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[Pictorial Review] Head-Direct's RE1 - contender of the best IEM

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
Almost 3 weeks after my review of Head-Direct's RE2, I finally received its big brother - RE1 in the mail yesterday. In short, if RE2 is intended for the entry/mid class IEM market, RE1 is, without any doubt in my mind, a heavy weight contender for the current top end universal IEM market. RE1 is currently not on sell yet, but I got an estimated price quote from Fang @ Head-Direct that this little baby will likely be sold at around $200, placing it's price tag close to the reign of top end IEMs.

^ Triple.fi10 pro, RE1 and RE2.


^ RE1 with the special bi-flanges.


^ Yes, gold is the way to go.


^ The slightly heavy extension cable, same as the one with RE2.

Package & Build Quality
As like the RE2, the RE1 I got is just sample package with limited accessories. However, this time Fang did include the special bi-flanges missing from my RE2 package.

The basic build quality/ design is equal to that of RE2 (see RE2 review for more detail), except RE1 spots a golden finish instead of the RE2's silver finish. I am not sure whether it is really gold plated or not, but it does look higher in class when compare to RE2. Like RE2, the only complaint I have is the rather short main cable. It would be great if we can get 120cm on it instead of 100cm.

One of the most significant difference b/w RE1 and RE2 is, RE2's impedance is 32ohms but RE1 is 150ohms - with that saying, yes, RE1 really shine when paired with amp (more on this later).

Isolation
Also equal to RE2, which is roughly 20~23dB of noise reduction on the special bi-flanges. Although not as highly isolated as many other IEMs, RE1 is more than adequate for use on busy street. Like the RE2, the new Comply T400 will also fit on RE1 and give even better isolation.

Sound Quality
Same as my review of RE2, my rig consists of Sony D-EJ1000 PCDP to Firestone Audio Little Country amp (tweaked for maximize detail/soundstage) via line-out. IEMs of choice for A/Bing are iM716 (original), SA6 (B+ and T++ ports), and the addition of my newly acquired Triple.fi 10 pro. RE1 has been burn-in for around 35hrs via different genre of music so far. I don't think extra burn-in time will significantly change the SQ, so I decided 35hrs is good enough.

Robbie Williams’s Have You Met Miss Jones? from album ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary: Music From The Motion Picture’

Like last time, iM716 give great detail, but lack in mid-bass and soundtage.

SA6 is harsher on treble but give great detail as iM716. Mid and bass is warm and present with a pretty good soundstage.

TF10 too shows great detail, but sound a lot smoother than SA6. It also have a fuller body but the bass is slightly less punchy / tight as SA6. Great soundstage and instruments separation with a sense of airiness to it

RE1 also has a very full sounding body. Although pretty detail, the treble is definitely recessed in comparison to TF10. Great soundstage, just a tad less than TF10. Instrument separation not as good as TF10 but it does sound smoother. Bass is slightly punchier than TF10, almost close to that of SA6.

Sara Bareilles’s Bottle It Up from album ‘Little Voice’

iM716 perform better with this song, especially on bring out the detail. Female 's vocal definitely is better on iM716 than male's.

SA6 becomes a bit too harsh on treble on this song.

TF10 doesn't sound as detail as iM716, but more than enough and not as fatiguing.

RE1 doesn't sound as full and clear as TF10 on this song (perhaps it is the lack lack of spark) , but everything else is almost as good.

Diana Krall’s Isn’t This a Lovely Day from album ‘From This Moment On’

Again, iM716 is quite airy, presenting the instrument perfectly on the background.

SA6 is just as detail, but with a warmer, more Diana like mid-bass. Has a slight airiness to it's sound.

TF10 is smoother than SA on treble, but also has a warm tone to its mid-bass. Fuller body than SA6 but not as punchy on bass. Vocal is more refined and detail. The best performance out of the four.

RE1 doesn't sound as warm as SA6 or TF10. It also doesn't sound as detail as SA6 but with a fuller body. However, there seems to be more emphasis on mid-high than on mid-bass, and make me a bit wanting.

Sara Bareilles’s Bottle It Up from album ‘Little Voice’ [Ampless, headphone out from iriver clix (warm), wma vbr on second highest setting]

Neither iM716 nor SA6 perform very well on this setting (reason see RE2 review). In comparison, I can easily notice all the missing note / artifacts from the lossy music file with TF10, even though the music still sound pretty good overall. Re1 isn't as picky as TF10, but more power demanding. Turning up the volume and RE1 sounds absolutely the best out of the four.

Conclusion
If RE2 is like Yuin PK3, which sounds pretty good with most unamped DAP, than I guess RE1 is like PK1, which sounds very good unamped and fabulously great amped. It has no doubt a very high impedance, but you should be able to use it unamped, just not as good as when you amped it.

Out of the three I compare it to, I find RE1 (when amped) to be almost as good as TF10, out performing SA6 in general and smoking iM716 with out a doubt. Even when use with out an amp, RE1 is still as good, if not better than my SA6 (just not as detail) - plus it is very forgiving, so you can pair it with most of any source, especially with lossy music. However, a brighter source will be more suitable as RE1 seems to be a bit recessed on treble.

Overall, I think RE1 will prove to be a worthy competitor on the current top end universal IEMs' world. It certainly has impressed me

[UPDATE] I didn't keep track of the hours I put on RE1, but I am quite certain that I should at least have double or triple the original burn-in time now. I can't really tell if the burn-in affect the treble or not. If it does, the effect is somewhat subtle as I still have the same overall impression I have before.

Head-Direct now has RE1 on group buy for $150, and this time it comes with a case, maybe leather but I can't really tell what material it is from the blurry picture of Head-Direct's website. As my original opinion stated, RE1 is really a great pair of IEM and those of you who are interested should grab it before the group buy is over.
post #2 of 51
I would advice you to wait until the RE1 burns in. I have a pair and treble and upper midrange come out more.
post #3 of 51
I was wondering about the perforation on the back of the pods. Does this mean that they leak sound to the world or is it just for show ?
post #4 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by antonyfirst View Post
I would advice you to wait until the RE1 burns in. I have a pair and treble and upper midrange come out more.
Thanks for the advise. I think I will continue to burn it in as I use it. Of course, this review will get updated if I notice any improvement on SQ as I put more hours on it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nc8000 View Post
I was wondering about the perforation on the back of the pods. Does this mean that they leak sound to the world or is it just for show ?
Those are the 'vent holes' for creating the bass. They do leak sound but no to any significant point. The main problem is they also allow noise to leak in, which is why RE1/2 only have very average isolation.
post #5 of 51
what do you prefer? RE2 or RE1?
post #6 of 51
Thread Starter 
RE1 of course.
post #7 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post
RE1 of course.
Hopefully there's a group buy for these headphones too. Can't wait to get my Re2's
post #8 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post
Those are the 'vent holes' for creating the bass. They do leak sound but no to any significant point. The main problem is they also allow noise to leak in, which is why RE1/2 only have very average isolation.
In that case they will be no good in totally quiet environments like a library reading room or the like where no noise is allowed ?
post #9 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nc8000 View Post
In that case they will be no good in totally quiet environments like a library reading room or the like where no noise is allowed ?
Really depends on how 'totally quiet' means. I have it plays music on my computer desk, and I can hear the PC fan (the only noise in the room) but not the music. I suspect, unless it is a dead quiet environment and there is another person sitting next to you, no one will notice the music.
post #10 of 51
Thread Starter 
Check out Frederik's RE1 review on techPowerUp.com. We seems to share the same view on both IEM, but this time I am faster on the posting. Beat that, Frederik!!!

*btw, how do you like your new shiny LiveWire?
post #11 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post
Check out Frederik's RE1 review on techPowerUp.com. We seems to share the same view on both IEM
Kinda similar ear
post #12 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post
Check out Frederik's RE1 review on techPowerUp.com. We seems to share the same view on both IEM, but this time I am faster on the posting. Beat that, Frederik!!!

*btw, how do you like your new shiny LiveWire?
Argh you beat me to it this time :re1smile:
post #13 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by antonyfirst View Post
I would advice you to wait until the RE1 burns in. I have a pair and treble and upper midrange come out more.
Hi Tony. So how do you like this pair compared to your Trips?
post #14 of 51
I'll write down my impressions soon. You can't go wrong with either, but the RE1 are better suited for harshly recorded rock music than the Triple.fi. Plus, if you already own an amp, the RE1 are much better value.
post #15 of 51
Looking forward to your review. I have the RE2s, and they are a really great value, as I find them more listenable than the Denon 551s (comparably priced canalphone) or any other phones in that price range. Would love to listen to the RE1s with the MiniboxE+ (is that what you are using as your amp?).

Anyway, I keep trying to get newbies posting for a pair of entry level in-ear phones to check out the RE2s, but it seems the Ety er6i and other more well-known phones are more popular. The RE2s are (were?) a real steal at the $80 Head-Fi group buy price.

Wonder if Fang is going to offer any group buys on the RE1s?
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