HiFiMAN were all about the new 1000 models at Munich, we had the HE-1000, their new $3000 planar headphone, the EF-1000, the compatriot amp and finally the RE-1000 (circa $650), their new flagship custom IEM.
Starting with the HE-1000 and this is designer Fang Bian really pushing planar magnetic tech. For a starting point he has got the diaphragm to a point it is disgustingly thin at just a nanometer, yes that is 0.000001mm and no, I am not messing with you. This means it is low in mass with a high tenacity. On top of that it has a new “blinds grill” that means it stays very open but still has protection for the driver. Even after having seen pictures of these you are not prepared for how ginormous these headphones are, I mean it is crazy, these swallow heads whole. That being said both me and Josh with his tiny head had no problem with the comfort.
The sound? Well lets just say I loved it, super flat bass, energetic and fast mids and strong treble, maybe with a little bit of extra kick at about 7kHz, which when thrown together gives a reference sound that is just at a level you marvel at, me and Josh first listened at the same time, looked at each other and went “yes, these are bloody super headphone”. That all being said, at what will be at least $3000 one would hope so, with some great headphones like the ENIGMAcoustics Dharma coming in much cheaper at around $1200 and you being able to get some widely renowned great headphones such as the Sennheiser HD800 and Audeze LCD-3 for over a grand less, you must hope this buries them. Price aside though it did leave a big impression.
We actually originated on the EF-6, an amp we have always respected, especially when paired with HiFiMANs old flagship, the HE-6 but like the HE-6, the EF-6 has also been replaced and like the HE-1000, the EF-1000 is also huge with a matching power supply, I don’t think it will be too desktop friendly, unless you don’t want room for anything else. The size may have something to do with the 6 6922 tubes it has inside or maybe the 24 transistors and they are all in good faith because this is also a speaker amp. Anyway back to the story and we enjoyed the HE-1000s off the EF-6 but when we finally got onto the EF-1000 with them, dynamics increased, so did space and they clearly took a step forward in ability, and they were brilliant to begin with. This may be a killer combo. By killer though I do mean both in sound and on your wallet because this isn’t gonna be cheap.
We actually didn’t find the RE-1000 demo at the main HiFiMAN booth, in fact the distributor who was helping HiFiMAN out didn’t even know what they were, we gave up on them until we passed a booth that had mainly Fiio and iBasso DAPs and I saw in the back corner a big box that said RE-1000, me and Josh scurried over. The RE-1000 is meant to be custom made, with HiFiMAN not specialising in that area, they let country mate Unique Melody handle the manufacturing while they have developed internals, which features two dynamic drivers inside. Is the RE-1000 a RE-400 and RE-600 merged together? I mean the maths do suggest it. After listening to the universal demo I think not. It is rid of the problems of the above mentioned models, with a much bigger soundstage and better balance due to a more obvious treble. In fact it seems to be a good mix of the RE-600 and RE-272, which is my personal favourite IEM HiFiMAN have ever done. It seems to have the great detail and transparency of the 272 while still sounding more composed, bodied and smooth like the 600. It really seems like a great earphone and considering it is custom fit for what should be only $650, maybe a little more, HiFiMAN may be landing a devastating blow with this. While the other two 1000s seem to set price aside and just seem to be about making something great, this seems to have a great value to it as well, which has traditionally been what HiFiMAN have been known for.
I actually saw after the show that head designer Fang was floating around and it is quite sad that we didn’t get to bump into him as I have hoped to meet him for quite a while now as he seems like a very interesting man from interviews and it goes without saying I have loved some of his products.