Added the HiFiMan RE-400
Added Mar 2013
Details: Newest entry-level earphone from one of the pioneers of accurate dynamic-driver earphones
Current Price: $99 from head-direct.com (MSRP: $99)
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 32Ω | Sens: 102 dB | Freq: 15-22k Hz | Cable: 3.9' 45º-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: stock bi-flange
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear
Accessories (2.5/5) - Single-flange (2 sizes), short bi-flange, and long bi-flange silicone tips; cable winder
Build Quality (4.5/5) – Construction is in line with what we’ve seen from HiFiMan as of late – solid housings, long strain reliefs, and thicker cables. The top part of the cord is similar to the RE262/RE272 while the bottom part is nylon-sheathed. HiFiMan’s standard 45º-plug completes the picture. The RE-400 is single-ended – there is no option of running it balanced and no adapters are necessary to use it with standard 3.5mm jacks
Isolation (4/5) – Quite good for a dynamic-driver unit. The small housings and thick stock tips allow for a deep seal with even better isolation.
Microphonics (3.5/5) – Bothersome when worn cable-down; fine otherwise
Comfort (4.5/5) – The housings of the RE-400 are the smallest of all the HiFiMan earphones I’ve seen to date. The shape seems to favor a deeper seal, which shouldn’t be an issue for all but those with the smallest ear canals. Cable-up wear is easy though the cable slider is a little loose on the cable.
Sound (8.9/10) – The RE-400 takes the place of the RE-ZERO in HiFiMan’s new, more streamlined lineup. For the most part it stays true to what we’ve come to expect from the RE-series earphones--its tone is mostly neutral and the sound is about as clean and transparent as it gets. The RE-400 seems to be endowed with a slightly more robust low end compared to the old RE-ZERO--there is a slight mid-bass lift audible with the newer model. This gives its bass a little more weight and depth and tilts the overall tone slightly in the “warm” direction compared to the RE-ZERO, RE272, and Etymotic ER-4S. This is not necessarily good or bad—those who want a ruler-flat bass will likely still prefer the 272, but it will allow the RE-400 to cater to a wider audience, which is a definitely plus in my book.
I would still classify the RE-400 as a neutral earphone with just a hint of warmth. The midrange is clear and well-positioned, neither recessed nor forward in the presentation. Detail resolution is excellent and the overall sound is very transparent. The top end, similarly, is present but not overbearing. As with the other HiFiMan earphones, it is delicate and refined. For an accuracy-oriented earphone the RE-400 is rather smooth and forgiving – it is a little more tolerant of sibilance than, for example, the Etymotic ER-4S. Treble extension is quite good, which tends to be the case with HiFiMan sets – certainly on-par with other high-end dynamics such as the VSonic GR07 and Sony EX1000.
The presentation of the RE-400 is versatile and uncongested. Separation lags a hair behind the ER-4S and RE272, which seem to benefit from the lack of a mid-bass lift, but really isn’t far behind these (far pricier) flagships. The overall sense of space easily beats out similarly-priced sets such as the MEElec A161P and Ultimate Ears 600, and even offers slightly better depth than the older RE-ZERO. Like the rest of the RE-400’s sound, the presentation is very, very difficult to fault.
Value (10/10) – The latest iteration of the balanced-and-accurate dynamic-driver earphone from HiFiMan, the RE-400 offers an audible tuning change from the old RE0 and RE-ZERO models. It produces slightly weightier bass, a more well-rounded presentation, and smooth, forgiving treble while still offering accuracy on a level very rarely found at or near its price point.
Additional improvements over the previous-gen RE-ZERO include a more robust construction and better noise isolation, mostly due to the more compact, deep-sealing form factor. The RE-400 also boasts much nicer packaging, though there is still a disappointing dearth of accessories. The no-frills approach is fine by me - the RE-400, like its predecessors, is a listener's IEM. All in all, adding a hint of warmth to an otherwise neutral sound should let RE-400 appeal to the casual listener better than the models it replaces while holding very close to the HiFiMan sound many—myself included—have come to love.
Pros: Very smooth & balanced sound; small & comfortable;
Cons: No carrying case included, cable noise can be bothersome in cable-down configuration