I saw these puppies on sale and my self-control died. I’d been debating on whether to buy the HE-400i for a long time, and I almost did when I first saw the new 2.5mm connectors that replaced the screw-on ones.
Compared to the EL-8 (~$900 CAD), the HE-400i (~$600 CAD) sounds more diffused, distant – even fuzzy, which makes it less satisfying of a listen. However, it’s still has great planar sound in its own right. If I’d never listened to the Audeze EL-8, I wouldn’t know what I was missing.
It certainly has more comfort going for it, with a relatively light frame and the wider leather headband making it less strenuous on the neck and top of your head for longer periods of wear. The clamp isn’t as hard as the EL-8, either, which I couldn’t stand wearing for longer periods until after I’d stretched it out a bit and gotten used to it. As for the earpads, my face has never played well with velour. It gets itchy after a while so I prefer leather/leatherette on all my earpads. Velour is the only flaw (for me, personally) in comfort for the 400i. That said, I’m still able to wear them much longer than the EL-8 out of the box, and replacing the earpads is simple.
Thankfully, the mirrored ear cups are more black, and only look that purplish shade on camera. They are fingerprint magnets though, so beware.
So, what do I think in a nutshell? I love them. Comfortable for hours of wear (even with the velour earpads – which I’ve already ordered leather replacements for), clear sound (though not as clear as my Audeze EL-8), and high quality packaging (a hard leather box?!). These headphones live up to their reputation.