Sound – Classics
The amount of bass does depend on the source used, but it is always rather present. It’s weightier with desktop amplifiers than it is with portable players. More on that later but it’s safe to say that if you like lighter overall bass presence, this probably isn’t the headphone for you.
The sub bass presence below 50Hz is limited and the graph also clearly shows that. I would have loved a bit more sub bass presence like in the HE-R10P, but I guess you can’t have everything.
If you do like bass presence, this headphone will suit you as bass is authoritative. The presentation is warmer and definitely smoother, but it does make it easy to listen to as it’s soft on the ears and oh so musical. Bass depth and layering are good but not exemplary.
The HE-R10D isn’t a basshead’s dream though, it’s too civilized for that.
The lower mids have the same fullness and body as the bass does. The presentation here is also softer and somewhat warmer. The upper midrange has a bit less presence. Vocals are soft and natural and positioned a bit more to the front. They don’t stand out too much though and the mids have a pleasant, musical character. Easy to listen to, soft on the ears.
Mid depth is good as well as the layering, maybe a bit better than in the bass region. The mid spaciousness and airiness is good as well, though you do get the typical closed headphone feeling here. In this regard its big brother scored better, with improved clarity and openness.
The treble presentations does depend a lot on the source or amplifier in use. As said earlier the treble section has several ups and downs, but it to me never is edgy, sharp or sibilant.
The treble presentation offers great contrast to the weight of the bass and lower mids and it makes things exciting and lively with ever becoming unpleasant to the ear.
Treble extends well up to 6K, where it starts dropping. The treble section however extends nicely to the ear and it’s spacious and clear at the same time. It’s exactly what this headphone needs to create a coherent and musical performance.
You do get a typical closed headphone kind of sound, but that’s fairly normal. The HE-R10D sounds full, musical and smooth and presents warmness in the bass and lower mids. The treble section keeps things exciting without going overboard.
All-in-all an easy, pleasant and soft, musical headphone to listen to. One that scales up nicely depending on the source, though the sound quality with portable sources is very good as well. If you like a clean, super clear and neutral tuning, the HE-R10D might sound a bit dark.
Sound – Amplification
We’ve always established that your source matters and it will affect the R10D’s sound.
In general you with amplification get more weight and better dynamics, while you directly from portable sources get a lighter presentation and more static sound. Let’s check out some of the popular sources.
With the Auris HA2-SF amplifier you will directly notice a increase in dynamics as well as improved layering. The sub bass to me here is more present when needed as well.
All-in-all I really like the combo with the HA2-SF at low gain as it keeps the musicality, reduces the warmth a little and increases the dynamics and technical performance. The HE-R10D and Autos combo sounds effortless, clean and precise. It’s one of the better combos in my opinion.
With the Violectric DHA V590, the HE-R10D loses some body and warmth, but it improves in sound stage width and staging. The spaciousness here is improved compared to the other Auris.
The Violectric and R10D combo probably also is the most neutral sounding one because of the decreased amount of body, smoothness and warmth. If you like a more neutral presentation, this could be the amplifier for you to pair the R10D with.
With the transportable Cayin C9 amplifier, the HE-R10D absolutely shines. This amplifier of course offers multiple sound types because of the class A & AB amplification as well as the tube/solid state option. Let’s dive in:
- Tube + Class A – With this configuration you get great clarity, good general body and slightly more forward vocals. The level of detail and extension is really good, but the C9 bass is big. It It is a little too present for my taste and it doesn’t feel controlled.
- Tube + Class AB – The Class AB keeps the bas presentation and reduces the dynamics and extension, creating a flatter type of sound. The difference with the CLASS A is there, but it’s not black and white either. It’s a less refined, more intimate/condensed sound and that’s not what the R10D needs.
All-in-all I’m not a fan of the HE-R10D with the C9 in tube mode. Let’s see if the solid state part pleases my ears more.
- SS + CLASS A – My favorite setting, also with the HE-R10D. Great detail, refinement, and extension. Perfect control at all times and a more neutral signature, and that’s something the R10D appreciates. Bass is more inline and it doesn’t feel exaggerated anymore, even if there still is plenty of it. Great pace, very musical and very energetic. A lovely combo.
- SS + CLASS AB – In this case you get less precision and detail, with a less spacious presentation. Bass is in perfect control but you don’t have the dynamics, refinement and extension of the CLASS A. IT’s good, but it’s a bit simple and flat sounding.
With the Cayin C9, the CLASS A and Solid State config is the best match for the Hifiman HE-R10D, but of course it might be different to your ears and with your musical preference.
More on sound can be found on Page Four. Click here.