HiFiMAN RE-600 - Reviews
Pros: Neutral and lively, High clarity, Good imaging, Generous accessories
Cons: Weak bass, thin timbre, dry vocal, small soundstage, worrisome construction
HIFIMAN RE-600 SONGBIRD V2 REVIEW
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SOUND: 7.5/10
CONSTRUCTION&DESIGN: 7/10
PACKAGING&ACCESSORIES: 9/10
VALUE: 8/10
HIFIMAN does not need a presentation, this company is now well known by audiophile as it makes more than 15 years they work in DAP, earphones and headphones market.
Still, they look like to concentrate more on Planar headphones as well as TWS iem these last years, because apart from RE-800 silver and RE-2000 silver, not a lot are going on in their cabled earphones. This perhaps explains why I will review the RE-600 old boy today.
Hifiman RE-400 receive wide acclaim, and priced at around 40$ today, is still excellent value in term of sound quality. The pricier RE-600 was gently falling into shadow, which is perhaps explainable by its 200$ price tag that cannot keep up with the competitive sub-300$ iem market that takes a big boost in last years, especially in hybrid and multi-balanced armature form.
But due to a BIG PRICE DROP, the RE-600 are now priced at 65$. This change the game in terms of value, and I will judge now these earphones in comparison to other single dynamic drivers in the sub-100$ price range.
Let’s see if this IEM made back in 2006 can still hold it’s ground in 2020.

You can buy the RE-600 for 65$ directly from official HIFIMAN STORE.

PACKAGING&ACCESSORIES
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This is a very particular packaging here, as their no official box and come in the shipping box. But when we open it we are overwhelmed by an extremely generous number of accessories as well as the real proper luxurious packaging which is an (overly?) fancy metal-leather box with magnetic doors…it’s sure very beautiful for the eyes, but this isn’t a case, the case is very basic and come apart from the package. As said presentation is very glorious, but the practical side isn’t there, you will struggle to take of ear tips and at the end of unpackaging, you don’t really know what to do with this fancy box. Well, it can be used for ranging your earphones collection. Accessories are nothing less than 11 pairs of different silicone ear tips, a 3.5mm balanced to 3.5mm unbalanced cable, 5 pairs of mesh filter sticker, 1 cable organizer and the round protective case.

CONSTRUCTION&DESIGN
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The RE-600 do not look like a 200$ pair of earphones, the construction is very average from housing to cable. Even for 65$, lot of better-constructed earphones is available, think BQEYZ KB100 which have a detachable cable too. We became very severe about price value nowadays, and the fact Hifiman isn’t able to offer high-quality construction for a lot of their products is problematic. The housing is basic aluminium, which is okay, but the cable is half nylon and rubber, the part that is connected to housing feels very cheap and prompt to easy damage. The whole cable came bended and keep it’s none elegant bent.
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COMFORTWISE
I have not a lot to complain about apart from high microphonic noise coming from cable movement. This can be avoided by wearing cable above the ears. The RE-600 is very small so it will fit any ears without issue. These are good IEM to sleep on too. All in all, very comfy.
DRIVEABILITY
At 16ohm of impedance and 102db of sensitivity, the RE-600 will be properly driven with whatever source. In fact, these don’t like too powerful amping which can create distortion at high volume if unstable like Xduoo XD-05Plus with Burson V5i opamp.
ISOLATION
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Due to a rather deep insertion, metal body and no venting hole in the back of the housing, the isolation is good in passive noise cancellation. For sound leakage, the venting hole under nozzle do leaks sound.

SOUND

The Hifiman RE-600 sound signature is mids and treble centric, slightly dry in timbre, neutral and punchy. Bass is flat and level of clarity is very high even if upper treble isn’t very sharp or sparkly. The RE-600 are serious and balanced, it offer an entry-level reference sound.

SOUNDSTAGE is on the intimate size, not very wide but with impressive deepness. It struggles to sound out of your head.
IMAGING is above average, with precise instrument placement that has good space between them apart from very busy tracks where it will struggle to don’t sound congested.
TONALITY is smooth and well balanced, it’s a little dry and have high level of realism.
TIMBRE is transparent, rather thin, smooth and enough natural.
BASS isn’t the highlight of HE600, though not exactly what I would call bad, it’s flat, slightly dry and extend hardly to its end. This kind of bass stay in the back and never really struggle your attention apart from the energic mid bass punch. The sub region is slightly rolled off, lack both thickness and rumble, and is shadowed by mid bass when it occurs. With the HE600, acoustic bass sound like a guitar playing in its lowest range, it does not have bass gauge, but the slap is well rendered. For synth sub, it can show weakest point and even create slight distortion. So nope, HE600 isn’t neither for bass lover or even less for basshead. It’s as flat as it can be with exception of nicely done mid bass, wich tough little tame in impact, have natural roundness and some weight to it which make it smoothly thumping when it’s asked to.
MID RANGE is clear, accurate, well-articulated and quite revealing. It has hint of dryness without sounding harsh, sibilant or shouty. Though timbre is little thin, we have a good edge to the definition that even if less sharp than treble, give a good snap to instrument notes. Male vocal sound good enough, especially in tonality and texture details, but females have more presence and body, even if the presentation isn’t super wide or airy. The separation of vocal with other instruments is excellent too, it’s precisely centered, realist and clear. Due to thin timbre, the weight of some instruments like the piano is less feel, but this isn’t a problem for violin or woodwinds instruments. In some way, we can consider the HE600 as mid centric, but it’s so well balanced and refined, that most will find them vividly neutral.
TREBLE is sharp, detailed, fast and balanced. Tonally, it’s less accurate than mid-range, but what I like about it is his control and the fact it deliver high level of microdetails without unbalancing the sound or making it overly coloured. Highs are clean, never grainy or shouty, but not very sparkly either. Percussions are thigh, agile, not very rich in timbre but very snappy in attack. Treble presentation tend to add silence between instrument instead of mixing their decay. Guitar keep it’s individuality in the mix, playing clearly, well separated from vocal and drum. Snares are slightly bright, but thin timbre make it soft to the ears. High pitch violin is very well rendered, making the HE600 very appealing for classical music. When it come to electric guitar, perhaps a little more crunch will make it more realistically abrasive, but again, this is the talent of RE600 : delivering a vivid detailed sound without being aggressive in it’s musicality.

COMPARISONS
VS MOONDROP STARFIELD (110$)
The STARFIELD SOUNDSTAGE is notably wider but not as deep, IMAGING isn’t as sharply clear too, but have better layering which permits to deal better with busy tracks. BASS extend way better, is both more natural and bodied, and even if it has more presence than RE-600 it does not feel unbalanced or particularly boosted, it’s just a realistically full-bodied bass versus a weak rolled off bass. MIDS are fuller and more natural, the vocal has a wider presence but the definition is sharper with the RE-600, still, the thin edgy sound isn’t very musical compared to smooth lush sound of STARFIELD. TREBLE is similar with both, it digs lot of info in lower and mid-treble but is smoothen on top, anyway, the RE-600 dig more micro details to the cost of sounding less balanced and sometimes offering artificial highs.
All in all, the STARFIELD sound more natural and full, both in bass and mids, and transient response is faster to avoid distortion that more vivid and detailed RE-600 encounter.

VS FINAL AUDIO E2000 (50$)
The E2000 have again a bigger soundstage with slightly less deepness, the IMAGING is as good but not as clear. BASS dig deeper, is warmer in timbre and less forward in mid-bass punch. MIDS is slightly more recessed but thicker in timbre and less intimate in presence, the definition is not as accurate and clear as the RE-600 but overall tonality is smoother. TREBLE is less thin and more natural, but it does not show as many micro details as RE-600 which have more snappy highs.
All in all, the E2000 is a fuller and more natural iem with better tonal balance and more enjoyable sound than colder more technical and neutral RE-600.

CONCLUSION
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We have come a long way since 2006 in term of price value audio performance, and while the RE-600 are competitively priced at 65$ it doesn’t mean it became a giant killer in sub-100$ iem world.
Still, this type of mature neutral sound is very rare to find in the ultra-budget price range, and for this very reason, the RE-600 is sure a good value.
If you don’t care about bass performance or construction durability and search for a neutral, clear and accurate sound with an overall smooth tonality, the Hifiman RE-600 are among the fews that can deliver that under 100$.
Pros: Tiny size, comfortable fit, great selection of tips, beautifully, detailed, smooth and balanced, neutral sound, zero fatigue factor.
Cons: Miserable, non-replaceable cable that inevitably kinks and shorts out.
I have been a home audio buff and proud audiophile snob
 for decades and have only really gotten back into portable audio gear in recent months. I was looking for a nice pair of audiophile IEM's to replace  - on a limited budget - my failing, seven year old Etymotic ER-4P's. I value tonal accuracy and sound-staging, and while I want bass to be present I am not a "bass-head." Oh, and I cannot stand upper-register sibilance and harshness masquerading as "detail." 
 
So, now you know my biases!  

 
After doing lots of research on Head-fi, I ordered a pair of RE-600's on Amazon.com.
 
Sonically, I was beyond thrilled with them! They "play it right down the middle" as one reviewer put it, with a neutral yet compelling tonal signature and a way with human voices which is positively enchanting. This is one of those "I could listen for hours" 'phones. Wonderful!
 
Beyond that, the housings are well made and feather light. They are tiny and inconspicuous and a pleasure to wear.
 
I believe that the RE-600 might have actually been my end-game IEM's, if not for the fact that the lower, cloth-covered cable is incredibly fragile and prone to shorting out. In the process of coiling and uncoiling the cable (that is, taking it out of and putting it into the lovely little zipper case) the cable will develop kinks that cannot be smoothed out. Eventually, one of these kinks will turn into a short that will get worse and worse until the phones are unusable.
 
Lest you think this is my one-off experience, go to the RE-600 Impressions thread and skip to the most recent 8 or 10 pages, and you will read the complaints of multiple, outraged owners of shorted out RE-600's. 
 
The nice lady who answers the phone at USA Hifiman customer service in New Jersey was unfailingly pleasant and sent me a warranty replacement pair in a reasonable amount of time, but as other owners in the above thread have noted, that's all the company will do. They won't acknowledge the problem and (maddeningly) continue to sell this failure prone "flagship" product at a not-inexpensive price. I ended up selling my replacement pair at a bargain price while making sure the buyer knew what tended to happen to these IEM's.
 
I'll only add that I review home audio gear on my Audio Blog and have never written a review quite this negative. I only want to spare readers of this review the kind of frustration and disappointment that I and so many others have experienced. I can only hope that Hifiman will get its act together and upgrade this wonderful sounding IEM with a decent and durable cable. I'd buy one in an instant if they did. But as things now stand, I'm avoiding their products, even their prized headphones, because I don't think their behavior vis a vis the RE-600 should be rewarded.
 
Hope this helps someone!
rebbi
rebbi
Yes, I should add that Hifiman has released a v.2 of the RE-600 with, to quote the web site, "even better sound and improved reliability." So while not publicly acknowledging the reliability issues with the original version, it seems they have addressed the cable reliability and fragility issues.
Hi-Fi'er
Hi-Fi'er
@ARTWO its out now. I don't detect a sound diference though. Sound the same.
ARTWO
ARTWO
The cables change was to give reliability to the cable and not allow for sound issues that might arise from cable breakdowb.
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Pros: Sound quality
Cons: Build quality, quality control, warranty, customer service
Sound is on par with Shure products at similar prices. (I prefer the Shure sound but their latest offerings aren't too comfortable in my ears). So that's a glowing review on the audio from me.
But the Re-600 formed a short near the headphone jack real quick, then cable started pushing itself out of the fabric jacket in another spot (I take good care & don't abuse headphones). The company was quite rude to me & did not honor the warranty due to some weird fine print. Inexcusable, I will never consider another product from this company. They brought no joy to my life.
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Hawaiibadboy
Hawaiibadboy
2. Why are rating the product half a star when it is the company you are angry with?
 
I am sorry to quote you bro. We are both iFi fans I think :)
 
If a company does not respond or take care of the customer which will only happen if there is an issue...it seems some.. like myself will turn that back on the seller. If it was real and they didn't try to take care of him (we can't know what actually happened) it would be reasonable to not expect a consumer to leave that out. Companies like iFi and others should get that extra star love if the item is good and the company stands behind it IMO so the inverse should happen too.
 
Some items seem to be lemons and this model seems to fit that profile
Sonic Defender
Sonic Defender
I hate hearing about companies dropping the customer service ball like this. Being so focused on not losing the margin on the defective product loses the far more valuable customer and has negative PR effects to make things worse. Stupid, if the product fails you replace it and make the customer happy.
glassmonkey
glassmonkey
Without transaction details we can't know if it is the seller or HifiMan that was the problem here. There are folks selling gray market goods (which never have a warranty) and convincing fakes of goods all over the internet. There is so little detail in the review that a conclusion can't be reached. 
Pros: Incredible vocal authority and surgical imaging and detail retrieval that ranks up there with any IEM
Cons: Definitely not neutral, rolled off FR on both ends - no sparkle and no slam; Build quality is horrific for an item that was previously $400 MSRP
The midrange of this IEM is truly, truly astounding. There is probably no other IEM that I've heard that presents so much microdetail of the midrange on a silver platter for the listener to eat up. Male and female vocals come through like someone is whispering in your ear. Unfortunately, the bass and treble are really rolled off and don't present music in an even-handed manner overall. It's a good example of a specialized IEM. Much in the way there are many audio products out there to provide "XXXTraBASS" and similar marketing tactics, this is a pure and supremely enjoyable IEM for vocals, piano, strings, guitar, etc. However, you will find them quite lacking for electronic, rap, pop, chiptunes, and anything where you desire a flat FR. 
 
Know what you're getting when you get them and they can be a lifelong keeper! Well... until they mechanically fail, which they're prone to do, due to them using the same build techniques found in $15 IEMs. I've had no issues with my pair personally, but there's no denying the dozens of others who have, and similarly with the nearly-identical RE400. In the end, you just have to know what you're getting!
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Pros: excellent neutral detailed sound, silver plated cables, balanced wired, a ton of eartips.
Cons: would rather take a premium headphone case over premium packaging.

Before I start my review, I would like to Thank HiFiMAN for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion.
 
Also, my assessment and rating of their value is based on the recently updated pricing, reduced down to $199.
 
Manufacturer website: http://hifiman.com/products/detail/127

 
HiFiMAN (HFM) doesn’t need any special introduction.  They are among a better known and highly regarded companies in audio industry, while their founder and CEO, Dr Fang Bian, gets an attention of a rockstar whenever he attends CanJam, Head-fi meets, or any other audio trade shows.  He pioneered and patented a lot of new technologies related to planar magnetic headphones, and also well known in a field of portable in-ear monitors and audiophile grade DAPs.
 
Usually I review new headphone releases, but decided to make an exception in this case.  When RE600 “Songbird” model was released 2 years ago, it received a lot of attention and praises, but with introduction price of $400 it was a tough pill to swallow.  Perhaps its price was reasonable at the release time, but market quickly caught up and got saturated with other quality IEMs at cheaper prices.  To stay competitive in this IEM market, HiFiMAN reduced that introductory price down to $199 which makes it a much better value considering what it has to offer.  I can only hope they will do the same with HE1000 down the road, but this is about RE600, so let me proceed with my review.
 
Appropriate for its flagship status, RE600 arrived in a very luxurious packaging.  There was no typical carton box with flashy images or a detailed spec.  Instead I found a leather box (synthetic leather) that opens up on both sides by lifting magnetic flaps to reveal RE600 and some of the included accessories.  The rest of the accessories were placed in a separate small round zippered headphone case because there were no room left in a “leather” box.  Once the cover flaps are up, you can see a jewelry box setting with RE600 on one side of a display, and a selection of eartips inside of their individual cutouts on the other side.
 
To be honest, as much as I enjoyed the look and the unboxing of this premium packaging, I found it to be a bit too impractical because most of the people are not going to store RE600 back inside and would rather prefer a premium headphone case for daily use.  The presentation was “like a box of chocolate”, but eartips were hard to remove and I was using headphone plug to dig them out.  I definitely appreciate the effort, but a quality storage case instead of included cheap generic one would have been a better option.
 
Unboxing.
 
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When it comes to accessories, you are covered with an abundance of eartips, even redundant spares.  You get 3 pairs of the same small bi-flange tips, 2 pairs of the same large bi-flange tips, 2 pairs of the same small mono-flange tips with a cross-bar across the opening, 1 pair of small mono-flange tips that look like they have a molded bi-flange, and my favorite 3 pairs of silicone custom large tips in a unique straight and angled designs.  These custom silicone tips are priceless since they have a very comfortable and secure fitment, and form a great seal to attenuate the external noise.
 
In addition to the mentioned above eartips, you also get 10 stick on replacement filters for the nozzle opening, a cable management system where you can wrap around headphone cord for a storage purpose (though, I wouldn’t recommend using it to prevent a wire memory effect), a small round zippered headphone case (basic cheap case, but does the job and great for IEM storage), and a balanced to single ended cable adapter.
 
Accessories.
 
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3.5mm balanced wired to 3.5mm single ended adapter, is required for use with DAPs and other audio sources that are not compatible with RE600 balanced wired TRRS headphone connector.  Songbirds have 2 independent wire connections from each driver going all the way down to TRRS headphone connector, keeping all the wires separate.  With an included adapter it ties up two negative connections to a common ground, keeping positive L/R signals separate for a standard TRS connection.  But if your source's headphone output supports balanced wired TRRS jack, you can drive RE600 with a benefit of improved L/R separation and a better soundstage control.
 
HFM native DAPs, such as HM700 and HM901 support this connection directly, and the latest GeekOut V2 USB DAC offer 3.5mm balanced output as well.  Also, you can get 3.5mm (HFM) to 2.5mm (AK) adapter to allow connection with 2.5mm balanced output (AK100ii/120ii/240/380, as well as other DAPs such as Cayin N5 and Lotoo PAW 5k).  But you have to keep in mind difference in wiring where HFM (from the tip) is L+, R+, L-, R-, while AK (from the tip) is R-, R+, L+, L-.  My 3.5mm to 2.5mm balanced wired adapter was made by Craig @WhiplashAudio.  Even so he used their quality TWag v3 wires, you can always request a different wiring material, or if you feel adventurous - DIY your own adapter.
 
Cable 3.5mm (HFM balanced) to 3.5mm single-ended adapter.
 
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Balanced and SE connection with HM700, AK120ii, and N5 (2.5mm adapter from Whiplash Audio).
 
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When it comes to an exterior design, RE600 looks almost the same as RE400/B.  The shape of the shells are nearly identical with the only difference of RE400 having a brushed aluminum surface while RE600 has a more premium smooth and shiny black finish.  Shells itself are super lightweight, about 13.5g, and nearly disappear in your ears, of course depending on selected eartips.   Unlike other IEMs with a mesh cover to protect a nozzle opening, HFM uses a cloth stick on filter to keep wax and dust away from the driver, and perhaps to add some acoustic filtering.  I have used these stick on filters with a few of my other IEMs in the past, and they can slightly smooth out the top end harshness if you layer a few on top of each other (they stick on really well).  Also, shells have a pinhole vent opening next to a very sturdy extended strain relief.
 
Strain relief has L/R side marking in clear white letters, and Left side has an ID bump (though very shallow) to distinguish the sides by sliding your finger without looking at the label (shells are identical otherwise).  The section of the cable coming out of the shells after y-splitter is soft and flexible, with a nice smooth rubbery shielding.  Y-splitter is compact and plasticy, no strain relief on either sides, and also there is a nice chin slider to go along with it.  Going down to a straight gold-plated connector with a rubbery housing and a nice strain relief, this portion of the wire has a fine braided cloth sheathing cable.  It was a good decision to use this shielding only prior to y-splitter where you want more durability, but not going up to the shells where you want to reduce microphonics.  I already mentioned about Balanced to SE cable adapter.  I have no issue using TRRS connector with some of my DAPs (non-balanced HO), and the adapter takes care of the rest, plus adds a benefit of an angled connector.
 
Another important info about RE600 cable is their use of a silver-plated wiring.  A lot of people buy IEMs with removable cables to have an upgrade option where silver-plated quality wiring is one of the popular choices.  Though RE600 cable is not removable, you get an instant upgrade to a higher quality wires.  All this adds up to a very attractive value considering updated pricing of $199.
 
Design details.
 
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With a fitment I'm sure many will prefer a wire down option, but if you need an extra security - wire up over the ear works too.  The size of the shell is very small, and depending on the size of eartips you most comfortable with, you can make them disappear in your ears.  In my case, I prefer large size eartips due to a size of my ear canal, so they make RE600 stick out of my ears a bit.  But with small double flange tips you can jam them deep enough where you can lie down with your ear on the pillow and won't feel a thing.
 
Fitment w/wire up and down (sorry, had a bad hair day :))
 
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Now, here is the most important part of the review, sound analysis.  After an extended listening, I found RE600 to have neutral transparent signature with a very impressive retrieval of details, excellent  separation of sounds with a nice layering effect, and a great airy soundstage which is definitely above the average.  Once you move to a balanced wired headphone connection, you can definitely hear an improvement in staging relative to width/depth - not necessary a huge step up, but enough to notice it.
 
In more details, bass is tight, punchy, very accurate, with a nice quality extension down to sub-bass, but at the same time not exaggerated or enhanced (we are talking quality, not quantity).  RE600 has fast punchy mid-bass, also without any boost.  Bass has a surgically clean separation from lower mids.
 
Lower mids are not too thin or too thick, and upper mids have micro-detailed quality without analytical harshness or offending peaks.  Typically a neutral tuning could be a bit bland, but here HFM managed to keep sound exciting and fresh.  Vocals do lack a bit of body and warmth, but it's expected since RE600 are clearly not for those who crave lush smooth sound. 
 
Treble is crisp, sparkly, with a nice extension, good sense of airiness, and zero sibilance.  Especially with silver-plated wires that typically brighten the sound, I was a bit worried about getting closer to the sibilance threshold, but can reassure you they are great for extended listening.
 
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While listening to RE600, in the back of my mind I was constantly comparing them to RE400 which is still regarded by a lot of audio enthusiast as a neutral reference.  RE600 actually refined that signature, taking it to a whole new level.
 
In a more detailed comparison, RE400B (using balanced version for a better a/b reference) is slightly warmer, has a little more sub-bass, low end is slightly less articulate, mids a slightly more recessed in comparison, and it's definitely not on the same level of detail retrieval, as well as having a little smoother treble with less airiness.  Some of the changes could possibly be due to an upgraded cable since silver-plated wires make sound brighter, but RE600 retrieval of details and transparency level is definitely superior.
 
Another comparison I found to be VERY appropriate was with SoundMagic E80 because of a very similar neutral-balanced tonality, though E80 has a slightly more mid-forward signature.  What I found is that RE600 takes the best of E80 and scales it up a bit with a tighter more articulate bass, improved retrieval of details, more sparkle/airiness in treble, and overall wider soundstage.  Improvement is noticeable upon a closer listening, but not exactly night'n'day, which actually reinforces E80 value.  I would actually position E80 above RE400 and below RE600.
 
Conclusion.
 
It's quite interesting for me that I'm looking in this review at a pair of  2 year old IEMs, but now they have a more attractive appeal due to their 1/2 price reduction.  Without a doubt, sound tuning, build quality, and ergonomics of the design play a very important role in overall value of headphones.  But in today's competitive market filled with a number of "giant killers", price plays a significant role as well.  I wouldn't call RE600 a "giant killer", but in its new price range of $199 these are among the best neutrally tuned revealing headphones I had a pleasure to test.  If you are on a budget, E80 makes a great alternative at 1/3 of RE600 price, but if you want to squeeze every ounce of the performance and striving for the best - RE600 is a strong contender.
RedJohn456
RedJohn456
@twister6  Glad to hear they changed the build quality Alex. the Re400 is always under 70 dollars on their site I think, and I have always wanted to see what the fuss was about :wink:
 
At 200 dollars RE600 has really nice packaging, reminds me of the IE800 and that of course costs close to a grand!
YamaVega
YamaVega
Love 'em, until you need to recable 'em
Larethio
Larethio
Stellar review. I own these as a warmer Dynamic Driver companion to my er4. Still holds up to this day. Especially out of a V30.
Pros: Exceptional sound quality, Incredibly versatile, Very comfortable, Large number of accessories,
Cons: Expensive, Might not be airy enough for some, The RE-400 exists
 
Thanks to the folks at HiFiMan for sending me a sample of their latest IEM to review.
 
Well, let’s get right to it. This is HiFiMan’s in ear monitor flagship, the RE-600 “Songbird”. Replacing the previous flagships, the RE-262 and RE-272, the RE-600 has some big shoes to fill, and with a $399 price tag attached, higher than either of its predecessors, it’s certainly got its work cut out for it. So, does the RE-600 live up to its lofty expectations and earn its keep? Read on to find out.
 

Packaging

I’ve been skipping this part of my reviews for a while as the packaging is rarely exceptional or interesting enough to warrant a mention but in this case, I’ll make an exception.
 
I mean, just look at it.
 
 
It’s not the most practical design but it works well and its leather design is certainly distinctive and unique against the standard array of packaging one tends to see on a store’s shelves. It’s a very classy and luxurious design that makes a lasting impression. That said, it’s not the best packaging I’ve ever seen, and that honor still belongs to the Monster Miles Davis Tributes but it’s a pretty close second.

Accessories

The RE-600 ships with an array of interesting and different tips, some of which I’ve never seen before. Of course, the new small biflanges make a return appearance and HiFiMan includes three pairs of them alongside two pairs of the filtered single flange tips, a set of large single flange clear tips, a large set of long single flange tips, similar to those included with the MEElectronics M11P+, two sets of HiFiMan large biflanges, a strange set of large single flanges that are certainly unique and interestingly enough, two sets of Comply foam tips in two sizes.
 
Also included are a set of 10 replacement filters, a white rubbery cable winder, a TRRS to TRS adapter, manuals and (finally), a clamshell carrying case.
 

Design and Build Quality

The RE-600 housings are identical in shape to those of the RE-400 with their metal build and small form factor. While the RE-400 went for a simple silver look for its housings, the RE-600 steps it up with a more luxurious piano black finish. The cable is similar to that of the RE-400, featuring plasticky but surprisingly thick cables above the y-split and a cable sheathed in nylon below, terminating in a balanced TRRS straight connector. This type of balanced connector design has been seen on older HiFiMan earphones, including the RE-ZERO, RE-262 and RE-272 and are officially supported by HiFiMan’s own digital audio players and balanced amplifiers with the appropriate adapters. For those of us without balanced amplifiers or sources, a short adapter is included to make the RE-600 compatible with standard 3.5mm jacks.

Comfort

Identical to the RE-400 in this regard.
 
Being fairly small straight barrel dynamics, isolation is about average but long term comfort was quite good. The RE-600 is annoyingly prone to microphonic cable noise but this issue can be lessened (for the most part) by wearing them over the ear.

Isolation

These isolate decently well for vented dynamic driver IEMs.
 

Sound Quality

Burn in: These were burned in for over 300 hours. No significant changes were detected.
 
Bass on the RE-600 is very impressive in that it is tactile, taut, and carries just the right amount of body and speed to sound, above all, natural. Quantity wise, it’s about in line with the RE-400, meaning neutral and far from being excessively emphasized or lacking in any way. The RE-600 has a hair more bass than the 400 but only that much but it goes without saying that the RE-600 renders bass better with its better texture and detail.
 
The midrange reminds me a bit of the RE-262, albeit not as liquid in its presentation. The RE-600 is very slightly drier and just as detailed, if not more so. It doesn’t command the listener’s attention in the same way the RE-262 does but I can’t imagine anyone will be disappointed. Detailing is exceptional and note thickness and tone are just right. The presentation is mostly centered on the midrange and because of it, creates one of the most involving IEMs I’ve heard yet.
 
The RE-600 presents what is very likely the most beautiful and realistic soundscape I’ve ever heard in an IEM, and I say that with not a hint of hyperbole or exaggeration. The RE-600 just sounds…beautiful, with everything I’ve tested it with. It works as well with Hip-Hop as it does with Jazz. As well with EDM as it does R&B. This has a sound I can’t imagine too many people disliking or finding much fault with. Like the RE-400, the RE-600 just sounds effortless. Complex passages are handled with ease and notes are presented with grace.
 
 
Its versatility is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the IEM. It works with everything. Seriously. I’ve not encountered one genre that the RE-600 can’t present in a way that stands above other IEMs I’ve heard. Its presentation is just that nuanced and impressively layered with just the right amount of treble emphasis and overall sparkle and clarity that I like in an earphone. I know this review is sounding a lot like a bunch of audiophile hyperbole but it’s all deserved hyperbole, if nothing else. The RE-600 just sounds that good.
 
Compared to its stable mate, the RE-400, the RE-600 is less bright and more mid-centric. Both of the earphones perform similarly in the low regions, with the RE-600 having just a hair more extension at the lowest end and thus, a slightly more visceral sub bass punch but we’re talking very minor differences that are really only apparent when comparing the two side by side in rapid succession.
 
The midrange sweet spot the RE-600 hits in its presentation is unmatched by the RE-400 and makes its sibling sound slightly unrefined and a touch grittier in comparison. Considering that the RE-400 is one of the more refined earphones I’ve heard, that’s saying something.
 

Conclusion

Now here’s the million dollar question, or rather, the $400 question. Are they worth HiFiMan’s $400 asking price? I think so. This is the most expensive and overall best earphone I’ve ever tested and its sound is unlike any other earphone I’ve heard. So, why aren’t I tripping over myself to recommend them? Because, like every other hobby out there, earphones also conform to the principle of diminishing returns. The RE-600 is certainly a good buy at $400 in my eyes but that doesn’t mean I think it’s four times the earphone as its sibling, the RE-400 for example. Far from it, actually. Of the two, the RE-600 is without question the superior earphone, but the improvements are more subtle than one would expect, especially given the price difference.
 
So the RE-600 finds itself in a difficult position purely because of its sibling’s pedigree. HiFiMan created an earphone in the RE-400 that’s so good at $100 that it makes more expensive earphones harder to justify, especially to an audiophile on a budget such as myself. But I digress.
 
The RE-600 is an earphone that sounds exceptional to my ears. There’s not another earphone in my collection that’s quite as detailed or as versatile with the various genres I listen to. And that’s what makes the RE-600 so special to me, its versatility. It reminds me of my Sennheiser HD 600 in a number of ways including its versatile nature and sound. So, yes, I think many discerning audiophiles will find the RE-600 to be worthy of its extravagant price but be sure to temper your expectations accordingly.
 
Re-posted from my site - Musical Musings
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proedros
proedros
since i have the RE-272 , i can throw my 2 cents

the 272 is brightier and more 'thin' in the bass region, whereas the 600 sounds more balanced across the whole spectrum and with a more refined sound

they are quite different animals , so we are comparing apples with oranges i think - technically the 600 is a better iem with a more bodied sound.

great iem , especially now that it is being sold for 200$...(black friday sale)
WhiskeyJacks
WhiskeyJacks
@proedros  Yeah I saw that black friday sale and am/was really tempted to try them out. I currently have the Fidue A83 (hybrid 3 driver iem) and the SM64(3 driver ba) and happen to really like both quite a bit, but thinking this may be my chance to get the re-600s at a more reasonable price. Have you compared them to any other IEMs in the retail price range.
proedros
proedros
i have had the RE-262/RE-272/RE-600/EQ-5 and i like the sound of the re600 , but i guess listening tot hem on my J3 don't do them justice

imho , the re600 at 199$ are too good to pass - and you will definitely be able to sell them with minimum loss if you don't like them and decide to sell them here around the 200$ mark
Pros: Flat frequency respose, not agressive, detailed and natural sounding.
Cons: Not enough deep bass and air. Fancy package not useful.
I bought the S version that has standard 3.5mm TRS unbalanced plug. I didn't want to use the balanced-to-unbalanced adaptor that comes with the non-S version because my players would not have balanced output I thought it was a problem less and avoids more connectors deteriorating the signal path.
 
First impression when receiving the box is that it is fancy looking with leather and mirror, but on second thought not very practical. Stored the box and will never look at it again, so what for? I would rather save ~$50 off the price. Comes with various tips and I used the one that came pre-installed (small bi-flange), which suits me fine. Also the tips come in the box within holes in a hard foam and is hard to take them off these holes.
 
Confort is excellent since it is so small. Isolation is also quite good. Build quality of the cable and the phones is very good, although I am a little worried with the connection of the cable to the phone since there have been complaints that it is very fragile. I am definitively going to take good care and always remove by pulling the phone out of the ear instead of pulling from the cable (the manual says that too).
 
Sound quality is very good. Initial impression of the signature is the same as long term: the tonality is even and flat, although there is not much deep bass or airy highs. I feel a slow roll-off in the sub-bass, and a fast roll-off in the treble. I am not a "bass head" or used to "V curve sound" but still. This creates a more mid-bass to mid-highs extremely flat response which is somewhat more intimate to listen to. Definitively won't play well energic pop and electronic modern music. The resolution is very high, nice textures and details. The soundstage is very well presented and wide. I found low sibilance in the highs even in recordings that I know they are a little on the hot side, which is a consequence of the somewhat rolled-off highs.
 
So overall very good and I recommend it!
 
Hifiman-RE-600S.jpg
tinyman392
tinyman392
OK, that makes more sense now.  And yes, they did update the connector.  I'm still running off of the old connector, haven't had any issues, though I'm not on the 'S' version.  My balanced TRRS to TRS adapter did go bad though (it was replaced though), but not at the angled jack, at the straight one... 
Matias
Matias
I just uploaded a picture to clarify how the RE-600S mid-2014 model looks like.
rangel28
rangel28
I purchased the RE-600 and unfortunately the headphones did not work out of the box. Either the TRRS to TRS connector was bad, or there was a break somewhere else. I returned the 600 and bought the RE-600S and have not had any problems. 
Pros: Great dynamics, punchy, very good bass, good midrange, smooth highs
Cons: too much energy in high mids !
Amp: Metric Halo ULN-8
 
compared with my Sennheiser HD800 and Ultrasone ED10 (the re600 really can be compared with some good full size headphones),
the RE-600 is not that revealing in the midrange and not that fast,
but still rich and punchy with clear midrange.
 
Stage:
HD800 has very good stage reproduction. (yes we all know that)
But when you listen to big orchestra (like Mahler, Wagner) you hear an exaggerated
instrument separation and a huge (... again exaggerated) room (not a fair comparison but : compared with my studio monitors PSI A21-m)
 
ED10 is for me the best in this department.
But RE-600 is also 3D! Stage is not big, but is there.
 
RE-600 has great Bass. I like it very much. i would say linear. not overemphasizing anything. 
Midrange : is not extremely detailed, but still there. I like it. you hear almost anything you need to hear when enjoying music.
Highs: are smooth. The smooth highs "could" be the reason that the RE-600 is a little slow.
ED10 has too much highs.
HD800 is bright, but is OKAY for me. I use it as a "tool".
 
High Mids : was annoying me. too much energy there. around 1.5-1.8khz maybe?
Pros: Sound quality, its practically perfection.
Cons: Rather flavoured and if you want this quality you have to pay for i
HiFiMAN RE-600 Quick Review
 
Thanks to Head Direct for the sample.
 
Full review at http://www.head-fi.org/t/678638/hifiman-re-600-review
 
Brief:  HiFiMAN’s finest IEM to date.
 
Price:  US$400 so about £255 or £302 if HMRC spot it
 
Specification:  3.5mm mini plug, Mini adapter for regular earphone jack, Frequency Response: 15Hz-22KHz, Impedance: 16 Ohms, Sensitivity: 102 dB/mW, Weight: 0.48Oz (13.7g)
 
Accessories:  13 pairs of tips, 10 filters, balanced to normal adapter, cable wrappy thing and a little case.
 
Build Quality:  The best so far for HiFiMAN, the cable is supposedly all Kevlar coated and what not.  Still it’s a bit stiff for my liking.  The woven outer is nice to the touch but overall this doesn’t scream awesome build quality, its very ordinary visually.
 
Isolation:  For a dynamic very good.  Rather better than its predecessors too.  Still it’s not up there with the BA stuff but this I’d be relatively happy with a short flight.  Naturally more than enough for typical usage and to get yourself run over if you aren’t used to looking where you’re going.
 
Comfort/Fit:  Excellent.  This was one area where HiFiMAN had issues previously.  The 252 in particular was a nightmare for fit but the 600 has gone back to an old fashioned straight in the ear design.  Yey!  Just stuck in ears and that was it.
 
Aesthetics:  These in comparison to the 400 look fancy but compared to other things out there these look very pedestrian.  Not unattractive by any means but these don’t make me have much of an opinion on the matter.  They are glossy black.
 
Sound:  This is the bit where HiFiMAN stuff tends to shine and here is no different.  The 600 is possibly the best IEM I’ve ever heard.  It does everything exquisitely.  Everything thing on it is tremendously good.  The bass is spacious, offers scale and power yet fabulous clarity and agility.  It rather shows up what other high enders can do as this is a dynamic and that oft make bass more vigorous low down.  The quality is so outstanding and yet it can dial up enough to really power a bass line when its called for.  Then the mids, well they are like an improved 262 and they were about the best mids in existence already.  Here they are a little warm and a little liquid over perfectly neutral but by Christ they sound good.  They are so phenomenally enjoyable, even more enjoyable than they are technically proficient.  They are masterfully brilliant.  The highs too are staggeringly good.  They don’t appear in the abundance some may like but the clarity, detail and ability to that most difficult of things, produce a natural decay, is first rate.  Again of the high enders which are normally BA, it’s just not something a BA driver does well.  I’ve never thought a BA driver can ever truly do that shimmery decay of a cymbal perfectly in the way an excellent dynamic can.  It’s amazingly good stuff.  The downs now, the bass is rather bigger than neutral so purists may not be pleased but also it’s no IE8 to please bass heads.  The mids like all the best middy IEM’s out there are a bit over beautified and not strictly neutrally accurate.  The highs which may be stunningly good but haven’t the abundance some want and they are not so in your face apparent.  The 272 sounds immediately hyper detailed because it’s so much brighter.  Treble heads will crave greater abundance.
 
Other things, its soundscape is tremendous for an IEM. Its dynamic capabilities are outstanding.  Its detail levels are such that despite being a relatively friendly sound sig to poor recordings and sources are so high that if you feed it cack it will let you know.  So no 128k mp3’s!
 
Value:  Debateable.  Is any IEM really worth US$400?  Actually its biggest obstacle is its sibling the RE-400.  Side by side the 600 may smash it but the 400 is super good and super cheap.  Still if you want one of the best sounding IEM’s money can buy then arguably “value” doesn’t really matter anyway. 
 
Pro’s:   Sound quality, its practically perfection.
 
Con’s:  Rather flavoured and if you want this quality you have to pay for it.
lsamod
lsamod
mark2410  
Hey there, It seems you were really happy with these. They are now 249 AUD (140 GBP). Are there any better iems which cost less?? I'm looking for a fairly neutral sound + easy to drive iem. Thank you!
mark2410
mark2410
hi can i just point out you may be better asking in the full review thread as its better suited to conversation.
mark2410
mark2410
the link is near the top of the quick review
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