HiFiMan RE-400 In-Ear Monitor Review 
Home Theater Accessories Accessories
Written by Andre Marc   
Tuesday, 05 March 2013

The very aptly named HiFiMan has been around since 2007, and I first became aware of the company from the ads for their high performance portable file players. They have developed into a one-stop shopping destination for portable audio lovers. In addition to players, they currently offer headphones, headphone amps, cables, accessories, and a DAC.

I have seen many positive reviews from professionals and, more importantly, the user community, of HiFiMan products. Users often noted exceptional comfort, sound quality and value. The company is especially known for planar headphones. Planar ‘phones are noted for exceptional dynamics and resolution. For review, I received their $99 RE-400 In-Ear Monitors (IEMs). In the distant past, I have had iffy relationships with "ear buds." I was never able to find one that was comfortable or that stayed in my ears. I did discover, recently, that ear bud designs really have come a long way. I reviewed, and very much liked, the Paradigm SHIFT E3m ear buds. I found them to be quite high in fidelity and comfort.

The RE-400 comes in a very classy package, with a custom storage box. They come equipped with buds installed, and you get three additional sets of varying size and shape. I ended up using the tips included on the shipped sample. The L shaped mini jack is of very high quality as well. The workmanship appeared to be top shelf across the board.

RE-400 In-ear Monitor


Other features include:

  • 8.5mm Titanium Diaphragm
  • Neodymium magnet
  • OFC Copper Cabling
  • Driver designed and manufactured by HiFiMAN

 


Listening

To put them through their paces, I used the RE-400 with several devices -- including an Apple iPhone 4S, a Blackberry Curve, a Google Nexus 7 tablet, an HP Windows 7 Laptop, and a Droid Razr M -- and in many different settings such as the gym, my office, and when generally out and about.

The RE-400 were extremely comfortable and a pleasure to use from an ergonomic standpoint. I found the fit of the tips to be excellent. Although these do not have active “noise cancelling” circuitry, they provided a very good seal, keeping out ambient noise. The cables proved to be quite sturdy and tangle free. I don’t think there will be any durability issues with these in ears.

RE-400 In-Ear MonitorsTo get right to it, I thought the RE-400 sounded really good. Midrange was rich, detailed, and quite natural sounding. Top end was smooth as butter, neither rolled off nor edgy.  And the bass was just right, with good definition. However, these would not be considered for bass freaks who prefer low end rattle over control.

What I found impressive about the RE-400 was they sounded consistently good across all musical genres and all devices used. Of course, the better the source material, the more they extracted. I probably had the most fun with the RE-400 using Amazon’s new AutoRip service. With the appropriate app, you can stream or download 256 kbps MP3s of any qualifying CD purchased from Amazon. I had access to over 300 albums, and the MP3 stream was surprisingly good.

Comparing the RE-400 to the Paradigm SHIFT buds was interesting. The Paradigms, which cost $30 more than the HiFiMan, also double as a volume control and microphone. The Paradigms were definitely a bit darker sounding, with a bit of thickness in the mid-bass. I think the HiFiMan was more down-the-middle neutral, and more delicate sounding. Overall, they were a bit lighter on their feet.

I really only have one minor nitpick with the RE-400. I wish there was color coding for Right and Left channels, instead of the tiny R and L marking on each monitor. Other than this slight ergonomic oversight, the RE-400’s were a hassle free.

Conclusion

The HiFiMan RE-400 are finely crafted in-ears. Stylish, terrific sounding, well made, and very fairly priced. I really found nothing to complain about, save for no easily visible markings for R/L channels. Everything else was beyond reproach given its reasonable price. I noted in prior reviews that I had unfortunately blown money on very expensive, trendy IEMs only to deal with ill-fitting buds and fatiguing sound.

HiFiMan is pushing the envelope on comfort, sound, and build with the RE-400. Those interested in higher end, less portable models should investigate the rest of the line. Going forward, they will be my reference for their price point. The HiFiMan RE 400 in-ear monitors are a clean, clear window into the music, and a great value. Very much recommended.



Specifications



HiFiMAN RE-400 In-Ear Monitors: $99

www.hifiman.us

Driver: 8.5mm
Impedance: 32  OHM+/- 3.2
Sensitivity: 102dB/1mW
Rated power: 10mW
Maximum power: 30 mW
Frequency response: 15 ~22 KHZ


 






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