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maXXXjacker t1_j9pbu5n wrote

What you are describing sounds like you are running the headphone off a lackluster dac/amp. I do not have a K3 to comment but I think I know what you are talking about.

I plugged my 400se into my PC and my EPOS GSX300 and achieved similar results. Volume for days but it just sounds like a shit headphone and there isn't a thing you can do to make it sound better. The headphone sounds congested, the bass is one note and everything else fairly mediocre. I would say that this is not a great headphone and I would have returned it for something else post haste.

Plug it into something a bit more robust. Bass becomes better textured, excellent control and extension but the punch/slam remains about the same strength which is on the gentler side as far as planars go. Bass excitement was never a quality of this headphone, so coming from gaming headphones this would be a let down and don't expect throwing more power at the headphone to help, it's just enough to keep the headphone from being lean and boring, I would say it is a lively sound. Mids become uncongested, voices sound organic with decent timbre, decent spacing and imaging. The soundstage seems fine, it's not a big improvement but I feel everything is where it is supposed to be. Excellent clarity in the mid to uppermid region, no notable issues here but seems about right for the 400 series.

I feel like there is a point where you can hit rock bottom with this headphone, however if after a week of listening it doesn't grow on you, most definitely return it for something else as there shouldn't be any reason for you to upgrade your gear around the 400se, just get a better headphone instead.

I feel like the 400se is a great starting point to get an idea of what the hifiman sound signature is all about but this headphone does need a little bit of finesse to have it all come together and I feel like sometimes I can get it all together on less but some of the biggest complaints I've seen is about the HP needing power (not for volume) but to bring out the best performance out of this headphone and this isn't coming from people who are inexperienced with headphones but from reviewers themselves. I would agree but I've had fairly mediocre dac/amp combos deliver the goods but if what you are saying is true, it sounds like the K3 might be the problem. Just my 2 cents.


Line6Guitarist OP t1_j9pql8q wrote

I'll probably try these with my friend's amp and I'll see how it goes.


maXXXjacker t1_j9q0x0m wrote

Yea, good call. Hopefully your friends amp can help you realize the 400se's potential and help you figure out if the sound is worth investing further into.

I would also have your friend listen to it and see what they think since they are used to the Sundara but mind you the Sundara is a big step up in comparison but you already knew that from your original post.



Line6Guitarist OP t1_j9q2umy wrote

Thanks man I appreciate you


maXXXjacker t1_j9r2evm wrote

No worries, let us know how it goes and what your friend was using for a dac along with amp. Hopefully we can figure this one out because the K3 specs at a minimum I would expect that the 400se should be a relatively pleasant experience rather than the description you gave it and the horrible turd fest that came out of my EPOS dac/amp. Plugging into my Galaxy S8+, I'm not a fan of how the 400se sounds either, "The lower mid range sounds muddy and untextured higher mids and treble sound veiled and everything feels very low resolution" was pretty closely fitting the description I had that you gave outside of needing more volume on the S8. Plugging into a Apple Dongle, it's not terrible but it sounds a bit rough compared to what I'm used to.

Hopefully by testing the headphone out on your friends gear will yield some positive feedback/findings to at least let us know if it is a gear thing or if the headphones sound signature is not a good fit, it's just a really tough call here because of the same-ish experiences I've had which back up your findings minus actually having a K3 to know for sure if its just a sound preference issue or the K3 is the issue here.

Hoping for the best.


Line6Guitarist OP t1_j9rcnbm wrote

Pretty sure he has a jds atom stack and from what he tells me they're great. Hearing you say your experience was similar to mine is really nice to hear since the internet seems to praise these cans so much.


maXXXjacker t1_j9ri2wh wrote

That is good news, the atom stack should be a perfect litmus test to put this mystery to bed!