I own a review sample of the HifiMan RE272 and, after a few weeks of listening, I have finished my take on them.
The RE-272 to me build on the to that of the RE-262, not just for aesthetics, but also for sound signature.
The main earpiece “grows” to form a spherical addition with a small open port, necessary to obtain the desired sound.
As I had occasion to describe in other, similar designs, such kind of opening means that the isolation is only partial, and compared to a regular IEM presents both positives and negatives (on the good, they are safer for road awareness; on the bad, some details are lost in noisy transports or you can hear idiots talking too loud during quite passages).
Soundwise, just like with the 262, the stage size is bigger than a IEM and widely out of the head, resembling the effect of wearing open earphones in that regard.
Tonally, the RE-272 is very similar to the RE262, which I had described in the past as "ER4 merges with RE252 and then the result becomes warmer”.
Compared to Etymotic ER4, the RE272 have fuller vocals and thus more real, and by comparison, given the same digital source (Sony A846, extremely linear, a bit cold, great bass w/o roll off, very clean and detailed at all frequencies), make Etys sound more digital. The RE272 has a bit more tilt over the ER4 I the mid/upper mid region, so sporadically certain notes (mostly found in Electronic music, or female vocals) become a bit too resonating, giving a bit too emphasis on certain passages over what I’d have expected.
The rest of the treble is basically flat and perfect, perhaps a bit rolled of but in a good way since it retains the details and gives the whole tonality a warmth and sense of envelopment that makes the music better and more real, intimate.
Sonically, I advice using silicon tips (I mostly used the big biflanges). Comply tips would work too but they’d produce an imbalance raising the midrange and reducing the higher treble too much, thus defeating the good purpose of the canalphone.
The bass is just tight and right, perhaps a bit less strength in the deep bass than ER4, but just a tiny bit, but being fuller than the ER4 and also slightly fuller than the RE262. Just like with the RE262 (and also like used to happen with Triple.fi 10 Pro), the bass sounds out of the head and adds up to the sense of soundstage.
Improvements over previous designs
The RE272 has an extremely pleasing tone and is very, very similar in my opinion to the RE262, just sounding a bit more cohesive.
The other big difference compared to its predecessor is due to impedance / efficiency:
- The RE262 has an impedance of 150 Ohm, which means that, while you can use it worrying about any kind of hiss (especially if pairing it with a higher gain portable amp), an mp3 player without external amplification would strive a bit to produce the right volume if the listener likes loud listening… or anyway one is often forced to keep a dap volume in ranges like 28/30, 29/30, or at full range… meaning there isn’t much freedom in that regard.
- The RE272 has an impedance that’s much lower (I need to re-measure it to provide the right number), it’s similar / more efficient than Etymotic ER4P or Westone 3, Klipsch X10 etc, so you won’t need any external amplification over that of your DAP… and in practical ways, it means you’ll use it with your dap most of the time, especially if it's high quality like a Sony or latest Cowons and it’s more convenient and cheaper as overall investment.
Fit / Structure
As far as comfort goes, all said for RE262 applies, since fit is a bit harder than using ER4 with biflanges or Westone IEMs. The size of the tip is that of Sony / Sennheiser IEM, so people used to that style won’t find many problems, while others having issues with them might find fit issues and need to fiddle around or play with different silicon tips.
In regards to microphonics, as usual, like I do with 90% of in-ear monitors, they will be got rid of by simply wearing the cable over the ear.
So, in conclusion, the RE272 feel like an update (not a revolution nor a big step aside) over the RE262, addressing mostly the issue of portability / efficiency, with some other tweaks to the sound, thankfully building over a sound signature which I had found very successful last year (and, already back then, much much superior to the RE252, which started the line-up, as well as to others like RE0 or RE1 which sounded tonally – and totally – different from the RE2x2 family).
Thanks for reading,
Edited by antonyfirst - 6/14/11 at 3:30am