HiFiMan HE-350: Early Impressions

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Greetings!

Today we are going to take a quick look at the HE-350, a new headphone from HiFiMan created in collaboration with MassDrop. If you’ve never visited MassDrop, make yourself a free account and snoop around. It’s a pretty cool place and you can get some great deals on outstanding products.

Anyway; the He-350. What is it? It’s essentially a re-imagining of the infamous HE-300 which was discontinued despite being pretty popular. It was an entry level offering initially released in 2010 that proved you could get top tier sound at an affordable price, which in this case was 300 USD. When MassDrop and HiFiMan revealed they would be reworking the HE-300 as the HE-350, bringing it back for a limited drop, and for only 99 USD, people kinda blew their lids.

There were a ton of changes made in the creation of the HE-350, such as a new, more efficient driver, a revised headband leading to a significantly lower weight, and more widely used 2.5mm removable cable sockets. Here are some specs for those that enjoy them:

HE-300:

  • Driver: Dynamic 50mm
  • Impedance: 50 ohm
  • Sensitivity: 93dB @ 1KHZ, 1mW
  • Frequency response: 15Hz – 22 kHz
  • Weight: 270g, without cable

HE-350:

  • Driver: 50 mm dynamic
  • Impedance: 19 ohm
  • Sensitivity: 93 dB @ 1 mW
  • Frequency response: 15 Hz – 22 kHz
  • Weight, with cable: 12.1 oz (343 g)
  • Weight, without cable: 10.6 oz (301 g)

So why did I decide to write up this quick blurb, especially as someone that spends the vast majority of their listening time with in-ear monitors? Following reviews on Head-fi and others posted around the web, this headphone seems to fall into either ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ categories without much in between. With the HE-350, I can believe it as it is a very bright headphone. That’s not the sort of signature that resonates with widespread audiences in my experience.

I tend to like a bright and aggressive signature so the HE-350’s sound runs parallel with my preferences. Even so, it came across a bit strident and unrefined in the treble on first listen. A bit of burn in (mental and/or physical, you decide) and a swap to my AKG K553 Pro earpads really helped to improve their sound. Treble took a light step back and smoothed out, mids became more pronounced, and bass response improved (as did quantity). Without performing more intensive mods such as those found in moedawg140’s extensive early review/preview found here on Head-fi, it’s pretty insane how a simple pad swap can have such a great effect on the HE-350.

Overall, I am really enjoying this pair of headphones. With AKG pads installed, they give me the low end extension that the AKG K553 Pro failed to provide while maintaining similar levels of energy. Imaging is excellent, though the soundstage isn’t as grand as I would like it to be on an open-back set. Comfort is outstanding. The cable is nice, and the overall build quality is on par with what I would expect for the price.

I am planning on writing a review of them at some point, though when I can’t say. There are quite a few reviews already in the works meaning the HE-350 is pretty far down the list. Next up will be the Accutone Taurus and Advanced Model 3 so keep your eyes open!

Thanks for reading!

– B9Scrambler

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