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HiFiMan (Head-Direct) RE0 Unboxing and Initial Impressions

February 2, 2010

Earlier today, I received my Head-Direct RE0 In Ear Monitors (IEM) which I ordered early last week to replace my aging V-Moda Bass-Freq earbuds which decided to call it quits shortly before then. So, I recorded a short “unboxing” video which I’ve uploaded to YouTube and will be shared below.

After my Bass-Freq earbuds decided to call it quits, I did a bit of research into the world of portable headphones, coming up with a number of positive candidates in the process. My search turned up quality portable headphones from a number of manufacturers both familiar (Ultimate Ears, Klipsch and Shure) and not so familiar (YUIN and Fischer Audio) and after reading reviews on a multitude of portable headphones, I finally decided on the Head-Direct RE0 IEMs.

A few of you may know Head-Direct and they’re pretty famous in the audiophile community for being one of the leading importers of headphones and other audio accessories from a number of small overseas companies, some of which I’d never even heard of before venturing to Head-Direct’s site (YUIN being chief among those).  As it turns out, Head-Direct decided to venture into the highly populated IEM market themselves and begin selling their own RE line at varying levels of quality. Among the highest of these was the RE0s which, until the fairly recent release of the RE252s, were the company’s flagship IEMs. I checked out a number of reviews on the headphones before making my decision and saw that they were very close to the top of their class and could easily hang with some of the best on the market, even those which cost 2 – 3 times more than the RE0s themselves. After going to Head-Direct and seeing that they were on sale for $79 (down from $169), I was sold and placed my order.

So, I’m pretty sure you’re wondering if these things live up to the hype. So far, I have to say yes. I’ve listened to a number of songs on them already such as Wale’s Contemplate, Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven and 2Pac’s Temptations and they all sound great. I instantly noticed that the sound is, above all, transparent. The clarity in the sound signature jumps to the forefront the instant music begins playing and is immensely satisfying. After listening to my V-Modas for as long as I have and comparing them to the RE0s, they’re far muddier and less…open. The low end on the V-Modas is satisfying, but it really can’t compare to the RE0s and honestly, I didn’t expect them to, given how inexpensive they are (about $20) in comparison.

Now, I haven’t heard a great number of the more expensive IEMs so I can’t vouch for the quality of the RE0s just yet in comparison but I can say that they have impressed me right out of the box and, considering that IEMs with dynamic drivers such as the RE0s sound better after they’ve been broken in for a number of hours (10 – 50 is usually enough but some audiophiles say they need upwards of 100 hours to sound their best), things can only get better from here. I haven’t even listened to them with my portable headphone amp yet so I can tell that I’m in for a treat when they’ve been broken in and I listen to them amped.

As of now, I’d give the RE0s a high recommendation. This should be taken with a grain of salt seeing as I’ve only had a few minutes’ worth of listening time with them thus far. At the price they’re currently available for ($79), I honestly can’t see how you can go wrong with these as they offer exceptional depth and clarity even now, before they’ve been broken in and settled into their final sound signature. So, if you’re interested, you can check them out here. Keep in mind, however, that this is marked as a “Christmas Sale” and Christmas has obviously been over for a long time now. It’s highly likely that this sale price isn’t going to last for much longer so get them while you can!

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