Review: HiFiMAN RE-600 Songbird

HiFiMAN | In-Ear Monitors | $ 399.00[​IMG] HiFiMAN has always been a company that has offered great sounding IEMs at an extremely low, sometimes crazy, price. When the company announced that their new flagship would be priced at 399, 150 dollars more than the previous flagship, many people had high standards for such a mythical IEM. The RE-600 Songbird was that IEM and it offers highly improved audio over the 99 dollar RE-400. The question becomes, is it worth the high-end 399 price tag? Read on to find out… 

Specifications

Driver: 8.5 mm Dynamic
Frequency Response: 15 Hz – 22 kHz
Impedance: 16 ohms
Sensitivity: 102 dB

In the Box

HiFiMAN RE-600 Songbird
Balanced TRRS to TRS Adapter
Silicone Tips (Bar’d Single Flange: S, Dual Flange: S/L, Bullet: M, Clear Single Flange: M, Asymmetric Single Flange: L, Dual-Single Flange Hybrid: S, Comply Foam: M/L)
Carrying Case
Cable Winder
Replacement Filters (5 Pairs)

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Design

HiFiMAN decided to use the same housing with the RE-600 that they did with the 400. The housing is small in every way possible. They did, however, decide to change two things: the color and the finish. The color of the main body is now black while the back cap remains silver. This silver gives the design of the IEM a second dimension away from all the black. The finish of the housings goes from a sandblasted styling to a smooth glossy one that is reflective.

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Design: ★★★★

Audio

HiFiMAN has always had a distinct signature that runs through all of their IEMs. The signature really allows you to simply listen to them and say, it’s a HiFiMAN. The RE-600 is no different, and shows small differences between itself and the 400s. The Songbird represents more of a warm, sweet sound allowing a larger midrange focus with good bass quantity and decent depth while the treble is very linear, but on the softer side.

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The bass on the RE-600 may still not be enough for everyone in terms of quantity, but actually does really well regarding most, if not all, transient characteristics. For those that have heard the RE-400 and are missing the sub-bass, these do definitely fix that issue up. Depth, although isn’t the best I’ve heard, does great and reaches amply into the sub-bass regions allowing a good balance of fluidity and presence. The low-bass still remains the focus of the IEM allowing a nice, defined impact that can be felt. The midbass remains quite tight and well controlled in each and every punch.

As we go into the midrange, we find that the RE-600s give off plenty of low-midrange detailing that doesn’t sound entirely aggressive in nature while the rest of the midrange remains warm and lush. Despite this, the clarity in the upper midrange remain strong, even in contrast to an RE-400 or Etymotic (or Phonak PFE1xx). Vocals will be the main reason you get this IEM though. They are reproduced in such a beautiful manner that literally captures the emotion of the singer in all their lushness but also reproduces the power and energy in the upper portions of the voice. That said, vocal dynamics remain one of the strongest strengths of the Songbird, guess the name does foreshadow about the sound to come.

Although I found the bass (some may disagree) and midrange just about near perfect, the treble is the area that most people will have issue with, but it’s not something I would call bad. It, however, is reserved. The lower treble does offer a good snap to it with a slower decay, but lacks presence a little more than I’d like. The upper treble actually sounds like it has great extension, even over the RE-400. It, however, is slightly softer in nature. Despite this, the Songbird can still offer great detailing in this range with beautiful separation; due to its reserved nature, the treble can never become sibilant or harsh.

Audio: ★★★★

Build

HiFiMAN does include a case with the RE-600 Songbird, which is something that is very nice to have. It is a more generic case, but a case is better than none. This case is a semi-hardcase that is portable and small; it can fit into just about any pocket or bag. It’ll protect your RE-600 when it’s not in use, its main function.

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The build of the RE-600 is actually the same as the RE-400 for all intent and purposes. The housings remain the same, mini-sized pieces of lightweight aluminum that feel strong and great in the hand. Amply sized strain reliefs come out of the bottom of each of the housings and come together to really create a great build for the housings.

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The cable is the same cable using two different materials for the top and bottom halves, divided by the y-splitter. The upper-end of the cable uses a thinner plastic, which I still don’t feel is thick enough, personally speaking. It does provide a nice feeling of strength despite that. The lower half of the cable is thicker and has a nice fabric shell that feels nicer in just about every regard. The cable never seems to tangle on either end though.

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The actual headphone jack of the RE-600 terminates to a straight one. However, unless you are using a device that supports balanced output (very few do, most mobiles do not), then you’ll never be using this jack, instead, you’ll be using the angled one that is supplied on the balanced TRRS to TRS adapter. Both jacks are built the same, only difference is that one is angled. They are large with thick, yet flexible, strain reliefs on the ends.

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Build: ★★★★½

Comfort

The new HiFiMAN Offerings, RE-400 and RE-600, are really some of the most comfortable IEMs I’ve had to put into my ears. This is mainly due to the exceptionally small housings that they use. They are light weight, tiny, and can be worn up or done depending on user preference. The RE-600 comes with a plethora of tips to ensure that the users get the proper fit. Nine total types of ear tips ranging from single-flange, dual-flange, and foam are included in different sizes. One of these is sure to fit properly.

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Comfort: ★★★★

Value

While the RE-400 got dubbed the king of value, by many people who heard them, the RE-600 probably won’t get that name. The 600s do prove to be an upgrade to the 400s, but the 300-dollar price difference is quite staggering. As with all things audio, performance increases diminish as price goes up; it’s hard to perfect something that is already near there. One of the biggest complaints you’ll get with the RE-600, although not a problem for me, is the balanced TRRS to TRS adapter that is required for the IEM to work properly with most devices (including iPods).

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Compared to the other IEMs in its price range, the Songbird actually does perform quite well. It easily matches, or goes above what the others offer in, and some above its price range. In that regard, some can call it a value, others will not as those IEMs weren’t a value to begin with. This comes down to perception and subjectivity. I feel that as you reach the 400-dollar price range, performance improvements diminish a little much with cost. Despite that, I do feel that the Songbird is a good value.

Value: ★★★★½

Final Thoughts

With the release of the new, much anticipated flagship model, HiFiMAN proves that it can continue to create impressive IEMs that can easily keep up with the big-dogs up top. The design of the RE-600 looks great while the comfort is top notch, but the TRRS to TRS adapter may be a hurdle for some. It’s really crazy how small improvements all over the frequency spectrum can really add up to create a huge upgrade overall, and that is exactly what the RE-600 Songbird does.

I’d like to thank Peter for the product sample.

Overall Score

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HiFiMAN RE-600 Songbird

† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
This accessory, product, or app was received as a sample. Thanks Peter for the product sample.

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