I am aware I have been absent from this arena for a while and I could write pages on why this has been but you don’t need to be bored by this! One of the reasons though, is that frankly, neither Josh or I can be bothered to write about the same crap that keeps getting churned out at the moment! I don’t have the time in my life to give an honest effort evaluating a product I simply can’t enjoy. – Thankfully, there are a few products I currently have that I thoroughly enjoy and when the time becomes available I will write about them. StereoPravda’s SB-7 is one of them so stay tuned. A couple of others are thankfully the subject of this review… RE: The Latest HiFiMAN IEMs.
So I love HiFiMAN IEMs, I have never had a bad experience with the sound of them. The RE400 was a ridiculous feat of its time under 100 bucks, the RE600 more than warranted its price increase and I am pretty sure they both won awards in Inearspace & TotallyDubbed’s IEM awards 2013. That was some time ago now and going back even further I actually preferred their older RE-272 even more. Man that earphone still to this day gives me a shiver down my spine just thinking about its poetic presentation of music. Funnily enough the hobbyist that loaned me his RE272 back in the day now works for HiFiMAN and contacted me about reviewing these two models today.
I missed the RE800 and RE2000, they were getting some chat just as I was moving to Oman and beginning to go underground as far as Inearspace was concerned. I didn’t even pull up a review of one so when Mark asked me if I fancied the new silver versions I had no idea they were a thing or more importantly why?! Firstly they seem a little cheaper without any 24K Gold on the housing, i’d rather save some bucks if we still get the same going on inside. I think change in housing material also has removed a few grams off the weight (11 grams less) as well as some slight housing shape changes by the looks of some image comparisons. These earphones run for $599 & $1500. They both use HiFiMAN’s new topology driver. It is a single 9.2mm dynamic with a nano particle treated diaphragm to control the surface structure and there for allow much more precise control of sound. HiFiMAN have always strongly led the charge in dynamic drivers over balanced armature and this is said to be their current pinnacle of dynamic sound!
The housings are actually an aluminum alloy (in opposed to brass with the old versions), not silver as one may guess based on the name. That being said they certainly do look silver so does it matter? These are the cost effective variants after all. It has clearly been the better part of 5 years since I unboxed a HiFiMAN product but wow they have come along way in creating an experience for their buyers. I am opening a HiFiMAN IEM like a kid in a candy store. You now get a bloody owners guide in immaculate english, back in the day you’d be lucky to not find a spelling mistake on the box.
The RE2000s are loaded in a slick crushproof case and the cable comes in a separate box. Also in a separate box is various tips included and they answered my prayers and put the selection in a little foam casing, so I don’t have to rummage my fingers around a tiny silicone baggy. They did stick to their ways with the included tips that are a little more thought out that your usual mundane selection and you get a range of different silicone styles. The RE800 has a slightly less premium clamshell case and they revert back to the classic baggie for a huge tip selection. Why you get loads more options with the 800 does strike me as a little backward? It comes in and equally as stylish box with the same hard covered guide.
While I did mention sound was always top drawer on HiFiMAN IEMs, one of their biggest drawbacks would be the build quality. RE400s were notorious for failing and even the RE600 with a hefty price tag did not feature removable cables. They didn’t actually sway to removable cables until the RE1000 CIEM (built by Unique Melody not them) and then finally the RE2000. Even the RE800 still is hardwired, something I will always see as a negative on an earphone of that price, especially when it goes without any type of strain relief!!!
The two earphones are designed differently. The 800 is your standard trumpet style that can be worn as easily straight down as it can over the ear while the 2000 is a angular beast that will slip over your ear. It’s 2 pin connector is fairly recessed but they have included a little adapter so your existing cables will fit it properly, thats a cute little touch. The metallic structure feels great, until you get to the odd addition of plastic to the housings, which just seems a little unnecessary at the price point. Both models seem to have a very similar cable (2000 is thicker), one that on the inside is silver plated copper and on the outside feels rubbery and supple. After the Y-split is much thicker and as of now and has been performing admirably.
With a bulky box shape and a short stout the 2000 doesn’t have the deepest insertion. Probably why they come preloaded with a dual flange tip and have 2 sizes of triple flange in the box in the hope of adding some extra depth to the insertion. Regardless of tip I tried they did still have generally low level of isolation compared to similar styles of balanced armature earphones that do not share the need to be ported. Good job that this is an audiophile delight and not a stage monitor.
While gaining a secure fit is no issue with these earphones, there seems to be one angle to many for me and a small bulge on these earphones seems to dig into the wrong place. It is not agonizing or bad enough to prevent me listening to my music, but then again when I am paying this much money I want the comfort of InEar’s ProPhile 8, regardless of whats inside or what they are made of. Even Campfire manage to make hard edges work better than this. I often think comfort is wasted section because you could fit this perfect, or find the ProPhile 8 give severe pain, every ear is different and so will be your mileage with comfort.
The 800 are a much smaller profile and therefore with a little tug of the ear can get deeper into your canal. I wouldn’t go as far to say they isolate any better, but they certainly are more comfortable. They are light, small and disappear effortlessly into my ear. I do get microphonics when wearing cable down so I prefer to slap the cable over my ear and get stuck in. RE800 is ten out of ten for wearability for me while the RE2000 would push a four.
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