The Balanced HE 400,
Mine has a Toxic Cable Hybrid Silver/Copper 4pin XLR cable and Lambskin Leather J$Pads on it.
Some back story, I was the happy owner of a Beyer Dyanmic DT 990 for the longest time, the 990 boasted clean, clear and open sound with some killer bass! Well guys, the HE 400 is literally the spiritual successor to the DT 990! It took all of it's flaws and improved each and every one of them! While maintaining the sound style of the Dt 990. A deep heavy hitting bass, high energy and detailed highs, with mildly recessed upper mids. The biggest improvement of the HE 400, is the Sub bass and 3D imaging!
Comfort is nice as well, although to be fair the after market ePads make a big difference. The real lambskin leather is soft and not prone to sweat. It also diffuses some of the pressure form the head band.
The Sound [4/5]
The open back design give you a great sense of imaging. A very 3D sound. For viewing movies it's very satisfying and very cool. The OrthoDynamic design means the bass is very clean and fast, which is totally cool when you experince a super tight impactful explosion from behind your head! Again the 3D sense of the sound and bass response are very cool for movies! I do find that for vocals, it's not m favorite. As voices can be a little recessed at times, scenes with a lot of gun fire might not be the most understand able. Again, all those super realistic direction GUN SHOT sounds will skew the voices. Non the less, these really immerse you into any scene!
To start with the tonal balance is one of contrast, a nice deep bass and low mids contrast a slightly emphasized treble and recessed upper mid. For my tastes there are magical with any variant of Electronica, House or Dub Step. Once again, that deep tight bass really delivers a very real sense of bass impact! The treble too is emphasized which I like. The additional treble gives a nice snap to high hats and percussion, not to mention adding a nice level of detail to the headphone. Still some may find it over bearing, I how ever do enjoy it. Jazz and Hip Hop are also pair nice with the headphone. I enjoy hearing a little more of Percy Heath in my listening of The Modern Jazz Quartet, I also enjoying the nice layering of the headphones. Again the 3D sense of the music is very nice, the immersion is very cool. Hearing the trumpets to your left and right, the bass in the background. A piano right in front of you, again the 3D imaging is great. Going back to the balance though, these are not my favorite with rock or vocals. The lack of upper mids leaves female voices a little dry and guitars a little too edgy. Still, any one with a EQ can easily over come these issues!
These do not need an amp, they achieve a nice listening volume even out of my Cell Phone believe it or not. Non the less I do recommend an amplifier for them! I find that my 10ES2 [a fully balanced Amplifier] really adds a great sense of focus to the headphones, granted I'm running about 4w+ into 50ohms, non the less a powerful amp will add a nice sense of focus and clarity to these already wonderful headphones. Additionally, for those that miss the upper mids, a Hybrid Tube amp might really add a nice richness back to the upper mids and smooth out the treble for those who feel it's too bright.
All in all, while my Dt 880 get's the majority of my listening. Any MAJOR Dub Step or Techno fans will love this headphone. While I'm not listening to as much Techno as I used to, any time I have the urge these are my favorite headphones to listen on! Also, from time to time I do enjoy a nice action movie with these! Nothing like a good Shoot Em Up flick with near perfect linear bass response.