Head Direct RE0 Audiophile Earphone Review


Your average person is not an audiophile at face value. What is an audiophile you may ask? Simply put: it is someone that has an extreme love and appreciation for quality sound. This is also made manifest by having way too many lp’s sitting around in boxes strewn about their house. Their eccentricities are matched only by their passion. If your average joe were to pick up a quality pair of in-ear headphones and toss out their stock iPod cheapies; I for one believe they would be able to tell the difference. Your average wannabe audiophile would disagree. The enjoyment of pure sound quality can be appreciated by anyone and I believe companies like Head Direct felt the same way when they produced IEM’s (in ear monitors) like the RE0 series.Let’s jump right in and have a look at this pair:

Closer Look:

Normally the RE0’s come shipped in retail packaging, mine did not but I will post a picture from the website so you know what to expect if you purchase a pair for yourself. Included in the package are four different styles of silicon earbuds that can easily be interchanged. Also included are extra sound diffusing pads (as best I can describe them) which are important especially if you are the type to swap your silicone tips often, this may wear out your IEM’s quicker than the average user.

The IEM’s are very well built; the cabling is textured [for lack of a better work] making it seem a bit more posh then your average run of the mill earbud. The studded casing on the buds themselves is a nice bonus, and I personally like how the venting holes out the back of the ear buds are very small, this should give a very nice isolation effect. The addition of a headphones extension cable is also a very nice bonus feature for all of the fundamentalist audiophiles out there that love starting up their favorite phono and kicking back in their arm chair. One thing lacking is a mini to ¼ converter but you can pick up a nice gold plated one for under $20 at most electronics stores if you are a strong believer in antiquated sound.

Let’s have a look at some specs and features:

Specifications:

Free gift in your RE0 order:  Fiio E3 amp: Which did not come with my set but should be a great bonus

Nickname: Kylin

  • Driver unit:    9mm
  • Impedance    64 OHM
  • Sensitivity     100dB/1mW
  • Rate input    10mw
  • Max. input    30mw
  • Frequency response:    15Hz ~ 22KHZ

Bonus Feature:

30 days refund and 1-year replacement

Let’s get to the testing:

Testing:

Testing will consist of a wide range of tests. Not only will we be doing tests on low, mid, and high range sound quality but we will also be doing a speed test which consist of listening to very fast-paced music and seeing how well the Head Direct RE0’s do. I will also be testing gaming, movie, and isolation in a head-to-head test against two other models. The Re0’s will be going against the Sennheiser 437 HD (headphones) and the Yuin OK3 (IEM’s). In a comparison of price, these two competitors are a bit lower end but we will see what the consensus is in the end.

  High End (Treble):

Bar-none the RE0 IEM’s are the best treble producing earphones I have ever used. I will do my best to use both technical and laymen’s terms throughout these parts of the review so it may come out a bit redundant for some, for this I apologize.

Treble can be categorized in two ways: sibilant and smooth. Sibilance, for those that have never heard this word in reference to treble, simply means hissing. When treble is too intense you get a noticeable hiss added to cymbals and certain stringed instruments. Smoothness is the opposite; instead of the peaks you normally feel in the treble, it is smoothed out too much not giving the full extent of the treble.

So back to the point, the RE0 earphones are a fantastic balance of both. I prefer my headphone more towards the smooth side of things but just barely. The Head Direct RE0’s were much more than I ever expected in an IEM. The technology has come a long way since its infancy and Head Direct hit is bang on with this pair. While listening to Yo-Yo Ma play Beethoven, the hair on the back of my neck stood up, the peaks and valleys were incredibly intense. I would, however, suggest getting yourself an earphone amp if you are buying these for this use; they were much louder than the Yuin OK3’s but for classical music, I wanted to really push these to their full potential.

 Mid (Midrange):

Midrange, for those of you that don’t know, is what affects the guitar and vocal tracks of a song. A prominent mid-range makes the lead singer and guitarist stand out above all other instruments, a pair of earphones with great midrange are perfect for rock lovers. A less prominent or “recessed” midrange will make the overall melody stand out more.

The Head Direct RE0’s did a very good job, and they were very neutral in my opinion. I am not an in-your-face guitar and vocals kind of music enthusiast, but for those of you that are, this set of IEM’s might not be the perfect match for you. Over all the RE0’s held their own beautifully. While the vocals were not from the diaphragm and the guitar wasn’t straight out of hell; both had a very rich and full sound which was very pleasurable.

Low (Bass):

Bass again is summed up in 2 categories depth and hit (or thump). When you have depth in the bass: deep voices, low notes on a bass guitar or cello, have the illusion of engulfing your body. The hit or thump on the other hand is less like a warm hug and more like a punch to the face.

Fast rap, and again music like Yo-Yo Ma are perfect for getting a sense of depth and hit from bass frequency. While listening to Twista I got a good sense of the hit that the RE0’s were able to achieve and I was marginally impressed; using an amp, in this case, improves this exponentially. The depth I felt when listening to the cello was very surprising, I have always been more of a fan of good ol’ fashion “cans” or headphones over earphones when it comes to depth. The RE0’s surprised me; they had a fullness of sound I would have never imagined. While these IEM’s were impressive I do have to say headphones still win in the depth of bass hands down, but the RE0’s did a very fantastic job and were only out performed by some of the finest free air headphones I have had the pleasure of using in the past.

 Speed:

For all of your house and techno junkies, you do have an audiophile following all your own, and for you, I added this test. Using some classic Jungle Brothers and Chemical Brothers I put these IEM’s through pain. I must say they hit every single note, clean, and hard.

I was, and still am, a major punk fan and if any IEM can keep up with some good ol’ dropkick murphy’s it’s ok by me. Did the RE0’s pass? With flying colors, I must make mention of how loud punk is on these, which is exactly what I want in an IEM. When I am snowboarding I love me some punk. I have to say if you are a punk fan and like hurting yourself doing stupid things on a board;  these earphones are perfect for you, without a question you should grab a pair.

Let’s see how these do in day to day testing:

Testing:

I don’t know about you but I use my headphones for just about everything and if I am going to drop serious coin on a new pair they better be fantastic for everything. This is where this test comes in, I am going to test a pair of headphones and another pair of IEM’s against the RE0’s and see who reigns supreme.

 Movie (Superman Returns):

Yuin OK3: The fullness of sound was great; I must say these earphones shine in this part of the testing. The bass response was very impressive in the action scenes. While they were not as impressive as far as clarity as the Head Direct RE0’s or as deep in the bass area as the Sennheisers they were very pleasant to watch a movie in.

Sennheiser 437 HD: Comfort is one thing the Sennheisers win in hands down; also worth mentioning is the depth of the bass. The sheer size of the cone on a pair of headphones over earphones makes this aspect a bit biased. The movie was very clear and crisp but nowhere near the RE0’s or the Yuin’s; but still a great experience.

Head Direct RE0: By far the RE0’s were the clearest all around. Voices were very crisp and the bass of Jar El’s voice was impressive. The action scenes were very intense. I was surprised that the RE0’s made the sound seem like it filled the room.

Gaming (Various FPS’s):

Yuin OK3: I wouldn’t recommend using the Yuin’s for gaming while they are a great hifi IEM they are not designed for gun shots. I found it difficult to get my bearings at times. I don’t like how the sounds flood out the back of the earphones it is not as crisp and exact as the Sennheisers or the RE0s.

Sennheiser 437 HD: These headphones performed the best for comfort again for long sessions of gaming. Gun shots were amazingly realistic sounding. Getting bearings were a lot easier than the Yuin IEM’s. I would definitely recommend this headset for gaming.

Head Direct RE0: I couldn’t believe how immersive the RE0’s were. I couldn’t hear anything else going on in my house around me, making the game very realistic. If you are a horror shooter fan, the RE0’s will make you pee your pants. There were scratches and scrapes I never heard of before in past playthroughs of Bioshock. I would recommend these earphones for any serious gamers that want a really immersive experience. I never would have guessed this from earphones. I honestly had preconceptions that were blown away by the Head Direct RE0’s.

Isolation:

Yuin OK3: I must say the isolation feeling of Yuin is equal to a pair of free air headphones which are notoriously bad for noise canceling. Don’t mistake noise canceling with isolation; if you are in a secluded room the clarity of sound from these is a lot like a nice pair of free air “cans” which give the illusion of room-filling sound. If you are in a crowded room with people talking you won’t be lost in your own world with this set of IEM’s. Isolation is not one of its strong points.

Sennheiser 437 HD: Sennheiser headphones have very decent noise-canceling while still maintaining the illusion of room filing sound. In this test, I would say they are a great middle-ground between the two other earphones. When I want isolation I want a good combination of a room and head filling sound. The Sennheisers did and sufficient job all around.

Head Direct RE0: I was sitting in a room with my two other lead reviewers laughing and talking back and forth about Venture Brothers. Whenever a new song came on I could not understand anything they were saying. When I mentioned head-filling sound, I meant that all you hear is the music and nothing else. The RE0’s did this to the nth degree, I felt unbelievably isolated in a fully populated bustling room. While they did not give the room-filling sound that the Yuin or Sennheisers did, they did make you feel like you were in a different reality. It feels like you are watching life as a third party. It was a great feeling and exactly what I have been expecting and hoping for in other earphones in the past, but never achieved until now. If you are an audiophile that wants to escape into your favorite tunes; or a teenager that wants to escape reality and listen to angry music the RE0’s are your best choice.

Let’s check out the final verdict:

Conclusion:

I cannot say enough about the Head Direct RE0 Earphones, they have been a very pleasant companion since I received them from Head Direct 4 days ago. After breaking them in the sound quality increased exponentially. Like I said earlier in the review you do not have to be a devout audiophile with 20 pairs of high-end headphones and earphones in order to appreciate the quality of these. Sound quality is something the average user does not truly experience until picking up a pair of Sennheisers, Grados, or RE0’s. That said I suggest at least trying out a pair of quality headphones. If you are an audiophile like myself and a die-hard headphone enthusiast I strongly suggest trying a pair of RE0’s out, they are a fantastic option for the sports-related activity that your favorite “cans” are not conducive for partaking in.

Would I recommend these? Without a doubt this was already answered in the review; they left a lasting impression on me as far as earphones go. I suggest these for anyone that has dropped $200 plus on the latest mp3 player and is still sporting the earbuds that came with it. If you are going to drop serious coin on a decent mp3 player or spend a lot of time listening to personal audio, you are cheating yourself by not getting a decent pair of headphones or earbuds like the RE0s.

Pros:

  • Comfort (White Silicon Buds)
  • Isolation
  • Range and Depth of Sound
  • Studded design
  • Over all Sound Quality

Cons:

  • Vocals and Guitar Could be a Little Weak for Some Rock Fans

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