MINI-Review: Head-direct.com HiFiMan RE3
I am using the bi-flange tips from my RE2 with the RE3. I listen to a wide variety of jazz, classical, new age, eletronic and acoustic or folk music with them. The nylon covered cable is fairly tangle free, and I haven't had major issues with microphonics, but they are definitely present when you move around. Comfort is good and it's fairly easy to get a consistent position in the ear ear time you insert them.
The RE3 are better than the RE2 that I reviewed before, and kinda remind me of the Phonak with black filters, but with less edge to the sound and zero sibilance. Definitely a midrange/highs oriented earphone, but very good mids. Bass is defined and present but definitely with less impact than UM3X or W3. It's probably closest to the Phonak PFE with grey filters, and a little less than Phonak with black filters or the Westone 1. After the RE3 I got rid of the Phonak because these won't crack and work better with my 4G Nano - efficiency is about the same as Phonak and less than other IEM, but the sibilance with 4G Nano is gone and I am happy about that. Still, it's a little tilted towards the highs with the 4G Nano, although the RE3 improve when moved to the iPhone 3G. And I think they sound more balanced with the iPhone 3GS, even though the bass is not different because the highs are tamer. However, the new Westone 1 seem to sound even better with both the 4G Nano and iPhone 3G to me, with more bass and slightly less mids and good sparkle without being bright. (see separate review of the W1). Still, there are some similarities with the RE3 and W1. The somewhat more mid/treble tilt of the RE3 makes them seem a little more detailed than the W1 as well.
The biggest problem with the RE3 is not just the bass impact but the lack of the very deep bass with 4G Nano, especially with electronic music like Bella Sonus. The Phonak had that 20Hz bass and the RE3 don't. I used to say the 4G Nano sucks before I got the W1 which at least can go down to 25Hz, but you still can't listen to Bella Sonus with loudness or bass boost with either IEM or the 4G will distort even at quiet volumes. So, like with the Phonak, the RE3 still perform better amped than un-amped, but I don't feel like I need an amp with the W1 although they also do better with an amp. But even amped the RE3 are fairly well rolled off at 25Hz but decent to 32Hz (tone tests). However, with the XM5 amp and bass boost switch the 25Hz is strong, but the 20Hz is still fairly rolled off with the RE3.
I also prefer the more expensive W3/UM56 over the RE3, but the RE3 are nice with what they are good at (Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Vocals). The RE3 are good at times when I'd prefer a bass-lite IEM with full mids over the over-blown bass and recessed mids of the IE8 (although put the IE8 on the ALO Amphora and watch out!). I would guess that don't like the RE3 better than the Image X10, or a properly amped Phonak with something other than a 4G Nano that makes the PFE too bright, but I don't have those here to compare anymore to be sure.