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[Review] HiFiMAN RE262 - Sophisticated and Beautiful

post #1 of 342
Thread Starter 

 

I’m a little late to the Hifiman RE series party but I thought it was time to get this party started and I did with the RE262.  Wow!  This level of musicality and refinement was not expected.

 

The RE262 is an odd shaped phone.  It is made to wear down or up.  The housings are plastic with rubber end pieces on the strange elbow shape and metal around the nozzles.  The cable is pretty supple and pretty thick.  It is also a modular cable and Hifiman supplies 3 different extensions.  One is a balanced extension and for wearing the IEM down.  The second is the standard mini connection and for wearing down and the third is also a standard mini connection but reverses the channels for wearing over the ear.  Due to the shape of the housings, wearing them up is really designed to put the left housing in the right ear and vice versa.  I’m not a big fan of modular cables, as the connectors add bulk and weight but the options HIfiman is giving you are very nice.

 

The RE262 comes with a very nice, large storage box but sadly no small carrying case.  Also supplied are a standard set of single flange silicone tips, plus two pair of Hifiman’s great bi-flange tips, replacement paper filters and a shirt clip.

 

hifi.jpg

 

One thing to note is that they are rated at 150 ohm with a sensitivity of 95 db, so they are not the most efficient of phones.  An amp is recommended.  My iPhone and Nano 6g will drive them loud enough but punch and authority are missing without the extra power.  I used both the Fiio E6 and the Digizoid ZO with the RE262 and I’ll offer some differences between the two later in the review.  Since these require the use of an amp and do not come with a case, I’ve picked up a nice Klipsch case that’s big enough for the phones, amp, cables and extra tips while still remaining portable.

 

ClieOS defines the sound signature best as warm and sweet.  I’ve read from plenty that burn-in is required (particularly for treble expansion) with these but I have to say I’ve been amazed since I first turned them on.  I don’t know how many hours I have and frankly don’t care.  The RE262’s are lush, liquid, silky smooth, very rich and superbly textured.

 

Timbre is excellent.  Instrument realism is something the RE262 excel with and vocals sound simply amazing, intimate and effortless.  Soundstage is surprisingly expansive and deep, with excellent layering, considering the focus on the midrange, and dynamic range is very good as well.  Distortion guitars do not quite have the crisp bite of the GR07 or FXT90 but still sound very realistic.  Piano sounds believable and involving.  Acoustic guitars are full and resonate.  Transparency is on par with my memory of the EX1000 but doesn’t have the Sony’s magical air.

 

e6 2.jpg

 

The midrange is where it’s at; it’s sophisticated and beautiful.  Vocals carry amazing intimacy that are very addicting, engrossing and full of emotion.  The entire midrange is velvety smooth with excellent clarity and detail.  Every little detail of the midrange is easily discovered.  Singer’s lips parting, the inhaling of breath, inflections from the throat are beautifully rendered.  Radney Foster never sounded so good.

 

Treble is extended and detailed but entirely non-fatiguing.  While not sounding the same as the treble in the Westone 4, it is reminiscent of the W4 in its ability to retrieve details in a most inoffensive way.  I have no problem picking out rides, cymbal crashes and other high end details.

 

Bass is very extended (with more power) and completely satisfying even though it is taking a backseat to the liquid midrange.  There is no midrange hump to overcome and sub bass is nicely textured with a tasteful, subdued rumble.  Every part of the drum kit is easily discernable and separated.

 

zo.jpg

 

Both the Fiio E6 and Digizoid ZO work very well amping the RE262.  Due to the E6 size, it is perfect for mobility, especially being the same size as the 6th gen and current gen Nano.  The Fiio amp is pretty transparent to my ears and doesn’t change the sound from the headphone out of my iPhone 4 (I tested from HO since that’s how the ZO v1 must be used).  EQ2 on the E6 sounds the best of its settings, adding just a small amount of bass punch and richness, without affecting the midrange and treble of the RE262.  The ZO on the other hand is just a very small amount less transparent in comparison; midrange is unaffected but treble doesn’t seem quite a bright, however the bass sculpting with the RE262 is fabulous.  The ZO has excellent synergy and is able to extract copious amounts of sub bass texture and rumble by a much larger margin over the E6.  The extra bass settings on these amps really bring life the bottom end extension the RE262 is capable of.

 

As you can tell, the RE262 is neither neutral nor analytical; rather it is tastefully colored and very musical.  Those looking for a departure from the standard approach to earphone tuning should look no further than the RE262.

post #2 of 342
Thread Starter 

Reserved for Comparisons

 

Comparison with Fischer Audio Tandem is located here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/581046/review-fischer-audio-tandem-perfect-harmony#post_7903192

 

 

Comparison with GR07 (12/20)

 

 

Sub bass is more pronounced with more rumble on the GR07 when the RE262 is not amped.  Amping the RE262 brings the differences closer and of course adding EQ2 from the E6 or even one step on the ZO eliminates this difference.

 

Treble is much more emphasized on the GR07 and in fact can lead to some ringing in busy cymbal passages or sibilance in some instances.  The RE262 in contrast did not have these issues in the same passages.  Cymbal decal and shimmer was more accurate on the RE262 but is at a much quieter volume and therefore not as easy to pick out as the GR07.

 

Of course the midrange is more forward and lush on the RE262 over the GR07.  Transparency is pretty equal between the two and midrange detailing also seems equal, although it is easier to pick up on the RE262 due to it's emphasis on mids.  Vocals become more intimate and emotional, whereas the GR07 while doing nothing wrong, doesn't display this same intimacy and emotion.

 

Isolation is better on the RE262 as the housings fit the ears more fully and help to block out more noise.  The GR07 soundstage is definitely much wider but at the same time sounds more 2D than the RE262 which has a pretty deep soundstage.  The RE262 has much better overall instrument timbre.  Pianos have more resonance, as well as strings, providing a more realistic sound.

 

The GR07 is a much more neutral sounding phone with very good balance across the spectrum and has a do nothing wrong approach; while the RE262 is more colored, albeit tastefully, providing a more emotional and musical presentation.

 

 

Comparison with FXT90 (12/31)

 

Isolation is better on RE262, although I do use different tips between the two which could contribute to some difference but overall I think the RE262 housing body helps to block out more noise.

 

Source Nano 6g with LOD to Fiio e6

 

Vocals are placed closer and guitars are pushed more forward with RE262.  Treble has more presence in the FXT90 and is an overall brighter phone; distortion guitars have much more bite.  The treble of the RE262 seems a little weightier and perhaps more accurate sounding for cymbals.  I have to use EQ2 on the Fiio to get as much bass quantity out of the RE262 but with the added bass of the E6, the RE262 can match the un-eq'd JVC's in quantity and was already a match in quality.

 

The FXT90 is wider in soundstage but RE262 is just a bit deeper, which is saying something as the JVC is already deep.  Instrument realism is superb on both but I give the nod to the JVC’s; it’s just fantastic.  The RE262 has a blacker background and with the combination of a more intimate vocal, can make for a very seductive effect with the right music.  I think both are transparent and clear phones but with the blacker background and greater focus on mids, the RE262 wins the battle in transparency.

 

The differences in technicalities are minimal but tuning is pretty different between the two.  They are both fantastic bargains for their going rate of $150 or less and both have become my favorite universals of any I've ever owned.


Edited by shotgunshane - 12/31/11 at 8:26am
post #3 of 342

Nice review! They are certainly cool IEMs, I just wish I had an amp at the time and wasn't special straight out of iPhone 4. I worn mine over the ears with no problems. 

post #4 of 342

As usual Outstanding write up

post #5 of 342

Thank you for the review and I agree with all points made, especially about the timbre.  I've been using mine with the cMoyBB and I've renewed my wedding vows to the 262s.  I previously had the HM-601 which is already a warm DAC/AMP and I find the 262 pair even better with the more neutral and transparent cMoyBB.  The cMoy also has a bit more juice and drives them with authority.  The shape of the 262 + bi-flanges work perfect for my ear shape and I get a great seal for isolation.

post #6 of 342
Thread Starter 

The cmoyBB is a pretty powerful amp. I don't have one any longer but do have a mui-audio DIY cmoy I'd forgotten about. I'll give it a go tonight. 


Edited by shotgunshane - 12/15/11 at 12:31pm
post #7 of 342

Great review, Shane.. I agree with the above comments about how well they pair with neutral, transparent amps.. I've said before that they sound like a match made in heaven with the Arrow.. and sound equally, if not more, impressive out of the mx-1.  For a colored phone, I'm simply blown away at the RE262's resolving capacity.  It speaks to how impressive the driver is & how sophisticated the tuning is.  I was astonished it was able to discern the almost miniscule differences between my two portable amps.. the Arrow sounding ever-so slightly cooler & crisp vs the comparatively warmer, slightly more dynamic mx-1.

 

I've got countless hours on the 262 now & as of late, I've noticed the treble really opened up.  It's still undeniably smooth & impeccably detailed.. but the treble is not quite as far behind the midrange as it once was.  Initially, the central midrange's syrup-y thickness bled a little into the upper midrange & treble.. resulting in a very very smooth, yet glossy (and cloudy) upper treble.  It now possesses the perfect crispness to give bite to instruments & sounds which occupy that space.  Higher pitched snare hits, in particular, possess an awesome snap which sound so satisfying to my ears.  Timbre is just silly good.  Excellent weight to everything.  The rest of the treble is clearer and more present too.. I'm (noticeably) hearing more sparkle & air in the upper frequencies.

 

When amped properly, what these offer at $150 is simply unrivaled, IMO.  I can't rave enough about them.


Edited by FlySweep - 12/15/11 at 3:55pm
post #8 of 342

Yeah, I hear good things about the 272 but the extra headroom we get out of necessity to drive the higher impedance, less efficient 262 has really made it difficult to justify the upgrade.  
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlySweep View Post

Great review, Shane.. I agree with the above comments about how well they pair with neutral, transparent amps.. I've said before that they sound like a match made in heaven with the Arrow.. and sound equally, if not more, impressive out of the mx-1.  For a colored phone, I'm simply blown away at the RE262's resolving capacity.  It speaks to just how sophisticated the tuning is.  I was astonished it was able to discern the almost miniscule differences between my two portable amps.. the Arrow sounding ever-so slightly cooler & crisp vs the comparatively warmer, slightly more dynamic mx-1.

 

I've got countless hours on the 262 now & as of late, I've noticed the treble really opened up.  It's still undeniably smooth & impeccably detailed.. but the treble is not quite as far behind the midrange as it once was.  Initially, the central midrange's syrup-y thickness bled a little into the upper midrange & treble.. resulting in a very very smooth, yet glossy (and cloudy) upper treble.  It now possesses the perfect crispness to give bite to instruments & sounds which occupy that space.  Higher pitched snare hits, in particular, possess an awesome snap which sound so satisfying to my ears.  Timbre is just silly good.  Excellent weight to everything.  The rest of the treble is clearer and more present too.. I'm (noticeably) hearing more sparkle & air in the upper frequencies.

 

When amped properly, what these offer at $150 is simply unrivaled, IMO.  I can't rave enough about them.



 

post #9 of 342
Originally Posted by WNBC View Post

Yeah, I hear good things about the 272 but the extra headroom we get out of necessity to drive the higher impedance, less efficient 262 has really made it difficult to justify the upgrade.  


I can understand that, it seems to be the only thing (justifiably) holding back those considering the RE262.  But if there's any universal IEM that takes advantage of additional juice so well & that deserves ones' attention, it's the RE262.  Pair a decent portable with the RE262.. you'll be hard pressed to hear anything quite as impressive (neutrality & technicalities be damned) under $500 in the universal IEM game.

 

It's got a unique sound that's very sophisticated (while being quite proficient, technically).. and it scales up like a mofo.. sign me up.


Edited by FlySweep - 12/15/11 at 4:51pm
post #10 of 342

Some might even say like a mugfug biggrin.gif
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlySweep View Post
and it scales up like a mofo.. sign me up.


 

post #11 of 342

I've really be thinking of getting these with all the praise I hear about them but are they really that bad to listen to for electronic music?  I've read on a few other posts that they just don't work well with faster styles of music.

post #12 of 342
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jiff View Post

I've really be thinking of getting these with all the praise I hear about them but are they really that bad to listen to for electronic music?  I've read on a few other posts that they just don't work well with faster styles of music.

 

I think they work great with hard rock and the metal I listen too.  Not too sure about electronic.
 

 

post #13 of 342

subscribed for comparisons

post #14 of 342
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kostalex View Post

subscribed for comparisons


I have a comparison to the Fischer Audio Tandem here:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/581046/review-fischer-audio-tandem-perfect-harmony#post_7903192

 

I plan to eventually compare to the FXT90, GR07 and a recently acquired Atrio MG7.

 

post #15 of 342

Thanks for that insightful review Shotgunshane, Well done.  Seems these 262's are certainly special IEM'S.

The Hifiman series are interesting me the more I read these glowing reviews.

I have a pair of 252's on the way from another Headfier & eventually would also like to try both the 262 & 272.

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