One of the issues that we find with the HE-400, at least on the early batch, is that there is a problem with one channel. I didn’t have this issue with my HE-400, but Lieven did. Here is his take on the issue:
When I first connected the He-400, the left channel, like reported on other sites, had only like 30% of the volume of the right channel and it kept dropping out. After trying 3 different cables (stock, silver and He-500 stock) and fiddling with the connectors, the left channel went completely dead. Fortunately one guy on Headfi (Zeffa) posted a “fix” to this, which worked for me (I’ll repeat it here for those who haven’t seen it yet):
- Take off earpads.
- Unscrew all the black screws and remove the black plastic ring.
- Take off the back grille (steps by Nankai here)
- The driver part should now be accessible. There are 7 silver screws with tightening nuts that are compressing the driver together. Tighten these (especially around where the wires come out). I used a small wrench to make sure the nut didn’t move, then used a screwdriver to tighten it.
- Put it back together again (reverse of above steps). Make sure to align everything properly before screwing it all back together again. I found that it was easier to mate the black plastic ring with the driver piece and screw those together first before finally screwing it into the metal enclosure.
Not everyone has the skills or dares do the repairs to an orthodynamic driver but Fang is already on it since the beginning and he has promised a solution by wednesday, and he’ll be shipping out new driver tho those on thursday for those with solder skills. More info to follow… Anyway, that makes me a little disappointed as QC should be better, but then again, it is a $399 headphone, cost saving has to come from someplace.
The only thing that I want to add is that this puts an even bigger pressure on Hifiman to take more time between new product launches so that when they do get released to the market, we can be assured that quality control checks have been done thoroughly on each of the headphones.
Listening to the HE-400, I think it’s fair to say that Hifiman does listen to what the market wants, and indeed the demand has been going toward a darker sound signature with full mids and bass. It’s quite different than the signature of the previous Hifiman headphones, which is a good thing because that shows that they are not stubborn about how they ought to voice their headphones. Hifiman is making something that I think the market would enjoy, and at the lower price point, what people need is a no-fuss headphone that’s easy to enjoy. The lower price is also very welcome, as now we have an orthodynamic to fit every budget, rather than having to push your spending beyond what’s comfortable.
The fact is that the HE-400 has a strong potential to be a popular headphone, but whether the HE-400 will indeed be a successful model still remains to be seen. Some of my friends who’ve invested in the higher up Hifiman models probably think that they have enough Hifiman headphones in their collection and aren’t looking to add another one. These are also the same group of people who’s been voicing their objection to the number of new headphone releases from Hifiman. The fact that every new model brings a different sound and at different price points may somewhat justify the rapid updates. And yet, I do think that it would be better for both the consumers and Hifiman, if they would take the time to slow down and spend more time between each new product development. That way, we can expect even more mature headphones with a more reliable quality control, and people wouldn’t feel so pressed about having to keep up with a new headphone release every three months.