HifiMan Electronics ES100 Vintage Style Earbud with 15mm Driver - Blue

General Information

You and the HIFIMAN ES100. A perfect combination.
Benefiting from HIFIMAN's advanced design techniques, ES100 delivers remarkable sound quality for its compact size and price yet is easy to drive with virtually any source.
Specially Designed 15mm Dynamic Driver
With any headphone its sound all starts with the driver. Wide frequency response and low distortion offer you outstanding sonic performance with a huge sound stage, making you feel like you are there.
Rich and Detailed Sound Quality
HIFIMAN's experienced and skilled R&D team developed the sound of the ES100 to be rich, detailed and dynamic.
Easy to Drive
Even when connected with a portable audio device or mobile phone, the high efficiency of ES100 provides impressive bass dynamic range and imaging.
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Latest reviews

Pros: Neutral sound signature, comfort, diverse wearing style, and large soundstage
Cons: Cable, price on the higher end for earbuds
First and foremost I would like to thank HifiMan for providing me with a review sample of this earbud~
Back when I was getting my start in a tad higher end headphones Hifiman and their headphones among my first nicer pairs. Without the He-400 or the Re-400 I probably wouldn't be where I am right now so I am quite a fan of Hifiman products. For me I have mostly been an IEM guy and really enjoy exploring the sub $100 price range for IEMs. But towards mid 2014 I did explore some earbuds which were not particularly bad but not too interesting. The ES100 on the other hand are quite exquisite sounding.
What's In The Box?
The packaging on the Es100 was quite nice and came in nice hard case similar to the packaging of the Re-400 from way back in the day. Besides the earbud here was what I received with my review sample:
  1. Hard clam shell case
  2. Cable winder
  3. Spare rubber rings
How Are They Out And About?
On the isolation side they isolate as well as other earbuds in the fact that they don't isolate too well. The Es100 have a small hole in the rear of each side that lets quite a bit of sound in and out. At moderate volumes if I leave my pair playing and walk away 6 feet/2 meters I can still hear them in a quiet environment. In a noiser place such as the office I work or a relatively noisy food joint if I try the same thing it is drowned out by the background noise.
If you are planning on using headphones in a quiet environment such as a library or next to an individual then I wouldn't really suggest listening to earbuds in general.
The Cable Top To Bottom
In my experience with Hifiman products the cable has not been a strong suit for me. The Es100 is not an exception unfortunately. The cable on the Es100 is a rather glossy plastic cable and it is fairly thick. The plug is a 90 degree plug with a small strain relief. The Y-split is small and out of the way but does not offer in the way of strain relief. For me the cable is an improvement over the Re-400 whose think cable I quite did not like. The Es-100 and its glossy cable I have had issues with in its own right. The cable is slightly sticky to itself and can be prone to tangling when trying to unravel. This is particularly tricky trying to unravel the cable in the dark in my experience.
How Comfortable Are They?
In short... very comfy! I have no issue in terms of comfort for these earbuds~
The design of these earbuds cuts down on the stem typically found on most ear buds and this allows for an over the ear wearing along with a cable down wearing. And in all honesty I prefer and over the ear wearing as it cuts down on the microphonics/cable noise of the cable.
I can easily wear the Es100 all day and have on quite a few times. Even with my collection of IEMs I still find my ears irritated by the silicone tips after a day of listening. Listening in bed is also where these earbuds quite excel at. Typical IEMs when I try to listen in bed have either too large of a profile to lie on my side while wearing. Even small profile IEMs that sit flush in my ear when I lie on a pillow I find putting pressure on the IEM will cause a rather negative change in sound. The Es100 and its small profile I have found myself falling asleep with or staying up to wee hours of the night watching netflix on my tablet.
What To Use The ES100 With
Over the time I have had the Es100 I have used them a few different ways. Here is what I have listened to the Es100 on:
  1. DragonFly Dac v1.0>Objective 2
  2. Fiio X5>Objective 2
  3. Samsung Galaxy S5>Objective 2
  4. DragonFly Dac v1.0
  5. Fiio X5
  6. Samsung Galaxy S5
The 150 impedance is pretty unique to find on earbuds and makes the Es100 harder to drive than most earbuds but it is not terribly difficult to drive. With my DragonFly Dac I turned up the volume to the maybe 20-25% volume range in windows. On the Fiio X5 I am at around 50 out of 120 on low gain. With my Dragonfly>o2 on 1.0x gan I turn the volume to 9 o'clock.And on my Galaxy S5 I am hovering between 60-70%. I would describe myself as listening to music at a moderate volume. I found some benefit by changing to higher quality amps/dacs but differences in my opinion are not too large.
Do They Sound Any Good?
So main and important question, how do the Es100 sound? To me, fantastic~
The Es100 have a neutral sound signature with only a slight warmth to it, close to being rather dry sounding earbuds. There isn't anything particularly forward about the sound but nothing at the same time recessed sounding.
Bass isn't heavy and more tiled towards the mid bass and has quite evident roll off into the subbass. They most certainly are not bass anemic but at the same time not really bass heavy.
Moving up the sound spectrum to the mids. Mids are nice, clean, and coherent. I wouldn't describe the mids being forward or recessed at any notable point and is not overshadowed by the bass.
Treble wise I would say personal preference wise I enjoy a spot of extra treble with becoming too extreme and am not too big a fan of rolled off treble. The Es100 in this respect delivers wonderfully in the treble department. Only in my worst/brightest mastered songs did I notice any sort of sibilance and even then it was not as bad as similar headphones. Treble is fully present and not rolled off and quite well extended!
Sound quality for male vocals is quite lovely and well bodied natural sounding. Female vocals extend quite well into the treble and is likewise quite coherent and natural.
Finally I wish to touch on soundstage. Soundstage on earbuds in my experience has always been quite nice and wide due to the large shape of earbuds. The back vent does likely help the Es100 to its rather large soundstage.
How Are They For Gaming?
Frankly for gaming the Es100 excels with its detailed sound and large soundstage. Recently I tried the Es100 out while playing through Far Cry 4. Consistently one of the issues I along with many other people deal with was the bloody animals always ready to rip ones face apart. Eagles were especially difficult to deal with as they have just a quick audio cue before swooping down to eat a whole chunk of health. Consistently I was swapping through many headphones while playing and the Es100 served me quite well to avoid the blasted eagles!
So wrapping up, are the Es100 perfect? To me I don't believe anything is perfect. The Es100 certainly fills many niches for individuals wanting to move up in terms of price for earbuds. The Es100 are a wonderful package in my opinion. Neutral sound signature, diverse wearing style, and exquisite soundstage. Will they work in any and all enviroments? In my opinion no, they leak a tad and don't exactly isolate well as a result of the large rear vent. But if these are not of concern to you then I whole heartily recommend these earbuds~
Great review


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