HiFiMAN recently sent over their HE-R10P, the Planar Magnetic version of the HE-R10 series, well with those, they also sent these, the HE-R10D, the Dynamic version, costing about 4 times less than the Planar magnetic versions, are these good, are they worth $1300, read on to find out.
- Gorgeous design
- Lovely sound
- Low Impedance
- Packaging is exquisite
- Bluemini II compatible
- Acoustic profile not for everyone
The HiFiMAN HE-R10D are some amazingly pretty headphones to look at and to listen to do, the wooden ear cups are a slightly lighter species of wood than the one used in the Planar magnetic HE-R10P, but it is still CNC milled for precision and paired with aircraft-grade aluminium for a very solid build and striking aesthetic.
The first thing I noticed when picking up the HE-R10Ds is how much lighter they were than the HE-R10Ps, 337g to 460g, that’s a noticeable weight and you feel it on your head. I never felt like the HE-R10Ps were unwieldy, heavy or cumbersome, but these are significantly lighter and more comfortable to wear for longer stints.
Both the HE-R10P and HE-R10D have the same stiff, thick leather headliner, and it is a bit more acceptable than it is on the HE-R10P, not just because of the price difference, but also because of the weight difference, the weight distribution is much better here. The clamping force on your head is also just as perfect as on the HE-R10P. The ear cups have the same 8 discrete steps of vertical adjustment and the few degrees of lateral freedom to account for odd-shaped heads, long story short, these are going to be comfy for you.
The HE-R10Ds have the same balanced 3.5mm audio jack on the underside of the left cup, and have the same assortment of cables in the box, a 1.5m 3.5mm balanced cable, a 1.5m ¼” (6.35mm) jack and a 3m balanced XLR cable, all suitably high end for these undoubtedly high-end cans. With 32Ω of impedance, the HE-R10Ds require remarkably little power to push to their potential, whilst I wouldn’t recommend jacking into your phone or MacBook (unless you have an LG phone with the Quad-DAC) but you could if you needed to. I used the HE-R10Ds with the Bluemini II from HiFiMAN, it’s a combo amp and DAC that plugs into the headphone jack, it lets me plugin via USB-C and use the cans as a USB headset at my laptop or desktop, and then on Bluetooth with my phone, due to the godawful Bluetooth stack in windows, it is not recommended to use the Bluetooth mode on Windows.
With the low impedance to drive these, you’d expect the frequency range to be limited, but 15Hz-35Khz they can produce more frequencies than we as humans can hear, and almost certainly more than my likely wrecked ears can hear after blaring 96Kbps at 100% volume on iPod headphones, Take care of your ears, kids. As with the HE-R10Ps, using the Bluemini II does reduce the frequency range down to 20Hz-20Khz, or what the human ear can hear.
- Frequency Response 15Hz-35Khz
- Impedance 32Ω
- Sensitivity 103dB
- Weight 337g
- Socket 3.5mm balanced output
Audio & Use
When I first got the HE-R10Ds I was a little shocked, a $1300 pair of closed-back dynamic headphones? Really when you can get the HD600’s from old senny boy for under £400, a pair of open-back Planar Magnetic headphones that have been a benchmark since they were released in the 1990s, I thought these would be completely overreaching for their price, and I’m so glad I didn’t say those words aloud to anyone at HiFiMAN because damn was I wrong.
That’s not to say these are infinitely better than the HD600s, or even the DEVAs from HiFiMAN, which are also a pair of open-back planar magnetic headphones that I own. I personally prefer the sound from those, but these are beautifully… boring.
The HE-R10Ds sound great, I pulled out my FLACs, did my normal testing, I also queued up one of my favourite musicals of all time “Avenue Q” to listen to, and these sounded like I was there (if you ever get the chance, I recommend it). Hearing the separation of Trekkie, Kate, Princeton and Rod in “The internet is for porn” made me snigger and laugh like the first time I heard it. These don’t have the soundstage of open-back headphones, they physically can’t, but the choice of wood for “breathing room” for the drivers doesn’t disappoint, I can pinpoint who is wherein the master of the track and it is just so cool.
These aren’t as flat as the Planar magnetic version, there is a spike in amplitude between 2Khz-10Khz, so the higher hi-hats and some vocals and string instruments are a bit more prominent but never uncomfortable. Much like the HE-R10Ps the HE-R10Ds with the Bluemini II can get insanely loud, easily loud enough to damage your hearing long term.
Spoken content on these was a bit odd, especially not things mastered in stereo. Whereas the DEVAs with their open-back can fake depth and make me feel like I’m in the recording studio of my favourite podcast (it’s “We Have Concerns” for reference) in the HE-R10Ds they just feel like spectacularly clear headphones, it’s relaying the information back to me, I’m not there as it feels like on the DEVAs and the HE-R10Ps.
This is what I meant about them being beautifully boring. They sound great, but do they sound $1300 great? Maybe I’m not listening to the music that makes these shine, but I do personally prefer the sound of my DEVAs, which happen to be a quarter of the price.
These are great headphones, there is no denying that these are technically proficient, high-end headphones but they are exactly what I expected for high-end headphones, and the way these are tuned paired with that makes these extremely boring to me. I wasn’t expecting the DEVAs to be as good as they are for their price, and they blew me away. And in the same way, I wasn’t expecting to love the HE-R10Ps so much, because I thought there was no way those could be worth their asking price, and I was blown away again, these are exactly what I expect a $1000-$1500 pair of high-end headphones to be, they sound great, but just as great as expected
Are these worth $1300, I’m not actually sure. I don’t have some Sennheiser HD800s’ or Beyerdynamic Tesla T5’s to compare these to, which are the closest I could find, the Sennheisers are open-back, but it’s a great comparison price wise. I’m a bit upset at how almost pedestrian I find these, maybe because I was coming off the back of the HE-R10P review, or maybe I’m not listening to the right type of music to make the most of these, let me know in the comments.