- 8.5mm titanium driver
- 32 ohms impedance
- Frequency range 15-22,000Hz
- Neodymium magnet
- Extremely tiny and inconspicuous design
- Crystal clear sound signature
- Decent soundstaging
- Metal housing for the drivers
- The cable tangles easily
- Slightly expensive
You know a company takes their research and development efforts seriously when it takes three years to launch a single product. HiFiMAN is one such US-based company that was founded in 2007. HiFiMAN released their first audiophile-grade music player, the HM-801, in 2010. And not very surprisingly, the product was well-received by most critics. So ever since then, the brand has been associated with high-quality audio gear.
In 2013, HiFiMAN decided to leverage on this expertise to cram all its high-end technology into a tiny pair of earphones. And thus was born the HiFiMAN RE-400 Waterline. It promised an abundance of details and reference-grade quality audio. HiFiMAN also very recently announced iOS and Android specific variants of the RE-400 in India. We revisited the RE-400 to find out how they sound. Let’s dive right in.
On the face of it, the HiFiMAN RE-400 has a very plain design and one can easily mistake it for a cheap pair of earphones. However, what sets it apart from the rest is the metal housing of its earphones, which is really sturdy. The 1.33m long cable has an L-shaped earplug (gold-plated) and is mostly made of threaded cloth until the point where it splits into two separate cords for the earphones.
The threaded cable forms kinks easily and as a result it tangles very easily. Furthermore, the plastic cables for the left and right earphones look very flimsy. However, during the time that we used the earphones we didn’t encounter any wear and tear, and the earphones looked as new as they did the first time we removed it from the box. The earphones come with four different sizes of silicone tips and a small box to carry them around. We’d have ideally liked Comply Foam tips to be bundled in the box.
There are two 8.5mm drivers which are protected by the metal housing. HiFiMAN claims that these drivers are state-of-the-art. The RE-400 has an impedance of 32 ohms and can operate in a frequency range of 15-22,000Hz. The fact that these earphones can reach a low-end of 15Hz might sound great for bass lovers but lets find out its performance in real-world usage.
The moment we plugged in the earphones and listened to songs, there was one thing that we realised - HiFiMAN wasn’t kidding about precision sound. The laid-back sound signature of the drivers places emphasis on the mid-high notes and it stays super clean across all the other frequencies as well. Since the fit is really great even the passive noise cancellation is really good.
The soundstaging and imaging are right on the mark too; we were able to hear the sound of the instruments in Bernhoft’s ‘C’mon Talk’ crystal clearly. However, the bass is pretty subdued on the RE-400 and it isn’t going to satisfy the requirements of EDM aficionados. The earphones are well-suited for genres such as Jazz, Pop, and Classical music. The mid-range and treble performance of the RE-400 is something to be experienced and in this price range there are very few earphones that can achieve this level of precision. The high notes hold steady whenever necessary and we didn’t hear it rolling off either. The tonal clarity of vocals is exemplary too. There is absolutely no sibilance and mind you the RE-400 can get really loud as well.
We also watched a few videos and played a few games using the RE-400. The decent soundstaging coupled with emphasis on vocals makes it perfect for watching TV shows. The bombastic action in a games is not realised properly owing to its laid-back sound signature.
The RE-400 is a no-nonsense IEM that is a great choice for folks who like to listen to music the way it was intended by the artists. The clean and crisp sound signature is a treat to the ears, and the fact that the earphones are really small doesn’t hurt either. Although, we must say that the cables tangle very easily, which is a bit of a bummer.
All the three versions of the RE-400 are available for around Rs. 5,000 from Hifinage’s home website or Amazon. However, we do feel that these pair of earphones are a bit pricy mostly because the RE-400 goes up against some really stiff competition such as the Rock Jaw Alfa Genus V2 and the Beyerdynamic MMX-101 iE.