Head Direct/HiFiMan RE0 Review
Cross your fingers, this will be my first review.
1) This tip is not included, it's from my PL20s. See below.
2) Seems like I could rip the cable out pretty easily.
3) Angled plug.
Price: ~$85 shipped US, ~$90 elsewhere
Driver Diameter: 9mm
Impedance: 64 Ohm
Frequency Response: 15 - 22 kHz < this is obviously a lie, but you can't really hear into this range anyways.
Plug style: Right angle
Cable style: Y
Rated Input: 10mW
Max Input: 30mW
Good design, decent build quality.
The plug is angled, a good choice because this works in almost any setup, where the straight style works about half the time and the 45 plug never does. I am not a very "hardcore" user; I never even use them outside. The only use I get is literally sitting down listening to music, but I still feel like I could rip up the connector with my bare hands. It seem kind of flimsy and wiggly. Still, I've had no problems.
The cable is Y style, where both the R and L wires are the same length. The splitter is built fairly well, actually, My examination makes it seems like there's some sort of plug inside the metal splitter. This was definitely a good call.
Where the wire joins the actually monitors seems like a point of weakness. See the second photo. Again, I could just pluck this off like a daisy.
My ears are tiny, too small for the double-flange tips. So, I was forced to use the included black ones. These seemed somewhat "itchy" to me. I swapped my PL20 tips for these and they feel much better. I was confused as to why, so I conducted detailed measurements. My findings:
PL20 tips: 9mm diameter, 7mm height.
RE0 tips: 9mm diameter, 6mm height.
I think the silicone tips are somehow a different material that's more scratchy as well. The RE0s do not include foam tips. I didn't care, but this is worth a note.
Isolation is basically medium. You can use them on a bus. I can only compare to my PL20s, but I would say they are about the same (with their respective stock tips). I could not hold a conversation with them on, even if nothing is playing. They would make OK earplugs. Still, they let enough noise in for you to recognize someone calling your name. The 5th time.
I saved this part for last because I knew it would take forever to write.
Contrary to the almighty hype, I was not blown away on my first listen. But, since then, my ears have adjusted and the RE0s have burned in to my liking. When I go back to my PL20s, it's like listening to all of the notes blur together. The RE0s seperate out the details. A guitar is no longer a tone, it's a note, a twang, a recoil, and a echo. And that's what every strum is like.
Now, with this amazing detail, you will start to realize the flaws in your music collection. You will hear when someone recorded their music with their cell phone, and when iTunes an inferior encoder processed your tunes. Not only this, but you'll hear artists mess up. You'll begin to notice that infinitesimal pause when a singer almost forgets the lyrics. And you'll listen to the intro music on a 64k MP3 podcast and shriek with pain.
Soundstage. One pitfall of the sound, I think even my PL20s are better here. It's not that it's three blobs. I feel like panning is even all around. The issue is how narrow it is. If the "real life" soundstage is 180 degrees, then the RE0s are about 90. (how 90s...)
In my opinion, these do not really shine at low volumes. I had to turn it up to 17 on my S9 to really appreciate the detail. This is not a dangerous level, mind you, but it may be uncomfortable for some. I've gotten used to it.
These are not bassy phones. I don't like bass; that's why I got them (on a side note, I hear the Hippo VB's have more bass). Despite this, they are more bassy then my PL20s. They still have the, "OMG there's a bassist in this band" effect. Don't worry about not being able to hear bass solos though - most material will have this already amped up.
Highs are not shrill, but they make their presence known. Namely, when the violin solo comes in, get ready. Because it's gonna be awesome. Enough said.
The RE0s respond well to EQ/sound enhancements. I've been able to push up the bass to a near-Sennhieser level with decent sound. That said, be somewhat conservative in your EQ settings, because to much of anything will cause some wierd hissy noises.
Now, as I wrote this last section, I listened to a single song, #36 from Live at Red Rocks 8.15.95 by Dave Matthews Band. This song went the following way, literally touching almost every corner of the frequency range:
Drum solo intro. These aren't bass cannons, so I'm sure the drums could have been a bit more "full-bodied." But I enjoyed the experience. I could hear how the skin vibrated up and down, not this that there was a beat. When there was a cymbal, it came in with all of its RE0-like detail, because it is higher up.
"Body" of the song. The acoustic guitar came in, with the "guitar effect" described above. Pretty sweet. Vocals came in, and again, I could hear the vocal chords vibrating. It wasn't just words.
Electric guitar solo. And an amazing one at that. Some how Tim Reynolds has a way of making his guitar talk. Seriously. Anyways, I could point out the "words" within the jam. It was less "tone" and more "music." Despite how balanced the RE0s are.
Bass solo. As I mentioned earlier, the bass had been amplified in the recording so it would be prominent on any phones. It was at a comfortable volume, not dizzying like these speakers I have... I could hear the way the bassist plucked the string. As before.
Violin solo, over the bass backup. This was the sad part. I didn't feel like the Violin was a separate track from the bass, or that it was really a solo. It was just "part of the song." I suppose this could be good or bad.
The point is that these are great IEMs, given two things:
1) Built quality is not an issue. I wouldn't run with these.
2) You are not a basshead. Hippo VBs.
And so ends this rave. Phones like these offer sound that's far above their price point at a cost of build quality. But, they will satisfy anyone who just wants to jam to some tunes. While sitting down. Perfectly still. Not pulling on that tempting little plug...
Cowon S9 32GB > HiFiMan RE0 (RIP) | Sansa Clip+ 16GB (Rockbox) > Soundmagic PL20
If you have problems, try MSC mode, then google.com
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