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HIFIMAN RE800

Rating:
3.92308/5,
  1. NymPHONOmaniac
    Overated, Overpriced & Underwhelming Gold IEM.
    Written by NymPHONOmaniac
    Published Mar 6, 2018
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Highly detailed sound, comfortable.
    Cons - Small soundstage, lifeless bass and mids, not so musical sound, too fowards sounding, average construction, non detachable cable, very expensive, poor sound value, cable microphonic.
    HIFIMAN RE-800 REVIEW:

    P3060663.JPG

    SOUND: 7/10
    CONSTRUCTION: 6.5/10
    VALUE: 5/10


    Hifiman got good reception among audio community for there RE-400 and RE-600 IEM models, both using great dynamic drivers. With the RE-800, its the first model using the Topology driver technology that we can find as well in the TOTL RE-2000. This do not mean this 700$ IEM sound the same than 2000$ RE-2000, but there some similarities in how sound feel detailed and balanced without feeling too forced or trebly, even if they are more sharp in vocal region than the RE-2000. Still, this 500-800$ price bracket have alot of competition, can the RE-800 be a valuable option in term of price value? I will share my toughs about this in this little review. Must be noted that there a new RE-800S model with a much needed detachable cable, the one I have is old version.

    (Little info about your humble reviewer: NymPhono is a 34 year old french dude from Quebec (Canada), since about 6 years he became obsess by ''chifi audio market'' for mostly the better, and sometime the worst, now he have collected lot of chinese IEM and DAP ranging from 5$ to 500$ and still find mindblowing how asian audio market can be competitive in term of sound value. His obsession about sound rendering quest is more dangerous than ever, as he climb different price range to compare audio quality benifit and still search for the absolute IEM & Headphones & DAP at a bargain and accessible price, whatever the brand is. When he review IEM or Headphones, he tend to use different DAP, sometime amped, but never he will just use an external DAC or even worst, a smarthphone. As well, he listen a long time with lot of different music style to the audio gear he review.)

    SPECS:
    Frequency Response : 5Hz-20kHz

    Impedance : 60Ω

    Sensitivity : 105dB

    Weight : 0.95oz (27g)

    9.2mm Dynamic Driver with Topology Diaphragm

    24K Gold Plated

    Silver Coated, Crystaline Copper wire


    CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN :
    P3060669.JPG

    Let’s be clear here : i’m not impress at all by this 700$ IEM construction and I think it’s a issue with near all Hifiman product including there DAP, they just don’t give lot of effort for durability and use of great sturdy material. I remember how I feel insecure with my Hifiman HM601 at the time, built was really cheap, especially the type of plastic used. Having read lot of complaint about QC issue with there IEM and headphones, I don’t unserstand why they don’t give more effort in construction aspect. This IEM, for near 1000$, is just an insult in term of construction as we can find better one constructed at about 50$ these days in china.
    P3060672.JPG P3060679.JPG

    The cable is so so and create lot of microphonic, the housing is gold plated but that’s all about his fancyness as it can be scratch quite easily. The L plug is the same used in lot of cheap chinese detachable cable, and I find it too big as well.
    P3060667.JPG

    Housing is very small, wich is nice, but as the cable create microphonic it make it less interesting.

    All in all, I would not have been impress by this type of construction even if I pay 100$ for the RE-800.


    SOUND :
    P3060675.JPG


    Even if very small in size, sound do not feel too small and have an average soundstage, it offer a slightly bright soundsignature with good extension in both end. Vocal are fowards, but a little too sharp for me, it sound grainy and tend to be harsh or nasal sounding sometime, and lack expansion. This is really where the RE-800 feel imperfect, perhaps some people will like this type of presentation but it isn’t my case. RE-800 offer an overall foward and bright presentation with good treble extension but a lack of air and an average imaging.

    Bass is tigh and punchy, not very thick or round, but it have good texture and great speed. RE-800 aren’t bass light, neither are they V shaped, more W where its the mid bass that have the more impact, so it do not feel loose or too rumbly and give great energy to rock and jazz, even if it lack weight for electro or beat heavy music. As well, it can creat sometime distortion with music that have too much sub, wich confirm the low ends have an issue in 20-500hz region. Cello lack body and sound quite thin because of this, wich is a big drawback for such pricey earphones.

    Mids are treble fowards and very textured, it isn’t particularly sibilant but can feel too bright and peaky for some, especially in upper mids region. Vocal are well separated from rest of instrumental and have an inviting presence wich you have no choice to listen to, so invitation is forced and colored alot, and its a hit or miss game depending of signer, if signer have a grainy voice it will sound dry, its subtle, but lot of time it happen that I just say to myself:man, I don’t like listening to this type of vocal presentation. I prefer clear and warm and organic vocal, here we have an agressive vocal presentation that will not suit all music genre and feel shouty with smooth signers. It have some hissing as well, another time depending of the signer. For instrument, this fast and agressive treble presentation can be good, like for classical, where violin will sound agile. I don’t think mids are exactly recessed, they are push fowards with treble in a non natural way.

    HIGHS are were the RE-800 shine, it have a very revealing treble that give extra resolution and texture to instrumental. The sparkling highs help to give a sens of clarity and dynamic that it lack naturally, it show microdetails easily but isn’t particularly harsh. What it lack is decay and air to extend beautifully, because of this the RE-800 sound sometime dark even if detailed, as if it lack PRaT bravado. I hear details but they do not have a special impact and dynamic to them, and feel underline by a magnifiing treble.

    SOUNDSTAGE as said is average, nothing impressive here, it lack deepness and especially air and even if imaging is good overall sound isn’t very immersive.


    COMPARAISON :

    P3060657.JPG



    VS HIFIMAN RE-2000 (2000$):


    Now between those 2 we don’t talk about small diminushing return in term of sound upgrade for the price, the RE2000 is just way above the RE800 in every aspect. It’s quite simple the RE2000 is like a perfect version of RE800, it have more bass, more body in mid, more soundstage, more everything even details with a smoother presentation. The RE800 just have more treble and it isn’t a plus even if it can make the sound feel a little airier (in a smaller soundstage). Don’t take me wrong, the RE800 do sound very good and very musical and even perhaps more linear and balanced than RE2000, but it have a fowards soundsignature that lack RE2000 magic refinement and feel less like a IEM you can cherrish forever where the RE800 sharpness in highs will create ear fatigue to treble sensitive people. Bass is way thinner with RE800 and lack body and texture, it feel kind of boring and even if it go deep, it do not feel like it, the RE2000 is more muscular and accurate and feel tigher too, from another level. The vocal is less lush with RE800 and feel restraint a little. Where the RE800 show his talent it’s in the highs wich crave lot of details, and lend towards analytical soundsignature for a very revealing presentation but the RE2000 do not lack in this region and I prefer the smoother peaks it have that give plenty of microdetails and excitment without feeling agressive like the RE800. All in all, if your about to buy the RE800 at full price, try to find a deal for the RE2000 instead, sound upgrade is just IMMENSE!

    P3060662.JPG


    VS CAMPFIRE AUDIO POLARIS (600$):


    The Polaris are from another league in every aspects, the soundstage is like 4 times wider, taller and deeper and instruments separation is way clearer and have more air. Bass is rounder and more impactfull and never distort and go deeper. Mids are more fowards and airy and realist and musical. Highs are more detailed and perhaps a little sharper in upper highs but it isn’t an issue. RE-800 feel absurdly congested compared to these incredible performer and even if they were sell 500$ you will feel cheated by such an underwhelming sound presentation.

    P3060659.JPG

    VS TIN AUDIO T2 (50$):

    Soundstage of T2 is wider deeper and more airier and instrument separation is better as well. Vocal of T2 have more body but less texture, they feel less hissy as well. Both have about same level of details but the T2 feel more realist because of way wider soundstage and a little more impact in bass and mids, where the RE-800 have more highs treble emphasis. RE-800 feel faster and tigher because sound have less natural decay. As well, T2 have a detachable cable and an overall better construction if we take the price in account. All in all, I feel the T2 is a better performer and have more musicality, and all that at a 14 times les expensive price.

    CONCLUSION:

    I really don’t understand why this very mediocre earphone have such great reviews here on headfi and I suspect that it’s due to selled ass semi-biased reviewers that became a plague these day as they are promoting agent for hifi brands and they want to seduce there furnisher brand to please them and receive more freebies. I’m against this practice and became very sceptical about some reviewers here (I will not tell there name but they can be find in this very reviews page). It’s simple, if a reviewer is near always hysterical about how good IEM sound its suspect, even more if they don’t take the price as a big factor. At 700$ we can’t be as permissive as with sub 100$ IEM and the RE-800 just do not deliver a precious high end sound and have very amateurish flaws that will even make me mad with a 50$ iem, like overall thin and near congested sound, small soundstage, peaky treble and non musical vocal. If your about to spend 700$ on these, wait a minute and try to find a store to listen to them as well as other 200-800$ iem, i’m pretty certain you will prefer the Sennheiser IE800 or Campfire Audio Polaris over this way overated and utterly overpriced IEM. As a chinese brand, Hifiman should check out what can be find these day in IEM chinese market, because I honnestly find this IEM ridiculously so-so sounding for the price and will suggest any TFZ, Senfer, Ibasso, Brainwavz, Zhiyin, Tinaudio, Macaw, Magaosi or PMV chifi iem over them.
      B9Scrambler likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. B9Scrambler
      Not to mention the embarrassing build quality. KZs feel like a luxury item in comparison.
      B9Scrambler, Mar 6, 2018
      Nymphonomaniac likes this.
    3. NymPHONOmaniac
      Price aspect is very important in my reviews as you know...and the RE-800 is an insult to this price range IMO Somebody must tell it as it is. Cable is sticky and make lot of microphonic...so the 800S is surely a more mature product....feel RE-800 was lauch too fast, like lot of Hifiman products...I read an interview of the Hifiman founder and wasn't impress by his over the top confidence.
      NymPHONOmaniac, Mar 6, 2018
      B9Scrambler likes this.
    4. NymPHONOmaniac
      well, okay then, will not try them even at 25$:wink: Reading right now another interview of Fang Bian and was confuse to read how much care he supposedly give for high quality cable choice. As well as this strange but revealing sentence: "High quality sound is becoming more expensive today.''
      NymPHONOmaniac, Mar 6, 2018
  2. HiFiChris
    HiFIMan RE800: Mr Brightside
    Written by HiFiChris
    Published Jul 31, 2017
    3.0/5,
    Pros - pretty neutral bass response (if the vents aren't blocked by one's ears), good coherency, good resolution, small size
    Cons - treble prone to sibilance and sharpness, highs could be a bit more even, poor tip selection for the price (only one or two sizes per tip style)
    Preamble:

    Originally posted on my German audio review site, the "Kopfhörer-Lounge", here comes my review the HiFiMan RE800 single DD in-ear that features HiFiMan's new topology driver design that will be briefly introduced in this review as well.


    Introduction:

    Along with introducing the $2000 dynamic driver RE2000 in-ear as well the $6000 SUSVARA planar magnetic headphone, HiFiMan also introduced the (in comparison) more affordable RE800 that retails for $699 and uses one dynamic driver per side, too.

    [​IMG]

    Just like the RE2000, the driver diaphragm features a new design that HiFiMan calls “Topology Diaphragm”. What this means is that it has got a layer of nano-coating in a specific pattern, which can be used to fine-tune the sound waves and to also increase the membrane stiffness according to HiFiMan. Whether this is a revolutionary invention or offers just a small real-world advantage is up to you to decide.


    While dynamic driver in-ears that cost more than the RE800 do exist nowadays, making it fall into the upper medium price bracket in comparison, it is ultimately one of the more expensive dynamic driver in-ears, and, besides the price, shares other features with the Sennheiser IE 800, such as a proprietary as well as newly designed and developed dynamic driver, comparatively small housings as well as non-detachable cables [this was changed after the review was finished - now the RE800 does indeed come with replaceable cables], wherefore the IE 800 will also be one of its main antagonists in this review.


    What tonal direction does the RE800 head into and how does it perform? This and other questions will be answered in the course of this review.


    Full disclosure: I was approached by HiFiMan who wanted me to review the RE800 that was sent to me at no additional cost as a sample. As with all of my reviews, I am not affiliated with the company in any way, am receiving no monetary compensation and was not given any directions or restrictions for my text.


    Technical Specifications:

    Price: US$699
    Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
    Impedance: 60 Ohms
    Sensitivity: 105 dB
    Driver: 9.2 mm dynamic “Topology Diaphragm” driver
    Cable: silver-coated crystalline copper wire
    Weight: 27 g


    Delivery Content:

    The RE800 arrives in a quite luxurious package that is a fairly big, hinged box/chest that somewhat reminds me of the one my Sennheiser HD 800 came with.

    Inside, one can find the in-ear, along with a standard, unbranded carrying case (really?! They could have at least put a HiFiMan logo on it) that includes a bag of different ear tips and silicone ear guides.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Although the ear tips consist of a variety of different tips (Comply Foam, single-flange silicone, bi-flange silicone, triple-flange silicone), the selection is rather poor, especially at this price point, since not more than one or maximally two sizes of each tip type are included. This would be tolerable for a lower two-digit in-ear, but definitely not for an in-ear in the higher three-digit price range.

    [​IMG]


    Looks, Feels, Build Quality:

    Rather unusually at this price point, the RE800 does not have detachable cables, which is a bit sad. After the review was finished and edited, HiFiMan announced that the RE800 would be produced with replaceable cables with MMCX plugs from now on, based on popular consumer feedback. So it is indeed nice to hear that HiFiMan listens to constructive customer feedback and suggestions for improvements. However, due to the small housings, something more reliable such as threaded SSMMCX connectors, such as the ones used for the Jays q-JAYS, would have probably been an even much better choice.

    While the cable is nicely soft and also somewhat flexible (although not as flexible as some other cables), it is a little rubbery and ever so slightly sticky though. Additionally, it also lacks strain relief on most important transitions.

    While it is ultimately still better than the Sennheiser IE 800’s cable, it is not a perfect cable either although reports have that it is a clear improvement over the RE-400’s cable.

    [​IMG]

    The cable features a fairly large and angled 3.5 mm plug with gold-plated and aluminium elements. The gold-plating can also be found on the slim y-splitter with “HiFiMan” and “RE800” labelling and last but not least the chin-slider.

    The in-ear’s shells are fairly small and consist of brass that was electroplated with 24k gold. While the gold surface is rather matte than flashy, the general design of the in-ears is quite standard and doesn’t really have a design that would be special for a $699 product. On the plus side though, the shape is not unlike HiFiMan’s other in-ears, so there is some brand recognition and a continuous design language.

    [​IMG]


    Comfort, Isolation:

    The RE800 can be worn both with the cables down as well as around the ears. Latter is the more professional method that improves the fit as well as security and tames cable noise.

    Due to the small shells, the in-ears should also fit people with really small ears very well. For me and my large ears as well as large ear canals, that’s not a problem anyway.

    As noted, the tip selection is rather poor given the price. Almost all tips except for the large Comply Foam tips that I however don’t like much were too small for me, so what I had to do in order to get a seal was to trim down the large triple-flange silicone tips to just a large single-flange tip while maintaining the same length as the grey double-flange tips that came already installed on the in-ears. Measurements by the way proved that there was no tonal difference between the modified and grey tips (mainly due to the same length).

    [​IMG]

    This way, I could achieve a good fit as well as seal and get the in-ears to comfortably stay in my large ears.

    When worn with the cables around the ears, microphonics (cable noise) are pleasantly low and close to being inexistent.


    Noise isolation doesn’t reach the best isolating in-ears’ standards but is fairly good and a bit better than average for a dynamic driver in-ear with two vents per side.


    Sound:

    Sources I used for critical listening were the iBasso DX200 (AMP2 module), Cowon Plenue 2 and my Chord Mojo-Leckerton Uha-6S.MKII stack.

    For listening, I used the included large triple-flange tips that I trimmed down to large single-flange tips that have the same length as the grey tips that came already installed on the in-ears. Due to the same length, measurements indicated both to have the exact same frequency response.

    - - -

    Some frequency response measurements can be found here.

    Keep in mind though that I am not using a professional measurement coupler but a Vibro Labs Veritas coupler that was pseudo-calibrated to more or less match an IEC711 coupler’s response with applied diffuse-field compensation that is definitely not perfect at the current state and shows too little level around 3 and 6 kHz. But if you mentally visualise somewhat more level in those areas, the result will be fairly close.

    Tonality:

    Depending on how much the tiny vent close to/behind the ear tip lip is covered, the bass can vary from fairly neutral to rather full and sub-bass-heavy.

    The reality, when in one’s ears will likely lay somewhere in-between, with probably a less sub-bass-oriented bottom-end presentation with large ear canals and large tips and perhaps a more sub-bass-oriented bottom-end with very small tips and ear canals.

    For me with my large ear canals, the first is the case and the RE800 portrays a quite neutral bottom-end with just around 1 dB more bass quantity compared to the Ultimate Ears Reference Monitors but a bit more slam typical for the dynamic driver.

    Compared to an in-ear that follows the diffuse-field target in the lows, such as the Etymotic ER-4S/SR, the RE800 has got around 4 dB more bass quantity and warmth in the lower root.

    The lowest sub-bass is present with just a minor drop-off.

    The midrange is fairly flat except for a moderate clarity lift centred around 3 kHz, followed by two peaks around 6 and 8 kHz that are rather broad than narrow.

    The RE800 could have therefore been an almost perfectly neutral sounding in-ear with a slight clarity lift, but the treble emphases around 6 and 8 kHz make it sound a bit strident and unnatural in the highs compared to in-ears that are more linear and smoother up top, and even metallic. Additionally, the upper of the two emphases emphasises sibilance with brighter male and female voices.

    More evenness in the highs with less sibilance, stridency and metallic-ness would be definitely appreciated given that there are hybrid, multi-BA and dynamic driver in-ears at lower prices that can achieve this, too.

    The Sennheiser IE 800 sounds brighter and splashier around 10 kHz when listening to the two after each other, however the RE800 is more uneven up top in comparison.

    Cymbals also sound somewhat more like a sharp “sss” than an actual note. Lowering the emphasis at 6 and 8 kHz by using an EQ, the presentation becomes much more realistic and authentic. To be precise, at least around 8 dB less of a peak (along with 4 dB less around 6 kHz and 3 dB less at 3 kHz) would have made the RE800 a highly realistic and quite even sounding, fairly neutral monitor, but as it is, it is a bit sharper than it should be, especially at the price point.

    Extension past 10 kHz is really good however and there is some nice subtle air and sparkle (but without peaks, unevenness or sharpness) in that region if the recording allows it.

    Resolution:

    Various companies have already proved that single dynamic driver in-ears can be very convincing and capable when it comes to technical strengths, and the RE800 is fortunately no exception and adapts some of the good things and strengths of the RE2000.

    Detail retrieval is good and at least on the same level as the Sennheiser IE 800 (more on that with a more detailed comparison further below).

    Its bass is pleasantly tight, fast and well controlled for a dynamic driver in-ear. It doesn’t reach the tightness of closed Balanced Armature woofers but is nicely tight and controlled for a dynamic driver, and especially fast, wherefore it does not struggle with handling fast genres and tracks at all.

    When comparing it to its larger and more expensive brother, the RE2000, the RE800 however lacks the nice texture and layering in the lows.

    Speech intelligibility and midrange details are good.

    Despite the upper treble peak, the highs are probably not as radical or annoying if you are someone who either likes and prefers a bright upper end presentation or are generally quite tolerant towards treble emphases. A part why it is not very annoying (but still sharp, somewhat intrusive and bothersome given the price point) is because the resolution is also quite high in the treble.

    Note separation in the bass and mids is good. It is good in the treble as well, however slightly behind the other two areas.

    Soundstage:

    The RE800 has got a soundstage that portrays a nice amount of airiness and size, with a width that is more than average so that it manages to just exceed the base of my head.

    While the HiFiMan has got spatial depth, the presentation is overall more oval than circular and the width dominates over the depth.

    Instruments are separated well but not outstandingly well – they don’t bleed into each other but the fine borders around them appear slightly less defined with busier recordings.

    [​IMG]


    ---------


    In Comparison with other Single Dynamic Driver In-Ears:

    Sennheiser IE 800:

    Both in-ears are really small and could pretty much be called “tiny” as well. Both have got non-removable cables that are not the best of their kind (however the HiFiMan’s is ultimately superior) and both cost around the same (depending on where you live).

    The IE 800, in my opinion, features the more unique design though, while the RE800’s cable is more flexible and a bit softer.

    Tonally, the IE 800 is heading into a stronger sounded, more v-shaped direction with a strong midbass and sub-bass elevation, a dip in the middle treble around 5 kHz and a powerful as well as splashy treble emphasis around 10 kHz.

    While the Sennheiser’s upper treble emphasis around 10 kHz is splashier, brighter, sharper and stronger, its middle and lower treble appear more harmonious and realistic in comparison – the dip in the middle highs around 5 kHz that generates some head-room for the emphasis is certainly responsible for that as well. So what can be said is that the RE800 is brighter between 2 and 8 kHz, whereas the IE 800 has got more brightness above.

    The HiFiMan’s midrange tends to emphasise sibilance more and does not sound as even in comparison.

    The RE800 has got the even slightly tighter and a little better controlled appearing bass compared to the IE 800 while speed appears similar.

    The HiFiMan seems to have the ever so slightly better midrange resolution (but I had to switch back and forth many times to make out a “winner” in this area, so it is rather negligible) while the IE 800 has got a bit more body in the lower mids and less sibilance. Treble separation is about on-par with an ever so slight advantage for the HiFiMan.

    When it comes to soundstage, the IE 800 has got more spatial width while the RE800 has got some spatial depth that the Sennheiser somewhat lacks in comparison. The IE 800’s spatial precision and separation is somewhat more precise than the HiFiMan’s.



    HiFiMan RE2000:

    The RE2000 has got removable cables, but the RE800 does as well. The RE800 is a good bit smaller and can be worn both around the ears as well as with the cable straight down whereas the RE2000 is designed strictly for an over-the-ear-use.

    The RE2000 has got a somewhat warmer, more pronounced bass and root. The RE2000 is a little brighter in the upper midrange while the RE800 has got the more pronounced 8 kHz region.

    The RE800 is a little less bright sounding in the middle treble around 5 kHz, however it is somewhat uneven as well and triggers more sibilance with brighter vocals due to its relatively strong 8 kHz emphasis. Ultimately the RE2000 has got the more realistic treble in comparison even though its cymbals don’t sound 100% spot-on realistic either.

    In terms of detail retrieval, the RE2000 features the higher resolution, however not by a large margin at all, while it has got the noticeably better texture and layering.

    Where the RE2000 is quite a bit better though is the note separation that is just noticeably cleaner, sharper and more precise.

    The RE2000 has also got the more dynamic, textured bottom-end while being slightly tighter at the same time.

    Also when it comes to soundstage, the RE2000 features the superior instrument separation and more precise imaging along with the generally larger soundstage.

    LEAR LHF-AE1d (upgrade nozzles):

    The (now discontinued) AE1d (that will be replaced with the more expensive titanium end beryllium version of it) features ergonomically shaped plastic housings, also removable cables (2-pin) and a bass tuning knob that cleverly attenuates the lows’ level from “sub-neutral” to “neutral/balanced” to “mega basshead” by using a variable resistor.

    The LEAR’s bass is variable, so it can be either less present than the HiFiMan’s, more present or on the same level.

    The LEAR’s midrange is more in the foreground.

    Generally in the midrange and the treble, it is the LHF-AE1d that is (much) more authentic, realistic and even sounding – it is generally one of the most authentic and even sounding dynamic driver in-ear I know anyway.

    The HiFiMan has got the tighter, faster and better controlled bass. The LEAR’s is generally more on the softer and slower side anyway.

    When it comes to control and separation with complex and fast recordings, the more expensive HiFiMan is ahead as well.

    In terms of midrange and treble resolution it is again the HiFiMan that is ultimately ahead, but on the other hand it is the LEAR that is more natural, even and authentic sounding.

    The HiFiMan has got the somewhat wider soundstage while depth is about comparable (with still a slight advantage for the HiFiMan).

    Instruments are placed equally well and the LEAR manages to create the better empty space around instruments while the HiFiMan separates the borders a little cleaner.


    Conclusion:

    The HiFiMan RE800 could have been a fairly neutral and excellent dynamic driver in-ear with small housings, a detailed presentation, good separation, a tight and fast bass as well as a fairly nice soundstage, however what’s somewhat keeping it off from being exactly this is its rather over-energetic and also somewhat uneven treble with a fairly strong 8 kHz emphasis that can be just too much at times.

    [​IMG]

    I sincerely wish that HiFiMan had spent some more time with fine-tuning the highs, because everything from the lows to the mids sounds really good and convincing, however the treble only becomes even and harmonious when using an EQ. Un-EQ’d, there are in-ears for less money that are probably not on the same technical level as the RE800, however with a higher treble realism and evenness.
      Dobrescu George likes this.
  3. Brooko
    RE800 – Unrealised Potential
    Written by Brooko
    Published Jul 29, 2017
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Close to reference signature, generally good SQ, resolution. coherency, fit, comfort
    Cons - 7 kHz peak (sharp), cable connection quality (being addressed), value
    [​IMG]
    Picture are default 1200 x 800 resolution - click to view larger images.

    INTRODUCTION

    I posted my RE2000 review just a few weeks ago, and the follow up to that review was always going to be it's sibling – the RE800. When Mark contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing both the RE2000 and RE800 I went into it knowing I couldn't afford the RE2000 but hoping that the RE800 might hit a sweet spot between sound and affordability. I'd loved the RE400/600? earphone which was included with the HiFiMan SuperMini when I reviewed it, and was expecting that the RE800 might sit somewhere between it and the new flagship RE2000. And after reviewing the RE2000 and hearing how wonderfully tuned, and how responsive the new Topography driver was, I was looking forward to putting it though its paces.

    ABOUT HIFIMAN

    HifiMan Audio was founded in late 2005 by Dr Fang Bian when he was resident in New York. He started Head-Direct, and in 2007 began use of the HifiMan brand. They started initially with in-ear earphones, branched out into building hi-res portable players, and this was followed by planar magnetic headphones. As the business grew, so did the need to expand, so in 2010 Dr Bian started two small factories in China, and moved the HQ to Tianjin China in 2011. They are now a well recognised brand globally – particularly in the field of portable or personal audio products.

    I found most of these short facts from a couple of interviews with Dr Bian posted on line, and among the interviews were a couple of direct quotes which I found fascinating and illuminating:

    I started listening to a lot of music when I was in high school. I used a Walkman and Discman all the time because I had nothing else available to me. They were designed more for convenience than great sound. I wanted both- convenience and great sound so that set the stage for my dream to build the best sounding personal audio products.

    Starting with me, everyone is passionate about what we are doing at HiFiMAN. We may not always do everything perfectly from the beginning but we try hard to get it right in the end and our track record is pretty good. Most of all, I want our customers to know how much we appreciate them. Their support and feedback is invaluable.
    [
    /SIZE]

    DISCLAIMER

    The HifiMan RE800 that I’m reviewing today was provided to me as a review sample. After I finish with the review, I will arrange a tour through NZ and maybe Australia. At the completion of the tour, I will either return the IEM to HifiMan, or they may allow me to hang onto it for further review comparisons. Either way – they retain ownership.

    I have made it clear to HifiMan that I still regard any product they send me as their sole property and available for return any time at their request. But I thank them for the ability to review and possibly continue use of the RE800 for follow up comparisons. I do not make any financial gain from this review – it is has been written simply as my way of providing feedback both to the Head-Fi community and also HifiMan themselves.


    I have now had the HifiMan RE800 for just over 3 weeks. The retail price at time of review is USD 699.

    PREAMBLE - 'ABOUT ME'. (or a base-line for interpreting my thoughts and bias)

    I'm a 50 year old music lover. I don't say audiophile – I just love my music. Over the last couple of years, I have slowly changed from cheaper listening set-ups to my current set-up. I vary my listening from portables (mostly now from the FiiO X5iii, and iPhone SE) to my desk-top's set-up (PC > USB > iFi iDSD). My main full sized headphones at the time of writing are the Sennheiser HD800S, Sennheiser HD600 & HD630VB, and AKG K553. Most of my portable listening is done with IEMs, and lately it has mainly been with the Jays q-Jays, Alclair Curve2 and Adel U6. A full list of the gear I have owned (past and present is listed in my Head-Fi profile).

    I have very eclectic music tastes listening to a variety from classical/opera and jazz, to grunge and general rock. I listen to a lot of blues, jazz, folk music, classic rock, indie and alternative rock. I am particularly fond of female vocals. I generally tend toward cans that are relatively neutral/balanced, but I do have a fondness for clarity, and suspect I might have slight ‘treble-head’ preferences. I am not treble sensitive (at all), and in the past have really enjoyed headphones like the K701, SR325i, and of course the T1 and DT880. I have a specific sensitivity to the 2-3 kHz frequency area (most humans do) but my sensitivity is particularly strong, and I tend to like a relatively flat mid-range with slight elevation in the upper-mids around this area.


    I have extensively tested myself (ABX) and I find aac256 or higher to be completely transparent. I do use exclusively red-book 16/44.1 if space is not an issue. All of my music is legally purchased (mostly CD – the rest FLAC purchased on-line). I tend to be sceptical about audiophile ‘claims’, don’t generally believe in burn-in, have never heard a difference with different cables (unless it was volume or impedance related), and would rather test myself blind on perceived differences. I am not a ‘golden eared listener’. I suffer from mild tinnitus, and at 50, my hearing is less than perfect (it only extends to around 14 kHz nowadays). My usual listening level is around 65-75 dB.

    For the purposes of this review - I used the HifiMan RE800 from various sources at my disposal – both straight from the headphone-out socket, and also amplified. In the time I have spent with the HifiMan RE800, I have noticed no change to the overall sonic presentation (break-in).

    This is a purely subjective review - my gear, my ears, and my experience. Please take it all with a grain of salt - especially if it does not match your own experience.


    THE REVIEW

    PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES
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    Front of the retail box Rear of the retail box

    The RE800 arrived in a large retail box (253 x 183 x 70mm) – which consists of a full printed sleeve over a “jewellery type” hinged lid box. The outer sleeve is nicely done in grey with a carbon type pattern, clean white (and easy to read) text, with a picture of the RE800 on the front (as well as a sticker stating that they are electroplated with a fine 24K gold finish). The rear has specifications and contact details.

    The inner box is what looks like a wooden/mdf case with a grey contact paper (the sort you cover kids school books with) over the top. It actually doesn't look too bad – but nowhere near the black leatherette that the RE2000 had. In the center is a printed square with the HifiMan logo, the RE800 model number, and their slogan “Innovating the Art of Listening”. The inner box is closed with a polished stainless hasp.


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    The inner box First look inside

    Opening the box reveals the RE800 and a rather plain looking generic clamshell zip-up carry case fitted into a foam top layer via cut-outs. Opening the case reveals silicone tips, a pair of formed ear guides, and 2 packs of Comply foam tips. In a compartment under the case are contact and warranty cards, and a very informative full colour booklet on the RE2000.

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    The full packageExcellent full colour guide

    The accessories include:
    • 2 pairs of black silicone triple flange tips
    • 1 pair of grey silicone “flat” dual flange tips
    • 1 pair of black silicone “flat” dual flange tips
    • 1 pair of grey silicone single flange tips
    • 1 pair of medium T400 genuine Comply tips
    • 1 pair of large T400 genuine Comply tips
    • 1 pair black flexi ear-guides
    • 1 black soft shell storage case
    • Maintenance and warranty card.
    • Full colour booklet/manual

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    Tip selection Storage case

    The storage case is moderately large, and is not really jeans friendly, but would be ideal for use as a carry case in a larger jacket pocket, loose trousers or carry bag. It is 80mm in diameter, 35mm in height, with a zippered lid, and internally lined with a soft canvas like material. The case looks fairly generic, but should do the job for transport, and should provide a nice mix of portability and reasonably safe storage / protection when on the go.

    All in all, the included accessories are fair, but not outstanding for this price point.


    TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
    (From HifiMan’s packaging / website)
    ModelHifiMan RE800
    Approx price$699 USD
    TypeSingle Dynamic IEM
    Driver9.2 mm Dynamic with Topology coating
    Freq Range20Hz – 20kHz
    Impedance60Ω
    Sensitivity105 dB
    Cable Type1.3m, non replaceable
    Cable MaterialsSilver coated crystalline copper
    Jack3.5mm gold plated single ended, right angled
    Weight27g
    Casing materialBrass with electroplated 24K gold finish

    FREQUENCY GRAPH

    The graphs below are generated using the Vibro Veritas coupler and ARTA software. Ken Ball (ALO/Campfire) graciously provided me with measurement data which I have used to recalibrate my Veritas so that it mimics an IEC 711 measurement standard (Ken uses two separate BK ear simulators, we measured the same set of IEMs, and I built my calibration curve from shared data). I do not claim that this data is 100% accurate, but it is very consistent, and is as close as I can get to the IEC 711 standard on my budget.

    I do not claim that the measurements are in any way more accurate than anyone else's, but they have been proven to be consistent and I think they should be enough to give a reasonable idea of response - especially if you've followed any of my other reviews. When measuring I always use crystal foam tips (so medium bore opening) - and the reason I use them is for very consistent seal and placement depth in the coupler. I use the same amp (E11K) for all my measurements - and output is under 1 ohm.

    The graphs are provided merely as a point of discussion, and later in the review I've included comparisons to other IEMs for similar reference.


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    My sonic impressions of the RE800 – written well before I measured, and amended afterwards with frequency information:
    • Bass is quite linear, definitely not overly emphasised and tends to sit behind the mid-range a little. Extension is reasonable into sub-bass, and there is audible rumble but it is somewhat subdued. The bass that is presented is quite natural in tonality though.
    • Lower mid-range is nicely in line with the bass, but recessed compared to upper mid-range. Male vocals are nicely presented with good sense of timbre.
    • Upper mid-range is emphasised, but it's a really nice gradual rise to between 3-4 kHz and gives female vocals a nice sense of euphony.
    • Lower treble extension is extremely good, but there is a really large peak at 7 kHz – some 10 dB above the highest mid-range peak and more than 20 dB above the lower mid-range. As a result, the lower treble is quite splashy and brash – especially with cymbals. Softening this peak produces a much better signature in my opinion.
    • Overall a really nice signature apart from that single peak. It's just too sharp and can get quite harsh/brittle depending on the recording and listening volume. More on this later.
    • Channel matching is excellent (much like the RE2000) – among the best I've seen throughout the entire spectrum.

    BUILD AND DESIGN

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    Rear view of the shellSide view

    At first glance the RE800 looks quite elegant, shiny, and pretty well built. The outer shell is an all gold electroplated (over brass) two piece shell shaped similar to their RE400 and RE600, and is what I would call a tear-drop or water-drop design. The seam or join where the two pieces meet is visible when looked at closely, but is also very smooth and placed together well.

    The interesting thing about the actual housing itself though is some of the research which went into the material to use. HiFiMan went through a very extensive prototyping development stage, and came down to three options – bronze, copper and brass. Bronze proved too hard for forming, and copper was too soft. Brass proved to be the ideal middle ground, and also had the right tonal properties. Now we know that brass is also prone to oxidisation, and this is probably the reason for the additional use of the 24K gold electroplating to finish the shells.


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    Front view and nozzleHiFiMan logo and very faint L/R markings

    The RE800 is a small IEM with an end to end length/width of just 17mm (from the rear to the front of the nozzle), and a circumference of just 11mm at its widest point. Any edges are nicely rounded, and there are no sharp corners which could end up touching your ear. The nozzle is 6mm in diameter, mesh covered and has an extremely generous lip.

    The perfectly symmetrical tear-drop shape means that the RE800 can either be used cable up or cable down, and the shape lends well to a relatively deep insertion.


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    Y-splitRight angle jack

    There are virtually no markings anywhere on the RE800 – except for a small HiFiMan logo on the very base, and also an extremely tiny L/R indicator on each cable exit. To actually work out which ear-piece is which (and remember the two basically look identical), you have to squint to actually try and see the markings. Its just not a good design. Even a little bump on the left or right exit would have made tactile identification possible.

    Speaking of the exit, it is simply a hollow tube extending perpendicularly from the main body. The cable is routed through this hollow tube, and there is no strain relief. Given that this is a fixed cable, and this is potentially a point on the IEM where stress could cause cable damage, its simply unfathomable that this was not addressed before release. And especially so when you consider some critique HiFiMan have had on their RE400 and RE600 designs in the past, and also considering this is a $700 earphone. This is a design flaw that needs to be addressed.

    Edit : Hifiman have since posted that they are introducing a replaceable cable design now using an MMCX connection (https://www.head-fi.org/f/threads/how-do-you-improve-upon-gold.855108/). Nice job HifiMan.


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    HifiMan's jack (L) vs Dunu's (R)New connector (photo courtesy of HFM)

    The cable is a crystalline copper wire with a silver coating (SPC), and finished with a quite satiny black overwrap which appears to be a PVC base. The main cable appears to be quite sturdy and strong, but north of the Y-split the cable is quite a bit thinner.

    At the Y-split there is no relief, but I don't really think its needed because of the design (generally this area hangs down and there is no constant movement). The lower cable is also strong enough, and the Y-split itself is essentially a hollow tube with a tapered base. It is made of the same material as the shells, printed with the model number, and has an excellent cinch.

    The jack is 3.5mm, right angled, and has a quite heavy duty housing. The standard stereo plug is gold plated. An interesting thing about the jack is that despite its heavy duty appearance, unscrewing the cylinder shows the use of electrical tape for insulation rather than the more popular heat shrinking. Both do the same job, but the electrical tape sort of clashes with the price point / build expectation.

    Internally HiFiMan uses what they call a 9.2mm Topology driver. They have invested a lot of time into researching advanced depositional technology, and the result is a driver with a nano particle coating applied to it's surface. The distribution of the coating has distinct geometrical patterns, and this allows HiFiMan to manipulate or control the wave patterns to achieve a desired audio effect. According to Dr Fang Bian, “different nano materials have differing structures and each of these materials has its own properties”. Therefore by carefully controlling the diaphragm surface structure, you can yield different results in acoustic performance to a degree previously unobtainable with conventional designs. Dr Bian also says that the Topology driver also reduces uncontrolled diaphragm distortions which occur in both BA and standard dynamic drivers.

    HiFiMan also claim that no other driver technology allows for such control and precision resulting in clarity, detail and nuance such that it can best the world's most complicated multi driver set-ups, but with none of the coherency and crossover issues.


    FIT / COMFORT / ISOLATION

    I'll start with the easy one (isolation), and we can then look at fit and comfort. Isolation will be dependent on tip selection and insertion depth. If you get a good seal, isolation is exceptionally good (definitely well above average for a vented dynamic IMO). While it may not reach the absolute high isolation of sealed BA IEMs, I would have no issues trying these in noisier environments, including long haul flights.

    Regarding fit and comfort – and these thoughts can be more subjective, although due to the small size and rounded design, I can't see comfort being an issue for anyone. As I stated earlier, these can be used either over ear or cable down, and because of the diminutive size, insertion is fairly deep which means nothing really touching the outer ear – which equals no discomfort.

    I'm going to quote from the manual:
    “The shape of the housing is a traditional, rounded bulbous shape taking its design from the RE400 and RE600. Rounded, smooth and simple in its harmoniously elegant symmetry. Smooth and curving it rests gently in the ear and should give users a comfortable fit, worn up or down, as best suits their personal preferences.”

    This time HiFiMan are entirely correct in their printed summary. The design is both comfortable and fits snugly no matter which way you orient them. Thumbs up from me.


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    HFM's triple and single flangeOstry tuning and modded Spinfit

    Like the RE2000, the RE800 also has a generous lip on the nozzle, and this means that practically any tips will fit. Because of the deeper fit, I personally found the triple flanges a little lengthy, but Comply tips and foam modded Spin-fits definitely did the trick for me. I also tried Spiral-dots, Sony Isolation tips, Ostry tuning tips and a number of others.

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    Spiral dot and ComplyExcellent comfort (they are tiny)

    The HiFiMan RE800 sits inside my outer ear when worn, and I can easily wear them for extended time periods (they are quite simply non-fatiguing). I can lie down with them, and sleeping with them intact causes no issues.


    SOUND QUALITY

    The following is what I hear from the RE800. YMMV – and probably will – as my tastes are likely different to yours (read the preamble I gave earlier for a baseline). Most of the testing at this point (unless otherwise stated) was done with my FiiO X5iii (single ended) and A5 amp, no EQ, and Comply foam tips. I used the FiiO devices simply because paired they give me a very transparent window to the music with low impedance, and more than enough power. With both, there was no DSP engaged.

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    The X5iii and A5 test comboFiiO X5iii solo or X7ii were also more than enough

    For the record – on most tracks, the volume pot on the A5 (paired with X5iii) was just under one quarter (on low gain) which was giving me an average SPL around 65-75 dB. Tracks used were across a variety of genres – and can be viewed in this list http://www.head-fi.org/a/brookos-test-tracks.17556


    Relativities
    • Sub-bass – has good extension and even at my low listening levels some rumble is audible, but somewhat gentle. There is not the same impact as the RE2000. There is also no boosted over-emphasis and sub-bass sits extremely well within the overall frequency mix. There is no bleed into lower mid-range. Quality and timbre of the bass is very good (the Topography driver seems to handle bass really well), and the RE800 sub-bass definitely sounds more “reference” to me than boosted.
    • Mid-bass – has a small but quite natural mid-bass hump – and impact is sufficient but does not go much beyond that. Lovers of a stronger bass will probably need this area boosted, but as a more reference bass lover, I find it fits perfectly in line with both sub-bass and lower mid-range. Again the term “reference” comes to mind.
    • Lower mid-range – there is virtually no recession at all compared to bass, and overall this area fits pretty nicely between bass and upper mid-range. Male vocals are excellently portrayed, but there is unfortunately some heat coming from the lower treble area which can cause the lower mid-range to almost feel dry and a little thin. I think the lower mid-range is brilliantly tuned – and for the third time the thought that this is truly a reference tuning is what springs to mind.
    • Upper mid-range – elevated compared to lower mid-range, and there is a gentle but sustained rise from 1 kHz to a first peak at 3-4 kHz, then a slight drop to 5kHz. The result is a clean and clear vocal range, with some very good cohesion and definite euphony for female vocals to sound sweet and elevated. The RE800 has been a relatively flat and well balanced monitor to this point, and this slow rise gives a nice mid-forward tuning. Again though, the issue stems from the lower treble – and its sad that with a lot of music, a dryness and leanness pervades. Its not the fault of the upper mid-range, but the lower treble.
    • And now we come to the problem area. Lower treble has very good extension, and really is quite sustained from 6-10 kHz. But there is a massive spike at 7 kHz which is a full 10 dB above the upper mid-range, and a scary 20+ dB above the lower mid-range. We know this area has the ability to heighten presence of cymbals and its not unusual to see it boosted – just not to this extent. When you do, there is an unnatural brittleness introduced, and for any music with presence at this frequency, it feels as if somebody has turned a button called “sizzle” on. It's also an area I know where many people have sibilance issues. On an almost perfect reference signature, I simply can't understand why HiFiMan have done this.
    • Upper treble – rolls off slowly but naturally – but still has some extension through the upper registers. I can't really comment on the sonic signature of the upper treble, as it is rare for me to hear any nuance at these frequencies.
    Resolution / Detail / Clarity
    • There is no doubt that the RE800 is a very revealing monitor. The reference nature of the bass, coupled with the upper mid-range and lower treble extension will always shine a spotlight on detail. What also helps is the Topography driver. Whatever HiFiMan have developed with this driver is pretty special. Overall resolution is quite incredible with nothing hidden. It is vibrant, clear and articulate (just unfortunately has that sizzle in the upper end). Pink Floyd's “Money” and 10CC's “Art for Art's Sake” both shone with the level of detail presented. This is undoubtedly a cooler, leaner drier signature than the RE2000, but I still like it. Take the annoying etch out (EQ!) and this should prove to be quite the signature.
    • Cymbal hits have excellent clarity and presence, and this includes decay. The problem though is the brashness or brittleness (which I know is the 7 kHz peak). It's just too much.
    • Overall I feel as though I'm hearing everything in the recording at my lower listening levels. Turning the volume up can get quite fatiguing though.
    Sound-stage, Imaging
    • Directional queues are very good – clean and clear and very precise.
    • Presentation of stage is definitely outside the periphery of my head space with binaural tracks. They are expansive but the sense of stage size isn't overdone.
    • Separation of instruments is also very good, and this seems to be a strong point of the Topography driver. The clear definition of each instrument is quite compelling.
    • Immersion during the applause section of “Dante's Prayer” was very good, a little more left/right than completely spherical, but circular enough to be thoroughly believable. What wasn't was the heightened harmonics from the clapping sound – again a brittleness which shouldn't be there.
    • “Let it Rain” is always my next track and it had a wonderful 3D-like sense of spatial presentation – it is the way the track was miked. The issue was an abundance of sibilance with Amanda's vocals – and I know its present in the recording – but this time it is being heightened.
    Sonic Strengths
    • For the most part, overall tonal balance and clarity
    • Imaging, separation and sense of space in the staging.
    • Very good portrayal of both male and female vocals, although can be a little on the lean / dry / cool side of things.
    • Detailed at low listening levels
    • Transition between lower and upper mid-range is very good.
    Sonic Weaknesses
    • This one is easy – the 7kHz peak. Its just too much, too unnatural, and things like natural decay on cymbals should not be this accentuated. When I listen to tracks with a lot of upper end detail, and cringe at some of the heat or sizzle that simply shouldn't be there, I know its a step too far. Some (like my friend George) are going to find this perfect, and good luck to them (we all have different preferences after all). I can adapt to it – but its still like biting on tin-foil at times. And this is from a treble lover who usually doesn't like anything overly smooth.
    • At higher volumes the RE800 has the ability to shred the lower treble if you have any music with strong 7 kHz presence.
    AMPLIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

    The RE800 is an interesting IEM with its 60ohm impedance and 105 dB sensitivity. Looking at the specs, you'd immediately think that this IEM will need extra amplification, and it does need a higher volume from most of my portable devices. To maintain my usual 65-75 dB listening level utilises around 55-60/120 on the X5iii by itself. This equates to almost 50% on my iPhone SE with the same track.

    I went back and forth (volume matching with test tones and fixed volume on the A5) comparing the X5iii both amped and unamped, and I couldn't say that there was any change in resolution or dynamics. Both sounded similar. I have been spending a lot of time in the evening with my iPhone SE. Its a very good portable set-up – especially for bed-time listening. Oh BTW – I EQ when using the RE800.


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    Testing with the IMS HVA, iDSD, FiiO A5 and E17KBut even an iPhone manages quite well

    I also with tried with the IMS Hybrid Valve amp and my iDSD but none of them seemed to be adding anything extra (although the tubes on the hybrid did soften that treble just a little). So I'd suggest that amping is not a requirement but for those who enjoy using a stack – definitely it won't hurt anything – and perhaps you'll notice improvements which were lost on me.

    I also had my daughter check for hiss, but none was present on any of my sources.


    EQ / BALANCED PERFORMANCE

    Unfortunately I could not test balanced performance as the cable is fixed and therefore I cannot test. At the price point, and considering they are adding an MMCX connector, I would suggest HiFiMan consider including a balanced cable?

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    EQ with E17K really helpedRemoving some top end and adding some bottom

    As far as EQ goes, I've obviously been using it for a while. On the FiiO devices I've simply been dropping the 8 kHz slider by 6 dB. Its enough to take the edge off and brings welcome relief to the etch or brittleness. I also used my X3ii + E17K set-up, and utilised the tone controls to try and adjust the peak down to what I would consider a more reference level. I ended up using -10 treble adjustment, and the change was so good (it also drops mid-range a bit) that I thought I'd measure it so others can see the change. This to me would have been a marked improvement. Adding a little extra bass on occasions also helped. Now you get all of the detail, but none of the pain.

    COMPARISON WITH OTHER IEMS

    This almost seems a little unfair – as I know the issue with the RE800, but I have to compare default sound with default sound. I chose IEMs purely based on comparable pricing (although included the RE2000 as they are from the same stable, and the Alclair Curve because it is one of my “go to” IEMs).

    For my source, I wanted something neutral, but with a good digital control, to make sure I could volume match properly, and still make sure there were no questions about power output. So one again I chose to use my old work-horse combo – the FiiO X3ii and E17K. Neutral – check. Power output OK – check. No DSP or EQ was used. Gain was low (I didn't need any more). I volume matched using a calibrated SPL meter and fixed 1kHz test tone first. My listening level was set at my normal 65-75dB.

    First up was Alclair's Curve at $250 (chosen because it has a small 7kHz lift but I wanted to show the difference between bump and peak), Jays q-Jays ~$279 Dunu's new DK-3001 at ~$500, Rhapsodio's older ~$555 RTi1 single dynamic, and 64Audio's ~$899 U6 (oh and the RE2000). Hopefully this gives enough insight to anyone interested in this IEM. Here are my very subjective personal thoughts:


    HiFiMan RE800 (~USD 699) vs Alclair Curve (~USD 249)
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    HiFiMan RE800 and Alclair CurveFrequency comparisons

    The Alclair Curve is a dual BA universal from Alclair, and one which has consistently been in my top 5 since I got it. In terms of build materials, the gold electroplated brass casing of the RE800 trumps the hard polycarbonate housing of the Curve – but as far as actual build quality, build design, fit and comfort goes, the two are pretty equal. Both are exceedingly comfortable and “disappear” when worn. The accessories go to the RE800 (slightly), whilst the cable quality goes to the Curve (although both are reasonably good at first glance, and we don't know what the replaceable options on the RE800 will be yet).The RE800 requires more power with its lower sensitivity and higher impedance.

    Sonically the Curve against the RE800 is an interesting comparison. They both have very similar bass and lower mid-range. Both also have a rise into the upper mid-range, although the RE800's climb is more sustained to a higher peak. Both have a 7 kHz peak, but the Curve's peak is less than half of that of the RE800, and that is where the issue is. The Curve is beautifully reference with a mid-range and lower treble bump which is nicely complimentary to the bass quantity. The RE800 is beautifully reference with a mid-range bump which compliments the rest of the frequency range, but a lower treble spike which dominates. I actually prefer the bass tonality / texture of HiFiMan's Topography driver over the bass on the Curve – but that's where it ends. The Curve does almost everything else better at almost 1/3 the price.


    HiFiMan RE800 (~USD 699) vs Jays q-Jays (~USD 279)
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    HiFiMan RE800 and Jays q-JaysFrequency comparisons

    Jays q-Jays is another diminutive dual BA universal, and also has a prominent peak in the 7 kHz region. In terms of build materials, I'd rate them evenly. Both are tiny, and both are made of excellent long lasting materials. But again as far as actual build quality, build design, fit and comfort goes, the two are equal (actual overall finish may even go to the q-Jays). Both are extremely comfortable and “disappear” when worn. The accessories go to the q-Jays, as does the cable quality and design (q-Jays is replaceable with an excellent locking mechanism).The RE800 requires more power with its lower sensitivity and higher impedance.

    Sonically the q-Jays (like the Curve) is very similar in bass and lower mid-range. The q-Jays are a lot flatter through the upper mid-range (I sometimes bump this up with EQ), and have a peak at 7 kHz which some of my on-line friends tell me can get a little peaky (I don't really notice it). In direct comparison, the RE800 again has that better bass tonality and timbre. If I could get half way between the upper mid-range (drop a bit from the RE800 and add a bit to the q-Jays), both would be improved. But you can again see the difference at 7 kHz where the RE800's “mountain” is more than 10 dB above the q-Jays comparative “mole-hill”. The q-Jays can sometimes appear to flat in the mid-range, but their treble nicely matches the rest of the frequency range. For me – even if I have to EQ both, there is not a compulsion to take the far more expensive RE800 over the better value q-Jays.


    HiFiMan RE800 (~USD 699) vs Dunu DK-3001 (~USD 500)
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    HiFiMan RE2000 and Dunu DK-3001Frequency comparisons

    Here we start getting closer on price. Both are built very sturdily with no real weaknesses. But the tiny RE800 is a lot more comfortable than the somewhat unwieldy DK-3001. Accessories are in favour of the Dunu – especially with both balanced and SE cables included – as well as the extra tips and other accessories. The RE800 requires more power with its lower sensitivity and higher impedance.

    Sonically these two are similar in same ways, different in others. The DK-3001 has better bass impact, is a little more mid-forward and also a little smoother as far as lower treble goes. The RE800 might still have edge on bass definition and speed, but it would be marginal. The DK-3001 is a touch more V-shaped, but it s also cleaner, clearer, and less etched.

    If judging solely on default signature, I'd take the DK-3001 over the RE800. But as I can EQ, and given the greater comfort with the RE800, then its a pretty even match. If comfort wasn't an issue with the DK-3001, I'd choose it every time over the RE800.


    HiFiMan RE2000 (~USD 2000) vs Rhapsodio RTi1(~USD 555)
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    HiFiMan RE800 and Rhapsodio RTi1Frequency comparisons

    Rhapsodio's RTi1 has yo-yo'd a bit on price lately, but now sits at a quite competitive $555 Build quality is similar in terms of actual materials (longevity), but there is no doubt the RE800 has the slightly better finishing. The RTi1 has the better quality cable, and it is removable. Both were similarly sparse on overall accessories included (considering their respective prices) – perhaps the RE800 edges slightly in front here, but neither offer much above “just enough”. Both are easy to fit and comfortable for longer term wearing. The RE800 requires more power with its lower sensitivity and higher impedance.

    Sonically these two have similarities and differences. The Rt1i has much stronger bass and is more of a V shaped monitor. They have extremely similar mid-ranges and transitions through to upper mid-range. Both have their treble peaks, and the peak on the RT1i was one of my critiques when I reviewed them. The RT1i's peak occurs a little earlier and can also be more than a little annoying – despite being smaller than the RE800. Both sound etched and overly hot with some tracks, and for me both require EQ. This is a really hard one to call and comes down to preference. Take the lower treble peaks out of both – and each one shines.


    HiFiMan RE800 (~USD 699) vs HiFiMan RE2000 (~USD 2000)
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    HiFiMan RE800 and RE2000Frequency comparisons

    Build quality on both is similar in terms of materials. Obviously the two are very different sizes, and that makes quite a difference in terms of comfort – with the RE800 being an IEM I can wear without any comfort issues for hours, while the RE2000 does have one annoying hard ridge (fixable by tip and angle of wearing). The RE800 has (for now) the fixed cable system, and the thinner wires from y-split to earphone would concern me slightly if there were any longevity issues (unknown at this stage). Both have similar accessory packages (personally one area I find slightly weak with HiFiMan compared to other offerings). The RE2000 and RE800 have almost the same power requirements.

    Sonically these two have somewhat similar bass through to upper mid-range, (the RE800 is a little thinner / leaner and cooler comparatively). The RE800 is also a lot brighter in the lower treble with the 7 kHz peak. Compared to the RE2000, the RE800 tends toward glare, and also enhances sibilance. The RE2000 is rich and smooth and has that effortless quality of letting you simply immerse yourself in the music. Both have questionable overall value – and I guess this depends on your disposable income. But I'd take the RE2000 despite the heftier cost.


    HiFiMan RE800 (~USD 699) vs 64 Audio U6 + G1 ADEL module (~USD 899)
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    HiFiMan RE800 and 64 Audio U6Frequency comparisons

    The U6 is another of my go-to monitors, so please take that into account during this comparison. For this comparison I chose to use the G1 module simply because it elevates the mid-range a little and I prefer a more mid-forward signature.

    Build quality (materials) is firmly in the RE800 favour. Its going to last for quite some time with the use of the alloys. Cable quality overall might be questionable on both and you'll note with my U6 that I'm now using the Linum Bax cable (because my 2nd 64Audio cable has broken at the 2 pin connector). I know 64Audio would have replaced it – but this time I wanted a longer lasting solution. Lets hope when HiFiMan move to their replaceable cable that they provide something with quality. Accessories are in the 64Audio camp with the U6 having the ADEL (or Apex) modules and ability to tune. Fit and comfort is shared – both are easy to wear for long periods. The RE800 does again require more power with its lower sensitivity and higher impedance.

    Sonically the U6 has the stronger bass overall and has a somewhat warmer tonality. The RE800 is a little leaner and cooler – and also a lot brighter with the more forward mid-range and peaky lower treble. I'd actually prefer it if the mid-range on the U6 was a little more of a natural transition (like the RE800), but it still sounds pretty good. Both earphones have a 7 kHz peak – but again the U6's is far lower, and also has the added warmth from mid and sub-bass to even things out. The U6 is more spacious overall with better width and depth of stage. Despite the higher cost, I'd again take the U6 – even if EQ was an option.


    VALUE

    The RE800 is a comfortable, well built monitor with a near reference signature, but one very annoying peak. Adding the replaceable cable is going to really help value – but overall I still think it's pitched too high. It may be the gold electroplating pushing things up, and if it is, then at least HiFiMan have some options. Less bling, introduce the replaceable cable, chop the 7 kHz peak, and all of a sudden you have a really good earphone – perhaps even worth around the $600 mark. In its current state though – I simply don't see the value. There are better options out there.

    HIFIMAN RE800 – SUMMARY

    Its actually quite easy to get used to the RE800 and they have a lot of good points. Sometimes you can even mask that peak – similar to how I mask my tinnitus (the brain is a wonderful filter after all). But in this case, with this earphone, it simply shouldn't be there. Its over-done, and at this price point you expect better. There are a lot of good points though.

    The RE800 is generally a well built and presented IEM which has few other flaws. HiFiMan have already said they are making the cable replaceable so that solves one potential issue. If they include a balanced cable as well – then perceived value will go up.

    Sonically it is very close to what I would term “reference”, and only hampered by the fact that the mids might be a touch too far forward, and we already know where the treble issues lie, and where they can be solved. With EQ applied, the RE800 is extremely well balanced and really is a delight to listen to. The Topography driver gives a really nice sense of timbre and tonality, and the instrument separation is very good indeed.

    But the RRP at USD 699 means that this is getting to the stage where potential buyers will be quite discerning, and for me anyway, they've missed the mark. Three and a half stars for me (although only three will show) – unrealised potential which hopefully they can fix with an update.

    Note that with a successful move to a quality removable cable (and including a balanced option), the 7 kHz peak dealt with, and a price around the $600 mark -this would be 5 star IMO.

    Again I just want to close with thanking HiFiMan and Mark for arranging the review sample.


    [​IMG]
  4. audio123
    HIFIMAN RE800 - Agile & Accurate
    Written by audio123
    Published Apr 20, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Agile Bass Presentation, Energetic Treble, Build Quality
    Cons - Midrange can be lusher
    Introduction

    HiFiMAN is a Chinese company that specializes in producing in-ear monitors and headphones. Recently, they have released the RE800 and their flagship RE2000. For the RE800, I have received the latest version which features detachable cables. I would like to thank HiFiMAN for this review unit. At this point in time, you can purchase the RE800 from https://www.amazon.com/HIFIMAN-RE800/dp/B071YN9QJR/

    [​IMG]

    Specifications

    Frequency Response : 5Hz-20kHz
    Impedance : 60Ω
    Sensitivity : 105dB
    Weight : 0.95oz (27g)

    Unboxing & Accessories

    The HiFiMAN RE800 comes in a silver hard rectangular case that has the brand name and model name printed on it. It has a protective cover that shows an image of the RE800. Inside the hard case, there are 2 small packages and a hard circular carrying case. For the 2 small packages, the first one contains a detachable mmcx cable while the other one contains eartips. On the top of the carrying case, there is the brand name printed on it with the iem inside it. Under the foam, there is a pack of tips that contains Comply foam tips, 1 pair of ear-guides, 1 warranty card and 1 instruction manual. The overall package has a premium feel to it.

    [​IMG]

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    IEM Build & Design

    The RE800 has a fine 24k gold finish to its surface and it has a rather oval shape. On the faceplate, there is the Hifiman logo printed on it. The shell is made of brass with a strong build quality. At the bottom of the iem shell, there is a vent. There is also another vent near the nozzle. The nozzle is straight with a metal mesh for earwax prevention. It is rather small and not heavy at all. I am able to fit the RE800 comfortably in my ears. The RE800 has mmcx sockets. Overall, the iem is beautiful in its aesthetics and constructed well.

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    Cable Build & Design

    The cable included is made of silver coated crystalline copper wire. It is not braided and has a 2 core design. The overall build quality on the cable is good and there is a soft-like transparent rubber coating on the wire itself. There is no memory wire section. On each mmcx connectors, there is L & R markings to differentiate between left and right. For the left, it is blue in colour while for the right, it is red in colour. The connectors has a transparent housing. The chin slider is a circular gold ring while the y-splitter has the brand name and model name printed on it. It is gold in colour too. Moving on to the jack, it is 3.5mm gold plated with strain relief.

    [​IMG]

    Sound Analysis

    Lows

    The RE800 extends its sub-bass with authority and confidence. There is a quick rumble to it. It is typical of a dynamic driver’s bass reproduction. The presentation of the bass is clean and technical. There is sufficient punch from the RE800 and each bass note is being portrayed with precision. With an agile nature, it packs energy. The bass texture is very smooth and decay is quick. The bass articulation is accurate and on point. With such an energetic nature, the bass is very enjoyable and exciting to listen to. The transition to the lower mids is good with a smooth passage.

    Mids

    The midrange on the RE800 operates in a transparent and clinical approach. The lower mids on the RE800 has sufficient quantity to tackle male vocals. Though it does not have huge amount, the lower mids is expressed with musicality and texture. The upper mids is quite forward and there is a good intimate presentation. There is sweetness from the upper mids. Female vocals sound euphoric here. The midrange definition is clear and operates at a high standard with a good level of details retrieval.

    Highs

    The treble has a good extension with no grain. There is no sibilance and harshness. Treble articulation is precise with a good crisp. The body is rather appropriate. Texture is not very smooth. It operates in a bright approach with a good amount of air at the top end. The air gives space to the overall presentation and lightens it. The details shown is in abundance and there is good clarity.

    Soundstage

    The RE800 tackles both the width and depth of soundstage rather well. The positioning of vocals and instruments is presented precisely with no congestion. There is a good depth with a great amount of space. The RE800 has a quick expansion in its soundstage and there is a good open feel.

    [​IMG]

    Comparisons

    HiFiMAN RE800 vs Beyerdynamic Xelento

    The RE800 has less sub-bass extension than the Xelento and it has more quantity. I feel both presents their sub-bass in an authoritative and punchy manner. There is agility in each bass note. The mid-bass on RE800 has more body to it while the Xelento tackles its mid-bass with pace. Xelento has a slight edge in its bass decay. Bass texture on the RE800 is smoother. The impact brought by the Xelento is more and there is more engagement. The lower mids on the RE800 has more body and male vocals are presented with more thickness. The upper mids on the Xelento is more forward. There is more crisp and definition on the Xelento. Female vocals benefit heavily from it. Moving on to the treble section, the Xelento is more extended. There is no sibilance and harshness on both. The amount of air rendered is slightly more on the RE800. For soundstage, both have a very similar width and there is a natural expansion. The depth on the Xelento is slightly better with more space. There is no congestion on both.

    HiFiMAN RE800 vs Campfire Audio Vega

    The Vega has more sub-bass quantity than the RE800 and there is more extension. Vega stretches it more and the depth is shown. The bass presentation on the Vega is more authoritative and there is more mid-bass slam. The Vega approaches it in a heavier approach while the RE800 presents it in a delicate and lighter manner. The RE800 showcases it agility here. The lower mids on the Vega has slightly more body than the RE800. I find the RE800 to have more pace but the impact brought by the Vega is greater. The upper mids on the RE800 is more crisp. Both have good definition. Female vocals is more controlled on the RE800. The presentation is better with mastery. Next, in the treble section, the extension on the Vega stretches more. There is slight harshness on the Vega. The air rendered on both is very similar. In terms of soundstage, the Vega has slightly more width and the depth on the RE800 is better.

    HiFiMAN RE800 vs DITA Answer

    The sub-bass on the RE800 is extended better than the Answer. There is slight grain for the Answer. Bass texture on the RE800 is presented more smoothly. The decay on both is similar. I find the rumble on the RE800 to be more musical. The mid-bass on both is similar in the slam. Bass note on the RE800 is presented with more agility than the Answer. The RE800 has more body in the lower mids and male vocals are presented better. The upper mids on the RE800 has more control and the forwardness has more magnitude. For the treble, Answer is slightly more shouty than the RE800. The RE800 presents the treble with finesse. Articulation is much more precise. There is slight harshness on the Answer. The amount of air on the RE800 is more. Answer has a slight sparkle. For the soundstage, RE800 has more width and depth. Vocals and instruments positioning is rather accurate.

    Conclusion

    The HiFiMAN RE800 is a brilliant dynamic driver iem that boasts an agile bass presentation and controlled treble. It provides an energetic sound that has a high level of engagement. Furthermore, it comes in a premium package with many accessories. HiFiMAN has delivered again with the impressive RE800.

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    For more reviews, visit https://audio123blog.wordpress.com/ .
      hqssui likes this.
  5. earfonia
    Treble-head Golden IEM
    Written by earfonia
    Published Mar 20, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Good build quality.
    Small size with excellent fit and comfort.
    Good clarity and transparency.
    Cons - Pricey.
    Polarized towards bright tonality, therefore not an all-rounder IEM. The Lean bass and midrange make it tends to sound good on a certain type of recordings but not so good on others.
    60 ohms impedance is not very smartphone friendly.
    01 P1390415.jpg

    Webpage:
    http://www.hifiman.com/products/detail/274


    Big thanks to AV One Singapore for the opportunity to loan the demo set of Hifiman RE800!
    I should have posted this review many months back, but there was a sudden peak on my workload that forced me to temporarily halt the completion of this review. I guess better late than never, so here is my take on this golden IEM.

    The unit that I reviewed, as shown in the pictures, was the older type of RE800 with no detachable cable. From Hifiman website, I saw that they have upgraded the RE800 with a detachable cable.

    02 P1390405.jpg


    RE800 uses 9.2mm single dynamic driver with special coating technology by Hifiman that they called ‘Topology Diaphragm’. Diaphragm with special ‘nanoparticle’ coating on its surface that distributed in a distinct geometric pattern. The technology is said to reduce distortion and to achieve certain acoustic properties. We can read more explanation about it on the Hifiman website (link above). The IEM housing is made of Brass, electroplated with 24k gold. As for the cable Hifiman chose silver coated crystalline copper, selected from 30 different options. Hifiman seems to have put a lot of attention in the design of RE800. And at this price point, the expectation is high on this cute small golden IEM.

    My personal ratings based on the sound quality alone would be around 3.5 stars, mainly due to my personal preference of sound signature is rather different than the RE800 sound signature. I think treble-heads might rate it higher. I like the small size and comfort factor. The build quality and presentation are also good, therefore I think 4 stars is quite a reasonable rating for RE800. Especially considering Hifiman has listened to user feedback and improved RE800 with a detachable cable for the newer batch of RE800. Extra points there.

    03 P1390409.jpg




    Pros:
    • Good build quality.
    • Small size with excellent fit and comfort.
    • Good clarity and transparency.


    Cons:
    • Pricey.
    • Polarized towards bright tonality, therefore not an all-rounder IEM. The Lean bass and midrange make it tends to sound good on a certain type of recordings but not so good on others.
    • 60 ohms impedance is not very smartphone friendly.


    Suggestions for Improvement:
    • Improve value. For the sound quality it offers, in my opinion, RE800 is rather overpriced.
    • Improve bass and midrange tuning for a more balanced tonality.


    Recommendation:
    • Recommended IEM for treble-head, or those who prefer a higher level of clarity and transparency.
    • Best with classical and general acoustic instrumental recordings.
    • May not be suitable for those who are looking for IEM with full-bodied midrange and realistic sounding bass.


    04 P1390412.jpg




    Sound Quality

    Disclaimer:
    Frequency response measurement in this review was done using MiniDSP UMIK-1 measurement microphone with a DIY acoustic coupler. The DIY acoustic coupler is not an industry standard acoustic coupler, therefore the measurement result is not absolute, and shouldn’t be used for comparison with other measurement result using different measurement equipment. The measurement result in this review is only useful to be used in this review, for comparison between different IEMs measured using the same system.

    05 IMG_0001.jpg


    After reading some reviews in Head-fi, I suspect that there might be more than 1 variant of tuning of RE800, that most probably not on purpose but could be due to production batch inconsistency. The demo unit from AV One Singapore sounds smooth bright and doesn’t seem to have the reported 7 kHz treble peak as reported by other reviewers. Some friends also share similar opinions that the demo unit from AV One Singapore does not suffer from the 7 kHz peak. My measurement also doesn’t show the 7 kHz peak. Therefore I suspect, there might be another variant of tuning besides the tuning of the demo unit that I reviewed, but I cannot confirm that because I never tried or measure the other variant of RE800 with the 7 kHz peak. 7 kHz treble peak is easily detectable and won’t go unnoticed. So the possibility of being mistaken about it is rather slim. My Sennheiser HD800 has 7 kHz treble peak, so I’m quite familiar with it. Although at this price level we expect a much more stringent and consistent quality control. Anyway, that is just my suspicion, and I might be wrong. And hopefully, the new RE800 with detachable cable will have consistent tuning and a more stringent quality control.

    You can read some of the discussion about the 7 kHz peak here:
    https://www.head-fi.org/f/threads/hifiman-re-800.831364/page-9#post-13616853

    In general, I’m not a big fan of bright tonality tuning, so RE800 tuning as mentioned earlier, is not my cup of tea. But having said that it doesn’t mean that I never enjoyed RE800 or my other bright sounding IEMs. Bright IEMs tends to polarize towards a certain type of recordings, good on some and not so good on others. So I generally prefer all-rounder IEMs with more natural tuning. It does sound great with certain recordings such as a classical orchestra. But I prefer a more balanced tuning with fuller sounding midrange and bass. In this review, I also will try to review RE800 from the treble-head point of view, as I think it is a suitable IEM for treble-head. What I mean by treble-head is those who prefer bright, clear, airy, transparent sound with rather lean midrange and bass.

    My 15 years old son has developed an interest in audio as well, and he has been involved in church audio setup. So I let him tried RE800 to get his opinion on the sound quality. He has no idea what is Hifiman RE800 and how much it cost. So we can say that his opinion is unbiased. After about an hour, he came back to me with this:

    06 IMG_0005a.jpg

    He said, that is roughly the frequency response of the RE800 that he observed. My measurement instrument is not reliable for frequency region above 10 kHz, so only useful for comparison of measurement below 10 kHz. From what I hear I believe the RE800 frequency response above 10 kHz is quite extended, not rolled-off as shown in the FR graph below. While for frequency below 10 kHz, my son’s estimation from what he heard is not very far from the measurement result. I’m quite impressed, he has good ears.

    07 HIFIMAN RE800 - Left Channel (Blue) - Right Channel (Red).png


    Being a relatively bright sounding IEM, RE800 handles treble and sibilant pretty well. Treble is smooth and nicely extended, and IMHO not the ear-piercing type of treble. Sibilant is well managed in the sense that it doesn't sound harsh or piercing. RE800 might not be the IEM of choice for those who allergic to sibilant, but treble-heads will most probably find the sibilant level is acceptable and still far from being annoying. Especially when paired with smooth sounding sources like my Geek Out 2A and Onkyo DP-X1, RE800 treble is golden.

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    Although RE800 bass is quick and has pretty good sub-bass extension. But bass punch lacks power and impact. I won't call the bass as anemic, but for me, it is not satisfying enough, especially when a potent bass punch is desirable. But for recordings that don't really demand punchy bass, such as classical music, RE800 bass sounds pretty good.

    Midrange is clear and transparent but sounds rather lean, not the full-bodied type of midrange. All my friends that have tested the RE800 mostly mentioned about the midrange as being lean sounding, sometimes too lean to their liking. Someone even said the midrange sounds hollow for his recordings. For me, although I agree that the midrange sounds lean and transparent, but not at the level that I would call hollow. Midrange probably rather too lean for vocal lovers, and rather too bright for some pop recordings, but most vocal audiophile recordings that I've tested with RE800 actually sounds fine to me, in the sense that I still enjoy them with RE800. But generally, I agree that vocal is not RE800's forte. Classical orchestra, chamber music, and general acoustic instrumental recordings are what RE800 will truly shine. Again, it is a matter of personal preferences, but that would be my general recommendation for RE800.

    Different ear tips might cause slight changes to the tonality as well. As you can see below, a generic large bore ear tips (as shown in the picture above) that I tested on RE800 actually sounds pretty good as it reduces the treble brightness slightly.

    09 Hifiman RE800 Stock Grey Eartips (Blue) & Generic Eartips (Yellow).png


    In summary, I perceived the sound quality of the demo unit of RE800 that I review as:
    Moderately bright, clear and transparent, sparkling yet smooth sounding treble, lean clear midrange, lean bass with good sub-bass extension, fast bass but lack of bass punch, good bass and treble extension, fast transient, excellent detail retrieval and instrument separation.

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    Compared to DUNU DK-3001
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    RE800 perceived as slightly brighter with leaner midrange and bass. DK-3001 is slightly more forward sounding, with a bit more emphasize on the upper midrange. Bass sounds fuller on DK-3001, with more powerful punch and slam. DK-3001 bass is really good, effortless without being overpowering. Midrange body also sounds fuller and much better with vocal. RE800 bass is actually pretty good as well, especially the sub bass extension, but midbass part lacks body and punch power, and the smooth and clear midrange might be to lean for most vocal lovers. The resolution, detail retrieval, clarity, and transparency level are more or less similar. As you might have guessed, in my opinion, DK-3001 is the winner with a more 'spot-on' well-balanced tuning.

    12 Hifiman RE800 Stock Grey Eartips (Blue) - DUNU DN2k (Yellow) - DUNU DK-3001 (Orange).png



    Compared to AK T8iE Mk2
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    AK T8iE Mk2 is the only single dynamic driver IEM that I have, that I think worth to be compared to RE800. The sonic signature of AK T8iE Mk2 is quite the opposite of RE800 sonic signature. AK T8iE Mk2 sounds warmer with fuller and stronger bass, fuller sounding midrange and smoother treble. Treble sparkle on AK T8iE Mk2 is not as sparkling as the RE800, and the smoother character of AK T8iE Mk2 treble is more sibilant friendly. When switching from RE800 to MK T8iE Mk2, I do miss the nice treble sparkle of RE800. But when playing vocal, AK T8iE MkII immediately takes the crown. Although AK T8iE Mk2 may sound warmer, but generally it is not a 'very' warm sounding IEM. AK T8iE Mk2 has just the right amount of warmness to the sounds to make general Pop recordings sound more pleasurable, without sacrificing the overall clarity. For my personal preference, AK T8iE Mk2 tuning is more suitable for me.




    Build and Comfort
    In my opinion, overall build quality is pretty good. Besides that 3.5mm jack that I feel unnecessarily too big for this small IEM, I don’t have any other complaint. I used it over the ear, therefore cable microphonic is not an issue. It is very small and comfortable to my ears.

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    In the discussion thread, some mentioned about the bass tuning port position that might get blocked unintentionally and caused a very high increased of the bass level, causing inconsistent sound quality. I think it is a valid concern even though I never experienced it myself. I guess placing the bass tuning port on the opposite side of the barrel might be a safer option.

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    Conclusion
    Now the $699 question. Is it $699 good? Quite subjective, and not easy to answer that question. For me personally, the answer is no. Simply because I’m not a treble-head. But those who enjoy emphasized clarity and transparency might say yes. I really like the small size and the comfortable shape, but I prefer a fuller sounding midrange and bass. RE800 performs really well on certain area, but the tuning might not suits everyone.





    Specifications:
    Drivers: 9.2mm Dynamic Driver with Topology Diaphragm
    Frequency response: 5 Hz – 20 kHz
    Impedance: 60 Ohm
    Sensitivity: 105 dB/mW

    19 P1390435.jpg
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    Equipment used in this review:

    IEMs:
    DUNU DN-2000
    DUNU DK-3001
    AK T8iE Mk2

    DACs & DAPs:
    Chord Mojo
    Geek Out 2A
    Onkyo DP-X1


    Some recordings used in this review:
    16 Albums - A 1000px.jpg
      FastAndClean likes this.
    1. FastAndClean
      awesome review
      FastAndClean, Mar 20, 2018
      earfonia likes this.
  6. B9Scrambler
    HiFiMan RE800: Going for the Gold
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published Aug 2, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Vibrant, detailed signature - Ergonomic shape - Quality Materials
    Cons - Fit and finish - Lack of adequate strain relief - Cable weight
    Greetings Head-fi!

    HiFiMan was founded in New York in 2005 by Dr. Fang Bian, at that point under the name Head Direct. Over the last decade the brand has grown and their lineup expanded with numerous models of headphones, earphones, media players, and more, spread across a vast swath of price points. 2017 has seen the release of some pretty impressive new top tier products.

    Today we are going to be checking out one these new products; the 9.2mm, dynamic driver based RE800. This is a compact in-ear monitor which advances and refines the physical design of the popular RE400 and RE600, with the inclusion of some neat new driver tech. Are they any good? Yes, yes they are, so let's look at why.

    Disclaimer:

    I would like to thank Mark with HiFiMan for sending over the RE800, along with a few other goodies, for the purposes of review. I'm not entirely clear yet on whether this gear needs to go back to HiFiMan after the reviews are up. The thoughts within this review are mine and mine alone, and do not represent HiFiMan or any other entity. There is no financial incentive for writing this review.

    At the time of this writing, the RE800 retailed for 699 USD: http://store.hifiman.com/index.php/re-800.html

    I'm a 30 year old professional working for what is currently the largest luxury hotel chain on the planet. I have a background in Psychology which probably explains my somewhat dry writing style. My entry into the world of portable audio was due primarily to a lack of space for a full-sized stereo system during my university years, and truly began with the venerable JVC HA-FXT90. After reading pretty much the entirety of IjokerI's multi-earphone review thread, reviews from other established writers, and thus being greatly inspired, I took a chance and started writing my own.

    Fast forward a couple years and I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to write about products for wonderful companies like HiFiMan, RHA, Accutone, ADVANCED, NarMoo, Mixcder, Brainwavz, Meze, and many more. I don't do it for money or free stuff, but because this is my hobby and I enjoy it. If my reviews can help guide someone to a product that makes them happy, I'll consider that a job well done and payment enough.

    Gear used for testing was a Shanling M1, HiFiMan MegaMini, and my TEAC HA-501 headphone amp. I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even mid-range response, and reduced mid-bass. Lately I've been enjoying more mellow and relaxed products with a bass tilt. Two of my favorite in-ears, the Echobox Finder X1 with grey filters installed and the Fischer Audio Dubliz Enhanced are good examples of my preferred signatures.

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    Packaging and Accessories:

    I have to admit that I was pretty excited to dive in and see what the RE800 was all about after catching my first glimpse of the packaging. The exterior sleeve contains a close up of the RE800 with a honeycomb pattern in the background. Up in the top right hand corner is a sticker highlighting that this is the 24k Gold Edition, "electroplated with a fine 24k gold finish". Cool. The rear of the sleeve has come contact info for HiFiMan, their supported social media platforms, and some basic specifications.

    Sliding off the sheath means you're getting to the interesting parts. It reveals a large jewelry box sized case on which the HiFiMan logo is printed along with "Innovating the Art of Listening" and the model number: RE800.

    Flipping open the steel latch and lifting the lid reveals a swath of deep black, felt-like material coating a thick, dense foam displaying the RE800's earpieces and the included hard, clam-shell carrying case. Lifting out the foam sheet you find some documentation and those accessories not being held in the clam-shell case. Overall you get:

    - RE800 earphones

    - full-size display case

    - clam-shell portable case

    - 1 pair Comply T400 Large

    - 1 pair Comply T400 Medium

    - 1 pair grey bi-flange silicone tips (small bore)

    - 1 pair black bi-flange silicone tips (medium bore)

    - 1 pair black single flange silicone tips (wide bore)

    - 2 pair tri-flange silicone tips (medium/large)

    - 1 pair of stiff, silicone ear guides

    - warranty card

    - social media info card

    - soft cover Owner's Guide

    I have to give special acclaim to the Owner's Guide which is less manual, and more small coffee table book. The quality is fantastic with each page made from a thick, durable paper that shames the packaging many earphones come in. It starts with a message from HiFiMan's Founder and CEO, Dr. Fang Bian and proceeds to explain the technology behind the unique Topology Diaphragm used in the RE800, materials used for the housings and cable, and how to properly wear and maintain the RE800. It's a fairly basic but interesting read and a welcome inclusion.

    Overall I am pleased with the RE800's unboxing experience. The accessory kit admittedly feels a bit lacking, particularly the clam-shell case which you can pick up on AliExpress for less than a dollar, but there should be enough variety in the included tip set to find something that works for you. If not, someone who is in the market for this earphone probably already has a slew of 'favorite' tips to choose from instead.

    DSC01594.JPG DSC01599.JPG DSC01608.JPG
    Design, Build, Comfort, and Isolation:

    The RE800's ear piece design is basic, understated, and to my eyes quite attractive in it's simplicity. The matte gold plating is subtle enough to avoid catching the attention of those around you and doesn't look gaudy as one might expect when out of your ears and on display. While there isn't much going on with the design at first glance, a closer look reveals a slight flare at the rear of the housing which helps with gripping the ear pieces. The soft edges that make up the curves of the earpiece add some extra dimension to what would otherwise be a mostly featureless design.

    The materials selected for the RE800 are certainly quite nice. Gold-plated brass housings help give the RE800 the tonal properties HiFiMan was looking for. The Cystaline-copper, silver coated cable was selected for "its performance characteristics and notably its low cable capacitance..." which according to HiFiMan benefited the RE800's high frequency performance. Since I have no way of comparing the various cables that were in consideration, I'll take their word for it because I quite enjoy the RE800's vibrant treble presentation. The y-split and chin slider (thank you!) also look to be gold-plated, but I can't tell if HiFiMan used brass down there too. It's definitely metal though. The 90 degree angled jack is all-metal, gold-plated as well, and very chunky. Since I'm a blaspheming scrub I tried the RE800 with my smartphone. I found that the case didn't get in the way of the thick jack due to an extra 4mm of metal that gives the upper portion of the jack plenty of leeway.

    Once we start looking at build quality, my enthusiasm begins to wane. It's not that the RE800 is poorly built, far from it, but at the price I expected more. The two constituent parts that make up each ear piece have a clear seam separating them. On the right ear piece the coloring isn't consistent with the ear facing section being darker. This contrast isn't overly visible with the ear tip on, but remove it and it's quite obvious. It's not a major issue since it's purely cosmetic, but at 699 USD I would expect this to be flawless.

    DSC01611.JPG DSC01612.JPG DSC01613.JPG

    I also have mixed feelings about the cable, those cable noise certainly isn't one of them. Below the y-split it is thick and feels quite dense. Bends from being wrapped up remain after weeks of use, though it's not horrible and they've been slowly lessening, though they're still there. Above the y-split the cable is wonderfully flexible and all bends are gone. The offset is that it thins out significantly. This wouldn't be so bad if the cable was properly relieved at the ear pieces, y-split, and to a lesser extent at the beefy 90 degree angled jack (which seems to be self serviceable). This is being somewhat addressed by a revised version of the RE800 with a removable, MMCX terminated cable. Still, I would like to see HiFiMan keep the fixed cable version alive and update it with proper strain relief. It's a nice cable, it just needs some support.

    Another reason I think it needs the extra support afforded by proper strain relief is because it's a fairly heavy cable. This also results in cable down wear being less comfortable than I know it should be. The RE800 is tiny, ergonomically shaped, and the ear pieces themselves weigh very little. When worn cable down the weight tugs at the ear pieces and while it's not enough to pull them out completely, it gets obnoxious very quickly when I'm mobile. When worn cable up the comfort levels are high and I can use them pretty much indefinitely without fatigue or discomfort.

    When it comes to blocking out your environment, the RE800 is about what I was expecting; average. It's a ported dynamic driver earphone with a fairly shallow fit. I can hear myself type, the desk fan behind me, my work computer's fan screaming away to my right, trucks cruising outside, etc. It's all muted, but I can still hear it.

    Overall I think it's a beautifully designed and very comfortable earphone made from quality materials, but one that needs a bit more attention paid to the finer details.
    Specifications:

    Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz

    Impedance: 60 ohms

    Sensitivity: 105 dB

    Driver: 9.2mm dynamic driver with "Topology Diaphragm"

    DSC01601.JPG DSC01602.JPG DSC01605.JPG
    Tips:

    I personally quite enjoy the two stock bi-flange options. I'm not entirely sure what the differences are between the two, but I found myself leaning towards the black set as they seemed to seal better. My review was conducted based on how the RE800 paired with the stock bi-flange options. Some other tips I tried were;

    Comply T400 medium - If you are treble sensitive toss these on. They do a good job of sucking up any excess top end while filling out the low end. I didn't notice much effect on the mid-range. If I didn't enjoy the stock bi-flange tips so much, these would be my go-to.

    JVC medium from FXT90 - Opened sound stage even further but attenuated treble to an uncomfortable extent while making the RE800 sound somewhat loose and splashy.

    Ultimate Ears medium from UE600 - Similar experience to JVC's tips but with greater treble control and lessened emphasis.

    KZ 'Starline' medium - They provided the same sound as the stock bi-flange option, but via a longer tip. If you find the stock tips too short and don't want to resort to the tri-flange, these might be worth a shot. Only downfall was decreased comfort worn cable down. The extra length made the tugging of the cable more prominent.

    Dunu Heir-style medium single flange - Best of the 3rd party bunch. The extra shallow fit helped take in some of the cable weight without affecting the stock signature much, if at all.

    Havi Sennheiser-style dual flange - Normally one of my go-to tips, yet a very bad choice for the RE800. Way too much and very splashy treble.

    DSC01616.JPG DSC01620.JPG DSC01627.JPG
    Sound:

    I'm a bit of a sucker for the application of unique technology. In the case of the RE800 and it's flagship sibling the RE2000, that technology is HiFiMan's "Topology Diaphragm". According to the included documentation, a special nano-coating is applied to the diaphragm. By adjusting the layout, thickness, pattern, etc. they can achieve their desired tune. What I hear from the RE800 is relative neutrality in terms of mid-range and bass presence, with a nice uptick in the treble regions to give them some extra pizzazz.

    As someone who enjoys boosted treble, the RE800's presentation was quite enjoyable. Other reviews have noted a sharp peak in the 7k region which can cause fatigue if overdone, such as on the RHA CL1 Ceramic which re-calibrated my definition of "bright". I thought it was a fun earphone, but for brief periods only. Thankfully, with the RE800 I did not find this peak a tiring affair. It instead offered a slightly thin, very honed, airy, sparkly sound, not entirely unlike the treble tuning JVC applies to their micro-driver units. This also meant that it wasn't an entirely natural presentation with cymbals attacking a little too aggressively, though I though the decay time seemed about right. This tuning seemed most effective at the low volumes at which I typically listen; anywhere from 2-5 out of 32 (track and location dependent) through HiFiMan's MegaMini for example. Only when upping the volume considerably did it start to get uncomfortable and cause fatigue, but to my ears this is the case with most earphones.

    The RE800's mid-range is probably my favorite aspect of their signature, coming across quite natural sounding and exceptionall well-textured and detailed to my ears. Running through some great albums like Supertramp's 'Crime of the Century', Elton's John's 'Golden Yellow Brick Road', and Massive Attack's 'Mezzanine' were invigorating experiences. Leading into the upper mids the lean qualities of the treble were retained, thickening up as you shifted down into the lower mids. It's not entirely unlike how the mid-range is handled on my Accutone Pisces BA hybrid, though with greater subtlety and coherence.

    The RE800's bass seems tuned to follow the track's agenda, not it's own. If the track has bass in a supporting role, that's where it stays. If a deep bass line leads the track, such as on Massive Attack's 'Angel', the RE800 will portray it that way. Add to that some authoritative mid-bass punch with a quick attack and decay and the RE800 can quickly draw you into your music as you re-explore familiar tracks. It's a very convincing presentation that really helps with immersing myself into my music when I simply want to sit and listen.

    This earphone's expansive sound stage also helps with this immersion factor. My live recorded King Crimson tracks sound larger and more open than I'm used to, exacerbated by the RE800's slightly slender note presentation and excellent separation. The amount of detail this earphone pulls out of the track is pretty intense as well, making tracks like 'Easy Money' a blast. Using the RE800 for gaming is a killer experience, handily easily besting some of my favorite (though much less expensive) in-ears that I routinely use for this purpose, those being the Brainwavz B100 and Fischer Audio Dubliz Enhanced. The accuracy of imaging and layering with the RE800 is uncanny. As long as the sound design permits it, minute changes in direction are quite easily picked up.

    Overall I found the RE800 to be a very impressive listen. I can certainly see some finding the combination of treble energy and extreme detail a little fatiguing, but for my preferences I wouldn't have it any other way.

    DSC01621.JPG
    Final Thoughts:

    When it comes down to it, I think the RE800 is a fantastic earphone. It's made from quality materials, the design is beautiful, and it's small and comfortable. It has an exceptionally detailed and vivid presentation that to my ears manages to avoid being uncomfortably bright or fatiguing. It's also an earphone that worked well with nearly anything I tossed it's way.

    It's sound and design are top notch, though fit and finish could see improvements. The poorly relieved and slightly heavy cable is also something to watch when considering raw longevity, but that's almost a moot concern since an MMCX equipped version is on the way to remedy this.

    While earphones in this price range are still somewhat alien to me, of those I have had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with the RE800 and it's vibrant sound clearly stands out and leaves a lingering, positive impression. I'm thankful to have heard and experienced it.

    Thanks for reading!

    - B9Scrambler

    ***** ***** ***** ***** *****​
    Some Test Tunes:

    Aesop Rock - Skelethon (Album)

    Elton John - Yellow Golden Brick Road (Album)

    King Crimson - Lark's Tongues in Aspic (Album)

    King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black (Track)

    Supertramp - Crime of the Century (Album)

    Infected Mushroom - Converting Vegetarians (Album)

    Infected Mushroom - Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)

    Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (Album)

    Massive Attack - Mezzanine (Album)

    Fleetwood Mac - Rumors (Album)

    Run the Jewels - Run the Jewels (Album)

    The Prodigy - The Day is My Enemy (Album)

    Tobacco - F****d Up Friends

    Felt - Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bone)
  7. ostewart
    Bright, Clear with a lot to like
    Written by ostewart
    Published Jul 31, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Clarity, coherency, soundstage, comfort
    Cons - Potentially troubling treble peak
    Firstly I would like to thank Hifiman for this sample, I always try to write honest reviews. These have had well over 100hrs of burn-in, in my opinion I have heard small changes and recommend you burn them in fully.

    Gear Used: Audio Opus #2 / HiFiMan MegeMini > RE800

    [​IMG]

    Packaging, Build Quality and Accessories:
    The RE800 come in a luxury box, the box has an outer sleeve that says the model name, with a picture and basic specs on the back. Take the sleeve off and you have a wooden box that has a laminate coating on it, with a metal plate with the brand and model number on it. The box has a metal latch and metal hinges, once you open it you will find the accessories and the IEM’s held in a foam inlay. Underneath the main tray you will find additional tips and also an owner’s book which is a very elegant paperback book. The packaging is superb and the un-boxing experience is first class, fitting for the price.

    [​IMG]

    The metal housing of the RE800 is tiny and very well finished; the cable is thick below the y-split but maybe a little thin above it. The cable on my pair is fixed, but HiFiMan have brought out a revised version with a detachable MMCX cable. Strain relief is mainly good but is lacking on the entry to the housing, hopefull this is fixed with the detachable cabled version. I think these are well built and the housing definitely feels like a quality IEM.

    The RE800 comes with quite a few accessories, you get some ear guides for wearing them with the cable routed behind the ear, 2 different types of single flange tips, and triple flange tips in M and L. You also get 2 pairs of Comply foam tips and a clamshell carry case. For the price I think more tips could have been included, and a metal case like the one of the RE2000 would be nice over a normal clamshell case.

    [​IMG]

    Comfort, Isolation, Driver flex and Cable noise:
    The RE800 are one of the most comfortable IEM’s around, the tiny housing combined with the light weight means once inserted they are comfortable for hours. I found them most comfortable with the cable routed behind my ear.

    Isolation is good, they are vented so won’t isolate as much as a fully sealed IEM but for general use and some commuting they would be perfectly fine.

    Driver flex is present occasionally, but only upon initial insertion and is not bad.

    Cable noise is minimal when worn cable straight down, and never present when worn with the cable over the ear.

    [​IMG]

    Sound:
    Based on the sound with stock grey bi-flange tips, split into the usual categories with a conclusion at the end:

    Lows: The lows on these are similar in some ways to the RE2000, but a little leaner, they come out when called for yet stay in the background when not needed. The extend right down to the sub-bass with ease and linearity, stick on some acoustic and the body is there, some heavy rock and they keep up with ease, then put on some hip-hop/rap and be prepared to hear/feel the sub-bass come out to play. The lows are enjoyable with all genres, and are never bloated; they never encroach on the midrange.

    Mids: The lows don’t bleed into the mids, keeping them crisp and detailed without any extra body. The do come across with a slightly cold tonality, but has excellent separation and speed. There is an emphasis on the upper mids giving female vocals a bit more presence than males, but there is also a tiny bit of sibilance. The mids are well balanced with the rest of the sound of the RE800, never becoming strident or shouty.

    Highs: First off, let’s get the bad out of the way, there is a bit of a peak at 7 kHz that can cause fatigue for some and also gives cymbals a bit of a metallic tone upon initial impact. But with that out of the way, some tip rolling can help tame this, as could a touch EQ if you find the peak to be problematic, which I do not. I actually like that these have a nicely extended high frequency response, with plenty of detail and air. You will never lose track of the treble frequencies, but I still don’t find them sharp or overly bright (your mileage may vary).

    The soundstage on the RE800 is realistic and track dependent, it is fairly intimate but everything is well separated with about equal width and height.
    Instrument separation is superb with excellent transient response.

    [​IMG]

    Conclusion: The RE800 is fast, exciting and borderline bright to some ears and with some tips. There is a flaw, which is the peak, but this can be remedied somewhat with tips to those that are sensitive to treble. The other downside has actually been fixed, HiFiMan have now revised the RE800 to now come with a detachable cable that uses a MMCX cable.

    Overall the RE800 is an excellent monitor that does well with a multitude of genres, there is fantastic coherency that you just don’t quite get with multi BA designs, full bodied bass when needed, a midrange packed full of micro detail and some shimmering and well extended treble. If you crave details, crisp sound and a convincing soundstage these are worth a listen. I have found these play very well with a lot of the faster rock music I listen to.

    Sound Perfection Rating: 8.5/10 (some won’t like the treble peak, but there’s a lot to like in these)

    [​IMG]
  8. Falconlistener
    Hifiman RE800
    Written by Falconlistener
    Published Jul 31, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Great soundstage, great imaging
    Cons - Price and the cable noise
    1)
    I would like to thank Hifiman and AV One for this opportunity to review Hifiman"s latest Iems called the RE800.
    I love the unboxing experience as the box and presentation feels premium and the unboxing begins. I do feel like its a jewellery box at first glance with it black background and it focus my attention to the Iems and its carrying case.
    Inside the box, you will the Iems, user guide which explains the unit itself and the history of Hifiman and the paper documents. In the carrying case, you will find two sets of comply foam tips, a pair of ear guides for those who prefer to wear over-the-ear style. Lastly the various silicon tips which are the standard small, medium and large plus it comes with some flange tips. However, the unit itself has been attached with a pair of grey silicone tips which to me is just nice for my comfort and seal.
    The Iems are a small unit and it houses a single dynamic driver. The outer housing is stunning to look at with the 24K gold plated brass housing and same goes for it thin Y-splitter. The cable is fixed so its not detachable and terminates in a right angled standard 3.5mm Oyaide plug.
    I generally use the unit on the go and the only thing that caught my attention was the cable noise while walking as I do travel to work. The cable noise is very noticeable as it hits my body when I put them on with or without music played.
    Out of the box, the RE800 sounded thin, it has a lot of sparkles in the highs, the bass impact was noticeable but at times not really there and the mids sounded grainy. Therefore, through burning in the unit for a number of weeks. I will explain the sound further in the next section.
    2)
    First, I would like to to explain about the lows. It gets a whole lot better as it gets more punchier when it needs to be, a more cleaner punch and with a noticeable sub bass. I am able to get goof low ends that does not interrupt the mids and highs. Furthermore, it is able to deliver a much fuller sound and warmth which I enjoyed it very much.
    Next will be the mid-range. They eventually will get much smoother over time and its clean sounding and when the vocals come, its positioned slightly forward. I enjoyed the mids from some tracks that I played like from Enya and ACDC.
    Third, the highs and what a a great improvement. They get sweeter and less sparkles here and there plus the highs do not roll off too quick. This is because I like to listen to genres like Rock and Roll, Classical and Opera. This is where the highs are more important because it has to be just right like the cymbals and not too much of the hissing sounds that I get a lot initially.
    Lastly will be the soundstage, its wide and always is. I do have a nice presentation when listening and has an amount of airiness to it. I do like that the drivers are quick for its frequency range.
    3)
    After explaining much, I will summarize what I have written so far. Though the RE800 is not the flagship of Hifiman, it sounds great for it category. Its a wide range and wide soundstage Iems but it leans toward a bright sounding signature.

    Thank you.
      Dobrescu George likes this.
  9. Arysyn
    HiFiMan RE800
    Written by Arysyn
    Published Jul 26, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Sound & Staging : Bass tight and near-neutral, Mids clear and neutral, Treble excellent all around with plenty of detail and space. Mostly intimate 3d-like sound
    Design & Fit : One of the very finest and best on the market
    Cons - While near-perfect to my preference, it would match my ideal sound signature with slightly less Bass quantity, and Vocals a bit more forward.
    Hello to everyone reading this, which is my first review posted here on Head-Fi. This is my overview of the RE800 by HiFiMan.

    To begin, I am going to give a bit of a disclaimer of sorts about my review style. From my experience reading and writing reviews, there are various ways in which a review can be written. The more common way I've seen, is where the reviewer describes the subject of the review from the perspective of trying to help you, the reader, in deciding whether or not to further explore the subject being reviewed in such ways that include the possibility of trying or buying that which is being reviewed.

    Of course I'd like for my reviews to help readers make those considerations more positively and productively. Although, sometimes reviews can be written in a way where it appears the reviewer is trying either to promote or discourage the sales of the subject being reviewed, whether or not that was the reviewer's intention.

    While the focus of a review still should be on the subject itself, I believe in order to avoid any negative connotations connecting myself to a particular subject I'm reviewing, I will write reviews in a style of my personal experience with the subject of my review as if I'm being interviewed about it, where my experiences with the topic are at least almost as important as the focus on the subject itself.

    Despite my technical reliance on audio frequency response graphs, which I utilize in understanding the sound signature output of a particular audio product, I believe that regardless of the technical attributes and the particular specifications of these audio products in delivering their sound signature output to every listener, there are a variety of various and varying variable interpretations of the very individual and unique perceptions from the resulting production that also deserves recognition when interpreting results regarding the sound signature output of any particular audio product.

    In writing my reviews and in reading comments from those who've read them, I will try to teach what I know, along with learning from others, particularly involving their connections to these personal audio products not only through the technical aspects of sound connectivity, but also from the sharing of our experiences brought on by the emotional connectedness to the music and delivered to us by the sources we choose to utilize for this very purpose. It is in that common bond we connect socially in our spiritual quest for that perfect sound, the very harmony which matches our deepest lows, our most enveloping and surrounding mids, and our heightened highs that delivers us to our sanctuary of sound, our audio utopia.

    In traveling on our journey to musical nirvana, there are plenty of insightful tools to help us reach that heavenly state of audio bliss. One of which is like a travel guide, audio frequency response graphs, which to us audio enthusiasts basically are scientific roadmaps to that wonderful soundscape we call our ideal sound signature. These are great tools to help us understand what our audio devices sound like. I am particularly dependant on these graphs to give me a clear description of a device's sound. Although as I mentioned earlier in this review, individual interpretations of each listener may differ, and the input they offer regarding their perceptions also are important to the understanding of audio output data.

    I happen to have recently had my very own audio frequency response graph designed for me by a graphic designer, to show an example of what my ideal sound signature is. I've already posted the graph in a few threads on the Head-Fi forum, but for the sake of this review, I'll display it again here.

    iemearphone-audio-frequency-response.png

    I'd say that pretty much describes my review stylings, including my own preferences. So now I'll begin discussing my impressions here about an audio product of Dynamic Driver - based iem earphones I believe produces a sound signature which somewhat closely resembles my own ideal sound signature preferences displayed on the audio frequency response graph, or at least it is one of the closest to doing so of all the Dynamic Driver - based iem earphones I've seen from the many audio frequency response graphs I've viewed online.

    The Dynamic Driver - based iem earphones I'm referring to, is the HiFiMan RE800. However, before I begin to describe my impressions of it, there is an audio frequency response graph of the RE800 displayed on the forum, which was produced by one of the Head-Fi Moderators, Brooko, of which I'm going to display here :

    Re800_channels.png

    While there are some differences between the RE800 and my ideal sound signature preferences, which are evident in the audio frequency response graphs displaying those differences, there also are some similarities. I will be describing them here throughout my review of the HiFiMan RE800.

    In regards to reviews concerning audio products, most of these reviews begin describing in detail everything visible regarding the product's design, fit, and the supplied accessories, along with displaying photographs relating to these details. Accompanying those photos, are images of other items that were brought alongside the main audio product. The important thing here to note regarding these aspects of the RE800, is that the build itself is made of a high-quality brass material housing, and it appears to be one of the best fitting iem earphones on the market.

    The product ought to fit very well in most ears, though isolation is highly dependent on the tip size. However, as is the case with almost any product purchase, the details regarding these issues ought to be researched thoroughly by the buyer in questioning the manufacturer and/or merchant about these details prior to purchase. No reviewer can completely describe the fit and feel of these audio products to the reader in absolute description to completion.

    My viewpoint of addressing accessories in a non-shopping product review, is that I believe such details are more appropriately suited for discussion in forum posts and in the reviews sections on merchant websites. I also believe the greater detail of these side offerings are best left to the manufacturer and the merchant to explain in their product's descriptions and purchasing information.

    I'm assuming that at least most viewers reading this review have already become aware of my ideal sound signature by looking at the audio frequency response graph I posted earlier in this review, which displays what my ideal sound signature essentially is. However, I'll also describe it in comparative words contrasting that of the sound signature produced by the RE800.

    In conducting my impression study for this review, I've listened to my song choices I hear when first trying a new audio product. These are the following tracks :

    Curtains (Myst4 Revelation version) by Peter Gabriel
    Veni Redemptor Gentium by Paul Schwartz
    Turning to Peace by Paul Schwartz
    Forever by Schiller
    Let Me Love You by Schiller
    Rivers of Belief by Enigma
    Return to Innocence by Enigma
    Dreammaker by Thomas Bergersen
    Merchant Prince by Thomas Bergersen
    Moment of Peace by Gregorian

    There are other tracks I normally listen to when first trying a new audio product, along with those I listed. However, I haven't found the time to do so yet.

    The main dac/amp source I'm using for the RE800, is the Meridian Explorer2, which hopefully I'll be reviewing sometime soon. I've also listened to the RE800 through the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Roadie and the Zorloo Zuperdac. The differences in how the sources affected the sound signature of the RE800 were noticeable. From my estimation of the sources I've used regarding which source is producing the most similar sound signature in contrast with what the Meridian Explorer2 produces, is the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Roadie, which when used with the RE800, increased the Bass by a 2dB difference between neutral, about half the measurement shown by the audio frequency response graph produced by Brooko. while bringing the Mids and Vocals to about neutral. The Treble sounds slightly less detailed than the Treble produced by the Meridian Explorer2. The Zorloo Zuperdac increased the Bass by double the amount in contrast with the Bass produced by the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Roadie, or similar to the results shown by the audio frequency response graph produced by Brooko. The Treble sounds much less detailed than the Treble produced by the Meridian Explorer2. That describes how the RE800 sounds when listened through the sources I utilized.

    Now, I'll overview the differences between listening to the RE800 through the Meridian Explorer2 in contrast with the audio frequency graph showing my ideal sound signature.

    Mine (Bass region) : There is a line starting at the very beginning, which is at the 0Hz point, going upwards a 30dB increase to neutral, at the 50Hz point, which is near the middle of the Low-Bass region. From here at the 50Hz point, there is a neutral line to the 250Hz point. This is at the end of the entire Bass region.

    ME2/RE800 (Bass region) : There appears to be a very small amount more quantity in the Sub-Bass region than in my preference. The neutrality starts earlier in the Low-Bass region than in my preference. A neutral Bass overall, though because it begins earlier in the Bass region than in my preference, it provides a bit more Bass quantity than what I prefer. Although, the Bass quality is very good.

    Mine (Mids region) : From here at the 250Hz point, which is at the beginning of the Low-Mids region, there is a line going diagonally upwards a 5dB increase to the 500Hz point. This is at the end of the Low-Mids region, and at the beginning of the Mid-Mids region. From here at the 500Hz point, there is a neutral line to the 1KHz point. This is at the end of the Mid-Mids region, and at the beginning of the High-Mids region. From here at the 1KHz point, there is a line going diagonally upwards a 5dB increase to the 2KHz point. This is at the end of the entire Mids region.

    ME2/RE800 (Mids region) : Mostly neutral. Very rarely becomes recessed at all. However, my preference is for Vocals to be more forward. Although, the quality in keeping the Bass region separated from the Mids region is very good.

    Mine (Treble region) : From here at the 2KHz point, which is at the beginning of the Low-Treble region, there is a neutral line to the 10KHz point. This is at the beginning of the High-Treble region, where the audio frequency usually begins its decrease downwards on the audio frequency response graphs. Mine does too, but in a slow, even pattern, until the end.

    In comparing the ME2/RE800 Treble to my Treble preference, both are great. My preference would be a slightly higher Treble than the Mids of my preference, yet would remain flat in the Treble, without any peaks or dips. Although, I haven't yet heard any negative side effects from the Treble on the ME2/RE800 configuration as it is.

    My preference basically has the Bass at a low/neutral level, lower Mids on a slow incline upwards, so as to not allow muddiness into the sound, flattening in the middle of the Mids across that region for even, forward Vocals, then another slow incline upwards on the higher Mids for a fair buildup in clarity towards the Treble, which remains flat throughout, until towards the end.

    The ME2/RE800 has a smaller, opera house staging, rather than an arena staging. More intimate, though certainly larger than in a studio setting.

    The ME2/RE800 combination is great, regardless of my preferential differences. Despite that it doesn't completely match my preference, it gets close enough in the areas that really matter. Although, the other sources used with the RE800 did make me think more negatively towards the RE800 for the fact there was too much Bass, and not enough forwardness in the Vocals. Still, with the ME2 by its side and connected as its source, the RE800 is as great as I think it can be.
      Dobrescu George and earfonia like this.
  10. MrOTL
    Golden looks, golden sound!
    Written by MrOTL
    Published Jul 11, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - High resolution even 1 DD, Rich bass, Silky treble, Comfortable fit, Luxury appearance
    Cons - Passive mid-range(depend on device), Poor carrying case
    [​IMG]



    Hifiman Electronics is an audio manufacturer established in New York, USA in 2007 and is one of the few places that can produce headphones with magnetic planer driver. It is also introduced in "TIMES" magazine and has a high level of technology that earns good reputations from famous audio commentators. Hifiman, has focused on producing headphones for the past a decade, now challenges in-ear headphone market, which has been showing great growth in recent years.


    Specification of ‘RE800’ is pretty gorgeous. Brass housings are treated with 24K pure gold and new diaphragm technology called 'Topology diaphragm' is implanted on ‘RE800’. The 'topology diaphragm' is nano-coated on the surface of diaphragms, which can suppress distortion more than usual dynamics-drivers, while still providing a wider dynamic-range and headroom than amateur-balanced drivers. At the same time, it is possible to output the expression of the sound more uniformly.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The enclosures of both housings are made smaller than regular earphones in the same price range. Thanks to the reason, ‘RE800’ is possible to wear with over-ear-way too, so that people who have even small or big ear-canals use it more easily. Nozzles are the most common size (4 mm diameter), and the entrances are tightly covered with wire mesh. The single ducts beneath it reduced vibration of the diaphragm (Cracking sound when plug into canals) and air pressure in the ears.


    The cable is covered with a soft black cloth over silver-plated wires, and seems really simple likes ordinary earphone cables. The Y split and the cable slider are also plated with pure gold over brass materials, with brand and product model names engraved back and forth. The 3.5mm stereo input plug is made in a long and heavy-weighted with 'L' shape. There is some clearance in front of the plug, so no problem when using together with a smartphone or a portable audio device with thick cases.

    [​IMG]

    In particular, a single full-range silicon ear-tips are unique in that those are a single mass and has a layer like a double flange silicone ear-tips. The contained ear-guides provide good grip to prevent the ‘RE800’ from flowing down when mounted with over-ear way. The pouch has a pocket inside. However, it is still unfortunate that earphone is not completely protected against scratches or damage.








    Main Tested environment
    Hifiman Megamini DAP
    Sony NW-WM1A/ NW-A35
    Cowon Plenue D/P1/P2
    Astell&Kern AK70/240/380/SP1000
    Chord Electronics Hugo
    Samsung Galaxy S8+
    Mackbook Air 2015
    iPhone SE


    Music reference
    Classical, Jazz, New Age


    Usage time
    34 Hrs



    The "RE800" showcases emphasis on harmonic of the treble and bass. The presentation of sounds clearly is located from the center of the listener's head and width of soundstage is not opened than the shoulders. Even though midrange tends to be laid back a little because of the emphasized high and low frequency, there was no suppression or obtuse feeling due to the clear stage image.

    The bass particles are as micro-powder like flour and the roll-off response is linear and slowly decays. This feature delights listeners by explosion of intense bass, which sounds among even a lot of string-instruments in the orchestra as like as dust-explosion-characteristic.

    Thanks to the bass that resonates reliably without excessive distortion, even if the low-bass is emphasized, it does not give the listener fatigue. The smooth texture of the bass and natural expression is to be of great benefit in expressing the sounds of analog instruments, but in electronic music, bass instruments possibly tend to overlap one another.
    The midrange is warm and reverberant, allowing you to feel clear harmonic texture of vocals, pianos and classical guitars, and is heard one step laid back giving calm and clear tendency. The reverberation is evenly distributed to the upper and lower middles, and catches the sharp expression of female vocals as well as male’s.


    [​IMG]


    The "RE800" has sheen, airy, and textured sound-signature on treble so that can play sound-sources with fast and rhythmical string instruments without any awkwardness. The lower treble has reverberation with moisture texture, and expresses well a feeling of emptiness after a violin string ringing well. Also, vivid and lively in female vocals as well.

    Depending on the enclosed ear-tips, it can be transformed into four different sound-signature. The Bi-flange silicone ear-tips reduce the amount of mid-bass, gives you a more-sheen harmonic tone at treble, and the full-range silicon ear-tips pull the middle forward and inflate upper-bass. The Tri-flange ear-tips give flattened sound tone on middle and treble, and more condensed sharper bass. The memory foam ear-tips suppress the representation of the middle and treble, also emphasize the mid bass, making the overall sound-signature softer.

    It has a resistance value of 60 ohms and requires high volume in light output devices such as smart phones. If you do not secure the proper output, occurs sibilance at the upper midrange easily, so that recommend matching with devices having a stable output volume level. "RE800" is recommended to use with DAP called ‘Megamini’ makes the passive midrange more clear and accurate, and gives the bass more natural and hitting.




    [​IMG]


    Conclusion


    "RE800" not only shows high-quality appearance with pure gold plating, but also a natural bass and treble performance while showing a resolution comparable to that of multiple BA with a single dynamic driver. Small size and simple design have shown the benefits of comfort and practicality. If interested in in-ear monitor with luxury look and natural sound performance, "RE800" will be a good choice.








    Disclaimer

    Hello, I am a Head-fi product reviewer named 'Bigheadfiler' in South Korea. This review may not be perfect because it is my 6th English translation. I appreciate your understanding. Thank you.

    The RE800 was offered by ‘Hifiman Electronics’. The content of the review has been written without any restriction because the authors' freedom is respected.
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