True Slayer – HIFIMAN RE800 Silver IEMs Review
HIFIMAN RE800 Silver is the more affordable version of their RE800 Gold IEM, but at a lower price, and even on sale at the moment of writing this review, being a Single Dynamic Driver based on the Topology Driver, and priced at 300 USD, making it quite an interesting IEM to look at.
HIFIMAN is known quite well in the audio industry for producing some of the most interesting products, with excellent price to performance ratio, especially when they go on sale, and they are known to produce huge advancements in audio technology, developing drivers, both Dynamic and Planar drivers, providing solid build quality. At least in my experience, their products have been pretty exemplary, as I did a drop test on Sundara, wear test on RE800 Silver, and did my best to damage their products, but they stood well to my aggressions.
It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with HIFIMAN, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by HIFIMAN or anyone else. I’d like to thank HIFIMAN for providing the sample for this review. The sample was provided along with HIFIMAN’s request for an honest and unbiased review. This review reflects my personal subjective experience with HIFIMAN RE800 Silver. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in HIFIMAN RE800 Silver find their next music companion.
For a quick unboxing and first impressions article, I recommend this one, where I did actually do an unboxing and first impressions of HIFIMAN RE800 Silver, RE2000 Silver, and Sundara.
What to look in when purchasing a high-end In-Ear Monitor
The build quality of RE800 Silver is pretty much amazing, they are one IEM with a basic fully metallic body. The bodies are some of the smallest I have seen in my entire life, if not actually the smallest. They simply disappear in your ears, quite literally, because their size is absolutely tiny. The only part of the IEM that touches the ear is the tip, and nothing else really.
The full metallic body still had enough space to include a ventilation hole, and I totally commend HIFIMAN on doing that, because RE800 Silver has no driver flex whatsoever, actually being one of the most comfortable IEMs I have ever had the chance of testing.
In fact, I usually brag about the fact that most IEMs aren’t comfortable enough without aftermarket tips and tip upgrades, but with RE800 silver, I simply strapped on the transparent medium sized tips that were in the package, and I was done with the effort, I’m having both excellent comfort, and sonics, there’s simply nothing to complain. In fact I can easily run, do physical exercise and walk with RE800 and those tips in my ears.
One thing to notice is that the cables are attached to the IEM shells, and they are not detachable. On the other hand, the cables are considerably better than they were on the Gold Version, this time the cables are more supple, softer, and easier to wear portably. On the other hand, those cables have microphonics, and I recommend wearing RE800 Silver Over-The-Ear at all times, to avoid any kind of microphonics. On another note, the IEM shells are also pretty small and since there’s nothing much to keep them in your ears, while you can wear IE800 Silver Straight-Down, for best comfort I do recommend wearing them over-the-ear, they simply work much better this way. The cables are long enough above the Y-Split, that you don’t have to worry about whether it will be too short to wear over-the-ear, like you had to worry with IE800 from Sennheiser.
The isolation from the outside noise is quite good, about 20 to 25 dB of noise are cut off, so you could be listening to a large orchestral and dance to it, then find yourself dancing into a construction site without even noticing much.
RE800 Silver is easy to drive, but doesn’t seem to pick up any hiss, even from a rather hissy source being pretty much dead silent.
The aesthetics would work well with both a casual and a formal costume, you can see both a metalhead and a classic music listener wearing RE800 Silver and feeling confident. You could headbang with them in your ears, and I did test that, resulting in a IEM fit for an all-case scenario.
All in all, I can say that I only would have wished they had detachable cables, but otherwise, they do reach the golden level of aesthetics, build and comfort. Included tips are good, comfort and ergonomics are super awesome, and overall, this is a great little IEM.
Before I dive in the sound quality, it is worth noticing that the Topology Driver is a very real technology, and although at the very basic principle, they are a single dynamic driver IEM, RE800 Silver is truly a diamond in a world of multi-BA IEMS. Having just one Dynamic Driver, and also having it based on the topology driver is supposed to reduce the distortions you’d otherwise hear from a typical Dynamic Driver, or from a multi-BA setup, and it is supposed to keep the sound coherent and natural. HIFIMAN confirmed that the drivers found in RE800 Silver and RE2000 Silver are exactly the same, the only difference between the two being the housing, which indicates how much the geometry and design of the housing can affect the sound.
Now, to describe IE800 Silver, I like using the words Clear, Fun, V-Shaped, Bright, Deep, Controlled, Coherent, Dynamic, Punchy, Vivid, Detailed, Analytical, and overall really naturally toned.
Starting with the bass, it is a deep, profound, powerful, yet controlled bass. The depth and impact are simply outstanding, while the speed is on the natural to quick. This means that they deliver incredible punches, but are able to keep up with quick music, they can be explosive and deliver blows with Dubstep, but drum with speed, even keep up with Technical Death Metal bands. With acoustic music, where real instruments tend to produce some of the deepest lower register resonances, RE800 Silver is also able to deliver a very convincing picture.
In the upper midrange, just like Sundara, RE800 silver has less of an emphasis than in the bass and in the main midrange body, resulting in a slightly less forced lower midrange presentation than what I’d call absolutely natural. This tends to cut down some energy with baritone male voices, but that’s the only area where I notice it, as bass guitars do sound like bass guitars, and typical male voices have a very natural presentation.
The midrange is vivid and energetic, they have a very natural overall presentation, and at times they feel analytical, while at times they feel just detailed yet smooth in a very natural way. The topology driver implemented by Mr. Fang seems to be doing its job really well, and RE800 Silver is able to be really really natural. The timbre on guitars and male vocals is simply spot-on, and so are the voices of sopranos in opera songs. Going to metal and electronic music, you can feel the crunch and textures in guitars really nice, and trumpets and other fancy instruments also bear both good textures, but aren’t harsh or too aggressive to be listenable, everything can be simply and quickly described as natural.
Pianos are really easy to spot as being very crystalline and clean, clear, and naturally presented. As a piano fan, it is easy to notice when something plays a piano with distortions or out-of-key, and RE800 Silver manages to keep pianos really clear, and to keep them perfectly in key and natural in timbre (tuning).
The treble is very different from the original RE800 Gold, The silver having a much smoother and more natural presentation, a much softer and smoother treble, with less emphasis on the upper midrange and lower treble, and a peak in the treble relative to the bass that is much more even. This means that the overall signature is V-Shaped this time, instead of the very unique tuning the original RE800 Gold had, and RE800 Silver manages to deliver the treble in such a way that any music is simply a delight to listen to, where the original was much much sharper.
Dynamics seem to be one of HIFIMAN’s strongest points with their IEMs, as I noticed that Sundara, one of their headphones is also simply out-of-this world with its dynamics, I am noticing more and more that the dynamics of RE800Silver are outstanding. RE800Silver delivers a dynamic presentation worthy of a full open-back headphone rather than a IEM, which is pretty awesome, as I’m becoming more and more an addict to good dynamics.
The soundstage of RE800 Silver is natural, having pretty much the same width and depth, good separation and layering, and I can happily notice that there is a good difference between the forward instruments and the background effects, but I’d call this expansion fair and natural in every way.
Overall, the tuning of RE800 Silver is one that pairs well with any music style, and I feel you’d enjoy them regardless of your taste, Punk sounds like punk, classical and orchestral reproduce all instruments and have the grand feeling they should, metal can be aggressive and forward, while electric is holographic and impressive. Let’s not forget softer music, where the pretty spot-on timbre of RE800 Silver helps softer female voices also have the right amount of emotion and euphonics.
The portable usage is pretty much excellent.
The soft and flexible cable helps a lot with wearing IE800 Silver while walking, running, or doing activities around the house. The straight plug instead of an L-Plug is also good in my honest opinion.
The ventilation port means that you aren’t getting any driver flex with RE800 Silver, so you don’t have to worry about their life or about your eardrums while walking with them. The tips included in the package also help a lot with RE800 Silver and their portability.
The V-Shaped signature is quite excellent for outdoor usage, the deep bass doesn’t get overpowered by your inner walking noise, and the sparkly treble helps keep a good trip exciting.
If there is anything that I could complain about in terms of portability, you absolutely need to wear them over-the-ear while walking, since they do have some microphonic noise in the cable. This is a very minor issue in practice because you’re likely to be wearing them over-the-ear anyways, they have a long cable, and are practical to be used over-the-ear, but I wanted to mention it, their design looks like they were made to be worn straight-down, but they’re actually best while used over-the-ear.
Overall the portability is excellent, they have enough isolation, excellent ergonomics and comfort, good cables, they are easy to drive, and the only issue that exists for portability, which is microphonic noise, is really easy to fix by simply wearing them over-the-ear.
The problems in this review are starting here, because RE800 Silver was launched at 600 USD, but they are currently on sale on HIFIMAN’s site for 300 USD. This is something interesting, as the original was 700 USD, and the Silver was made to be slightly more affordable, but if you catch the sale, the Silver is more than 50% less! Interesting, the sale doesn’t have a timer either, so I’ll pick 3 IEMs to compare RE800 Silver to, Sennheiser IE800, The RE800 Gold from HIFIMAN, and Dunu DK-3001.
HIFIMAN RE800 Silver vs HIFIMAN RE800 Gold – Starting with the package, RE800Gold comes in a much more fancy package, with real wood in the case they come in, but they come with pretty much the same set of accessories, including the tips and the carrying case. The Gold version comes with a different, thicker cable, but I actually find the cable of RE800Silver better for ergonomics and portability. Both IEMs have the same excellent comfort given by their excellent ergonomic shape, which basically doesn’t touch your ear, leaving all the contact between the ear and the IEM to the tips. Both IEMs are best worn over-the-ear. Basically, it is the same IEM, but the sonics are quite different, with the RE800 Silver having a considerable bump in the sub-bass, bass, and lower midrange, and less of a peak in the treble, with a considerably softer and easier treble. RE800 Silver is what I’d call a really natural and versatile IEM, with the only thing I can mention about it being a bit of a lower midrange scoop that doesn’t exactly favor baritone voices, but RE800 Gold was another thing entirely, RE800 gold had much much less bass, less upper bass, and a considerably stronger upper midrange and lower treble peak, that gave it one of the most convincing acoustic guitar tones and notes, but which also made it pretty specific and not overly universal, with RE800 Silver being an absolute delight in terms of versatility. At this moment, RE800 Silver seems to also be less than half of the price of the original gold, making RE800 Silver one of the best choices in terms of price/performance, and unless you were specifically looking for that really strong acoustic guitar presentation of the RE800 Gold, I think that you’ll find RE800 Silver to be a huge upgrade in both sonics balance and in terms of pricing.
HIFIMAN RE800 Silver vs Sennheiser IE800 – I keep bringing up Sennheiser IE800 throughout my reviews, but I think this will be the last time I’m doing so, this being the moment I bury it. This is because RE800 Silver outperforms IE800 from Sennheiser, and most ~300 USD IEMs to so as well, that unless you’d really love the presentation of IE800 from Sennheiser (which I really really did), it doesn’t make much sense to think about it anymore. Regardless, starting with the package, IE800 from Sennheiser is similar to RE800Silver, but RE800Silver comes with more tips, and with an actually more useful carrying case, where the carrying case of IE800 from Sennheiser, although beautiful, isn’t one bit as useful, being made of leather, which means that you’d be taking care of the case more than using it for its intended purpose. Furthermore, the package is pretty similar, but RE800Silver has interchangeable tips that are universal, so you’re not stuck with one pair of tips, like you’d be with IE800 from Sennheiser, which felt like a huge letdown in terms of tips, the stock tips being really uncomfortable for me. Now, here’s the thing, I really really loved IE800 and its sound, but the comfort, even for me, was terrible. IE800 from Sennheiser had one of the best sounds I ever heard at the moment I originally reviewed it on Head-Fi, and I still love its sound today, but the comfort of IE800 was just unbearable, the cables were too short above the Y-Split to wear them over-the-ear properly, but the cables had too much microphonic noise to wear them straight-down. The tips were not universal, and the silicone in the tips would get slippery and then the IEMs would lose their fit every ten minutes, and then there was the issue with the cables hardening in the first 20.000 units or so. This being said, I loved IE800’s sound to bits, it has been one of my favorite tunings, subjectively really touching me in a special way, the splashy cymbals combined with the really sweet midrange and the thick yet quick bass really put a smile on my face every time I wore them. Now, on to RE800 Silver, the fit of RE800 Silver is pretty much perfect. If you have ears, you can wear RE800 Silver comfortably, the cables go around the ears easily, the tips are good quality, even the ones included stock in the package, and the cables are of good quality. The IEM shells are pretty much as small as IE800 from Senn were, but with RE800 Silver you get none of the disadvantages of IE800 from Senn. Now, the sound, is quite different actually. The bass is more natural on RE800 Silver, still above the midrange I’d call it, put punchy, not quite as deep and low as IE800’s bass, which was more focused on the sub-bass, and RE800 Silver has a better overall tonal balance and a more natural midrange. Overall, I would recommend RE800 Silver above Sennheiser IE800 at any given moment for any user, mostly because the ergonomics and comfort are that much better, even if I do love IE800 and their sound, I simply find myself going for RE800 Silver way more often. The instrument separation was slightly better on IE800, while the soundstage depth and width are slightly larger on RE800 Silver. The resolution and detail levels are pretty similar either way, and so is the final overall enjoyment, one who liked the sound of one, should like the sound of the other. Given that RE800 Silver is 300 USD, it simply slays the notion of value in this comparison.
HIFIMAN RE800 Silver vs Dunu DK-3001 – This may not be an entirely fair comparison since DK-3001 is a bit less expensive than RE800 Silver normally, but given the fact that RE800 Silver is currently on sale for 300 USD, the comparison starts making more and more sense for most customers. Starting with the package, DK-3001 actually wins hands-down in terms of packaging and in terms of what is included in the packaging, having both Single Ended and balanced cables, a better carrying case, and better tips included in the package. This being said, RE800 wins so easily that it’s funny, in terms of comfort, DK-3001, even with Spinfit tips, can’t hold a candle to the small bodies and very comfortable and ergonomic design of RE800 Silver. The cables are detachable on DK-3001 though, which bumps their value a bit. The sound is quite different, with DK-3001 having less sub-bass and less bass, being considerably colder and more neutral, where RE800 feel more V-shaped, but a high-quality V-shaped sound, where not only the upper midrange, but also the treble is enhanced, and where the overall clarity feels actually better. The instrument separation is better on RE800 Silver, and so is the detail and resolution, but the soundstage is wider and more expanded on DK-3001. Overall, I find RE800 Silver to be better for those looking for a fun and punchy signature, for a vivid and dynamic signature, while DK-3001, if they fit your ears, is better if you are really looking for a high-quality neutral signature, as their detail level is insanely good. Given that RE800 Silver is currently priced at 300 USD, though, it once again slays the notion of value from this comparison, they simply are an excellent value relative to the sonic performance.
HIFIMAN RE800 Silver is one of the easiest to match and pair IEMs in the world, and although it scales quite a bit with better sources, it doesn’t need them as much as other flagships do, and it will sound amazing even out of ultraportables, like FiiO M9, M6, HIFIMAN Megamini. A flagship, like iBasso DX200, FiiO X7mkii or something mighty like the Brooklyn DAC+ will surely bump the experience with RE800 Silver. This being said, they don’t pick up hiss at all (it is inaudible), and RE800 Silver doesn’t care much about high output impedance, so even Hiby R6 with its high output impedance is a good match for them. Please do note that they don’t have detachable cables, and as such RE800 Silver can only be used with the Single Ended Outputs of your source.
HIFIMAN RE800 Silver + iFi xDSD DAC/AMP – iFi xDSD is one of my favorite DAC/AMP, along FiiO Q5, because it touches a really sweet spot in terms of price / performance ratio, and because it has both a good ergonomic shape, and a good design, enough battery life, and enough driving power for most IEMs and Headphones. RE800 Silver with xDSD feels like a true breeze, with an airy presentation, and with a slightly less bassy presentation than most sources, but if you’re keen on having more bass and sub-bass, you can always turn on the X-Bass function on xDSD, and you’ll have a much better day. You also get Bluetooth access from your smartphone, and the driving power needed for a larger number of devices with xDSD. Everything feels natural and spot-on, including the soundstage, the tuning and the overall presentation.
HIFIMAN RE800 Silver + HIFIMAN Megamini – Megamini is a super minimalistic DAP (Digital Audio Player), but the sound is one of the best there are. If you want a minimalistic UI experience, you’ll be greeted by a very vivid and punchy sound, that is really dynamic and pretty forward, with amazing details and just a very lively presentation, for a very fair price. Megamini tends to sound better than most ultraportables, but it is slightly complicated to recommend more often due to its interface, which can be quite minimalistic for most users. The soundstage is quite wide, but not very deep, and the midrange has a warm and happy tuning to it.
HIFIMAN RE800 Silver + iBasso DX200 (AMP5) – DX200 from iBasso is a real flagship through and through, and if you also pair it with AMP5, or even with AMP8, you’re in for a lot of fun. The sound of the pairing is pretty much as sublime as you’d expect, but at the moment of writing this review, I’m talking pretty much about a ~900 USD DAP driving a 300 USD IEM that has the value of a 600 USD IEM, so you can expect a really natural and vivid presentation, excellent dynamics, a larger soundstage than you usually get of RE800 Silver, in both depth and width, and better detail than most pairings tend to reveal.
Value and Conclusion
Now here’s the thing, the value of RE800 Silver is just insane. They were a fair value at 600 USD, the price they were launched but as they’re 300 USD at the moment of writing this review, and this doesn’t look like a limited offer, it doesn’t have a timer of any sorts on HIFIMAN’s site, RE800 Silver’s value is simply through the roof. The name of this review was True Slayer, and in all fairness, they are, priced at 300 USD, with their comfort, detail revealing abilities and natural midrange, the only thing that could keep them away from being your instant best buy is the non-detachable cable.
Starting with the package, RE800 Silver has a pretty basic package, with all the basics necessary included, like tips, and a wide selection of them, the transparent medium sized working pretty sweet for me, and being easy to recommend, a carrying case that is really basic, and with booklets and other micro-accessories necessary to use them. The package this time around is a cardboard box, and it doesn’t offer much fluff, but then again, it shouldn’t, the experience of unboxing them is enough glamorous as it is.
The build quality is pretty much excellent, they are tiny, they are ergonomic and comfortable, and basically you can’t get much better in terms of comfort than a IEM that simply doesn’t touch your ears besides the point where it has to, which is the silicone tip. The cables are of good quality, so you don’t need to worry about them, even though they’re not replaceable, but the cables are a touch microphonic, and wearing RE800 Silver over-the-ear is recommended.
The sound is really amazing, this time being really balanced and well-thought for a wide public, regardless whether you like a more sparkly, or a more bassy sound, the pretty natural V-shaped sound with good dynamics and punchy presentation will work well with your music, starting from rock and metal, all the way to electronic, and even working well with classical and orchestral music, the Topology driver magic that Dr. Fang Bian developed reaching a truly good balance between detail revealing abilities, natural sound, and low distortions.
I know I didn’t mention this quite yet, but RE800 Silver sounds pretty sweet with Slayer as well, I love rocking to some of their juicy guitar solos while wearing it.
The verdict is positive, and with the price being dropped at 300 USD, RE800 Silver from HIFIMAN is the first IEM that enters Audiophile-Heaven’s Hall Of Fame, for their excellent price-to-performance ratio, for their excellent comfort and build quality and for their detailed, punchy and vivid sound.
At the end of the day, if you’re a fan of V-shaped tunings, with a natural midrange tonality, you’ll surely fall in love with RE800 Silver from HIFIMAN, and with a comfort that will feel comfortable in every ear, with good build quality, and if you find them at their 300 USD price, with a price to performance ratio that is really hard to beat, RE800 Silver should totally make its way into your choice list, and be very high in there.
Full Playlist used for this review
While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.
Bats – Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date
Eskimo Callboy – Frances
Incubus – Summer Romance
Electric Six – Dager! High Voltage
Kishida Cult – High School Of The Dead
Dimmu Borgir – Dimmu Borgir
Breaking Benjamin – I Will Not Bow
Thousand Foot Krutch – The Flame In All Of Us
Gorillaz – Feel Good Inc.
Infected Mushroom – Song Pong
Attack Attack – Kissed A Girl
Doctor P – Bulletproof
Maximum The Hormone – Rock n Roll Chainsaw
Rob Zombie – Werewolf, Baby!
Escape The Fate – Gorgeous Nightmare
SOAD – Chop Suey
Ken Ashcorp – Absolute Territory
Machinae Supremacy – Need For Steve
Ozzy Osbourne – I Don’t Wanna Stop
Crow’sclaw – Loudness War
Eminem – Rap God
Stromae – Humain À L’eau
Sonata Arctica – My Selene
Justin Timberlake – Sexy Back
Metallica – Fuel
Veil Of Maya – Unbreakable
Masa Works – Golden Japang
REOL – Luvoratorrrrry
Dope – Addiction
Korn – Word Up!
Papa Roach – … To be Loved
Fever The Ghost – Source
Fall Out Boy – Immortals
Green Day – Know The Enemy
Mindless Self Indulgence – London Bridge
A static Lullaby – Toxic
Royal Republic – Addictive
Astronautalis – The River, The Woods
We Came As Romans – My Love
Skillet – What I Believe
Man With A Mission – Smells Like Teen Spirit
Yasuda Rei – Mirror
Mojo Juju – Must Be Desire
Falling Up – Falling In Love
Manafest – Retro Love
Rodrigo Y Grabriela – Paris
Zomboy – Lights Out
Muse – Resistance
T.A.T.U & Rammstein – Mosaku
Grey Daze – Anything, Anything
Katy Perry – Who Am I Living For
Maroon 5 – Lucky Strike
Machinae Supremacy – Killer Instinct
Pendulum – Propane Nightmares
Sirenia – Lithium And A Lover
Saving Abel – Addicted
Hollywood Undead – Levitate
The Offspring – Special Delivery
Escape The Fate – Smooth
Samsara Blues Experiment – One With The Universe
Dope – Rebel Yell
Crazy Town – Butterfly
Silverstein – My Heroine