Hifiman is an exciting brand that delivers on audiophile sounds. High-fidelity is quite literally in their name. Products like the Arya and Sundara have made a name for themselves around the high-end headphone community, and have a set standard to live up to. Their planar designs have provided a lightweight circumaural comfort that fits the airy nature of its sound signature. From the outside, the new HE-R10D seems to be the complete antithesis of these models. As you’ll see, the R10D has an interesting build that is sure to make it stand out from Hifiman’s library of audiophile headphones. So let’s get right into how these $1299 headphones stack up.
What You Get
When it comes to how high-end headphones are packaged, the R10D gets the royal treatment. It comes in a large case that opens up like a chest. The contents are limited, but each item is essential in some way. The R10D itself comes neatly inserted and protected by a nice cloth material. In a separate bag, you’ll find a 3.5mm cable 1.2m long. There are also options for quarter-inch, and 4 pin XLR connection as well. The multiple input options are great to have with any set of headphones, and it’s welcomed here.
Look and Feel
The R10D is an odd-looking headphone for sure. From the initial photos, it was hard to tell how much the ear cups would protrude out, but when I first pulled out the headphones from the case it ended up not being what I expected. The wooden cups bulge out considerably to the point where it became comical. As a result, they don’t appear like the most desirable headphone, especially when viewed next to other models by Hifiman. The orange tint to the wood also doesn’t do a lot of favors for it in the aesthetics department either. When I was walking around with them, a colleague even said that I looked like I was wearing a pair of oranges on my head. The reason it looks like this is to create a larger internal space for more breathing room, which you’ll see the significance of once we get to the driver system. I’m a big fan of wooden headphones, but the R10D incorporates it into an odd build.
The headphones overall feel hollow, which gives the R10D a lightweight fit, and the earpads do provide an adequate level of comfort. They’re also easily replaceable, with the option to just peel them right off, and stick on with velcro. Overall I’m not huge on the build, but the comfort level was just right, and didn’t mind wearing them on my head aside from people making fun of how silly they look.
Hifiman gives the R10D quite a unique driver system with a specialty design. The headphones house a 50mm driver unit with an exclusive topology diaphragm, meaning it uses a special nanoparticle coating that aims for a more natural and detailed timbre. They also incorporate a rare earth magnet for a high sensitivity performance, as well as a more advanced voice coil. These components definitely make me more interested in how the R10D will perform.
They offer a few different input options in the box, but no matter how you choose to drive the R10D, you should receive a sufficient volume level with no problem. The impedance is only at 32 Ohms, and the dynamic driver will be able to boost gain from basic 3.5mm connectors to high-end DAC/Amps with XLR capability. In my own testing, I was able to push the R10D to a well-controlled loudness sweet spot where I felt the headphones showcased their full potential.
Part of the R10Ds design philosophy is to create a more natural, closed-back space by giving the driver more room to push its signal. With this being considered, I expected a more impressive soundstage than what I had experienced. As far as the image goes it’s big and clear enough to enjoy most genres of music, but width and separation are noticeably lacking. For me, the image just doesn’t occupy enough space in the stereo field. Panning information placement is still intact, but it never feels like it reaches out as far as it can. Most of the time the R10 just can’t create the space necessary to provide a fulfilling sense of immersion or accuracy.
On the positive side, one of the standout features of the R10D is its bass. The lows emanate with a clear resonance that engulfs the sound field without bleeding into the other ranges. The bass grips and entices you with its depth and impact, making electronic synths pulsate and growl with darker textures. Listening to Ben Salisbury’s Annihilation soundtrack proved to be the perfect reference to see just how deep and resonant this bass is, with its brooding synths consuming the mix, and recessing down into your throat.
Much like the wooden housing of the earcups, the midrange of the R10D comes across as rather hollow. While some instrumentals and vocals maintain clarity, they don’t offer a ton of fullness and can appear notchy in some fundamental mid-bands. Certain elements around the high-mids receive some nice boost, but it isn’t enough to make up for the scooped out mid frequencies.
If you’re not a big fan of bright treble, the R10D might deter you from its sound signature. The upper highs have sharper ends to them, giving cymbal crashes and other effects more sizzle, but the compressed nature of the timbre limits the high-end detail. It’s never harsh, but those who are more sensitive to those frequencies might not be a fan.
For $1299 I don’t exactly see a ton of value for the R10D. Bassheads will definitely get the sound they’re looking for on a closed-back headphone, but other than that Hifiman doesn’t offer anything in the way of high-end luxury. The build is awkward and not exactly up to the standard quality of a thousand-dollar headphone, even if the fit is still relatively comfy. I’m still interested in checking out the R10P, but as far as the R10D goes I would seek out better options around this price range.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Bass resonance, comfy, replaceable earpads
Cons: Weird build, hollow mids, sharper treble, price
|Socket||3.5mm balanced output|
The Hifiman HE-R10D is available at Audio 46.
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