HIFIMAN RE-2000 REVIEW: Not bad if you are way richer than me

HIFIMAN RE-2000 REVIEW:

SOUND: 9/10
CONSTRUCTION: 8/10
ACCESSORIES: 6/10
PRICE VALUE: DO NOT APPLY

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INTRO:

It make a long time I was curious to ear this high end Hifiman RE-2000 dynamic driver earphone and I finally got my hand on a pair and decide to write a review about them. I was really curious about the ”topology diaphragm” technology that permit to achieve better control of how the drivers will ”sculpt” the sound, for this, they use nanoparticul apply on diaphragm surface to control perfectly how it will vibrate and move air to produce sound wave. Before nanotechnology, this audio ”tour de force” will not have been possible, so yes, we talk about audio revolution with this discovery and now let try to know if it worth the 2000$ asking price in term of sound performance as well as overall value.

(Little info about your humble reviewer: NymPhono is a 34 year old french dude from Quebec (Canada), he is an antique seller as well as an amateur music producer. He begin to be obsess about music at 14 years old listening Lauren Hill and Billie Holiday on his walkman and slowly enrich his music taste by letting his curiosity explore all type of music available to human mankind -classical and jazz was and still is it’s richer love story, but as an open minded music lover he enjoy electronic, folk, progressive rock and lot of other musical genre. Since about 6 years he became obsess by ”chifi audio market” for mostly the better, and sometime the worst, now he have collected lot of chinese IEM and DAP ranging from 5$ to 500$ and still find mindblowing how asian audio market can be competitive in term of sound value. His obsession about sound rendering quest is more dangerous than ever, as he climb different price range to compare audio quality benifit and still search for the absolute IEM & Headphones & DAP at a bargain and accessible price, whatever the brand is. When he review IEM or Headphones, he tend to use different DAP, sometime amped, but never he will just use an external DAC or even worst, a smarthphone. As well, he listen a long time with lot of different music style to the audio gear he review.)

OFFICIAL SPECS:

Frequency Response : 5Hz-20kHz
Impedance : 60Ω
Sensitivity : 103dB
Driver type: 9.2mm Dynamic driver with Topology diaphragm
Earphone Weight : 0.48oz (13.8g)
Cable Weight : 0.81oz (23g)

CONSTRUCTION & COMFORT :
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Your not spoil by a big numbers of accesories with this very expensive purchase, but you got the basic wich is 1 cable and some eartips, a round box (or case) in a big fancy box. If the cable was one that worth alot and feel very sturdy, I would have considered this okay even if a little minimalist, but the cable do not feel of very high quality at all. As seen in picture, the cable part that have the 2pin connector is very very thin and as it’s an over ears design and feel fragile it will surely broke fastly. I don’t think this is acceptable even if I encounter this type of bad idea about cable with the Grado GS1000 I owned (cable broke and it was previsible but irreversible), anyway, this full sized headphones was costing 1000$ and not 2000$. As well, the metal jack is a very standard one that can be find in ALOT of entry level chinese cable, as you will see, I bought a braided cable that have the same (too) big metal jack (18$), so no, it really did not impress me that this cable use the very same one. The round protective case isn’t quite luxurious as well, and it happen often that it include better one with very cheap chinese IEM even in the 20$ price range so, hum, I think Hifiman should really think more about seriously upgrading the accesories with there high end products, like including at least 2 cables (including a balanced one) and a luxurious protective case that will stand appart….because a very big box with near nothing in it is quite a disapointing first unboxing experience.

For a single dynamic, the Hifiman RE2000 is quite big and heavy, for this reason, it would not fit every ears, especially small one as the nozzle is large as well. The eartips will be your best friends to find perfect fit as well, I use wide bore silicone tips that permit to have nozzle end nearer eardrum and help to make the IEM stay in place because with standard silicone tips the weight of housing can make positioning less steady. I do not achieve great result with memory foam appart from comfort.

Housing is made of gold plated full metal body with a plastic plate where the logo is paint. To be honnest, I don’t really care about IEM look, there not mean to be flashy or anything, as well, i’m not a big fan of gold color, so I would perhaps have prefer an all black version, so it could be even more low profile as i’m more from the people who don’t want to show the value of there IEM, and if its too flashy it can make you insecure to wear a 2000$ IEM on not so secure Montreal street, but well, here in Quebec i’m one of the fews to consider Hifiman as a big brand and must of people don’t know it exist and will think its a ‘’no name chinese brand’’.

My real only complaint about overall construction is the (only) 2 pin cable that is include that feel seriously weak if not plain cheap. Cable is made of 2 part, one is thick other one is very very thin and feel fragile especially because of earhook concept that will make thin cable part connecting to IEM broke surely fastly, I feel braided cable will have been better, as well as furnishing 2 or 3 cables (including a balanced one) for this type of price. As well, the jack made of metal is the same that is used in lot of chinese budget audiophile detachable cable, as seen in the pictures comparing RE2000 to Zhiyin Z5000….I don’t know, whole cable design just don’t feel enough serious for a TOTL IEM.

All in all, I don’t feel the RE2000 will broke in my hands, just that accessories included aren’t on par with the price tag.

RE2000 SOUND IMPRESSIONS :

BASS have good round body and weightfull thickness to it, rich in texture as well. Neither boomy or too bassy, its a full bodied presentation that keep its impact at right place with a tighness that do not feel forced or too restraint as it move some air as well, but not in a rumbly clumsy way. For example you can have heavy kick and synth bass playing at same time and both feeling very weighty, excellently separated they give a very resolved punch that rarely if never you will have heard with a dynamic driver wich more of the time have a looser bass that can inflict on other frequencies rendering. Delicious is the low here, and addictive because never to hard in sound pressure, its as much a good performer for rock than electronic, because it do not just boost one specific low range but instead have a elevated curve that give plenty of body where its needed. The low aren’t too fast and have a hint of warmness that give better musicality and a more musical cohesion than with multi driver like the Polaris, where bass is ultra heavy and clean, but harsher and mroe appart from rest of instruments. With the RE2000 its like better of both BA and Dynamic drivers world, we clarity and smoothness and impact is well calibrated to give dynamic laid back presentation as found with high end analog sound systeme with a little extra treble and details.

VOCAL are very very sweet, they flow gently between low and high and know how to take your attention even if not particulary feeling fowards. Mid is well textured and have enough air around it to give a lush presence that have wideness and good space to blossom. As instrument separation is very good but far from analytical, and soundstage is wider and taller than deeper, mid presentation is very articulated and give great texture to violin and good impact to piano, it do not have lot of decay but the timing is excellent and there no unwanted peak in upper mids that can create sibilance, it feel smooth but energic and well resolved. For example, a good test track for extreme hissing is Les Cigarillos from Serge Gainsbourg, there so much S in the lyric that near all IEM will make this tracks hard to listen ,but with the RE2000, even if S have no choice to be present, it do not sound agressive or harsh and make me enjoy even more hiSSSSSSSSSSy Serge GainSSSSSSSSSSSbourg vocal. RE2000 can do great with both male and female vocale, giving the voice plenty of body and emotionality due to an intimate enveloping presence with excellent details that create a fascinating listen. Even if a little dark, mids never feel it lack details or thickness, with very clear source like the Ibasso DX90 it sound very clear while it will benifit of little amping to push them even more fowards with wider presence.

HIGHS go up to the top without problem, and have extra brilliance and details in upper highs wich give a airier and resolving soundsignature, this will suit as much treble sensitive than treble lover. Even if a little warm and analog sounding, the RE2000 do not lack details, but lack perhaps a little deepness to give more space between mids and highs, with this luxurious earphones one would think they will get a complete silent background, here its more a cohesive silence that group all FR togheter, dynamic and impact of sound permit to create an impressions of air and deepness, but when you try to go deeper in sound imaging you feel there limit to it, especially in very complex track, the Campfire Polarise feel less restraint in this aspect but its bass impact can veil this deepness sometime, the RE2000 go towards a more musical cohesion where you do not feel distract by instrument separation because they are on the same planet and they dance togheter, throwing time to time extra microdetails in a articulate way. RE2000 achieve a sound that is as smooth as detailed, even if treble is very extended some will think its roll off but when your hear how the cymbals are perfectly rendered, with great impact and decay and no shrilling, you know its a higly resolve IEM you have in ears, something quite extraordinary in fact.

AMPING isn’t really needed with (very) powerfull DAP or source, but a phone or not powerfull DAP will not make justice to the RE2000. Too much amping will be bad as well and make the sound more boomy and congested. Using my Xduoo XD-05 with line out of Ibasso DX90 sound became warmer but bass rounder and punchier, i’m not sure I prefer this way, but with DX90 I have to push volume very high to achieve proper sound so medium gain with XD05 give a better result than high gain, and I find the sweet spot here, sound became even more dynamic and mids little more fawards, bass resolution is better and decay is longer, highs became less sharp but keep there details. Best amping pairing I try was the Xduoo X20 with Walnut V2 upgraded with a Burson V5i OP amp, this help to give more air and impact in low and especially mids, taking the vocal to an even more mesmerizing perfection.

COMPARAISONS:
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RE2000 VS Campfire POLARIS :

Polarised comparaison between this 2, where one sound smooth, warm and analog and the other, the Polaris, is sharper, clearer and more in an HD musical quest.

BASS :
One will think Polaris is more U shaped and bassy as a Dual hybrid, but RE2000 is far from lacking in the low region as well with its chunky weighty bass, so here its really in type of bass rendering where the Polaris give a tigher-brighter lower response with more spot on emphasis and perhaps better extension, RE2000 in other hand give plenty of body but in a warmer way that keep good texture but feel more a part of whole music. Polaris bass is extremely punchy and well separated that move air in a big panoramic soundstage and RE2000 feel more chunky especially in mid lows and mix with the vocal to give some warmth where the Polaris bass keep still in its well definate soundspectrum with more transparency than textured RE2000 low.

VOCAL :
Polaris have a very pleasant analytical sound that do not feel cold, but sure is peakier than the smoothly resolved RE2000, and if I was just talking about vocal performance, RE2000 will be the winner even if Polaris vocal are far from sounding displeasant with there wide airy presentation that give realism and decay to signers, anyway, they feel less intimate and fully present than the vocal of RE2000. But if instrument separation is better with the Polaris, it mean some instruments will sound more accurate with them and that’s were I feel RE2000 loose by some margin : 3D rendering is just head and shoulder above with the Polaris. As the mids of RE2000 are thicker too, they will tend to mix and loose attack, but never they will sound too sharp as it can happen with Polaris especially in upper mids, so I will prefer the RE2000 for folk or jazz signers but for classical and electronic the Polaris will sound more exciting and immersive.

HIGHS :
If your obsess with details rendering, the Polaris at 600$ sure is a better bet than the 2000$ hifiman, but it do not mean treble of RE2000 is bad, and this is where Topology drivers can do miracle : its like ‘’literary audio’’, I see this technology as being able to extract its own langage from an audio membrane by changing it’s basic sound curve to something more articulate in treble region, being able to push it in some specific region so details and textures of bass, mids and highs can be hear in a more musical and resolved way that will never feel too fowards and forced. Sure, Polaris dig more details, but to the cost of creating some hearing damage at high volume, because of this i tend to listen them at lower volume compared to the lush RE2000. It mean too that yes, layering is better with Polaris, as well as soundstage deepness and this make it a more revealing sound experience that create immediate wow effect where the RE2000 create an addiction with a more romantic, musical and analog sound presentation. Here it’s like a bassy version of AKG 701 vs a Sennheiser HD600, it really depend what type of soundsignature you prefer but for me the Campfire Polaris offer a more impressive and majestuously detailed soundrendering and entertain my ears more than the Hifiman RE2000.

CONSTRUCTION:
To be honnest, both IEM are in some way a little to big and heavy and tend to fall from my ears if earhook isn’t well in place, but i’m less afraid of breaking the cable of Polaris than fragile looking one of RE2000 and this aspect is kind of a non sens at the 2000$ price tag. RE2000 are about 2 times heavier as well and nozzle is less long than the Polaris wich make it more prompt to discomfort. Both housing feel sturdy and of high quality, but the Polaris paint can be scratch quite easily, cannot say with the RE2000, but i’m afraid the H letter paint on the housing can be scratch, will not make a scratching test to know tough. Another potential drawback to note will be for exposed MMCX connection of Campfire Polaris where perhaps a drop of water (or sweating) will have dramatic effect, RE2000 2pin connection do not have this issue and is seal perfecly (just sad that the cable connection is so THIN).

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RE2000 VS RE800 :

Now between those 2 we don’t talk about small diminushing return in term of sound upgrade for the price, the RE2000 is just way above the RE800 in every aspect. It’s quite simple the RE2000 is like a perfect version of RE800, it have more bass, more body in mid, more soundstage, more everything even details with a smoother presentation. The RE800 just have more treble and it isn’t a plus even if it can make the sound feel a little airier (in a smaller soundstage). Don’t take me wrong, the RE800 do sound very good and very musical and even perhaps more linear and balanced than RE2000, but it have a fowards soundsignature that lack RE2000 magic refinement and feel less like a IEM you can cherrish forever where the RE800 sharpness in highs will create ear fatigue to treble sensitive people. Bass is way thinner with RE800 and lack body and texture, it feel kind of boring and even if it go deep, it do not feel like it, the RE2000 is more muscular and accurate and feel tigher too, from another level. The vocal is less lush with RE800 and feel restraint a little. Where the RE800 show his talent it’s in the highs wich crave lot of details, and lend towards analytical soundsignature for a very revealing presentation but the RE2000 do not lack in this region and I prefer the smoother peaks it have that give plenty of microdetails and excitment without feeling agressive like the RE800. All in all, if your about to buy the RE800 at full price, try to find a deal for the RE2000 instead, sound upgrade is just IMMENSE!

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HIFIMAN RE2000 (2000$) vs ZHIYIN Z5000 (40$ without cable):

Sometime you got some lesson in life, like one that don’t look to follow rational law, like a 40$ earphone being able to seriously compete with a 2000$ one, and your like: WTF? Here this situation occur, Z5000 did take a good fight with RE2000, even if he did not win in term of final sound quality, he sure did in term of sound value, as he was far from being K.O with one solid punch from RE2000. In fact, even if worth 50 times less than Hifiman TOTL iem, he’s been able to stay solid on his feet for a long pleasant battle with the big boy RE2000!

Bot have single dynamic Driver, Z5000 is suppose to be a Tesla tech. driver with more than 1.0 tesla of force while RE2000 use a topology diaphragm that permit to sculpt the sound more precisely, so both this IEM have interesting technologies that suppose to upgrade sound in somemagical way….

When I first heard Z5000 I barely fall of my chair, I couldn’t beleive these IEM cost only 40$ (without cable) and offer such a high quality bassy sound with easy going micro details and wide soundstage, musicality was addictive and still is, and from 50 pair of chifi IEM these are among my 5 favorite and I wouldn’t find it shocking if they were sell 100-200$, sound is in another league in term of value here. So, they were my chifi IEM I was must curious to compare with 2000$ hifiman, and to my surprise, comparatively to other IEM that sound very inferior and shouty, the Z5000 was still sounding excellent and musicaly impressive, and soundstage, strangely, was looking wider and deeper, as if treble was presented in a very different way. Instrument separation is more discernable with RE2000, and it have more texture and grain to whole soundsignature, i’ll say RE2000 are more trebly but in a strange smooth non sibilant way. The ZhiYin have more sound pressure and are easier to drive, while the RE2000 with his 60ohm need more volume, wich perhaps explain why even if kind of bright the Hifiman do not feel too agressive, its still mellow and musical with fast dynamic. Z5000 are nervous iem, in a hurry to show there beautiful sporty soundsignature, sound is less perfectly detailed than Hifiman but still with above average clarity and highs sparkle. The musicality is widly presented with excellent imaging and details, impact in bass and mids are very impressive and vocal are airy, textured and fowards, when used with memory foam tips bass is tamed in a good way and do not veil other frequencies as with silicone (still, it can be interesting for beat driven music), even with silicone tips Z5000 are detailed and very capable, far from sounding boomy and bloated. Overall, Re2000 feel more tigher and dynamic but just slightly, and have a smoother musical presentation that never lack in energy and can make any music exciting and engaging. Z5000 are perhaps a little harsher and fowards, but its far from being sibilant or agressive, its just that RE2000 have an overall more mature and muscular sound presentation, with body and impact, and quite ultimate instrument separation, were the Z5000 feel more airy brightish and bassy (and perhaps wider in soundstage). If I was blind testing them, and having to guess price, the result would surely be disruptive. I enjoy both, and would use both daily…but on the street, perhaps I would be sometime paranoid with the RE2000 lol. About construction, bot are heavy & sturdy, the RE2000 are way bigger but not that heavier, Hifiman is a mix of special plastic and golden metal while the Zhiyin is 2 piece of solid metal solidly stick togheter, housing is brushed metal and feel very solid in hands, like, throw it on the floor no problem, not sure for the RE2000 because firstly I would not throw them on the floor at this price value & secondly as its plastic and metal perhaps it will make more esthetic damage to it (or more). For comfort, Hifiman are ultra comfy and Z5000 are quite too, as Z5000 can be worn over the ear as well as standard way, well, can’t say wich one is better here.

Both these earphones offer a similar soundsignature but in a different register, Z5000 are more fowards and wide sounding while RE2000 are warmer with better imaging and dynamic but have less air between instrument as the treble is more ”grainy”.

All in all, there no doubt that the Z5000 are best sound value and price value than RE2000, and I would surely say the same thing even if the Z5000 were selling for 500$usd.

CONCLUSION :

Perfection is perception, but more you perceive and more you can see or heard imperfection, so perfection should be a flat response that we can only find in monitor and that must audiophile will not consider musical at all because of a lack of excitment in SF rendering.

SO, we need to color perfection to achieve musical illusion, and RE2000 push these bondaries to a next level with their topologic driver, its like a maniacal audiophile that tweak bass-treble-presence on an analogue sound system for months and months to achieve HIS perfection of musicality and one thing sure, the RE2000 engineer know how beauty sound and how to give it tone and color that will fascinate the ears without forcing it with a too energic or ‘’attention seeking’’ soundsignature, this IEM is made for long contemplation and to stay in your ears long time without feeling it’s a too intense and agressive entertainment, it give you to illusion that it’s near neutral-natural, even if bass and mids are colored and sculpt with perfectionnist treble.

Yes, the RE2000 is surely the more musical IEM I ever try, but I just can’t convince myself it worth that much money becaue at this price we must feel very very spoiled, and here, I would rather prefer spending half the price on just the IEM without cable and fancy box to keep the price the lower that it possibly can, this is my philosophy and what shock me about this it’s how exceptional IEM in lower price range can compete with a TOTL one, especially when I compare it to my favorite sub-50$ IEM call the Zhiyin Z5000 that sure feel inferior in some subtle aspect but sure not 1950$ inferior, more like 500$….wich open door about sound value relativity because yes, some people will pay ALOT for 1% of extra enjoyment, I will too, but perhaps I prefer to search for exception at lower price range (100-1000$) that give more returning value.

Yes, Hifiman RE2000 are a luxury for the elite and they aren’t mean for normal consumers, they are target for audiophile niche that collect TOTL IEM and not the one that search a supreme all arounder endgame, because in my opinion no IEM can be an endgame and proof is that Campfire Polaris excell with some genre that RE2000 cannot and vice versa. The RE2000 sure is the top of the line IEM from Hifiman, and I think it’s more in this perspective we should compare it : between it’s other model. It sure is a very BIG step above the RE-800, no doubt about it too : bigger wider and deeper soundstage, better imaging and impact, rounder bass, way more musical vocal and less harsh high….I did not even like how the RE-800 sound but the RE2000 was fascinating at very first listen and never fail to with its addictive musicality. If money is far from being a rare ressource from you, well, this might be a very glamourous love story that you can afford and a proof that yes, money can buy love because this IEM is all about Love of music and how to transmit it to the listener. Big respect for hard working audio engineer behind this marvelous creation, little less for the people who choose the final price that make some shadow to the overall value and philosophy of Hifiman products because lot of other less know audio brands in China have a more truthfull sound value tendency that try to change the ‘’diminushing returns’’ audio laws for real. I would not have been that severe about this for a TOTL headphones, still, I would have weight material value as well as sound one, but headphones have bigger drivers and more material wich justify higher price if built of high quality compenents. Hifiman have make an audacious statement with the RE2000, and perhaps they weren’t ready to self proclame the RE2000 as 2000$ in value and should have go for a RE1100-1200-1300 etc before instead.

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