The CEntrance HiFi-M8 V2 may not be the strongest technical device, but it has plenty of power to drive the R10D headphone. You get an authoritative sound with a lesser amount of warmth and smoothness. The clarity here is awesome but it’s not the most detailed or extended sound, and while the V2 usually sounds fun and musical, I don’t really feel that at all with this headphone, especially after knowing what the R10D is capable of when driven by a desktop amplifier.
The EarMen TR-AMP is one of the hottest DAC/AMPs of the moment and it hardly ever disappoints. Do note that the TR-AMP doesn’t have a balanced output, so we’re listening in single ended config here. The result is a presentation where the amount of bass is higher and you get a very weighty lower and mid section. If you like the bigger kind of bass, you will like this. Bass isn’t the tightest, but it surely is impressive in quantity. The really nice thing here is how the TR-AMP elevates the upper mids and treble section, and in this regards it’s one of the very best combos. The treble section is lively, precise and it extends very well. Musical and energetic, that’s how it is. So it’s a nice combo, but it’s not for everyone.
After the EarMen TR-AMP it’s now time test the EarMen Sparrow, which does have a balanced output. Sound-wise it –‘s actually very much like the TR-AMP though we here have a better note extension in the mids and treble region. The bass part is very much like with the TR-AMP, but it’s a but lighter. The Sparrow’s treble section extends nicely but it’s not energetic as with the TR-AMP and you get a softer presentation. The perfect combo for me would be to have the treble section of the TR-AMP with the rest of the Sparrow.
The Luxury & Precision L&P W2 isn’t as technically strong as the Sparrow, and that results in a less precise, darker presentation. The amount of bass and mid weight is pretty comparable (so full), but the precision and note extension just isn’t there as much. It’s a dryer sounding combo and it to me is also missing the treble energy. For me this combo isn’t really one I would recommend.
On paper the pairing with the Astell & Kern SP2000 should be good as the source offers the best possible technicalities, a very clear sound and great dynamics.
In reality it is good but I did expected the R10D to sound a tad more energetic, especially on top. It however still is an very good combo and it perfectly mixes a high technical level, with good body, excellent clarity and an extended top end. The amount of bass and body is still good, but it’s not as powerful as in other combinations. In this regard it’s more in the direction of a neutral signature. I for one really like this combination and I use it a lot when I’m moving around in the house. Compared to the desktop amps, you do hear the difference in dynamics, spaciousness and power. So while this combo sounds really nice, it doesn’t reach the same level as a desktop amp & R10D setup.
The HiBy R8 is a fuller sounding DAP with more body and a higher bass presence but it’s also a technically strong DAP. It is very different sounding from the SP2000 but that makes them complimentary and ideal to use in reviews.
With the R10D this is immediately audible and you get serious bass body and very weighty lower mids. It’s smooth, it’s musical, it’s fun to listen to but bass you must like. But it’s more than that as you get a technically performant sound as well. As a matter of fact, this combo works better than the SP2K and R10D one, but you do have to like the bass and body presentation.
With the Cayin N6ii & R01 motherboard featuring the R2R DAC technology, the R10D performs well from a technical point of view, but it’s not the most lively presentation. It’s missing energy as well as musicality. You do get a more neutral and detailed tuning with lighter bass, overall body and increased depth/layering, but it’s not one that gets my foot tapping. Sorry.
With the Luxury & Precision P6 Pro the R10D you kind of get a mix of both the SP2K, N6ii/R01 and R8. Just the right amount of bass and mid weight, great dynamics, excellent detail rendering, a spacious presentation, top level note extension, a good sound stage, great layering and lovely treble energy and extension.
The combo is musical and technically strong and the P6 Pro is perfectly in control at all times. For the Hifiman HE-R10D, it’s easily the better DAP in this review and best DAP in my collection.
If there are any particular sources in my collection you want to see the HE-R10P paired up to, let me know in the comments and I’ll see if I can make it happen.
Sound vs HE-R10P
The dynamic driven version of the R10 is easier to drive. It however doesn’t sound as clean as the R10P. Overall it just doesn’t reach the technical level of the Planar version, making it sound rather dense in comparison. Switching from the Planar to the Dynamic version does take a few minutes to get used to the completely different tuning.
Both headphones have the smoothness and softness in the delivery but the tuning is very different. The Planar version is more spacious, airy and open sounding and it has better detail retrieval and extension. The R10D has the more typical closed headphone sound and it’s darker, fuller, heavier with more weight in the bass department.
If you want more bass (think body, impact and overall presence), then the Dynamic version is the one to go for. The R10P bests it in about everything else but it’s a lot more expensive. In you’re not on a budget, the Planar version is the best possible buy. If you are on a budget, the R10D might be the perfect closed headphone for you if your like your bass and if you want your music to be weighty.
I planned on keeping this review sort but I obviously have failed miserably. If it was too long for you to read here are the things to remember.
The Hifiman HE-R10D is the first closed Hifiman headphone which is using a dynamic driver. The sound signature is musical and the delivery is smooth and warmer. It has an emphasis on the bass and lower mid region where you get plenty of weight. The treble section is special in the way that it’s more forward but it actually works here.
It’s a very musical and easy to listen to headphone and it really lets you enjoy your music in a fun kind of way. The HE-R10D does have the typical closed headphone sound (which the planar version doesn’t have) and a strong bass presence. But if that is your thing (and it is to many people), the Hifiman HE-R10D will please your ears.