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Headphone Sessions 11/17/2011: HifiMAN HE-300

With all of HifiMan’s planar magnetic headphones, we’ve given pretty solid reviews so we thought it was time to put the HE-300 through the ringer.  The HE-300 is HifiMan’s attempt at a dynamic, open audiophile headphone. It shares the solid bass response of the rest of the HE series and we found the build quality to be solid and the weight to be much lighter providing a more comfortable fit than its planar magnetic siblings. The group consensus is that the HE-300 is the most comfy in the HE line. Unfortunately, those are really the only positives we could find with this headphone. We understand you can’t hit home runs all the time, or even base hits. While this was clearly a strikeout, HifiMan went down swinging and we’re confident the next at bat will hold better fortunes. So, before we continue on to a couple of paragraphs of unrestrained ripping, I want to mention we heard that HifiMan is stepping up to the plate, working on the second rev of the dynamic driver for the HE-300. That in mind, we’re guessing this ‘less than positive’ review shouldn’t come as a surprise to them. Now, on to the ripping! The HE-300 is lacking any natural tonality, largely due to a very distant mid and high presentation. It almost sounds as if everything but bass is coming from another room upstairs in a large house! Please don’t let the large house analogy give you the idea of a spacious soundstage because the soundstage is more comparable to a matchbox and lacks any separation or sense of space. The only spacial sense is that of distance from the music. [caption id="attachment_2272" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="HiFiMAN HE-300"] HiFiMAN HE-300[/caption] Most of our HeadRoom reviewers found the full bass response to be a highlight, but our resident ‘Bass Head’ wasn’t impressed with the bass and said even though it had the impact similar to that of a closed headphone (to which he was referring his favorite, the Denon D2000), it was boomy and lacked any definition or texture. As a comparison, we put the HE-300 against a couple of house favorites, the Denon D2000 and Sennheiser HD650. When transitioning from the HE-300 to the D2000 or HD650 it was like turning the lights on and lifting the curtain! In both sets of cans the bass became detailed and musical, the mids and highs were present and clear, and a spacial presence became obvious, almost making you feel like you just had a weight lifted from your chest and you could finally take a deep breath. HeadRoom eagerly awaits the release of the new driver as HifiMan’s previous revisions have always resulted in better sound. In the meantime, for more insulting reviews on the HE-300 and other headphones, or to hear how much we respect HifiMan for the excellent sounding products they have produced, visit www.headphone.com or call 1-800-828-8184. A knowledgeable headphone expert is anxiously awaiting the next opportunity to give you their personal and HeadRoom’s collective opinion on anything we carry!

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