HIFIMAN HE-R10P Planar Headphones

Sajid Amit

100+ Head-Fier
The Closed-back Endgame
Pros: The most technically-proficient closed-back in the market. Sounds amazing off bluetooth.
Cons: Build is good, but not as "luxury-feeling" as competitors in this price range
Hello Audiophiles! My name is Sajid Amit, and I review mostly for fun. I own the Hifiman HE-R10P and it was kindly brought to me from China by Gears for Ears, a leading audiophile store in Asia, based out of Bangladesh. If you would rather watch the video review, here goes.


Full written review as follows.

Background:

The HIFIMAN HE-R10P is Hifiman’s latest flagship closed-back planar magnetic headphone. The name and the design is intended to be an homage to the legendary Sony MDR-R10, discontinued about 20 years ago. Interestingly, the Sony’s R10 was priced at $2500 in 1989, which in today’s price, is roughly $5340, very close to the R10P price of $5500. :dt880smile:

If you are looking for a TLDR, quick impressions as follows.

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Quick Impressions:

The HIFIMAN HE-R10P is a very technically proficient headphone with a warm, mid-centric sound signature. In terms of technical attributes, it is a very dynamic and punchy headphone. It has class-leading imaging compared to any flagship headphone, open or closed. It also stages better than many flagship open-backs, and certainly better than any closed-back out there.

Is it the best closed-back in the market? I think so. Moreover, coupled with the Hifiman Bluemini adapter (sold separately), it is certainly the best Bluetooth headphone out there, bar none.

But is it worth $5500? Well, that is a decision only you can make for yourself, depending on how much you value a closed-back headphone that allows you to be portable with your DAP or using Hifiman's bluetooth adapter, while still getting incredible technical performance.

I have to say though that I was amazed at how well the HIFIMAN Bluemini drives this headphone. This headphone is engineered to sound close to its peak performance off the Bluemini.

Specs:
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz-60kHz
  • Impedance: 30Ω
  • Sensitivity: 100dB
  • Weight: 460g
  • Socket: 3.5mm Balanced
Gear Chain:
  • Roon > Holo Audio May > Accuphase e380 > Hifiman R10P
  • Roon > Holo Audio May > Topping A90 > Hifiman R10P
  • Astell&Kern Kann Alpha > Hifiman R10P
Aesthetics, Build and Comfort:

In terms of aesthetics, these headphones have generated some debate. To the question of whether Hifiman should have redone the Sony design, even as an homage, I say why not. I understand why an enthusiast like Dr. Fang Bian would want to experiment with a revered design to try to push the limits of audio experience in 2021.

In general, the ear cups are bright orange, and if you like wooden designs with grains and such niceties, and you don’t mind an unconventional design, you will like these cups.

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Build quality wise, it is decent. I am not going to say that it feels as premium as Focal headphones; however, like other Hifiman headphones, it is supremely comfortable. I am able to wear this headphone for hours, and the leather finish on the headband is very comfortable, as are the cup insides. Clamp force is minimal, which translates to “okay” levels of isolation.

HIFIMAN includes three different cables in the box: a balanced XLR; single-ended quarter-inch; and a single-ended 3.5 mm.

Tonality

Tonality-wise, this is a warm-sounding headphone as indicated in the quick impressions. The bass is a strong point of the headphone. In fact, there is a good deal of bass on this headphone. Drum hits feel visceral, and although the bass is very fast, there is no reverberation you hear with other closed-backs.

Meanwhile, the mid-range has some energy in 500-3 kHz, which means that vocals sound forward, sweet, and rich, without becoming shouty or harsh. This headphone is particularly good for vocal-based tracks, especially female vocals, in my opinion. Guitars also sound great owing to the upper mid-range energy.

However, the one downside of the mid-range centric tuning is that the overall presentation can come off as bit polite and relaxed. It lacks the absolute sharpness and clarity of a Focal Utopia or if you are into IEMs, the Final A8000.

The politeness is also evident in the lower treble, although there is some sparkle when it is called for. Drum hits still have attack, cymbals have shimmer, but voices are not as breathy as on the Susvara. This is fine, as even the Harman 2018 target does not have as much air frequencies as I personally prefer.

This tuning is not a Harman tuning, which is fine, since Harman is simply meant to be an average for only 64% of consumers in a sample. This is a niche hobby after all, and you may well like a tuning that is unlike Harman’s.

Overall, this is a warm, bassy and mid-range centric headphone. I did not hear any treble peaks, but I am also not particularly treble sensitive.

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Technical Performance

The HIFIMAN R10P is a technical performance beast.

Detail Retrieval: Micro-details abound, and this is by far the most detailed closed-back in the market. Many audiophiles agree that detail retrieval ability is a dimension of a headphone’s performance that is “easier to price” since it is relatively more obvious than other performance attributes. To that end, the R10P’s detail retrieval performance does not disappoint. It is far more detailed than the Focal Stellia.

Speed & Dynamics: This is both a fast and a dynamic headphone. Transient responses are class-leading, which worked well with Metallica’s S&M album. Meanwhile, on tracks such as “Trip like I Do” by Crystal Method, this headphone will punch and slam better than most headphones out there. This visceral excursive quality is a stand-out feature of this headphone.

Staging & Imaging: The R10P presents a very wide stage, aided by the angular and protruding cup design. It is certainly the best closed-back headphone for sound stage. The stage has width and depth, and often, you will hear sound from behind, giving the headphone a holographic stage presentation.

The imaging meanwhile is also excellent. Images are tall, and the center image is strong. You will be able to follow different instrument lines quite easily. In fact, I found myself doing this quite often with the R10P. In general, Hifiman’s headphones image really well, whether it is the Sundara, the Arya or the Susvara.

Timbre: The R10P has good timbre. Nothing sounds off. It’s not as shockingly natural sounding as the Susvara, but it has no major timbral flaws, which is what I would say for most headphones with decent timbre.

Bluemini:

What is the Bluemini? Hifiman’s Bluemini is a detachable Bluetooth module with a built-in DAC and amplifier. By using a detachable module, connected via a single-entry 3.5mm TRRS balanced input socket, the HE-R10P becomes a bluetooth headphone!

The sound of the R10P on the Bluemini shockingly good and I don’t think a conscientious audiophile will be able to tell apart the headphone’s cabled performance from Bluetooth performance, on most tracks.

The Bluemini is sold separately, but I highly encourage you get the Bluemini if you are getting the R10P.

BLUEMINI SPECIFICATIONS
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz-20kHz
  • AMP Output in fact: 230mw
  • AMP Output in theory: 1125mw
  • TDH: <0.1% @ 1W/1KHz
  • SNR: 95dB
  • Battery Life: 7-10 Hours
  • Weight: 25g
  • Bluetooth Codecs: LDAC, aptx-HD, aptX, AAC, SBC
  • Transmission: Bluetooth/USB Type C
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Comparisons

No review is complete without comparisons. In this section, I compare the HE-R10P with headphones in a similar price range ($5000-$6000), as well as the Focal Stellia, which is generally considered the best closed-back in the market (pre-arrival of the HE-R10P).

Susvara vs HE-R10P:

Switching to the Susvara immediately gives you a large sound stage. The presentations are very different. The Susvara has clearly more air around instruments while the R10P has substantially better slam, punch, and more bass energy. The R10P has a darker presentation, overall. I would say the Susvara mids are relatively linear, while the R10P has more upper midrange energy, which gives it a more forward presentation. Technically, the Susvara has more micro details and a wider sound stage, but the R10P has a pretty impressive staging given it is a closed-back.

Stellia vs HE-R10P:

The Focal Stellia has a more premium build quality and a more conventional aesthetic. In terms of tonality, the R10P is warmer, and is more exciting in the bass. The HE-R10P also has noticeably stronger technical capabilities, particularly in punch and slam as well as imaging and staging. However, the Stellia has a more conventional and “safer” tuning, for whatever that is worth.

Abyss AB-1266 Phi TC vs HE-R10P:

In some ways, the HE-R10P feels like a child born out of wedlock between the Hifiman Susvara and the 1266 Phi TC. It is more bassy and slammy like the TC, compared to the Susvara. However, it does voices very well, which the Susvara does better than the TC. However, it does not have the Susvara’s air. The 1266 Phi TC is still more technically proficient than the R10P, at a similar, or slightly lower price. Of course, the R10P has the closed-back and bluetooth use cases going for it, so that's there.

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Genre Matching

The Hifiman HE-R10P plays particularly well with rock, electronic music, pop music, as well as vocals-based music. In addition it plays well with strings, wood and wind instruments, although for more audiophile varieties such as classical and jazz, I would personally prefer the Susvaras which have more energy in the air frequencies. Metal heads, and lovers of EDM and other genres that call for punch and slam, will particularly enjoy this headphone.

Summary:

Every time you buy a summit-fi headphone like an Abyss AB-1266 Phi TC or a Hifiman Susvara, you are not only spending the $5000-$6000 on these headphones, but, likely several thousand dollars more, on an appropriate amp, DAC, and cables.

Many Susvara owners I know will buy a top-of-the line speaker amp and get an endgame DAC. Meanwhile, many TC owners I know will either go the speaker amp route or buy a kilobuck-level headphone amp and DAC. And then there are cables, where Susvara and Phi TC owners will spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars.

The end result is that a Susvara or an Abyss 1266 Phi TC owner will build a rig worth $8000-$10,000 around his/her favorite headphone.

If you want a taste of what that rig sounds like, but want to spend relatively less, and still be mobile within the house (or outside), then the Hifiman HE-R10P is worth a look. Ultimately, the R10P stands out to me because while being portable, it is technically more capable than other closed-backs in the market, with a lot of "excursive power." People’s preferences regarding tuning, may, of course, vary.

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Well, that’s it, then.

If you like this review, please follow my YouTube page for the upcoming video review of the Hifiman HE-R10P on the Amplify Audiophile Show. You can email me at sh2367@caa.columbia.edu for any questions.

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Sajid Amit
Sajid Amit
@paradoxper, thanks buddy. I am having some fun doing this, lol, but need to invest in a camera asap.
protoss
protoss
I did not get that slam and punchy sound from this headphone as you saying. You kind of contradict with the slam and punch with your review video I notice.

This headphone is a warm soft sound. Nothing exciting and punchy but a great all rounder.

Cheers 🍻
Sajid Amit
Sajid Amit
@protoss, Oh I have to take a look at the video and correct for that then. I did get good dynamics!

dill3000

100+ Head-Fier
HIFIMAN – HE-R10P REVIEW
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The HE-R10P (P for Planar) is Hifimans new flagship closeback headphone and together with its dynamic brother the HE-R10D marks their foray into the high end closeback market. Naturally we are all excited about this as Hifiman’s offerings belong to the absolute best on the market, be it the Susvara, the HE-1000SE, the Arya, the by now discontinued but still legendary HE-6 or the ever so romancing HE-500.

Sporting the HIFIMAN NEO Super Nano Diaphragm technology the HE-R10P profits from the toolings that were developed and refined for the Susvara and HE-1000SE. Given the price tag of 5499 Dollars Hifiman are very confident about where they place this headphone: right between the Susvara and the HEK SE. We’ll find out soon enough if they deliver:

With an impedance of 30 Ohms and a sensitivity of about 100db the R10 Planar is quite a lot easier to drive than the Susvara and fits right into the same mould that the HE-1000SE created: Hifiman flagship level sound right from a DAP.


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Overall character:

The HE-10P is a pretty mid-forward headphone with a rather brightish overall character, yet devoid of any real annoyances or troubles. It has great extension to both sides, the emphasis on the largest parts of the mids and a slight emphasis on the upper treble make for a lively and exciting listen yet the cup design and the acoustic treatment/dampening also open up the staging and imaging accordingly which leads to an absolute stunner in terms of instrument placement, sharpness and the overall stage that is rendered big enough to accommodate all the cues, trails and reverbs that take place in the musical image – without batting an eye in busy or complex passages.


Staging/Imaging/Soundfield:

While the Susvara and the HE-1000SE go for the absolute minimum of acoustical impedance to achieve their grand openness, transparency and sublime staging and imaging, the R10 as a closed back headphone naturally does not have the same inherent advantages to design around. Thus a lot of trickery, dampening and absorption has to take place to control the driver and excess energy.
Yet the R10 impresses with a rather wide and deep image, rounded, not overlapping with gaps. And is has all its inner beauty, colors, richness, saturation and overall tonality drawn by absolute precision and sharpness. It’s very easy to follow trails, pick out cues, instruments, background noises and notice how nothing goes out of focus or blends into each other. It goes a fine middle way of enough decay for naturalness and the sharpness of of a blade.
I like to call the overall stage a personal bubble as it makes for such a dense and intimate listen. Ultimately, all these attributes scale with the amping quality and how the DAC plays to the strengths of the R10.


Dynamics, Transient Speed/Attack:

The HE-R10 is capable of large dynamic swings and tiny volume differences: In an instant the rendering of a soft pluck on a harp to a startling heavy thump of drums, the sheer speed of the drivers allow for large movements and yet are super precise and very fast at stopping and get going again. This reminds me of the Susvara’s technicalities and how it effortlessly renders large swings and tiny volume changes without breaking a sweat or making them disappear into the background.
The HER10 ultimately does not reach the Susvara’s supreme technicalities in transient speed and attack, as there’s always a tiny bit of the reverb and bloom coming into play. The initial attack is slightly softer than the Susvara but still coming into play with good tactility and palpability to dig deep into the music.


Clarity:

Now here’s a thing the R10 can take advantage of given its closed-back design. It’s easy to hear subtle nuances and absolute focus on what you’re hearing given the isolation from outside nuances. This hightlights the personal and intimate bubble I spoke of earlier which I find to be the R10’s strength. Of course it’s also in the nature of the demand that a close-back should allow for a more isolated and personal listen. The clarity does not reach Susvara’s level but is very close to it and also slightly accentuated by the short rise in the upper treble.


Punch and Slam:

While the Susvara goes farthest with absolute slam, punch and the physicality of it regarding the post HE-560 split of the old generation and the later generation, it’s still a tad softer than a 4-screw HE-6. The R10 goes slightly below the Susvara but has the advantage of closed headphones and has some energy to spare to underline the rumble factor.


Bass:

Bass is fast, tight and has a slight bloom to it. Slight reverberations of the cup add to the warmish tone. Extension goes way down to 20Hz. Good thump, heft and control. Bass lines and pitch differences are easy to follow, as you’d expect from a Hifiman high end headphone.


Mids:

Mids are clearly forward and accentuated and make for a lively and slightly accentuated tone. Guitar plucks are well emphasized but do not come with the same degree of tactility than well-driven Susvara. Vocals come off clear, raspy, breathy and with great clarity.
The upper midrange is slightly muted attributed to a dip around the 4k region leading to a slight muteness that instruments would want to benefit from. Thus the last part of accentuation is clearly defined by the treble.


Treble:

Coming from the slight dip in the presence region, the treble section sees a rise in the 8,5k region and a gradual fall of the upper treble from there.
Given all this, we understand the rather brightish nature oft the HE-R10 and how it’s manifested


Resolution/Detail retrieval:

Detail retrieval is a tad below the Susvara and yet also kept in check due to the less linear frequency response in comparison. If I had to rank it among the HE-6, and the Susvara it would take the middle ground. The evolution of Hifiman’s drivers aims transparency and the resolve of subtle details above the last word in terms of slam and physicality. This is also a character trait of the HE-1000SE.



Comparisons: Battle of the Hifiman Flagships (and a little HD 800 bit)


Albums and Headphone Comparisons



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Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady

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Songs: Can’t Live Without Your Love, Sally Ride, Dorothy Dandridge Eyes, What an Experience

Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady – A brilliantly produced album.



HE-R10

I checked out the last few songs from the album, “Can’t Live Without Your Love” and “Dorothy Dandridge Eyes” were the tracks I wanted to hear, but once I started I just kept listening and listening, not skipping a track. I was so immersed I forgot to take any notes down at the time. It took listening to the whole album until I started over again.

Vocals are well-defined and strongly centered, instruments rendered with ease and slightly sharp contoured. Part of the slightly brightish character.

“Dorothy Dandridge Eyes“ is reminiscent of the vibes you get from listening to classic Stevie Wonder songs. The R10 sucks you into the music, albeit a bit more vivid than I am used with the Susvara.
Liked it so much I used this collection of songs for a quick listening comparison between the HE-R10 and my modded HD800 both paired with special amp I built myself with the HD800’s strengths in mind.


HD800

Bass quality does not reach the HE-R10’s quality and sustenance. The HD800 just hasn’t got the texture, definition or sub bass quality, power. Comparing the layering of the sounds and instruments and vocals, it isn’t as detailed or palpable. Now it still sounded great with the HD800, the detail, separation, the micro/macro-dynamics, the rendering oft he space. The overall scale is huge in comparison, but it’s simply lacking the emotion and the immersion that I get from the HE-R10.

After completing the track’s selection with the HD800 I went back and forth with the R10 and HD800 repeating some tracks to confirm my impressions with my listening memory and yes, it didn’t fail me.
One thing I forgot to mention is the speed difference – the transients are quite fast and clean on the R10, giving the whole experience an extra boost in clarity which allows me to keep a hold on the whole image of the sound in my head without having to focus or concentrate.

A kind of musical thing the HE-R10 gives is a type of luxury Jazz Club experience with some world class performers on the stage. Thanks to the tastefully done acoustic reverb the cups produce we get a good sense oft he whole venue, crowded, filled with laughter, joy, the clapping of hands and the clinking of glasses . This headphone just gives out that special vibe that we long for and haven’t experienced in a long time due to the pandemic.


HE-6

Ah, the good old HE-6. Old you say? Only in age dear friends.
Back when the HE-6 appeared on the stage, it absolutely floored people and still does until this day when properly amped. Many mythical beasts were slain in order to extract the secrets on how to tame this special beast. For me personally, the quest for the secrets ended with my collection of various Pass Labs/First Watt amps.

My HE-6 is heavily modded, both with blue tack to seal the gap between the driver and the housing, through strategic filling and dampening of the hollowness of the cups with Sorbothane and the choice of good pads, e.g. ZMF Auteur Lambskin.

Well, how does it compete here?

While it doesn’t absolutely reach the fine articulation of the later generation of drivers throughout the whole frequency spectrum, it is very close while maintaining the most physical. tactile presence and transient rendering out of all 4 and still offers the greatest slam. It’s just a physical, almost bombarding (in a good way) experience.
Staging emanates from a strong core center and reaches out like fine hairs. It does not reach the imaging sharpness and dimension qualities of the latest Hifiman but equals these shortcomings out with viscerality and density.

Treble when tamed properly through careful modding is delicate, well-defined with great extension and air.


Susvara

The studio experience – I’m a fly on the wall in the studio listening to the vocals sang live or the recording engineer listening to the final mixed track. I can hear each element of the recording in its most pure way. Not overly analytical, digging out the unnecessary grey of the mix but tastefully carving out the subtle, tiny details, the hint of cues and the sum of all individual things that are part of the overall image. The transparency allows me to focus in on an element of the track if I want to, but on the most part I’m just immersed into the music and its coherence.

The Susvara goes the last extra mile for transparency, linearity and cleanliness thanks to its rigorously open design where almost nothing is in the way. The acoustical window is without glass, it blurs between me and the venue. It’s a magical experience. It doesn’t have that special kind of reverb the R10 brings to the table and is part of its charm, but it counters with a cleaner bass quality and overall holographicness.

The Pass Labs XA25 drives the Susvara effortlessly with ease and liquidity. My custom 16 solid core Mundorf silver with a touch of gold allows the drivers to get to electrostatic levels in terms of speed and transparency, yet adding superior bass quality and slam which can get pretty visceral. Sometimes this experience even reminds me a bit of the HE-1’s magic.


Some of my DIY amps below

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Strunz & Farah – The Best of Strunz & Farah

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I have to say a big thanks to Head-fier @Fegefeuer for sending me the qobuz links to some tracks from this album.

The individual tracks were so nice I had to just start the album over and listen to the entire album from the beginning. Yes, again. I could go on and on with each track itself, I’ll just cut it short to the core with my favorite tracks which I recommend you to check out:

Twilight At The Zuq, Bala and Ida Y Vuelta.

The strings on these tracks are simply well recorded and will be part of my future reference recordings to assess transient speed, attack, test for grain, decay and the resolve of the tiniest of gradual volume changes.


The R10 is relatively similar as the Susvara as for speedy transients. It has an addition to the sound signature, which is from the wood of the cups as I mentioned in my first impressions section. The wood has a magical instrumental tone to the sound, which even gives more of a vibe when showcasing the stings and percussion. It’s in harmony with the genre of music. There is a warm overtone from the bass, which is so pleasing with these headphones. Staging again is very personal.

Tactility and physicality again is a battle of the Susvara and the HE-6. As much as I love the HE-6 the Susvara’s superior articulation especially shines in acoustic albums like this and the staging space gives more breathability and helps unfolding the tiniest trails. Still, the HE-6 keeps up very well and makes for a very enjoyable listen.

The thing I love with the HE-6 it can communicate something unique even the great Susvara can’t do as well, you can close your eyes and physically feel some of the strings being plucked, its a bit like a 4D ride or being in a 4D movie theatre, just another thing to get your senses or imagination going with the beautiful music. Yes, the Susvara can do this too, but not as well – the only let down with the HE6 is the Susvara can do it with more detail. More linear and coherent in the FR than the R10, especially in the upper mids, presence region.

Instrument definition is clearer and does not employ accentuation via a treble rise. Again, it’s modded so not a clear cut reference for everyone.



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Nas – It Was Written – The Message

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Speaking of beautiful strings – I think we need a little Hip Hop happening too. The Nas track has the sample from the Sting song “Shape of My Heart” – The R10 can render these guitar strings with ease and presence and yet simultaneously handle the big bass line and vocals without breaking a sweat. Now while the Susvara sparkles a bit more in the presence region the R10’s bass is simply too addictive to put away and lust for the Susvara. There are moments like these where the excitement that the R10 brings from a tuning standpoint wins over technical superiority.

An in the same vein the HE-6 enters the stage and blasts the bass like the hammer from the underworld. Dense, with a strong core and foundation from where it emanates its strengths the HE-6 proves itself again as a genre master.

Comparing further and further the pattern stays the same. Those of you who know the HE-6 and the Susvara could almost blindly guess their strengths and weaknesses in the context of the R10.



Nas – God Son – Thugz Mansion (N.Y) with Tupac

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The R10 again digs deep into the music, it’s just so well made for this genre which plays into its strengths – even when there’s no beat to tap to.

The guitar, Nas’s raspy voice and the substance of his words. Everything‘s wonderfully cohorent and never out of focus.



Wycliffe Gordon – Darktown Strutter’ Ball – (Chesky Records)

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This binaural recording is one of my go to tracks when checking out the capabilities of a headphone, a DAC or amp even. How good are the technicalities? Is it able to take me into the recording? Do I feel realism from the instruments?

The HD 800 as expected shines a lot here – a vast open soundstage, mostly accurate imaging, great dynamism and the texturing of the clarinet towards the end of the track left no signs of smear. I could perceive the subtlest movement, nuances / breath coming from the clarinet, as if the clarinet musician was standing a couple feet away from me.

Listening to this track on the HE-R10 was eye opening, though. I am so used to listening to this on my HD800 it was really interesting to see how the HE-R10 could render the picture. I can perceive the acoustics from the room where they made the recording, which allow me to visualise the band and recording space on the whole. The image boundaries are smaller than the HD 800 (as expected) but the density of the venue is just so much better.

Soundstage height is not as tall as the HD800 but the width on the HE-R10 is very impressive for a closed back with this song – sure, the binaural recording has something to do with this too. I do not feel like I’m in the recording, but I felt like I was witnessing the recording space live. The R10 just pulled me more into the music and kept me there in my bubble.

A little similar to as if you were closer by watching the band in a holographic game of Dejarik aboard the Millennium Falcon, but with a wider floor space.

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The sound seemed more vivid than the HD800. The instruments are more real sounding, smoother.
At the end of the track with the whole band going all out doing their thing – all i can say it wow! the dynamics really showcased the headphones, from the drum and cymbal to the trombone (all the instruments) exploded! I could still hear air and separation from all the instruments in the band and nothing got drowned or subdued.
The HD800 gets a little jumbled when all the instruments were going all out at the end – like the speed wasn’t fast enough to render it as realistic and defined as the Susvara or HE-R10 even with the HE6 communicate energy in a more organic manner.

The Susvara is a kind of mix with both the HD800 and the HE-R10 on this track. It has a grand soundstage size, just as big as the HD800, it has all the benefits of both with this track. It even goes into new highs in terms of texture and realism, speed. I can close my eyes and imagine the surrounding band. It’s all thanks to the amazing scaling of the Susvara.

And the HE-6? Having the least impressive imaging next to other three is not detrimental to the experience but it’s still noticeable. Still the HE-6 strikes back with superior FR coherence and the stronger transient attacks. Even though so of the minute detail and imaging isn’t there with the HE-6 the realism is still with the accurateness of the sheer weight of the frequency response it can give you, also with its musicality is all forgiven. I still think with and fast pace electronic album the HE6 is still king – the Susvara will give it a run for its money.



Conclusion

The HE-R10 is a stunning closed back headphone and a well-made entry in Hifiman’s flagship portfolio. Until the Verité Closed or the Focal Stellia appear on my door for a review, I can conclude the HE-R10P to being the best high end closed back I have heard so far.

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W1ll1eTheP1mp
W1ll1eTheP1mp
What is your DIY amps? Very curious!:)
B
banda
I'm also curious to know more! Could you please share the info here or on your profile?
boozcool
boozcool
FYI, the cups don't have the acoustic dampening that the original R10 had. They are PURELY for show to rip off the original R10 name, and can be bought for $4 a pop on Alibaba. Claiming that "the cup design and the acoustic treatment/dampening opens up the staging and imaging" is highly questionable and misleading.

wormsdriver

Headphoneus Supremus
Worthy of $5.5K?
Pros: easy to drive
resolving
imaging
great bass
silky treble
Cons: price
build
weight could be a problem
uninvolving at times
isolation could be better for closed back
Greetings everyone, and Happy New Year!

This here is my "review" of the new Hifiman He-R10p closed back planar magnetic headphones…

First off (and this will become very apparent soon enough) is the fact that I am not a reviewer. I am reviewing these as part of the loaner tour terms so here it goes!

I'll start this off with my unboxing impressions as I did receive what looks like a brand spanking new pair of these cans.
Those of you familiar with probably most Hifiman cans will know exactly what to expect as the presentation is basically the same as other Hifiman headphones, like for example the He6SE that I bought over a year ago. Same box with the exemption of maybe better feeling outer materials (leather?), otherwise inside the box it's exactly the same. Three single sided cables are stuffed in the box. A desktop length 6.3mm and also 4 pin balanced xlr. The third is a portable length cable and it's terminated in an unbalanced 3.5mm. Also included inside the box is a nice hard cover book that I really didn't pay much attention to.
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The headphones are reasonably well built and sturdy enough. Headband and earpads seem to me like a protein leather but I could be wrong. While the weight on these at least on paper is substantial, once on my head weight is not an issue and long listening sessions were not a problem for the most part but at one point I did started getting a sore spot right on the top of my head after a few hours, ymmv.
Wooden cups are nicely matched, headband and eapads are very soft and plush, definitely comfortable.
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The problem with these headphones and something I might repeat a few times during this review is the price! W T F !?
...BTW, apparently the MSRP on these is $5499USD! Wait what? …WHAT!!!?

Ok, to be quite blunt, GTFO Hifiman. C'mon man!
Taking into account the price of these headphones, build quality and materials used are cheap and unacceptable! Lol

Without getting deep into this next part, the design of these is also very questionable to say the least. You take the same headband you are using on some of your much cheaper models, then you rip off Sony's wooden cups from a well known legendary headphone and throw in some of your own drivers and Bam! Call it He-R10 and charge $5.5K a pop!? C'mon man! LOL
Another thing about the design is the single sided cable coming out of one earcup. Really? Seriously Bruh?... C'mon man!!! Lol
In my opinion Hifiman should of stuck with their big cups found on the Arya, HEK, etc. then "paid tribute" to Sonys F'd up looking wooden cups on the R10 in their own f'd up way. BTW, for being closed cans, unfortunately isolation is not that great. I'd say maybe a bit more isolation than the Fostex TH900 family, maybe.

Ok enough shenanigans, what about the sound!?

I'll list the gear that I'm using with these cans as this will undoubtedly influence the end result, IMO.
Also, all the music I listened to was FLAC files I ripped from my old CDs, Tidal Hifi and also live performances off of Youtube.

Gear:
-Ak240
-Aurender Flow
-WooAudio Wa8
-Well's Audio Milo

I found these cans to sound really good out of all of above. Rather easy to drive in my opinion but also scale past whatever in my humble arsenal I could throw at it. Certainly revealing enough to tell the difference between whatever amp, dac combo I put it through even with my beat up half deaf ears I can tell the subtle differences between them.

First off, the appeal of these cans is the fact that they are closed back flagship cans. While they don't sound like open headphones they do sound quite spacious. I feel the music does go outside my head a bit as opposed to being stuck in my head. There's a nice 3D image when the music calls for it. I can only imagine my gear might be limiting this a bit as surely a higher end dac would be more fitting for the capabilities of these cans. Speaking of imaging with both the Milo and the Woo Wa8 the HE-R10P has a big image for headphones IMO. Instruments sound big as do vocals. Straight out of the Ak240, while it doesn't particularly sound under driven it does sound at a smaller scale and compressed in a way in comparison to the above amps. Now that I think about it, this is probably just a result of these cans conveying what's being fed through them.

I'm not sure how to describe their signature but I'd say they have a balanced midrange, bass extends well down low, mid bass is bumped up a bit and treble is rolled off a bit early.

When it comes to the low end I feel these cans are well extended into the sub bass fairly linear and then get a bump up in the mid bass. Great tonal quality, tight, taught, punchy, kick drums hit hard. I can easily get side tracked just following a bass guitar in any given track. Pretty awesome in my book.

As far as the midrange goes I feel it's neutral for the most part. Full bodied lower mid range also comes to mind. Higher mids are pulled back a bit since I feel some guitars in certain tracks are not as forward as they should be, and therefore not as lively or exciting at times. Both male and female vocals are quite good but maybe a bit on the dry side to be the most engaging they could be. Lots of subtle details in the midrange, very clear. Very good focus.

Treble is well controlled and defined. Never splashy or tizzy. Cymbals are very resolved but I do feel there is some air missing up top once again making these cans sound not as exciting as I usually prefer.

Resolution on these cans is indeed flagship level. Subtle nuances are well resolved. There is layers in the music. Much space between instruments. A good amount of low level detail is present. Great imaging.

Although I do enjoy a good mix of different music it seems I spent most of my time with these cans listening to hard rock and heavy metal. I found these cans quite enjoyable and engaging with this type of music. When listening to slower genres I did think these cans sound a bit dull at times to be honest.
The HE-R10p are surprisingly forgiving for the most part of badly recorded music but obviously wont polish a total turd like the Misfits early recordings. Lol

In conclusion while I did enjoy these cans and do indeed think they are worthy of flagship headphones, I just don’t think they command that price, I don't think they're worth %50 of the asking price. Not only because of the lackluster build or because of the ripping off of somebody else's work but because the sound just isn't quite there either.
I know when it comes to price we all have our own perspectives, to give you mine, I had the Focal Utopia on loan a couple of years ago which I did like but in the end it wasn't for me but I do think the Utopia is worth it's going rate at around $2k USD for a lightly used one. I don't think I would pay $2k for an HE-R10p new or used.

Thank you for reading this and thank you to Hifiman for the opportunity to listen to these cans, I do appreciate it.
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ngoshawk
ngoshawk
I am listening to that very pair as I read your review.

My very initial take is of a good quality sound, and I will wait for other aspects.
Adnen Ayed
Adnen Ayed
Thanks for sharing. Most of the reviews I said so far join you in finding these headphones way too expensive.

Slater91

100+ Head-Fier
An odd tribute
Pros: - Gorgeous wood cups
- Superlative imaging
- Open-back bass in a closed-back package
- Great resolution with lots of micro-details
Cons: - Unacceptable build quality for $5,500 headphones
- Very bad comfort
- Weird signature
Hello there! This is my first review here on Head-Fi, though I've been reviewing headphones for more than five years now.

Is it even possible to recreate a classic? They say we're living in the most nostalgic of eras and the various remakes, reboots and sequels of old films and videogames is a proof of this. What I didn't see coming was a remake of old headphones. The HiFiMAN HE-R10 are meant to be spiritual successors to the much-acclaimed Sony MDR-R10, produced between 1989 and the end of the '90s. HiFiMAN saw that the patent for the Sony MDR-R10's earcups had expired, so took the opportunity to launch their own twist on them: thus were born the HE-R10, which are offered in dynamic and planar variants. The one I'm reviewing is the planar one, also known as HE-R10P. I haven't had the luck to try the Sony MDR-R10, but their fame as some of the best-sounding headphones of all times is very well known in the industry and the reason why HiFiMAN decided to pay this "tribute" to them: will the new HE-R10P be able to carry on the legacy of the famous Sony model?

Disclaimer: the unit used in this review was loaned to me by Mark at HiFiMAN Europe. The HE-R10P retail for ~$5,500. This review was originally posted on my blog, Soundphile Review.

Packaging & Accessories
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The HiFiMAN HE-R10P comes in a slightly more elaborate version of the brand's usual packaging. The box is covered in what I assume is faux leather, with a large metal plate on the top that has the HiFiMAN logo and the "HE-R10" text etched on it. Inside are the headphones, three cables (all with TRRS 3.5 mm on one side, and then 3.5 mm TRS, 6.3 mm TRS and XLR4 on the other) and a manual, which is actually a hard-cover book.

Design & Comfort
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As I mentioned in the introduction, the design of the HiFiMAN HE-R10P is a direct derivation from that of the Sony MDR-R10. To put it more bluntly, HiFiMAN took the MDR-R10's design when the patent on it expired. Although that's fair from a legal standpoint, one wonders why HiFiMAN took the MDR-R10's design without changing it and making it more unique to its brand. This is what has caused a lot of drama in the community around these headphones. I'll leave it up to you to decide what to think of it from an ethical point of view as my opinion on the matter is just as good as yours.

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The wood used for the earcups is quite well finished, with a very smooth finish and a choice of the cutting angles that really exposes the various veins. I absolutely love the effect, it's simply stunning. Now I have to admit I have a soft spot for wood, but these cups are just gorgeous. Come on, look at this. It's stunning.

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Build quality is honestly very disappointing for headphones that cost several months of most people's salary. The headband is the same used for headphones such as the DEVA, which cost $300, and even the HE-400i 2020, which is the entry-level model at less than $200. That's not okay, HiFiMAN, not in the slightest. Especially because this headband was evidently not designed for earcups as heavy as these and the sliding mechanism has failed on my unit, so the left earcup slides down when picking up the headphones by the headband. Definitely not what I expect out of $5500 headphones - heck, my HE-560 are incredibly better on this front and they have constantly been hammered with criticisms because of their build quality. The Meze 99 Classics, which cost ~$300, look and feel infinitely more premium.

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The lack of any clamping force also means that the significant weight of the HE-R10P is placed on the top of your head and if you, like me, have a sensitive scalp... then you're royally screwed. Or at least you're going to curse a lot due to the pain. The headband has poor padding, hard and unable to effectively distribute the large weight (460 g without cable!) as it is narrow, and this results in my scalp being quite unhappy about me wearing the headphones. A suspended headband design such as that used by the Susvara and Arya, or even just the Ananda or the Sundara, would have been much better: not only would it have not been cheap plastic, but it would have also better supported the weight of the headphones. HiFiMAN really needs to improve with this kind of things.

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Another possible consequence of the poor clamping force is the relatively low passive isolation: I can hear what's around me perfectly when listening to music at a comfortable (~65 dB) level. There is practically no difference between the HE-R10P and my HiFiMAN HE-560, except that the R10P leak less sound outside. Yes, less sound, as at high but still sane listening levels (~80 dB) the sound is absolutely audible from outside.

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The earcups padding is attached to the headphones using Velcro, so it's really easy to take it off and replace it (or just wash it). The paddings are of the slightly angled variety, so the back has a bit of additional padding in it; the difference is slight, though, and much less noticeable than with previous angled pads by HiFiMAN.

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Now, the other thing the HE-R10P have in common with the DEVA is that they support the Bluemini device that can turn them into Bluetooth headphones. I tried to use one and it works quite well, even though you can definitely hear a background hiss.

The cables are finally enjoyable! By that I mean that they're soft and easy to bend, with a fabric sleeve that makes them more resistant. They do look and feel like premium cables and I commend HiFiMAN for this improvement. The only complaint I might advance is the lack of a 2.5 mm or 4.4 mm option to take advantage of portable sources.

Sound & Specs
I tested the HiFiMAN HE-R10P using my trusty Topping DX7 connected with RCA cables to my Drop THX AAA 789 amplifier. The largest part of source files were FLACs in standard resolution.

HiFiMAN HE-R10P
Frequency response10 - 60,000 Hz
Impedance30 Ω
Sensitivity100 dB


HiFiMAN is famous for having manufactured some of the hardest-to-drive headphones in history. Not so with the HE-R10P, which sound just fine even with portable amplifiers or - dare I say it - DAPs and even laptops and smartphones. Yes, the HE-R10P don't require much power at all, thanks to their low impedance and high sensitivity. You don't need a multi-thousand-quid setup to get the best out of them, really. A humble Topping A30 does the job quite nicely, despite all those who say "but you need more power!" as if physics was just an opinion (spoiler: it's not!).

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What I expected before trying the HE-R10P was a large, expansive soundstage that would rival open-back headphones. What I immediately realised is that there's no such thing, however, as soundstage is actually not that wide. Yes, it does have a good amount of space in it, but it's as if you were in a spacious living room, not in a concert hall. There's a good amount of depth that also helps with imaging, but the HE-R10P are unmistakably closed-back in this regard: you definitely hear that the sound comes from headphones on your head (and the imposing weight and uncomfortable headband also do their best to remind you of this).

On the other hand, the imaging on the HE-R10P is absolutely insane! I'm not one to make bold, sensational claims, but the imaging really is in a league of its own. You feel entirely immersed in the sound, as if there was a 3D effect somewhere that places instruments not only at your sides and in front of you, but behind you as well - it's a truly immersive experience that places you at the centre of the stage, and the effect is almost as if you were in your own private home theatre setup. It really stands apart.

It's quite easy to tell the different instruments apart even in very complicated and layered tracks; not only that, but smaller details are also easy to spot even with instruments in the background. The HE-R10P do a wonderful job at allowing you to focus on specific instruments and in keeping every one of them apart from the others.

The HiFiMAN HE-R10P offers all of the features that people look for in planar bass: good linearity down to 20 Hz, physicality, speed and control. In fact there is a lot of bass if you listen to the right track: Solar Field's Cobalt 2.5 has this massive wall of bass that is thrown at you with relentless force and the HE-R10P deliver this sensation really well. Due to the way the signature was done, though, in general I'd say that the HE-R10P's bass is not so much as reserved, but more-or-less neutral: AC/DC's Let me put my love into you is an example of this, as bass is undoubtedly there, but it's left behind everything else. The influence of the closed earcups, if it's even there, is barely noticeable: bass is really fast and lacks that kind of reverberation that you usually hear with closed-back headphones, having instead the agility and swiftness (and openness, in a sense) of open-back headphones. In Aes Dana's wonderful Inks you can really feel the texture, so much so that you can almost touch it. HiFiMAN managed to get the best of both worlds in several ways , which is a great achievement requiring recognition.

Midrange is definitely the centrepiece of these headphones - it is the appetizer, first course, second course and dessert. The first thing you notice is the resolution: micro-details abound and you can really get into those even when you listen to background instruments, which shows how far the technical ability of these headphones can go. They're so resolving they approach the power of electrostats, falling just short of them. The other thing that you notice is that mids are damn thin. There's a decently large emphasis on the upper region which lends many instruments additional liveliness and fun, but which makes male voices sound as if they lacked body and female voices sound excessively breathy, as if there was excessive emphasis on the breathing nature of the voice. This makes voices unnatural and fatiguing in the long run as they sound a bit aggressive. This tuning is great for classic rock where electric guitars abound, as they get more bite, but I found it is just a bit too bright for basically anything else. To put this into perspective, the emphasis is more audible than it is on earphones such as the Tin HiFi T2 which are already considered quite bright.

Treble is superbly detailed and presents even micro-details in a way that makes them apparent and makes hearing them effortless, you don't even have to concentrate to get them. And that's honestly great, as it is the kind of thing I expect from high-end equipment: to basically do a bit of work for me to be able to better appreciate the music. The HE-R10P have a very good extension that lends their treble a good sense of air and openness. It's really a light treble, as it is clearly audible and it's not fatiguing at all, adding lightness and ease to the sound. There's one issue, though: there is a dip around 5 kHz that make violins, among other instruments that operate in the lower area, sound less convincing and present than they should, and this is true for all instruments whose harmonics are in this area. A boost by 3 dB makes the situation much better and restores the balance, making voices more realistic as well. Cymbals are especially impacted, as they sound less incisive and defined than they should. There's then a small peak around 10 kHz which can become fatiguing with the right track: in Azymuth's famous Jazz Carnival the synth harmonics at the end of the track are boosted over the comfort level and become harsh.

Mind you, this is nitpicking, but with headphones in this price range I expect them not to have flaws like this. It's not even a matter of what I personally like or not: in fact I really enjoy the R-10P, as they are easily among the most interesting headphones I've tried. I've even tried using them for gaming (heresy, I know) and they are just out of this world for that due to their wonderful imaging. But the thing I need to ask myself when I review products is: what is their price/performance ratio? That ratio is influenced by the flaws of the headphones and if the price is really high, then it's easy to get a ratio that's not favourable. With a higher price come greater responsibilities, to paraphrase a famous spidery quote, so even smaller flaws need to be reported, discussed and judged.

Final Thoughts
It's quite rare for a product to generate a high amount of controversy before even being launched. However that's exactly what has happened with the HiFiMAN HE-R10P. Their design, which was taken as-is from the Sony R10, is what caused all this controversy: legally it's all good, since the patents covering the design expired, but from a broader moral perspective? It's a much less clear-cut situation. Now, if I were Fang Bian, as an enthusiast with the ability to reproduce the design of a highly sought-after product, I would probably go with it... but I would also include my own touch, as that's the difference between a copycat and a tribute. As a musical metaphor, it's like publishing a cover of a famous song making it exactly identical: okay, that's actually good, but where's your personal touch? I would have loved to see more HiFiMAN touches on this, beyond the headband - which is ironically the single largest issue with how the headphones are built. This is my opinion which, again, is just as good as yours, so I encourage you to share your own.

All considered, the HE-R10P deserve an 8/10 mark. That's because their build quality is not up to standards, there is a large dip around 5 kHz and a spike around 10 kHz, the soundstage is small, and the tuning is only really good for some specific genres: those wouldn't be big issues on $500 headphones, but on $5,500 ones - eleven times as much? I expect issues like these not to be there or, if they are, to be smaller.

Don't get me wrong, the HiFiMAN HE-R10P have a lot going for them: their imaging is absolutely superb, their resolution displays even micro-details effortlessly, the bass hits just about the right spot, the speed and physicality of the driver are great. All of these are the reason why I decided to give them 8/10, despite their limitations. Had they not sounded so good, I'm not sure I'd have given them such a mark - even though I can't help but put the spotlight on the fact that you really want a higher mark for a headphone that costs this much.

If you really like genres such as rock, where the emphasis on the midrange can make a good difference, and if you are a fan of the earcups, the HiFiMAN HE-R10P are surely a very interesting headphone. But, exactly because they are top-of-the-line headphones, their flaws can't be ignored and require careful consideration.
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Beagle
Beagle
Thank you for the honest review. But it sounds like something I wouldn't want even for $500.
Adnen Ayed
Adnen Ayed
Very interesting to read. Thanks for sharing.
boozcool
boozcool
@Beagle, IMO even $500 seems steep for these

Takeanidea

Headphoneus Supremus
HiFiMan HE-R10 - Dynamic and Planar reviewed - the full story
Pros: Planar - will you get goosebumps?
A closed back of this quality feels almost like a novelty
Cons: Dynamic - technically not a match to open backs of a similar price
Build looks a bit lo fi for the price
Headband wasn't comfortable on the Planar
The time has come. Never before has a headphone received such bad publicity before it has been officially released. For the reasons why, we need to open our history books. Let me tell you a story....

Sony MDR-R10

Some 30 years ago, Sony was at it's creative peak. It released a flagship Headphone. That headphone was the MDR-R10. The launch date was 1989 and just 2000 were made. The limited numbers are just 1 of the elements that have combined to create an almost mythical status to these cans. The headphones had a distinctive appearance. The cups were extremely large. They were wooden. In fact, the wood was taken from a 200 year old tree, Japanese Selkova tree. The tree is revered in the Far East. There are some of these trees still with us after 1000 years. Arguably the first example of a headphone designed using predominantly computer based technology, they were uniquely angled. They start as a dome shape but are flat on the edges. A picture will be the best description here.

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They had a closed back design, whereas their closest competition at the time considered open cup designs were the only suitable option for flagships. The AKG K1000, launched the same year, was an attempt to make the most open sounding headphones yet produced. 2 other flagships of the time, the Stax Sigma Pro (1987)and the Sennheiser HE-90 Orpheus(1991) were electrostatic headphones, although Stax felt their product so unique they called it an earspeaker.

No one else put a bio cellulose driver in their phones. At least at the time, Sony's driver appeared in only a handful of their top designs. Perhaps the implementation of the drivers in this instance has established the MDR-R10 firmly into the history books as one of the best headphones ever made. Sadly, to date, these are 1 of the few flagship's I've never experienced. In all my travels I've never seen 1. I'm acquainted with 1 owner in England. Perhaps, after the Pandemic, I will finally get a chance.

Sony made their 2000 MDR-R10's, and sold them all for what was at the time a pretty steep $2500. The patent on the design expired a long time ago. The cup shape (near enough) made a welcome return with the launch, quite recently(2017) of the Sony MD-Z1R.

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The conical shape certainly has overtures to it's older cousin, don't you think? This is the closest anyone has gone in recreating that highly unusual look. Until now....


The HiFiMan HE-R10

The wooden cups and the flattened ends are back! HiFiMan have taken a 1989 design ( which looked retro back then) and reintroduced it in 2020. It is a daring move. It has sparked an outcry. The alleged "blatant copying" of a cherished memory has caused a small contingent of headphone purists to turn on HiFiMan in an alarming turn of events. Notwithstanding the obvious allusions to their original counterparts, are there any further similarities?

HiFiMan have made 2 versions of the HE-R10. There were 2 iterations of the MD R-10, the bass light and the normal version. However, Sony produced the MD R-10, and not a version 1 or 2. It is only with careful research that either version would be differentiated. The driver, cup and tuning is the same as far as I can ascertain. It is only a subtle change in materials that have altered the sound signature.

The retail price remained unaffected by any changes made. HiFiMan have a "cut price" R-10, when released officially it is rumoured to be $1500. That model is the D. D standing for the implementation of a dynamic driver. The MD R-10's bio cellulose driver was also a dynamic, but, it is entirely different from the HiFiMan dynamic. For reasons I have not been able to deduce thus far, these types of drivers were used by Sony from 1989 and into the 1990's but have not been used since.

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HiFiMan HE-R10D Review

The D has been with me for 2 weeks now. I received it and unboxed on exactly the same day, and at exactly the same time as the P version. I can show you that experience below.



You will quickly realise that I was a little underwhelmed by the HE-R10D. I listened to that having tried the £6000 HiFiMan Susvara as a base and then putting on the HE-R10P. The P model is $5500, $4000 more than the D version. Perhaps in hindsight, even though this was pretty much a live unboxing, a somewhat fairer match up could have been arranged.

Compared to it's more illustrious brother, the R10D sounded compressed and boomy. Seduced by the Planar, and with much of the outside interest being generated by the more expensive model, it's easy to see why the Dynamic had little air time for a week. With the pressure of a new release of this importance, and a sizeable number of eager ears from all corners of the globe anxious for me to complete my part, I simply had to spend proper time with it on week 2. And so here we are. I happen to have a dynamic headphone or 2 in the Subjective Review offices, (Sennheiser HD800 anyone?) and I'm not afraid to use them, if I have to!

To get a feel for how the D competes against its own kind, I happen to have a closed back Audio Technica ATH W1000Z. It has cups made from solid teak wood. It's impedance is a reasonably low 43 ohms and it has a high sensitivity of 101 dB The D and the Z share a lot in common, other than the price. The Z did retail at £1000 up until a year or 2 ago, but, where available, it's £599, or even less. At the time I bought these, I had 1 closed back headphone, the Alpha Dog Prime. I sold the Primes in favour of these. I've yet to be enthralled by any other full sized closed back, so the Z has been with me since 2017. I have several other full sized closed phones, but these aren't in the same league at the ATH.

I put the Z and the D to a duel. The Z has a thinner, more distant sound, with a less linear bass response and a less prominent sub bass. There was less visceral air being pushed against my ears compared to the D, which has a low bass presence that you'd kind of expect from a large cupped design. . Where the Z went slightly into harshness, the D was able to step back from the edge. Where synthetic bass sounds slightly annoying on the Z, the D was able to get some control. Taking the P and the Susvara away from the audition was a way to make me realise some of the qualities that the lesser model has.

Taking on the HD800 would be an altogether more difficult match. I have modded mine, and I've had the original pair, from new, for over 8 years. The famous wide sound stage is still there and I've managed to add slam and reduce much of the ringing around some of the frequency range. These are very much an open headphone but the retail price stands at £1099 which puts them in the same bracket, pretty much, as the RE-10D. The HD800 does outdo the RE-10D, it is simply a more capable headphone in terms of resolution, dynamics, sound stage, linearity. The D bested the bass response of the HD800. It has more bass presence and slam. Many of you reading this will not be surprised in the least at these findings. I should mention that the HD800 leaks quite a bit more than the RE-10, as we're on the subject of the bleedin' obvious!

What appears to be the conclusion from all this? I believe that the RE-10D performs well as a closed back, but...dont expect it to compete with a World Class Headphone. That challenge must be taken up by it's bigger brother.

HifiMan HE-R10P

The Planar version of the HE-R10 looks pretty similar to the untrained eye. A darker colour to the cups and a lighter presentation box hardly give the game away. The clue lies in the weight. Wow! It's weighs a ton! I feel sorry for the Knights of old in their armour with those helmets they had to wear. I know how they feel! If you can get round this; if you don't possess a tiny head(c'est moi); then you may well be in for a treat....

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The P can hold its own with the open back brigade. There, I've said it. So much so that I have used all my comparison time between the R10P and the Susvara. This is the league that I believe the R10P is in. You may disagree with me. You may be enraged by this statement. But, at the time of going to press, I am all you've got. Others will follow me and all opinions are needed to form some realistic evaluation of the R10P. These are mine alone, and are influenced by my time being pushed down by the vertical force of these monster cans.

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The R10P has all the ingredients needed for a special headphone. As well as all the usual technical stuff that we reviewers bleat on about incessantly, I am looking for a personality. I am interested in what makes this thing different from other flagships. The video below feels like it was made months ago.


In fact, it's less than a week old. I have spent many hours on these, both before, during, and since the Part II of my vlog. The P is a very nice sounding headphone. I hear visceral bass. It resonates just the right length of time for me. It doesn't interfere with the rest of the mix. Those cups do not appear to adding additional reflection; if they are, it only seems to improve the feel of the music. The bass will, I hope, be what people notice about the R10P. The bass from a closed back should be a different sound than comes from an open back. The bass has something to properly push against with the seal from a closed back, and an open back can often be heard as having a tighter, faster low end. Quite how much the wooden cups have shaped the bass from the R10P remains a mystery; whether some of that weight has had an influence is entirely likely. The feeling of the sound stage being kept inside one's head is a feature of these phones. The subliminal messages being sent by the clamping force and the downward pressure no doubt are contributing to this. But, is this a bad thing. The sound stage is precise. The image is really clean. That characteristic mid band thing that HiFiMan do, where even poorly recorded, loud, shouty music is tolerable, is present on these cans just the same as ever. Vocals are right in front of your face, and are distanced further away on the Susvara. I noticed when I swapped between the 2, that there was a subtle "squashing in" of the sound when I went to the R10P. It took a few A/B comparisons to understand what was happening. I'd describe it like a wind noise. The music's all there, and once back in the groove, it's not noticeable. The Susvara has that effortless delivery. Nothing is left out. The sound stage is wide but not surreally so. The bass is more preferable on the R10P, but the warmth and finesse of the Susvara does edge the R10P. I will say this; the R10P, being listened to, for an hour, beside the Wife while she was watching TV, and at that level of quality, was something I urge each and every one of you to get the chance to experience. Try that with a Susvara!
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Mshenay
Mshenay
Gatta be honest I'm disappointed there was no mention of the system used to demo the Dynamic... "Compressed and Boomy" but with what? I'll admit I felt the bass was a bit forward running these out of the fully balanced solid state output of my Networked Bricasti M3H streaming locally, now that amp out is quite linear and drives my Ether CX and Focal Elex beautifully, heck it does all of my planars better than most everything I've heard... but dynamics.

Dynamic headphone drivers are fussy and HE R10D opened up more on my little SET tube, the bass took a needed step back but retained good texture, kept a nice solid edge all the while also gaining detail in the mid-range, and overall dynamic contrast! Soooo to review these without discussing the system seems a bit disingenuous
Takeanidea
Takeanidea
Watch the video - you haven't watched it yet, have you?
Mshenay
Mshenay
I have not, as I am here on a web forum reading your review... not watching it...

Is it possible to maybe at least add a small paragraph simply listing the componets used? I'm not always in a position to watch a video and often times I'm listening to music thru my own cans with no desire to stop the music and watch something on Head Fi
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