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For those of you who ever even remotely contemplated the RE-252...

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Buy them.

 

Right now I have a pile of earphones sitting on my desk as I very slowly and not so diligently amass a big review for all of them. (thread elsewhere but not important till I actually finish it up)  I've used a number of other earphones along with the RE-252 in the past as well.

 

These are the earphones I've owned/borrowed while also owning the RE-252:

AGK K701

Audio Technica CK10
Audio Technica CK90Pro
Audio Technica ATH-CK100

Denon C700
Head Direct RE-ZERO
Head Direct RE-252
Head Direct RE-262
Klipsch Custom 3
Ortofon e-Q7
Panasonic HJE900

Sleek Audio SA6
Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10

Westone UM3X
Yuin G1A
Yuin PK2
Yuin OK1

Typically I focus on a certain series of aspects when I review and evaluate earphones.  There are certain qualities I expect from a good earphone like balance, a well defined note, good transparency, high clarity and low distortion, good presentation of sound stage, etc.  There have been a lot of earphones I've liked over the years and many I very much value as good products.  At the end of the day, I feel the RE-252 beats them all.

 

Why?

 

First, it's one of the most balanced earphones on the market.  The frequency response is basically flat and very extended on both ends, better than most other products on the market.  But it's not just frequency response.  The intensity and presence of the note is even throughout.  Bass doesn't lean out or weaken (does need a good seal) and the highs don't soften nor smooth out.  It's just even, everywhere.  The balance doesn't stop there.  Dynamics are well balanced, texturing is natural, and the resulting sound stage and sense of space is decently natural and linear.

 

What about accuracy and speed, not clarity, distortion?  I mean balance isn't everything, right?

 

Yes, balance only gets you so far.  You can still end up with a muddy sounding earphone despite being well balanced.  The driver(s) still have to be good.  They need to be fast, accurate, articulate, and distortion free.  Again the RE-252 wins here.  The driver is incredibly fast and effortlessly so, even versus BA based earphones.  There's got to be faster earphones though.  Yes but only a few.  The CK10 is one.  That earphone is just nutty fast.  The newer sibling RE-262 is too.  Point is, the list is very short.  The RE-252 doesn't suffer from an overly short note and retains excellent body and texture.  Sound is effortless and full.  Dynamics are broad offering excellent subtlety and believable power.  Distortion is also incredibly low which allows for very high transparency.  All of this mixed allows for a very resolving and better yet very believable earphone.

 

There's got to be some bad things about the RE-252.  It's not all unicorns and rainbows. 

 

No, it isn't.  There are always shortcomings of one sort or another.  Must of it revolves around the physical design.  Many of you already know about the gummy structure that fits in the ear space.  It's sort of a one size fits all thing which means it doesn't fit all.  The best advice I can give is to own a lot of tips.  Comply foams are the end game fix, but open cell foam will soak up some top end as well as soften bass impact.  The cord isn't anything special but not bad in any major way short the lack of strain reliefs.  It's exactly the same as the RE-ZERO cord.  It's not bad with microphonics but anything not over the ear has some.

 

Wait.  There's got to be some bad things about the sound too, right?

 

Yes, a few.  First, the dynamics are not limitless.  This earphones has amazing subtlety, does it better than most.  Dynamic range is pretty natural, but it is noticeably constrained at higher volumes and tends to compress more the higher you go.  I'm not sure if it's a lack of motor strength, high loss damping, or what.  It's something that got fixed with the RE-262 because the RE-262 is absolutely effortless to very loud.  The RE-252 is better suited to quiet to medium volume listening.  It doesn't scale linearly above that.  Isolation is good though, so there is seldom need to really crank these.  They don't sound bad turned up.  It's just that there's dynamic compression when you do that's a byproduct of some part of its design.  The enclosure gets noisy too and retracts from the transparency and sound stage depth at these loud volumes too,  I will state that these changes are mild.

 

For all the good and bad about these, why should I consider these over something else?

 

Plain and simple they are most balanced and accurate across all genres compared to most everything else out there.  Many of the other high end earphones are moderately colored, great in certain ways, but comprehensively less balanced.  The RE-252 do so many things so well yet has very few shortcomings.  The driver is effortless quick and detailed rivaling what you could find in even a BA based earphone.  The clarity, speed, and cleaniless of this earphone allows it to separate and individualize complex layers of information better than most.  Notes are well-bodied and impactful.  Notes carry energy and a real sense of power, not uncommon for high end earphones, but it does it through the entire spectrum which is less common.  They're comprehensively better than most everything else on the market remotely close to their price point or otherwise for that matter.  They're just $200 new and often around just $140 used which makes them a top tier product at a mid level price point and a killer buy.

 

Well if the RE-252 is so good, why not buy the RE-262 instead?

 

Well first of all, they are yet to be sold.  The only ones in existence are from the HM-602 pre-orders and that's it.  Second, the RE-262 isn't as balanced as the RE-252.  The frequency response is actually only within a couple dB of each other, but the presentation is different.  The RE-262 notes are lean which does carry less presence (bad), more dynamic and effortlessly so (good), and is more transparent (good) but has a lesser sense of space due to the leaner note (bad).  What about the physical.  Well, the RE-262 is easier to fit in the ear with no gummy structure.  I do like the improved holding power the gummy adds though and it can be trimmed, sanded, melted, completely removed, etc. if need be to actually get the fit better.  The cord is slightly thicker with the RE-262 with a slightly stiffer casing but still nearly identical to the RE-252 and RE-ZERO.  Basically it's a mix of things, and the RE-252 just offers a little more range and balance and the heartier note does make for a slightly more believable presence.  Really, they're pretty much on par with each other, and it's just a series of trade-offs, but I feel the RE-252's trade-offs are more acceptable.

 

What might you not like?

 

The fit.  It really does take a couple weeks getting used to.  The stock tips are very limited and not exactly great.  I advise ordering some extra tips to find something that you'll like.  A suggestion:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/723918-REG/Monster_Power_129623_SuperTips_Sampler_Pack_Replacement.html

But you could also decore a set of Shure foam tips which are closed cell and doesn't have the coloration issue or grab a Comply T-500 set for maximum comfort (can grab a s/m/l set if you want to experiment), but I like the combo pack idea, and the Monster tips are well liked and function well, plus something like that offers a LOT of options to try.  The challenge is trying to fit the tip AND the gummy in two separate areas and you want to end up with a solid seal or you lose all the bass.  Outside of fitment, these earphones are not terribly forgiving.  If the recording quality is bad, these earphones will sound equally bad.  These are very detailed, very revealing earphones and they can sound amazing or sound like cheap crap depending on what you feed them.

 

Why did I bring up this thread at all in the first place?

 

Simple.  I think the RE-252 is probably one of the most overlooked top level earphones on the market.  It has really been the only other earphone I've used that I view like the ER4S and respect as much for being a true reference level product.  I think too many people overlook it fearing the issue of fitment or being underly flashy or whatever, but really, there are work-arounds for everything if sound is your true end goal.  If sound is all that matters, this is one of the best in my opinion, for whatever that's worth, oh and it's cheap as dirt, so there's that too.  Don't be disappointed that this really wasn't a review.  I wasn't intending to review this earphone since I already have reviewed and commented elsewhere several times.  This is more of a tool to spark some interest in a product worth looking into because I really do feel it's absolutely one of the most balanced and most accurate IEMs on the market and the new/used pricing pretty much puts it in just about everyone's reach.

post #2 of 23
Nice impressions. I don't care for flashiness and concur regarding SQ, but design and usability are really bad IMO. Awkward to wear over-ear and horribly microphonic when worn downward. However, for SQ alone a decidedly better choice than some other much more hyped phones out there.
post #3 of 23
Double post, sorry.
post #4 of 23

all so true, well i disagree here and there but not much

post #5 of 23

There was no excitement in RE-252. Sleepy was the word. It did not sound "effortless", I usually needed to turn it louder to "really hear something" -- (I don't like to listen my music loud), my ears hurt when RE-252 finally sounded "loud enough".

post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 

It doesn't try to be explosive and powerful.  There are other earphones to convey energy and power better.  As well, lower distortion often sounds quieter because we expect distortion to cue us that something is loud, straining.  Without those cues, we need to pick something else.

 

It is more controlled, constrained, attempting to promote balance and evenness of range.  It trades effortlessness for control.  The RE-252 is like the ER4S in this regard.  Sometimes we want to be wowed by an earphone with shear presence and energy.  This isn't that earphone.  It will get loud, painfully loud, before you really feel like it's loud.

 

I also do find seal to be a very important aspect of perceived presence.  We need the bottom end frequencies to add the visceral sense of sound which we do use as indicators of power and presence.  If the earphone is worn loose, like many, the bass is lost, the visceral sense is lost, and the earphone can sound lean and weak.  Extra effort must be done to ensure a solid seal because that promotes the balance, range, and presence which in turn helps convey the sense of power and loudness in some of the perceivable ways.  Simply put, if the RE-252 sounded bass light to you, the seal wasn't good.  It doesn't help that the stock tips pretty much suck for this too.  The depth and presence of this earphone is quite good, but a seal is absolutely necessary.  Unlike some other earphones of excess, ex. IE8, you can't really get away with using a loose seal without drawbacks.

 

I do find it interesting that you needed to turn it up to hear something.  One thing this earphone does really well is show subtlety and actually presents a really well rounded presence at lower volumes.  The speed, clarity, and level of detail are very good as to not really lack many of the smaller details or nuances.  There aren't many earphones I can list that will actually show you more information.  The CK10 does offer more, but the drivers used are crazy fast and highly textured even up into the high treble.  Nothing on the market competes with that in terms of level of detail.  The UM3X offers more but differently.  It's more dynamic, textured, articulated.  It's an exceptional earphone, but it needs a moderate amount of EQing to balance out due to its gearing towards professional stage use.  Comparatively, the bass is still more bloated on the bottom end and the treble can't compete.  I do always suggest burning in the earphone since it is a dynamic which will let it open up and be more effortless.

 

This earphone doesn't try to wow you.  It doesn't try to make things fun.  It just presents sound as close to the source recording as possible.  If you want something of very high quality but geared for fun, I will always point you to the Triple.Fi 10.  The sound quality is very high, very refined.  It isn't balanced, but it's not trying to be.  It's trying to be upbeat, engaging, and playful and it's one of the most mindlessly fun earphones I've used.  With a little EQing it does balance out nicely.  It will give you a better sense of loudness and power.

 

I'm not really trying to get into a review here since I've gone into more detail elsewhere.  This is simply a, well for lack of a better term, advertisement in a way for the RE-252 simply because it's crazy good and crazy overlooked despite it being super cheap for what it offers.  It's an earphone I've used for some time and have owned on a couple occasions along with a sea of other great earphones.  It's always impressed me with its balance, resolving detail, and accuracy.  There isn't another earphones I've owned that has tried to be more true to the original source than the RE-252, well I should say succeeded to be as close as the RE-252.  You're right.  It's not trying to be a fun or engaging earphone.  It's not trying to colorize or wow the listener, but I think that's part of why it ends up so accurate and balanced.  It's not trying to make the music sound better.  It's just showing the music and that's it.  For many, it becomes a bit of a weird earphone to listen to.  Many forum members have been perplexed by the sound signature because it deviates so much from the norm.  It's unique yet not.  I really see it in the same way I see the ER4S.  It tries to do the same things and in many ways succeeds very well.

 

My only suggestions to potential buyers is:

-buy a variety of tips and find something that actually offers a solid seal.

-burn in the earphone.  It is a dynamic driver and has that need

-be open to physical modification.  The gummy can be cut and reshaped as needed or even completely removed.

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/468941/re252-takes-the-best-from-er-4s-and-re0

(Kostaeax is one of the few that have taken the gummy off and converted it to a more standard design, although finding a fitting doner back may be tough)

post #7 of 23

Ewwww, I was imagining the re262 the entire time, thinking that they had the same housing. Googled then ewwwww.....

post #8 of 23

I mostly agree about the RE252. The sound is fantastic. Personally, I prefer the ER4 though. Mostly due to the fit, but also because I feel that RE252 sounds rounded in its presentation, almost tubey. ER4 sounds less smoothed out by comparison which I find more accurate. May be a matter of preference though. I also find the soundstage a bit strange with the 252 maybe due to fit issues - it is really wide, but has very little depth by comparison. Also, imaging is not exactly razor sharp and sometimes I had a hard time locating some sounds. I think ER4 places sounds a bit more precisely. Finally, the fit issues due to the horrible gummy housing design really bothered me and I often couldn't get a satisfactory bass out of the 252 due to bad seal.

 

Oh and there's another thing - I think RE252 is too sensitive. Not only does it hiss significantly with many sources, but it also looses refinement and authority in the low end with many sources because a 16 Ohm impedance is really tough for many amps to handle. Hifiman should've made the RE252 at least 32 Ohm or higher IMO.

post #9 of 23

Nice impressions.

And dem mids!  basshead.gif

 

It should be mentioned that really wide bore tips give the relatively flat FR it can do, preferably tips with a bit more width than the stock ones.  Monster Gel Supertips are awesome, but you won't get the flat FR raved about.

UE grey tips are a possibility.

 

I have not found RE252 to have very deep bass with any tips.  Yes, I do get a good seal, and the gummy structure fits me like a glove.  I find TF10 deeper, both in bass (not a big difference) and soundstage, and the roll-off on portable players probably isn't helping either when out and about.  MTPC goes down very damn low for me, especially with my home rig.

mvw2, have you tried the Turbine Pro Copper?  I find this 'phone to be more revealing of what's in a recording.  I'm not sure, but it seems that RE252's warm haze kind of obscures ambiance and some more subtle parts of music compared to MTPC, which seems to want to show you everything in the recording.  I'm not saying MTPC is the most revealing earphone either, just more transparent than RE252.  For opamp rolling in my portable amp, I prefer RE0 or MTPC to listen to the changes if I don't use A2000X.  RE252 is not satisfyingly transparent enough for opamp testing, in my opinion.  I rotate most between RE252, TF10, and MTPC; I find the three to be relatively on par with each other, just offering very different presentations on sound with their own trade-offs amongst each other.  Another plus on RE252's side is how well it does harmonics for great timbre quality; it certainly defeats TF10 and MTPC at that very easily and is only bested by RE0 in that regard, from what earphones I own and have auditioned.  I find RE252 more engaging than RE0.

 

RE252 certainly doesn't have TF10 imaging, but the latter have unrealistic razor-sharp imaging (as well as a couple of other 'phones in my collection), so I don't mind RE252 being a bit lacking at all.  =]

post #10 of 23
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mad Max View Post

 

Another plus on RE252's side is how well it does harmonics for great timbre quality; it certainly defeats TF10 and MTPC at that very easily and is only bested by RE0 in that regard, from what earphones I own and have auditioned.  I find RE252 more engaging than RE0.

 

Have you tried the ER4? In my opinion the Etys have a more natural timbre than RE0 and RE252.

post #11 of 23

The RE252 and the 262 are on my short list of universal IEM's I'm still actually interested in listening to. I really want to listen to both of these at some point along with the Shure 535 and W4's. I find your description of the CK10's and UM3X's spot on and describes pretty well why I enjoyed/enjoy both so much. If I wasn't currently saving up for a new amp I would really consider dropping some cash on the RE252 and or RE262 just to experience how interestingly the seem to present sound. Also....shameless plug if someone has a loaner pair...biggrin.gif Would love to write a review for em and post some impressions

post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

 

Have you tried the ER4? In my opinion the Etys have a more natural timbre than RE0 and RE252.


Oh really?  I've never tried ER4, and it doesn't seem like an IEM I will like based on a few reviews I've read.  I may give it a go later.

At the very least, it will synergize beautifully with my Minibox-E+.  =p

post #13 of 23

again a wonderful read from you!  i'd like to try them at some point in time.  they're on the shortlist of stuff i want to try.  perhaps when i have some sort of income...  college ftl.

post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 

Etymotic knows what they're doing.  The ER4 is a great earphone.  I often say it's an earphone you have to try at least once in your head-fi carrier.  The RE-252 is definitely another and partially why I started this thread.  I will say the ER4 is better with the sound stage.  The RE-252 trades off some dynamic range and subsequently gives away some articulation of note, and this does does make it define the sound stage less vividly.  The ER4 retains excellent articulation/texture and creates a very well structured space.  I do feel the ER4 suffers in frequency response though, and this degrades in other ways that the RE-252 improves upon.  Both are great though and reference products in my eyes.

post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvw2 View Post

Etymotic knows what they're doing.  The ER4 is a great earphone.  I often say it's an earphone you have to try at least once in your head-fi carrier.  The RE-252 is definitely another and partially why I started this thread.  I will say the ER4 is better with the sound stage.  The RE-252 trades off some dynamic range and subsequently gives away some articulation of note, and this does does make it define the sound stage less vividly.  The ER4 retains excellent articulation/texture and creates a very well structured space.  I do feel the ER4 suffers in frequency response though, and this degrades in other ways that the RE-252 improves upon.  Both are great though and reference products in my eyes.


Really? How so? I think it extends very well both high and low and is no less neutral than RE252. Or do you mean something else?

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