HIFI is one of the three instruments for the Herschel Space Observatory, an ESA cornerstone mission. HIFI is a high resolution spectrometer operating at wavelengths between 157 and 625 Î¼m. The need for a compact layout reducing the volume and mass as much as possible has important consequences for the optical design. Many mirrors are located in the near-field of the propagating beam. Especially in the long wavelength limit diffraction effects might therefore introduce significant amplitude and phase distortions. A classical geometrical optical approach is consequently inadequate. In this paper we present a rigorous quasi-optical analysis of the entire optical system including the signal path, local oscillator path and onboard calibration source optical layout. In order to verify the results of the front-to-end coherent propagation of the detector beams, near-field measurement facilities capable of measuring both amplitude and phase have beam developed1. A remarkable feature of these facilities is that the absolute coordinates of the measured field components are known to within fractions of a wavelength. Both measured and simulated fields can therefore compared directly since they are referenced to one single absolute position. We present a comparison of experimental data with software predictions obtained from the following packages: GRASP* (Physical Optics Analysis) and GLAD (Plane Wave Decomposition). We also present preliminary results for a method to correct for phase aberrations and optimize the mirror surfaces without changing the predesigned mechanical layout of the optical system.