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Hifiman 400i vs. [closed back] headphones.


Paul R
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Over the past year or so, the HiFiman 400i headphones have become my favorite set of phones. I love the sound of them, and driven by the Wavelength Proton, iFi iDSD, Dragonfly, or by several preamps, they produce loveley sound I can listen to for hours. Clear highs without sibilance, a reasonable large soundstage, deep, authoritive -but not overblown bass. And theymare very confortable! All qualities I prize.

 

But - they are open backed and a lot of sounds escapes from them. I can not, for instance, use them to listen late at night when my wife is sleeping. My choice is either to use closed back headphones, or to head upstairs to my office and close the door.

 

Long story short - I have been using an old set of Koss Pro 4/aas. Not even a whisper of sound escapes from those heavy old beasties. But they are really heavy! And they are a bit of a nusiance to drive.

 

My short list of replacements fr the Koss are the Oppo PM3, and the PSB M4U 1s.

 

Thoughts, suggestions, alternatives, experiences? I am ready to order. ;)

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Over the past year or so, the HiFiman 400i headphones have become my favorite set of phones. I love the sound of them, and driven by the Wavelength Proton, iFi iDSD, Dragonfly, or by several preamps, they produce loveley sound I can listen to for hours. Clear highs without sibilance, a reasonable large soundstage, deep, authoritive -but not overblown bass. And theymare very confortable! All qualities I prize.

 

But - they are open backed and a lot of sounds escapes from them. I can not, for instance, use them to listen late at night when my wife is sleeping. My choice is either to use closed back headphones, or to head upstairs to my office and close the door.

 

Long story short - I have been using an old set of Koss Pro 4/aas. Not even a whisper of sound escapes from those heavy old beasties. But they are really heavy! And they are a bit of a nusiance to drive.

 

My short list of replacements fr the Koss are the Oppo PM3, and the PSB M4U 1s.

 

Thoughts, suggestions, alternatives, experiences? I am ready to order. ;)

 

I've been reading a lot about the Oppos and am considering them myself as a travel companion (currently using KEF-M500).

 

That said, my current closed favorite for home use is the MrSpeakers Alpha Prime, which costs more than you probably want to spend :/ but I bought at a very good price through LH Labs ;)

John Walker - IT Executive

Headphone - MacMini running Roon Server > Netgear Orbi wireless > Blue Jeans Cable Ethernet > mRendu Roon endpoint > iFi Audio xDSD + iFi Audio xCAN > Focal Elegia

Home Theater - Mac Mini running Roon Server > Blue Jeans Cable HDMI > Pioneer Elite SC-81 > MartinLogan Motion series home theater speakers + M&K subwoofer

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Beyerdynamics DT1770Pro. You did not mention a budget, but these are very nice closed back HP's. More $$ than the OPPO's for sure.

 

"The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought", Sir Thomas Beecham. 

 

 

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I've been reading a lot about the Oppos and am considering them myself as a travel companion (currently using KEF-M500).

 

That said, my current closed favorite for home use is the MrSpeakers Alpha Prime, which costs more than you probably want to spend :/ but I bought at a very good price through LH Labs ;)

 

I considered the Alpha Dogs, but had no opportunity to hear them and - well, black is not available and Candy Apple red just isn't me. I hear they are very worth the $499 cost. About the same as the HiFiman 400is. :)

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Beyerdynamics DT1770Pro. You did not mention a budget, but these are very nice closed back HP's. More $$ than the OPPO's for sure.

 

I think I can get a listen to these at Guitar Center. At $599 they are not outrageously priced, unless I mixed up the model number. I will drop by a store today and see if I can grab a listen. ;) The PM3's are $399 and the PSBs are $299, so hot that much of a stretch.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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PM-3 will not disappoint, but audition the new Audeze Sine before you pull the trigger. I think they're worth the extra $50 (or $100 if you order them with the Lightning cable with built-in DAC).

Office: MacBook Pro - Audirvana Plus - Resonessence Concero - Cavailli Liquid Carbon - Sennheiser HD 800.

Travel/Portable: iPhone 7 or iPad Pro - AudioQuest Dragonfly Red - Audeze SINE or Noble Savant

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PM-3 will not disappoint, but audition the new Audeze Sine before you pull the trigger. I think they're worth the extra $50 (or $100 if you order them with the Lightning cable with built-in DAC).

 

I had ruled hem out because they are on ear, and therefore might leak a lot of sound. They sure look sweet though.

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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I considered the Alpha Dogs, but had no opportunity to hear them and - well, black is not available and Candy Apple red just isn't me. I hear they are very worth the $499 cost. About the same as the HiFiman 400is. :)

 

That's what I have. Black Alpha Dogs.

W10 NUC i7 (Gen 10) > Roon (Audiolense FIR) > Motu UltraLite mk5 > (4) Hypex NCore NC502MP > JBL M2 Master Reference +4 subs

 

Watch my Podcast https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXMw_bZWBMtRWNJQfTJ38kA/videos

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This is amazingly intense, as I have both the Oppo PM3 and PSB M4U 1's here - and while neither one sounds quite as good as the HiFiMans or the big Grados, they both sound amazingly excellent.

 

Pros & Cons:

 

The Oppo PM3s will upon occasion leak enough sound to make my wife sit bolt upright and glare at me, the PSB's seem to be sealed a little better.

 

Soundwise, the PM3's are superior in FR and timing, but lack some of the bass extension of the PSB's.

 

Imaging is a hard hard call. The PSBs sound far more open and with a larger soundstage that extends well outside my head. But they seem to be tuned to a response curve that competes more with beats than with Audeze, HiFiMan, Oppo, Grado, etc. I am unsure if I like it or if I will get tired of it sooner or later.

 

But even given that, the Oppo has an "out of my head" soundstage, though it has some kind of height distortion, making everything sound like it is above my ear level. Odd, and not really a serious problem, as one can grow used to it very quickly.

 

Fit on both units is a little tight, but then, I have a big head.

 

The Oppo cables are not as good as I would like. The 1.2m cable with iPhone volume controls and a microphone in it simply did not fit correctly into the headphones, leaving me with 1 channel nonsense. When I brought this up to Oppo tech support, I got back a canned notice about troubleshooting. (Well gee, I would *never* have thought to troubleshoot the thing before sending them a support email.... I guess a lot of people do not, as they indicated this was a common complaint.

 

The 3m cable works much better - on the headphone end. The equipment jack doesn't fit well into my Wavelength Proton *or* into the iFi iDSD Nano. It is apparently a little too long, but who knows?

 

Oppo tech support is sending another iPhone cable out via the mail. Will test when it gets here to see if it works or not.

 

Overall, I like the sound of the Oppose better than the PSBs, but the PSBs may be a little better fit. The sound is different from the two phones, but very good none the less.

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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Okay- after listening this weekend with the following setup, I have decided the Oppo PM3 is the way to go. Better fit, lighter, and better sound to my ears.

 

It is being drive from this setup:

 

[Network FileServer] ->

[intel NUC, 8GB, 120GB SSD, Wireless 2.5ghz) ->

[JRMC V.21, media files are on the Network FileServer] ->

[Kimber USB 5% Silver] ->

[iFi iUSB Power] ->

[iFi Gemini Cable] ->

[Wavelength Proton] ->

[Oppo PM3]

[Control is from Remote]

 

This all sits on my nightstand mind you, and the Oppo PM3s do not disturb my wife, even when I have insomnia, as long as they are played at reasonable volume and stay on my head.

 

I think I wan too replace the Proton, because it sounds better hooked up to the 5K iMac and driving the HiFiMan 400i headphones. Not a lot better, but better, and I miss it at my workstation. And I want DSD playback down here.

 

Irritatingly enough, the iFi iDSD Micro does not sound as good in this chain as it does connected to other units. It is also a PITA to get it to stay where I put it on the nightstand, and it is a little big besides.

 

Suggestions? The only requirements are that it is be small, stay where I put it, play DSD, and sound really good. USB power is preferred.

There are a LOT of choices out there. I tried my little DragonFly 1.2, but it just did not like the Oppose very much. Did great things for the PSB headphones though!

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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