The Massdrop x Hifiman HE4XX is a stunning revision of the original Hifiman HE400 launched under the Massdrop label for a price of only $169.

Disclaimer: The Massdrop X Hifiman HE4XX sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank the team at Drop for giving us this opportunity.

To read more about Massdrop collaborations we have reviewed on Headfonics click here.

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With the launch of the HE4XX Massdrop is on an audiophile roll. Everyone in the audio enthusiast community knows it. Satisfying deals left and right, collectors getting newly minted and refreshed rehashes of older designs, now updated with a new logo, paint job or even earpads.

Some of our favorite older models from years ago, suddenly making a return and sporting a new look, new life and new style via the Massdrop brand. Today, I’ll be taking a quick gander at the Hifiman HE4XX Massdrop edition.

The Pitch

$169 Planar? What more needs to be said here. Years ago, Hifiman HE400 had been a very nice entry into the world of mid-fi audio in what seems like ages ago, in audiophiles years, that is. A few years after, Hifiman released the “S” and “i” series generation models.

Now, Massdrop has re-released the HE400i of sorts, but this time, under the logo of Massdrop with a new title designation of HE4XX. Hifiman and Massdrop have indeed altered the sound of the  HE400i just a bit, so if you are looking for an old-school HE400 with a new logo and upgrades, or a true copy of the HE400i, this isn’t going to be your ticket in…well, sorta.  Maybe?


Build Quality & Changes

Massdrop made sure to add a significantly more comfortable and plush feeling leather headband, over the original HE400’s much harder, less comfortable counterpart from years back.

The new Focus-A pads add a new level of comfort to the experience, at least for me and on a subjective level. A combination of leatherette and velour padding combined makes for a better seal all around the circumference of the pads themselves, and likely acts as a bit of a canon for coherency in the audio wave itself coming from the driver and into your ear.

Similar to Grado-quarter mods maybe? Hmm. Could very well be the case for the newer sound signature being pipped through this headphone and into my brain.


Beyond that, they’ve included a short, portable length and detachable 3.5mm cable! YAY! I love this cable. It feels fantastic to be able to go out and about for short walks and do not have to lug around a massive cable or purchase a custom cable just to use my HE4XX outside on the go.

True, the headphone is fairly large by most standards today for the “portability” factor. But, I’ll get into that in a moment and why it is awesome for that usage. At 370g, the headphone is not exactly a lightweight.

Sound Impressions

Bass Quantity

It does make me sad that they did not copy and paste the original HE400 low end and drop it into this model. My older HE400 from ye’ last age of Hifiman, rocks a noticeably deeper, more prominent low end in terms of quantity. You simply got more of it.

However, the new version sounds audibly cleaner and the texture is less thick sounding and purer in the HE4XX.  If anything, I do agree with some others insisting that this Massdrop HE4XX is more like the HE400i in that regard and that is not a bad thing.

If you want more depth and quantity in this style, opt for the original discontinued HE400 from years ago instead of and buy on the used market. If you want a noticeably more pure feeling bass, but still with plentiful quantity and response to bass boost, this newer version might be more to your liking.

Bass Quality

Quality for the price is, at least, in my opinion, literally among the top few full-size headphones on the market that are set at under $200. Yet, you are getting this for $169 now in a Planar.

What does that mean? It means the HE4XX is probably one the best value headphones on the entire market and actually comes close to matching the Massdrop Sennheiser HD6xx in terms of value overall. If you like your bass, this will satisfy most users who aren’t true bass heads. There is a plentiful quantity allowance here, but still not on the level of what the original HE400 was capable of.



If anything, I consider the midrange moderately forward at best. It is in that range of placement, in a literal physical locale sense of the word, that will sound pretty damned great with live venue and intimately recorded audio tracks.

That means vocals sound plenty forward and not recessed and sprawling, large sounding tracks that feel very open tend to feel just fine without looking coherency. A lot of headphones have that problem. Overly forward mids can ruin wide field recordings and make them feel odd. Very wide sounding headphones tend to be a little too recessed in the mids and, in turn, destroy intimately recorded tracks.

Proper midrange placement is a good thing and the HE4XX doesn’t really have that problem. For portability needs, this is ideal. As for quality, once again, at $169? I can’t name another set of headphones at this price point that can beat it in the full-size market. Yet, the headphone is also a Planar too? Okie Dokie!



I can hear some artificial treble boosting. It is apparent, but it is not a problem. Do not confuse the Hifiman titled models though. The HE400S, the HE400i, and the original standard HE400 are not the same. They each sound different. Here, the HE4XX still sounds a lot like the HE400i.

The major difference between this model and the original HE400, as well as the S version, is substance factor in the upper areas of the frequency response. There is simply less heft and physicality in this HE4XX and the HE400i, at least in my opinion. I hoped for the old school, stunning substance and vitality of the HE500 and HE-6, but gosh, that was a stretch of a desire and of course I don’t expect a $169 headphone to sound like some of the best Planar’s in the $500-1000 tier from yesteryear.

But, a call back to that tonality is something I desire a lot because I think those two models were among the best for treble response on the market at the time. I yearn for that old Hifiman treble tone and sadly, the newer gen models don’t offer that.

Is that a big deal? Nah, we are talking tonality terms here and not quality. For $169, you are getting very nice quality. If I had a gripe about the HE4XX’s treble end, it would be that lack of stunning, beautiful and jaw-dropping sparkle and tone that was prevalent in the other older generation drivers of the original HE-series. As mentioned, the HE4XX here and the HE400i share a lot of similar sound traits. Both of which are different from the original HE400.



Hifiman was never known for excellent sound imaging properties, so don’t expect any improvements there. But, do expect a nice, coherent sound field that sounds great for lively, forwardly recorded audio. If you like vocalists, this is a solid pick for a headphone sub $300usd.

Hifiman gets it right here and right often when referencing Sinatra, Amy Winehouse, Buble’ and similar big band/jazz singers. Well-formed, but a lacking width was always the Hifiman sound type and this one is, of course, no different.

The depth of field is the strongest point of the imaging prowess of the headphone, which to me and my ear, engages a moderate “a-ok” dynamic kick and reach into the stereo void. It doesn’t sound cavernous, but the depth of field and space in forwardness is what my ear always focuses on when listening to this model.

I forget that there is a lacking sense of width because I tend to use this headphone as a reference tool for intimate recordings and usually always pick forward tracks to listen to because I know they sound great on this headphone. The lacking width is the only real downfall here.


Our Verdict

Come on. Best deal in the entire headphone arena. At $169, this is a monster of a deal. Right now, you can score an original HE400i for around $219+ tax and shipping on some websites. It seems a wiser idea to just opt for the Massdrop edition when it is on Drop and save a lot of cash to get pretty much the same headphone in setup and style, although not 100% the same as the HE400i…but, damn close if you ask me.

Also, a slightly superior quality overall to the HE400i in this newer HE4XX, at least again, in my humble opinion.  Hifiman and Massdrop knock it out of the park, of course. The HE4XX is a monster of a “portable” headphone at $169. With a pure bass tone, plentiful oomph down below and a well-formed midrange that is nicely set up for intimate tracks, this is probably the best deal on the market outside of the Massdrop HD6xx from Sennheiser.

My only real gripe? The portability branding is not really accurate on power needs. My phone can hardly drive them to sufficient levels for me as an audiophile and with more power came more substance to the experience overall. I feel like you’d need to drop a solidly powerful portable amplifier to enjoy the headphone as it was intended to sound.

HE4XX Specifications

  • Open principle Planar magnetic drivers
  • Exclusive midnight-blue colorway
  • Soft-touch matte finish Spring steel and hand-stitched protein leather headband
  • Focus-A hybrid ear pads Adjustable sliders
  • Steel gimbals and Allen screws with black oxide finish
  • Silver printing Laser-etched serialization
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz–35 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 93 dB
  • Impedance: 35 ohms Cable: 4.9 ft (1.5 m),
  • removable Plug: ¼ in (6.35 mm)
  • Weight: 13.1 oz (370 g)
  • 65
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30 Responses

  1. Danlee Mitchell
    A Real Champion!

    Yes–the 4XX may be a slight on the bright bright side wired single-ended, but wired 4-pin balanced it is a completely different serving of tapioca. The bass and mids jump right out at you, the highs more tame, the soundstage and front-to-back incredible, and for orchestral music you are right in the front seat and not way in the last row. This is an incredible headphone as configured by Drop. Use a hefty headphone amp for best results. Plugged into a pre-amp or integrated won’t do it justice. I prefer the balanced 4XX’s over my LCD-3’s, which are also wired balanced.

  2. Danlee Mitchell
    A Real Champion!

    Yes–the 4XX may be a slight on the bright bright side wired single-ended, but wired 4-pin balanced it is a completely different serving of tapioca. The bass and mids-jump right out at you, the highs more tame, the soundstage and front-to-back incredible, and for orchestral music you are right in the front seat and not way in the last row. This is an incredible headphone as configured by Drop. Use a hefty headphone amp for best results. Plugged into a pre-amp or integrated won’t do it justice. With the balanced 4-pin cable, I prefer the 4XX’s over my LCD-3’s, which are also wired balanced.

  3. Andy

    There is no better value in the headphone world. These sound incredible — without an amp. You can get great sound out of these straight out of your phone, which is something you can’t achieve on 90% of audiophile headphones. The spacial arrangement is stunning when listening to binaural music. They’re open back, so, not for airplanes or crowded spaces. But when you’re in a quiet room you’d be hard pressed to find anything that sounds half as good for the same price.

  4. Juan

    Hello, I hope someone can give me some advise. I received my HE-4XX 3 days ago, and I am disappointed. My reference are my ATH-M50x, and I understand they are in different camps, but the 4XX sound is just boring and weak. I am using a Fioo 07k with its max gain (12) and max volume (60) for the 4XX and no gain and (25) volume for the M50x.
    Do I need a better amp to drive the Hifiman, or this should be enough?

    • Michael

      Hi Juan

      I think you are fine with power requirements, but more power usually always equates to better performance. Upgrading so something more powerful might impact the physicality of the headphone, yes, absolutely. Do you need it? No, not really.

      If its not for you then that is something you would know best. Have you tried any EQ or .DSP’s? You might be able to change the sound to something you like more. But, if not, I would say enjoy the headphone journey and the hunt for something much more to your liking. All headphones aren’t created equal, as you know. If you have specific qualities you want, I can help guide you if you can list them all here for me :)

      • William H Shows

        Can you tell me if the build quality is better than than the original HE400i? I have heard that these are not very reliable build wise, but are great soundwise.

      • Marcus

        The HE400i and the HE4xx are roughly the same in build qualities, at least in my book. I don’t rate them well, but I also don’t rate them fantastic. The first generation HE400, the original blue version cup model, had excellent build qualities. These newer models don’t compare.

    • Jim

      The HE4XX scales well with a good quality dedicated headphone amplifier.

      I use mine with the following: Schiit Magni 3, Loxjie P20, Monoprice Monolith Cavalli
      Liquid Spark, JDS Labs Atom, and Garage 1217 Project Starlight. They all work
      quid well. The HE4XX is an incredible bargain at its current $130 price on

  5. Tiago

    As I’m just entering the Audiophile world, which headphone do you think I should go for, between the HE4XX and the Monolith M560? I’m looking for the one that has a more immersive sound/good soundstage and imaging.

    I use a Micca OriGen G2 Dac/Amp combo, do you think it can drive these?

    • Michael


      If you are looking for immersion, I don’t recommend either. They both have a very well formed, coherent sound field. But, neither are known for great imaging properties. If you have a $150USD or so budget, and want a great soundstage, that is a very hard recommendation. You’d need to go backward in time to an AKG K-701 or Q series, or an AD700 from Audio Technica.

      Skip both and try to grab a Monolith M1060 instead, you can get a used pair for the price of a new HE4xx and M560. That would be the much better route and very much so worth the extra money, which isn’t very much extra.

  6. Michael Piskor

    Hi, Other Marcus!

    My suggestion is that if you are happy with the HE400 original, rebuy a used one on ebay or another online audio forum. You can get them for $120usd now in good condition. That would be the route I would take. You are 100% correct, for $120 or so now and in the current market, the original HE400 is still one of the best open backs you can buy. If you love the original HE400, you will likely not enjoy the Massdrop HE-4xx, because it is not based on the original HE400 driver at all.

    But, for around $200 or so, I would be opting for the RBH HP-2. It is a closed back. But wow is it fantastic. It is musical and bassy, offering good clarity for the price. They are worth hunting.

  7. Marcus Sudjojo

    Hi Michael, fellow lover of good ol’ HE400 here.

    So my HE400 is falling apart here. It still sounds superb, but the physical parts are failing. Cracked synthetic headband, rusted metal parts, hardened velour pads, etc. I’m considering of getting a replacement, but let’s face it, it’s hard to find a headphone that sounds as good, with more or less the same price.

    That’s why my eyes were twinkling when I saw the HE4xx on massdrop. What do you think, should I go for it, or I’m better off keep searching for other replacement?

    Thank you.

    • Benny

      Stay away from Hifimans. Their products are made with the cheapest possible materials. I owned their Arya and HEK. Both had problems.

  8. bcs

    ebay is selling HIFIMAN HE400i for $149 now. Which one is better sounding – 4XX or 400i ?

    • Marcus

      WIll let Mike chime in on his experience of the HE4XX but the 400i is an excellent headphone and a steal at $149. Just get a good amp for it.

  9. John

    Asking for advice, I’m using Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro 250ohm, would these HE4XX by Massdrop be considered upgrade from the aforementioned?

  10. blazer39

    i see Dream Theater in the last image, how does HE4XX sound with metal music?
    specially the progressive or more complex metal tracks

    • Michael

      Yum. Dream Theater is one of my favorite groups. The HE4xx sounds a little too lacking in quantity to do justice to Fusion and metal. It tends to get blurry with face paced treble. It loses detail when that happens, made worse by not so nicer recording quality that runs rampant in the pure metal genre. I’d not recommend it for Metal. I would recommend it for slower paced Fusion, melodic fusion guitar, etc. But, not hardcore metal, speed metal or anything fast paced and harsh.

    • Michael

      I’d still be going for the 4xx just because of the cable included from Massdrop.

  11. Tibor

    Hello, could anyone compare this to some bigger boys like LCD2C or Aeon open please? I’d like to upgrade and what I am looking for is better separation, resolution, impact and musicality.
    Thanks very much

    • Michael

      None of the Audeze’s are known for better separation and resolution in terms of staging at least. If you go the Audeze route, you’ll be getting much deeper bass with more impact in physical slam, better audio quality across the board of course, a heavier headphone and one that needs an amplifer to shine. You won’t get much better imaging and realism, or separation.

      If you go with the Mrspeakers, you’ll get better imaging and separation, a smaller headphone overall and one that is more musical and complete for a wider variety of listening experiences, where as the Audeze is less varying with potential genre selection that are optimized for the sound it offers.

      Either way, you will lose something. But, I’d opt for the Mrspeakers here personally if it is between those two. Neither of these two sound like the HE4xx. The shape of the stage is similar actually to the Audeze LCD series sound, its not wide, its not tall, its not really grand in depth of field and its separation qualities are so so. The LCD series are all mid yummy and heftier feeling than the HE4xx, they are much more clean and deep reaching on the low end and the treble is denser, more refined.

      The Mrspeakers aeon open isnt really a subbass powerhouse like the LCD2 can be sometimes if you EQ proper, but it does have plentiful bass and a warmer-ish tone down there. If you arent a bass head, then you’ll be happy with it.

      Overall, I’d be opting for the Aeon Open. Both are upgrades, but I think the Aeon open was one of the most well rounded headphones to come along in a while. Hope that helps.


  12. Daniel J Whicker

    I am loving mine, mainly due to the portability. Sounds great with just my S8 phone. Maybe I’m too eaay

    • Marcus

      Sensitivity: 93 dB – not likely. The gain will be ok but suggest you look for a stacking amp such as the FiiO A5 and line out.

  13. Tibor

    Yeah I was and still I am excited about this headphone, just that low low end is really missing and I don’t feel like the treble is too much, it’s about the synergy more probably. I also have Grado rs2e and this one is definitely cleaner and faster headphone for 1/3 of the price, nice :-)

  14. Ievgen Chupak

    Too bright. No bass and awfull QC from massdrop or HiFIMan… drivers was jammed and yokes are misaligned.

    • Michael

      Treble is definitely a bit bright. I was lucky I suppose, I had no quality issues. Maybe some odd stitching on the leather band, but I had no misalignment issues with mine.


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