If there is any deficiency here, it might be that the RE-262’s highs are just slightly softly or lightly balanced relative to the real thing. By this I mean that there are some competing headphones in this price class (e.g., the Phonak PFE 122) that offer a heightened sense of treble focus or that do a somewhat better job of conveying the high frequency “air” between instruments. But that said, I would add that few other mid-priced earphones in my experience could equal the RE-262’s uncanny combination of treble clarity and smoothness.
Consider this product if: you want one of the better mid-priced earphones currently available—one that offers a rich, vibrant, lush sound. The RE-262 is one of small handful of mid-priced earphones that plays far above its price class. Consider the RE-262 for its two versatile (though admittedly unorthodox) fitting options, or if you like the idea of an earphone that is ready to take advantage of coming balanced-output amplifier options.
Look further if: You want a simple, plug’n’play solution that’s easy to fit and to optimize; the RE-262 requires a bit of experimentation and trial-and-error adjustment to give of its best. Also consider other options if you prize completely neutral tonal balance, since the RE-262 has a somewhat bass-forward sound with slightly subdued highs (neutrality seekers might consider HiFiMAN’s upcoming $249 RE-272 as a better alternative).
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced competition):
• Tonal Balance: 8.5
• Frequency Extremes: 10 (bass)/ 8.5 (treble)
• Clarity: 9
• Dynamics: 9
• Comfort/Fit: 8 (you can almost always get a good fit with these ‘phones, though you may have to work a bit to achieve it)
• Sensitivity: 4
• Value: 8.5
Summing Up: HiFiMAN’s RE-262 is an excellent mid-priced earphone with a number of unexpected and unconventional design elements. First, it comes pre-wired for use with balanced-output portable amps and therefore requires (included) adapter cables for use with conventional unbalanced portable amps, iPods, etc. Second, it offers two possible wearing positions: a normal position and an unorthodox alternate position (where the earphone is essentially worn upside down and backwards—again necessitating included adapters).
But look beyond the RE-262’s unconventional aspects and you’ll find its strengths center on it rich, vibrant, luscious sound, which is always engaging and easy to enjoy for long-term listening sessions. Sound quality, pure and simple, is what makes this little HiFiMAN earphone shine brightly, and at a very reasonable price.
HiFiMAN RE-262 In-Ear Headphone/Headset
Accessories: Three pairs of single-flange eartips (S, M, L), two pairs of double-flange eartips (M and L), one detachable clamp for clipping the signal cable to garments, five pairs of user-replaceable filters (for keep ear way from clogging the RE-262’s sound output tubes), one padded leatherette presentation box, and three color-coded adapter cables, as below:
• Black adapter: unbalanced 3.5mm jack to balanced 3.5mm socket with standard left/right channel orientation.
• Grey adapter: unbalanced 3.5mm jack to balanced 3.5mm socket with reversed left/right channel orientation.
• White adapter: balanced 3.5mm jack to balanced 3.5mm socket with reversed left/right channel orientation.
Frequency response: 15Hz – 22kHz
Weight: 0.6 oz.
Sensitivity: 95 dB SP/1 mW
Impedance: 150 ohms
Warranty: 1-year replacement warranty