In order to support this admittedly unusual alternative wearing position, HiFiMAN ships the RE-262 with two additional adapter cables:
• A color-coded balanced-to-balanced adapter cable with left/right channels reversed, and
• A color-coded unbalanced-to-balanced adapter cable, also with left/right channels reversed.
Frankly, I initially thought this whole approach was too strange to embrace, but once I tried wearing the RE-262’s in both positions I discovered that I am one of those wearers for whom the “upside-down-and-backwards” fitment work best. In fact, it gave me a night/day improvement in comfort and sound quality (though you might well prefer the normal wearing position). The point, here, is that the RE-262 gives you two very different fitting options, both of which deserve careful consideration (according to HiFiMAN, if one approach doesn’t work for you, the other almost certainly will).
Depending on the user, the RE-262 can be tricky to fit at first. Some wearers find it’s pretty much a plug-n-play design, while others (like me) have to work a bit harder to get optimal results.
For anyone trying the RE-262, I would encourage running three sets of tests when you first receive the earphones:
• First, carefully try out the various eartips that HiFiMAN supplies in order to find the size/type that creates the best seal in your ears. Sometimes, you may find that a not-so-obvious option actually gives the best results.
• Second, try both the normal (right side up and forward) wearing position and the alternate (upside down and backward) wearing position. You will likely find, as I did, that one position works markedly better than the other.
• Third, once you’ve settled on eartips and the wearing position you want to use, try gently pushing inward on the RE-262 earpieces, and note how the depth of the fit influences sound quality. I found that—up to a point—a deeper fit enabled the earphones to produce a significantly richer, more vibrant sound.
The wearing position you choose will also help you determine which (if any) of the three included adapter cables to use:
Using Amps with Balanced Outputs
• No adapter: Use this approach if wearing the RE-262’s in the “normal” position (right side up with normal left/right channel orientation).
• White adapter: balanced 3.5mm mini-jack to balanced 3.5mm socket, with left/right channels reversed. Use this adapter if wearing the RE-262’s in the “alternate” position (upside down with the left/right earpieces reversed).
Using Amps, Cellphones, or Digital Music Players with Unbalanced Outputs
• Black adapter: unbalanced 3.5mm mini-jack to balanced 3.5mm socket with normal left/right channel orientation. Use this adapter if wearing the RE-262’s in the normal position.
• Grey adapter: imbalanced 3.5 mini-jack to balanced 3.5mm socket, with left/right channels reversed. Use this adapter if wearing the RE-262’s in the “alternate” position.
With many earphones, all you need is a good in-the-ear seal in order to achieve optimal sound, but the RE-262’s are different. While they do require a good seal, they are also quite sensitive to how deeply they are positioned in one’s ears. When fitted correctly, the RE-262 produces a deep, rich, vibrant sound. Don’t settle for anything less, and keep experimenting until you get all the performance you’ve paid for. The end results more than justify the extra set-up time and effort required.
At their best, the RE-262’s have a big, smooth, full-bodied, and almost “lush” sound that is highly engaging and very comfortable to listen to for long periods of time. Several factors contribute to that sound.
Deep, Powerful, Well-Defined bass: Bass is one the RE-262’s strengths, with the earphone delivering extremely good extension, desirable qualities of weight and punch, and—most importantly—good pitch definition and focus. While I would concede that the RE-262 delivers a somewhat bass-forward sound, what makes the low end of this earphone work is not so much the quantity but the sheer quality of the bass it delivers.
As a test of pure bass depth, for example, listen to the RE-262’s reproduce the descending organ passages found in the Pie Jesu section of the Rutter Requiem [Reference Recordings]. More than most earphones, the RE-262 shows real muscle and extension, creating the sense of deep pitched, shuddering columns of air. Most earphones run out of steam on the Rutter Requiem (some of them comically so), but not the HiFiMAN’s; they just wade right in and get the job done.