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Universal Fit item created by jacksonchansf, Jan 18, 2013
Pros - price. neutrality.
Cons - bass may be lacking for some
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If you are on a budget then you are in for some good luck because Hifiman re400 might be just for you. Hifiman claims this IEM to be the “waterline” IEM, which means, not only them but the industry should be doing THIS with 99 dollars. Bit of a big claim? But I must say, they deserve the big talk. The re400 is not only small and compact but brings you quality that you would see in much higher end IEMs.
The Hifiman re400 was sent me for a review by audioexcellence, a audiophile store in Canada. As usual, my reviews are not bias in any way.
HiFiMAN Electronics is a designer and manufacturer of audio products including headphones, amplifiers, and portable audio players. Hifiman is known for its high-end audio products made under the brand Mee Audio. Its most popular products include the HE-400 which are full sized open back headphones and the RE-400 which is an IEM (In Ear Monitor). Both products are supposedly critically acclaimed for their sound quality
Divers: Titanium coated 8.5mm dynamic drivers
Frequency: 15 – 22 Khz
Sensitivity: 102 dB
Impedance: 32 Ohms
Cable length: 1.33m
WHERE DO I BUY IT?
If you are in Canada, https://www.audioexcellence.ca/ is the place to go, not only for this product but for any hifi products, their price is competitive and ensures quality service. Their store is well worth a visit if you are located within the GTA.
Internationally, amazon is your best bet far as I know.
HOUSING: the housing is made of aluminum and is very small and compact.
Cable: the cable is fabricated cable up to point of the splitter and then it is
rubber/plastic material from then on. The slider is metal, which is very nice touch. It terminates in a 3.5mm gold plated right angled jack.
Accessories: A lot of tips for any fit, however I found the comply foams to be the best. A very nice hard carrying case that is practical in size and portability is included. There are also extra filters in case you damage the filters with earwax, which is a nice touch and shows that HIFIMAN wants you to keep the IEM for a longer time.
Overall, the build quality is exceptional for 99 dollars. From drivers to the accessories, it screams quality. Also, the isolation and fit was perfect for me. There is 2 ways to wear it. Straight in or over the ear (found the 2[sup]nd[/sup] fit to eliminate any microphonic)
This IEM would be something I would recommend my university friends that are not audiophiles because of its cheap price point and what you get for it. With the comply foams, there was much more isolation, however even with the normal tips included with the re400s, the sound isolation was enough to be used in quiet places like the library and loud places like the gym.
GENERAL: These are neutral sounding IEMs. The bass is not as extended as modern bass heads might like it, and this might be a turn off for some people. However, the fact that you can hear the music you love, the way it was recorded, the way it was supposed to be heard for 99 dollars, is something to appreciate. If you are like me and listens to almost anything, these are perfect. You can hear these for hours and hours without any problem because there are no sibilant highs or no booming bass that might bother you in long listening sessions. Everything is clear and represented “the way they are supposed to be”
Sound Stage: the sound stage is very intimate, which may be a good thing for some and a turn off for others. Again, priced at 99 dollars, these are exceptional in sound stage and imaging.
Hifiman re400 really did amaze me with its price to performance ratio. I wish to see more budget iems like these in the future. I truly believe they deserve the title of “waterline.”
Pros - Delicate and trully musical, timbres, fatigueless
Cons - Very slightly warm sounding, not as spacious as other's
I am only listening to acoustic music, So I had no issue with the amount of bass (only plugged to my FIIO X5II, Flac, APE, Highres and DSD files). Even though they are not as tight as on my Shure's Se425 they are well balanced with the rest of the spectrum.
Slightly on the warm side but perfectly balanced, not in the face , musical, smooth apart from a little peak on the high mids, they have an amazing respect for the timbres, which is for me the main point.
The relative lack of definition participate to how "liquid" the music is just like in concert. Everything is integrated in a delightfull way, not much sticks out.
On some tracks I was expecting a little bit more dynamics but I have never heard a pair of IEM's that accomodate so many different style of recordings.
Bought second hand (perfect condition) for 40€, it's the bargain of the century.
Higly recommended for classical music lovers.
Pros - Smooth neutral sound, amazing soundstage, very detailed yet not fatiguing at all.
Cons - Supplied ear tips may not get a comfortable seal.
Where do I start? These honestly sound like the HD600/650 in IEM form. My previous go to IEM was the Klipsch X10 ($100), followed by the Klipsch X20i ($539). What is amazing, is that the RE-400 sound smoother, are more realistic, have better treble extension, AND have better soundstage than the X20i. And these cost just $79! I am continually impressed by these the more I listen to them. They seem to work with every genre too. For classical, they bring out every instrument texture to make them sound realistic. For pop and EDM, they have decent impact and sub bass extension, but are not for bassheads. I would describe them as neutral, and very slightly warm. Some may say they don't have good sub bass, but I disagree. If you are used to Hifiman's planars like the HE-400i and HE-560, you will notice these have extremely similar bass presentation. Mids are fantastic, very realistic and right where they sound be. Maybe slightly elevated compared to most IEMs, but only very slightly. Treble is so smooth, no peaks at all. I must say, the tonal balance is smoother and more realistic than many over ear headphones such as the Beyer DT800 and T1, Hifiman HE-400i, and Shure SRH-940, and sound very similar to the Sennheiser HD600/650 in the mid and treble regions.
The only con I can think of is the supplied ear tips may not fit people with smaller ear canals like me. The smallest size is ok for me, but doesn't seal as well as foam tips, and the next size up is too big. So I ordered Comply foam tips (the TS-400 size) and hopefully those will get a better seal. However, even without the best seal, it doesn't seem to affect the sound that much, because they already sound fantastic.
Considering these sound significantly more balanced and natural than what the Klipsch IEMs have to offer, at under the $100 price point, is a huge accomplishment in my book. You probably wont find a better sounding audiophile IEM under $100, or maybe even up to $300. I wouldn't be surprised if these match the performance of the king of dynamic IEMs, the Sennheiser IE800. Hifiman sure knew what they were doing with these, and I can't recommend them highly enough!
Pros - Good balanced sound, Solid build, Comfortable
Cons - No in-line controls
Source: Macbook 12 with Audioquest DragonFly v1.2
Comfort and Construction:
Overall the comfort level was good to me for an in-ear monitor. The key is to correctly size the inserts. Cord length is good for this type of ear monitor. Ended into a 1/4” plug with a 45 degree angl. For use on an iPhone or iPod, this may be a slight distraction. The cord is sturdy. Seemed to have good thickness without being too thick. There are no controls on the cord. This could be a deal-breaker for some.
Overall, the RE-400 has a good sound. The highs are crisp and detailed. The mids are solid. It does lack base, but most in-ear monitors will be the same. Isolation is good for an in-ear monitor. No active noise cancellation, but with a good fit using the correct inserts, the isolation is satisfactory. I was impressed with the clarity of these. Good sound separation.
Easy to recommend if you are looking for a reasonably priced in-ear monitor. Good sound and comfort. Need to decide if the angled plug will detract or lack of in-line control forces another choice.
Pros - flat frequency response, excellent timbre, quick, very clean decay, inexpensive, comfortable, discrete fit, impact, not BA, responds well to EQ
Cons - benefits from EQ, not much high treble extension
A bit of background:
Spoiler: Warning: Spoiler!
I have never really been that into portable gear. I have already sunk a lot of money into my home setup, it is more comfortable to use than in ears, more conducive to critical listening, and generally I like to be aware of my surroundings when walking around in public. I am however well past the point of diminishing returns with my home setup, and occasionally its nice to tune out from the unpleasantness of public transport, plane travel etc. and still have an acceptably engaging and truthful sound quality from portable equipment.
In any case I am used to over ear desktop sound. Relative to my desktop gear in the price range I am looking at is compromised in one way or another. More often than not with multi balanced armature in ear monitors there are certain colourations due to the BA drivers themselves, crossovers, peaks and dips in frequency response. More often than not the BA headphones I have tried exhibit an airy sound quality that sounds nice and detailed, have excellent separation and detail. More often than not though you know you are listening to a multi BA earphone. The JH Layla was an exception, showing little of the usual BA colourations (not airy or soft), having excellent dynamic impact and incredible imaging. Eventually though I tired from the lack of micro detail resolution and poor fit, and incredible local cost (our currency in Australia has dropped in value). I sold them and went back to my Westone 4's.
Anyway the trend with multi BA earphones seems to be stacking more and more drivers to develop a more forceful detail presentation and dynamic impact, and get away from that sort of vapid airy BA sound. This however is very costly and more often than not still results in peaks and dips and phase irregularities and other colourations to the sound. Coupled with the weakening Australian dollar, chasing high sound quality using multi BA based earphones is getting expensive.
Recently my Westone 4's died, so I went on a search for replacements. I tried a lot of the new multi BA options. They are making progress in sound however IMO are still quite compromised in sound quality versus full sized earphones. I also tried some of the new extremely expensive dynamic in ears (I won't mention names). They had some nice qualities but again have substantial coloration to the sound mostly due to uneven frequency response and ringing distortions. I am always happy to see new research and development in dynamic in ears but I don't fancy spending big money on (still) flawed products.
Now to my review:
I think my demo of the HifiMan RE-400 was one of the fastest purchasing decisions I have made. Compared to the other in ears I was testing, they just sounded so "right" with a flat midrange and such natural timbres! I have had other similarly quick demos but those mostly involve me ripping headphones off my head because of how badly coloured they are, but that is another story. RE-400's were clearly the most faithful earphones I had heard that day regardless of price (I had listened some earphones costing 20x the price of RE-400!)
Anyway I think it is customary to break reviews down into sections, maybe BASS, MIDS, TREBLE etc. so I might do the same:
BASS: Flat. Not elevated or rolled. Just flat down to 20 Hz like a planar. Tight. Not boomy. Detailed. Acoustic. Fast. A little shy when not driven with enough power. Excellent.
MIDS: No peaks or dips. Clear. Perfect timbre. Fast and clean. Resolving - this is not the same kind of (overly) airy sense of resolution you get with BA earphones, and subjectively there is not as much finer microdetail as some of the multi BA solutions, but the overall faithfulness of timbre is higher and resolution is hardly lacking*. *Actually I think part of the subjective impression of resolution might be down to the frequency balance which I will discuss that later.
TREBLE: Good timbre, moderately good extension. I can still make out all the cymbals and acoustic instruments all sound remarkably lifelike. There is some lack of air due to rolloff in the high treble. Mid treble also needs some boosting with EQ. I added +6dB centered at 6kHz and +10dB centered at 16kHz, however you may find different adjustments more to your taste.
I use these earphones with my Sony ZX2 DAP, which from experience may be slightly lacking the power to make the bass wake up but, interestingly the RE-400 are not holding back this high end DAP. The RE-400 will improve with better gear such as Chord's Mojo, or even some other higher powered DAPs. The RE-400s are incredibly transparent and revealing. Colourations in source components or amplifiers are laid bare. They are not harsh (though there is some very slight sibilance splash). Yes it makes sense to use this (USD) $100 earphone with high end portable gear like Chord Mojo, Sony ZX2, Astell & Kern AK240 etc.
I mostly listen to classical and jazz, however I still listen to some heavy metal. With classical and jazz the technical prowess of these earphones is hard to beat at any price. For heavy metal, the technical ability and truthfulness is usually also good, however poorly recorded material will sound however it sounds. I can just back off the treble EQ to compensate if the recording is too harsh for high volume listening. When playing acoustic music you want to be able to appreciate the full performance in all it's nuance and dynamics. Timbres are very convincing.
Anyway I could continue to waffle about the technical ability of this earphone, however at the end of the day it will be up to the listener and his gear, music and tastes to determine if they like this earphone or not. I almost overlooked these earphones, firstly because of the price (I think many others do as well), but secondly because I was not aware of just how good they are regardless of lack of hype. I am sure that the few listeners with good ears who have discovered these gems are happy that their performance is not widely hyped. It's a small miracle that this level of sound quality can be found for so little money, especially considering the general trend in the market towards more costly designs. I recommend for everyone to try these earphones, especially audiophiles who value neutral, transparent, and low distortion sound. Do NOT make the mistake to overlook these earphones because of the low price.
Pros - Beautiful midrange, tonality, no sibilance, smooth, mellow treble
Cons - Severely lacking in bass response, build quality, narrow soundstage, lack clarity
Unfortunately, I find these to be the most overrated iems going on the market at present. Anybody who claims that these have sufficient bass response are just deluding themselves, or others. They are extremely bass shy, to the point where it just ruins the music. I also own the Trinity Deltas, Vsonics vsd3s, and senns cx-300ii; and the Hd-600s and Fidelio x1 for full sized cans. Even next to the hd-600 which is hardly 'bassy' is not lacking in this department, while the re-400s are just deflated there. Such a shame.
The midrange is lush and smooth, and the treble is just right. The soundstage is very narrow, however, and the presentation lacks clarity and transparency. Also, the build quality is truly terrible: the wire from the Y split to the driver casing is very thin and the actual connection to the case is weak (it separated barely 6 months into usage). The tip assortment is fine, with the Comply Foam tips giving it a bit of extra bass hump it sorely needs. However, they make the presentation even narrower and more congested than it already is. Sillicon tips uniformly give the same bassless response.
These are horrendously overrated.
Pros - Absolutely heavenly sound. Unbeatable at this price point
Cons - Build quality on my unit is a joke. Cable is falling apart 2 days in.
***This is a tl;dr: review. please refer to other reviews for a more in-depth analysis on their amazing sound.***
For $100, you simply won't be getting anything better sound-wise than these cans, and a lot of happy owners will back me on this one. The mids are heavenly, the treble is smooth yet detailed, and the bass is tight and accurate. However, don't buy them just yet. The build quality is not up to scratch. In fact, when I asked the saleslady for these cans, she immediately suggested that I get it recabled from the get go. How I wish I took her advice. Barely 48 hours in and the cable on the right earpiece is fraying, just below the strain relief. The copper has gotten exposed, and while photos might not do them justice, and while $100 is relatively cheap in audiophilia, it is ridiculous that they are showing signs of tear 2 days in.Absolute let-down. Granted, YMMV, and I might have gotten a faulty unit because some owners have owned them for years and theirs are still apparently alive; however, if you plan to use them on the go or while exercising, look somewhere else, or get them recabled.
I will update this review if my unit breaks. It's a shame really, I dig the sound so much. If they do break, I'll definitely be getting them recabled at cost. I dig the sound that much. Photo of the fraying cable below.
Pros - Excellent mids, decent price
Cons - bad sibilance, comically weak bass, unattractive, poor build quality, not very comfortable, microphonics
I bought these in early May based on nearly unanimous recommendation from people on a bunch of websites, and I must say they don't live up to their reputation. Some of the common things people pointed out were that they are excellent for the price, they have great mids, and they have bad build quality, the bass could be better, and that they are great for all genres. Most of these points definitely stand up, I don't think I have ever heard better mids in my life, they are fairly cheap, but to me they have nothing else going for them. The bass isn't just leaving more to desired, it is so bad it makes some genres hard to listen to, it is almost comically weak, more like a tickle than a punch. They aren't especially neutral, they are just very mid heavy. I guess it sounds neutral at first glance, but the lows are extremely recessed, and the highs aren't very sparkly, they also have bad sibilance in a lot of cases. It is basically the opposite of the classic "V-shaped" sound signature, whereas normally mids are recessed and there is too much emphasis on lows and high, these have way too much emphasis on mids and bad lows and highs. They also definitely don't work for all genres. When listening to classical instrument seperation suffers, soundstage seriously suffers, bass suffers, highs suffer, and volume suffer. For metal the vocals are amazing but a lot of the rythm is lost in the weak bass, funk is amazingly smooth and probably the best genre for these, for techno in general they are terrible due to the bass problems, although as usual vocals stand out and are excellent.
In terms of physical qualities they aren't great either. They look quite cheap, which is the downside of their otherwise nice minimalistic style, the 3.5mm jack is very obviously low quality, as someone who fixes headphones on a regular basis that stand out like a sore thumb, the cord definitely also feels a bit flimsy and I don't expect it to last long. If you don't wrap your earphones around the back of your ear these suffer from constant annoying microphonics leaving you with no obvious choice except to wrap the, but they also have a tendency for the wire to constantly fall off my ears, which can get very frustrating at times. The sound isolation is mediocre, nothing really to complain about but also not worthy of praise, I often have to bring the volume up a lot compared to where I normally do with IEMs. The choice of included tips is strange to me, there is a bunch of flanged ones that scratch and irritate the inside of my ears, there is ones that are way too small, ones that are way too large, and only one set that is similar to what is normally included with all IEMs which is medium sized rubber tips, but it's still not exactly the same it's like a half flange, the tip is two different sizes but it isn't separated,
In conclusion, I definitely do not recommend these earphones. I have had 40 dollar Sony earphones perform twice as well as these for less than half the price, and they lasted me almost 2 years, where these apparently have a tendency to fail after only a few months. These are an exceptionally mediocre pair of earphones with a huge list of major downsides that are only redeemed at all by the excellent mid range performance.
*REVIEW UNDER CONSTRUCTION*
4/12/15 - I've deleted my entire review and will be completely revising/rewriting it.
Pros - Neutral, good to have, 45 degree plug
Cons - Neutral, could use a bit more bass, Microphonics
Build / Fit
They are much smaller than I expected. The aluminum casing is nothing too special, it looks very clean, and simple. The wires above the split are very thin with a feel like they could break easily if you use then regularly on the go. But, below the split is a very nice cloth cable that leads into a 45 degree plug. The fit seemed very loose, even with the comply tips.
Neutral with a very slight rise in a bass. For the price, even for the $99 MSRP, they are incredible. The detail and sound stage are as good or better than some full sized headphones I've listen to. IMO the bass could use just a bit more impact?, not too much though. The Highs were just great, non-fatiguing, but still held the detail very well. The mids are neutral, nothing sounded too out of place. Again, for the price you can not get better than this. There is a reason why HiFiMan calls them the waterline.
I guess this is something take into consideration? I thought is was very simple, clean, like the headphones that lay inside. There is a thick plastic sleeve that I thought was neat.
They are fantastic pair of IEMs to keep in your collection, I will be using them when I am too lazy to put on my SE-215s or is a rush. BTW, Microphonics are a thing. I love the RE-400s, but they feel like something was holding them back from being spectacular.