiman. They are China-based personal audio company led by Dr. Fang Bian and they have been around for like 10 to 15 years.

We have reviewed many units from Hifiman here on Headfonia, and my absolute favorite ones are the HE-6(SE), the HE-560, the Susvara and the HE-1000-series. What I like about Hifiman is that they are an innovative company and they continue to R&D new goodies for us Audiophiles. More important, they let trickle down high end technologies to their lower range units and the headphone we’re reviewing today is a perfect example of that. Another thing I really appreciate is the fact that they have great gear in all segments of the market. No matter how big or small your pockets are, Hifiman has you covered with great gear.

This year we saw some great new products from Hifiman such as the DEVA headphone – which is available in a wireless and cabled version – and the HE-5XX headphone the created together with Drop.

The Hifiman headphone we’re looking at today is the HE-400i 2020. It’s an update of their HE-400 series headphone, but we’ll go into that in the next chapter.

For those of you who’d like to know more about Hifiman and their founder, there’s always this interview we did with him: https://www.headfonia.com/q-n-a-saturday-hifiman/

Hifiman HE-400i 2020

HE-400(i) History

The original Hifiman HE-400 was released back in 2012 but I remember it very well. It was a darker sounding headphone but back in the days, it was quite the eye-opener. The HE-400 was dark and together with the HE-560 which was released in 2014, Hifiman had headphones for different tastes.

The first HE-400i version saw the light in early 2015 at is was a huge hit. It was selling for $499 USD and we called it a Mid-Fi at its best. It’s one of Hifiman’s best selling headphones, ever. From the review:

The HE-400i sells for $499. The sound quality you get in return is impressive and Hifiman has really let the HE-400 evolve in an i(mproved) version that makes you forget about the HE-400. 

You get all the benefits of the orthodynamic drivers: clarity, detail, speed and a black background. You’ll love every single bit of it.

Now, 5 years later, Hifiman is back with the HE-400i 2020 version. I’m not surprised about this as the HE-400i was a really good headphone with excellent drivers. Let’s have a closer look!

Hifiman HE-400i 2020

HE-400i 2020

The most important thing to know id that the 2020 version of the HE-400i, is still using the same drivers as the one that saw the light in 2015. But these drivers are/were great, so we’re not complaining about this.

You can find out all about the new HE-400i on its dedicated web page here: https://store.hifiman.com/index.php/he400i-2020-version.html

What is new in the 2020 version is the headband and earpad design, which we will get into in a bit. The original HE-400i’s weight was 360g and the 2020 version weighs 370g. That’s light for a planar magnetic headphone.

Also new in this version are the connectors. Where the original HE-400i used the screw-on SMC connectors, the new version sports simple 3.5mm terminations and they are just so much easier to use. Especially if you like playing with aftermarket cables.

In theory the HE-400i is an easy to drive headphone, but it’s not that black and white as we found out.

Hifiman HE-400i 2020

Comfort, Design & Build Quality

With the new headband, the HE-400i 2020 looks more like a normal and modern headphone. I’m actually a big fan of the “old” headband design of the HE-400i, HE-560 and the HE-1K series, but I have to admit that this new one looks good and feels comfortable. I’s also very easy to adjust.

The headband is soft and perfectly spreads the weight over the top of your head. Of course at only 370g, there isn’t much to distribute. The bevelled pleather and velour ear pads have a new pressure pattern according to Hifiman. They feel soft and perfectly fit around your ears. My ears don’t touch the pad or driver. The headphone pressure on the side of your head is just right. It’s not the lightest pressure but it will keep the headphone in place at all times when moving around.

I really like the design of the HE-400i 2020. It’s simple but the headphone looks cool. The ABS polymer ear cups have a gloss charcoal-ish finish and the fully dark look just works for the HE-400i 2020.

Build quality wise these also score well. They feel sturdy, especially because of the headband, and they do look like they can take a beating. The cups swivel a lot however, so if anything does break or come loose, I expect it to be there where the yokes go in to the headband.


Frequency Response: 20Hz – 35kHz

Impedance: 35 Ω

Efficiency: 93dB

Weight : 370g (13.05oz)

Headphone Cable (1.5 meter or 4.9 Feet; 3.5mm plug)

Earpads:1 pair (on the headphone)

¼”(6.35mm) headphone adapter

Hifiman HE-400i 2020

Price & Accessories

As the original HE-400i was quite a bit more expensive, I expected this new version to cost about the same. But no, Hifiman is selling these now for only $169 USD and that’s simply incredible.

For this price the HE-400i 2020 comes in a nice but simple box. The HE-400i is presented in a cut-out foam base, covered with silkish-velvet. It’s simple but nice. The 1.5m (4.9ft) 3.5mm terminated headphone cable can be stored in the middle of the box.

Accessory-wise you only get a 6.35mm adapter, but at this price who is complaining?

The part on sound starts on the second page. Click HERE or use the nice little jumps below.

4.2/5 - (76 votes)

Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.


  • Reply December 13, 2020

    Patrik Ištok

    Thank you for review, what about Shanling M3S – is it good source for HE-400i without any headphone amp?

  • Reply January 10, 2021


    How would you compare with Deva wired?

  • Reply May 22, 2021


    I just got my first planar HE400i 2020 but listening through the Topping E30 and L30 it sounds a lot different than I’m used to with the SHP9500s. You reccomended to go balanced, and since I do plan on getting a balanced dac/amp anyway, what balanced cable do you reccomend since I can’t find any(that are actually balanced)?

    • Reply May 23, 2021


      There are many aftermarket cable makers which make such cables. Try Effect audio, Plussound, DHC, etc

  • Reply June 2, 2021


    I always feel the OG 400i to be a subpar attempt at Audio Technica’s AD1000x soundsig, it ended up less airy, less emotive on the mids , with as less of a bass also.
    if only it has more bass than it is, I’d recommend it to people more. But for now it’s a bit more niche IMO, maybe on that regard the 2020 ver is the more mainstream one.

  • Reply May 20, 2023


    i cant find any contaact info for this review. i dont see how i keep missing it. what tube amos are you using to drive the 400i headphones in the review?

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