Hifiman RE600s V2

Hifiman RE600s V2
Hifiman RE600s V2
Specification
Driver Type
Dynamic
Driver Size
8.5mm
Cable
Silver and single crystalline copper
Links

Today I’m looking at another pair of earphones from Hifiman. These are the RE600s V2 which are a more traditional wired pair of earphones. The RRP of these is $199 which seems a bit high, however, they are actually retailing for around £60/$75. Full disclosure I did not buy these myself, this pair was sent to me by Hifiman for my honest review. As always whether I pay for something myself or whether I get sent something for review I’m always going to give my honest opinion. So let’s get into it.

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Today I’m looking at the Hifiman RE600s V2 which comes in a rather impressive leatherette and metal packaging, lined with foam with cutouts for the earphones themselves as well as the tips. Whilst rather impressive, this packaging does seem a little excessive but it does contribute to an overall rather premium unboxing experience.

Unfortunately, I wish I could say the same about the earphones themselves. Whilst the actual earpieces are small and light which makes them disappear in your ears quite nicely, the cable itself, which is unfortunately non-removable, in that more traditional earphone style, is not so good. On the one hand, there is a rather nice looking and feeling nylon braided cable up to the y-splitter. Albeit a rather stiff braid, although thankfully because it is only braided up to the splitter I don’t have too many issues with it. However, the cable from the y-splitter is a rather thin, stiff and plasticky feeling. Unfortunately, this makes the cable rather microphonic when rubbing against clothing and this was especially noticeable when walking around wearing these.

The fit of the RE600s V2 is down from the ear rather than over the ear. I suppose you could probably invert these and wear them over-ear, I tried this and never found them to be very comfortable in this way. But when worn with the cable facing down, the RE600s V2 fits snugly into the ear with the cable exit fitting nicely into the notch in the ear. For me, this is one of the more comfortable earphones of this style I’ve ever tried. However as mentioned before, and this is something I always have issues with on earphones of this style which is why I shunned earphones for so many years; the downward-facing cable exit leads to the cable catching on clothing and tugging on the earpiece. This leads to the cable being quite microphonic and transmitting noise of movement directly into the ear. However, because the earpiece fits so snugly into the ear I don’t find the cable pulls them out as I do with some larger earphones of this style.

So in terms of comfort a bit of a mixed bag, whilst I appreciate the small earpieces that fit snugly in the ear, the cable does leave me wanting. Whilst there is a market for downward cable exit earphones the cable which is quite stiff and microphonic is a bit of a bummer and I would much prefer at this price point an ear hook design with a removable cable. Also, the supplied tips are not particularly special and I much prefer to use foam tips.

Before we move on to sound lets go over the spec. The RE600s V2 sports a 1.2m “single crystalline copper” cable terminating in a 3.5mm TRS mini-jack. The driver is a single 8.5mm dynamic driver. The earphones are supplied with 11 different pairs of silicone tips in various sizes of single and bi-flange, 5 replacement filters to protect the nozzle, a cable winder as well as a basic carrying pouch to keep them safe whilst on the move. They have an impedance of 16 Ohms, a sensitivity of 102 dB per mW and the total weight of the earphones is 13.7g.

On to my listening tests, all listening was done either from my mobile device, a OnePlus 6 android phone or from my PC through an O2/SDAC using a mix of Spotify and FLAC files. Whilst I much prefer to use foam tips on any earphone, I used the silicone tips for my listening tests as Hifiman do not supply any foam tips with the RE600s V2.

In terms of overall sound signature, these obviously share a similar vibe to the TWS600 I reviewed previously, however with a bit more bass and extension thus evening out the sound much better. The TWS600 is a rather strange sound signature with a significant emphasis on the upper mids and a rolled off bass and treble that I found worked well for jazz but not much else and wasn’t a sound signature I was overly impressed with. The RE600s V2 are a similar upper-mid-forward sound but with a bit more bass to beef up the overall sound. Not quite as shouty as the TWS600, there does still seem to be a bit of emphasis between 1kHz and 2kHz. Perhaps this is the house sound for Hifiman IEMs?

Bass is much more present than on the TWS600 with a decent amount of extension down into the sub-bass, but overall is still rather lean and light. There is an overall rather “neutral” presentation in the bass and low-mid treble. Upper mids are a little forwards and could be shouty on some tracks, there seems to be a fair bit of energy between around 1kHz and 2.5kHz, peaking somewhere between 2kHz and 2.5kHz but then coming back down to more neutral levels in the treble, but then quickly rolling off. I tend to prefer a more rolled off treble on a portable headphone so I don’t actually have any issue with this on a personal level.

Initial impressions suggest that similarly to the TWS600 these would probably work pretty well for jazz, however with a little more body due to the bass not rolling off so soon.

And these first impressions do seem to be the case. Starting out with the jazz, listening to Charles Mingus, the saxophone is very forwards and other brass has this full and creamy quality. The bass has a much more body than on the TWS600 but just as articulate. On Better git it in your soul, imaging is pretty good I feel as though I am surrounded by the band, perhaps that is more this track than the earphones themselves as I’m not hearing anything spectacular elsewhere in terms of imaging. Although staging is intimate and puts me right in the middle of the band on the stage. There’s a good deal of detail and energy. On Moanin’ there’s more of that intimate staging, the sax intro is full and round, a more accurate representation than on the TWS600. I had previously mentioned that jazz could be a little muddy on the T4 comparatively to the TWS600, I find that jazz is not a genre that works especially well on bass-heavy headphones, that’s not to say the T4 is heavy in the bass, but it is a warmer sound than both the TWS600 and the RE600. I would say the RE600 gets it just right, full and warm enough to have a more complete sound but not to the point of muddiness but not so rolled off as on the TWS600. This enables the bass to play off against the sax much better than the TWS600 whilst keeping the same level of detail and clarity in the lower end.

Switching genres to some rock and one of my most used examples, TalkTalk by A Perfect Circle. The bassline is detailed and articulate with enough warmth to sound full but not so much as to sound boosted. Most headphones the guitar and drums are the most forward part of the track, this has a little more balance allowing some more emphasis on Maynards vocals and some particular focus on the piano that I don’t think I’ve heard so well on any other headphone. The distorted guitar section at 3:10 is a point of pain on some headphones actually sounded quite restrained and mellow, much to my pleasant surprise.

Never Tell A Soul by Circa Survive is also interesting in that the level of detail and instrument separation is rather excellent. This and most Circa Survive tracks are a full and large layered sound. On the RE600s there’s a little less of that fullness and warmth but the trade-off is a lot more clarity in the low end. The bass is detailed but not big. I’m not sure this does the track justice in terms of musicality but in terms of analytical detail, I’m actually quite impressed.

Moving on to some Lofi chillhop. The RE600s does seem to have a good deal of sub-bass potential thus showing that there is a good amount of extension. The piano is excellent, full, nice warm reverb. Although I’m finding the snare and hi-hat hits a little harsh in places. Rice Wine by Kalaido is an excellent example of how much sub-bass the RE600s is capable of and a great example of the sustained piano too. Moving back to snare hits, I think lofi highlights something I was hearing in other tracks but to a much greater extent. Lofi tracks often use a very snappy snare sound rather than the full whack of a rock drum kit. Whilst the main body of the snare lives somewhere in the lower mids or upper bass, the attack of a snare, the ‘crack’ sound often lives somewhere 1-2kHz which is right in the emphasised upper midrange of the RE600s which certainly explains why they are sounding so forwards and a bit harsh in places.

Moving on to EDM and Polaris by Deadmau5 and I’m really missing the bass. The kick has a decent quick punch but its not especially loud. So whilst there is a good amount of extension there is a considerable lack of volume and raw power in the bass which unfortunately doesn’t work so well for EDM. I have to give the RE600s some credit for the clarity and detail available but it just lacks that energy and excitement required for this genre.

At this point, I need to talk about the tips and how much they affect the sound. The supplied tips much like the TWS600 are a strange pick and mix of different types. There are several duplicate types and sizes for some reason. Also, the way the tips are stored in the presentation case has lead to some rather misshapen tips. An interesting point to note is the sound is affected quite considerably by tip fit, especially in relation to insertion depth. I found I didn’t really get on with any of the tips but one pair of the small dual flange tips that I was able to at least get into my ears to a good depth and stay in my ears. I did all of my listening tests using that pair of tips. However, I have also been using the RE600s with the Comply T400 foam tips and I have to report the experience from using these is most welcome. They appear to deaden down some of the upper mid shout and also somewhat elevate and tighten up the bass. The result is a much more well rounded but still rather neutral sound. For example, they smoothed off some of that harshness from the snare hits and just gave the bass a more complete sound. I also found the fit and comfort much better with the foam tips, especially as the body of the earpieces themselves are quite compact this turns them into an excellently comfortable earphone. If you are struggling with the tips for the RE600s or are thinking about picking up a pair I would highly recommend getting a pair of foam tips to go with them.

In conclusion, the RE600s V2 is certainly a good sounding earphone that would really suit lovers of a more neutral and detailed sound for genres like jazz but for modern genres I personally find them lacking somewhat in terms of energy and excitement due to the lean bass. The forward nature of the upper mids are also an acquired taste. The upper mid emphasis between 1kHz and 2.5kHz works well for jazz and brings piano, saxophone and vocals to the front of the mix. However, this can also lead to a more shouty sound on other genres. Overall detail and clarity though is rather excellent which gives the RE600s a more analytical audiophile edge than a causal or musical one.

The cable is rather poor, stiff and microphonic, I would much prefer to see an ear hook design with a removable cable. The supplied tips are rather lacklustre and I found the overall experience improves greatly when using aftermarket foam tips.

In terms of price the launch price of the RE600s was very high for what these are and even for £60/$75 there is a lot of competition in the IEM space, especially from chi-fi. The Tin T4, for example, is not much more expensive and there are many other options. If Hifiman could update these with a removable cable I think they would be a much more compelling option. However, in the RE600s you are getting a good, detailed sounding earphone with a neutral sound signature and at £60 I don’t think this is an unreasonable price point considering the performance, especially if you are into jazz.


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