Products with Purpose
Every Massdrop collaboration is driven by a goal. Often, this target comes from the community—whether it’s a gap that exists in the market or a beloved product that just needs one or two adjustments to be truly great. The process is part principle, part inspiration, and lots of confirmation from the people who love to use the things we make.
With Dr. Fang Bian and HiFiMAN, we wanted to explore options with the older double-sided, planar-magnetic drivers that were in the HE-500, now out of production. During the course of our discussion, we found this couldn’t be done for a variety of reasons, manufacturing capacity being one of them. Of course, the conversation didn’t stop there.
Building the Gateway
Beyond the community’s requests, we have another goal for our custom products: to make it easier for folks to jump into a new hobby. The online headphone community has around 400,000 members. Because the more enthusiasts that join a hobby, the greater the opportunity in the market, we strive to reach those who aren’t already on the path to great sound. A bigger community drives development and competition; it leads to more participation and feedback, and that enables better products and deals.
In the case of the Massdrop x HiFiMAN HE-350, we wanted to aim the collaboration at growing the community. Our friends at HiFiMAN agreed with this goal, and said they could bring back the HE-300 dynamic-driver headphone if we could offer it to members for $99.
All that settled, it was time to build. We turned to the community for desired improvements to cosmetics, comfort, cabling, and sound signature. Our research comprised of studying reviews and graphs, and discussing potential changes with important members of the community. We improved the cable connectors and plug, and updated the frame to HiFiMAN’s latest (and much lighter) structure. We also made the headband more comfortable, and changed the colorway from black and silver to black and gray—a nod to the HE-500.
The result: the HE-350 open-back headphones. In response to tuning changes requested by users, the samples arrived with an all-new dynamic driver that HiFiMAN had been developing to compete against bigger players, but hasn’t yet used in any of its headphones. We’re excited about the new driver speed and resolution, and can’t wait to hear what the community has to say.
The story’s not quite over yet. We’re having fun with the samples, and have sent some out to community members, reviewers, and headphone modders. And there may be a few more surprises in store, because as it turns out, the HE-350 happens to be an excellent platform for personalizing the sound. We’re talking with HiFiMAN about tuning options, and considering developing a modding kit to allow users more flexibility with the sound signature.
Stay tuned for reviews, DIY mods, and more great custom products! Want to pick up the Massdrop x HiFiMAN HE-350 for yourself? Visit the drop page. For the in ear counterpart, check out the Massdrop x HiFiMAN RE-00.