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HiFiMan RE-400

HiFiMan RE-400 Waterline Review

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

ljokerl

ljokerl

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.

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313 Responses

  1. Man, your reviews are an insane resource for us mere mortals just trying to enjoy simple pleasures. I’ve been researching to hell and back to replace my iPhone buds, listening mostly to rock, and I’ve just pulled the trigger on a set of RHA T20i phones because I found a new set for $80. Thought it would be worth having before I upgrade to something like a Grado GR10 or Shure SE535, and seemed a better alternative to the RHA MA750 or 1More Triple Drivers that seem to get good reviews.

    Pity I only stumbled on these HifiMan earphones now, these seem more suited to my needs. Bugger!

    Anyway thanks again.

    Cheers,
    Z

  2. Hi ljokerl,

    Huge fan of your reviews, as i always mention 🙂

    So, I just bought Hifiman RE-400 from wallmart.com and when i’m listening to it, it’s kind of ducking whenever the kick hits in the songs, like it’s artificially side-chaining or something. Does this mean these earphones might be fake ones?

    Thanks.
    Giorgi

  3. Hi joker, excellent review as always.

    I’ve been using a vsonic gr06 for the past 4 years which I just lost. I had bought it after reading your review and never regretted it for a second. Now I’m just a tiny bit sad but I also have to find a suitable successor. If there was one thing I could improve on the gr06, it would be the sibilance. Also, I could do with just a little bit more punch in the bass. Btw I’m not a bass head, and even the rha ma750 has a little too much bass for my taste – although I must say I was impressed by the build quality. The vsonic vsds3s gave me a headache – so that is also out of the picture.

    Given this, do you think the hifiman re 400 is a good choice? My budget is $50-$100. I would want the new one to last at least another 5 years so build quality is important to me. So even if you have a recommendation that overshoots my budget, I’ll try to look for a used pair.

    I’m in no hurry, though! All suggestions are welcome 🙂

    Thanks a ton! And happy new year! (°∆°)/

  4. I am in the same boat Phillip, recently acquired the opus#1 (not sure if i like it just yet) and was looking to get an “Upgrade” to the RE400’s but cant seem to find one.

  5. Haven’t come across anything better than the Rockets TBH. I found the MS100BA from Phiaton to be a reasonable RE-400 alternative considering it’s both cheaper and better-made, but it’s not an upgrade. I compared them here: https://www.innerfidelity.com/content/phiaton-single-balanced-armature-earphones

    There are some other BA monitors that have a somewhat similar smooth/mid-focused sound, such as the ATH-IM02, but these tend to differ more in tonality. If you really like the HiFiMan sound I probably wouldn’t venture this far away from that signature and just pick up another RE-400 (or the RE00 from Massdrop if they run it again).

  6. Hi joker,

    I’ve used the re-400(broken :/) and upgraded to Aurisonics Rockets(which i misplaced unfortunately) following your reviews, I found the Rockets to be less mid-centric like you said and preferred the more foward mids of re-400. I enjoyed the rockets better after hacking the re-400 filters onto the Rockets :P. Any recommendations for iems with similar sound signature to re-400 but better build quality?

    Cheers

  7. MH1C is fairly small and lightweight for an IEM – smaller and lighter than most. If it’s the cable that bothered you then that’s easy to fix, but if it’s the earpieces that’s going to be harder.

    I’d actually recommend a Klipsch, which I don’t do often – specifically, the Klipsch X11, which remains one of the most comfortable IEMs I’ve ever owned AND has a rather smooth and non-fatiguing sound that is more reminiscent of the MH1C than the RE-400. It’s very similar to the newer X12, but the X11 generation can be had for under $100 on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mbg7dE or ebay: https://goo.gl/NZTQbZ

  8. Hi Joker

    I need help picking out a pair of earphones.

    The things that I find to be important in a pair: comfort and immersion.

    A pair of earphones that I’ve enjoyed in the past were Sony’s MH1C though I felt that they were lacking in comfort.
    With a break in comfort I find it difficult to become immersed in a song.

    So as little fatigue in listening to music would be ideal for me.

    I want to get lost in a song. Music I listen to the most: shoegaze, alternative (think sonic youth or Smashing pumpkins), and indie-folk.
    I don’t hold a preferred sound signature. So feel free to throw me whichever way!

    Recommend me anything at 40 to 100 dollars please and Thanks for all your efforts.

  9. Hello ljokerl

    It’s me again, recently I got the pair of Phonak Audeo PFE 012 and quite love how they perform !
    I obly wish they would be abit mid forward and clearer, since they are sounding a bit muddy to my ear, lack of spiky and edgy.

    I have read about their grey filter would improve the sound in my prefered way, can you tell me the difference between the stock green filter and the grey ones (they are so hard to find plus high prices)

    Thank you very much

  10. Thank you for your reply,

    I am still digging into your posts to find another pair of in ear that would fit my preference. I also go to some local headphone stores to try out a few models but still no luck.

    I will keep my eyes on the Massdrop, thank you for the advice. And I am still keep looking for a mid-centric pair of inear as I love this sound signature

  11. The only real substitute for the RE-400 with top-tier durability is the Aurisonics Rockets, but those are now discontinued and even used ones now go for more $$.

    I would stick with HiFiMan if the RE-400’s sound is what you miss. As I see it you have three options: get another RE-400, get the RE-600 for the slightly thicker/more durable cable (but don’t expect an SQ improvement), or wait for the Massdrop x HiFiMan RE-00 to have something with the HiFiMan signature but at a “disposable” price.

  12. I have read and lived with the re400 for a while, sold it but now im missing it
    I am now wanting to find a pair of iem that sound like re400 (i love their sound signature) plus better durability. The price range should be around $150. Can you give me your recommendation?
    Thank you

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