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CanJam NYC 2022: HiFiMAN EF400 Headphone Amplifier/DAC

HiFiMAN has some new toys this weekend at CanJam NYC 2022. The $599 HiFiMan EF400 DAC/Headphone Amplifier has arrived.

HiFiMAN EF400 Headphone Amplifier DAC

When HiFiMAN discontinued its EF6 Headphone Amplifier, it created a void in its product lineup; the remaining amplifiers were designed to be paired with the Susvara, Jade, Shangri-La, and Shangri-La Jr. headphones. A quick look at the HiFiMAN website reveals some eye-opening prices for these particular systems and unless you don’t mind going without a car — they are priced well out of the reach of 99% of the planet.

HiFiMAN EF400 Headphone Amplifier DAC Angle

Enter the new HiFiMAN EF400 Headphone Amplifier/DAC which might prove to be ideal for the HiFiMAN Edition XS headphones that were just introduced. Our review of the headphones will appear next week.

The “affordable” headphone amplifier market is beyond competitive in 2022 and with so much competition from brands like iFi, Schiit Audio, Topping, and Cayin, HiFiMAN has to aim slightly lower or risk losing market share.

The desktop HiFiMAN EF400 is paying some form of homage to the well-respected EF6 but offers the types of connectivity required in 2022 by headphone users.

The EF400 isn’t very large and will fit on most busy desktops; if you are using something like an Apple iMac placed on a desktop stand, the EF400 will fit easily underneath. It will probably work fine under laptop stands as well.

The case is matte black with a brushed aluminum face. Starting at the inputs, the rear panel has 2 USB digital inputs along with an RCA and XLR analog outputs so the EF400 will operate as a USB DAC/Amp or as a pure headphone amplifier. You can connect an external phono preamp or CD player to the EF400 through either one of these inputs.

HiFiMAN EF400 Headphone Amplifier DAC Front

The front face has 6.35mm and 3.5mm single ended outputs along with 4.4mm and XLR balanced outputs bracketed by the gain/oversampling selector knob on the left. The volume dial is placed on the right side of the front panel.

Internally, the EF400 is fully balanced and utilizes HiFiMAN’s Himalaya R2R DAC module. The Himalaya is a field programmable gate array designed in-house.

We’ve seen this DAC used in a portable dongle and the Bluetooth module for the Deva Headphone, but this is the first time we have seen it in a desktop amplifier. The chip maxes out at 24-bit/768kHz PCM and HiFiMAN have included oversampling on the digital side; which you can disable using a switch on the front panel.     

HiFiMAN EF400 Headphone Amplifier DAC Back

The DAC’s output is fed to a class A/B amplifier; this allows the EF400 to have as much output power as the EF6 at a much more competitive price. By using a buffer, followed by an active filter, the output is both potent and clean with an SNR of +118dB and a THD+N of 0.004%.   

The 4.4 watts of output power (on the balanced outputs) gives the EF400 the ability to power even the difficult HiFiMAN HE6 with ease. The EF400 offers two gain levels making it easy to use with less demanding headphones or really hard to drive planar and dynamic headphones.

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Price & Availability

The HiFiMAN EF400 is available now for pre-order with the first units shipping in March 2022 at a retail price of $599 USD.

Specifications

  • THD+N (Line out) : Between 0.002% and 0.004% 
  • Channel Separation : 125+/-3dB 
  • Signal to Noise Ratio : 118+/-3dB (A Weighted) 
  • Maximum Power Output : 4.4 W per channel 
  • Dimensions : 246.5mm(L)×228mm(W)×61mm(H) 
  • Weight : 3.08kg 

For more information: hifiman.com

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. ORT

    February 26, 2022 at 5:48 am

    Hmmmmm…Kinda sorta good looking but…At that price it had damn well better have two VU Meters up front and proper!

    Unless I have fallen asleep, I do not listen to
    music with my eyes shut. An amp this expensive needs to do two things very, very, well.

    1) Reproduce music faithfully.

    2) Look totally bitchin’. Totally tits, fab and gear. So hey then, HiFiman?! Get it? Got it? Good!

    It fails at #2, ergo no Toadbucks will be set aside for one of these.

    ORT

    • W. Jennings

      March 15, 2022 at 12:01 pm

      I’m somewhat the opposite. I often do listen with my eyes closed so I have less concern about the aesthetic. Now admittedly I prefer a polished finish over an industrial looking box, but I’d rather the company spent more time and effort on the sound than on the box.

  2. Howard Olsen

    April 5, 2022 at 7:33 pm

    I I quired of HIFIMAN and the RCA is output only meaning it only
    has the usb inputs, making this a no go for me. Please correct your post.

  3. Dr.T.Ph.D.

    April 7, 2022 at 4:20 am

    Yes.
    I have the EF400, too, and Howard O is correct. The RCA and XLR taps are output only. It even says so in the posted picture! The only inputs are USB-B and USB-C. I have a bunch of DACs (Burson C3R, iFi NEO iDSD, RME ADI-2 DAC FS, Gustard X26 Pro) and some amps (Headamp GS-X mini, iFi Pro iCAN Signature, Ferrum OOR/HYPSOS, Feliks Audio Espressivo Mk II). This is my first R2R DAC. I haven’t had time to do direct comparisons, but this little rig is the least expensive of them all and sounds pretty, pretty, pretty good. Listening to it now on my Meze Elite with 4-pin XLR cable.

    • Ian White

      April 7, 2022 at 1:58 pm

      Doc,

      Corrected.

      Best,

      Ian White

  4. Dr.T.Ph.D.

    April 10, 2022 at 10:53 pm

    Hello Ian.
    The article still states “You can connect an external phono preamp or CD player to the EF400 through either one of these inputs.” It looks like you may still be referring to the analog out jacks. I can’t connect any of my CD players or transports (or non-USB phono preamps) into the USB inputs, but perhaps someone with a USB turntable can. Are there CD players that can connect to a USB input? If I wasn’t up on those digitizing phono preamps, I wouldn’t have believed you could get a digital signal from a turntable. At this time, I am only using the EF400 to play streaming music off my MacBook. I would imagine that is it’s primary use.

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