BUS RIDE IMPRESSION: Hifiman HE-350

Hello there and welcome to another installment of Bus Ride Impression. I was hoping that the 2 day vacation will be able to recalibrate my adled brain due to the brouhaha of the season, unfortunately I was turned into a slave from the start of the weekend leading to the Halloween (which aptly I think should be my costume for the holiday) and man I was driven up against the hill (Toil!) given the tasks I have been handed by ze mother. Anywho, I am glad I still managed to finally find the time to publish another installment of my reviews.

Oh, and by the way, as shameless as this might be, I would like to thank those who dropped by the Aurem meet last Sunday. It was a pure, potent poison day for the folks who dropped by as wickedly plotted and planned by the master himself, the Sith Lord of audiophilia, Lorenz Macalincag who actually came up with the idea of the gear to be used that day. It seems there was a number of people who joined us who failed to get some sleep afterwards. Well played, Sith Lord, well played.

Now on with the review. One of the best things during last Sunday’s meet was that I was bestowed (loaned) by yet another gear to review, the Hifiman HE-350. It was loaned by none other than the doctor, John Tepaurel (the man, the myth, the oh shush it) and he was very generous for lending me the said can with an SPC cable to go with it. Which is now my disclaimer as I am about to review it without using the stock cables that comes with the package.

Hifiman HE-350 is a collaboration between Hifiman and Massdrop who has offered a huge number of gears for their great deals. This one can be had for a price tag of $100 so this should count as one of the great entry level cans to be released in the market. However, we will have to find out if it indeed is worth the price.

First off, let’s talk about the build. I have been a fan of Hifiman since I have had the RE-600, and after that I had the chance to own the HE-400s and now the HE-400i. I must say that I have had mixed reactions to their products. One thing in general though is how, err, sub-standard is the build of their products. The RE-600 that I used to have had to be sent for warranty twice, and that was when I decided to just have it replaced by HE-400s. I acquired the HE-400i out of a trade and both the 400 models seem to have decent to good build, with the exception of the female 2.5mm terminators at the bottom of the cans.

The HE-350, pardon me for saying, is not much different. Fact is, it was even worse: the pads are made of velour but are not mounted evenly. Heck, even the stitches on the pads are uneven. The pads are also magnets to lint, which means it has to be kept in a dustless place otherwise you will have to get yourself a lint remover everytime it accumulates quite a significant amount of lint. The groove holes on the headband doesn’t seem to lock well as opposed to having it click for each hole.

However, I am pleased that the noise made when swivelling the cups are gone. Much unlike the HE-400s, squeaking is not an issue when you have to twist the cans. I guess the build quite equated to how affordable the can is.

As for the sound, I guess this is where the cans tried to compensate for the lackluster build. Initially, you can hear that it is a bright can. It does have some bass on it, quantity wise though it doesn’t match the details on the highs that it can yield. Mids may seem to be a bit recessed, but not too much unless your preference is the “in-your-face” type of mids. I would like to use the term sufficient in this case.

Now let’s try to use the HE-350 with my choice tracks:

Miles Davis
Freddie Freeloader

As I mentioned earlier, you will hear good quality of bass from HE-350. It is whole, round and clean. However, for my taste, this lacks quantity from the low end (and that is me speaking who is not the biggest basshead in the room). Sax though has quite a healthy dose and should be sufficient for those who likes sparkly highs. No, it doesn’t tend to be sibilant, it is of the right amount with a little to spare for those who are into such frequencies. Piano keys are immaculate, and complements the cymbals well.

James Taylor
Your Smiling Face

Guitars on this track is fun. It complements with the piano quite well, but doesn’t drown Mr. Taylor’s voice. It offered quite some punch on the drums but not as much as it does with HE-400i. Bass guitar seems quite crunchy though, much to my delight.

The Police
Every Breath You Take

Guitars are very clear on this track using the HE-350. Sting’s voice also surfaced a bit compared to James Taylor’s track in spite of the raunchy strums of the guitar. Mid-bass seems to be more forward here but the sub-bass still appears insufficient.

Mind you, I am not sure how the modded cable made the changes on the sound so I think I will have to give this can a go once I have my hand on the stock cable. However, with the SPC mod, I would assume some detail to surface further compared to the stock cable. Of course, I can be wrong; will really need to give them stock cables a try.

As these are open-back cans, these are not suggested for travel. However, with ample volume on the DAP (ample being sufficient but not too much to make heads turn in the bus) it should be able to somehow shut the sound off outside once you wear the HE-350.

My verdict: this is a good can that should be able to yield the details a beginner would hope to get out of their first investment on a can. Details are satisfactory to good, apart from the shortage on the sub-bass region. This should be a good buy considering the price tag, as long as you are not bothered by the build.

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