In this article we review the Hifiman HE-R10D headphone, selling for $1,299 USD.
Disclaimer: Hifiman sent us the HE-R10D free of charge in exchange for this review. The unit will remain in our possession as a long term loaner.
EDIT: Last week we launched an AudioQuest survey and $/€2400 USD/Euro prize draw. Don’t forget to check it out here.
Intro: We have published the Hifiman HE-R10P headphone a while ago already, so some parts of this review might look familiar.
It is simply impossible that you have not heard of Hifiman. They are China-based personal audio company led by Dr. Fang Bian and they have been around for like 10 to 15 years.
We have reviewed a lot units from Hifiman here on Headfonia and many of them are really spectacular and several of them are featured on our Recommended Buy list. What I like about Hifiman is that they are an innovative company and they continue to R&D new goodies for us Audiophiles. More important, they let trickle down high end technologies to their lower range units and they’re making it available to everyone, at excellent prices. Another thing I really appreciate is the fact that they have great gear in all segments of the market. No matter how big or small your pockets are, Hifiman has you covered with great gear.
Over the last years we saw some great new products from Hifiman such as the DEVA headphone – which is available in a wireless and cabled version, the HE-5XX headphone they created together with Drop, the excellent HE400i 2020, the HE400se and the super high end HE-R10P. In this article we’re looking at their latest closed back Dynamic headphone, the Hifiman HE-R10D.
For those of you who’d like to know more about Hifiman and their founder, there’s always this interview we did with him: https://headfonia.com/q-n-a-saturday-hifiman/
Let’s get started with the Hifiman HE-R10D, and see if it is the HE-R10P’s little brother! Before continuing, you might want to read up on the HE-R10P first:
According to Hifiman they started developing closed back headphones back in 2012 already. Their attention shifted to open back planar headphones however, as the quality of those headphones were really worth the Hifiman name. Then in 2018, Hifiman returned to their closed back development, leading to a breakthrough in 2019. The HE-R10D was officially released in 2020 and it’s one of Hifiman’s first closed back designs together with the planar version of this headphone.
You can find out all about the HE-R10D on its dedicated web page here: https://hifiman.com/products/detail/308 or in the Hifiman store here: https://store.hifiman.com/index.php/he-r10-dynamic.html
As you can see in the pictures and video, the HE-R10D (and P for that matter) isn’t the smallest headphone looking at the cups, but the large internal size of the cups actually brings sufficient volume and “breathing room” to the driver. Driver-wise the HE-R10D sports a 50mm dynamic driver, featuring Hifiman’s new topology Diaphragm and rare earth magnets. It’s supposed to exert greater control over and removal of diaphragm distortions, resulting in significantly improved clarity compared to typical headphones with dynamic drivers. More on the clarity part later.
This driver technology was actually developed for in ear monitors and – according to Hifiman – it’s the first time the technology is applied on a comparatively large-scale driver.
Comfort, Design & Isolation
If you’re old enough or have been into headphones for a while, you might recognize the typical shape and design of the HE-R10D headphone. Of course we’re talking about the legendary Sony MDR-R10 headphone, which was available from 1989 till the end of the nineties. The MDR-R10 back then was selling for $2.500 USD (which was enormous) and it was supposed to be a statement by Sony, on how headphones were supposed to sound.
You can still find the MDR-R10 on the second hand market, but prices between $6K and $8K are very normal in this case. The Hifiman HE-R10D is intended to be a homage to this legendary Sony. Some headphone enthusiasts like the fact that it looks like the Sony while others don’t, it’s a personal thing.
I for one feel the cups of both of these headphones look great, and Hifiman here as shown top level CNC carving art of wood and aluminum. The headband system on the HE-R10D is simple and works flawlessly. It’s very comfy but it’s a little surprising to see this level of headphone use the same headband as the $149 Hifiman HE-400se. To be fully correct however, the headband system of the HE-10R does use lambskin leather where the 400-series headphone doesn’t.
The HE-R10D looks identical to the HE-R10P and the only difference you can see is the color of the wood. The Planar version has a darker tone, where the dynamic version’s wood has a lighter color.
Comfort-wise the HE-R10D scores very well for me personally. It weighs 337g which is quite a bit less than the HE-R10P’s impressive 460g. The headband here does a perfect job distributing the weight evenly over your head. The pads are soft and angled and the clamping force on the side of your head is normally comfy, delivering the best possible fit. Actually Hifiman here is using their tranquility angled ear pads with memory foam. High quality leather on the outside, and a ring shaped inner surface to absorb sound and prevent leakage through the sides of the earpads. The contact edge is constructed of highly permeable material to ensure optimal comfort.
Isolation-wide the HE-R10D performs quite well, even though you can hear a bit of sound leaking out if you sit next to the one who’s using it. When I use the HE-R10D in my office as good as all of the external sound gets blocked out, leading to angry cats, missed box deliveries and a frustrated wife. But this is all very normal for a closed headphone. Some have reported that it’s not the best headphone in terms of blocking out incoming sounds, but I don’t particularly find this the case. I guess some people live in very noisy houses and neighborhoods, while I live in the middle of nowhere.
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