This is without a doubt one of the most interesting hifiman headphones out there, and it definitely has more to it than just being the entry level model.
The full-size dynamic controller category is a crowded place. all brands have put their best efforts in the arena and yet I have yet to find a full-size one that can be a master of all genres, a true all-round headphone with good sound and musicality. And while the young fairy brand Hifiman isn’t going to outshine the technology found in beyerdynamic’s tesla driver or sennheiser’s ring-shaped driver any time soon, through careful tuning, they may have produced one of the best full dynamic controllers I’ve ever seen. name all the best dynamic drivers you can think of, from the hd800, the t1, the w5000, the ad2000, the 8/9/10 edition, the degrees, the akgs, and tell me if any of them have good bandwidth gender . no, none they are all highly polarized headphones. therefore it is quite surprising to find a young brand like hifiman that produces excellent all-rounder and at the same time manages to sound quite loud.
Reading: He 300 headphone
a dynamic controller! while I suspect one of the reasons for the dynamic controller is cost, on the other hand the dynamic controller also does things that you don’t get in planar orthodynamic models. yes, the transients is the first thing you would notice that is different from the bigger hifimans, even the he-4. but on the other hand, the dynamic driver in the hifiman he-300 is so superbly tuned that it gives me a more relaxed sound and is easier on the ears than what I hear on the flat models.
general sound impressions
Let’s start with tonal balance. this is definitely the warmest sounding hifiman yet. take the hifiman he-500 and turn up the warmth even higher. turn down the treble a bit, keep pretty much the same smooth midrange that everyone seems to like with the he-500, add a little more bass body. The end result sounds like what I wish Sennheiser had done with the HD650: a less sleepy HD650 with more appealing sound without losing its cool, laid-back presentation. cleaner mids and lows, still heavy, and without the slow bass and “veil”. Ultimately, it still can’t replace the low-end punch of the HD650, but the faster, clearer bass of the HE-300 will probably be better for many people, myself included. the pacing is definitely faster than the hd650, but overall it’s still a fairly laid-back device for listening to music.
he-300 vs. he-500
same brand, two different driver technologies, tweaked and built around the same time and probably by the same engineers. how will the two differ? Between the he-300 and the he-500, you will first notice that the he-500 has a significantly clearer sound. I also noticed that the planar transients are faster overall and the dynamics are slower, however the dynamic has a better sense of coherence from higher to lower frequencies, and that’s something I really appreciate.
The planar controller clearly had what it takes to win the higher model number (and price). while i think the he-500 excels in clarity of the treble and bass region more than the he-300, i actually feel that the overall impression of clarity may be due in large part to the significantly greater presence of treble in the he – 500. The mids of the he-500 are known to be very special, but in that region I feel like the he-300 was able to improve it, albeit with a slightly different tone due to its dynamic drivers. the mids are a bit darker and yet they sound just as clear and even more, they have a deeper depth to the mids that i don’t hear in the he-500’s midrange. the mids are definitely warmer on the he-300, and the mids have better dimension and fluidity than those on the he-500. moving towards the bass, the he-300 again sounds heavier in the bass, warmer and more attractive, although with slower transients than the bass of the he-500.
so while on the one hand the he-500’s clearer sound, more open soundstage and faster transients clearly indicate that it deserves the higher price tag, on the other hand the he-300 still has a voice by itself that I really don’t think should be seen as inferior to the he-500 (well, maybe a little). but compared to the he-5 and he-4 models, I think the he-300 is a much nicer headphone, based solely on tonal balance.
construction and ergonomics
The use of dynamic driver also greatly reduces the weight of the earphones, and the HE-300 is truly the most comfortable hifiman earphone. i never really think much of the ear pads that hifiman uses on their headphones, but without the weight of the flat magnets hanging from the headband, the ear pads now feel very comfortable, again similar to the comfort of the hd650 ear pads but without the sennheiser death grip feel. .
build quality is a bit low, as you can see this is a low end model compared to the he-500 or he-6 I have. Though from a distance, the silver casing and black grill make it look like the latest $5,000 Stax flagship. however, in all seriousness, I think the impression of inferior build quality is largely based on the quality of the paint finish on the case, while the build of the headset remains as solid as the models high-end.
There’s no denying that hifiman is getting better with every headset they release and they’re doing so at a very fast rate. when the first hifiman headset was released the he-5 was very impressive and yet it was quite twitchy and in the long run it turned out to be a difficult headset to use. However, with each subsequent release, I think the hifiman headphone voices have become more and more mature. the he-5le to the he-5, the flagship he-6, and even the launch of the he-500, although it was an inferior model to the he-6, it was overall a more mature headset than the he-6. and now hifiman has done it again with the he-300.
It’s not a technical giant, and the he-300 is pretty far out of the league that the hd-800, t1, lcd-2, and he-6/500 play in. Get past the technicalities though, and I truly believe that the musical aspect can compete with the big boys and even beat some of them (the hd800 would be pretty easy to beat). the price will of course make the hifiman line more affordable than ever, and if you ask me how it compares to the current ~$300 line of open-back headphones, I think the k701/dt880/hd650 trio faces a very serious threat It would be the he-300. the signature is closer to the hd650 than the akg or beyer, but the lighter pace and slightly more forward presentation make it better in all respects than the hd650. combine it with anything from the ha-160 burson to the continental alo, and the result has been nothing short of pure musicality.