Pros: Clarity, Transparency, Neutrality, Treble extension, Bass Extension, Value for Money
Cons: Bass Impact, Bass Quantity, Somewhat "thin" sound
I’ve already written a great deal on the RE0s but I don’t consider any of it a formal review in the traditional sense. If you’ve read my previous writing about the RE0s, you should know that I am positively enamored by them. In the few weeks since I received them, they have quickly become my preferred listening devices when I sit down with my laptop or iPod and listen to music. After putting them through their paces for 200+ hours and listening to the sound signature evolve and mature in that time, I finally feel that I’m ready to give the RE0s the review they deserve. So, without further ado, read on for my full review of the HiFiMan RE0 in ear monitors.
Driver: 9mm dynamic driver
Frequency Response: 15Hz – 22KHz
Impedance: 64 Ω
Cable Length: 1.28m/4.2ft
Packaging and Accessories
The RE0s come packaged in a small, clear plastic clamshell box. The design is unobtrusive and eye catching, showing off the IEMs flanked by the three pairs of silicone single flange tips. Included accessories range from the aforementioned three pairs of single flange silicone tips, two pairs of small and large bi-flanges, five pairs of replacement filters and a shirt clip. Overall, this is a decent accessory package but I would’ve been happier if a soft or hard carrying case had been included with the package. I guess you could argue that the case the RE0s came in could be used to carry them around in a pinch but it’s just slightly too big and bulky to fit very comfortably in a pocket.
Design and Build Quality
Right off the bat, the similarity to the V-Moda Vibes is immediately apparent. The housing is made of metal, painted black with a matte finish instead of the high-fashion polished aluminum look and feel of the V-Moda Vibes. The metal design inspires confidence in terms of long and short-term durability in that they feel sturdy and resilient without being too heavy or too light. Extending down from the casing is a long strain relief which is soft rubber in texture and adds to the durability and protects the cable as it enters the housing. The cable also terminates in a properly relieved L-plug which is new in the current revision of the RE0s.
The cable itself is relatively heavy, fairly thick and very soft and pliable. It seems durable enough to withstand a fair amount of abuse. One issue I have with the cabling of the RE0s is that they transmit a lot of cable noise. Wearing them straight down while walking or performing any kind of activity that causes the IEMs to rub against your clothing, will result in microphonic noise being transmitted into your ears. It’s annoying and distracting to be sure and using the included shirt clip and wearing them over-the-ear is practically required if you plan on walking with these.
These feel like they will be able to withstand normal amounts of daily use and abuse for a long period of time. I do wish these came with a carrying case of some kind to protect them while on the go and naturally, it’s expected that you’ll want to protect your investment. I would advise investing in a carrying case of some kind to protect them if you plan on carrying them around.
Comfort and Fit
The housings of the RE0s are very small and light and, as such, you’ll barely feel them while they’re in your ears. For me and my small ear canals, the small black tips were best for me but now, I use a pair of small tips I sourced from a pair of V-Moda Vibes which I find to be a bit softer and thus more comfortable. With all of the various eartips supplied with the RE0s, I’m sure that most users will be able to find a pair that work for them.
Let me preface this by saying that these are the best sounding IEMs I’ve ever heard. Nothing I’ve ever used comes close to matching the RE0s in terms of clarity and transparency, bass and treble extension and micro level detail. These are a highly resolving pair of IEMs and as such will be highly revealing of flaws in your source material. I would not recommend using these with 128kbps music files or any other poorly recorded music, as these will make the flaws in those files stand out so much more. On the other hand, because they are so highly resolving, they allow great recordings and high bitrate files such as 320kbps MP3s and FLAC files to shine.
The RE0s are a very neutral pair of IEMs across the board and offer very little in the way of coloration to the music being pumped through them. These are highly transparent and allow you to hear music mostly as the artist intended, without adding any degree of warmth or coldness that isn’t actually present in the piece itself.
The midrange is fairly recessed but lively and very clear. Both male and female vocals are full-bodied and natural sounding and, across the board, instruments just sound great. The biggest strength of the RE0s is their endlessly extended and exceptionally clear and bright treble. Highs are forward and sparkle with just a touch of warmth without a hint of sibilance. These have the best highs I’ve ever heard in an IEM and should please just about anyone looking for a great high end response.
Low end response is perhaps the weakest aspect of the RE0’s sonic presentation but even then, it’s not at all bad. Bass is very detailed and natural sounding but what it lacks in is body. It just doesn’t have quite enough “oomph” to my ears and as a result makes the entire sound signature somewhat thin. Extension is very nice as well, as you can detect bass notes down to 20 Hz, even if those notes aren’t particularly powerful.
Soundstage and imaging are both good as well. The soundstage is of average size and depth, with great instrument separation and decent imaging.
The RE0s don’t necessarily need an amp, despite their relatively high 64 ohm impedance but respond very well to the extra juice. The soundstage widens a bit, dynamics improve and the bass improves a bit in terms of fullness. These also respond well to amps with a bass boost feature such as the inexpensive Fiio E5 and the JDS Labs CMoy BB, which highlight the great low end detail and sub-bass extension the RE0s possess.
Without a doubt, these are the best IEMs I’ve ever heard. These really make my music collection come alive and are very entertaining to listen to for long stretches. They let the music sink in slowly if you’re reading a book, doing homework or anything else that requires concentration while also allowing you to tune into the finer details of the music and really immerse yourself in the music you hear. For the current asking price of $80 plus shipping from Head-Direct, you really can’t go wrong with the RE0s. While these probably won’t satisfy bass-heads (at least without a bass boosting amp), these can easily compete with IEMs three to four times their price and are an absolutely phenomenal value for the price. I highly recommend these to budget conscious audiophiles who are interested in neutral and, above all, excellent sounding IEMs.