HifiMan has become well known around here as providing high quality products while being huge bang for your buck products. The RE262 was announced in May of 2010 for Canjam 2010. Having heard the RE0 and RE-Zero and enjoying those two earphones from HifiMan I was very excited for the RE262. It also is supposed to be the “new flagship model” in the RE lineup so it comes with high expectations. You will find out shortly if it lived up to my expectations.
Also one thing I don't like is audio jargon but that's inevitable here. There are times when I have some issues trying to explain what I am hearing as that is not easy to do imo so hopefully you will all understand me. I know some of you may be new and don't understand some of the terms so this link should make it easier for you and imo is the best audiophile dictionary I have seen.
For most of the readers you probably are unfamiliar with my previous gear you can get a list of everything I have owned in order of ownership by clicking on my profile and you will see a nice short list. My personal sound signature is something along the lines of neutrality. Some of my favorite earphones are the Audio Technica CK10 and Hifiman RE0 to give some reference.
My musical preferences in no particular order are pop, rock, trance, country, jazz and asian pop.
Source: Cowon J3 with iBasso T3, Audinst HUD-MX1 (OPA627)
Phones: HifiMan RE262 with brief mention of RE-Zero
Bitrate: A mix of mp3 to FLAC
Impedance: 150 Ω
Rate Input: 10 mW
Maximum Input: 30 mW
Connector: 3.5mm right angle plug
Driver: 9mm dynamic driver
I received my RE262 in OEM packaging which means that the packaging of the RE262 will be a little different when it is available for individual purchase. However having previously owned the RE0 and currently own the RE-Zero where both came to me brand new I have a very good idea of what the final packaging will be like.
The RE262 comes in the same clear plastic box that my RE0 and RE-Zero came with. Inside you will find a plastic insert with two holes for the housing of the RE-262 to fit in. Previous models have come with a foam insert instead. Once you take that off you will find all your accessories for the RE262. Those accessories would be a shirt clip, 5 replacement filters and various sized tips including both single flange and biflange tips.
I suspect that the retail package will differ from the OEM by one thing. There typically is paper on the bottom half of the box which will contain the specifications, website, logo, etc.
Plastic case and insert that the RE262 comes with
accessories that the RE262 comes with
My build quality standard is and will be the Audio Technica CK10 until I own another pair of phones that surpasses that phone's build quality. There is no comparison as the CK10 are miles ahead in build.
If you have read my previous review on the RE-Zero you will know that I am no fan of the build quality and found that there were ways to improve it. I think HifiMan has taken a step in that direction. The RE262 comes with strain reliefs by the housing and the 3.5mm plug. The housing is built well and has a metal nozzle instead of plastic and on the nozzle is a mesh filter. There is a L and R marking on the strain relief to help you differentiate between the left and right. There is also a small hole on the side of the housing which is most likely the vent. The RE262 has the same metal Y split and chin slider as previous models and much like the previous models the chin slider is useless. There is too much resistance for the chin slider to be useful. Lastly comes the cable quality. The cable is thicker than the one on the RE-Zero and is a bit softer and retains a bit less memory. The cable is definitely an improvement over previous models.
The only complaint I had with build quality is that unlike previous models the shirt clip does not come already on the earphone so you have to put it on yourself and it took me around 5 seconds of trying to get it on the cable to break it. Due to the thickness of the cable it would have been difficult to adjust had I not broke it. I sent Fang an email to have the shirt clip already installed on the cable so hopefully that is something that will be changed when it is available for individual purchase.
3.5mm right angled plug
Y split and chin slider
strain relief and back of the housing
vent on the housing
nozzle of the housing
While it may not seem like a big deal tips make a huge difference. A poor fit may make a great phone sound horrible and I certainly do not want that to happen to me and since I have a large pile of tips that fit I will put them all to the test. Before that I will let you know what tips these come with. You get one set of black single flange silicone tips and you get two different sizes white biflange tips.
For this review I used the M9 “balanced” tips as I found it to have the best comfort and sound to my ears. The smaller biflange tip that came with the RE262 is also quite good.
Microphonics, Isolation and Comfort
There are microphonics present if you wear these straight down. The majority of the microphonics will no longer be present when they are worn over the ear but not all of it will disappear. A shirt clip helps assuming you have extra shirt clips like I do or if you are able to get the included shirt clip on the cable somehow.
Isolation is dependent on the tips used. Some have better isolation due to its design so depending on the tip isolation is anywhere from average to above average. These won't reach the type of isolation that Etymotic or Shure are capable of but should be good enough for most people.
I find these pretty comfortable. While they don't disappear in your ears they also do not hurt your ears. I suspect most people will not have much of an issue with these.
For those who advocate burn in I had well over 100 hours before starting this section of the review.
Starting with the bass you get the idea that HifiMan has made something special and different than what I would consider their house signature. The bass is much improved when compared to the other HifiMan earphones that I have heard. Extension is much more impressive and doesn't disappear when you reach the sub bass. You even get a nice low rumble which is missing in the RE-Zero! The bass is strictly high quality bass with great texture, definition, speed and detail so there's no bloated mess here. The bass impact is a bit more than my previous experiences with the RE lineup and that is definitely a good thing as I can see them being lean for most people. However do not assume that bass heads are now welcome in the RE262 because the are not. The bass remains tight and punchy but it does have better impact and body than the RE-Zero. Decay is done pretty well here and it's about where it should be. Lastly when playing complex music that is revolves around bass the RE262 will keep up just fine.
As impressive as the bass is the midrange decides to take a notch up. In short the midrange is excellent in every which way to my ears. There is a slight forwardness in the midrange which will be the first thing you notice when you hear the RE262. If you can handle some forwardness in this area then you will be rewarded very well. I like to call it lush, detailed, and incredibly effortless. Vocals are excellent here especially if you listen to a lot of female vocals. There is a realism here where you feel that vocalists are in front of you which is definitely a good thing. Strings are also done very well here. Whether it is an electric, acoustic, piano or any other stringed instrument you can think of they are done nicely. They have a high amount of detail and also sound very natural.
The treble very much like the bass is also very unexpected. From my experiences I expected a somewhat more harsh treble. That is a great thing for most especially those who are not used to that kind of treble presentation. You get a lot more than that however! The treble also contains a lot of detail, clarity and one that is not very peaky. That means you get an excellent treble that does not accentuate sibilance or create sibilance out of thin air. As good as the treble is it does take a step back when you compare it to the bass and the midrange so everything is not perfectly balanced but an earphone does not have to be balanced to sound amazing. Cymbals sound very good on the RE262 with good decay that does not last too long or short. Crash cymbals are difficult to reproduce and the RE262 not only does a good job with the crash cymbal but cymbals of all kinds.
Sound stage is excellent. It is larger than average and it provides good width and depth. It doesn't quite provide you with a full 360 degrees but it is a bit more than just left and right. Imaging is also good as is instrument separation. The RE262 also has good timbre so never will you have to think twice about what is being played.
Foam Reposition Mod [credit goes to ClieOS]
There is a foam reposition mod for the RE262 created by ClieOS and is documented here. I decided to do this mod after I finished my review and would offer some insight as to the difference between the sound of the RE262 stock and then after the mod. The mod is very simple and straightforward and should not take longer than 5-10 minutes of your time if you decide to do it.
There are two purposes for the mod and they are to bring out the last remaining treble detail and to balance out the treble better. I will say that the difference between stock and the mod is subtle but definitely there. It is not a clear night and day difference to my ears at least. I did take some pictures while doing the mod however for those who like pictures instead of just the documentation that ClieOS provided.
RE262 along with the earwax tool which is what I used to remove the mesh filter as well as remove and put the foam back in
mesh filters on top, foam on bottom
foam directly on top of the nozzle
foam inside of the nozzle
foam inside both of the nozzles before putting the mesh filter back on which is not pictured
If you read the specifications listed on the RE262 these are 150 ohm so that is not an error. You may automatically assume that these are impossibly difficult to drive but that is not the case here since many of us assume the higher the ohm the harder it is to drive but that is not the case but that's another story. The sensitivity on the RE262 is not as bad as I originally imagined it would be but still lower than most earphones. I would still recommend an amp for the RE262. 150 ohms means that most players out there will not be very efficient unless your player has a very powerful amp. My J3 typically gives me around 55 hours but with the RE262 it dropped to around 10 hours.
HifiMan has released another outstanding product in their RE lineup. It may not be the most accurate earphone but it is still an excellent product. It does have some coloration but that isn't necessarily a bad thing as is the case with the RE262. The RE262 also has a slightly better build quality than previous earphones in the RE lineup which is always a good thing. I can honestly recommend them if you think the sound signature is for you. I find that with the RE262 technical ability no longer matters and should be thrown out the window. All that matters is whether or not you think the RE262 will fit your personal sound signature preference or not.
Also the price has not been officially released but there has been reports of the MSRP being $249 and I would find that a fair price if that is the price of the RE262 when it is available for purchase.
Lastly thanks for reading and hopefully you enjoyed reading it. If you see any errors or have any questions about the RE262 please let me know.
Edited by rawrster - 11/18/10 at 11:55am