The RE2000 has a mildly v-shaped presentation with a tonality that is very natural sounding and inherently musical in its approach. Fang has steered the RE2000 away from a typical banal reference sound or something overly aggressive for his flagship monitor and gone instead for a tuning designed for a smoother and richer listening experience. In his own to the point words, Fang calls the RE2000 as:
A wide frequency response. Musical, natural, as well as detailed. Big sound stage.
To achieve that he has given a gentle lift in the midbass for some warmth and fullness as well as easing in an energetic upswing in the lower treble so it retains plenty of sparkle but avoids sounding peaky. I wouldn’t call the RE2000 a relaxed sounding signature but it is not as ‘in-your-face’ as the Vega’s more physical approach. Instead, it delivers an expansive but flowing sweeter performance whilst retaining excellent dynamics and fantastic levels of detail.
Staging wise the RE2000 is spacious sounding with excellent width, engaging and accurate imaging as well as plenty of headroom. Despite the mid-range dip, it does not sound overly recessed and unbalanced sounding with excellent layering and instrumental spacing. Depth is a little tapered in comparison to width with the RE2000 easing off the sub-bass bias just a touch in favor of midbass warmth.
The RE2000’s low-end has a full and impactful response with a steady elevation kicking in around 30Hz and staying fairly plateaued from 50Hz to around 100hz. After which it makes a steady descent through to the lower mids around 800-900Hz.
There is a degree of warmth, mostly from the mid-bass response but it is not overly cooked and retains excellent clarity right up into the lower mids. Lower pitched instrumental notes have a timbre that is rich sounding without ever sounding sluggish or boomy.
Sub-bass delivery is not overly emphasized but it is well defined and responsive. It possesses all the hallmarks of an excellent dynamic driver in terms of a natural-sounding signature. It is not as tight or fast as BA combo but it sounds much more realistic with better levels of texture and detail.
Despite the little lower mids dip the RE2000 mids remain spacious and open sounding, you will find nothing veiled in its response. Instrumental timbre is natural sounding with a hint of warmth and even harmonics bias accentuating that musical and very natural delivery on the RE2000.
Unlike the dip on the IE800 the RE2000’s drop is much lower down on the mids meaning instrumental positioning is a little further back compared to vocal work, especially female vocals on higher-pitched notes which benefit a lot from the rising tempo in the RE2000’s response from 1k onwards.
If anything, vocal work tends to be just that bit further forward sounding and avoids that drowning feeling you can get with inferior V-shaped responses. This is clean, clear, and full sounding stuff without a hint of harshness or sibilance.
The top-end response on the RE2000 is a little more forward but it remains coherent and smooth sounding. Response wise the RE2000 gets an injection of energy from its upper mids right through to around 5k with a nicely controlled drop to 10k and then a fairly typical 10-12k bump for some additional headroom and sparkle.
As a result, you get decent snap and energy in percussive passages but without it ever sounding hard, brittle or throwing up unwanted ringing. There is a more of a natural yet very articulate feel to the RE2000’s treble response than say the IE800 which I found overly attenuated and uneven sounding despite its clarity and air. The RE2000’s treble is also not quite as edgy sounding as the Vega which tends to be a bit further forward sounding with a sharper attack.
The RE2000 is rated at 60 ohms and 103dB which is a little less efficient than your typical BA rig and even some other dynamic drivers IEMs such as the Vega which is 17.5ohms. However, the 103dB rating is pretty good as dynamic drivers IEMs go.
To give an example RHA’s CL1 is 150 ohms and 89dB and definitely requires good amping to be driven optimally. The Vega is 102dB and sounds better than the CL1 without an amp but only really starts to show off its potential when you feed it some quality power.
The RE2000, on the other hand, doesn’t quite have the same demanding nature as those two DD IEMs and it will get loud fairly easily on decent smartphones such as the ZTE Axon 7 and LG G6. However, the performance is much looser with a low-end that suffers from a bit too much bloom and a lower treble that becomes a little more brittle sounding. I still rate it as more forgiving in nature than the Vega on weaker sources and certainly more enjoyable and flexible than the CL1.
Noise performance is excellent with the RE2000 across pretty much all DAPs I threw at it as well as a wide range of portable amps including the likes of the FiiO X5iii, DX200, and the Opus#2. One thing to note those thinking of matching with the little Shanling M2s should have no concerns as the 4.8ohm output will not shape the response of the RE2000.
Amps such as the V5 from Alo Audio were also impressively quiet and even the powerful Bakoon HPA-01M current mode amp had impressive channel balance control and zero noise with the RE2000. The Bakoon has a tendency to not pair that well with sensitive IEMs with high noise levels, poor balancing, and an aggressive gain. However, it was quite the opposite with this pairing.
I would advise though using the current mode output only, the voltage output tended to push the vocals back a bit and leave them sounding a bit honky in comparison to the far more balanced presentation of the current mode output.
You will get a nice clean and dynamic sound however from good mid-range DAPs such as AM3a and the X Mark II with just enough low-end warmth to keep the RE2000 from sounding sterile or too flat. Higher-end DAPs such as Opus#2 I found to be wonderfully smooth and spacious sounding but perhaps a little too smooth at times.
The DX200 with AMP2 card was more in keeping with the musical signature of the RE2000 but I can’t help but wonder how better the RE2000 might sound with a balanced cable option using the AMP1 card.
The RE2000 does respond to a better quality amping signal. Tonally I enjoyed matching this to energetic or more refined solid-state signatures which pushed a little harder on both ends of the FR than the mentioned DAPs.
RHA L1 was right on the money with the RE2000 as an exciting mid-fi pairing. Using a little hardware EQ on the L1 with bass set at 1 and treble at 3 on the external dials the RE2000 felt transformed with plenty of energy, a snappier, and tighter low-end as well as a livelier lower treble. The only issue I have with the L1 pairing was the very aggressive level of gain on its volume control making microvolume control tricky.
The more powerful Bakoon HPA-01M will deliver something a little different to the RHA L1 and something vocal lovers may prefer. This is a slightly flatter response with more focus and space for vocals to shine which suits my own listening preferences a lot. The voltage output of the Bakoon overly emphasized the mids dip leaving the vocals sounding rather hollow.
Chord Hugo 2
The most impressive pairing was with the top-end Chord Hugo 2. Jacked out of the Hugo 2 you get better volume control than the RHA L1 and a much more refined and smoother sound. To some extent it wasn’t as aggressive sounding, taking its foot off the gas a little in preference for a more linear presentation. However, the resolution was far superior with a superb level of dynamics and a wonderfully black background. A very engaging pairing indeed.
Campfire Audio Vega
Despite the somewhat similar efficiency rating and 17.5-ohm rating the single dynamic driver Vega does require a heck of a lot more power to really get the most out of it. The RE2000, on the other hand, is a little more forgiving on weaker sources and amps.
It won’t sound as tight or as well defined on a smartphone but its certainly a little less edgy and not as boomy sounding as the Vega. The Vega’s top-end tends to sound a little too brittle when underpowered for my liking.
Tonally both have a very different presentation when adequately powered. The Vega is much more aggressive sounding with a stronger sub-bass presence and bags more bottom end power. It is a little on the cooler darker side compared to the more open and natural sounding RE2000 also. The RE2000 gives up a little sub-bass power in favor of a full sounding but slightly warmer low-end. Though its still quite powerful when it needs to be it just doesn’t have the same level of physicality.
The Vega has more staging depth than the RE2000 but it is not quite as open and wide-sounding as the flagship Hifiman IEM particularly in their mids performance. The Vega has a cleaner sound with a bit more attack emphasis whereas the RE2000 has a richer more natural sound to its instrumental timbre.
Both have a forward vocal presence though the Vega has a bit an edge that can slip into sibilance depending on the recording. The RE2000’s vocal response is just that bit fuller sounding and a little softer but it benefits from the better spacing and width its mids can deliver.
Treble on the Vega is a little cleaner, perhaps slightly brighter, and does need that power from a quality amp to stay controlled but otherwise very articulate with excellent sparkle. The RE2000 dials back a little in terms of treble energy by comparison but adds a bit more body and generally delivers an airier and more nuanced top-end.
The IE800 is a single DD driver IEM rated at 16 ohms and 105db and is still Sennheiser’s flagship IEM as of today. It is an awful fit, with an awful cable and silly proprietary tips. Every time I mention this in a review I think I become a little more bitter about the form factor. Do not get me wrong, the durability is excellent on the IE800 and it is super small compared to the RE2000 but give me the RE2000 anytime for comfort and fit.
The gentler numbers on the sensitivity rating of the IE800 though does mean it is a much easier DD IEM to drive than the RE2000 and you will need an average of 5-10 digital steps in low gain mode more volume across the majority of DAPs. Noise control is good on the IE800 but a little bit better on the RE2000 which is not surprising.
Both have a musical or v-shaped musical response but the RE2000 is far more balanced and richer sounding compared to the IE800 which dips right smack on its vocal presence give it far less presence than the more forward and open sounding RE2000.
The IE800 has this big dip around 2-4k which tends to suck a lot of air out of the presence region and overly accentuates the lower treble leaving it sounding a little brittle and splashy compared to the more natural and fuller sounding RE2000.
Bass on the IE800 is a little more dominant sounding in its presentation than the RE2000 but it is a little softer sounding and not as well defined with a bit more bloom. The RE2000 is the tighter of the two for low-end delivery with a more textured and precise sound.
Staging wise the IE800 is excellent with perhaps a touch more width than the RE2000 but it doesn’t have the same open feel of the RE2000. Especially on its mids where I found the RE2000 to have the more convincing imaging and generally more holographic sound.
Rhapsodio Galaxy V2
The Galaxy V2 is also a single dynamic driver IEM rated at 17.5 ohms with a sensitivity rating of 102db. Rhapsodio uses its own 10.3mm Titanium diaphragm driver design with UltraMag II technology encased in a very heavy but durable brass housing.
Side by side the Galaxy V2 dwarfs the RE2000 in both weight and depth though it is not quite as long laterally. It is a touch more comfortable in the ear than the RE2000 though due to that stubbier design though you will feel that weight a bit more.
The Galaxy V2 also comes with a really nice 6N OCC litz detachable cable which Sammy sells separately for $150. My guess its 26AWG since its very light and easy to work with.
Noise wise both are very good from most sources and DAPs though the Galaxy V2 is the more efficient of the two requiring less juice to get seriously loud. Both scale well though with amping with the V2, in particular, enjoys the ALO Audio V5 tube sweetness and generally enjoys any amp that brings a little warmth and body to its mids and top-end.
Much like the Re2000, the Galaxy V2 is a fun sounding signature with a V-shaped presentation, elevated vocal presence and a strong impactful low-end. Where it differs from the RE2000 is the timbre, level and impact of bass, and note body from the mids into the treble.
The RE2000 is a little bit smoother sounding and richer in note body throughout compared to the cleaner sparkling sound of the Galaxy V2. I almost guessed that might be the case with the V2 due to their use of a titanium driver though, to be honest, it is not overly bright or splashy sounding and certainly has a lot more balance and body than the IE800.
Sub-bass delivery is a bit more dominant on the V2 compared to the RE2000 and has comparative less mid-bass emphasis so it delivers a powerful but slightly cooler sound.
The RE2000 has the richer more euphoric timbre, particularly in the mids where instruments are very natural sounding. The V2 prefers a cleaner and slightly leaner lower midrange and doesn’t deliver the same level of warmth and body as the RE2000. As a result, vocals, whilst staying suitable forward and clear sounding just lack the texture and body of the RE2000’s vocals and comes across as a little edgier.
The V2 has a quicker rise in its upper mids lower treble energy so whilst it peaks at around 5k much like the RE2000 it is a sharper peak and faster fall giving it a little bit more focus. It sounds more exciting and certainly, its got a little more bite than the RE2000 but it is not quite as balanced sounding and lacks a little in body. The V2 top-end is not as brittle as the IE800, I find the V2 treble to be more pleasing in that regard and a good deal airier sounding than say the Vega.
The RE2000 is the best IEM Hifiman has launched to date, period.
I am really glad that Fang and the Hifiman team went with this more natural sounding and musical tuning on the RE2000 also. Too many times the technical side of things are overly emphasized at summit-fi such as driver counts and whilst the RE2000 is not shy in promoting its Topology Driver it never forgets the importance of delivering a very likable and engaging sound.
Other dynamic driver IEMs might hit a little harder, sound a bit deeper perhaps but the RE2000 can rightly claim to be one of the smoothest and most coherent dynamic driver signatures out there. I think a lot of IEM users will easily connect with the sound signature of the RE2000. It is forgiving enough to run off a smartphone but pair it with something like the Hugo 2 and you get a wonderfully spacious and refined sound.
What could we see further down the line? Personally, I would love to see more cable options from Hifiman for the RE2000, particularly a balanced cable. DAPs such as the DX200 and its 6Vrms balanced AMP1 card would be an ideal pairing with the RE2000 and a big upgrade on the single-ended output.
Tips? Yes and no, your mileage may vary but my own personal preference is for some hybrid single bore tips in the mix rather than the shallow dual flange tips. I loved the triple flange tips so those need to stay and are my own tips of choice.
Otherwise, I think the RE2000 is deservedly up there as a TOTL IEM on its own merits and it will be very interesting to see how much further Fang can push his Topology driver concept either trickling down into mid-range IEMs or even higher-up.