The Hifiman RE600S V2 is a single Topology dynamic driver universal monitor with an unbalanced or balanced cable design. The price is $199.
Disclaimer: The Hifiman RE600S V2 reviewed is paid for and not a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. You can check out the current price at the Hifiman store online.
To read more about Hifiman products we reviewed on Headfonics click here.
I got the RE600S V2 some months ago directly from Hifiman. When I got my Hifiman Supermini I complained to Hifiman about the songbirds that came with the Supermini. They were version 1 and had a proprietary balanced 4 pole 3.5mm plug that had no microphone and they only worked with the Supermini.
Trust me these don’t need a balanced amplifier or that much power. But since I couldn’t use them with anything else I had without an adapter, I mentioned it to Hifiman in the form of an email and they decided to simply send me these free of charge and that’s the type of service I got from Hifiman which to me has been excellent.
I would have been happy with an adapter, to be honest. So now I have a version 1 and a version 2 of the RE600S monitor to compare. However, this will not change my review to favor them or their product in any way. My review will remain unbiased and just wanted to tell you my story and how I got these.
The S in the RE600S number indicates that these are the single-ended version. There is a version with a balanced 4-pole 3.5mm connector that comes with an included 3 pole 3.5mm adapter. The S version, in particular, can be used with any phone or on any device that uses a conventional stereo 3.5mm jack without the need to use an adapter.
The driver used in the RE600S V2 is a custom-built 16Ω single 8.5mm, dynamic driver, with a Titanium diaphragm and a Neodymium magnet. Hifiman coats the diaphragm with what they call “Topology coating”.
This uses a variation of coating patterns to coat the diaphragm in order to make it stiff, light or heavier wherever needed on the diaphragm itself in order to control the frequency spectrum or correct any driver flexing or resonances present in the diaphragm. Hifiman claims a frequency response of 15Hz to 22Khz and a sensitivity of 102 db/mW.
This driver from what I understand has constantly gone through a revision process and this one is I believe to be the latest revision. This one has an improved and more balanced frequency response compared to version 1 and extends further into the upper and lower regions of the frequency response curve.
I couldn’t find a power requirement or a maximum power specification anywhere but while testing the RE600S I did use them with an amp capable of 1 watt of power and they behaved very well and presented no issues handling that kind of power.
Beyond that, I think it’s unnecessary because these are very efficient drivers and can be powered by mostly any device adequately.
The RE600S build is plain, simple and utilitarian. The drivers are mounted in black painted metal buds and they’re very small. They have a 4.9mm output shaft for the record and for those who want to use aftermarket tips which I do recommend.
I couldn’t find the tip-size specifications for the RE600S anywhere, researched it on my own and thought I’d throw that out there. I think the industry size is a T400. They’re fairly comfortable and light at 0.48 ounces.
I’ve done some physical activity with these on and they don’t fall out easily and haven’t fallen apart on me either. They’ve held up well so far and have presented no issues.
Finding adequate tips was not easy for me, however. I settled for the white silicon mediums momentarily for this review but you can get better performance by using aftermarket tips or at least to my ears.
Foam tips work well but are not included. Left and right markings are very faint and I would have preferred a red and blue backside instead of a silverback with very small letters you can barely see painted onto the edge of the wire’s strain relief.
The Isolation of the RE600S is pretty good. Once you find tips with a good seal, you will barely hear any outside noise and these do work well in noisy areas. Most of the noise you will hear will come from the wire rubbing on your clothing. The wire does emit noise to the ears in the form of what some call microphones.
RE600S Stock Cable
The wire has been updated according to Hifiman to be more reliable. But unfortunately, it’s not replaceable and is permanently attached. I would have preferred less investment in packaging and presentation in exchange for a removable wire.
The first version had issues and many people had to send theirs in for RMA replacement due to a bad wire. The wire used this time is a composite wire wrapped in cloth from the 3.5mm tip to the Y break.
From there on to the earbuds the wire has no cloth covering and supposedly has been strengthened at the strain reliefs. The first generation used a 45 degree angled 3.5mm plug. These use a straight 3.5mm with strain relief and it’s thin enough to use with slotted phone cases.
The wire is approximately 54 inches in length from tip to earbud. Chinstrap adjustment is possible and a small plastic slider is on the wires for that purpose.
Packaging & Accessories
The packaging is pretty elaborate and has the feel of a premium product. The RE600S comes in a black faux leather rectangular box with double flaps and magnetic locks. The flaps have white stitching and one is embossed with the Hifiman name.
The box measures 9” by 5 ½” by 1 ½” in diameter. A metal strip with RE600S etched into the strip which looks to be made of stainless steel sits in the center. Inside you will find the RE600S, and all the accessories except for an included non branded carrying case. The carrying case came separate from the product as if it was an afterthought.
The presentation has a high end feel and is pretty luxurious. I would have preferred a simpler package and presentation and for that investment to go into product improvement, for example, a removable wire. The included case is nice for an unboxing but it will probably end up in the closet.
Accessories are nothing to write home about. You get about 12 sets of rubber tips, 10 replacement filters, a carrying pouch, a cable management device and a couple of small booklets. The filters were a nice touch and I’d never seen similar included with other setups before.
I don’t like the cable management device because I feel it adds bulk to the wire. It’s made of rubber with 2 slots to wrap the wire into. You’re best off with a twist tie plus the wire is not that long and I think it is a perfect length for portable use and I never had the need to use it.
The included tips will probably lead you to look for better tips. Everyone’s ear cavities are different and you might find one that’s right for you. A certificate of authenticity, serial number certificate, and warranty information are also provided.
RE600S Sound Impressions
The RE600S sound signature aims for a flat frequency response and focuses on detail retrieval and the midrange section. There is a slight roll-off at both ends of the spectrum but more so in the highs.
The bass has more presence compared to version 1 but these are not for bass heads. They’re mostly flat through the entire spectrum but I do detect a slight hump in the 2k region which gives the midrange a bit of presence. Nothing in the frequency spectrum stands out too much or is missing and everything is there.
Imaging and separation on the RE600S are slightly narrow to my ears but it’s precise. Other reviewers describe these as having a very wide soundstage but I don’t perceive them that way. To my ears, the soundstage is not that bad.
There’s some width, a little bit of height but very little depth. They have good sound positioning and placement. Their best attribute in this area is the width with a touch of height but the depth is very narrow to me. Depth is their only downfall in this area.
The RE600S bass is pretty tight and well defined, not in output or quantity but in tone. It’s not an impactful bass but it is present, clean and on the lean side. They do sub-bass pretty well. The bass has decent speed and a quick enough decay.
I’m an old-time audio enthusiast from the days of the loudness button and I like a bass-heavy signature and these respond well to equalization in the bass region if you like an extra boost. The mid-bass is basically on par with the sub-bass in output and impact. I don’t detect too much bleed from the low frequencies into the midrange area.
The RE600S midrange is probably the highlight here. Besides the 2k hump, it remains pretty flat until it reaches that peak then it dips a little. This peak does add some presence.
These are a tad mid-forward. There’s is a lot of detail, separation with decent timbre. Piano solos sound correct. Vocals sound clear and there’s good separation of choruses and instruments.
There’s no harshness and for the most part, the sound comes through pretty smooth. Lots of micro details come through also. I can pick out details on most songs that are not there with cheaper earbuds.
The highs have a pretty sharp high top-end roll-off and because of this reason, the highs never sound too harsh or too intense. The highs sound pretty clean but I do detect just a touch of harshness. I also wish there were a tad more sparkle and air at the top end. The highs however never go into sibilance territory because of the pretty sharp roll-off.
The RE600S dynamics are pretty good. They won’t scare the wits out of you but every once in a while they will surprise you. There is a slight compression in dynamics compared to source but I’d say it retains at least 90% of the dynamic range present in recordings which is not that bad.
The RE600S efficiency and drivability are not going to be a problem with these. I used these with about 5 different devices and they all pushed these to very loud levels.
I used these on 2 different android phones, Hifiman’s own Supermini, an iPod touch 5th generation and a headphone amp with 1 watt of power connected to my desktop PC. They’re very efficient, don’t need much power and worked adequately with every device I own.
It is very important that you experiment with different tips. These are very sensitive to tip selection. I had a hard time finding some that fit my ears correctly from the included tips and that gave me the sound signature I was looking for.
I found out eventually that these work well with foam tips. They also work best if you can get tips that put the driver closest to the ear. As I stated before the medium size white silicon tips worked best from the included tips for me.
Let’s get the bad and the ugly out of the way first. The RE600S wire is not up to today’s standards. In today’s market, I’ve seen 20 dollar IEM’s that have a removable wire. This wire transmits too much noise into the earbuds and by using a removable wire you can isolate that issue. If the wire goes bad on these I will have no other choice but to throw them away which will be a shame to do.
From what I’ve read around the internet these have very little issues that are driver related. It’s a shame too because it looks like I could practically run the earbuds themselves over with my vehicle and they probably would survive.
Second, the packaging is way too fancy and I bet it contributes in a large way to the final cost of these earbuds. I prefer value over flash and presentation any day. I would have preferred the investment made on the packaging to go into giving me a removable wire. The packaging although nice will go in the closet forever because it’s of no use in real-life situations but just to look at.
Third, the tips that are included are too few and some sizes were even repeated. There’s not enough variety and sizes in my opinion. It would have been nice to get some foam tips.
What’s good? The RE600S sounds pretty good and that’s the bottom line and what really matters. These are not end game earbuds or V-shaped bass cannons. They have a flat tuning that reveals detail. These probably have the flattest frequency response in this price range I’ve heard. They have decent bass, very good midrange clarity with highs that are not fatiguing.
Hifiman has a winner with this topology driver and I hope they consider putting this driver in a shell that has a removable wire at let’s say 100 bucks to better compete with other single dynamic driver earbuds in the same price range.
Who would like these? These are for people who are looking for a more analytical and flat response. I certainly like them. I tend to pick these up for a listen more often than a few other similar buds I own. If you want a flat, clean and detailed sound signature these will work for you. If you want excitement and a V-shaped sound, look elsewhere.
RE600S V2 Specifications
- Frequency Response : 15Hz-22KHz
- Sensitivity : 102 dB
- Impedance: 16 Ohms
- Weight : 13.7g (0.48 Oz)
- Plug: 3.5mm