While the $99 RE-400 broke headlines with its value for money, the RE-600 is not to be seen as overpriced or underperforming in any way. While it doesn’t sound as engaging and dynamic as most of the earphones that we have come to consider balanced or impressive, when attuned to the RE-600’s mellow and delightfully linear tuning, all those earphones come off as unnatural and sculpted. I don’t mean to hype up the RE-600, it’s not a new earphone nor is it a flawless one, but I do think it has been severely underappreciated and misunderstood in many ways. Because at the end of the day, the RE-600 is an incredibly versatile and natural sounding earphone with ergonomics that are nothing short of outstanding. Sure, I would prefer a little more treble extension and perhaps a smidge more midrange clarity, but the RE-600 carries that neutral balanced armature sound pioneered by the original Etymotic earphones without compromising sub-bass extension and soundstage size.
Please note that though the RE-600S V2 competes favourably to earphones like the Quad Driver and Pinnacle on a technical level, those earphones will likely serve many listeners much better with their more polite tuning. I’m not downplaying the RE-600 here in any way, simply stressing that impressive technical performance doesn’t always translate to an impressive listen and while I think everyone can appreciate the RE-600S V2, I’m not sure everyone can enjoy it.
Verdict – 8.5/10, If there’s one advantage the RE-600 holds over other earphones, it would be consistency; they perform so predictably with every genre, vocals, in particular, always sound exceptionally lifelike and natural. So don’t let the leaner, more laid-back tuning turn you off because extended listening reveals that the RE-600 has all the resolution and fidelity we are all looking for in this hobby. They haven’t aged since their inception, rather the RE-600 has matured with more modern earphones lacking the refinement and restraint of Hifiman’s classic offering.