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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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