RE0 vs im716 (quick budget clarity IEM review/comparison)
May 16, 2010 at 11:25 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8


500+ Head-Fier
Dec 21, 2009
There can't be too many reviews, right? I thought I'd compare these two head to head, because they're in the same price bracket and because I don't think the im716 gets enough love for what it is today, overshadowed by the newer dynamic IEMs.
I'm going to assume everyone here is familiar by now with the RE0. Champion of <$100 clarity and transparency, with the subtle charm that can only come from V-moda knock-off style metal casing. In my limited experience in portable audio I really do believe they live up to the hype. I can hear so much with these guys; they reproduce everything from the deepest lows (with a bit of EQ help) to shimmering highs.
In the other corner, we have the budget Etymotics. Isolation? Top notch. I used to own a pair of mid range Shures before upgrading to the RE0s. Since I've upgraded I've really missed the fantastic isolating properties that come with a small bore IEM. These guys deliver. But can they hold their own against the RE0 in other aspects?
Fit/Isolation/All Things Not Audio
I'm probably in the minority here, but I find fit and ergonomics to be just as important as the actual audio quality. They may sound damn good, but if I can't wear them where I want to they're useless.
RE0 (single flange) - Fit is shallow. I find the stock single flange tips to be the most comfortable tips I've ever used. Because of the shallow insertion, a seal is fairly easy to find. They can come out with some minor tugging however.
im716 (triple flange) - These are deep fit IEMs. By pulling up on my ears while putting them in, I can get an almost immediate seal. These will get uncomfortable after a while. I'm sure using olives or complys would make these much more comfortable.
RE0 - Some knowledgeable reviewers say these are about average. I won't argue with that. They barely isolate enough for a 5 hour plane flight, I can say that.
im716 - Much much better isolation. Heads and tails better than the RE0.
RE0 (version 3 cables) - Pretty loud. I remember reading reviews before getting these saying they were much better than the rev. 2 cables. They probably are. However, they still aren't what they could be. Over the ears helps a lot actually.
im716 - About the same as the RE0. I think this is because of a combination of the deeper fit (which would make it louder) and the thicker (better?) cables (which might make it softer).
RE0 - Supposed to be sturdy. They've held up to my abuse, but I can't get away from how thin they are. They feel like they're going to get caught one day or just get sliced by accident. Fortunately, I've had no problems with them so far.
im716 - Much more reassuring then the RE0 cables. I don't know if they're actually better, but they inspire more confidence.
I want to preface this with the following disclaimer: I will only compare the im716 in bass mode. I just don't like them in HD mode - there isn't enough bass for me. Comparisons will be out of a sansa clip+ rockboxed with no EQ or any other sound enhancing features on. Because I'm only comparing two earphones here, I see no need to rate them on a numeric scale. Instead, I'll just rate them directly against each other and say which one is better. I feel that this will lead to less ambiguity (one person's 5/10 is another's 7/10).
(Reference: [Quality/Quantity] or [Quality])
Bass: [tie/RE0]
RE0 is much more visceral, even without any bass boost. I can't say which one has more detailed bass, although I might give the edge to the RE0 if pushed to give an answer.
Mids: [-/RE0]
The im716 mids sounded rather off. I don't want to rate them quality wise here because I'm a huge fan of forward mids and without EQ the im716 sounds terrible in this regard.
Treble: [RE0/im716]
The RE0 is more smooth. Maybe not quite as fast, but much more enjoyable.
Postioning: [im716] Clear winner here. On the RE0 instruments float around (this improves with amping), whereas the im716 is very clear about exactly where each and every sound source is.
Soundstage: [RE0] Not a huge concern for me. Neither is fantastic. The RE0 is about Grado sized with the bi flange tips, about on par with the im716 with smaller single flange.
General thoughts: Perhaps it was the lacking mids, but the im716 just wasn't nearly as clear as the RE0. Will they serve well as airplane IEMs (like I intended)? Yes. The isolation is amazing. They let me use my favorite olives. And, the lower sensitivity will keep me from hurting my ears accidentally (like I did with some Shures a while ago) when I try to watch the in flight movie).
So, things are pretty much the way you thought they'd be. RE0 wins, but the im716 really isn't that far behind. To any RE0 fans, before picking up another pair of IEMs for flights, I would highly recommend buying whatever tips come with the im716 (ety style triple flange I guess?). Turns out you can get them onto the RE0 without much trouble. Fit is hard, and sound feels a little squashed, so you might want to cut off a flange.
Sorry for any mistakes/errors/omissions. It's late and I've been working all day. 

May 16, 2010 at 11:30 PM Post #2 of 8
Well there's a reason you don't hear the im716 very often these days..or even the im616 for that matter. It has been discontinued for quite some time.
May 17, 2010 at 2:28 PM Post #4 of 8
@rawrster: yeah, I know. But the im716 are still available if you can find them and they really do well for the price.
@Inks: Actually the best comparison would be the RE0 vs. the Ety MC3/5. Those would have been my first choice. Unfortunately they still haven't been released yet and I really needed a pair of isolating IEMs, so I picked up these.
May 17, 2010 at 6:38 PM Post #7 of 8
Nice impressions, although I do disagree that im716 is not that far behind. I used to own both RE0 and  im716 and RE0 is just miles ahead in sound quality IMO - no contest at all. Give them more time to burn in - RE0 needs at least 150-200 hours to fully open up. After they do, they will stomp all over im716.
May 17, 2010 at 7:36 PM Post #8 of 8
They are very well burned in. I didn't want to give them too much credit because I figured I'd be more attuned to the RE0 signature. Also, I'm trying not to be another head-fi reviewer who exaggerates differences to the point where you'd think you were crazy for even considering buying pair X.
They are different. The RE0 do appear to be much more clear. However I feel that's partly the lacking mids.

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