Go for the… Silver!
PROS: updated versions of HiFiMan RE800 and RE2000 flagships, unique topology diaphragm driver, lighter weight.
CONS: eartips selection, non-detachable cable (RE800 silver), discounted price is for Black Friday Sale only.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
My original RE2000 Gold review.
In the last few years there have been a lot of discussions about DAPs using different chassis material. Many of these discussions end up in arguments about contributing factors of various metals which is hard to confirm. But when it comes to Dynamic Driver (DD) IEMs, it’s a known fact that a material of the shell will influence the sound based on its acoustic absorption and resonance-resistance. The design of the shell and its acoustic chamber enclosure/damping is very important when tuning the sound of DD. And until now it was rare to have the opportunity for a true A/B comparison to hear the benefits of different materials.
While some might think that HiFiMan decided to make cost reduced versions of their original 24k plated brass-shell RE2000 and RE800 IEMs, this new “silver” release actually gives us a nice opportunity to study the contributing factor of the new aluminum shell while keeping the same 9.2mm topology diaphragm driver and even the same silver plated crystalline copper cable. According to HiFiMan, everything remained the same, with the only difference of using a new lighter shell material. Does it affect the sound? Let’s find out in this Gold vs Silver review of RE2000/RE800 with a focus on comparison between these two IEMs.
Unboxing and Accessories.
Both pairs arrived in identical large size premium looking cardboard boxes with a clear picture of corresponding IEMs on the cover. The product had a nice presentation once you lift the cover, and IEMs were securely placed in a foam cutout (RE800) or inside a secure case (RE2000).
RE800 comes with a generic clamp-shell round zipper case, earhook guides, and lots of eartips, while RE2000 comes with a branded round metal case, earhook guides, a handful of eartips, and spare 2pin connector plugs (if you wish to DIY).
Many eartips included with RE800 were double and triple flanged, while RE2000 selection was a bit limited in comparison. I wish a better variety of regular single flange tips would have been included since not everybody can use/fit multi-flange tips (speaking from a personal experience). But eartips are usually not a showstopper as long as you realize that you need to try different pairs (tip-rolling) since the fit will affect the seal which plays important role in sound shaping.
With an exception of a different material (gold -> 24k plated brass vs silver -> aluminum), the design between gold and silver versions of RE2000 and RE800 is identical. I do have to mention that my original RE800 Gold was without detachable cables, and HiFiMan quickly updated that design to have mmcx connectorized shell. But RE800 Silver version has a non-detachable cable and identical design to my original RE800 Gold.
Also, similar to how I described it in my RE2000 Gold review, its shell has a quite unique shape which stands out from other universals, while RE800 shell has a smaller and more ergonomic bell-shape with a non-detachable (in silver version) wire down design. I did have some fit issues with the original RE2000 Gold, but the comfort improved after going through various eartips. RE2000 Silver is noticeably lighter, being only 2g vs Gold being 6g. Both have the same shape of the shell, but the lighter weight improves the comfort even further. With RE800, it was comfortable to begin with, but now I can’t even feel the Silver shells in my ears.
Regarding the cable, they all feature the same silver coated, crystalline copper wire with all four conductors hidden inside of a thicker rubber cable jacket. This makes cable a bit stiff, with a little memory effect, but still very durable. There is no microphonics effect in RE2000 with wire up, and just a little microphonics in RE800 with wire down, but once you let the wire go over your ears – microphonics is gone. Unlike Gold cables with a right angled Oyaide 3.5mm connector, here you have a straight aluminum-shell gold-plated connector, compact aluminum cylinder y-split with an etched name and model number and a small matching chin-slider. RE2000 cables are removable, go over your ears, and their 2pin connectors have a clear L/R marking, where you have to be sure both are either facing inside or outside to follow the same polarity between the shells.
Inside, both RE800 and RE2000 gold and silver have a similar 9.2mm dynamic driver with Topology Diaphragm design. What makes it unique is a special Nano particles coating (based on Dr Fang Bian’s Ph.D. thesis) applied in special geometric patterns. What Dr Fang discovered is by varying the surface pattern and using different Nano materials (each with its own unique property), you can control the acoustic performance of the driver. If you think about it, you literally micro-tuning the sound by applying a different Nano coating pattern. Plus, the structure of Topology diaphragm also reduces uncontrolled distortion typical of dynamic drivers.
So, while it uses the same 9.2mm DD, the sound difference between RE800 and RE2000 is different due to their unique geometric pattern. As I already mentioned, HiFiMan reassured me that driver tuning didn’t change between Gold and Silver, only the housing, thus I’m making an assumption that all the sound changes I hear between corresponding models is due to a different housing material, which I’m going to describe in the following section.