HiFiMan RE300h In-Ear Earphone Review

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HiFiMan RE300h

Brief: HiFiMan’s first sub-$50 IEM in several years
MSRP: $49 (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $49 from amazon.com
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 16Ω | Sens: 108 dB | Freq: 15-20k Hz | Cable: 3.9′ L-plug
Nozzle Size: 5.5mm | Preferred tips: Stock double flanges; generic double-flanges
Wear Style: Straight down

Accessories (2/5) – Long single-flange and short bi-flange silicone tips; replacement nozzle filters (5 pairs)
Build Quality (3.5/5) – The tiny housings of the RE300h are plastic and feature replaceable nozzle filters and decent strain relief. The cables are plastic and not nylon-sheathed below the y-split like the higher-end HiFiMan models. A nice L-plug terminates the cable
Isolation (3/5) – The RE300h is a shallow-fit earphone but the included tips isolate surprisingly well and aftermarket tips can increase isolation a bit further
Microphonics (4/5) – Decent even when worn cable-down thanks to the soft cable
Comfort (4.5/5) – The housings of the RE300h are designed for cable-down wear and unusually-shaped, but very small and lightweight. The small footprint in the ear and shallow fit makes them extremely comfortable, though I can see some users – especially those with larger ears – having to find alternatives to the two included eartips to get a proper seal

Sound (7.9/10) – The RE300h takes the HiFiMan house sound and makes it more consumer-friendly by skewing the usual near-neutral balance in a warmer, bassier direction. In 2009 – three generations back in HiFiMan terms – the RE1 model attempted something similar but it was pricier and suffered from relatively low efficiency, which made it less well-suited for the mainstream consumer. The RE300h has no such problems – it’s easy to drive and the bassy and forgiving sound signature feels right at home at $50.

The RE300h places more emphasis on bass compared not only to any other HiFiMan product I’ve heard in years, but also other high-performing ~$50 sets such as the SteelSeries Flux and Fidue A63, stopping just short of the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear. It is not intended to please bassheads, but rather to deliver enough punch and body to avoid any accusations of sounding flat or lean, as often happens with higher-end HiFiMan models. Unfortunately bass control typically decreases as bass quantity goes up, and the bass of the RE300h is not as tight as that of higher-end HiFiMan IEMs and the aforementioned Fidue, SteelSeries, and Sennheiser sets.

The lower midrange of the RE300h is just as prominent as the bass. Indeed, the lack of midrange recession is what keeps the earphone grounded in the HiFiMan house sound. The RE300h ends up sounding warmer and not at all v-shaped compared to sets like the SteelSeries Flux, Xiaomi Piston 2, and Sennheiser Momentum.

However, together with the prominent bass, the warm and somewhat thick mids limit clarity. Other earphones mitigate this by providing bright, emphasized treble but the smooth and relaxed highs of the RE300h are no help here.  As a result, clarity lags slightly behind the abovementioned earphones. Treble smoothness, on the other hand, is superb. The RE300h is less bright/energetic and more forgiving than the Flux, Piston 2, and especially the Momentum In-Ear. It kills harshness and sibilance on tracks like very few IEMs can, especially at lower listening volumes.

Like the higher-end RE-400, the presentation of the RE300h is not at all laid-back, in part due to the forward midrange. However, the soundstage still has pretty good width and ends up surprisingly well-rounded – certainly an enjoyable presentation well ahead of most others in this price range. It’s also worth noting the high sensitivity of the RE300h – the earphone is well above average in that regard, too.

Select Comparisons

HiFiMan RE-400 ($79)

The RE300h’s older sibling is well known for its balanced and accurate sound. Compared to the pricier RE-400, the lower-end model sounds warmer and more bass-heavy. It is also more sensitive. The changes towards “louder” and “bassier” make sense when moving downmarket and targeting consumers rather than audiophiles. Unfortunately, with the tuning change the RE300h also loses some of what has made the RE-400 one of the best audiophile earphones on the market for the past 2½ years.

The extra bass of the RE300h is intrusive compared to the RE-400’s tighter, more well-measured low end. It is boomy and makes the earphones sound muddier. The RE-400 has more of a midrange focus but still sounds more tonally correct and natural, especially with vocals. It is clearer, more accurate, and more refined. The highs are brighter and crisper. Detail comes through better as well.

The one thing the RE300h does have going for it besides greater bass impact and better sensitivity is a more dynamic presentation, which makes its soundstage appear a little less flat and intimate than that of the RE-400. Soundstaging has never been one of the RE-400’s strengths, and it really shows here.

VSonic VSD3S ($45 – $60)

The RE300h is reminiscent of other HiFiMan in-ears with its lack of midrange recession and forgiving treble. The VSD3S, likewise, follows the VSonic house sound through and through, and is tuned very differently from the RE300h. Its sound is slightly v-shaped, with more bass punch and brighter treble compared to the HiFiMan set. The VSD3S is clearer and slightly more resolving, but suffers from sharper, more sibilance-prone highs and mild midrange recession. Despite its lower bass quantity, the RE300h has more bass bloat. It is also warmer, smoother, and more full-bodied than the VSD3S, and has a slightly more well-rounded soundstage.

Sony MH1C ($25 -$80)

Sony’s warm and smooth-sounding MH1C follows a less balanced sound tuning than the RE300h, placing more emphasis on bass (especially deep bass) and less on the midrange. However, the less forward mids of the Sony unit are also a bit thinner, which helps the MH1C achieve better clarity compared to the RE300h despite its more powerful bass. The presentation of the MH1C is more laid-back and spacious, too, while the RE300h is more forward and intimate. Lastly, the HiFiMan unit is significantly more sensitive.

Value (8.5/10) – The HiFiMan RE300h is an earphone for those who above all else favor a warm and forgiving sound. It maintains forward mids and smooth treble for that quintessential HiFiMan flavor, but provides more bass than the higher-end models. The result is a sound profile dominated by the bass and lower midrange, and somewhat limited in clarity and bass control. These are not positive traits for critical listening, but there’s plenty to like here as well – the lack of midrange recession despite strong bass, the soundstage, and the smoothness, which kills off harshness and sibilance better than the vast majority of competing earphones. I also like the tiny low profile housings – HiFiMan’s been pretty good at giving us IEMs that fit well in smaller ears lately. All in all, while it is not going to dethrone HiFiMan’s higher-end RE-400 model in bang for your buck, the RE300h offers a unique sound tuning in a unique form factor, both of which make it a compelling offering.

Pros: Compact & comfortable housings; plentiful bass with prominent mids and very smooth treble
Cons: Clarity and bass control could be better


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About Author

Living in the fast-paced city of Los Angeles, ljokerl has been using portable audio gear to deal with lengthy commutes for the better part of a decade. He spends much of his time listening to music and occasionally writes portable audio reviews across several enthusiast sites, focusing mostly on in-ear earphones.

26 Comments

  1. seba on

    Hi Joker! Your work is very good . I’m just entering this world, I have the m5 and the pistons 3, but I’m not so pleased with their sound . I could taste these hifiman a week and loved . listen to metal, death , doom , grind and rock progresive and sound more me was to settle these , the response of bass, drums etc. I would like you to recommend me some IEM that could meet these expectations. I live in Chile, and here is not so easy to find all models. I thought of the re-400 and ostry k06A . thanks for your help. greetings from Chile 🙂

    • ljokerl on

      If you liked the RE300h then the RE400 would be a better option than the brighter, more colored KC06A. The HiFiMan IEMs aren’t super similar, with the RE300h being quit a bit warmer, but as long as you don’t mind less bass and a less “thick” sound the RE-400 is a good way to go.

  2. bonbon on

    Is this one of the best IEM at 50 USD? I’m looking for the one that can give me a good vocal, especially in ballad. Thanks

    • ljokerl on

      It depends on the criteria. If you want a lot of midrange presence, smooth treble, and good bass impact, and don’t mind a bit of bloat and the generally warm sound, then the RE300h may well be the one. There’s definitely nothing with similar tuning but better performance that I’ve tried near $50.

      • bonbon on

        How do you compare it with vsonic GR02?

        • ljokerl on

          The GR02 definitely has a more conventional sound tuning. Bass is punchy but the lower mids aren’t as forward and the treble isn’t as laid-back/smooth. The Brainwavz M2 is another one in this general signature bracket – smooth, impactful bass, smooth, and no “v-shape” to its signature. I would actually pick that over the GR02 as a *slightly* more neutral alternative to the RE300h.

          • Ayush on

            Have you had a chance to review the VSD2S? If yes, how would you compare it to the GR02 and the RE300h?

          • ljokerl on

            No, don’t have VSD2S – sorry.

  3. getclikinagas on

    Dip in bass control. Dip in midrange clarity and tonal accuracy. Highs more laid back than RE400.
    But no midrange recession and looks so comfy and petite.

    :/ Hmm. So it’s a good IEM. Not a great one. Not the RE400BE I was hoping for.
    ———
    Can you give me a short head-to-head with the A63? For a good bassy+no-recessed-midrange compromise would the A63 be your top pick?
    ———
    Did you happen to test the mic versions? If yes, are there any sonic differences with the 300h? Also, will it survive outdoor use?
    ——–
    Now you can focus on acquiring that RE1000 😉

    • ljokerl on

      No, not an RE400BE. One can dream, though.

      A63 is a good competitor here but its midrange emphasis comes in a little higher up (almost like a KC06) and its warmth is derived from a mid-bass hump and not a blanket bass/lower mid focus as on the RE300. Also, while smooth, the A63 is not as excessively, sibilance-killingly smooth as the RE300h. All in all, it’s not as unique as the RE300h, but given that the RE300h doesn’t really push my buttons I’d take the Fidue for sound, just barely.

      Also, it’s crazy how different the RE300h in the way it feels in the ear compared to the A63, with its metal housings and sharp edges. It’s like comparing a recliner to a concrete bench with spikes in it.

      And no, no mic versions – just the h. HiFiMan does claim different cable materials so to be safe I decided not to generalize the review to the RE300i and RE300a.

      • getclikinagas on

        Thanks ljokerl.

        Fidue now have the A65, which looks like the concrete bench without the spikes. Maybe some hope there. Fidue seem to know what they are doing. I recently got the chance to test drive the A73, which I found to be a well tuned extra warm IEM.

        The KC06 with its superconductor sensitivity and engaging sound would have been my ideal travel IEM if it wasn’t for the poor isolation.

        The search continues……

        • ljokerl on

          Yep, the A65 looks promising. I’ll get to try it in-depth soon and we’ll see where it lands. Slight improvement in sound over the A63 in what seems to be a much nicer housing and I’m sold!

          Wouldn’t mind finding more sets that sound like the KC06, either.

  4. Bilbo on

    “…Unfortunately bass control typically decreases as bass quantity goes up…”

    Joker, I’d like to suggest as politely as possible that this reflects personal bias more than actual fact. The Philips TX1 and TX2 both have enhanced bass, far more than this HifiMan model or the more high-price Philips S1 or S2, but measurements (at InnerFidelity.com) show very low distortion in the bass, excellent impulse response, and good square waves. In other words, good bass control. The excellent control is confirmed by listening as well. The same is true of the dual-driver NarMoo B2M. The low bass is very high in level, but again very controlled. There’s really a long list of IEMs with bass that is powerful and high in level but very well-controlled. I think bass control relates to quality of design and manufacture, not the amount of the bass.

    • ljokerl on

      Naturally this is a generalization on my part and there’s plenty of exceptions. I can add the FutureSonics Atrios, HiSoundAudio Wooduo, various EarSonics, and probably a dozen others to the list of enhanced-bass earphones with excellent bass control. But, for each exception there’s probably 2-3 sets that do have bass that is less tight than their less bassy counterparts, which includes the RE300h vs any other HiFiMan model from the past three years or so.

      P.S. The boomier bass of the RE300h subjectively sounds much more “enhanced” and intrusive in actual listening vs something like the Fidelio S1/S2, VSonic VSD3 or GR07 Bass Edition, SteelSeries Flux, and many other things that may show more low-end enhancement in measurements.

      • Bilbo on

        Yes, Joker, I’ve heard quite a few IEMs, but you’ve heard more. So I think you’re right that a lot of them with extra bass also have poor bass. The ones with good bass are always likely to be in the minority.

        But… in the past I was not a “basshead.” Actually I’m still not. For many years, not too long ago, I happily listened to a Panasonic RP-DJ1210 on-ear headphone. It had only moderate midbass and NO low bass, but the balance was wonderful and natural. Then one day I heard headphones that could actually reproduce low bass, and I realized there was real content down there — and that it was important musically. Even in classical music, good low bass can be just as important as clear highs in creating a sense of space and hall ambience. So I often feel, as you can tell, that you overlook the importance of this and seem to feel that only the mids and highs are really important. So many of your recommendations just don’t have adequate low bass to reproduce a realistic “live” sound, based on what I hear in live situations. Sorry, just my take. Still appreciate your reviews in spite of it.

    • TraverS on

      I don’t think he has a thing with bassy earphones. You can see from his other reviews.
      The JH13pro which has v-shape sound and cause many people to dislike this iem because it’s bass is not neutral. Guess what, it gets 10 score in sound. The Fitear togo 334 which has big bass also gets high score from him — 9.5 which is highest among universal IEM if I remember correctly.
      And I think everyone know what you said. Boosting without sacrificing quality sounds like common practice to me.

  5. CT on

    Thanks so much for the review. Am going to purchase this and the Fidue A31s like you suggested for my fit concerns. Even though after doing a little more research, the Rock-It-Sounds R-30 with those rubber sleeves look like they could be exactly what I’m looking for!

    • ljokerl on

      The R-30 is a nice and ergonomic design but it’s not very compact compared to these. By volume it’s probably 2-3x larger than the RE300h and 4x larger than the tiny A31s.

      • CT on

        Well I hope that the small nozzles fit well enough that I don’t have to try something else. But the chunkiness of the body enhanced with the rubber sleeve of the R-30 look like I could just squash it into place and it would stay in there no problem. I’ll check back after I receive these, thanks.

        • CT on

          So I received both the other day. Personally I felt the Fidue’s beat the HiFiMan’s in every single way except the ever important sound. I definitely feel like the cable is gonna break at some point on the RE300’s while either putting them in or out, which is troublesome. As far as the other important factor for me – the fit – the Fidue’s definitely would’ve worked for me, and before I send them back I’ll have one more go at them playing around with Rockbox’s EQ setting to see if I can live with the sound. Most likely I’ll probably end up keeping the 300’s even though, amazingly, even they are slightly still too big to fit in my ear. I emailed HiFiMan to ask what Complys fit on these, but haven’t heard back yet. If there’s a size that fits I’m gonna try and mickey mouse a way to try and make these fit better. I’m hoping with one of the longer lengthed Complys they can secure in my ear before the end of the speaker nozzle meets my ear canal. Wish they had made the end of the nozzle that secures the tips on a little smaller, they would’ve been perfect for me.

          • ljokerl on

            T-400s from Comply fit. Tightly, but they fit. I don’t know if they make a longer one of the *400 size, though. I think that would be called the P-400 with their nomenclature and that doesn’t exist.

          • CT on

            Thanks. HiFiMan also got back to me today, but were much more vague in their answer. Probably one last question here……..it seems the troublesome spot for me is the tip of the speaker nozzle…..is there some way to figure out the sizes of these things? Every picture of an IEM makes everything look so monstrous because they’re taken so close up, it’s impossible to figure out size unless you happened to get everyone of them lined up side by side.

          • ljokerl on

            No way to tell from pictures. I do try to provide approximate nozzle sizes in my reviews and I suppose you can use Comply’s compatibility tool to look up IEMs that fit the T100 and T200 Complys, which fit on narrower nozzles (with T100 being the narrowest) compared to the T400s the RE300h uses.

          • CT on

            Damn, why didn’t I think of that!!! If all goes well with these, I’m definitely gonna go through that list. Excellent suggestion!! Any experience with Monster Supertips, Gel & Foam? They sell variety packs of these with much bigger selection than that of Complys variety packs. Plus they seem so much smaller. I don’t have experience with anything beyond the silicone tips that have come in the few IEM’s I’ve tried. One of the IEM’s came with foam, but I can’t remember anything about them whatsoever.

          • ljokerl on

            I’m not a big fan of those types of harder foam tips. The only foam tips I personally like are Complys, Westone True-Fit foams (won’t fit on RE300), and Shure Olives (won’t fit on RE300).

          • CT on

            Yeah, harder is not gonna work for me. I just ordered the Complys so I can stop procrastinating now. Pretty excited for them to get here. Thanks!

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