Hello everyone! I’m ecstatic to know a highly active hifi forum exists! Anyway, I’ll go straight to the point, which is a better all-rounder under $200, Drop x Senn HD58x or Hifiman HE400se? And why do you think so?
I listen to any genre of song, but I listen more often to pop, jazz, and j-pop.
Just a background, I’m an IEM guy. I currently have a Blon BL03, SoundMagic E11, and Tin Hifi T2 Plus, but I have the Blon as my daily driver as it is more pleasing to my ears. I also have a BTR3K which I can use as a USB Amp/DAC when stationary. I want to get into the territory of headphones but I’m limited with $200 for now - with the BTR3K as my only amp/dac.
Or do you have other recommendations with that budget?
Thank you so much!
Personally, i’d go the 58X
The 400SE is better in most ways (comfort, build and etc) but the 58X will probably sound better on the BTR3k since its a dynamic driver and not a planar.
I just did some quick AB testing on my BTR5 (on 3.5mm to match the 3k as best i can), listening to some Childish Gambino. While the 400 sounds good you can hear its wants more power, while the 58X has more “punch” to it
Also, keep in mind that both headphones have massive sound leakage so going moblie on them in a public space might be a bit of an issue
I have both headphones, and the BTR3k as well. The HE400se didn’t pair well with the BTR3k, you definitely need a better amp to power it, I’ve since upgraded to a Topping DX3 Pro. The HE400se sounded painfully bright and a little weird in the vocals to my ears on the BTR. Upgrading to another amp fixed the vocals but it still had a painful spike around 9100hz to my ears. I’ve been trying to eq the HE400se to sound correct for ages but there was always something that sounded off to me. It’s always sounded a little artificial and “dead”. I’m sure you could easily get used to it though. The BTR powers the HD58x no problem. Before this the DT880 was my favorite but now it sounds somewhat bloated and congested to me after using the 58x. Compared to the HE400se its soundstage is a little smaller, imaging may be a touch worse, but it sounds perfect to me. I think I am a little sensitive to some shoutiness around 2-3khz and I did notice there was a touch but I quickly got used to it. The BL03s are very shouty to me. Vocals are so present on these while on the HE400se they sounded a little distant. It has a nice amount of warmth, and it does wonders to both male and female vocals. Nothing sounds anemic in the bass department. I usually eq all my headphones but with this one I feel no need to. Everything to me just sounds perfect and correct.
The HE400se is not a bad choice, it has a really nice soundstage with good separation and imaging, but it’s unlistenable to me without any eq, I think it’s just my ears but there’s a literally painful treble spike. Again, this is probably just me, I haven’t found anyone else complaining about it. Aside from the treble peak it is a fairly neutral headphone except for a dip around around 1khz, I’m pretty sure that’s causing the “dead” sound, and slightly recessed vocals. I was initially impressed with it but I’ve gotten frustrated with it trying to perfect it with eq, but that’s probably down to my eqing abilities. If this was my only headphone I’d still be plenty happy with it. You would wanna get a new cable for this though, the stock cable is horrible. It’s so stiff and you can hear it rattle around. I tried using this with a balanced cable on the BTR and I didn’t notice anything sound wise. Both of these are comfortable, the HE400se will take a few days for the headband to break in, and right now I’m in the process of breaking in the 58x headband.
I can also recommend the DT880, I’ve used the 250 ohm version on the BTR for a while now and it used to be my primary headphone for a while. I’d say it’s a slight v shape, it has more warmth than the 58x with a treble peak. In my opinion the treble peak isn’t anything bad, it’s fine to me. I think these really shine in the bass department though once you eq them. It’s the punchiest sounding headphone compared to the other two. Oratory1990’s eq preset can do some magic to these headphones. It sounded great on the BTR but once I upgraded amps it did sound like a little too much bass to me. I liked the sound of oratory’s preset but with only the first 3 bands. Cable is really long and can get annoying. I have the premium chrome edition and the stock headband on it is a little thin. I’ve replaced it with one I found on amazon for cheap, and it’s super comfortable. I think the pro and premium headbands are thicker than the premium chrome edition headband.
I’m willing to sell my HE400se and DT880 if you’re interested and in the US.
Thank you for going on the lengths of AB testing it.
Is the 400SE sort of sibilant or brighter than the 58x? Also, Why do you think the 400 would want more power? Is it because of its loudness, or its sound is just different as compared when used with a proper amp?
I’ll be using it at home though, but I move around the house, or use it while on bed. This is also the reason I’ll be sticking with the BTR3K.
the volume lvl is a concern but not the main one. On the BTR5, im high gain and almost maxed out to the 400SE get it to a decent volume so im assuming the 3k will have a bit of a harder time, but the main issue is when you compare it to a more powerful amp, like the IFI zen Can or the Topping A50 you realize that it has much more to give in every way.
On a proper amp the 400SE has a much more richer and full sound, the bass has more impact, even the dynamic range is better, basically the lack of power is holding the driver from really flexing its muscles. its a perfect example of what people mean when they say “drive it properly”, while it will make sound and sound pretty decent to really get the most out of it, it needs power
Thank you for describing the HE400se. Do you personally prefer the HD58x right now over the DT880 and HE400se? I was kinda confused in the middle tho.
Actually I was looking at reviews for the DT880 600 ohm version. But since I can’t power it with BTR3K, I didn’t look further. Had you had the chance to try the 600 ohm version? Is the difference really that significant with the 250 ohm version?
Nope, haven’t tried the many Beyerdynamic headphones so I can’t say how they measure up to the 58X, but they are different style of headphone from what iv’e heard (in terms of sound).
if you don’t mind close back you have a few more options maybe look at something like the Meze 99 Neo, its a fun “dark” set, good bass, fun, and warm sound, easy to drive and personally i found them very comfortable
58x>DT880>HE400se in my opinion. I’ve only tried the 250 ohm version. Volume for me wasn’t a problem on the HE400se, I had it just under max volume but that was with -10db preamp in PEACE, so you’d have more headroom with eq. Upgrading amps will make a nice improvement to the HE400se
BTW i wouldn’t sell the 400SE just yet, you could be 100% right and the 400SE not being your cup of tea but the DX3 might still be a bottleneck.
While the DX3 Pro has some power it might be lacking to power planar magnetic headphones compared to others more powerful amps. When i use it on my Topping MX3 (Fully aware that the DX3 is different), it felt lacking in a lot of ways but hooking it to my other amps (IFI zen Can and the Topping A50S) yeilded very different results.
So before you sell them, give them a try on a more powerful amp (Also keep in mind that planar magnetic headphones dont normally play well with tubes).
P.S - If you have the option of running them balanced i’d recommend it