Review Price £99.99
HiFiMAN's in-ear headphones tend to offer one of two sound signatures or sonic personalities, if you like. There are ultra-detailed, bright sets like the RE0, and warmer "middy" pairs like the RE262.
A particular focus on the mid-range is pretty rare in earphones, even in expensive pairs, because an ultra-detailed treble or taut deep bottom end tends to be considered more important. The mids here are unusually good, with a rich texture that gives vocals a rich timbre that's easier on the ears than vocal detail gained through an intense, bright top-end. To find similarly adept treatment, you'd have to look fairly high up Shure's range - the most well-known mid-tastic earphones there are.
Performance elsewhere in the sound is less remarkable. The soundstage isn't hugely wide, the bass is a little reserved - although thoroughly well-handled - and there isn't the level of treble detail you'd hear in HiFiMAN's cheaper RE0 earphones, or something like Etymotic's ER4P. What you get as a trade-off is added warmth and a sense of musicality. They're not clinical in that respect, which is often a trait of "audiophile" earphones.
Conversely, though, they're also not the most fun earphones you can get for £100. The Ultimate Ears 400 have a less balanced sound, but a lot more bass, and the Phonak PFE 012 provide a good balance across the whole frequency spectrum with greater energy and punch. That's not to say the HiFiMAN RE262 don't have much to shout about - their mid-range is still something rather special at this price, but it's a sonic advantage we imagine many people would be happy to trade-in for a more energetic or more aggressively detail-seeking sound.
At £100, the HiFiMAN RE262 sit at the cheaper end of high-end earphones - strange as that may sound - and don't quite offer the fidelity and insight of slightly more expensive pairs like the Ultimate Ears 700. Their great treatment of vocals in particular shouldn't be ignored, though, so if there's more singer-songwriter to your music collection than synths-n-cymbals they're a sound choice. However, they don't strike us as quite the bargain the HiFiMAN RE0 seemed to us back in July.
HiFiMAN's RE262 take a slightly unusual approach of aiming primarily for a warm and musical sound rather than one that's particularly insightful or powerful. It's a tactic that works, making vocals in particular sound great, well-textured and smooth. Other pairs offer better performance with harder or beat-based music, though, somewhat limiting the appeal of these otherwise interesting-sounding earphones.
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