Drop + HIFIMAN HE-X4 Planar Magnetic Headphones
$129

Drop + HIFIMAN HE-X4 Planar Magnetic Headphones

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BadSeedTech
250
May 11, 2021
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Drop x Hifiman HE-X4 Review - A Steal for the Price https://youtube.com/badseedtech

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Overview: Its based on the HE-4XX which remains one of my personal favorite headphones and one I normally recommend - with the caveat that there's a lot of competition around that $200 mark ($180). The X4 shares a lot of similarities in build - same yoke system, same round ear cups, same Focus A hybrid pads with the angled design, similar old-style headband system. This has been revised so the slides (at least on my unit) have much higher tension. They're not clicked but they really stay put once they're on and adjusted. I didn't have to fiddle with them as I wore them. I find these to be similar comfort to the 4XX, not as comfortable as the 5XX but the build feels better in hand. Cable: Same split rubberized cable from the 4XX - with the right angle plug. Would have preferred the straight plug of the 5XX. Drivers: Dual magnet this time, similar to 5XX with magnets on both sides of the diaphragm versus the single-sided design of the 4XX. This results in the headphone being about 20 grams heavier (420g) than the 4XX. These are rated slightly more efficient as well at 25 Ohms impedance / 91 dB sensitivity versus 35 Ohms / 93 dB on the 4XX. In practice, I found them very similar to drive. An entry level amp is mandatory to get the most life out of these. Given that they leak sound to such a high degree, I don't recommend them for mobile use anyway. Audio Performance: Versus the 4XX, these come across as more balanced. They have a similar low end - punchy, clean, tonal. The biggest difference is that the high mids are more forward in the mix. This results in a more intimate vocal. Not 6XX intimate but immediately more distinct than the 4XX. The highs are not as dark and a bit more forward. If you love the vocal presentation of the 4XX with its darker highs and more recessed high-mids (more distant, spacy vocal), you may find these to be a bit shouty in the high-mids, particularly at high volume. If you felt the 4XX lacked in this area, these will be a breath of fresh air for you. It feels as if they took the high-mids and highs from the HE-5XX and almost the low end of the 4XX and combined them into one headphone and that's saying a LOT for $129. Outside of the tuning, the sound stage and imaging are very similar, both strong. Not as open feeling as the 5XX, but neither is the 4XX. Gaming: They even handled competitive gaming well, thanks to the wide sound stage and capable imaging. Moreso than the 4XX as the X4 has a natural tuning that's closer to what you'd want for FPS. If you're able to eq them, you'll find even better gaming performance. Conclusion: I much prefer them over the 400SE ($149) - which I perceive as the most neutral of the bunch below the Sundara. The 400SE just comes off a little flat and lifeless for me, lacking the low end energy. Its like the Sundara Lite - same character but not capable of the same level of detail. So again, we come back to $129 and I feel like the X4 is offering up a ton of headphone for that money. I was very pleasantly surprised by these. Plus you’re getting the build quality of the 4XX. That's a statement that may elicit some eyerolls, but again they’ve beefed up the common point of failure. (Worth noting too that I've head my 4XX for nearly two and half years and experienced zero issues with them) They also respond really well to eq'ing, have strong imaging and a nice wide sound stage. The sacrifice you're making at this price point versus something like the Sundara is in detail and speed - two factors that may be lost on someone lacking a deeper experience level with planars. Not much else to say. I like these - they’re a fun headphone with a wide range of applications. Its been a while since I've seen something that's such an easy recommend to the entry-level segment. The HD58X is generally my go to on the dynamic side. The HE-X4 punches clear above its price and makes a fantastic entry point into the world of planar magnetics. Rating: 5/5

Disclaimer: These were sent by Drop for review. I do have an affiliate link with Drop ( https://massdrop.7eer.net/zaxGnM ) No other compensation took place, it doesn't affect anything I have to say about them, and they didn't get to hear, see, or otherwise influence any portion of this review.
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Would recommend to a friend.
🤷‍♂️ Sorry for your trust issues. I know a plethora of other reviewers who are just as big or bigger who have biased opinions. Sure it’s for selling the product too, I believe that’s how marketing works? I can see you’re not a business major. But hey, I’ll be happy with my products, you be happy with yours. This isn’t Twitter, no need to call people out for whatever you THINK about them.
ginzero
28
May 22, 2021
Got these due to BST review.. did not disappoint!
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Drop + Hifiman HE-X4 Review | Almost a Sundara Jr.
This was supposed to be a picture but it won't let me upload it so just pretend.
HE-4XX (Gen 1) | HE-5XX | HE-X4
Disclaimer: The HE-X4 was sent to me by DROP, they did not do anything to influence my opinion. This is a Pre-release unit not in final packaging but the headphone itself is supposed to represent the final HE-X4 headphone.

Introduction Rather than the normal intro, I like to do, I thought it would make more sense to introduce myself a little better as this is being posted directly on DROP.com and most of you reading this there won't really know who I am too well. So I have been testing audio products along with any PC peripherals for almost a decade now. What started as just a simple PC building hobby turned into so much more. I only started doing formal reviews like this in the last few years as most of my content was short-form stuff and just private testing where I wouldn't fully publish my findings. Most of my content has been posted to Reddit until recently, very recently in fact where I started my own Blogger-powered site. I will have this review posted on my site at the same time as on Drop. So once this goes live I will add a link here for it. The link on my site will have some updated info over time including comparisons and other Bonus content. https://lifelongcaboosereviews.blogspot.com/2021/05/drop-hifiman-he-x4-review-almost.html   One other thing id like to mention. The window I was in to release this review was a tad shorter than normal. If I notice anything in my opinion change I will update it. But don't expect my opinion to have a drastic change.  Now that that's done let's get to the HE-X4. The HE-X4 is the newest drop headphone being made in collaboration with Hifiman. I think if I'm not mistaken this is the 6th full-size headphone collab between them. The HE-X4 is made to be a budget introduction to planars but honestly, I think it's so much more than that. The magnetic structure is similar to the stealth magnets used in the Deva and HE-5XX, and yes these are double-sided. The housing is from the more traditional Hifiman housing used on dozens of Hifiman headphones like the HE-4XX, HE-400i, HE-400i 2020 and the newest HE-400SE(keep this headphone in mind) and so many more. It's pretty much the housing that is used on almost all-round Hifimans (Sans Sundara). So it's pretty much a HE-5XX like driver in an HE-4XX housing. IT keeps the polarizing old-school headband design that all Drop + Hifiman collabs use but drop claims it has been reinforced even more than before.   Headphone Specs:
  • Drop + Hifiman
  • Open Back Principle
  • Planar Magnetic Drivers
  • Colour: Dark Grey
  • Soft-Touch Matte Finish
  • Spring Steel and Hand-Stitched Protein Leather Headband
  • Focus-A Hybrid Ear Pads
  • Adjustable Sliders
  • Steel Gimbals Withe Black Oxide Finish
  • Black Printing
  • Laser-Etched Serialization
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz-10 kHz
  • Sensitivity: 91 dB
  • Impedance: 25 ohms
  • Cable: 4.9  ft (1.5 m), Removable
  • Plug: ¼ in (6.35 mm)
  • Weight: (420g)
  • Shipping Date: May 14th 2021
  • Price: $129USD
  Build/Looks Aesthetically they look like your standard entry-level Hifiman headphones. I personally still to this day overall like the looks of them. This overall design has been used by Hifiman for a long time now from headphones like the original HE400 and HE500 all the way to the HE6 and HE5 and so many more. It's using an updated version of what I call their "Old Style" Headband. They also used their tried and true Focus-A pads. The plastic used on the headband extension mechanism and the ear cups do feel on the cheaper side, but they should be just as durable as the other 400 series headphones. And supposedly the headband overall has been strengthened. It's using the HE-4XX style yolk but it feels smoother and more refined.   Overall I don't have a lot to say it's an all-black round headphone, If you have seen any of the HE-400 headphones before then you know what you think of their looks. Like I said I enjoy how they look overall and build wise I don't really have any concerns. Their overall very well build and if the headband issues from the very old gens are now worked out then the build is now great.  Build feel is on the slightly cheap and plasticy side because the plastic really has no coating (thankfully it's not glossy). The HE-4XX feels a bit more "durable" and the HE-X4 has a similar lower-end feel like the HE-5XX does. Overall this is just perceived durability so I wouldn't worry.   Cable:  Just wanted to quickly mention the cable, it's the same one that comes with the HE-4XX and HE-5XX so it's a decent enough cable. I only bring this up because of how similar this is to the HE-400se, which I will talk about later. I have seen nothing but overwhelming negativity towards the HE-400se cable. So this one is seemingly a step up.   Comfort   Comfort-wise this is now the heaviest of the 400 series if I'm not mistaken. It uses the polarizing old-style headband which I never found comfortable until I used the HE-5XX. The HE-5XX was the first time I really liked the headband. This time around is no different, I still don't think this headband has adequate padding for heavier headphones like this. Thankfully it's not as uncomfortable as the HE-4XX Gen 1 because of the better pads the HE-X4 uses. As a note, the newer batches of HE-4XX use the same pads as the HE-X4. Those pads are the wonderful Focus-A pads and they're fantastic. I do prefer the shape of the HE-5XX pads as they're bigger and a tad oval. But these Focus-A pads are simply fantastic. They are extremely plush and soft. They use very nice memory foam inside. The foam is a bit too soft out the gate and from my experience the pads do flatten and need replacing a little fast.   Comfort for me on the HE-4XX Gen 1 was poor and I couldn't wear them for long. These I can wear for much longer sessions and the pads are so much nicer. But they are not as comfortable for me as the HE-5XX. With the HE-4XX Gen 1 I could wear them for an hour, but with these (and I assume the HE-4XX Gen 2) I can wear them for a few hours before I want to take them off. Comfort isn't bad it just doesn't work for me but I assumed that as the HE-400 series headphones never really worked for me comfort-wise.   Sound  
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My measurement rig is an industry-standard clone. So it's accurate up to 3k compared to most GRAS rigs. Over 3k it's fairly off. When I talk about tonality and tuning it's based mostly on what I hear. (Updated, new graph)   Frequency Response and Tonality:   Bass: These do roll-off below 50hz, but not too sharply. After that, you get the classic Hifiman man flat mid-bass all the way into the low-mids. For some, the fact that there is no slight contour down in the high bass to the low mids will make this sound warm. But overall I consider the Bass to be Neutral but slightly rolled-off.  
Mids: As I mentioned previously, the low mids measure flat and up to the start of the mids at around 600hz everything is looking flat. But at 600hz you see a raise that does lead into a hump from 600hz to just after 1k. This hump does give a bit of honkyness in vocals, which is mostly made noticeable because of a recession from 1k to the middle of the upper mids at 3k. Overall the mids don’t sound as off as the HE-5XX. But this is still the weak point of the tuning. But I should say they do remain overall well balanced here.  
Treble: This is the part that surprised me most. While yes it is a tad forward overall and is far from being called laid back. Surprisingly it doesn't have any nasty peaks and is overall well balanced. Over 10k in the Air reign, it does have more presence and that could be a tad fatiguing for some but overall id call the treble Neutral and exceptionally well balanced.   Overall: I'm very impressed. I don't actually have a ton to say here. The bass response is slightly rolled off below 50hz. Mid-range has some issues over 600hz but tell that point it's flat and slightly warm. The issues in the mid-range don’t make this headphone unlistenable or anything and are so easy to eq out. Treble is very balanced, a couple of micro peaks around 5 and 8k, but it is not sharp or piercing, and treble while not the most smooth it's very well balanced. The only brightness is above 10k where it has some nice presence. Air is surprisingly good. For people used to darker air regions like on the HD6XX this may have a bit too much sparkle.   It's pretty darn neutral. The only issues are the slight bass roll-off and the issues in the mids. Even with no EQ this is a fantastic Tuning but with very small amounts of EQ it's amazing. Tonality/FR Grade: A- (Maybe B+)   Technical Performance
 
Detail: Easily the highlight of this headphone and the reason it can punch above its price point. The HE-400 series in general always kind of did this and the HE-X4 is no different. Aside from maybe a small touch of haziness in the mids, grain is really not an issue on these for under $200. The heightened air region does give it some added perceived clarity.   Soundstage and imaging: While it's not going to blow you away, the stage is very good for being sub $200. It is filled in very nicely, you get a nice sense of space, it's not ultra-wide but it's noticeable wider than something like the HD6XX. Imaging within the stage is pretty good, it's not going to be amazing for positioning in games but very usable. The layering is very nice as expected from a planar. Lateral imaging is where you will notice the biggest issue but do note there isn't much under $300 that does lateral imaging all that well so this is to be expected.   Something else to note if you EQ and fill in between 1k and 3k you will get a slightly further out sound. If won't really sound much wider but it will pull some sounds a bit out of your head more. Some people will perceive this as a wider stage for me it's more so just pushing the sounds out of your head more but within the limits of the staging.   Dynamics and Speed: This is the reason I can't fully call it a Sundara Jr. One of the aspects that make the Sundara the Sundara for me is the fact that for a Planar it has exceptional dynamics. Its punch and slam isn't blunt at all and doesn't sound dull. But the HE-X4 does suffer from those Planar issues. I see many people call this planar bass compression and I tend to associate those two things together.   Speed is also something it just does ok, they don't sound sluggish or smeared but I do find the leading edge of tones and trailing ends to be just a tad slower than id like. But again for the price, it's not an issue.   Timbre: Like most people already know lower-end planars tend to have a sort of plasticy or artificial-sounding timbre. This was actually one of the few things I found the HE-5XX did better than average for a Planar. The Timbre here sounds closer to the HE-4XX sadly so it does sound a little off. For its price, not a huge issue and unless you have a big timbre sensitivity don't worry about it.   Technical Grade: B-   Sound Conclusion   While tuning isn't perfect the areas that have issues are a lot easier to EQ than other entry-level Hifimans, and from an overall resolution point of view this is just a plan step up over the HE-4XX and HE-5XX. The HE-5XX does do 3 things slightly better, its timbre is a bit more natural, the transients are slightly better, and staging is more spacious and more full. Compared to the HE-4XX the HE-X4 just plain sounds better.  As much as I want to call these a Sundara Jr. or a Baby Sundara, there is one important thing holding me back from doing that and that's the aforementioned weak Dynamics and Seed. That along with the timbre are really the only 2 sonic weak points of this headphone. Under $200 everything hits average or better, so the fact that this thing is $129 it's such a good value.   Power Requirements: These have been tuned to be more efficient but because of this along with the low impedance powering it can be interesting. It's actually the hardest to drive entry-level Hifiman Headphone and harder to drive than the HE-4XX and HE-5XX because it requires noticeably higher current than them. Similar voltage requirements to the HE-4XX but higher current. Meaning you won't struggle to get them loud but to really make them sing you do need some power behind them. An apple dongle will get them loud but you really should use them with something better. pretty much anything with at least 3x the power of an apple dongle will work (so any good desktop-grade amp).    EQ Advice: So I normally don't do this with reviews but I may start. The HE-X4 doesn't need a lot of EQ depending on your taste. If you like the linear bass and mid-range of most Hifimans then you don't really need to touch anything under 700hz. If you want you could raise it below 50hz so it lines up with the rest of the flat response. But if you prefer the Harman Target then you'd want to lower 100hz to 400hz somewhere around there to remove some of the warmth then add the bass shelf you prefer (Harman 2013 or 2018 or whatever bass shelf you want).   The most important area to EQ IMO is the little hump around 650hz to just over 1k. Lowering this will help remove some of the honkyness that the headphone has. Then filling in the mids over 1k will help pull some of the sounds out of your head. Honestly, unless you find some of the small treble peaks too much I'd leave the rest alone.    But in general, if you're going for the Hifiman linear response id just fix the 2 issues in the mids.    Conclusion   Something I want to mention first is the sneaking suspicion that this is the same headphone as the HE-400SE but with the old style headband drop uses, a new colour scheme, and a better cable. Similar to how the Deva and HE-5XX are extremely similar. But this time around it is actually $30 cheaper. This is something I feel I need to stress, this is very much an HE-400 tier headphone which some may not consider a good thing but this is $129, that's crazy. It is easily one of the new Value kings on the market.   It does remind me of Sundara but not enough for me to call it Sundara Jr but don't let that distract you from the fact that these are a great value.  If you're looking for a Planar in the sub $250 range this (or the HE-400SE if it is the same) is what I would pick. Under $150 it's easily maybe my new number one open back pick period. The value proposition here is so good. Now Drop and Hifiman has a big issue on their hands though, what are they going to do with all the unsold HE-4XX, HE-5XX, Deva wired, HE-400I 2020s, because honestly just buy these over all of them. The Sundara is still the best sub $500 Hifiman, the Deva offers this type of sound in a BT package, the HE-5XX is still the most comfortable budget Hifiman (for me at least). But unless you wanted to step up to the Sundara which I think is going to be harder of a sell for many now, or unless you want it to be BT and go for the Deva, the HE-X4 is the new default budget Hifiman. I'm very interested to see how other companies react to this headphone. Maybe we will see some price drops or some new budget stuff. I'm not saying sell your budget Hifiman planar that you have for this, if you already have an HE-5XX, Deva, HE-400I 2014 or 2020, keep them and maybe add some EQ. But for someone who is looking to maybe buy their first open back, first planar or just wanting something different and they only own dynamics this is a steal. I can highly recommend it.   So should you buy this, well hopefully at this point I have rambled on enough for you to decide, but if I haven't, then I'd say buy this. If you own a 400 series Hifiman maybe just EQ that one and keep it, but if you're in the market for a sub $250 planar or honestly a sub $250 headphone in general I honestly would grab this. I planned to do some comparisons to other headphones and I still will do some, but at the end of the day the value proposition here puts it in its own league. Pros:
  • Fantastic Overall Sound
  • Balanced Tuning 
  • Fantastic Sub $200 Value
  • Solid Build
  • Good Staging
  • Great Ear Pads
  • Good Cable  

Cons:
  • Headband Comfort isn't the Best because of Weight
  • Plasticy Timbre
  • Weakish Dynamics and Speed
  • A Peak and Dip in the mid-range (easy to EQ out)
  • The old-style headband that is very polarizing 

5/5 I would Recommend

Referral Link: https://drop.com/buy/drop-hifiman-he-x4-planar-magnetic-headphones?utm_source=linkshare&referer=2VXGQC
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Would recommend to a friend.
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A community member
May 14, 2021
Thank you very much!
andmitsch
12
May 15, 2021
Very nice review, very helpful. I'm on your page right now wading through some reviews of yours. You should dare a try for some youtube reviews. Good work.
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Xephyroth
236
May 17, 2021
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Maybe the Best Entry-Level Planar Magnetic Headphone for the Money
Note: I may update this as time goes on, but I just wanted to put some initial impressions out there after having spent some time with the HE-X4. I may provide more detailed analysis over time. BUILD QUALITY: While the obvious comparison is against the more expensive HE-4XX, it’s also worthwhile to compare to the similarly priced HE-35X—a dynamic driver HIFIMAN headphone that launched in 2019 at $99 and then crept up to $119. This puts the HE-X4 right in the same price bracket, so it’s not unfounded that someone might compare it. Whereas the HE-350 and HE-35X feel and look rather cheap, my immediate impression of the HE-X4 was the opposite. When I first pulled the headphone out of the box, I could feel a substantial weight difference compared to the HE-35X. The plastic housing for the HE-X4 drivers have a matte texture that feels almost metallic compared to the cheaper glossy plastic used on the HE-35X. So while it is added weight, it does also make the HE-X4 feel more durable and more premium. The headband mechanism is also much more durable than the HE-35X, as it borrows the DNA of the more expensive HE-4XX. Drop claims to have made the slider connections more durable than those found on the HE-4XX, but I cannot support nor deny this claim. My unit requires more force to position the left slider, while the right slider is much looser in comparison. So I’m not sure how well the sliders will hold up over time. But despite this issue, I think the build quality is a major improvement over the HE-35X. Additionally, the headband stitching looks like it may hold up over time. Thankfully, you can buy the original headband from HIFIMAN if it ever breaks or wears down. But I’m mostly happy with this headband design and think it’s a major improvement over the HE-35X which was much more susceptible to breaking. The thin perforated layer that covers the outside of the driver was not applied symmetrically for both ear cups. You can fix this, but I personally don’t recommend it, as it requires carefully removing the plastic ring which is highly susceptible to breaking if you’re not careful. I made a 3D printable replacement that others found success with here (https://drop.com/buy/massdrop-x-hifiman-he-350/talk/534246?utm_source=linkshare&referer=6UXB4C), but I can’t really recommend it, otherwise. The included cable is also of decent quality. It’s got this soft rubber finish and isn’t tough like some sort of antenna wire. It’s soft, easy to maneuver and doesn’t resist you like I’ve seen some other cables do. That being said, the included 3.5mm to ¼” adapter is of poor quality and can cause channel loss. The tolerances of the 3.5mm input on the adapter need to be re-evaluated and adjusted, as I had to use a different adapter to achieve reliable results. That being said, you can always use third party cables if you want a more robust option. COMFORT: Comfort gets high marks from me. The HE-X4 is employing HIFIMAN’s newer Focus-A hybrid ear pads which feel premium, plush, and give a decent amount of space for your ears (three knuckles for me). The headband, while it doesn’t look comfortable at first glance, I was surprised that it didn’t really irritate the apex of my head like some other headphones do. There’s not a ton of padding, but I checked for consistency and couldn’t find any spots that felt hard that could cause unwanted pressure. I’ve worn the HE-X4 for hours at a time without noticing any pain. I wear glasses, so clamping force is a concern for me, but I did not find that to be an issue with the HE-X4. You might find some initial light jaw pressure (nothing unordinary), but you can gently bend the headband to ease up some of that clamping force if you find it necessary. I have also found that my average size head leaves around an inch of space between my head and the headband when the sliders are completely extended. So while I feel mostly confident that the HE-X4 will fit larger heads, your mileage will vary, and you can look at discussions regarding this headband design (also found on the HE-4XX) to see if it might fit you. PORTABILITY: The HE-X4 is meant for home and office usage, rather than on-the-go. It leaks sound due to the open back design, so others in the nearby vicinity will likely hear your music. But more importantly, this headphone requires decent amplification to get the most out of it. At a sensitivity of 91dB, it is best paired with a dedicated amplifier. That being said, I have tested it with the Apple lightning adapter and had to max out the volume in order to achieve my normal comfortable listening volume. So if you’re in a pinch, the Apple lightning or USB-C headphone adapter may be a great companion, but it likely won’t have headroom to spare in terms of volume. BASS: Compared to the great bass extension on the Sennheiser HD 560S, the HE-X4 has good bass extension, but rolls off a bit more at 50-60Hz and lower. The HE-X4 does perceivably have more bass quantity in comparison to the 560S, but it’s far from being a basshead’s headphone, as it’s characteristically neutral, but tastefully so. The bass is tight, fast and has a confident delivery despite not having all the rumble. That being said, you can EQ the HE-X4 to give it a bit more bass rumble that’s quite desirable for modern pop and electronic music. I’ve found that using your playback device’s properties from the Windows sound control panel is pretty helpful for this. Under the “Enhancements” tab, select “Bass Boost” and then “Settings…” and set it to 80Hz with a 3dB boost. You can tinker around with it as you like, but I found that this easy modest EQ change delivers a bit more rumble if you find yourself wanting more. MIDRANGE: As I’ve been listening to the HD 560S a lot lately, I’m finding the HE-X4 to have a somewhat similar neutral midrange delivery. The midrange of this headphone is probably one of the better aspects in that I don’t find any glaring flaws or missing technicalities. I find that vocals sit perfectly in the mix, and instruments such as guitars or synthesizers carry body and detail that headphones like the HE-35X can’t really compare to. TREBLE: In signature HIFIMAN fashion, this headphone delivers a mostly neutral treble response which is great for those who want to really hear the shimmer and brilliance of instruments and vocals. This is right up my alley personally, as I listen to a variety of music from jazz & acoustic to progressive rock/metal to K-pop. If you’re treble sensitive, you might want something a bit more relaxed in the treble. However, I have noticed that some songs hit the 10kHz frequency region more strongly than others. This often came from hi-hats & cymbals or even sibilance from a vocalist, but some people will be more sensitive to this than others. For me, I tend not to mind some sibilance, but I did feel as though I was listening at reasonable volume levels and that this was unexpected. OVERALL: For me, I do feel as though this is one of the better headphones I’ve experienced at $129. Its technical performance is impressive at the price point (even despite some sibilance when driven at higher volumes), the build quality is decent, and it comes in at a price that’s hard to match for an entry-level planar magnetic headphone. UPDATES: May 30, 2021 - Sound comparison to HIFIMAN Sundara: So I managed to get my hands on the HIFIMAN Sundara and wow, what a headphone. At $349, it's a multitude times more expensive than the HE-X4, but its detail retrieval and presentation is incredibly clean. The sibilance that I found in the HE-X4 is largely cleaned up on the Sundara. It still presents treble detail in a very forward way, but I don't personally detect any harshness unless I push the headphone towards more uncomfortable listening volumes. The sound stage is comparable between both headphones, but maybe slightly wider on the Sundara. I think the biggest difference is how the Sundara presents a more natural (perhaps neutral?) mid range and treble compared to the HE-X4. Even so, the HE-X4 has competent bass presence and impact, and still delivers great midrange performance for the price, but the Sundara sounds like a much more resolving and exceeds in detail retrieval. I was telling a friend yesterday, the Sundara shows you details in your music—you don't have to go searching for it. I'm not sure if the HE-4XX is more like one than the other, but these are distinctly different sounding headphones to my ears. The HE-X4 was already a great sounding headphone for the price, but putting the Sundara on was like lifting a veil off my music—there's just so much detail, shimmer and shine.
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Would recommend to a friend.
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Xephyroth
236
May 17, 2021
"undesirable if you aren't on the go."—That's definitely a very one-dimensional way of looking at closed-back headphones, if that's what people are telling you. Closed back headphones are inherently great at bass response compared to open back because they basically create small, closed acoustic chambers for resonance to occur. You could not make a very good subwoofer if it had a completely open back. Open back headphones lets sound escape, so it becomes more challenging to get that really deep bass on an open back headphone. Open back headphones are not the be-all-end-all superior design or anything. It really is circumstantial. If you look at any of the Fostex TR-X00 headphones on Drop, you'll see they were well-received by the audience because their design lends to some interesting characteristics. One of which being the incredibly deep bass response with plenty of quantity, intimate vocal experience and narrower sound stage as well as detailed treble without being fatiguing. I personally own the Purpleheart version of this headphone and it's incredible for hip hop, pop & electronic music. I've still really enjoyed it for well-produced metal music, as well. And while that headphone might be using a dynamic driver, there are also closed back planar magnetic headphones (like the Dan Clark Audio Aeon Closed X here on Drop) that may give very different presentations of your music.
ab.y
27
May 17, 2021
Ah, very interesting! Thanks for taking the time
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Thoughts The overview, official Drop description, of the HE-X4 does a great job highlighting the differences between it and the HE4XX. The weight difference is noticeable. The 4XX is 370 g, and the X4 is 420 g. The difference is due to the driver and improved build quality. I do not know the exact structural changes HIFIMAN/Drop made to the headphone chassis, but I am glad that they are addressing the build quality issues that sometimes affected the HE4XX. The angled earpads are nice. I do not like the angled 3.5mm jack on the cable, I would prefer that it was straight. Due to the driver change, they need some more power to drive. The listed impedance is 25 ohms, but they seem harder to drive than the HE4XX and HD58X. Comparison During my time with the X4’s, I was able to compare them the following headphones: HIFIMAN HE4XX, Sennheiser HD58X, Koss ESP/95X, and Fostex TH-X00. All headphones were stock, except the ESP/95X. The electrostatic Koss headphones had the Dekoni fenestrated sheepskin earpads. Since everyone will want to know, I will rank all the headphones in terms of bass and treble/soundstage. Bass: TH-X00 > HD58X > ESP/95X > HE4XX > X4 Treble/Soundstage: X4 > ESP/95X > HE4XX >= HD58X > TH-X00 If you want a headphone that has a wide soundstage, crisp vocals, good resolution, and great sound separation, these are the headphones for you. Snares and vocal are sharp. You can hear where there should be bass, but you cannot feel the bass like some other headphones. For the price, the clarity of the sound is amazing. Disclaimer This review is based on my experience with the HE-X4 headphones. I was not paid for this review. Your experience with them might vary since the review is based on my subjective ears, thoughts, and opinions. Rating out of 5 5/5 Recommendation Would recommend to a friend 
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Would recommend to a friend.
halo26
36
May 22, 2021
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Great sound, good intro to planars
Just getting into higher quality audio, enjoying several types. I listen mostly to classical and jazz. These have nice detail, and a great transparency which makes them very engaging. Very different from Sennheiser 6xx. 6xx is like sitting in the 10th row at a (classical concert). These put me right at the front. Not saying that's always better than 10th row, so they complement rather than replace 6xx. (EDIT: I've been burning in my 6xxs. After about 20 hours, it feels like I'm getting a bit closer to the front. These Hifiman's have me pretty much onstage or in the first row. But the 6xxs are definitely feeling less distant now than they were. Seems silly to be saying that they (the 6xx) put me in the 6th row instead of the 10th, but I'll just leave it at saying that they are definitely closer than they were, but not in any way as close as the Hifimans) Again, I'm new at this, so my descriptions may be imperfect, but if I understand the usage of the terms correctly I would call these very engaging but not overly analytical. In other words, You're right at the very front or actually sitting on stage, and you're hearing enough detail that it's kind of hard to concentrate on other stuff while listening to well recorded music. At the same time does it have the detail of headphones costing 5 times as much? No, not that level of perfection. At this point my reviews are from perspective of a classical/jazz listener, and some non electronic pop with emphasis on acoustic (eg, Graceland by Paul Simon is a favorite). If your musical tastes are different (they probably are!) your perspective may be totally different. So for me, having good bass means jazz basslines sound full and natural (not thumpy, and not necessarily crisp), and cellos and violins have nice warmth, which warms the entire orchestral sound. (NOT making a snobby statement about tastes, just trying to make the review more useful. ) And my level of (in)experience with great headphones affects my reference points. Hope this was useful!
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Resolve
98
May 13, 2021
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Drop was kind enough to send the HE-X4 over for review, and so I've been able to put it through its paces and do a deep dive - comparing the HE-X4 to the recently released HiFiMAN HE400se. You can read the full post here. I had originally thought that the HE-X4 was the same acoustically as the HE400se, because when doing measurements on the GRAS 43AG, I noticed that they measure nearly identically:
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This is close enough to where any difference could be down to unit variation tolerances or positional variation. Now, it turns out that they are in fact NOT using the same drivers - at least for the international version of the HE400se. But interestingly enough, the transducer difference doesn’t seem to matter for these headphones in particular.
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You can see that on the left side (HE400se) the bar magnets have rounded edges, and this is what HiFiMAN call their 'stealth magnet' tech. On the right side, the HE-X4 has non-rounded bar magnets. Now, as far as the transducer goes, this seems to be the only difference between the two. So not only are they the same as far as the objective data is concerned, subjectively, they also sound pretty darn similar. Maybe there's some insignificant difference in one area or another, but it's not enough to make it recognizable in a blind test. Because of this, the main differentiating factors have to do with the non-sound related qualities of each. Now if anyone is wondering how the HE-X4 and HE400se perform for their 'technical qualities', they're generally solid for the price. They don't suffer from too much haziness or graininess, nor the somewhat smeared effect of many other entry level planars. But at the same time, they are a little bit on the 'sluggish' side of things for the attack and initial leading edge transients. Soundstage is decent, definitely better than the Sennheiser HD6XX, but maybe not as evenly distributed as on the Sennheiser HD560s. Overall, these both sound pretty good for the price. They're both a bit lean in the sub-bass, and they both have the typical 2khz dip that HiFiMAN headphones often have. But on the plus side, the treble presentation is decently smooth. I'd say this is 'mostly neutral', with a few quibbles but nothing to complain about at $129 or $150. I'll summarize it like this: Comfort - HE400se > HE-X4 Weight - HE400se > HE-X4 Aesthetics - HE-X4 > HE400se Cable - HE-X4 >>>> HE400se Sound Quality - HE400se = HE-X4 Which one is better? Well if it’s me I’d go for the HE400se due to the better headband and it’s about 30g lighter so it’s more comfortable. But at $129 the HE-X4 is the better value, especially because it comes with a cable that’s not at all terrible, which is something I can’t say about the HE400se. The next step up from here is most like the HD560s or the HD6XX from Sennheiser (I personally like the HD6XX better). But those also come at a noticeably higher price tag. So as far as entry level planars go, either of these would be my go to recommendation. Here's the video review: https://youtu.be/hmMA_Iw6fjA
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Xephyroth
236
May 17, 2021
Hey Andrew, I originally watched your video on the HE-X4 and then found your assessment here. I was wondering if by any chance you came across any peaking in the 10kHz region? The treble presentation has been pretty clean overall, but I’ve found that some Hi-Hats and vocal “S” sibilants push forward a bit too strongly in the 10kHz region when you’re pushing the HE-X4 at higher volumes. When I say higher volumes, I don’t necessarily mean deafening volumes. I’ve listened to the same tracks on the HD560S and other headphones and have not encountered those same issues, so I do feel as though it is the driver tuning and not my source material.
Resolve
98
May 21, 2021
Yeah I think maybe that's more to do with the slight 8khz peak. 10khz is more of a 'shimmer' effect, while 7-9khz is generally where the hard consonant sounds fall, and you do see a touch of extra energy there. The 560s doesn't have that, but it also has a more elevated 4-6khz region, which can also impact the 'Sh' sounds and percussive hits to a certain degree.
BanannaCreme
12
May 14, 2021
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Sound Fantastic
I am not much of an audiofile, but I know what when I've gotten an upgrade. These headphones have a unique 'clarity' to them that I did not get in my Fidelio X2HR. For the $130 dollars I spent, I am glad to have these at my desk. Currently running them from a FX-audio DAC-X6 (~$75). For a total cost of $200 this is a setup that I think the average person would consider some of the best audio they've heard. The headphones are very comfortable and on the lighter side for weight. The build quality is solid with a rigid yet flexible frame. Very happy I picked these up.
NeuroCSO
14
May 21, 2021
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Very Satisfying
UPDATE: I spent about a month away from these headphones when I stayed at a different location. When I came back and listened to the HE-X4s, I came to the same conclusion I did when I first tried them: this is the way I want music to sound. Nothing has changed in my opinion of them. I do not have the ability to analyze the sound of these headphones in a way that someone with that discrimination would understand. I can say that the sound is very satisfying. I have no intention right now to change headphones back to a pair that may be more familiar and cost 2 to 3 times what these gems cost. I have been listening with the HE-X4 to Mozart Piano Sonatas played by Glenn Gould, which is a lossless album I am very familiar with. I appreciate hearing the left hand as clearly as the right. I feel as if I am hearing everything Gould wanted me to hear with exactly the right emphasis. The sound is clean, clear and seems well balanced. I would use the words 'musical' and 'enjoyable' to describe the sound. Along with other brands, I have both the HIFIMAN HE-4XX and the HIFIMAN DEVA headphones for comparison. I would say these seem better constructed despite costing much less. I would also say that I enjoy both those other headphones but prefer the HE-X4. I have only had the HE-X4 a short while and I will update this review after more experience with them which can sometimes change first impressions. Based on my experience to date, I would definitely recommend these headphones.
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Would recommend to a friend.
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Teee
32
May 27, 2021
Thanks so much for your detailed analysis and taking the time to check it out. Interesting that you find the sound more balanced on the HE-X4 but bass was stronger on the 4-XX. Seems to match what I've read comparing the online commentary re the bass on the two HiFiMans. Glad to hear your 4-XXs are still running great without problems and it probably won't hurt the longevity of them as you don't generally listen to low freq emphasized music. I did a bit of reading regarding the rattling issue with planars and it seem that there is less of a tendency for the dual magnet array builds (like the HE-X4) to have this issue vs. the single array. This may be because the film is sandwiched between the two magnet structures and can't get enough movement (at least against anything that's audible) to cause a problem. I think that for the single arrays, once that mylar film starts to become un-adhered from its moorings and can get a bit of movement via high SPL/low freq energy, one has potentially entered the buzz/rattle liability zone. With the single magnet array, it's thought that this buzzing/rattling is occuring as the mylar film separates and starts banging against the plastic (ear-side) grill/circular frame thingy (that you can kind of see through the black material on the 4-XX if you look inside the cups--with the HE-X4 I'd think all you would see through the material is the second magnet). I think I even read where someone put some kind of super thin foam or paper material in that critical spot (between mylar and frame) to absorb this movement and it worked for them. I'm not sure I want to open my cans up again as I had some trouble reassembling the last time, and they're good enough for now. Anyway, thanks again and didn't mean to go off on a tangent!
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NeuroCSO
14
May 28, 2021
Interesting information about the rattling. Thanks. I admire that you had the nerve to take the headphones apart in the first place. I wouldn't have the confidence.
Balaji_Ramachari
24
Jun 15, 2021
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New Star in Budget Audiophile Headphones
This is not the first Hifiman product I have bought. Been with Hifiman from HE-560 and had listened to the Sundara, Ananda & Arya. Currently own the Arya and bought this as a budget add on for day to day use. Honestly I am thoroughly impressed!!
  • Wide sound stage (very wide indeed & naturally wide)
  • Does not need Eq and has a smooth high frequency delivery unlike some of Hifiman's other products
  • Sufficient bass which does not affect mids
  • Natural sounding mid range
  • Excellent comfort in spite of being heavy at 420g
  • Dangerously close to some of it's high end offerings!!
II think of all the recent budget products from Hifiman like Deva, HE400i 2020 etc this is the best. I have heard the HE400i 2020 version and HE-X4 is more smooth sounding and has the right amount of bass for natural mids delivery. Surely a winner from Hifiman, highly recommended!! Cons :
  • QC could be better, I received the HP with left side cap for the Head band off (not glued properly) and had to re-glue it myself
  • Needs an amp or a very powerful DAP to drive it and cannot run of mobile phones or mini dongles. I use it with Quloos QA361 in balanced mode and it is such wonderful combo.

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Hi, It has been quite some time since I heard HE-400i. Take it with a pinch of salt, I think sound stage could be more or less the same. HE-X4 has smoother highs than HE-400i 2020 version
ChaoticMidnite
8
Oct 2, 2021
Thanks for the reply! I actually ended up ordering the he-x4
MiddleTommy
10
May 25, 2021
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Good sound
These headphones gave a great listening experience. The sound stage is wider than I am used to. The bass was good though some other headphones are better at separating the higher end vocal sounds from instruments. The headset did cause my ears to feel hot after only a few hours of wearing them, like closed back headphones. The headphones are light compared to their size. My ears do get pinched a bit at the top and bottom of the pads that measure 2-1/8" inside. The HE-X4 does take more power to drive. I had to turn my amp into high mode to get more volume. I would not recommend these for use with a cell phone. Overall, these are the best sounding headphones I have used below the $600 price.
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