The Hifiman HE-4xx is a headphone that I find hard to describe why I love them so much. These are my second pair of Hifiman headphones, my first being the HE-350, which I owned2 pair and both ended with broken arm yokes.
Build and Look:
So much of an improvement over the HE-350. They look better and more durable than the HE-350 in my opinion. Metal yokes, YEAH. The plastic feels thicker and more durable than what was used on the HE-350. The pleather/leather headband has a nice texture to it and adds an old school look to the headphone itself. The sliders move smooth and with ease, they seem to have enough tension in them that they don't slip and cause the headphone to dance around on your head while in use. Clamp force is adequate for my medium/large head, could be an issue for smaller heads. Weight is evenly dispersed and balances nicely on the head. Cable is okay, not good not bad. Please note the new version HE-4XX does have dual 3.5mm inputs so the days of 2.5mm for Hifiman has ended apparantly.
The HE-4xx is a medium weight headphone, compared with my Advanced Alpha it is about the same. The weight is spread evenly and comfortably, I do not have any issue with long sessions of multiple hours. The pads that come stock are the Focus pad A. I don't really care for the Focus pad A, I find it to be a little shallow and the material irritates my ears. I tried the Pali pad for the Sundara and it worked well, no changes in tone that I noticed, comfort increased a little. I currently use the Dekoni fenestrated sheepskin and am in love. Comfort is improved and no difference in sound.
Sound Impressions and Amp requirement:
Not required but highly recommended. The HE-4xx scale well with an amp. My Topping Stack works very well. My APPJ tube amp is okay but does seem to over them at times and make them sound too warm and distorted on some songs. I prefer the HE-4xx on a solid state setup.
Consistent and well rounded is the best way to describe the sound. Excellent value for the price.
Fun and meaty. It has nice texture and tone and extends well. Does roll off a little but you only notice that with very deep, rumbling bass songs. These are not bass-head headphones. They can sound loose and disjointed on more busy songs but normally they are controlled.
Warm and full bodied. The HE-4xx has a nice smooth timbre to them, very natural sound. They are not very aggresive or impactful like the Advanced Alpha, they are laid-back. Clean and clear and resolve nicely with vocals. Romantic, smooth and engaging sound in the mids. (The mids are the area that I have a hard explaining why I like the HE-4xx. Normally I like a headphone where the bass is well balanced and extended and the mids are slightly forward and above the bass and just behind the the treble and the HE-4xx is not that.) The HE-4xx are very engaging but relaxing at the same time.
Smooth as silk. Good balance and extension, not impressive but not disappointing, right where they should be. Slightly laid-back and a little dry and can lack energy at times. Sometimes I just want a little more energy or sparkle or crispness and the HE-4xx just doesn't have it to give. The highs are smooth and have a nice tone to them that are not harsh or sibilant.
Imaging, Detail and Soundstage:
Intimate and Spacious. Balanced and Wide. (This is another area that I struggle to describe the HE-4xx as it is very unique.) The HE-4xx is not super wide or spacious but it also isn't intimate, it is capable of both. When the content calls for it to be wide, it can be wide, when it calls for it to be intimate it can be intimate and can do both at the same time. The HE-4xx does lack some in layering and depth, it is a Right - Center - Left headphone. You don't get a lot of the upper and lower and forward and back locations with the HE-4xx, they are very direct. They have good clarity in the detail.
Build quality - He-4xx is better in every regard versus the coat-hanger speaker from Monoprice
Comfort - HE-4xx is lighter and more comfortable, less clamp
Soundstage - M1060 is wider but lack clarity and detail
Bass - M1060 has more impact but not as detailed and clear
Highs - M1060 is not as clean or detailed and have more sibilance
Mids - M1060 is not as clean or detailed and is more forward
The Hifiman HE-4xx is my new daily driver, replacing the M1060. For a $170.00 headphone, these are a bargain. In my opinion the HE-4xx not only upsets the M1060 in the value challenge, they pummel them into ground. Save yourself some coin if you are considering the M1060 and buy the HE-4xx instead as they are cheaper and superior.