Never before in the field of headphone conflict has so much been said in contempt prior to the launch of a prestige headphone. The HiFiMan HE-R10 is unashamedly a blatant copy of the Sony flagship from the 90s’, the MDR10.
Didn’t it look strange back then? And how much stranger does it look now, all those years on? Gone with the Wind was never remade (thank goodness!) and neither was the Godfather. Ok, there were a few new parts once the distributor saw the box office returns from part one. Did you know that Soft Cell’s Tainted Love is a copy? Or Boney M’s By the Rivers of Babylon? Or Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn? Whether we will ever truly know the motivation behind HiFiMan’s first real venture into closed back headphones, folks; here they are
And they are on sale right now. Like it as not, HiFiMan make some of the best headphones in the World. There are competitors; Sennheiser, Abyss, Audeze et al. I wondered when Dr Fang would dip his toes into the murky waters of closed back full size designs.
A little bit about closed v open. In full size headphones, open wins, hands down, £ for £. At least to my ears. Why? Because the sound feels like it cannot breathe! Sometimes, the bass on an open lacks realism. Because the driver is open to the outside, this is an inherent problem, it’s got less to bounce against of course. And sound is caused by vibration. The rest of the sound signature almost always feels like it’s less constrained.
If you can achieve that less congested sound and you already have an advantage in the bass then you may be onto something. I have 1 prestige closed back. The ATH W1000Z has some of the characteristics of an open back and has a decent bass slamming against a nice cherry wood enclosure. But it doesn’t compete with the Sennheiser HD800, HiFiMan He-6 and the like.
Anyway, I hope by the time you’ve read this far, you’ve had a chance to watch the above vid. If you don’t like vids, well, lemme tell you succinctly; I liked the R10 P and I disliked the R10 D. For the reason that the P sounded pretty much head and shoulders above any closed headphone I ever heard before, and the D sounded like every other closed back headphone I ever heard before!
There may be another post to follow this one. We shall see how much interest is generated, and where my adventures take me….
If you want to really know what the HE-R10 sound like, head to https://www.head-fi.org/threads/hifiman-he-r10p-loaner-tour.948015/ and if you’re chosen, it’ll be sent to your door. I wish you the best of luck.