Hifiman planar-magnetic headphones and headphones.com Part 2, adding a Bluetooth transmitter to a receiver (Week 50, 2022)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 50, 2022

Hifiman HE400se headphones and headphones.com, continued from last week: The Hifiman HE400se headphones are old-school, high fidelity over-ear headphones for dedicated music listening. They use exotic planar magnetic drivers known for their agreeable, effortless sound, and feature an open-back design so these drivers can radiate freely to optimizing performance. Open-back headphones do not isolate you from the outside environment, allowing you to hear what is going on around you. This makes them less than ideal for use in crowded environments or on airplanes, because not only do they not shut out environmental noise, they leak more sound than closed-back headphones do. The big earcups with mesh backing and soft, adjustable headband make them comfortable and adds to the old-school, high-end feel. There are no microphones, Bluetooth or other distractions – just plug them in and listen to the beautiful sound. On sale for only $109 on headphones.com (reduced from $149) they represent a wonderful value.

I usually refer directly to the manufacturer when I write about a product (unless it is only sold on Amazon and they do not have a website) and it is very rare that I will recommend a specific retailer. However the more I have learned about headphones.com, the more I realized what a good option it is for anyone shopping for headphones, and especially for a newspaper audience that includes many readers who are not audiophiles but want good sound and good equipment. Headphones.com offers a very wide selection of quality brands, curated by audiophiles like myself who enjoy spreading their love of audio. They enjoy sharing their knowledge of audio as well, and the site has a plethora of educational information and forums to help visitors choose the best headphones as they learn about audio equipment and reproduction. There is also a less altruistic reason for providing these resources, as headphones.com has an industry-leading 365-day return period. (See the website for details and exceptions to this policy.) If you decide you do not like your headphones anytime within a year you can return them (restocking fees may apply) and the site owners have admitted that maintaining this policy is expensive. Providing so much guidance and information upfront helps customers land on the right headphones the first time and minimizes returns. This is especially relevant with headphones because they are a very personal purchase not only in terms of sound quality, but in terms of fit as well. The best-sounding headphones in the world are of no use if they are uncomfortable, and it’s hard to tell what is actually going to be comfortable until you put them on. With good pricing, excellent support and a very long return period to assure satisfaction, it is worth checking out headphones.com whenever you are headphone shopping.

Q. How can I add Bluetooth broadcasting to my present audio system’s receiver? Is there any way to convert current wired speakers to receive those or any wireless audio signals?

-J.R., Minneapolis, MN

A. If your stereo receiver has a tape loop connect you can connect a Bluetooth transmitter ($25 or less) to the tape loop output. Anything playing on the receiver will then also be sent out as a Bluetooth signal. The only practical way to play the signal over wired speakers is with a small amplifier with Bluetooth and there are no plug-in modules that take a wired speaker and make it wireless. Best to just get a new wireless speaker, especially with so many good ones available. If you want bookshelf-style speakers the $269.99 Kanto YU2 are excellent, and the Edifier R1280T is an excellent budget buy for $119.99.