HIFIMAN HE-R9 Closed Back Dynamic Headphones

General Information

HIFIMAN He-R9 Closed Back Dynamic Headphones​


From the official page:


Latest reviews


100+ Head-Fier
Hifiman is starting to win at everything
Pros: "Relatively" natural tone
Sound focused on music
Romantic voices
Nuanced, romantic and sweet bass, midrange and treble
Soundstage of an open - back headphone with great soundstage
It is excessively comfortable
It is possibly the best quality-price option (€140 now) to enjoy music.
Cons: Too warm sometimes
It is not the most coherent and neutral sound
Its resolution at a micro or macro level is not at the top level of products in its initial price range (€650)
Huge design
They are not very pretty (something completely subjective)
Welcome to the review of the Hifiman R9. In the previous reviews of youtube we saw the headphone tank, the Dt1990 pro. In this video we are going to look at an overlooked Hifiman model, the Hifiman R9. A closed overe ear model with a dynamic driver. Yes. You have heard well about dynamic driver and the company Hifiman... I say this because Hifiman is a brand that focuses on magnetic planar driver headphones. This Hifiman R9 joins some iconic dynamic drive models from the company. Their first dynamic headphone was the HE-300, a model launched in 2011. Although it was undoubtedly a good product, it was not destined to turn the audio world upside down, mainly because of the market it was aimed at.
So after many years Hifiman announced the R-10D and R-10P, and it was one of the most controversial announcements. Based largely on the legendary Sony MDR-R10 with its huge, asymmetrical earcups, Hifiman sure caught a lot of attention. Some time has passed, and Hifiman has released another model in this line, the HE-R9, which we are going to review today. It should be noted that it is a headset that can also be used with the bluemini R2R device to make it wireless. Obviously this analysis has been done using a cable. In fact, I don't have that accessory since my pack was so-called wired.
The Hifiman R9 has a current price of no more than €250, although it can be found on the website itself for less. I want to highlight that the launch price was about €600 and in recent months it has been progressively reduced until it is below €300. The inclusion or not of the receiving device can increase the price.

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he packaging is very simple. A subtle cardboard box where the headset comes. We have a hard foam for the headphones, which is used as padding during transportation. This is a very nice touch, as it can be used as a stand for headphones.
On the other hand, and almost to finish we have a rubbery cable that complies along with the classic 6.3mm adapter. The cable is not bad but I don't think it is anything out of this world either. Don't expect a case or carrying bag for the headset.
In short, we have a very similar package in terms of accessories compared to the Edition xs, for example.

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The design of the headset is certainly peculiar. As mentioned at the beginning of this review, the headphones are heavily influenced by the legendary Sony MDR-R10, widely considered to be one of the best headphones ever made. I do not recommend the headset for use outdoors as they are too conspicuous and large. However, they are very light at 328 grams…or rather; They feel very light. The slightly padded headband is not too tight and distributes the weight better than the Edition xs, a headset that used the same headband and the pads, being so large, fit very well. In general, I classify them on par with the Dt1990 pro or the Sivga Sv021/Sv023 in terms of comfort since I don't notice any fatigue with them on and I could go two hours straight without noticing any discomfort.
The construction seems quite solid to me. It is true that they are not all metal, in fact the cups feel somewhat plastic but the whole thing feels more than solid and well built. The mix of materials such as the hybrid synthetic leather and nylon pads, CNC aluminum for the gimbals and plastic pivot blocks together with those pronounced red cups give a feeling, quite subjective, of better construction for example than planar models like the Edition Xs or original Ananda which feel somewhat more delicate.

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The Hifiman R9 is classified as an innovation using some of the technology that was already innovative.
We have what Hifiman calls Topology Diaphragm." A diaphragm that was used in the R10-D. It's basically a special diaphragm with a nanoparticle coating applied to its surface. The result is a more natural and detailed sound.
The depth of the cups is to ensure that the sound waves from the transducer do not collide as much with the typical space problems that flatter closed headphones suffer from. Smaller closed cups tend to create unnatural echoes.
All this must be added to the Bluemini R2R module. It's built around an R2R DAC, which for the size and price of this little accessory is simply mind-blowing. Hifiman is releasing more and more headphones that can be used with the Bluemini R2R, and it's a fantastic way to increase the functionality and value of their products...but how does it sound?
The R9 is a big, bold, warm-sounding headphone that deviates greatly from what Hifiman usually offers. But before talking about the sound, clarify that...
We have pretty standard passive isolation inside closed-back type headphones. In fact, despite being closed, we did not notice that it insulated much, possibly due to the strength of the headband, which is not very high. The leakage or sound that leaks is not very loud and it behaves like a closed headphone. It will barely be heard outside unless you have a very loud volume...I do not recommend listening to music at high volume.
The signature
Will a powerful amplifier be needed?
There is nothing dramatic about amplification. The drivers are 32Ω and 100dB, so the R9 is easy to drive. Just grab whatever DAC and amp you have and use the R9s. With the Ifi hip dac through the normal 3.5mm output, which gives more than 250mw at those 32 ohms, 100% of the headphone is used.

In the sound scene we have one of its key points. I will be brief, it is perceived as an open earphone. We have a wide…very wide soundstage. Above all, I highlight it on the Y axis, that is, in height. On the kind of sounds like classical.
The instrumental separation is not far behind... it is another of its strong points, as is the soundstage. It has a large separation between the instruments, resulting in a very precise image and a very convincing 3D effect.
Definitely; Most of the open-back headphones I've reviewed in recent years reached good soundstage levels, but seeing a closed-back do things like this is impressive. If you are looking for closed headphones with a wider range than an open one, look no further.

Let's start with the bass. The R9 has a closed back and uses a dynamic controller, so you should expect a fun and enjoyable type of experience…and it is. The HE-R9 is a king of fun when it comes to low frequencies, resulting in a very different sound signature than what I'm used to with the rest of their line.
The R9 shines the most with electronic, metal, rock and hip-hop music. The R9's bass feels big and makes the headphones vibrate when listening to some bass-heavy tracks at a moderately high volume. However, do not think that it is exaggerated or that it lacks control, as that would have been far from the truth. The R9 has a great understanding of low frequencies, delivering an exceptional amount of dynamics and texture. It doesn't extend as low as the best planars, mainly due to the limitations of the driver technology...

The midrange is quite warm, especially considering that we are talking about Hifiman headphones. The entire midrange is smooth and very pleasant to listen to, so it continues that fantastic fun factor that the bass offers, giving you great mids when it comes to long listening sessions.
Vocals on the R9 end up sounding melodic, rich and yet natural, with added body. Everything sounds big and bold on the R9. It has the ability to put you directly into the music and make you dance, offering a very rich, smooth and colorful presentation.

While it will never sound harsh or unpleasant, you can get quite different results depending on the system you are going to use the R9 with.
The overall treble presentation is again smooth and romantic, with good detail. It has enough power to make your electronic or metal tracks sound prominent and very dynamic, but at the same time, it won't bother you with peaks or unnecessary false sharpness.
All in all, the treble doesn't sound too forward, so you'll have fun even while listening to poorly mastered albums. It's just a different flavor, a more "classic" approach to the treble, that has that sweet timbre and great body to the sound. What's also worth noting is that the treble extends quite high.

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Before recommending or not recommending this headset, I would tell you to try it first. It's something I recommend doing with all headphones, but with this one more so. I find many opposing opinions which make me think of some batch in poor condition, defective unit, bad amplification... My opinion about this R9 is that it is simply the most complete closed headphone that I have tried ahead of the Sivga sv021 or the Focal Elegia itself.
A fun headphone to listen to, with a very large stage, excellent instrumental separation, natural timbre and on top of that, comfortable. For me, his discovery was more than positive.
Yes, the bass has a tendency to bleed the lower midrange slightly, but I think that's a good thing in this case, providing vocals that add richness and natural warmth.
I would call the R9 a rich sounding headphone that is fun, yet relaxed overall. It's also not intense in any specific area, which may sound ironic, but I don't know how else to explain it. This model is aimed at people who simply like to have fun and enjoy their music, especially the more dynamic genres. Hifiman already has many headphones that are perfect for everything, very universal and with an excellently technical sound, the R9 is something different...yes, I recommend it.
¡See you in next videos & reviews!
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New Head-Fier
Hifiman HE-R9 - your Flashy Flamboyant Friend
Pros: Deep Bass
Unique sound signature great for live music and classic rock
Very Comfortable
Worth adding to your headphone collection especially at current price
Cons: Bass will be too much for some tracks
Specialist sound signature won't suit all music

Hifiman HE-R9 - your Flashy Flamboyant Friend​

Lets get one thing out of the way immediately, HE-R9 is a flamboyant and quirky headphone both in its looks and its sound profile but one that you might also learn to love and one that at its current price of $109 deserves to be considered for your headphone collection.


I would like to thank Mark from Hifiman for providing the HE-R9 for the purposes of review


I imagine we all have some loud flamboyant friends, the friends who always wear bright loud clothes, are a bit of a showoff but are great fun at parties and put a smile on our faces and especially because of their carefree attitude can make you good great.

So the HE-R9 is the headphone that personification of one those friends. It is both flamboyant to look at, with its vibrant colourful and large ear cups that scream ’look at me’, but also with its quirky sound signature with its loud deep bass and treble that dances on the edge of whimsy and precision. But just like those flamboyant friends sometimes spending time with a flamboyant ‘friend’ is exactly what you need to make you feel good.

But is it the right headphone to add to your collection? Or maybe it is the right one to give as a present for one your quirky friends. Read on to find out what you can expect for the HE-R9.

What in the box​

The HE-R9 comes in the standard Hifiman box:


Once opened you get a nice presentation of the headphones themselves and a box for the cable:

The cable is the usual hifiman cable and relatively good quality dual 3.5mm cable:
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Once you get them out of the box the first thing that strikes you is the bright ’lipstick’ colour of each ear:

and then how large and angled the shape looks like from behind is where it really defies convention:

I believe the HE-R9 and the Hifiman HE-R10D are both partially a homage to a famous Sony MDR R10 from the late 1980’s:

Sony MDR R10-1.jpg

When I spotted the HE-R9 design originally, I thought the dynamic drivers might be angled within the protruding ear-cups to give a sense of the music coming from the front but the way its actually designed there is a hollow space behind the drivers within each ear cup. As you will see in the sound impressions section, I believe this design has both pros and cons to the ultimate sound signature you get from the HE-R9, but it definitely helps make the HE-R9 be a distinctive headphone.

Build Quality​

The construction is solid, featuring a combination of premium plastics, metal, and one of the typical hifiman headbands similar to the HE400SE or the Edition XS.

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While they look great I did feel that ear cups feel a bit too ‘plasticky’ for a premium headphone so at their original retail price of $600 there was a reasonable amount of valid criticism, but at the current price I have no complaints.

There are subtle elements of the design which are nicely thought out, for example the left hand ear cup can take a TRRS cable, so you can run a balanced cable into that side on its own:
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The following diagram from Hifiman’s website explains this feature in detail:
HE-r9-diagram Medium.jpeg

Comfort and Fit The ‘Tranquility’ ear-pads are padded with a plush material that ensures comfort, even during extended listening sessions, I found these to be incredible comfortable and lightweight. The cushions provide both comfort and a seal for improved sound isolation and bass response.
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Adjustability The headband offers ample adjustability, accommodating a wide range of head sizes with ease, all while maintaining its distinctive appearance. It is a very similar design to the headband on HE400SE and other hifiman headphones like the Edition XS. I do slightly prefer the Sundara style headband for ultimate adjustability but given this is similar to the Edition XS, I was very happy with the comfort once I adjusted the headband:
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Weight Distribution Carefully designed to balance weight, the HE-R9 feels lighter than it looks, minimizing fatigue and enhancing the overall listening experience.

Clamping Force The clamping force is good, ensuring a secure fit without exerting undue pressure but providing a good seal:

Ear-cups Size Large enough to encase the ears comfortably, the ear-cups contribute to the HE-R9’s standout appearance and its immersive sound.


Despite their closed-back design, the ear-cups manage to remain relatively breathable, thanks to the materials chosen, reducing heat build-up.

Sound Isolation​

The HE-R9 offers good sound isolation, effectively minimizing ambient noise, I used these in a noisy shared office space for a few days, and they gave me good isolation from the noise and also provided enough isolation that I did not disturb anyone nearby.

Sound Quality​

As I do with all my headphones I listened to the HE-R9 for a few days with my very long audiophile evaluation playlist. This is to get a good feel for whether a headphone is a general purpose (good for most music) or a “specialist” headphone ( amazing for specific types or genres of music ). I also play around with a bit EQ before delving deeper into the sound profile.

So with the HE-R9, the most obvious thing is the quality and richness of the bass, but as I hinted earlier, the hollow cavity in the ear-cups behind the drivers add a unique resonance quality to the headphone. These mixed with Hifiman typical excellent extended treble means this is a specialist headphone and that added resonance means there is mostly no point in using EQ ( as that won’t change that attribute of the sound signature ), but this is not necessarily a bad thing for a specialist headphone.

What this combination does is make this an amazing headphone for simulating the feel you get in a live ‘gig’, I found genres live classic blues and especially classic rock where outstanding. This is the type of music where you want to believe the band are in the room with you. Most live albums for any genres also sounded incredible, so with classic live Jazz like Keith Jarrett’s ‘Koln Concert’ you could feel the concert hall almost as he pounds the keyboard trying to get the most out that famously badly tuned piano.

But let’s get into the detail of what you should expect:


As I mentioned, the most striking aspect of the HE-r9 is it rich bass. With each beat, the HE-r9 delivers a pulsating bass response that adds depth and richness to the listening experience, inviting you to immerse yourself fully in the music but with the added ’live’ resonance.

So for example, I have never heard ‘Muddy Waters’ ‘You can’t lose what you ain’t never had’ sound so alive, with a wide soundstage and rich detailed deep bass. While it was easy to get lost in ‘Depeche mode’s ‘Enjoy the silence’ it sounded like I was just standing in front of the stage at one of their gigs.

I found the bass was over the top in lots of tracks - but once I focused my listening on specific genres - especially classic rock - Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Credence Clearwater Revival I could really appreciate this ‘specialist’ sound signature. I did find the bass was too in some already bass heavy tracks, so with ‘Portisheads’ ‘Dummy’ album the bass was a bit too much is a few of the tracks like ‘Roads’.


The bass had the tendency to overlap a little on the details you should normally expect in the midrange, this is one of the reasons I felt this headphone is not for ‘serious’ listening or mastering music. So for example with the Cranberries classic ‘Linger’ the bass guitar covered up a little of beauty of that song. But in other tracks like the Sundays “Here’s where the Story ends” the added bass weight enhanced the vocals and jangly guitar sounded great, so it will be a little dependent on the way the specific tracks were recorded.


The treble has always been a strength of Hifiman open back Planar, and they brought that knowledge to the tuning of this dynamic driver. I believe the ‘Topology Diaphragm’ greatly enhances the treble detail while it never sounded sibilant. The treble provides a nice balance to the rich bass response. Tracks like ‘Fine Time’ by ‘New Order’ had lots of electronic high hats balanced with rich bass, and it sounded great on the HE-R9.

Soundstage and Imaging​

The soundstage especially on binaural tracks recorded with good bass, were exceptional wide for a closed back on this headphone, for example, I loved “Nothing as it Seems” from “Pearl Jam’s Binaural album. While it has an excellent sound stage, but it’s not quiet at the level of some of the Hifiman open back’s like the Edition XS, where you really get that super wide soundstage. Imaging was ok but not great, I think due to the bass weight covering some of the midrange detail.

Audio Quality Conclusion​

The Hifiman HE-R9’s sound quality is as distinctive as its appearance, offering an engaging audio experience that’s both fun and high-fidelity. On certain genres of music it really transports you into sound of a concert, which I do appreciate and is an added dimension to have in your headphone collection.

Specifications and Measurements:​

The key specification is the Sensitivity of 100Db @ 32Ω these make the HE-R9 really easy to drive, while I wouldn’t recommend it - they can even work well with the basic Apple USB-c dongle. I mainly used them with my Macbook Pro (while working) and a FiiO KA11 usb-c dongle with my smartphone.

Frequency response range15-35KHz
3.5mm TRRS (left only)

Frequency Response​

graph Medium.jpeg

These measurements are available on my headphone graph database (here)[https://www.pragmaticaudio.com/headphones/?share=Harman_OE_2018_Target,Hifiman_HE-R9]


The distortion is well handled which is great, so EQ could be used to adjust the tonality:
HE-R9-FR-Distortion Medium.jpeg


I would not recommend EQ for the HE-R9, while it could / would change the sound signature you would lose the ‘unique’ sound characteristics of the R9, that rich resonant bass and added detail of the Hifiman treble. Enjoy it for what it is, and it is a very enjoyable headphone with the right music.


At the current price of $109 the Hifiman HE-R9 has earned a much higher pragmatic rating than it would have with its initial price. I gave it a pragmatic rating of 3, while it should not be your ‘only’ headphone it definitely has a distinctive bass rich sound signature that it deserves a place in most peoples collections. This is the headphone you reach too when you want to are stuck at home but want that feel of a going to a legendary ‘gig’.


It represents an adventurous departure from conventional designs, offering a fresh and quirky take on high-fidelity audio.

The Hifiman HE-R9 is a celebration of individuality in the headphone world, combining a quirky design with a sound signature that’s equally distinctive. It’s a headphone for those who not only seek high-fidelity audio but also wish to make a bold statement in both style and sonic preference.
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I would have to disagree with your conclusion. The HE-R9 is probably the worst mis-step that Hifiman has made in recent memory. The bloated, boomy bass that overwhelms everything else cannot be shrugged off. It colors everything and ruins any song that has prominent bass to begin with. Also, the build is mediocre and laughable if you consider the original retail price, but it is at least serviceable.

What the HE-R9 does have is potential. There's nothing wrong with the drivers. These can be used as a good starting point for anyone willing to spend the time to modify them. It took JM Audio eight tries to get something they think is worthwhile, so if you are going to keep the original cups, you've got your work cut out for you in modding, but that is part of the fun. I'd suggest going the route I took, which was removing those ridiculous, cavernous, echoey plastic cups and replacing them with wooden cups. Turning them into semi-open headphones lets the drivers have the air they need.
You are right, that the bass is too much and I also usually add a section to my reviews discussing simple 'Modifications' e.g. with the HE400SE I added a section with reference to some of the simple mod to tweak the treble region on that Hifiman.
But with this one, I did look at JM Audio and CustomCans but any modification looked difficult, time consuming and expensive. I think what those guys do is amazing but in this case, in my opinion, it would be better to just buy a different headphone. What I did find was very specific recordings (mainly live) worked well even with the boomy bass (or at least a simple bass reduction). So, it might be my nostalgia for a live gigs, maybe I used to stand too close to the speakers at gigs :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: but for that particular 'fun' experience I thought it worked well. I do have friends who actually like 'boomy bass' and they also like quirky looking stuff hence why I thought I would mention it in the review.


100+ Head-Fier
Hifiman HE-R9's Review - Smooth Criminal
Pros: Smooth and Fun sounding
Scales with source and amp
Premium finishing on earcups
Cons: Earcups can be a little too big
Lack of clamping force
Technicalities leaves a lot to be desired (nitpicking as this is more on personal preferences)

Hifiman is well known for doing headphones and some of their sources (DAC/AMP). I have tested their entry offering, namely the HE400SE, and even though it is a budget offering, i have to say, i’m really impressed by the performance, considering the price, and for those who are seeking to enter the planar headphone’s realm without breaking their bank, that is the one to look out for. Anyway, HE400SE is not that topic that we’re going to talk about today. I have the HE-R9 closed back dynamic headphone with me today. There really isn’t much to talk about with regards to the packaging, they share the same packaging style across the models and also similar cable, identical to the one found in HE400SE, and the inclusion of a headphone stand made out of foam, which in my opinion is very nice and i don’t have to spend extra for a headphone stand.
Build quality is quite similar to HE400SE, with the exception of, the earcups are not open backed as this is a closed back headphone, headband’s cushion is more or less similar as well. It is also very comfortable to listen to for a long period of time. I do hope that the earcup can be swivel though. The earcups finishing made the headphone looks very elegant, but at the same time, it is also prone to being a fingerprint magnet.

Gears used for this review
  • Earmen Angel Dac/Amp
  • Earmen ST-Amp
  • Earmen CH-Amp
  • Earmen Colibri
  • Hifiman HE-R9 stock cable and earpads
My review is solely based on what I hear via my equipment and I never consider my reviews to be objective in any way rather a subjective approach. Do take into consideration that everyone’s ear anatomy is not the same, so the psychoacoustics perception might be different as well, but i believe it will not stray too far

Sound Impression
HE-R9 tonality is tilting towards the warmer end of the spectrum. Personally, I find it to pair very well with an amp that’s neutral and cool sounding for a more dynamic listening experience if you prefer. Timbre sounds very natural as with most dynamic drivers.

  • The mid bass is punchy and tight, quality kind of bass i would say
  • Sub bass however, does sounds a little bit rolled off to my ears, but it is still sufficient to enjoy EDM tracks
  • Mid bass doesn’t bleed into the mids
  • Bass has good texture overall and doesn’t sound thin
  • The speed is good enough to handle tracks like Metallica’s Lux Aeterna, and Slipknot’s People = crap!, the speed drum doesn’t sound bloated/muddy and every hit can be heard clearly
  • The mids are not overly forward nor recessed,
  • Vocal for both male and females has good enough textures to them
  • Female vocal has a bit more energy compared to male
  • Upper mids are generally safe to my ears and not shouty
  • The treble here is very smooth and nowhere near energetic to my ears, perhaps a little too safe to my taste
  • Detail retrieval is alright but not the best in class
  • Not sibilant at all and never will be
  • Soundstage is slightly out of your head, not exceptionally wide
  • Good height and width perception for the soundstage
  • Instruments can be picked up easily where it is coming from, but when the track gets a little busy, it does suffers a little
  • Good layering and separation for the asking price
  • HE-R9 is not that hard to drive, but when fed with more power, it does perform at its best, in terms of slightly better dynamics, better bass in terms of control, a little bit more energy on the treble (depending on the amp that you are pairing it with)
  • A mid range/budget amp will do just fine
  • I have tested the R2R Module from Deva Pro (Bluemini), they sounded quite energetic and a little bit more air on the top end, a very good synergy i would say

Final Thoughts
The Hifiman HE-R9 is an interesting pair of closed back headphones from Hifiman. It scales with source as well as amp, I find it to be quite versatile overall and works well with my library. Of course it is not all rainbows and butterflies, the earcups are a little big and the clamping force is not as strong, hence it does move around quite a bit when I move my head. Other than that, The R9 is quite a good headphone to chill with, at the current asking price, i have no issues recommending it.

*The Hifiman HE-R9 was sent over by Hifiman for the purpose of this review, I received no monetary compensation nor was I influenced in any way to produce this review.

If you are interested in getting a pair, head over to their official store to grab one now! It is currently available for 199$ instead of the usual 369$, which is a steal in my opinion, the one with the wireless module will set you back at 439$

Hifiman HE-R9- Non affiliated




New Head-Fier
I picked these up at $250. No brainer, right? Love them, they're a great addition to the family. The only problem I'm running into is that I can't find a case big enough to allow me to travel with them.

Has anyone here found something suitable for these extra-wide boys?


500+ Head-Fier
Inconsistent results with these, with most songs overpowered by boomy, diffuse bass. Even at the heavily discounted price of $109, they aren't worth buying unless you just want to use them as a starting point for mods, which is what I did. Those original, cavernous cups are the issue, and the distortion they create isn't something I could put up with. The drivers themselves aren't bad, and worked well with some wooden cups I made.