I’m not sure what’s happened to News And Reviews just recently, but it seems the NAS servers have all dried up or are hiding away, and the audio gadgets are taking centre stage. It’s no secret that News And Reviews are big on audio and love nothing more than kicking back and turning up the volume. With the kids shortly returning back to school it means gone are the child-friendly ‘bleeped’ out audio and on goes the explicit, upset the neighbours music. However, if you are like me, who actually get on with their neighbours and don’t want to make them endure 20hrs of wall thumping bass, investing in a good portable music player and some quality earphones is a must. Up for review today is the very item, introducing the HiFiMAN HM-700 portable player and RE-400 earphones bundle. Put your smart-phone or iOS away and save it for the essential phone call and texts and behold the digital audio player (DAP) that features 32GB of internal storage, is compatible with the most popular music formats and comes bundled with the highly acclaimed balanced RE-400 earphones.
Taken from the HiFiMAN website – the product specifications:
* Frequency response: 20Hz-20KHz
* S/N: 91 dB
* Max output: 50mW(1.35V @36 Ohm)
* Dimensions: 49mm x105mm x12mm (1.9X4.1X0.5 Inch) WXHXD
* Weight: 82g (2.9 Oz)
* On-board ash memory: 32GB
* Battery life: 15 hours
* Acceptable music formats: WAV, MP3, APE, FLAC(16Bit), WAV(24Bit,44.1/48KHz)
In a complete change to our normal review publication, News And Reviews have decided to offer something a little less traditional. So shaking things up and flipping them round, we are proud to announce our new video reviews. There will be many more ‘Up-Close’ and video reviews coming up so be sure to Subscribe to our YouTube channel to be kept in the loop and updated of all our new video releases.
Design, build and overall package:
The HiFiMAN HM-700 portable player & RE-400 IEM’s are an impressive package as whole. Bundled with many useful accessories such as the sports armband and vast array of silicone ear tips – the HM-700 & RE-400’s have been opened up to a whole new level of consumer type. From those that want to kick back and enjoy musical audio how it’s meant to be heard through to those who want a portable audio option during their everyday sporting activities. While the HM-700 may be a basic operation player type, when it comes to the overall performance, you’d be hard pushed to use the word basic and HM-700 in the same sentence.
It’s always a tough job when it comes to this section of our review in conjunction with a set of earphones – not least because their design calls for them to be discreet and so design wise there’s not much that can be added. When it comes to comfort, the RE-400 function much the same as other earphones and provide a decent amount of outer noise isolation. The quantity of different sized silicone ear tips, offer something for everyone regardless of earlobe shape and size.
It’s always a bit of a grey area when it comes to sound quality and one person’s outstanding quality will be another person’s mediocre. Therefore, this section of our review is a personal view only and should only be taken as an objective piece of information by a single reviewer. In order to obtain a true indication of performance, a wide variety of reviews should be sought and your own opinion made based upon those.
From a reviewing point of view, the HM-700 and RE-400 are for the most part being reviewed as one single package. We did perform some short bursts of testing by swapping out the IEM’s and then taking the RE-400’s and using them with a different portable player unit and the results were an interesting bunch. On their own the RE-400 earphones are rather lacking in soundstage, and to a certain point we were losing some of the depth that was seen when paired with the HM-700 player. The frequencies themselves remained clear, but it was evident that you were missing the one tool that made everything sound so much better: the HM-700.
From a performance point of view when testing the two pieces together, we’ve focused on a select group of key areas, these are: tone detail (high, medium and low), distortion levels, and isolation. Audiophiles believe a period of ‘burn-in’ should occur previous to any critical and somewhat serious audio listening should proceed – basically translated into pumping vast amounts of audio through the earphones/headset for a set period of time, allowing the earphones to adjust to their ‘true’ sound output. As we received a demo unit, we couldn’t test their first switch on sound in comparison to any burn-in sound difference, however from the off, the sound quality was perfectly matched between the HM-700 and RE-400 earphones with both pieces of equipment complimenting each other. In terms of describing the initial listening experience, two words spring to mind: flat and neutral, however this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, on the contrary, the audio output is allowed to shine through offering up a very rich and detailed sound signature.
When it comes to the tone detail, the low ends are nicely balanced with plenty of depth and ‘rumble’. However, those that are heavily into their bass probably won’t be overwhelmed as the bass reproduction isn’t ‘out there’. We are talking about a deep bass that isn’t too in your face but is there enough to make itself known and heard just when needed. Mid-range was balanced, however, was a little liquidated and not as well-developed as one would like – holding back slightly. Nonetheless, they were clear and un-muddled and definitely held their own in amongst all the surrounding frequencies. High tone detail was clear and sharp, but did lack some clarity, in particular at times, sharp sound instrumentals did feel slightly subdued on certain audio racks – almost as if they’d be watered down somewhat.
In terms of noise isolation, the RE-400 earphones did an accurate job at providing a good seal in the lobe and preventing too much outer noise leakage. Likewise, we noticed very little noise exposure to those sitting within very close proximity on medium volumes – obviously we value our ear drums so for the purpose of this review we refrained from turning the volume up all the way!!!!
The HiFiMAN HM-700 player with RE-400 earphones is geared towards a certain type of audio lover – and that would be those that refuse to compromise when it comes to their listening experience. As a whole package, HiFiMAN have created a player and IEM package that is audiophile worthy, giving the user a design that is not only simple, but is very retro and very reminiscent of gadgets long gone in favour of more up to date smartphones and iOS devices. There are drawbacks to this design type, but I doubt those looking at this device will want all the bells and whistles, as sound and quality are key, and the HM-700 + RE-400 pairing have these in abundance. Seldom does a company manufacture both players and earphones and throw them together to create a single and very comprehensive package – and as such these rare occurrences should be embraced. Obviously when it comes to audio, one needs to take what another says with a pinch of salt as everyone hears music differently. The HM-700 player with RE-400 earphones has a very unique sound output, and therefore will be limited to a person that has strict audio requirements.