In this review, we listen to the Hifiman RE2000 Silver and RE800 Silver which are reworked versions of the original gold units released in 2017.
Disclaimer: The Hifiman RE2000 Silver Edition and RE800 Silver Edition units were sent to us in exchange for our honest opinion. Many thanks to Hifiman for giving us this opportunity.
For further reading on Hifiman reviews here on Headfonics please click here.
For further reading on our Hifiman RE2000 Gold edition review from 2017 read here.
Hifiman RE2000 & RE800 SE Review
You get 90% of the RE2000 Gold performance for far less money which for me is a very solid deal. The silver finish is beautiful and the weight is much lighter also. The RE800 is less fulsome, more reference, clean and neutral in tone and for me doesn't quite convey the same premium experience as the bigger sibling.
It has been almost a year exactly since we covered the $2000 Hifiman RE2000 single dynamic driver IEM. Great sounding IEM but our value for money score lagged a little behind the other scores.
Now Hifiman is back with a new silver edition RE2000 plus a silver RE800 and both are significantly cheaper than the original gold editions. The RE2000 Silver Edition retails for $1499 and the RE800 Silver Edition for $599. Much more ‘obtainable’ than previously possible.
We never covered the RE800 so our review of the new silver edition will be a first-time set of in-depth thoughts whereas the RE2000 Silver will be a bit of a shorter comparative edition to the original Gold review.
For those that are unaware, both the RE2000 and RE800 used what Hifiman defined as Topology dynamic drivers. This is something Fang and the Hifiman team worked on for 3 years in the lead-up to the original launch of the gold editions.
This type of diaphragm is being touted as being unique and a huge improvement on traditional dynamic drivers. Particularly, in the way it controls distortion and how much additional tweaking Hifiman can exact on the sound signature before it goes to market.
In part, this process pulls from Fang’s experience working on his recent planar design materials as well as his core academic research into nanotechnology.
Both the RE800 and RE2000 use a single 9.2mm dynamic driver with a nanoparticle coating applied to the surface. Fang’s reasoning for this nanotechnology is that by using distinct geometric patterns in the nanocoating he can control the final sound signature with far more finesse than he can with traditional dynamic drivers.
The coating is also being pitched as an excellent tool through which to eradicate or at least substantially reduce typical diaphragm distortions which could again alter the signature necessarily and hinder its operational performance.
Pretty much the same unboxing experience as I had with the RE2000, except where there were gold accents in the packaging you now get silver. The one major deviation is the display case of the original Gold version of each unit.
You no longer get that with the silver versions which I guess helps to keep the costs down. The accessory line-up though is unchanged. Both boxes are of the same size though with different layouts.
The RE800 is a bit sparse in comparison to the RE2000 accessory line-out. You get the IEMs, a fairly cheap-looking zip pill case, ear hook adapters, tips, and a nice little brochure.
The RE2000 is a little more extensive with a foam case of tips, detachable cable, ear hooks, another beautiful little manual with lots of good info, and a much stronger hard case with Hifiman branding. You also get those little cable connectors and plastic housing should you wish to DIY them.
The RE2000 branded hard case is a screw lid of sorts but finished with a rubber ring so it is not too grating on the ears closing it and creating a nice seal.
The actual driver units are housed in a foam display cut out inside the hard case. If you want to use the case you have to take out the foam display and put it somewhere safe. There is just enough room for the cable, IEMs, and tips.
The form factor seems the same but the silver RE2000 feels a lot lighter than the original gold units. The loss of brass/24-gold electroplating and the use of aluminum materials would be a big factor there in the weight reduction. This means a much comfier presence in the ear with that weight loss.
The detachable 2-pin 0.78m cable also looks like it has gone through some changes. It is also lighter primarily because of the loss of that weighty solid build right-angle 3.5mm jack termination. It now has a somewhat cheaper straight barrel 3.5mm gold plated jack. The Y-split barrel has also changed from gold to silver.
I have not had the pleasure of reviewing the original gold version but I do presume the brass and 24-k electroplated gold-plated body of the original is much heavier than the RE800 silver body if we follow the same RE2000 Silver edition logic. A quick check on the two editions’ specs and yes the Silver seems almost half the weight of the original gold version.
One immediate concern is that we are back to non-detachable on the silver edition. I am not quite sure about the logic of that. Granted, there is some cost-saving needed to be done but negating all the feedback and positive changes to MMCX detachable on the original gold version would not have been the area I would have chosen to save money on.
Strain relief is gone? Yes, sorry. All other changes seem to be similar to the RE2000 silver cable with the same lighter silver-coated 3.5mm jack barrel and matching y-split barrel.
Tips On both
Gone are the Comply tips from both of these IEM accessory line-ups. That is a shame as they do provide a nice contrast to the silicone ones provided. The RE800 tip range though is huge with plenty of triple and dual flange black and transparent as well as single bore silicone black and transparent.
The RE2000 Silver Edition tip lineup is much lighter in quantity sadly. Just S/M/L in single-bore black silicone tips and S/M/L in black silicone triple-flange tips.
Having not heard the RE800 Gold Version before I cannot tell you if any difference and we do still have some burn-in to compete before coming to any final conclusions on both.
Impressions of the RE800 are of a very clear-sounding dynamic driver but not huge on the body. Some of this perception of a light body may change when 3rd party foams or hybrids are applied.
The RE800 Silver does sound smooth and pacey with a gentle mid-bass lift in terms of warmth and a mild dip in the mids that is not quite as exaggerated as the RE2000 Silver can be.
Treble is lively and for some, this might perceive as a brighter presentation with percussion timbre in particular. I don’t initially find it to be harsh-sounding at low levels using a Sony 1Z DAP but we shall see in the main review. This is a great match for Cayin’s flagship tube-based N8 DAP also.
The RE2000 Silver is more of my personal preference. You get a thicker low-end presence and sub-bass power, albeit a slightly slower decay. The mid-bass is healthy without being overly dominant and muddy-sounding.
It is still a mildly v-shaped presentation, that hasn’t changed since the original gold edition so some instrumental work is further back in the mix, some vocals sound forward, others do not. The dip sits around 700-900Hz. Everything above that has some good presence and sounds lively.
Treble on the RE2000 Silver follows the same FR roughly as the gold edition with a rising upper mids and lower treble to 5k then a gentle drop and small bump 10-12k. It is a little smoother and less aggressive sounding than a CA Atlas treble on initial listening.
I have yet to decide if the treble is a little harder-edged than the brass and gold version as I need to give it more time. However, I do find it enjoyable and easy enough on the ear so no glare here for me jacked out of a Sony 1Z.
You get 90% of the RE2000 Gold performance for far less money which for me is a very solid deal. The silver finish is beautiful and the weight is much lighter also. The RE800 is less fulsome, more reference, clean and neutral in tone and for me doesn’t quite convey the same premium experience as the bigger sibling.
Both have fluctuating price points though to be fair. This is HIFIMAN after all and true enough, in today’s market prices you can get both a lot cheaper making them bonafide bargains.