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HiFiMAN RE0 Review (56k warning!)

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 


Hi all! I've posted a few times before, but mostly lurk since I'm a little light in the wallet. Well, the RE0 have definitely given me a lot to share.



Build Built Like a Rock



Compared to other all-metal housings, these are on par. I don't expect them to break any time soon. The relief on the housing, however, gives me a bit to worry about. The tips are notoriously mal-fitted and you really have to struggle to put the biggest tips. If you stick to one pair of tips then this is a non-issue because you won't be applying stress required to tear the reliefs more than once. I don't expect too many (if any) returns due to breakage.

The jack raises no concerns, but isn't reassuringly solid. The Y-split is metal (yikes) so I'm a little worried that the PPE might be cut under heavy duress (nothing so far). Even more discomforting is the metal ring above the Y-split. It's fitted very tightly and constant adjusting will wear down the wire. I'm probably going to move the ring all the way down and fashion a tape slider like the one on the PK3. I taped two pieces together so they wouldn't stick and the thing has stuck around for nearly a year (Jan '09)



The casing is hard and light. I have absolutely no concerns about its durability. Two little holes jut out from the back, a staple of all dynamic drivers. The etched design doesn't really add or detract. The left and right buds had no distinct physical feature so you can't distinguish them in the dark.



Fit: Nothing Special



I normally love bi-flanges, but the ones that come standard are too long. They sit the driver too far out, even when jammed deeply in my ear. The medium tips are objectively best and recommended even if you have a larger or smaller ear canal. With the mediums, the bass is tight and the seal is good. Isolation is lacking, but I prefer as little isolation as possible with IEMs.

They're very comfortable, applying almost no pressure when worn ear-down on a pillow. The smallest tips let these sit very deep. No physical fatigue whatsoever, similar to the X5s.



Any RE0 owner will tell you that it's well-nigh impossible to change the tips. Apparent from the picture, the nozzle is a LOT larger than the tip opening.



(1) Turn the flange inside out so you can see the nozzle and opening. (2) Fit one side on the ridge, and (3) stretch the other side over to put them on completely.

I haven't had any problems after discovering this method and doubt you will after trying it this way.



Microphonics are bad, but I wear mine over the ear (I know, I need a haircut).



Sound: Flat, Natural, and Neutral

i. Highs, Mids, Bass, and Amped

Highs are crisp and extended, but not forward. I can't stand sibilance, so these do the job well. As long as you keep foams in the nozzle, you probably won't notice much sibilance. Percussion instruments separate well and loud snare drums don't make me cringe as they did with the E4s. As you'd expect, highs are very neutral and not colored in any sense. I listened for about 6 hours the other day without any fatigue.

Mids are neutral, although I prefer a more exaggerated warmth. My EQ is sometimes a bit bloated in the center because of it :P. Again, separation is great and voices sound natural as a result of the flatness. Nothing is recessed, but the mids could benefit from being a bit forward.

Bass is tight and powerful! Everyone complains about the lacking impact, but this probably has a lot to do with the tips. I completely agree with the consensus for all but the medium tips, which definitely allow the thump to come through. These aren't for bass-heads, but they'd probably find the bass adequate. That being said, compared to X5s or AHC-751, the visceral enjoyment that makes you pump your fist and wave your lighters isn't present. Definitely neutral, perhaps a little too cold, but no noticeable roll-off to my ears so I'm very happy with them.

So all those things about sibiliance and flatness go out the window when amped. Unfortunately, most of my listening is unamped, so FiiO, PLEASE HURRY WITH THE E7!!!

ii. Signature

What signature? To be honest, I'm used to the Shure E4's forward mids and highs, but these sound almost like reference 'phones. It's so analytical that I initially mistook the sound as boring, but the detail and flatness really grow on you and allow for hearing the music as the artist intended. You can really hear the production in every track, from the exaggerated bass of modern rap tracks to the intentionally poor instrument separation of pop-punk bands. Amped vs unamped is a HUGE difference, as the warmth melds with all kinds of music, and even makes electro sound home-made rather than synthesized.

iii. Vocals

Natural. I really don't want readers to leave with any impression other than that. I thought Ben Gibbard was singing directly into my ear (Even heard him smacking his lips a bit on non-live tracks). You can really appreciate each artist's voice and style. I even pictured Regina Spektor's pouting lips and Alanis Morrisette's swaying head.

iv. Speed

Meh, nothing impressive but definitely no shortcomings. On-par with other high-end dynamic drivers. Perhaps a little slower than Shure E4s, but not enough to make me pick the latter over the former. Bass was natural, but songs with fast drums sounded a little garage-band, if that makes sense.

v. Without foam



Pleasantly forward mids, slightly forward bass (no change in presence or impact), slightly more sibilant highs. Any sibilance is unaccceptable for me, so I decided against no-foam, but most people should be able to stand them. Separation also seemed to suffer. All variations were very modest and I really had to listen for a few days to make any conclusions.



I'd recommend reseating the foam. Pull it out and place it flat on top of the nozzle and evenly push it down until the edges are level with the nozzle. The further you place the foam from the driver, the more unimpeded air it can push.

vi. Frequency response

SineGen reveals a dip from 2240-4400 Hz. This would explain the slightly cold mids. Though the Clip's EQ is often criticized for distortion, bumping up the second to last bar by 2-4 dB makes the sound a little less analytical but warmer. Bass below 150 Hz also drops, but is not helped much by EQing (Clip or foobar).

A unique concern

Sigh, I really am lost on one point. I think my set may be defective. The bass impact from the left bud is minutely stronger. Laying in bed, eyes closed, and blanket snug, the voices and low-notes sound a bit left-biased. The same sounds that are intended to sound right biased end up sounding closer to the middle. The right bud is also more sibilant, perhaps more sibilant than the left is more impactful. But sibilance imbalance is a nonissue as you hardly ever notice ANY sibilance (I really had to listen to loud, sibilant music to even notice). I contacted Head-Direct yesterday and will see if this is an issue of my doing or of theirs, but I've had nothing short of EXCELLENT customer support from them before and not at all worried (just annoyed at having to go a few days away from these babies). Meh, it's not that noticeable anymore.

Should you buy them?

I don't know. Do you like detailed, neutral sound? Is adequate, natural bass enough bass for you? For me, at $84 shipped, these were a steal. Definitely more valuable than the E4s I grabbed last year for the same price, although the Shure sound is perhaps more pleasing due to its coloredness. I like 'em, and I can't wait to pair them with the upcoming E7.

post #2 of 21
Thread Starter 
UPDATE: 1/19/2010 - I put the small Shure olives from my E4c on the RE0, with considerable struggle. A word of warning for those interested, it requires either patience or dexterity. Unfortunately, I'm not a spokesman for either.

(1) Place needle-nose pliers in the tip core on the pole intended for your ear (not the side for the earphone nozzle)
(2) Ensure that the tip is securely wedged in the plastic core and won't rip the foam the second you try it (ya live and ya learn; now learn).
(3) Stretch the tip so that you jimmy the nozzle into its intended end and make sure you have enough friction on the nozzle to pull the pliers out. Remember to position both tips the same length down each nozzle.

Tada!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Imageshack.US

Using SineGen I discovered a dip between 2200-4400 Hz, a common characteristic of cold audio. The increased isolation does help with bass impact, which bumps at slightly-above-natural. But eq'ing to compensate for this region doesn't yield too much. Still, a nice tip and one I'll be using until they fall apart. Oh yeah, and they hurt like hell !

The old yellow Complys are much easier to apply. The reason I didn't choose stretch out the olives overnight is because I didn't want to wait a long time. If you stretch them and pull out the pliers right away, you'd have a 2-second windows to try and cram in the RE0. And position them an accurate distance. Thus, I opted for a quicker route. Well, the Complys retain their stretch for 5 seconds or so and are much easier to work with and I don't have to worry about ripping the foam. Sound is meh. Less impact. Nice fit though. Not as uncomfortable.

Good luck getting the olives off!

1/27/2010 - Got the one of the olives off, had to destroy the other one. Did so in order to remove the foam from the nozzle since the sound became a bit veiled (psychological burn-in?). It's definitely less veiled, but still a bit so. The highs are getting a bit annoying. They aren't bad, by any means, but a bit too emphasized. Cymbal crashes are crowding up the soundstage, and my Clip's EQ doesn't adjust past 8 kHz. Bass impact and presence is finally adequate!
post #3 of 21
Nice review and great pics!
post #4 of 21
Excellent review. I bought a pair a few days ago, and they should be here within the week. I'm coming from the shure e3s/scl3s so my impression will probably be similar to yours.
post #5 of 21
nice review! one note, when you're referring to the E7, i think you have Fiio in mind, not YUIN. Fiio is the manufacturer of the E7 not YUIN.
post #6 of 21
Great review! My impression of the RE0 across the board is quite the similar experience to yours. Quite analytical, flat, and balanced, but that's what I love about them.
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hung0702 View Post
Sigh, I really am lost on one point. I think my set may be defective. The bass impact from the left bud is minutely stronger.
I am experiencing the exact same thing. I find the overall image to be slightly left of the center. I don't think our units are defective but believe this is just the way they sound. I don't agree with you on the bass though. I had to put them through some serious EQ to get a little thump from them. Check out my thread overhere. I am still messing around with them in the hope to make their sound more to my liking.

Nice review! It's great that people on here take the time to put stuff like that together. Thanks!
post #8 of 21
Great review! I love(d) my RE0, at least until I got my RE252 during the Black Friday sale. (You can only love one IEM right? I hate to be promiscuous.) I'm surprised you are so positive about the build quality though - the first pair I got randomly fell apart on me one day in a restaurant when I was showing my friend. (Needless to say they were not impressed.) My new pair has lasted for a year though, so maybe it was just fate.
post #9 of 21
is there a need for re0 to be amped? im currently using cowon s9

fiio amps looks pretty affordable though
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by ahhui90 View Post
is there a need for re0 to be amped? im currently using cowon s9

fiio amps looks pretty affordable though
I think the RE0 benefits a lot from amping. Even using the little E1 amp with my iPhone, the amping instantly lends the RE0 more dynamic range and tightens up the bass, so that it really soars instead of sounding a bit congested when the volume increases. Also, soundstage improves noticeably.

Then again, this was through an iPhone, and the S9 is a better source. Still, amped RE0 on an iPhone is still better than unamped on a Sony S739, so who knows.
post #11 of 21
Except for the "unique concern" and the foam mod, this review is more/less identical to how I felt about the RE0.

Small/medium single-flange tips are the way to go.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback! And yeah, I did mean FiiO. Just slipped my mind I guess, haha.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Negakinu View Post
I am experiencing the exact same thing. I find the overall image to be slightly left of the center. I don't think our units are defective but believe this is just the way they sound.
Hmm, I'm not so sure. This is v.3, so I think any glaring oversights like this would have been addressed. Besides, I contacted the manufacturer and they said no problem, just send it to the NY address. If you've noticed this too, I recommend you replace them as well, although you're probably less inclined to pay shipping and wait that long

Quote:
Originally Posted by Negakinu View Post
I don't agree with you on the bass though. I had to put them through some serious EQ to get a little thump from them. Check out my thread overhere. I am still messing around with them in the hope to make their sound more to my liking.
Different strokes for different folks! If you don't like them, I recommend you completely disregard my review. Know what you mean, though. Compared the AHC-751, these don't really get me out of my seat. More of a hand-on-chin and slight head-bob sound. I probably wouldn't be happy with these if I were coming from IEMs other than the E4s (almost no bass) and the completely tinny im617s before that.
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
The RE0s are so satisfying that I don't need to consider any other IEMs except for $500+ reference customs (in the faraway future, after med school). I'll be looking for some fun cans now that aren't so neutral. Something that's warm and forward all over. Anyone got recommendations up to $100?
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hung0702 View Post
The RE0s are so satisfying that I don't need to consider any other IEMs except for $500+ reference customs (in the faraway future, after med school). I'll be looking for some fun cans now that aren't so neutral. Something that's warm and forward all over. Anyone got recommendations up to $100?
Klipsch S4? Seems to be the FOTM for that category.
post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by semisight View Post
Klipsch S4? Seems to be the FOTM for that category.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hung0702 View Post
I'll be looking for some fun cans...
No worries though, I'll be posting in the Headphone forum soon.
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