Our headphones shipped in a sturdy black cardboard package designed nicely to give off a premium and aesthetic feel. An image of the HE-R9 is on the box, and you can already see how stunning it looks.
Inside the box, the headphones shipped with accessories like a dual 3.5mm to a single 3.5mm headphone cable. You will also find a user booklet, warranty card, and a gold-plated adapter.
HIFIMAN HE-R9 Headphones Review – Design and Functionality
The HE-R9 is another addition to the HIFIMAN closed-back family of headphones. And we are discussing it in our HIFIMAN HE-R9 Headphones Review.
The company claims it designed the headphones specifically for long hours of listening, giving you an enjoyable and memorable experience. Everything from its ergonomics to its sound signature is selected carefully to serve its purpose.
The HE-R9 are full-sized circumaural headphones. We consider them to have an expansive form factor than a taller one. It is due to the circular coups dominating their design.
HIFIMAN gives such depth to the cups to ensure the sound waves of the drivers do not hit as much. This instance is often an issue encountered by standard closed-back headphones.
Smaller closed-back cups usually produce unnatural tonal signatures and echoes low on staging but heavy on bass reverbs.
Visually, the loyalty to Sony commences, but we see hints of Fostex integrated this time. Similar to the R10, these headphones have large and angular dome-like cups.
However, you will not find light-grain wood aesthetics. Instead, you will find a plastic finish with an attractive deep red shade.
We cannot deny that its new finish looks striking, stunning, and aesthetically pleasing. But regarding the plastic, these do not feel as solid as the earlier wood grain on the R10. But given the difference in their prices, it is not surprising.
While writing this HIFIMAN HE-R9 Headphones Review, we noticed the other elements and materials of the HE-R9 remain the same. The mix of materials has hybrid synthetic leather/nylon, synthetic leather, CNC aluminium gimbals, and plastic pivot blocks.
However, a subtle change to the headphones is the quality of the synthetic leather used for its headband strap. The HE-R10D is slightly higher in quality, with hints of ageing to give the product its leathery look. However, the HE-R9 is simple with its synthetic leather, giving fewer crinkles and patterns on its finish.
The HE-R9 still uses the same plastic hollow pivot blocks on the top of its yokes. Upon observation, this style has become the norm in such designs.
Although we have yet to encounter issues with these, we are still not entirely convinced of their durability. It is most evident when careful handling is absent. We also think that CNC aluminium blocks, similar to the gimbal material, could be a more durable option.
Its cable has a smooth texture with efficient ergonomics. Plus, it also integrates low microphonics while keeping flexibility and softness.
One aspect we saw, and consider intriguing, is the sheathing of its cable. It is bigger than the actual wires inside, and we wonder why HIFIMAN opted for such an element. Additionally, there is enough free space within the cable jacket.
Key Features of the HIFIMAN HE-R9 Headphones
Learning the key features when purchasing headphones is essential since it will determine if the product will meet your needs. We will discuss the unique elements in our HIFIMAN HE-R9 Headphones Review to help you understand these.
HIFIMAN continued using the Topology Diaphragm for the HE-R9. It features a unique Nanoparticle coating applied to the surface of the diaphragm. As a result, it allows the headphones to deliver a more natural and detailed sound.
With this technology, the HE-R9 can create tuning options for its dynamic drivers.
The Topology Diaphragm allows the headphones to deliver higher frequency responses up to 35kHz. Plus, it can yield varying acoustic performance results, thanks to the different structures and properties of the Nanomaterials.
Dynamic Drivers that Offer the Best Sound
Like the R10D from HIFIMAN, the HE-R9 is a pair of closed-back circumaural headphones with dynamic drivers. These drivers use a rare earth magnet for high sensitivity.
Increased Ear Cup Size for Superior Acoustics
The HE-R9 has huge ear cups that offer internal space for producing adequate specialised volume. The size of these ear cups is also necessary, providing enough room for the driver to deliver outstanding audio quality.
Elegance and Strength in a Single Package
The HE-R9 uses high-quality leather on the headband exterior, offering a soft, elegant appearance. HIFIMAN equipped these headphones with premium-grade memory foam to boost comfort and flexibility.
Aside from being comfortable, the HE-R9 has a solid steel headband to ensure its durability. With these materials, these headphones are lightweight and robust.
Dual Compatibility Mode of the HIFIMAN HE-R9 Headphones
The socket of the HE-R9 is compatible with both single-sided balanced 3.5mm cable and dual-sided unbalanced 3.5mm cable.
Bluemini R2R – Bluetooth DAC/AMP
To enhance the audio quality of the HE-R9, you can use the Bluemini R2R from HIFIMAN. It is available for separate purchase.
This ultra-compact Bluetooth DAC/AMP delivers exceptionally high-resolution audio with zero latency. It works with Bluetooth 5.0, and its frequency response ranges from 20Hz to 20kHz. Plus, it offers high energy efficiency and exceptional resolution for wireless audio.
We will briefly discuss the headphone specification in this part of our HIFIMAN HE-R9 Headphones Review. The HE-R9 has a 15 to 35kHz frequency response and an impedance of 32 ohms while its sensitivity is 100dB. Lastly, it weighs 328g.
Hands-on with the HIFIMAN HE-R9 Headphones
Let us start the hands-on section of our HIFIMAN HE-R9 Headphones Review by looking into its sound signature fundamentals. Like the claims of HIFIMAN, the product produced warm, clean, and easy-to-listen-to audio. It also offered a rich and smooth sound signature.
Moreover, it provided a lyrical delivery with a notably sweet tone.
If you are fond of using neutral to highly-resolving headphones, then the HE-R9 will sound dark based on your source. The headphones have a thick note weight plus fuller tones. It also has excellent bass authority.
Unlike HIFIMAN Planars, we received a compact soundstage with a more intimate presentation with the HE-R9.
We love its dynamic and rounded bass. It also gave us a thick feel. The midbass was rich, while it had a liquid and solid texture.
It also surprised us because despite having big and powerful bass, it did not hurt the PRaT of these headphones. The product displayed optimal speed and articulacy; it successfully kept up with the twin pedal passages.
The dominance of its mid-bass slightly hurt the instrument separation, specifically with mediocre sources. But everything worked fine when we paired it with a decent DAC for proper amplification.
During tests in our HIFIMAN HE-R9 Headphones Review, we observed that its midrange followed the bass route. It gave us a sweet and bold texture with a soothing natural tone.
Its delivery shone in this region, and everything felt musical. No matter what music genre we listened to, the HE-R9 transformed everything beautifully.
The weight of its midrange/bass regions obscured the resolving capabilities of the headphones at times. However, it was a trade-off. Whatever we paired the HE-R9 with, we received a fatigue-free and excellent experience.
Its emphasis was on the midrange and bass regions.
The upper midrange and treble regions of the midrange were slightly recessive. Thus, resulting in a smoother, warmer, and richer tone. The midrange felt more forward in the headroom, and the HE-R9 constantly impressed us with its richness.
The vocals were silky and musical, which we loved.
The textures were also good. Its vocals had a good timbre, and guitar sounds had a nice growl and edge, which was highly powered.
The lower treble started on the same level as the upper mids. Even with the lower treble emphasised, it did not reach the range of the lows. As a result, the HE-R9 delivered a slight warmth that lingered all over the sound.
The audio was also slightly airy but with less volume due to its closed-back nature. Also, the HE-R9 depended on DAC/AMP when achieving cleaner audio with better resolution and extension.
To our surprise, the HE-R9 handled metal tracks without problems and did not compromise detail and resolution. The headphones gave the treble a classic approach with a sweet timbre, making it full-bodied.
Additionally, the treble extension was high.
Its overall treble presentation was smooth, romantic and full of detail. The headphones also had sufficient energy to make metal or electronic tracks more prominent and dynamic. Despite the emphasis on these tracks, we did not hear any unnecessary peaks, dips or sharpness.
The staging of the HE-R9 was intimate, offering more focus on the low-end to around 200Hz. Its increased depth and power were good, but it did not have the same level of treble headroom. Plus, its soundstage was more massive when we compared it with other closed-back headphones.
HIFIMAN HE-R9 Headphones Review Summary
The HE-R9 is a HIFIMAN headphone that offers a brand-new experience with its bassy and warm audio. Its closed-back design delivered a good amount of isolation that was enough to focus on the audio.
During our tests, we enjoyed the performance and sound quality of the HE-R9. We did not notice any issues, and all types of music were good with this product. But of course, it is best to use these headphones with a DAC or amplifier for better audio quality.
Overall, we highly recommend the HE-R9 from HIFIMAN. It has superb features that make it an excellent pair of headphones offering comfort, durability, versatility, and premium audio quality.