HiFiMAN HE-R10 Planar - Official Thread


Starting a thread on this headphone. This is one of two new closed-back headphones from HiFiMAN, that have a cup design ‘inspired by’ the old Sony MDR-R10. To be honest, I have no idea why they went with that design, because that Sony was a bit odd sounding.

Anyway, here’s the price: $5500

I have the HE-R10P in right now for review, and I have to say I’m immensely disappointed in the tuning. This is one of the worst tunings I’ve ever come across, at any price. And that’s a massive departure from HiFiMAN’s typically excellent tuning track record. These guys know how to tune a headphone, and if anyone knows my preferences, there’s usually a HiFiMAN headphone I recommend at a given price point. With the HE-R10P, they either missed the boat entirely, or there were serious acoustic challenges to closing off the headphone - ones they weren’t able to overcome. My guess is it’s likely the latter, since this borrowed design from Sony feels kind of like an ad-hoc solution to a much more sophisticated problem.

Here is the HiFiMAN HE-R10P frequency response done on the GRAS 43AG-7:

Channel matching:

One thing to note about the channel matching is that the pads are velcro, and the pad position is somewhat variant depending on how it’s re-attached - notably different from their previous locking mechanisms. The nice thing about the velcro is that it’s super convenient to do.

One other thing I’ve found is that the 2nd and 3rd harmonic distortion are uncharacteristically high around 3khz.

Channel 1 distortion:

Channel 2 distortion:

I don’t really know what to make of this yet, but that’s high enough to be audible.

Now, obviously more testing needs to be done, and I’ve already built out a preliminary EQ profile for it. It does have some interesting technical performance going on as well. There is some good detail here, and an impressive sense of space for a closed-back - probably class leading in that sense, or similar to the HD820 in that regard. For dynamics, punch and slam, it has it but only in the ultra-low end sub-bass. So for tracks that don’t token those frequencies, the R10p can sound a bit lifeless at times. Timbre is also a bit more on the dry side of things.

At the risk of speculating on things I can’t confirm… this product feels like a reluctant step towards a closed-back headphone design, one that the beating heart of HiFiMAN isn’t fully committed to. These guys make some of my absolute favorite headphones, and because of that I’m deeply saddened by the R10p. I want to see what they can do with this driver in an open-back design, and/or develop something to handle the acoustic challenges of closing off the cup from scratch - rather than relying on Sony’s rather odd, antiquated solution.


You’ve heard an original R10?

That’s odd since it was so beloved.

Yes, I heard one at a vintage hifi shop back when I lived in Victoria BC. It did not sound good haha. To clarify, it had decent technical performance for the time I think. But also a strange tuning. People didn’t really know how headphones were supposed to be tuned back then either.


Ahh, maybe it’s a “good for its time” kind of thing?

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Now, I would be very happy if somebody could answer this.

Is this a 5,000 USD headphone that uses the same headband construction as Hifiman’s Deva, aka a 300 USD headphone?!


All the money went into channel balancing. No worries.


The headband, yoke, arm and housing structure are all the same design as the Deva, but the materials feel different. The headband leather on the HE-R10 is of a nicer material. Still feels pretty rickety with how the arms attach to the headband though.


Now, I know Hifiman has been a joke in terms of build quality… but this is some sh*t on another level. I can’t get my head around it. It has been acceptable for their lower priced models, but at 5,000 USD, I am expecting genuine leather, full metal construction, and making everything replaceable and removable. Hell, I’m expecting carbon fiber.

How do you even pull this off?


HiFiMan MSRPs are always vastly inflated. My old/dead HE-560s had a $900 price tag and I paid $250. Had they not died after a year, they were a fair deal <$300.

There are spenders or suckers born every minute.


Really gives me more hope in people like Mr. Aumkar from Kaldas Research. This is giving the headphone industry such a bad look…

Not always. Sundara and Ananda at their current prices are benchmarks (for a reference style sound). Susvara also makes a certain amount of sense if you think about it. Many, myself included, regard that as the best headphone period. If you think you have the best headphone - even if it’s only marginally better than everything else, then you can justify the massive price leap at the high end. The same is true for the Utopia vs the Clear, and there are numerous other examples of this in the high end headphone space.

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I’ll take your word for it, but don’t see myself buying anything from them just the same. Historical brand reputation damage can be very hard to undo.


Yeah and this year’s releases for them haven’t really moved the needle in the right direction unfortunately.


Sounds like they are consciously committing suicide.

Or running into other limitations/pressures we don’t know about. I won’t defend the recent products, but I think there have been challenges for everyone in 2020. These are all businesses after all.


Didnt a bunch of us make fun of this product release some time ago?

Im glad I dont have to feel guilty about it.


These Hifiman do not use the same wooden cups as the Sony. They only look the same from outside, but The Sony cups had a ribbed acoustic diffuser curved from inside to reduce reverberations and were also build from a very rare Japanese wood. The Hifiman use similar if not the exact same R10 copy cheap wood earcups which are sold for 5 dollars each to Chinese DIY headphone builders.


Seems that they copied Sony because they don’t have a clue about closed-back headphones. This headphone’s story and many other quality and pricing issues before sure look real bad. I’m going to keep buying my headphones from other companies.


Is there, or has there ever been, a “totl” or “summit-fi” closed-back headphone that might warrant a $5,500 price tag? (If “warrant” is the right word…)

I ask this for two reasons. First, because my understanding - from reading forums, not from listening - is that such headphones encounter difficulties with internal cup reflections, among other issues, which compromise the sound quality. Second, if such limitations are real and/or unavoidable, is there much to be gained from paying two or more times the price of a ZMF Vérité Closed, Stellia, or HD 820?

In other words, what’s the market for these? The same as for the Shangri-La?


Truly I’m wondering this myself haha.

And to answer your original question, no I don’t think any closed-back warrants that kind of price tag if it can’t figure out some way of making it sound competitive with the Susvara. This is not that headphone.