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HiFiMAN RE-400

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #9 in Universal Fit

Posted

Pros: Balanced yet slightly warm and sweet, beautiful and realistic mids, price

Cons: Lack of sub-bass and a tad sparkle, microphonics

After I bought the HD 598s, I was soon looking for a portable set of headphones or IEMs for casual use on the bus or outside. Sure enough, I found the lauded HifiMAN RE-400 to be an interesting option and even with concerns of durability and the possibility that a neutral sound signature wasn't for me, I bit the bullet. Were they worth it? 

 

Comfort, Design and Accessories:

 

I found the RE-400's to be well-designed overall, featuring a rather large plug and a cable comprised of both cloth and rubber. The drivers and the casings surrounding the drivers are rather small, which is a definite plus for portability. They also come with a wide array of tips and a rather convenient little case that can hold some extra tips and the RE-400 itself. I myself found most of the tips uncomfortable and stuck with the smallest tips but with the plethora of choices at hand, one can easily find a fit comfortable for them. To note, the RE-400's can sometimes be annoyingly microphonic at the rubber part of the cable in particular but this can be somewhat avoided by wearing them over the ear.

 

Though I've heard the cases of unpleasant durability, so far that doesn't seem to be true and these seem like they'll last easily for another two years. As far as comfort goes, I find the RE-400 to be satisfactory but not perfect. The fit is fairly comfortable but over time it can get warm and unpleasant in my experience for listening sessions over an hour or two. Perhaps with other tips this can be remedied but I haven't found that to be the case. Isolation for the RE-400's is average for the most part and even with a good fit, much of the background noise around myself is still discernible.

 

 

Sound Quality:

 

Overall, I found the RE-400's to be easily satisfactory for my musical listening purposes. The sound signature of the RE-400's does seem to be neutral and balanced but as many have noted, is also warm and sweet which makes the RE-400's sound detailed yet not analytical.

 

The treble of the IEMs is well-extended and definitely unfatiguing with a small amount of sparkle in the upper regions of frequencies. Drums and cymbals sound detailed and well-presented without being overly detailed and sibilant. However, this can at times sound a bit too smooth and without more sparkle, instruments and electric guitars in particular don't sound completely realistic. (when I hear a violin, I expect to hear some bite on the sustained, higher notes but the RE-400's present them without much harshness)

 

Mids on the IEMs are wonderful, bring very realistic and slightly forward in its presentation. In particular, guitars and vocals sound beautiful and almost immersive with detail to attention in the depth of vocals and string instruments such as violins and cellos. Most impressively, I can hear the breaths of vocals and little footsteps which I hadn't heard before in my music. However, male vocals, though sounding beautiful can come off as a tad dry and not quite as lush as I'd like but at this price point, it's to be expected and so this is a very small concern.

 

Initially, the bass of the RE-400's seemed far too anemic and lacking, especially the sub-bass. I expected this and waited to burn them in for about 50-100 hours before deciding my feelings on the bass. After burning them in and getting used to the sound signature, bass seemed much more present than beforehand and even though I still feel there is a lack of sub-bass, I'm pleased. Bass overall is well extended (perhaps even more than my HD598!) and is tight and fast, which I appreciate.

 

The soundstage on the RE-400's is slightly better than what I expected pretty much at the price point and the design and it does seem reasonably wide and tall enough. Curiously enough, the soundstage seems to be slightly angled. I don't know if I'm imagining this but it really does seem to be angled and it sounds a bit more 3-D than what I expected from these. 

 

In short, the RE-400's sound wonderful with a warm, sweet neutral sound signature and a satisfactory soundstage. Though I have minor problems with the treble, mids and the bass, this is due more to the fact I prefer a slightly more colored presentation and so these are really good all-rounder portable IEMs at this price especially. The RE-400's are great all-rounders but if you are looking for a headphone/IEM that can deal with more electronic and hip hop music of that sort, you're better off looking for something else.

 

Value:

 

To conclude, the RE-400's are most definitely worth the $99 price tag. These don't require an amp but it does benefit a bit from amping if you wish from my own experience. More to the point, these are a great value and it does seem like HifiMAN has made a new waterline for the $99 IEM. Companies will be surely trying for years before they succeed in producing an IEM equal or better to the RE-400's. Right now these are only $99, a price that HifiMAN could've made $199 and costumers would still be satisfied. 

 

What are you doing now? If you've been looking at this, you know what to do. 

 

http://www.amazon.com/HiFiMAN-RE400-HIFIMAN-RE-400-HEADPHONES/dp/B00AWLEAH6/

 

 

As always, I sincerely hope you all have a wonderful day. Happy listening to all you wonderful people out there. ;)

 

 

Albums Used:

 

Belle and Sebastion- If You're Feeling Sinister

Daft Punk- Discovery

Jeff Buckley- Grace

Living Stereo: Bruch Violin Concerto No.1; Scottish Fantasy & Vieuxtemps: Violin Concerto No. 5

Nirvana- In Utero

Radiohead- In Rainbows

Wilco- Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Posted

Pros: Magical mids. Warm lilt in the neutral sig. Fast, accurate and punchy mid-bass. Extremely comfortable. Easily driven,

Cons: Lack of sub-bass. Treble might be too smooth for some. Build quality could be better. Isolation is average

Packaging and build

The packaging is minimal and exquisitely so. The extra tips filters and manual are behind the felt coated foam holding the earphones. As I gingerly dislodged them from the grooves, I was struck by how tiny they are. I always try to avoid gripping the strain relief as a precaution, but it was difficult considering the size. The shiny bead blasted aluminium back goes well with the brushed aluminium housing. Which brings me to the build. This is the most common qualm people have reported. The plug is beefy, the y split seems sturdy enough. However, I noticed that some free movement of the cable is possible at the entry point of the strain relief. As long as the cable is secured properly within the main housing this shouldn't be an issue. (I was tempted to add a dab of glue at the strain relief end to restrict that free movement).

The half and half cable is… okay. The cloth half is a little kinky (pun not intended). The sticky half is thin and flexible making it very comfortable when worn over ear. Apparently, the hybrid design serves to reduce weight among other benefits.

 

Accessories, Comfort and Isolation:

Tips galore but an odd assortment. Anyway, I have very narrow ear canals and the smaller tips gave me a good seal. The pseudo-double bump tips gave me pressure problems, so I settled for the bar-tips. The complys are good, but the foam overhangs (ahead of the rubber tube) get scrunched. (I have modified them by cutting off the overhangs) Cable noise is more than present when worn cable-down. Almost disappears when worn over-ear. Can hardly feel then in my ears after a while. It is evident that the HiFiman team has paid a lot of attention to ergonomics. Other accessories include a shirt clip, 5 pairs of stock filters. I have dry wax so I won’t be changing them out anytime soon. Perhaps I could use them to hard EQ them (doubling the filters, felt mod etc.) Maybe later.

Isolation is average, even with a good fit. But maybe that’s about as good as it gets for vented earphones. The vent is placed ventrally and only the deepest fit might shield it partially.

 

Sound:

A short intro/disclaimer My experience when it comes to iems is very limited. The RE400 is my first foray into audiophile territory. I’ve been in a V/U-shaped bassy world thus far. 

Chronologically....Sony MDR-E818LP>Sony MDR-EX35LP>Creative EP-630>Xears TD4 Ebony Blackwood>Brainwavz R1>HiFiman RE-400

I’ve loved and hated every set. So I set my sights higher and decided to bravely plunge into a neutral world just to see if that was the right direction for me.

Doing an A:B comparison doesn't make much sense with iems that differ this widely.

My impressions may seem overblown to some. But such a drastic change in direction can do that. Back to the review I expected to be disappointed by the RE-400 in the bass department. I like a little rumble and feel in my bass. But given my inexperience, I was very curious about bass quality vs quantity.

 

Fast forward to my impressions… I initially thought of describing it by music genre. But after a week with them, I’ve decided to go ahead with the classic break-up.

 

Treble:

I’ve always found sharp treble to be off-putting. There is a (false?) sense of enhanced clarity that comes with sparkly treble. But for me, the overall enjoyability dips. I’m absolutely amazed by how smooth the treble is on the RE-400. Some may like a little more sparkle, its sooo perfectly where I want it to be. It may lack some bite with fast electronic music. I found no nasty peaks or dips. To me, the detail and clarity was eye widening (considering my experience or lack thereof).

 

Mids: 

I was expecting to be impressed. But not blindsided like this. It felt like I had suddenly switched from 192kbps to a vinyl track. The first thing that struck me was how much more life-like it felt. The vocals had a certain texture. Simply put, if that texture was absent, the vocals wouldn't be as immersive. A striking feature was the depth to the vocals (not necessarily to the soundstage). It sounded “wholesome”(male and female alike). I’m finding this very hard to describe but I must persist, because it’s that important. I am able to gauge how much breath and effort the singer is taking. Apart from the core vocals I hear a lot of nuances and details that contribute to that sense of “completion”. This particular feature impressed me the most in this iem. Another thing I noticed is how untouched and unaffected the mids are. No matter how busy rest of the spectrum gets, the mids always come through unadulterated. Like I had a separate pair of ears for the mids. And it seemed like the bass and highs complemented it nicely. Like they were all on the same plane of preference.

 

Bass: 

I will have to divide this segment into two. Initial impressions and Brain-burnt–in impressions.

Initial: Sub-bass was non-existent. Some tracks need that sub-bass to sound right. It adds to the ‘natural, warm’ feeling. Sub-bass is more ‘feeling’ than ‘hearing’. Tracks that had a strong mid-bass component were handled beautifully. I couldn’t believe the detail and how fast it sounded. But I would have liked some more punch. Sadly the mids keep grabbing the spotlight therefore I didn’t get to try many bass heavy tracks.

Brain-burnt in: Sub-bass still non-existent. But I found out at higher listening volumes, that the RE-400 extends pretty deep. I feel the punch in the mid-bass now. And I find the quantity sufficient(not lacking) now. Surprisingly enough, I’m actually enjoying them immensely. I love the attack speed and the detail, even when it gets busy. I want to say “resolving” but I’m not sure if it is the correct term. I’m quite stunned to find myself enjoying this “type” of bass. The initial disappointment only surfaces when I find the sub-bass lacking. ljokerl advised me to try a “narrow” lift of a few dB in the sub-bass. This improves presence without affecting the mid-bass or the mids. The RE-400 is a very capable iem in this respect. The overall tonality has warmed and I’m not disappointed as often. I still find myself wanting a bit more presence but I don’t think EQing it in is the answer. (Perhaps a vent redesign, dampers coupled with a sub-bass lift). Drums sound very natural (except the deepest reaching ones). It’s easy to differentiate between the types of drums. The bass conveys that much detail.

Bottom line: Bass enjoyment is very track subjective. EQing helps because the drivers are capable

 

Other miscellaneous rambling:

The soundstage isn't the widest. The Brainwavz R1 has spoiled me in this regard. But it isn’t congested either. It conveys a good sense of space. Vocals can be very very intimate. And orchestras can be sufficiently spacious. No complaints there. All the music components are clearly positioned and layered without any interference. I believe that is good “imaging”?

 

Like I mentioned before, I sense an overall “completion” in the music. Vocals will have a ‘bass’ component and a ‘lower highs’ component in addition to the core “mid” component. The RE-400 delivers all of it in equal measure (just a tad more in the mids). I have observed that they sound even better at higher volumes (+1/2 dB above normal listening volume).

 

I am curious to as to how the RE-400 will perform when powered by a better source. That will have to wait as I don’t have the resources :(

 

Some have reported good results by using dampers to add a little warmth and presence (even going as far to comparing it to the 400$ RE-600). I will try these mods later on.

 

Conclusion: This iem was meant to be a test, an experiment. My first foray into neutral audiophile territory. And they have surprised me. They have made me second guess my sound sig preference. I know what I want now (until the next revelation). But what I want now is so different from what I wanted, I doubt I’ll ever have such a drastic change of heart.

I expected it to fit a small segment of my music but I’m shocked at the versatility and satisfaction it has given me in most of my music.

 

I have a very non-technical way of knowing when music sounds really good to me. It has nothing to do with genre, mood or content. It depends solely on raw music quality. This happens to me with “certain tracks” that span a wide genre(Examples: Imogen Heap- Let go, Jasmine Thompson - Home, Mick MCauley & Winifred Horan - A Daisy in December, Eminem- Sing for the moment etc). Well….. My eyes well up. Not related to feelings of sadness, happiness etc. My eyes simply leak a lot of tears without warning(freaked me out the first time). Let’s just say, I can’t see through the haze of tears when I have the RE-400 on. It’s only happened with the Fidelio L1, some active speaker I can’t remember, rarely with the Brainwavz R1.

 

The RE-400s have set the bar very high for me. If these had a more sub-bass presence I would have absolutely nothing to complain about. I think finding something much better will be very difficult unless I burn my wallet, so I will now look for an iem to complement (not beat) the RE-400.

 

Credits:

@esantosh for all the advice he’s given me. And for replying to my monotonous PMs.

@Modular@Tom22 for their detailed and comforting words from a very understanding POV.

Big ups to HiFinage for bringing HiFiman to India.

Posted

Pros: bass decay , speed , details , clarity , instruments separation , top end spark , nice cable .

Cons: some veiling in the mids , bad cable clip , if that is a thing .

 i totally would like to believe that there is no earphone brand as admired as hifiman , at least admired by purists , and the small and cute re-400 is not an exception , its a total value phone and all every penny is best invested .

 yes these phones lack some sub bass and dont hit big like a bass phone cuz its nothing close to it , it is more of a mid centric phone and is as balanced as i wish , now im not a fan of booming bass so i like re-400 more than S5 or ckx-9 , sound stage is good , i like it , good depth but narrow , vocals are a bit veiled thats all i can fault about , instruments are really clear and i love this highs , good energy and good extension , sonically these are awesome and extension in the top end is exceptional .

 i love it as much as my er-4p , and i think if re-400 were to grow up , it would have become an er-4p .

 

 a brainwavz S5 comparison can be found here . similarly priced but far more different in other things .

http://www.head-fi.org/products/brainwavz-s5-in-ear-headphones/reviews/11371

Posted

Pros: very detailed warm neutral sound which is fun to listen to!

Cons: bass (I know its neutral and I shouldn't have high expectations for it :))

Arrived in a very elegant package, this "waterline" labeled RE-400 model looked very sharp. Just like with HM700/RE-400B, a lot of attention was paid to presentation of the product to the point where they actually had to include the storage hard zippered case with extra eartips in a separate bag so it doesn't interfere with a slim profile of the original RE-400 package. The headphones were sitting inside of a felt lined foam insert with cutouts for extra eartips. Furthermore, more eartips were included with a storage case. When it comes to accessories, HiFiMAN never disappoints. In addition to headphones and storage case, they included 3 pairs of bi-flange eartips, 2 pairs of smaller black silicon tips, 3 custom shape clear silicone tips, 2 pairs of T-400 Comply premium foam tips (large and medium size), 5 pairs of filters, and a shirt clip. Though I can tell you ahead these headphones sound amazing, the right selection of eartips is VERY important to bring out the best in sound and isolation. I have a rather large ear canal and always use the largest included tip, where the custom shaped clear one provided the best passive noise isolation I ever experienced with any of in-ears.

The first thing you notice when you take these headphones out - how super lightweight and compact they are. The barrel of these earpieces is made out of lightweight aluminum material and has a great ergonomics to fit comfortably inside of your ear. The barrel opening is covered by a cloth material filter (5 replacement pairs included), and right next to the strain relief there is a pinhole port for sound shaping. Followed by a decent strain relief the cables use a durable shiny rubber coating up until the y-splitter. Included chin slider moves very smoothly and made out of the same aluminum material. After y-splitter, the cable has a "shoe lace" type of cloth material cover which is still very durable and doesn't have that annoying springy effect found with so many other cables. The cable is terminated by a gold plated 3.5mm angled connector with a flexible strain relief. I also noticed microphonics effect was down to minimum.

When it comes to sound quality, RE-400 delivers amazing results! This single dynamic driver in-ear really focuses to deliver a neutral transparent sound but unlike other neutral headphones that sound lifeless - these are very smooth and warm. The sound is not in your face, it's a few steps back, but it sounds very natural without any artificial enhancement. The characteristics that surprised me the most was the low end where neutral headphones usually try hard to show details but lack the extension. Here, you still get a very detailed bass sound without any humps, but it actually extends beyond mid-bass punch down to some sub-bass texture. It's not enhanced or boosted, just perfect to enjoy your low frequencies, well controlled without spilling into mids. I found bass to be not as fast in comparison to my other headphones, but it's very well rounded and full. Mids are very detailed, clear, maybe a bit forward but not too much. The vocals sound very natural and lush. High frequency (treble) is extended, detailed, bright but not harsh and without any hint of sibilance. Upper mids/treble is very well controlled and just perfect for extended listening period without ear fatigue. The soundstage is average, not too wide which was definitely a step back from RE-400B balanced version that had an amazing 3D width. But this is in-line with other similar IEMs, while balanced wiring/architecture is intended to widen the sound. The headphones were really easy to drive from my phone and X5, but I did notice I had to dial in a higher volume level to enjoy them more.

Overall, I knew that I will not be disappointed with RE-400, and my testing just solidified that! No matter what genre of music you are listening to, these headphones will guarantee to bring out the best in every song. The sound has just a perfect balance of neutral natural tones without going into any extreme. Perhaps if you are a basshead craving for a more bass impact or need an analytical bright set of headphones - these might not be your cup of tea. But as all around headphones that sounds and looks great, and has a very reasonable pricing in comparison to other single and multi-driver IEMs in the sound sound category - these deserve a serious consideration.
 

Here are the pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted

Pros: Cost, impedance, accessories...HiFIMan sound

Cons: I like the fit of my old RE-262 better

I got these as a backup to my RE-262.  I wanted something I could run without an amp.  The 400 provides that refined HiFiMan sound I have come to admire.  The 400 absolutely squares up with my 262 when amped, but I really got them so I could run lighter (just a dap), they totally impress in this regard.

I think I may be the only one that really liked the twist-to-lock fit of the 262, they just work perfectly for me.  Moving around I loose the seal on the 400 a bit too easily, but there was a generous helping of tips to play with including comply which I have never tried.  I am quickly becoming a comply convert.

 

Phone + amp + dap too much for your pockets?  Need to simplify?  this may be the solution.  It works for me, I don't mind leaving the amp behind any more.  The RE-400 fills the void until I can plug into a full size rig. 

For a Benjamin the cost to quality balance on these is stone solid.  They look great, sound great, and anything can play them.  Build quality looks like a nice step up from previous generations of HiFiMan portable gear too.

 

A word of caution:

While any flea-powered source can drive these, this is a high quality IEM, they will reveal how horrible music sounds on your phone...regardless of encoding, regardless of make.  You can listen to your phone with the RE-400, but to hear them you still need a decent dap (sansa clip is disposable at $40 and still sounds about 1000x better than your phone...ok, maybe 100x better than the htc one).

Posted

Pros: Sound, Sound, Sound, Comfort, Isolation

Full review here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/666851/review-hifiman-re-400-waterline-the-next-step

Sound:

The RE-400 is quite easy to drive, but not the easiest. Better than the 64ohm RE-0, but like other 32ohm phones I owned, these need some extra volume to sound better and a bit more to shine. No amping is needed, though.

 

The new RE-400 is not just an improvement in design, fit and isolation but especially in sound.

The overall sound is neutral with a small added amount of warmth, which gives a fuller sound and better balance through the whole frequencies. Nothing is overpowered, nothing is missing.

 

Starting from the low-end.

These are NOT for bassheads or for anyone looking for an explosive, earth shattering Bass. But what the new Hifiman offer is a much fuller low end from mid-bass to sub-bass that the previous models were really lacking. While they lack in impact, they still manage to give quite a rumble.

As for the bass quality, it's what you'd expect from Hifiman, SUPERB. Quick, very tight and accurate. You can hear (and feel) every beat, every punch and every kick. Just amazing. Quite fast, but still not the fastest. The ATH-CKN70, for example, showed a much higher speed (well, those aren't just a simple dynamic driver earphones).

 

Jumping to the high-end. Treble has a good extension with some extra brightness, but remains smooth and non-fatiguing even at a higher volume. While it may not have the 'endless' extension as the RE-0 (it may be closer to the ZERO), it is full, energetic. There's a lot of micro detail as well, not unlike as its predecessors. 

 

And, finally, the midrange. Now, this might be the best part of the RE-400. Just BEAUTIFUL! As simple as that.

As stated before the whole sound is very neutral, but the mids are sweet and just slightly forward, but not thick enough to fall in the mid-centered group. Everything sounds very natural, detailed, transparent and open. Nothing recessed or missing, but the opposite, immersive and addictive. So effortless!

When it comes to more complex music, the RE-400 handles everything with ease, rivaling, and even beating, some good Balanced Armature IEMs.

 

Vocals need a special mention here as they're even a bit more forward than the rest of the sound. Also, vocals need a bit more time to 'break-in', as they can sound a bit weird (unnatural) and not well-positioned at first. After that, they sound as great as vocals can sound. Every word, every letter can be heard, be it with male or female, main singers or backgrounds.

 

Soundstage is not too wide, deep or high, but the whole sound has a fair 3D effect.

 

 

EXTRA:

As I wrote above, I found the small bi-flanges to provide the best sound out of the RE-400, so everything up to now is based on that setup.

Now, I'd like to mention some differences noticed when using the Big Bi-flanges.

When switching to the larger, wider bore tips the sound change as well.

On the whole, the sound remains similar, which is open and detailed, but the presentation is a bit different. The bass has some bigger and deeper impact, but is also not as tight as before. The highs are brighter and extend even further.

But what suffers the more is the midrange, sounding less forward and less sweet, but on the whole is has a better balance.

 

[And for those who find the stock big tips too big, some aftermarket eartips can give a similar effect]

 

In either configuration the RE-400 is very versatile when it comes to music genres. They don't excel in something particular, but don't lack either.

Still, those who listen to electronic, EDM, trance/techno and similar music may want to look somewhere else.

 

In short, one of the best All-arounder IEM, very detailed (but not analytical), airy, well layered, immersive and engaging sound.

Posted

Pros: Sensible and comfortable design, balanced sound quality, fantastic value

Cons: Overly large plug, sparse included accessory selection

Along with the summary below, I have posted a Youtube video review of the RE-400. If you like the video, check out my channel for more reviews :)

 

 

Summary

 

BUILD

 

The RE-400 has a sensible, well thought out design. Of special note is the half-rubber / fabric cord which cuts down on microphonics. The RE-400 is comfortable to wear with cable up and the metal earpieces seem quite durable. However I find the plug to be overly large and can be difficult to accomodate in some pockets. The included accessory selection is quite poor, with only a few tip sizes included. Unfortunately I could not get a good seal with any of the tips and ended up using Sony hybrids, so please bear this in mind when reading the following sound impressions.

 

SOUND

 

The RE-400 has a neutral, smooth sound with perhaps a slight emphasis on the lower mid-bass, though this is certainly no bass head earphone. Everything is very tight, very fast and this is truly an amazing performer - not even considering the price at this point. Soundstage is not immediately very wide however, and people after something with a wider soundstage should perhaps look at the Sony MDR 7550.

 

Overall

 

I think despite the small issues I have with the RE-400, it offers absolutely stunning value at the $99 price point and really lays down a challenge to other manufacturers. As a neutral IEM the RE-400 stands shoulder to shoulder with other good dynamic options like the VSonic GR07 and Sony 7550, and does it at a lower price and better ergonomics. I absolutely applaud HiFiMan for the sharp pricing on the RE-400 and would heartily recommend it to almost anyone.

Posted

Pros: Great Sound, Very good design, very comfortable

Cons: Slight durability issues, as Left side of the IEM is already cutting out

I ordered these when my Astrotec AM-90s finally bit the bullet. Liking them so far, however the Left side is cutting out possibly due to a short on the plug.

 

Messaged HiFiMan and hope I get a replacement. I would had given a 5/5, but I'm knocking off 1 1/2 stars due to the durability problem.

 

I hope its just this one and it doesn't happen on the replacement.

Posted

Pros: Presence and detail are fantastic. The hint of warmth really makes for a smooth sound. No sibilance that I can find. I received a zip clamshell case!

Cons: Lack of sub-bass hurts certain genres.

Basically, these IEMs blow away the cheaper stuff I've owned (CX300-II, MH1C). They really make a slew of genres and tracks sing with great presence and detail without a "harsh" sound or sibilance.

 

Coming from bass-heavy IEMs, they definitely lack sub-bass. But for most genres it's not an issue. And for the most part, the E11 amp (EQ bass boost option) can kick that up to where it's needed when it's needed.

 

Also of note, apparently Head-Direct is sending a carrying case now (I received a zip, clamshell hard case).

Posted

Pros: Neutral, Detailed, Extension on both ends, Comfortable, Inexpensive

Cons: Sometimes microphonic, No included carrying case

HiFiMan RE-400 10

 

Thanks to the folks at HiFiMan for sending me a sample of their latest IEM to review.

Introduction

Around here, HiFiMan needs no introduction. I first learned of them in early 2010, back when they were known as Head-Direct (which is still the name of their web store) and I purchased the RE0 after my faithful V-Moda Bass-Freq IEMs gave up the ghost and reading impressions on Head-Fi. Since then I’ve been a fan and I’ve reviewed a few of their products over the past three years. So, when the RE-400 was released, I was pretty excited to give them a listen. So, does the RE-400 have what it takes to carry on the HiFiMan legacy? Read on to find out.

 

Packaging and Accessories: The packaging is comprised of a long, rectangular black box with a translucent plastic outer sheath covering the IEMs, nestled within a thick foam insert. Accessories include four pairs of silicone tips ranging from a simple single flange set to two sets of new biflange tips and familiar black large biflange tips, similar to those included with previous models. Also included is a white rubbery cable winder, a bit of a superfluous accessory in my book, one that I would rather have seen omitted in favor of a proper carrying case.

 

Design and Build Quality: The metal housings are made of anodized aluminum with familiar long strain reliefs exiting the silver housings into a plasticky black cable that joins at the y-split and is from there sheathed in black nylon and terminates in a beefy and well relieved 45 degree L plug. I’m not a fan of the nylon sheathing as it makes the cable quite noisy and prone to distracting microphonics but on the whole, the IEM seems well constructed.

 

Comfort and Isolation: Being fairly small straight barrel dynamics, isolation is about average but long term comfort was quite good. As mentioned above, the RE-400 is annoyingly prone to microphonic noise but this issue can be mitigated (for the most part) by wearing them over the ear.

 

HiFiMan RE-400 9

Sound Quality

Given my experience with so many of HiFiMan’s back catalog of IEMs, I had a general idea of the type of sound signature to expect from the RE-400 and actually listening to them didn’t surprise me much in that regard. The RE-400s focus on neutrality, offering a mostly uncolored and nearly ruler flat audio presentation. But unlike its forebears, the RE0, it lacks the thinness present in that ‘phone. But let’s start at the bottom and work our way up, shall we?

 

The low end response is different from other HiFiMan IEMs in that it’s…well…present. Now don’t go thinking that this is the sort of bass that’ll shake your eardrums because it’s not but it possesses more body and texture and a bit more depth than the RE0 and RE-ZERO could muster. They have the ability to reach very low, with little discernible roll off even down to 20 Hz. Because of this, it has enough grunt that I’m not left wanting more.

 

The midrange is smooth and, though a bit dry like its precursors (RE-262 exempted), is more liquid and detail rich than either the RE0 or the RE-ZERO. Detail retrieval is excellent and they’re remarkably transparent but I’m impressed more by the spaciousness of the sound. Though the soundstage itself isn’t especially large in comparison to, say the Triple.Fi 10 or the RE-262, it is larger than average and separation within the stage, not to mention stereo imaging, is great.

 

HiFiMan RE-400 7

 

Treble is right in line with every other frequency in the spectrum in that it is neither forward nor recessed. It’s quite linear and airy, detailed and clear. There’s plenty of sparkle and shimmer without sounding overly metallic and sibilance is non-existent. Top end extension is fantastic, rivaling the RE-ZERO and giving the omnipresent treble of the RE0 a clear run for its money.

 

The result is a tonally neutral, linear presentation that is absolutely phenomenal. Yeah, I know this sounds like hyperbole but it isn’t. It has certain seductive qualities that belie its true abilities, luring you in with its completely inoffensive sound signature and allowing the detail to sink in rather than shoving it in your face the way the Rock-It Sounds R-50 does. The RE-400 doesn’t try to impress with aggressive detailing or a presentation that errs on one side of neutral or another or emphasize one frequency range (mids, treble, bass) at the expense of the others. But, oddly enough, it’s because the RE-400 doesn’t try to sound great that it actually does. This is one of the few IEMs in my collection I’d truly say sounds “effortless”. It doesn’t try to sound as good as it does, it just…does.

 

One issue I have to note is that they’re perhaps a bit too polite in their resolution of tracks. They aren’t as unforgiving as the R-50 and are generally quite smooth in that regard. Personally, I didn’t find this to be an issue because it isn’t really a knock against their overall sound quality.

 

HiFiMan RE-400 4

Conclusion

The HiFiMan RE-400 is available from head-direct.com for $99 and at that price, they are highly competitive. At $50 cheaper than the now discontinued RE-262 and $20 cheaper than the R-50 but competitive with both of those earphones in terms of pure technical ability, I’d say they’re quite the steal. Overall, I’d say they’re clearly better than the outgoing RE0 and ZERO and within striking distance, if not on the same level, of the best earphones I’ve heard.

 

It goes without saying that I like the RE-400 quite a bit. The neutral sound signature might not appeal to everyone and likely won’t be the best fit for more mainstream oriented listeners but those who value tonal accuracy and transparency should give these a look. These face stiff competition from other relatively inexpensive IEMs like the Rock-It Sounds R-50 and VSONIC GR07 (the latter I haven’t heard, just going by impressions I’ve read) but HiFiMan’s combination of low price and high performance should be more than enough to help them compete.

 

So, yes, I’m positively enamored with the RE-400. It reminds me of my first days of owning the RE0, how they wowed me with sound quality like I’d never before heard. While the RE-400 comes at a time in which I have a great deal of experience with high end earphones, it still had the chops to impress. I guess you could say things have come full circle.

HiFiMAN RE-400
Description:

The RE-400 Waterline by HiFiMAN is a premium quality, high-performance In-Ear Monitor (IEM) that sets the standard for others to follow. Featuring advanced ergonomics for superb fit, and premium materials such as Titanium Diapharagm, Neodymium magnet and OFC Copper cabling, RE-400 represents best-in-class performance and comfort.

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