HiFiMan RE-400 Waterline Review

313

HiFiMan RE-400
Added Mar 2013

Details: Newest entry-level earphone from one of the pioneers of accurate dynamic-driver earphones
MSRP: $99 (manufacturer’s page); $99 for RE-400i w/mic & 3-button iOS remote (manufacturer’s page); $99 for RE-400a w/mic & 1-button remote (manufacturer’s page)
Current Price: $79 from amazon.com for RE-400; $79 from amazon.com for RE-400i; $79 from amazon.com for RE-400a
Specs: Driver: Dynamic | Imp: 32Ω | Sens: 102 dB | Freq: 15-22k Hz | Cable: 3.9′ 45º-plug
Nozzle Size: 5mm | Preferred tips: stock bi-flange
Wear Style: Straight down or over-the-ear

Accessories (3.5/5) – Single-flange (2 sizes), short bi-flange, and long bi-flange silicone tips; cable winder Updated February 2014: RE-400 now comes with 3 types of silicone bi-flange eartips, 4 types of silicone single-flange eartips, a shirt clip, and a clamshell carrying case
Build Quality (4/5) – Construction is in line with what we’ve seen from HiFiMan as of late – solid housings, long strain reliefs, and thicker cables. The top part of the cord is similar to the RE262/RE272 while the bottom part is nylon-sheathed. HiFiMan’s standard 45º-plug completes the picture. The RE-400 is single-ended – there is no option of running it balanced and no adapters are necessary to use it with standard 3.5mm jacks
Isolation (4/5) – Quite good for a dynamic-driver unit. The small housings and thick stock tips allow for a deep seal with even better isolation.
Microphonics (4/5) – Bothersome when worn cable-down; fine otherwise
Comfort (4.5/5) – The housings of the RE-400 are the smallest of all the HiFiMan earphones I’ve seen to date. The shape seems to favor a deeper seal, which shouldn’t be an issue for all but those with the smallest ear canals. Cable-up wear is easy though the cable slider is a little loose on the cable.

Sound (9/10) – The RE-400 takes the place of the RE-ZERO in HiFiMan’s new, more streamlined lineup. For the most part it stays true to what we’ve come to expect from the RE-series earphones–its tone is mostly neutral and the sound is about as clean and transparent as it gets. The RE-400 seems to be endowed with a slightly more robust low end compared to the old RE-ZERO–there is a slight mid-bass lift audible with the newer model. This gives its bass a little more weight and depth and tilts the overall tone slightly in the “warm” direction compared to the RE-ZERO, RE272, and Etymotic ER-4S. This is not necessarily good or bad—those who want a ruler-flat bass will likely still prefer the 272, but it will allow the RE-400 to cater to a wider audience, which is a definitely plus in my book.

I would still classify the RE-400 as a neutral earphone with just a hint of warmth. The midrange is clear and well-positioned, neither recessed nor forward in the presentation. Detail resolution is excellent and the overall sound is very transparent. The top end, similarly, is present but not overbearing. As with the other HiFiMan earphones, it is delicate and refined. For an accuracy-oriented earphone the RE-400 is rather smooth and forgiving – it is a little more tolerant of sibilance than, for example, the Etymotic ER-4S. Treble extension is quite good, which tends to be the case with HiFiMan sets – certainly on-par with other high-end dynamics such as the VSonic GR07 and Sony EX1000.

The presentation of the RE-400 is versatile and uncongested. Separation lags a hair behind the ER-4S and RE272, which seem to benefit from the lack of a mid-bass lift, but really isn’t far behind these (far pricier) flagships. The overall sense of space easily beats out similarly-priced sets such as the MEElec A161P and Ultimate Ears 600, and even offers slightly better depth than the older RE-ZERO. Like the rest of the RE-400’s sound, the presentation is very, very difficult to fault.

THL Recommended Badge 2014Value (10/10) – The latest iteration of the balanced-and-accurate dynamic-driver earphone from HiFiMan, the RE-400 offers an audible tuning change from the old RE0 and RE-ZERO models. It produces slightly weightier bass, a more well-rounded presentation, and smooth, forgiving treble while still offering accuracy on a level very rarely found at or near its price point.

Additional improvements over the previous-gen RE-ZERO include a more robust construction and better noise isolation, mostly due to the more compact, deep-sealing form factor. The RE-400 also boasts much nicer packaging, though there is still a disappointing dearth of accessories. The no-frills approach is fine by me – the RE-400, like its predecessors, is a listener’s IEM. All in all, adding a hint of warmth to an otherwise neutral sound should let RE-400 appeal to the casual listener better than the models it replaces while holding very close to the HiFiMan sound many—myself included—have come to love.

Pros: Very smooth & balanced sound; small & comfortable;
Cons: Cable noise can be bothersome in cable-down configuration

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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.

313 Comments

  1. Hi,

    i’m looking a earphone for use in the gym and airplanes. What do you recommend until +- U$ 120,00 ?
    I listen mostly dance music and I use spotify on Galaxy S6. Maybe the HiFiMAN RE400a or Sennheiser Momentum?

    Thank You

    Allan

    • If by sports you mean one that’s purpose-made for exercise – sweat-proof, durable, extremely secure in the ear during activities, and so forth, then you really don’t want the RE-400 or the Momentum because they’re none of those things. Otherwise they’re both great IEMs so it really depends on what you want your IEMs to sound like. The RE-400 is very balanced and accurate. The Momentum is bassy and fun, but not as clean and detailed. For dance music you probably want the latter.

  2. Deny Puji Erwanto on

    Thank you, joker.. i already bought this IEM.. Awesome!! i think, this is a perfect iem consider the price and SQ.
    i want to buy HM-700.. but the price is cheap if i buy 1 set HM-700+Re-400b
    what is the different re-400 and re-400b.. same or not..
    could you suggest about dap, to pairing with re-400..
    Thank you Jokers..

    • I’m pretty sure the B is the same except wired for a balanced source.

      The RE-400 is pretty easy to drive and sounds consistent between different DAPs so any decent Hi-Fi DAP should so it. I only have the HM-901, and it sounds very good but probably is overkill for the RE-400.

      • Deny Puji Erwanto on

        Thank you joker..
        btw, i have a idea about daps review in this website..
        i think, will be more interesting…
        just opinion.. LoL..
        i like this web. Good job!!

        • There’s a “Source Reviews” section. I don’t personally write these because they’re time consuming and there’s too many IEMs/headphones to review, but I’m sure we’ll have more of them going forward.

  3. Hi |joker|,
    I have a question on HiFiMan RE-400 regarding its isolation capability.

    Is there a way I could achive an Etymotic-like isolation on these HiFiMan IEMs? Would for example using Comply Foam tips or other alternative tips take the isolation level close to the one of Ety’s?

    Thanks!

    • In my experience even with Complys they don’t quite reach that level of isolation. Once you get to a pretty high isolation level like you have with these and are using the best tips for the job, the housing plays quite a big role.

      • Thanks for your reply. In fact, I’m using Etymotic mc5 IEMs at the moment. I love the way it just isolates all the noise around. But what I really dislike is the discomfort – most noticeable when listening to music while lying on side. I can feel an irritating pressure in my ears.

        I have also came across Etymotic’s new mk5 isolator IEMs. They are supposed to share the same housing with ETY Kids. Also many people claimed mk5 had better sound projection than mc series. Do you think those might solve my problem? Or would you recommend me something totally different (max. ≈ $100).

        • I didn’t think there was a big difference between the MC5 and EtyKids in isolation, but the fit is also not that different. IIRC they are thinner but not really shorter.

          Sounds like you may just have to take a small hit on isolation with the RE-400+Comply. Or you could hunt for a used Klipsch X5 or X10 in that price range. With the right tips they’ll get closer to Etymotic isolation than the RE-400 will. The X10 sounds much bassier than your Etys and the RE-400 and has more relaxed treble, but it’s not a bad-sounding earphone.

          • Thanks for your input again. I intended to use the headphones not only for listening to music, but as a stage in-ear monitor as well. I’m a musician and need to get as authentic sound as possible. Little addition of bass is OK, but from what I’ve read, it sounded like those Klipsch are very bassy. Or are they not?

          • They’re pretty bassy – definitely a consumer sound signature more so than a musician one. The X5 is supposed to be less bassy, but I haven’t tried it.

          • Alright, thanks so much for your advice. Well, if we stick witch Ety’s and HiFiMan, I can never reach the isolation level of Ety’s with these RE-400, right?

            For the musician’s reasons, the most essential thing is the sound reproduction, which must be as accurate as possible (pure, authentic, true, realistic, other synonyms…), if you know what I mean.

            But the isolation is quite important to me, as I often have to stay in fairly loud environment. Without a good isolation, it’s hard to enjoy the music (assuming I don’t want to damage my hearing by listening at overly high volumes).

            On the other hand, the comfort is appreciated as well, when relaxing. As I’ve mention in the post above, mc5 does not quite meet this requirement of mine. 🙂

            I know, I want a lot of bang for the buck, but I think there must be some kind of a compromise, isn’t there? What if I raised the financial limit to, lets say, $150? Is there something suitable for my needs now? 🙂

          • In my experience, not quite.

            The problem is that you’re looking for something with top-tier isolation (which eliminates most IEMs) and a compact enough form factor that the fit is an improvement over the MC5 (which again eliminates many IEMs). Then, you’re looking for sets with sound as accurate as possible within that small overlap.

            The next two possible contenders I can think of when upping your budget are the ACS T15 and Aurisonics Rockets. They have that combination of higher-than-RE-400 noise isolation and accurate sound.

            If you venture into the used market there are also the UE700 and JAYS q-JAYS. Sadly, both have been discontinued.

  4. jokerl, outstanding review! I’ve read the posts, but still have one question that I can’t seem to get answered. Is the hifiman RE-400a the same exact thing as the RE-400 waterline with an extra volume control and microphone? In other words, is it the earbud itself the exact same unit minus the extra mic and volume control? IF so why do they both sell for the same price? Also do they both come with a case? Thanks in advance!

    • As far as I know the remote is the only difference. As for pricing them the same, that’s rather strange to me as well. I can’t imagine that the parts/assembly cost on adding the remote unit is very high, though, so maybe the price was just kept the same for simplicity.

      The current version of the RE-400 comes with a case. Not sure about the RE-400a. Would be odd if they skimped on the case, but anything is possible.

      • getclikinagas on

        Description from Hifiman’s Official eBay store (head-director):

        Accessories:
        (7) Silicone Tips
        (10) Filters(helps protect the earphone’s inner components from dust)
        (1) Clip-affix the cable to a shirt or jacket to minimize cable noise
        (1) Earphone Carry Pouch

        Looks like they’ve ditched the comply tips.

  5. Hi |joker|! Are you aware what the difference between the Hifiman RE400 and the RE400B is? I couldn’t find much information comparing the two of the online, or are they basically the same? Also there are reports of the RE400’s cable issues having frequently, has this happened to your pair yet? Thanks in advance!

    • I was under the impression that the B is just the “balanced” version, in which case they should be the same aside from the way they are wired internally.

      I have both an RE-400 and an RE-600 (for something like 2 years now) and both are still going strong. I generally take good care of my in-ears though, and have only had maybe a dozen or so fail on me ever, aside from the occasional DOA/factory defect.

  6. Hi Joker sempai, I am planning to grab myself a pair of Hifiman Re 600 but in the UK they only have the balanced configured version. Do you think using an adapter will affect the sound ? I don’t have a balanced rig….

    • Nope, shouldn’t be a problem. All of my previous-gen HiFiMan IEMs are balanced and were mostly used with the adapter, and they still sounded awesome. I only had one problem, which was caused by an adapter that became oxidized and messed up the sound as the IEM plug rotated inside of it. It was noticeable and easily fixed by throwing it out and getting a new one…

      • Uhm on the Re-600 I’ve been seeing a lot of mixed reviews. Some claim it is an all round upgrade to the re 400 while some such as you sir have claimed that they are not so far apart. What do you think ?

          • Dear Joker,

            What a disaster are those RE-600. I opted for the RE-600S hoping for an upgrade over the 400 and I have ultimately regretted it.

            I find the sound of my RE-400 vastly superior, more true to life and more natural balanced. Sure the 600 are bassier but to my ears sound unrealistic in the depth of soundstaging while they are so dark that tend to make genres like rock or hard rock to be almost unlistenable, unless you’re willing to eq them!

            These are going back to head-direct straight away! What a shame.

            My RE-400 eliminated their bigger brother after the Altone200…

          • I think this whole comment section is me saying how hard upgrading from the RE-400 is (especially now that the TDK BA200 is pretty much gone from the market).

            The GR07 comment section is similar…

          • I will try to get my hands on the TDKs if I ever find a good deal – even a used pair.

            But seriously, what were they thinking at HiFiman with those RE-600? Songbird? Sure not! I mean OK, if you play some slow-paced jazz with female vocals or some David Benoit piano these do sound very good but that’s where the story ends IMO. If you play for eg. some early 80’s Judas Priest or Iron Maiden or any album with well-polished production from the mid to late 80’s that falls into the territory of pop/ rock, these are unlistenable unless you’re willing tweak the treble.

            They are so overly colored that you feel you’re listening to your music in a tunnel. At first, I thought I had a faulty pair but switching back to RE-400 I realized that the 2 headphones are not so far apart but the RE-400 is real, convincing smooth and accurate while the 600 has too much sub-bass that gives everything you throw in them a black/dark underground atmosphere. The treble is good and smooth only in slow passages and where that sub-bass is not overpowering the rest of the frequencies. That being said, when a track is full of bass (both sub and mid-bass) the treble loses its definition or even utterly disappears! And you remember, I’m not a treble junkie. On the contrary, I suffer from sparkling treble and that was the reason I got rid of my Altone200.

            The RE-400 is unbeatable. They are accurate and smooth yet very musical. I can’t fault them and it will be very hard to upgrade from them indeed. I have listened over 15 iems so far. Another big advantage of the RE-400 is their versatility. They sound great with any genre I played and moreover, are forgiving with lesser good mixed albums or lower bitrates (although I don’t have music lower than 256Kb/s).

            My only hope now goes to those new Flare Audio R2pros but there are not enough reviews yet and I’m very skeptical to opt for them even though they supposedly offer a smooth musical signature. I wish they had sent you a pair for reviewing before the Kickstarter campaign ended…

  7. Hi,
    I’m struggling to decide between the RE400 and ety’s MC5.
    I gather that the MC5s are better built, but I’m not sure about the sound signature. could you tell me how do they compare?
    My last pair were UE triple-fi 10 which I liked a lot for clarity and detail, but I have little other experience, and I’m quite not sure what people refer to when calling the etys “analytical” while describing the ER400 as “accurate” etc.

    Thanks!

    • They aren’t that different – the RE-400 is not quite as neutral, but it is a little better here and there (which adds up). The MC5s are flatter, but lack a little in the way of fullness, impact, extension, and refinement. The lack of enhanced bass and brighter treble, and resolution that doesn’t quite measure up to top-tier earphones, when combined, is what makes them sound a little dull.

      The TF10s sound different from both of these – not too much so, but they have a less neutral sound with a bit of added bass punch and treble sparkle/energy. Whichever you pick between the Etymotic and HiFiMan, you’ll be moving towards a flatter, more accurate sound.

  8. Which do you prefer for female vocals, re400 or vc1000? Coming from the 1000s, I’m expecting a more textured and slightly fuller sound with less sibilance and a bit less air.

    • I personally prefer the brighter VC1000, but you’re right – the VC1000 is thinner-sounding and more prone to harshness and sibilance than the RE-400.

        • They’re good compliments for someone who generally leans towards neutral sound – two fairly different takes on what “neutral” means in IEMs. If I had to pare down my collection to just those two, I wouldn’t mind too much.

  9. Hey joker, can you tell me which vocals are better between these and the rockit sounds r-50?
    The r-50’s are the most expensive headphones I’ve ever owned I just remember the vocals were breathtaking and haven’t heard anything like that since

      • IMO the vocal performance and presentation of the RE-400 is more similar to the UE600 than to the RE-50. The R-50 gives you brighter, crisper, arguably livelier vocals, which is probably what you remember. You can get something similar with another similarly-tuned BA set, like a VSonic VC1000 or Brainwavz B2.

          • Hmm… it’s tough without balanced armatures, but I’d say VSonic VC02 for a slightly flatter sound with that type of vocal presentation, and maybe Ostry KC06 for a slightly more fun and punchy sound that still has a brighter vocal tone. Both have some shortcomings compared to a high-end set like the R-50, but they perform very well for being priced well under $100.

            With the VC02, be careful of the detachable cables – they can detach rather easily. It’s the price you pay for having a great-sounding earphone with a $50 price tag, but I’d glue the cables in place.

  10. This review was really informative!

    I’ve been burned by hifiman’s build quality before with the RE0, so I was surprised to see that their newer model was rated so highly in that regard. I liked my RE0s while they lasted, but really loved my klipsch x10s before they finally died. With that in mind, would you recommend the RE-400, Shure 215, JVC HA-FXT90, or the MA750? Also, does the MA750 have to be worn over the ear?

    • Purely from a sound signature standpoint I’d recommend the SE215 if you liked the warmer, bassier sound tuning of the X10 over the RE0, but it lacks some of the clarity of the latter. So does the MA750, actually, but it has a wider and more capable sound than the SE215, albeit without the smoother treble of the Shures. Both the SE215 and MA750 have to be worn cable-up.

  11. Hey Joker,
    I’ve been reading your reviews for the past week and they are awesome but I am finding it very hard to decide what I really want (max 100eur).
    I am coming from a-Jays Three which had pretty good bass but the treble is very harsh (the “s”s in some vocals literally hurt my ears).
    Before these I had a couple of Sennheisers: the cx-300 II (my first pair of not bundled IEMs) – enjoyed them, and the cx-400 II precision, a clear step-up from the cx-300. Both pairs gave out after about 1.5 years, so build quality wasn’t very good.
    I mostly listen to rock, alternative and a bit of hip hop on my SanDisk Clip Sport.
    What would be your recommendation based on the fact that I enjoyed the Sennheisers but would like more bass (deep and clear 🙂 ) and wasn’t a fan of the a-Jays overall.
    Thanks

    • If the Yamaha EPH-100 can be found in your price range I’d go for that. Otherwise you have a few other options for a combination of strong deep bass, smoothness, and good overall sound quality.

      Sony MH1C – best overall sound quality and typically very inexpensive, but requires some ergonomic concessions
      Shure SE215 – more on the clear and accurate side, but lows are still plenty deep and it’s almost as smooth as the Sony
      Dunu Landmine – bassier and more muffled than the two above, but also even more smooth and forgiving; closer to the CX300 sound signature

      None of these have monstrous bass, but they provide a good balance between enhanced bass and overall performance without harsh treble.

      • Much appreciated.
        The EPH-100 are a bit above my price range (130eur)
        The MH1C – I read in many places that these are very good. It’s mind boggling to me how such inexpensive monitors can sound so good. How is it even possible? I can buy 6 or 7 pairs for the price of the EPH-100 for example :).
        The SE215 are exactly there (100eur) – will take a closer look.
        Dunu Landmine – unfortunately no Dunus to be found anywhere around here.

        I feel like I have to try the Sony MH1C. I have to see (hear) for myself to believe. If they don’t work out I will go for the SE215.
        Thanks again.

      • …also: do you know if there is a difference between the standard MH1C and the MH1C Livesound(TM) variants? or are they the same thing? Sites that list the MH1C (without “LiveSound”) have them at half the price. Retail packaging maybe?

        • One of them is the standalone version while one was included with Sony’s phones and lacks retail packaging. As far as I know all the MH1Cs sound similar while the MH1 (non-C) is slightly different.

  12. Good day Joker. I have a question. Currently, I could get Hifiman RE-400 and the new Vsonic VSD5 for the same price, which of these is better for listening to alternative rock music? thanks!

  13. Hi Joker, been enjoying this IEM since you recommend few months ago. Sorry if not too relevant with this page, but can you recommend similar sound and price like this for sports?

    • If by sports you mean one that’s purpose-made for exercise – sweat-proof and so forth, I’m afraid I can’t – none of the sport IEMs I’ve tried are anywhere near as good as the RE-400. If you want decent sound that’s closer in balance to the RE-400 (sports headphones tend to be bass-heavy, too) my suggestion would be to get an IEM that has a better form factor for sports than the RE-400 (more secure in the ear) but maybe isn’t very expensive, so if it fails due to sweat you can just replace it. For instance the Havi B3 Pro I, SteelSeries Flux In-Ear Pro, Phonak 012, Dunu I 3C-S, or Rock-It Sounds R-30. These and more balanced and generally sound better than any sports IEM I’ve tried – just can’t say for sure how they’ll stand up to rough exercise use.

  14. Hi ljokerl, I’m wondering if you can give comparison between this and the ATH IM50.. basically I prefer quality bass and big soundstage. Thanks

    • I haven’t listened to the IM50 in any sort of depth so unfortunately I can’t. I only heard it once briefly and thought it was very pleasant, but I didn’t have any of my benchmarks on hand for comparison.

      I do not really recommend the RE-400 specifically for a BIG soundstage. It has a well-rounded sonic presentation but in terms of sheer width it’s not the best. Something with a more v-shaped signature, even a VSonic GR07 Classic or VSD3S, will give you a wider presentation.

  15. Appreciate your review. I need to replace my malfunctioning in-ear headphones, and my previous two pairs were the Klipsch image S4 and S4A respectively, and I’ve been well pleased with them and their bass levels. I’d like to stay below $100. The RE400 set clearly seems superior in other regards, but will the RE400 match the S4 in regards to bass level and bass quality?

    • Nah, the RE-400 won’t give you anywhere near the same level of bass the S4. You’d need a JVC FXT90 (in this price range) to match that kind of bass enhancement, or at least a Shure SE215 or Sony MH1C.

        • Nope. The S4 is a relatively bassy earphone (with a V-shaped response). In comparison, the GR07s are neutral IEMs with mildly enhanced bass. You’d need the GR02 Bass Edition before you get into the right ballpark for bass quantity.

      • I was hoping to step up a grade in audio quality from the S4, but I’m not sure how possible that will be if I wish to stay around a $100. Of the sets you’ve mentioned, would you say the JVC is my best shot?

  16. Hi Joker,
    So i got re-400, and to be honest i am kinda disappointed, of course it sounds okay but definitely not up to my expectation especially after reading all the good reviews everywhere. It sounded thin and very similar to my blackberry z10 stock earbud, ofcourse re400 has better sound in all departments but not by a huge margin. I feel that the mids are not as forwarded as i would like it to be, it seemed kind of laid back to me. Maybe i prefer in your face kind of mid, i don’t know. I have had soundmagic pl30, brainwavz m2, jlab ebony j.fi and sony xba-h1 in the past,and the later two definitely sounded better than re400 to my ears. So now i’m looking for another purchase but i don’t know exactly what kind of sound i am looking for. I want the vocals/music to be more forwarded and thicker/warmer in my re400. Please suggest me another iem at the price range of $50 – $100. Will fidue a71 fulfill my requirement?

    Regards

    • The A71 is quite good for what you want except the bass is also quite a bit more powerful and not as tight as a result, and the highs are a bit more harsh (but not too bad). The Fidue A63 also fits the bill but the A71 is better overall if you can afford it and don’t mind a bit more bass bloat and treble unevenness.

      • Ok thanks will try to checkout fidue. Btw i had a chance to listen to Beyerdynamic T1 some time ago, and i was absolutely amazed at how good it sounded.This is the kind of sound signature that i am looking for. Is there an iem which has the same/similar sound signature? Budget is not an issue, I just don’t like headphones.

        • Not sure, I’ve never tried the T1. My best Beyer experience to date was with a set of DT880/600s, which were very balanced-sounding and a hair bright compared to my primary HD600s. Great cans but yeah, they don’t sound like an RE-400, more like a GR07 or Philips Fidelio S2.

  17. I mostly listen to hip-hop and rap. Right now, I’ve basically narrowed down my choices to the GR07 BE, GR07, and re400. Although I was originally leaning towards the GR07 BEs, I’ve heard that the GR07 line can be slightly sibilant and are prone to wire problems(they were also left out of Tyll’s Wall of Fame). Personally, I enjoy a little extra punch in the bass, however the fact that the re400s have on-par sound quality and are around $50s cheaper is keeping me caught in between the two.
    Which one of these IEMs do you think is the best for hip-hop and rap specifically?

    • I left the GR07 off of InnerFidelity’s wall of fame primarily because I was already planning to include the VSD1S at the time and didn’t want to be too heavy on VSonics.

      For hip hop and rap the GR07 BEs are better – the RE-400s will likely leave you wanting for punch. Sibilance is the one caveat, but unless you already know that sibilance is a dealbreaker for you, it’s still likely your best bet.

  18. hi ljokerl,

    thank you for the great review..

    I’m really new to this kind of things as well,

    I’m leaning towards buying RE-400 but my only dap is my own Iphone 5 (with maybe an Fiio X3 in distant future)

    I’m a little bit concern about driving the RE-400, and might consider RE-300h instead beacuse lower impedance, 16 vs 32 on RE-400.

    so, your inputs are greatly appreciated

    • The RE-400 is not hard to drive – iPhone 5 is perfectly sufficient. Sound signature differences aside, the RE-400 is the better earphone so I’d go for that.

  19. Hi Joker,

    Thanks for all your great work here! (I think I have read just about every review you have written, by now!) I have had RE400s for close to a year now, and am looking for something new. I love the clarity and accuracy of the HiFiMan sound, had RE0 previously. But I have reached a point where I need more bass. It started when I got a sub in my car. Next, I was trying Yamaha EMH100s. Returned them; while I liked the bass, I didn’t like the accuracy and the large bore did not fit so well.

    Last couple of weeks I have been trying Klipsch X11. Kind of the same story as Yamaha, only I like their bass flavor a little more. I really don’t think of myself as a bass-head, but (now that I remember it) I want something that can convey solid electric bass, for instance. Even with bass jacked way up in EQ, RE400s just can’t do it. But at the same time (being a trumpet player), I crave accuracy in horns, strings, cymbals, etc. I found the X11 pretty poor in the accuracy department.

    So what next? I don’t mind spending more money — say up to $400 or so. But I want something that will cover all the bases (or basses, LOL) better. Based on reading a lot of reviews, I”ve been thinking of hybrids — DN2000 and Fidue A83. Seems like they might be a good fit. What do you think? Any other suggestions? Big thanks!!!!!!!

    • A solid neutral-sounding hybrid would be a good compromise. The DN-2000 is currently my favorite in that price range. It’s significantly more v-shaped than the RE-400, with more bass (especially deep bass) and brighter treble, but it’s still very different from the somewhat treble-shy X10 and the even bassier EPH-100. One downside is the rather large and heavy construction – it’s not as comfy as an RE-400 or X10/X11.

      Your other option would be to try a good accurate-sounding (but bassier) dynamic. The one that comes to mind is the GR07 Bass Edition. The bass boost on that is quite mild compared to an EPH-100 or X10, but quite noticeable next to an RE-400. Best of all, this keeps things like clarity and detail quite high without the need for a hybrid setup. Treble is again a little on the harsh side next to an RE-400, but not too bad. An alternative with this type of tuning is the Philips Fidelio S2.

      • Thanks for that! Seems like I keep coming back to the DN-2000. The only thing that scares me is the nozzle diameter. One of the reasons I returned the EPH-100s (besides not loving the sound) was that the left one would not stay in due to its diameter. I apparently am a freak of nature, 6’6″, but with narrow ear canals. :-/ Seems like the Dunu’s are large too. Do you have any recollections on the relative sizes?

        A month ago, I was thinking GR07BE was the next deal. But then I started reading bad stories about sibilance, and that cooled my jets. Sibilance was what brought me to HiFiMan in the first place. Grrrr…

        Another pair I keep running into are Westone W30 and UM30. I have never heard them, but they seem more, well boring, than something like the dunu. Would that be your assessment? (Although, I must say after returning my last two HFM products five times combined within the warranty periods, boring + long warranty has a special ring to it.)

        Thanks again for your thoughtful comments.

        • The Yamaha nozzles are larger but not by much – maybe 10-15% in diameter. Not a huge difference but it can be noticeable.

          The W30 and UM30 sound pretty different. The UM30 is warm, has a mid-bass hump, and lacks some energy up top. It sounds more like the X11, but not quite as treble-shy on the whole. The W30 is more v-shaped with a good amount of treble presence. It sounds more like the GR07BE, but thinner and arguably less natural. They’re pretty solid earphones, just a little pricy at ~$400 for the audio performance.

  20. My Ety HF5’s have finally died (cable worn through in multiple spots) and deciding what next. Favorite part of the HF5s were sparkling detail and the incredible isolation – better than having NC headphones for my $$.

    Here is my question:

    Through the Ety replacement program, I can get a pair of ER4 for $170. Is the difference between the ER4 and the RE-400 or GR07 worth the extra $50- $90?

    Also, random question: Everyone seems to LOVE the NAD HP-50 headphones, but nobody seems to be reviewing the HP-20 IEs. Any thoughts on why? Have your heard them?

    • The ER4 is a fantastic earphone, an end-game IEM for some. It’s not that different from the HF5 (in sound, at least) but the build quality is of course better. Mine is at least 5 years old. Honestly, you just won’t get the same flat signature or the same level of isolation with the RE-400 and GR07. The RE-400 is a little warmer and more relaxed up top. The GR07 has a more emphasized low end and less prominent mids. They’re both good, neutral-ish earphones and you’d probably enjoy them, but I doubt you would enjoy them more than the ER4 if you’re coming from the HF5. If it were me, I’d consider the extra $$ well spent.

      I have not tried any NAD headphones – sorry.

  21. Great review,
    I have been using the sony mh1c for about 8 months. Recently I got an AKG K240 studio headphones for my home. I was blown away by them by the detail and soundstage. Now I need an upgrade IEM’s over the sony mh1c that would satisfy my hunger for soundstage and detail. How would the HiFiMan RE-400 fit the bill? can you recommend a few IEM’s ~ $100 for travelling or outdoors
    thanks 🙂

    • The RE-400 is great for a smooth, balanced sound and the detail is puts out is good, but it wouldn’t be my first pick for sheer soundstage size. Something like an Ostry KC06 (https://theheadphonelist.com/brief-impressions-vsonic-vsd3s-ostry-kc06-havi-b3-pro/) or VSonic GR07 Classic (https://theheadphonelist.com/brief-impressions-vsonic-gr07-classic-plus-warning/) will give you a wider sonic space and good detail, though they won’t give you the same level of smoothness as the RE-400 or MH1C.

      • Hello, I have recently purchased the Hifiman re-300 and the re-400. I really like the re-400 but would like just a bit more bottom end. I thought that maybe the re-300 would fit the bill but it was maybe a bit too much bottom and didn’t like the rolled off highs. It was smooth but just not what I’m looking for. I’ve read that the re-600 has a bit more bottom and I’m thinking that I might need to try those. I’ve also read that the Final Audio Design Heaven IV or V are possibly some direct competitors. As I’ve read a very good majority of your reviews, I have to say thank you for what you do…it is very appreciated. Do you have any thoughts or comments? Thank you, Brian

          • Hello and thank you for the reply. I’m not against moving away from the re-400 sound signature completely but was just looking for something with a smidge more bottom end. It seems that the TDK model is no longer available. I have only read briefly about the FAD Heaven IV and it sounds like it may have a similar sound signature. Another that I am considering is the Yamaha EPH-100. Ultimately I’d really like to spend no more than $200ish or so. Thank you.

          • No experience with the Heaven IV. I do have the Heaven II but that’s a little more harsh than I’d like to see from an RE-400 alternative. The EPH-100 has a MUCH bassier sound than the RE-400, but sacrifices less clarity than the RE-300 does. It’s a good earphone, but just not very similar to the RE-400 and will sound quite bassy coming from the HiFiMan.

  22. Great review and site! Keep up the great work!

    I have a query since I’m new to the whole headphone scene. In your opinion which is the better option overall for a casual listener? The Shure SE215, HifiMan RE-400 or VSonic Vc100? My budget is around $99-ish but I’m really confused. I primarily listen to Rock, Indie / Alt Rock and Pop but also listen to other genres from time to time. I would like to have some decent bass but the sound clear as well (typical? haha).

    I understand that as per the website, the VSonic is rated higher in the sound department but I’m interested in the cost effective RE-400 as well. Just wanted an opinion on the overall best ‘deal’ so will appreciate some advice. If there is any other (better) option then please do met me know. Thank!

    • In addition to the above, I also currently have the Sennheiser Adidas CX-685 (Sports Edition) that I use during my workouts. Are the above mentioned options (Shure, HifiMan, Vsonic) much better in sound than the CX 685?

      • I’ve never tried the CX-685 so I don’t know what sounds like. I haven’t been overly impressed with the other CX-series earphones I’ve tried. The VC1000 is not something I normally recommend unless you know you like the type flat, hyper-detailed sound it produces. The RE-400 is a little smoother and warmer so it’s better for a casual listener. The SE215 would be your safe choice – it has an enhanced-bass tuning likely more similar to your CX-series Sennheisers, but sounds good overall and isn’t excessively warm or bassy. It has a lot of competition in that price range from other sets like the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear (more treble presence for a more v-shaped sound), VSonic GR07 Classic (clearer, brighter, a little harsher, and less bassy), VSonic VSD3S (a little less clear than GR07; bass quantity between GR07 and SE215, a lot cheaper).

  23. Coming from the XBA-1, how are these in terms of clarity and detail? I have my concerns because of the build quality, i tend to care for them, but often times i just throw them on my pockets, the XBA-1 have lasted for about 10 months of kinda rugged use, so should i ve worried of the build quality on the RE400? A lot of people say that these have some quality issues, for the price i could get 2 XBA-1, so i hope you can help me ljokerl, thanks in advance!

    • Not sure – I’ve only heard the XBA-1 briefly and just had a chance to compare it to the Meelec A161P. The A161P was clearer and more detailed than the XBA-1, but it’s a bit clearer and more detailed than the RE-400, too, so that doesn’t help. I would say the RE-400 is certainly not worse than the XBA-1 in any area of sound, and is likely better in some.

      As for durability, the RE-400 is not something you want to just cram in your pockets. It’s fine in regular use but the cable is not so strongly reinforced that you want to put extra strain on it. There are better options for durability.

      • Could you recommend some better options that are somewhat as clear or detailed as the RE400 but that can take some abuse? I’ve been keeping an eye on the Fidue a63 (different sound signature) but i think that would do, but i also would like some other recommendations from you ljokerl! Thanks!

        • Budget end: VSonic GR07 Classic, Brainwavz R3, maybe Havi B3 Pro 1.
          Higher-end: Dunu DN-2000, Etymotic ER4, Westone W20, ACS T15, Sony EX600
          But again most IEMs are small, fragile electronics not meant to be stored without a protective case, etc.

  24. I think the price should be changed to 79$. It is safe to assume that it won’t increase as it has been 79$ for a long time now

    • Hmm… I swapped my RE0 for the RE-ZERO many years ago, and then swapped that for the RE-400 in 2013, but from memory I’d say the RE-400 is a little more forward.

  25. Hey joker, thank you for the hard work you do with the sute. Can i ask if the fidue a83 would be considered an upgrade to the re 400 and if it retains the same sound signature. Oh and do you think it would be well driven by an iphone 4S ? Thanks

  26. I bought myself the RE-400 back in July and ever since then, I’ve been encountering problems, and they all have to do with the left side. It’s been sending shocks into my ears whenever i touch my phone charging or when im using the computer, at random. I’ve also noticed that that side has been slowly deteriorating and by that I mean I can barely hear it compared to the right side. I’m considering calling my original dealer to see if they have a copy of my receipt so I can request a warrenty. If you need to know, I don’t have a DAC/AMP yet but im planning to get one some time down the road. Is that the best option? Or is there something else I can do to fix this problem?

    This is my first IEM and I was really excited jumping into the world of audio, I just jumped onto the hype train and bought an ATH-50x and I’ve been loving it so far.
    If you have any advice to give me I’d greatly appreciate it!

    Thanks!

    • Sounds like something is poorly grounded inside the headphones. I had a similar issue with a pair of JLAB metal earphones I had a long time ago. They were fine when used from battery-powered devices (probably not enough power to actually feel) but delivered static shocks when plugged into a laptop.

      Bottom line, the housings shouldn’t be getting a current across them. I would put in for an exchange under warranty.

        • You know, I can’t say for sure that the issue was caused by the PC. It sounds like the headset was just not wired properly. Maybe a poor audio circuit on the PC was contributing but it’s unlikely to be the root cause.

          I would get the new set first, see if you have the problem reoccurring, and go from there.

    • I had the same problem with my re-400, static on one side of the ear. It eventually lead to channel imbalance, with the right side losing volume. Using a dac/amp wont help, they both provide power, return it if it shocks you

  27. This was a great review, thanks! I love my Etymotic ER-4P, but more often use my Apple in-ear phones for quick in and out on the subway and not worrying about quickly tossing in my backpack and leaving there. But I’d like to replace the Apples. Even though you called the highs smooth, would you consider them crisp?

    Thanks!

    • I guess it depends on where the benchmark is. If we’re comparing them to a high-end BA earphone like the ER4P, then no, these sound a little dull. But when coming from your average sub-$100 in-ear, then yes, the highs are quite crisp. There are options in that price range that have more crisp highs if that’s your priority, like the Ostry KC06 for instance.

        • It’s just a more colored/less neutral sound. A larger mid-bass hump means the bass is not as tight and level as on the HiFiMan. Also, more upper mids and brighter sound means it’s not as smooth and forgiving. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the RE-400 can be a little dull, but it’s just a different sound sig.

  28. Hi joker, I got my hands on a pair of Ostry KC06A but I didn’t like it due to the lack of imaging and mids is slightly recessed. Thus, I moved back to my good ole re 400. What can you recommend to be a decent upgrade with similar signature to the Re 400 (balanced, analytical, and magical mids) ? Thanks

    • The RE-400 is more mid-focused than most similar earphones. Ones that I would consider upgrades would typically improve on the bass depth and treble energy, naturally making the sound less midrange-centric.

      With that in mind, I made some recommendations just yesterday for someone seeking an RE-400 upgrade here: https://theheadphonelist.com/deal-alert-hifiman-re-400-free-shipping-head-direct-com/#comment-39055 . The BA200 and StageDiver SD-2 are two of the better options I can think of.

      • Thanks joker. Can I ask if these two improves layering and presentation of the sound compared to Re – 400 and if spending another 150 pounds for the SD 2 is worth rather than the TDK BA 200 ? Or if an upgrade to the TDK BA 200 is worth it ? Or should I get an amp like the new Fiio e11k or a music player like the Fiio x1 ? Thanks

        • If you’re concerned with value I would probably go with the BA200 over the SD-2 – there’s about an equal-size performance gap between RE-400/BA-200 and BA-200/SD-2 but the BA200 is pretty close in sound sig to the SD-2. And yes, it’s really tough to call anything an upgrade at that level while staying within that sound signature.

          I compared each of the BA200 and SD-2 to the RE-400 in their respective reviews

          https://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/tdk-ba200/
          https://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/inear-stagediver-2-sd-2-review/

          If you have a high-quality source you don’t really need an amp with the BA200 – it even has an impedance stabilizer to reduce impedance interactions with the source. SD-2 is a bit more picky but again if you have a good source an amp isn’t going to make a large difference.

  29. Hi Joker,

    Love your reviews. I am planning to buy a pair and now i am really confused. I have Sennheiser HD558 and i am looking for a pair similar to its sound signature. I am confused between RHA MA750i and RE400. Can you help me choose between one of them or suggest something with the sound signature i am looking at?

    Thanks in Advance 🙂

    • I am interested in sound stage and would prefer a boomy bass. I can stretch my budget to Etymotic HF5. Really need your help here 🙂

      Thanks

      • I don’t know about the HD558 – it’s always seemed pretty balanced to me – but the RE-400 and especially HF5 are not at all what you’re looking for as neither has anything close to what I’d describe as boomy bass. The MA750i sound very different from these and has significantly more bass depth and power, so it would seem to be the better choice here.

  30. newbieaudiophile on

    thanks for the awesome review joker. im quite new in this hobby and i found your reviews very helpful. i currently have the ath im70. but i found the highs, treble lacks sparkle that im looking for. as far as the instrument separation and the soundstage of the im70 im actually satisfied with it. how does this compare with the re400 in regards with the treble, details, soundstage, instrument separation? thanks in advance!

    • I’ve never tried the IM70 but I can say that the RE-400 has very smooth, even somewhat laid-back highs and maybe isn’t the best choice specifically for treble sparkle.

  31. Dear ljokerl

    Thanks for the detailed reviews and comparisions. I am a big fan of complex, multi layered progressive music such as King Crimson, Pink Floyd or Dillinger Escape Plan. I currently use a Yamaha EPH-100. While they sound pretty fun to me (to be honest I am not much of an expert) it seems to me that I am missing on details and it feels like the sound gets muffled when the arrangements get a little too complex.

    I have a budget of 100 to 120 USD and I am trying to decide between Re-400, GR07 Classical Edition and VC1000. Which one of these will be be better able to handle the details and complexity of progressive music?

    Regarding the sound signature I prefer, I am definetely not a bass-head and love a little sparkle in the higher end.

    Thank you for taking the time to reply

      • The VC1000 would be my pick out of those four. It can handle any complexity without losing resolution and provides better sparkle and treble presence than the RE-400. The Heaven 2 does also, but it’s a little harsher and trades off the refinement for a little more bass.

          • Hi again ljokerl

            I got the VC1000 and I am really satisfied with the detail retrieval of these, thank you for your recommendation. However, I got the urge to upgrade again. I am using iems while commuting mainly so VC1000 sometimes sounds too sterile. So, to add some fun I would like to get something with a little bit of more bass while not losing the detail levels and speed of VC1000. An improved soundstage/imaging would also be a nice addition.

            I got a budget of 200 USD. Did you have a chance to try Chord & Major Classical? I heard that it has a great soundstage with ability to handle complex stuff while providing good detail levels and a warmish sound.
            Thank you for your time

          • Thank you for you reply ljoker

            I know its a pretty different sound signature but how much of a compromise would RHA 750i be compared to DN-1000 in terms of detail retrieval, soundstage and imaging? The build quality, set of accessories and inline volume control of RHA750i really appeal to me but I would not like to return to the congested and muddied sound of EPH-100 when listening to complex and multi-layered music.

            Thank you again

          • Yeah you don’t want the MA750i. The DN-1000 is not perfect, but it’s less muddy and more detailed than the MA750. Out of what you’ve listed, the RHA can really only keep up in soundstage size.

  32. Hey joker,

    Thanks for the work you’ve been putting in for all these reviews.I’m a bit skeptical when it comes to tech reviews because a lot of the time its difficult to understand just where a pair of headphones stand without different comparisons. However, you always include multiple comparisons so those doubts are alleviated!

    I’ve been killing myself trying to decide between 3 pairs of IEMs for the past three weeks and I was hoping you would be able to help me make a decision. I’m moving on from my RE-262s of 2 years (I ended up buying these because of your IEM roundup thread on Head-Fi) and I wanted to move onto something that was more portable (IEMs that wouldn’t benefit much from amping).

    Looking at the different reviews and buying guides I cut the selection down to three (prices I can buy them at in Canada included): Sony SBH80 ($112), Hifiman RE-400 ($114.95) and the Vsonic GR07 Classic ($119.95). I realize that the SBH80 is pretty different from the other two, but I’m interested in them because they’re wireless. The difference in sound signature does not bother me as I like both Warm and Balanced sound signatures.

    I’m planning on using them with a HTC One M8 which should be able to drive them. I’ll be using them most of the day outside: commuting to and from class, gym and outside running (may switch to a clip mp3 for the re-400 and GR07), while studying and at home.

    My main questions:
    1) Strictly between the RE-400 and GR07 Classic which do you think has a higher value at those prices?
    2) Is the build quality of the SBH80 sturdier than the Sony MH1C?
    3) do you think that the wireless functionality is enough to make up for the sound quality difference between the SBH80 and the other two IEMs?
    4) In the comment section of the SBH80 review you mentioned that you were going to do a round up on wireless IEMs; are there any wireless IEMs that outperform the SBH80 that I should wait to read the reviews before making a purchase?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Tough choice, that’s three very solid options. Thanks for breaking it down into questions.

      1) They are really on-par but easily split apart on sound signature – if you think you’ll enjoy a more mid-focused sound with flat bass and very smooth treble, go for the RE-400. If you’d prefer a little more presence in the bass and treble regions, which creates a punchier, more energetic sound, go for the GR07. I personally will pick the GR07 maybe 6 out of 10 times, which really isn’t a significant split.
      2) The weakness of most if not all earphones is the cable. With a “wireless” set like the SBH80, even though there are cables, they are typically not stressed very much at all, so I would expect it to be more durable than the MH1C.
      3) This is a very subjective question – there are people who are willing to carry around a bag full of gear to get the last 5% of performance out of their headphones, convenience be damned. I’m not one of those people, but at this point being plugged in doesn’t really inconvenience me. That said, the SBH80 easily competes with most wired headphones in its price range, especially those within its own sound signature.
      4) I have indeed tried a few new wireless earphones since (the round-up is currently in progress) but the SBH80 is still the top-performing wireless earphone I’ve come across.

      • Hey, thanks for the reply! I’ll try to keep this more concise than my previous comment.

        After reading reviews/impressions/comments of hybrid IEMs I’ve changed what I’m considering:
        ($119.95) Vsonic GR07 Classic, ($200) T-PEOS Altone200, ($230) Dunu DN-1000, ($345) Dunu DN-2000
        I believe the Dunu DN-2000 is the closest to my ideal IEM. However $345 is a huge jump from the budget I originally had in mind.

        My questions:
        1) The only missing comparison; How does the GR07 compare to the DN-2000?
        2) In your opinion, is the price difference (from my listed prices) from the GR07 to the Altone200 and DN-1000 justified by the jump in sound quality?
        3) Between the Altone200 and DN-1000 which is closer to the DN-2000s sound?
        4) Can you compare between either the DN-1000, Altone2000 or DN-2000 to either the Focal Spirit Professional/Classic or NAD VISO HP50? This would greatly help me as I was able to listen to the focals in-store and the HP50 signature is very similar.

        Thanks in advance again! Hopefully this is the last bit of information I need to make a decision.

          • The DN-2000 is a bit of an odd choice as it’s not particularly warm and not entirely balanced (it follows a slightly u-shaped signature with raised lower bass and upper treble). I like it a lot, but it’s quite far from the signatures of the RE-400 and SBH80 that you were originally considering.

            1) The GR07 doesn’t have the bass depth of the DN-2000 and sounds more sibilant/not as smooth. The DN-2000 has a slightly thicker and more natural note presentation, but still the same (high) level of clarity. The soundstage on the DN-2000 is also better – a little more even in terms of width and depth and just better-imaged overall.

            2) I can’t really tell you if the price difference is justified as that varies from person to person. I like the DN-2000 enough where I’d personally spend the extra ~$100, mostly because for my own preferences the DN-1000 has a little too much bass and not enough midrange and the Altone200 is a little too bright. However, there’s definitely diminishing returns in play here and with all things audio you never get anywhere near 2x the performance for 2x the money. I discussed value between differently-priced IEMs a little here: https://theheadphonelist.com/earphone-buyers-guide/#comment-15037

            3) DN-1000. It has a very similar sound profile, just with a more pronounced “v-shape” signature.

            4) No experience with those cans.

            5) No Sansa Fuze+ but I do have a Clip+. It does well with hybrid earphones – maybe not the best, but more than acceptable.

  33. Hi, are there any IEMs that have the same sound signature as the RE400 [especially for the mids and highs] but with better built quality and low profile build so that I can wear it under a motorcycle helmet ? If it comes under a 100 bucks and has a one button remote that would be awesome. Also, have you tried the Ostry KC06? Do they really sound as good as the RE400?

    • No, there is not. The closest thing is the TDK BA200 but that’s closer to $200. The RE-400 is very hard to beat. It’s also pretty small so it may fit under a helmet as is.

      As for the KC06, I have tried it and while I think it’s very good, it doesn’t really remind me of the RE-400 because it’s significantly brighter and the bass rolls off at the bottom.

      • Hey Joker,

        Thanks for all of your hard work on this site, it’s really useful!
        I’m new to the “high-end” headphone scene and I was wondering if you would recommend these headphones to someone who listens to Rock, Rap, R&B, Blues, some songs from the 70s, and Electronic music. I figured since I listen to a variety of music I needed some balanced IEM’s. I have the Philips SHE3590 and I noticed that they sound great for EDM or Rap but negatively effect some R&B and Blues songs.

        Thanks!

  34. Great review – I’m really glad to have stumbled upon this site!
    I listen mostly to classical and jazz music, and was wondering if you would recommend these IEMs for these genres? If not, could you recommend another IEM at $100 or less please? I’m new to buying headphones and don’t really know where to begin for these genres. Thank you 🙂

    • Glad you like the site!

      For balanced sound these are still among the best, if not the best, earphones I’ve tried in the price range. Very smooth with good detail resolution. Compared to high-end sets they are lacking a little in bass depth and spaciousness but you’ll be spending upwards of $200 before you see a real, no-compromises improvement on the RE-400.

  35. I’m torn between the RE400, DUNU DN 1000, UE700, and Soundmagic E10 as my daily driver.

    The RE400 has nice reverve on the mids, great sound positioning, pronounced mids to highs detail, but lacks mid bass detail.

    The Dunu DN 1000; although generally better than the RE400, still lacks mid bass detail.

    The Soundmagic E10 sounds cleaner than the DN 1000 but lack overall detail and positioning.

    And the UE700 is just too scary due to its lack of strain relief T_T

  36. Hi Joker,

    Awesome reviews! I actually had 2 pairs of GR-07’s and they both just seemed to die out. The right earphone on both became staticy and after a while just gave out completely. Do you know what could have caused this? I’m thinking about getting these now that the 1 year warranty on the GR07’s passed. Ive only had each for 1-2 months each for my daily commutes to work without any abuse. I kind of feel like I’m downgrading from GR07’s to these but if these last longer, then I think it’d be the better choice.

    • Probably a cable issue. I wouldn’t get the RE-400 expecting better durability than the GR07 – it’s well-made but really not designed to be abused. I doubt it will outlast a GR07. If you want to prioritize durability it might be best to bite the bullet and get something with a detachable cable – a Shure SE215, for example, or even a Westone W20. Otherwise, the Dunu DN-1000 might be more durable with that TPE cable, and provides sound quality comparable to the GR07.

  37. Hi joker!!!

    Big fan of your reviews, and I’ve been pouring over them looking for the best $100 iems for me. I’ve pretty much settled on these. The one question I have is: how durable are the fabric sections of the the cable? I’ve had to get rid of 2 pairs of the monoprice 8320s because their cables developed kinks very easily and ended up shorting. Granted, they were used quite heavily and carried without an adequate carrying case, but I’m still very skeptical about fabric covered cables.

    Thanks!

    • The same thing happened to my first 8320 – the cables actually kinked so much they broke through the fabric. I don’t know what it is about that cable, but it’s pretty awful. My RE-400 is still going strong. I’m probably a little more careful with it than I was with the Monoprice, but the cable is also less prone to kinking and shedding in general.

  38. Finally got me an re400 🙂 i had it for 3days now and i’m alternating worn and un-worn burn-in.

    I currently have mixed impressions on it. Compared to my also newly purchased ue700 and fxt90, the re400 sounds a touch more thick on the mids (i almost feel its recessed) and details on the mid bass and mid treble is a mixed bag. It was also a challenge finding the right silicone tip for my taste. More on this once i have fully burned it in 🙂

  39. Hi! Can I ask you some words of direct comparison between these IEMs and the RHA MA750i? Thanks, as always 😉

    • Very different sound – the MA750 is a lot bassier and much more colored/less neutral. The RE-400 has much less bass and sounds more mid-centric overall. It is tighter and clearer but appears to lack subbass presence in comparison whereas the MA750 has tons of bass, especially deep bass, but also sounds a little boomy/bloated in comparison. The RE-400 also has smoother and more forgiving treble while the MA750 is a little more energetic.

  40. Hi joker. It’s me again. Do you know of any IEM with removable cable that can get close to the hifiman re400 performance? (The most affordable option please)

    Thanks in advance 🙂

    • Would love something like that but nothing affordable. Closest would probably be the VSonic VC02. It’s a half-step down in sound and its detachable cables aren’t that great but for $50 you won’t do better.

      If you want something that’s as good or better than the RE-400 with detachable cables you’ll probably be paying a lot more than $99 – StageDriver SD-2, UE900, Sony EX600 and MDR-7550, etc. etc.

      • I did some research and i found the westone um pro 10 🙂

        I couldn’t find any unit to audition but there where some reviews online. But me being a less experienced audiophile, i have some second thoughts whether or not it comes close to how good the re400 is.

        Do you have any input on this? I’d really appretiate it.

        • I’ve never tried the UM Pro 10. I have the Westone 10, though, and don’t think it competes with the RE-400 in sound. Excellent construction and very comfortable, though.

      • (Correction) *on a budget*

        I’m not sure if i’m using the correct term but my main concern is since the day i started getting into this audiophile thing, i kept on getting distracted when i miss a detail on my music or when the mids sounds recessed. That led me to have this collection of budget level earphone that i endlessly swap because i couldn’t get what i want.

        Before i jump to the higher priced IEMs, i just want to collect all the best sounding budget IEMs 1st.

        • The VSonic VC02 is my pick. It’s right around $50 and uses a tiny 3mm dynamic driver (the smallest ever, I think) to beat even similarly-priced BAs in sound quality. Second best option (but more durable) would be an Etymotic MC5 (which is currently right around $60 on amazon: http://amzn.to/1cJPvVo) or the Ety-Kids that are even less expensive.

          • Thanks joker 🙂

            I have another question though. I noticed that the IEMs i purchased with 8mm driver isn’t as powerfull (volume wise) compared to those i got with 10mm drivers. Is this the same for all IEMs and if i buy IEMs with drivers smaller than 10mm (like vc2, mc5,re400,or BA driver IEMs, do i also have to invest on portable amps?

          • What you’re talking about is SPL. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter because even portable sources can usually compensate for low sensitivity with a little more volume. Many cheap IEMs do go very loud for those who equate volume with sound quality but there’s not necessarily a correlation with driver diameter. The VC02 certainly is quite easy to drive with that 3mm driver.

          • I see.

            Btw, the vsd1 also caught my attention. Which do u think is better for analitical listeners, the S or the LE version?

            And something else that i don’t understand yet is the impedance value. What does it mean and do i benefit from less or more?

            Sorry to ask so many quenstions. The forums seems so unrealiable nowadays since some are saying something and others are saying the exact opposite.I just want to get it straight from a very reputable and experienced member of the audiophile community

          • I haven’t tried the LE but I would lean towards “neither”. The VSD1 models are V-shaped earphones with warmer tone and pretty impactful bass, akin to the GR07 Bass Edition.

            Impedance is a very complicated topic but (simplifying greatly) it’s a measure of how difficult it is for a source to “push” current into the headphones (i.e. how much the headphones resist the flow of electricity). It’s determined by the design of the components of the headphone/earphone. You don’t necessarily want less or more, but it can help make sure you’re getting the right product for your needs.

            Your source (portable player, computer, amp, whatever) will generally be able output more power into lower-impedance headphones. This can create problems with higher-impedance headphones and low-power sources. However, low impedance loads can also be tough for some sources to drive for multiple reasons.

            Your source also has its own impedance rating (what’s called output impedance). It is generally accepted that you want your source to have 1/8 the impedance of your headphones (i.e. for 32 ohm headphones you want a source with a 4 ohm output impedance or less). There is a reason for this having to do (in part) with some headphones having different impedance at different frequencies and having the ability to interact, sometimes unfavorably for the sound, with sources that have higher output impedance.

            There are lots of other considerations but the takeaway is that you don’t want headphones with extremely low impedance unless you know your source was designed to handle them, and you don’t want headphones with high impedance unless you know your source can provide sufficient power to drive them.

            In the case of source output impedance, lower is better.

  41. how do you compare GR07(not the BE), GR06, Audiofly AF56 and RE-400 in terms of sound stage (width depth and height) and instrument imaging and separation?
    or is there any other iem strictly under $150 price bracket which has better sound stage (width depth and height) and instrument imaging and separation without compromising with mids (or making any other range more pronounced than other)?

    • I haven’t tried the AF56 in a proper, sit-down setting. The GR07 is the widest of the rest of those. GR06 and RE-400 are not very wide but have depth on-par with the GR07, if not a little better. I think the FXT90 from JVC is even more impressive than these if you want an aggressive sound with good depth but not much width.

      One of my absolute favorites in that price range for imaging and separation is the VSonic VC1000, but it has a more analytical sound than these other sets you’re considering.

      • Thanks a lot for replying, it means a lot to me…i am about to start my audiophile journey but i am tight on my budget…heck this sorting-out-best-for-me-in-this-price-bracket thing is never easy :/
        alright now a noob style question…i generally listen to music which has great orchestral arrangement accompanied with male or female vocal…my price bracket as i said is $150 and i want an out-of-head experience with good separation and imaging (i know i am being too greedy) which iem should i go for? i will be using sansa clip+ but have plans to upgrade to fiio x3 may be that will be of some help…i was also considering Philips Fidelio S1 but they are semi open and i will be using my gears in public

        • I would personally use a balanced-sounding earphone for that type of music but that’s just my preference. If you’re not sure exactly what type of sound signature you’re after, I always consider the GR07 or even GR07 Bass Edition to be a nice compromise – a clear, Hi-Fi sound that’s not analytical but still far from bass-heavy. It doesn’t have the greatest depth or the smoothest treble but as far as compromises go, it’s a good one that’s very versatile in sound.

          • thanks a lot….and hats off to ur reviews…they are really helpful…i so like ur blog that whenever i have to find about some iem i google its name and then add “theheadphonelist” to its name and again google it 😀
            ur reviews are so systematic and detailed

          • a final question:
            i have heard, well read actually that some certain IEMs are quite sensitive to the files that u play…i mean if u r playing FLAC/ALAC they will shine(ofcourse) but if u use anything like under 320kbps MP3s they will downright butcher it down…is it so with re 400 or gr07/'(BE)….i understand that FLACs will definitely outshine the MP3s but will the result with MP3s be so crappy with re 400 or gr07/'(BE) or whatever i just said is all nonsense?

          • I have not heard an IEM that will butcher 320kbps. Some make it easier to hear the differences vs lossless than others but you have to really listen for it (at home, in a sit-down setting, with good equipment). I personally need to A:B FLAC and 320 to hear any difference. For me the lower limit, especially on the go, is 192kbps for mp3, though VBR or 320 is clearly preferable.

            P.S. when I say anything about an earphone being tolerant or intolerant of low-bitrate tracks in my reviews, I mean 192 and below, not 320.

  42. I’m really into these In Ears, so could you, please, tell me if RE-400 is capable of playing any kind of music or it’s more oriented towards some direction?

    • It’s great for all genres as long as you like a balanced sound with smooth, slightly relaxed treble. In general I think signature preferences trump genre selections – if you like a balanced sound, you’ll enjoy it with most if not all genres. Ditto if you like a metric ton of bass or super-bright highs.

  43. I’m embarrassed I didn’t catch that that was your review, I read it previously – twice.
    I truly appreciate your advice as to the RE- 600.
    Would you advise me what it is about the W4 that, for your tastes, ranks it higher overall in SQ than the 400 or 600?
    Or why you think it might not be the best choice moving forward for me.
    I’m keeping the 400s regardless of where I go next – Thank you very much

    • The reason I don’t think the W4 will work for you as an upgrade is that it tends to be more mid-bassy than the RE-400, the treble is not quite as smooth at higher volumes, and it doesn’t really have an advantage in top-end extension.

  44. Thanks for the great review – and all the others you’ve done, really!
    It was so great in fact I purchased the 400s.
    I can say this earphone comes closer to what I’m reaching for than any others I tried so far.
    The EPH 100 might have won out but there is just something “off” in the highs for me.

    I’m now ready to wander into the land of diminishing returns because of what I’ve learned through yer posts & reviews.
    So I’d like to ask if you’ve spent much time listening to the RE 600s?
    What are the audible differences between the 400 & 600?

    That is the top of my budget for this next round advance.
    I am also considering the Westone 4/R
    Sometimes I wish for a touch more bass presence with the 400s and & maybe touch more extension in the highs- but just a touch
    ( this seems very dependent on recordings)
    I also like to play loud so I’m hoping my next set will scale up nicely with volume
    I’ve returned many sibilant phones so this is why I’m interested to hear what you can advise about the two mentioned – Thank You

    • Glad the reviews have been helpful!

      I compared the RE-400 and RE-600 in depth here: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/hifiman-re-400-waterline-and-re-600-songbird-dynamic-ear-monitors-page-2 . It does somewhat tick the “bass presence” box, but not so much the treble extension requirement compared to the RE-400.

      The RE-400 is honestly very tough to upgrade from, especially when treble smoothness at high volumes is an asset – a lot of earphones don’t do nearly as well in this regard. If it were me, I’d skip the $400 upgrade and instead bump the bass a little with a parametric EQ. Otherwise, the RE-600 is a partial match for your requirements and more in line with what you’re after than the W4, but it doesn’t tick all the boxes.

      • ljokerl. Great review. The RE-400 is my first step into audiophile territory. I was apprehensive but I’m happy to say its blowing my V-shaped mind away. I’ve never heard bass so detailed and fast. I’ve never heard such depth and completion in vocals. I’ve never had earphones so ergonomic. Truly a remarkable gem.

        Just one small qualm :/
        I find the low-low end lacking on occasion (The mid bass is perfectly where I want it to be). Especially when I know the track has some rumble and presence. I can “hear” it with the RE-400 but not “feel” it. Would it be right to assume that the RE-400 is a little too sub-bass light?

        I’m using a RBed clip+. How do I add some presence to the low-low end without disturbing the tonal balance? I’ve tried using a parametric EQ but I can’t seem to get it right. The mid bass inevitably gets affected.

        Could you help me out? As in, what frequencies should I be boosting for the RE-400? By how much? You must have a better idea of what freqs would contribute to get that extra warmth and presence that’s missing in the RE-400.(hopefully getting me closer to the RE-600 sig)

        Thanks for all your effort. You sir….are a legend.

        • The RE-400 measures pretty flat but IMO a little more subbass lift would indeed be a good thing, especially as our hearing sensitivity in that region varies with listening volume.

          The parametric EQ on my media player has the lowest band at 31Hz. If I do a “narrow” lift of a few dB it seems to do what you want without affecting the mid-bass. If you don’t go overboard, that is, and then there’s only a small change from stock.

  45. Another quick question about the models available…
    There’s:
    GR07
    GR07 MKII
    GR07 BE
    GR07 MKII BE?

    Or is there no GR07 MKII BE?
    If so is the GR07 BE based of GR07 MKII?

    My jumpy mind decided on GR07 BE now…ha!

  46. The Bose one is enhanced bass but I did get it for free and wasn’t too happy with its performance, UE500 wasn’t as bass heavy however and felt better. With the RX900 even though the bass is prominent and feels solid and not muddy, the rest of the range feels well wrought out and that’s a great feeling where everything sounds great but when needed a bit of a bass boost might be good.
    I just don’t want something as bass-y as the Bose because that wasn’t much fun.
    Another reason I enjoyed the bass of the RX900 is because it went really low and full and deep but it can overpower by a small amount (atleast for me). Maybe it is its airy soundstage that make it less overpowering?

    • The bass of the GR07 BE is not really intrusive or muddy. It won’t be bothersome unless you prefer a flat frequency response. The GR07 (non-bass edition) and RE-400 both still have pretty good bass depth but can’t quite match the punch of the GR07 BE.

      In the end it comes down to whichever you think you’ll like best as they’re all great earphones – if the bass of the UE500 felt about right or a little too heavy for your taste, the GR07 BE should be good. If the bass of the UE500 seemed way too excessive, the RE-400 or GR07 mkII would be better options.

      • I salvaged my broken UE500 (loose connection) and made a comparison with the RX900 (different form factors but hopefully a decent comparison) The UE500 is definitely bassier than the RX900. I did mod the RX900 after I retired the UE500 and it opened up a lot on all ends and felt much more expressive. The bass is more in UE500 and a tad over impactful than what I’m used to now with the RX900 which isn’t too far behind the UE500 but still a moderate distance behind.
        Looks like the GR07 BE might be good as UE500 is a little too heavy for my taste but not excessive?

        PS:I listen to the following genres of music: Electronic, ambient, ambient bass, DnB, some jazz, trance, IDM, soundtracks and some pop. I usually lean towards non vocal tracks and sucker for great melodies.

        • It seems like the GR07 BE should be a little bassier than your RX900 but within your tolerance range, which is good. I think it sounds great with that type of music, especially shying away from vocals which is where the VSonics’ only real flaw (occasional sibilance) is.

  47. Great review!
    I read around a lot and have come to 2 options (for now): VSonic GR07 mk2 or Hifiman RE-400.
    I use JVC HA-RX900 (full size headphone) with a bit of modding and the Bose in ear (which recently broke down). I’ve also used the Logitech UE500vi.
    From what I’ve read….treble/high is more expressed and can be sometimes more sibilant/harsh with the GR07 mk2 than with RE-400 which can be quite even or sometimes recessed. Mids are better expressed in RE-400 than the GR07 mk2 and the RE-400 have better mid bass. The bass in general is more prominent with the RE-400 when compared to GR07.
    Guess the GR07 mk2 bass edition would make it much closer to the RE-400 compared to GR07 mk2 if I’m not mistaken from the reviews but with mids not as forward?
    Personally I do love the wide range of the JVC RX900, deeper bass, great soundstage and instrument separation. Would that make me more inclined to a warmer sound preference?

    If so which one would be good? RE-400, GR07 mk2 or GR07 bass mk2 or other models with a reasonable price?

    Thanks!

    • Thanks!

      You are mostly correct in your impressions but the GR07 Bass Edition actually has significantly more bass than the RE-400. For bass quantity I would rank the RE-400 and GR07 about on par, even giving a slight edge to the GR07 because its mids are less forward, which tends to accentuate bass. The Bass Edition would be ahead of both of those.

      I haven’t heard the RX900 in quite a while but if you enjoy feeling a bit of enhanced bass, which it seems like you do, I would probably go for the Bass Edition. I would worry that the RE-400/GR07 would sound quite bass-light next to a Bose unit or even the UE500, which has enhanced bass as well.

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