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View Full Discussion Species: Headphoneus Openness
This is a very peculiar animal, the open-back headphone. When you first encounter this headphone, you wonder how it evolved to be…
Seemingly, the design is not what you would imagine in a headphone. The cups are vented so we call them “open-back.” They let music out and they let external sound in.
Why would you do this? For the very best sound.
An open-back headphone knocks down the walls around the speakers. It allows air and energy to move freely. Walls and surfaces are the enemies to even, clear sound because they reflect sound waves and can cancel out good sound.
With an open back headphone, you get the advantages of headphones (personal listening, low power, lightweight gear) but with the advantages of an open listening area with speakers (great treble extension, sense of “air,” openness and natural sound decay).
The Audiophilius Studius (trained audiophile) has known about the evolved open-back design for a long time. Yet this still remains a secret from many to this very day. The Massdrop x HIFIMAN HE-35X’s mission is to get the word out about great open back headphone audiophile sound, to everyone.
HiFiMAN HE-300 > Massdrop x HIFIMAN HE-350 > Massdrop x HIFIMAN HE-35X
Based on the entry level HiFiMAN HE-300, we introduced the Massdrop x HIFIMAN HE-350 back in 2016. We sold over 10,000 pairs. The HE-350 became the first step in high fidelity sound- a more neutral, linear response for greater reproduction accuracy. However, from feedback and reviews, there were some desired improvements to comfort, durability, & sound signature.
Comfort is largely determined by headband and ear pads. While the headband has always gotten high marks, the pads were relatively stiff and could have used some changes. We now include the same hybrid pads found on the HE-400i with softer cushioning, angled design, and a mix of velour, pleather, and breathable fenestrated pleather.
Community Input for Warmer Output:
The treble has been tamed through use of an electrical high-pass filter tuning circuit to make for a warmer sound signature when combined with the new hybrid pads. The circuit was developed by a community member (Solderdude) as a way to reduce the 6-7k treble peak of the original HE-350.
How we enjoy the product -
At Massdrop HQ, we’ve been enjoying the HE-35X on the Cavalli Tube Hybrid and THX AAA 789 headphone amps. The CTH adds a nice touch of warmth and extra body to the sound. The amp has plenty of gain for these headphones and vocals really shine with this combo.
The newly revised HE-35X brings you even more comfort, performance, durability, and a crowd-pleasing sound signature. We hope this new model will prove to be a great entry point for anyone new to open back headphones or for anyone that has been on the fence about HE350.
One final thing! As you may have seen today, we announced a new “Launch” pricing structure for new Massdrop Made products. This product is available at $90 for the next 30 days or until the first 750 are sold, so act fast!
- Reinforced headband yokes- now with metal inserts
- 3.5mm connectors in the earcups (previously they were 2.5mm, easier to break if dropped)
I’ve had a terrible experience with the350. The earcup connectors broke with the barest minimum use. The headphone is unusable. There are several serious production related complaints with Hifiman headphones. I love the sound quality, it I don’t want another shock. Will this headphone be any better manufactured?
@CEE_TEE, see my review. I admittedly HATED the HE-350. The HE-35X is a nice step up. Feels more robust, better features, and the sound is much more refined. For the pre-order price, this is a no-brainer unless you want to hold off to step up to something like the HD-6XX.
Thanks for asking- the ear cup connectors have been increased in size from 2.5mm to 3.5mm and they are more durable. HIFIMAN also added metal reinforcement to the yokes to ensure greater durability.
Those FR plots look uncompensated, is there any way to get compensated plots (either DF or something else)?
I just got the shp9500. Would this be worth having as well? I was seriously interested in finding a used pair of the he4xx until I saw this.
I haven't heard the 9500, but from what I have heard from others, I don't think these would be in the same class. The HE-4XX is also going to sound different. I'd like to know your preferred music genres to offer any further insight. I included several alternative recommendations in my longer review on my site, but didn't think it would be appropriate to include them on this thread.
HE4xx is based on the planar 400 series... the 3 series is dynamic like most headphones, they will sound quite different. Owned the HE-300 v2, sounded nothing like my 500, replaced it with a phillips x2 due to comfort and similar applicability with all genres
The HE-35X sound drastically different compared to the HE-350, so that comparison on HeadFi isn't particularly relevant. I'd love to do a comparison of the HE-35X to the Philips, but I don't have a pair of the SHP9500 on hand to showcase the merits and drawbacks of both cans.
Kudos on the cool drop! I always enjoy seeing the new Massdrop exclusive headphone drops.
But I have a friendly word of advice: post some compensated frequency response graphs soon. It makes the headphone look much worse than it is to the uninitiated. Most people looking at headphones in this price range don't know the difference between compensated graphs and non-compensated graphs but 99% of the ones they are going to find on Google are going be compensated so that's going to result in unnecessarily harsh conclusions.
I have no doubt that this headphone is more robust, comfortable, and refined than its predecessor but you are going to be fighting against HE-350 horror stories, don't make your job harder than it has to be with uncompensated graphs.
Thanks @tinyman392 and @PolygonBronson for noticing the graphs are "RAW" and uncompensated.
@Jude of Head-Fi.org has moved to providing RAW graphs as there is no agreed-upon standard for compensation. (As we go along, we'll be comparing RAW graphs to more RAW graphs and it will get easier.)
I hear what you are saying about how these look if you are comparing to compensated graphs though...
For this particular headphone, I'll see if we can't get some Diffuse Field graphs that I can post here in discussion. Hoping not to confuse with too many graphs, but point well-taken!
I'll be honest..... I ordered the HE-350 months ago. Unfortunately, they arrived with the yoke already broken, I reached out to Massdrop on the same evening(Monday), and HiFiMAN on the following evening(Tuesday). Massdrop took till the next week just to respond, while HiFiMAN had a replacement reinforced yoke in my hands the same week it arrived (Friday). Later, I had bought the HE-4XX secondhand.
I can't stand the stock pads from the 350, and between Brainwaves angled pleather pads and the pads from the 4XX, I prefer the 4XX pads. Now, given what I'm guessing are now the same pads, and the same headband (just no branding beyond HiFiMAN logo), and how easy it would be to just rewire for balanced(if it's even needed), what reason would I have to switch to the HE-35X?
@tinyman392 @PolygonBronson Thanks for the tip, hope this helps some people.
Here's a Diffuse Field Compensated comparison graph from @Jude last night (he doesn't sleep):
Awesome, thanks! Looks like a standard V-shape signature. It might be an interesting listen. Thanks for the graph @Jude, it's much appreciated!
(trained audiophile) Is it an elective I could take in university or do i need to seek out an audiophile master on the distant planet of doucheobah.
Well you've already got an associates degree in Ignorance Arogancia so might as well go for the gusto!
Sorry to say, but being a self-proclaimed "trained audiophile" is kinda douchey in regards to something so subjective. The real ignorance here is yours.
While one's headphone preference can be subjective in many ways (comfort, looks, brand preference), most aspects of a headphone can be measured or factually described (materials/driver used, impulse/frequency response, sensitivity, impedance, weight). Perhaps you are jealous of his vast experience with headphones, technical knowledge, and hearing discernment capabilities.
I was just pondering over here, why the heck are you people arguing about someone proclaiming to be a trained audiophile, when actually no one did such thing ? English isn't my first language, so please do correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as my understanding goes, @CEE_TEE wrote: "The Audiophilius Studius (trained audiophile) has known about..." not referring to himself as opposed to a group comprised of all who possess some knowledge pertaining audiophilia. It's the same as saying: "The Homo Sapiens is known to make use of tools and live in groups". It was just a verbose way of stating that open-back headphones are quite common within the audiophile community but largely unknown outside it.
My guess is you missed the irony in that one. he also said Headphoneus Openness. stupidous maximus.
Its IRONIC DUDE, guys probably is. if not backed by sound engineers. Audiophiles are just hobbist. Most audiophiles don't even know what audiophiles are which are in originality.
An audiophile is a person who is enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction. An audiophile seeks to reproduce the sound of a live musical performance, typically in a room with good acoustics. It is widely agreed that reaching this goal is very difficult and that even the best-regarded recording and playback systems rarely, if ever, achieve it.
Here you go D-bag in major.
While you are at it might wanna brush up on them literary skills.
You answered my question: this particular model uses dynamic drivers, not planar-magnetic. Ah well, back to the Sundaras. Thanks for this intel, eh.