I should use the term “affordable” lightly here, as this is more expensive then what a lot of people normally consider for headphones. However, if you’ve ever been fortunate enough to listen to a high end headphone, you will understand why these price points are important. Headphone prices range from disposable to costing more than a car. Hifiman offers a large price range of models, with the HE-R9 being on the lower priced side of $599.
Interestingly enough, the design of the HE-R9 looks very similar to the $1299 model, the HE-R10. The R10 is an incredible headphone at $1300, using dynamic drivers as opposed to the typical Planar Magnetic drivers you normally see in most Hifiman models. The HE-R9 retains a similar style, and also uses dynamic drivers. I listened to the R10 for a small window of time last year at CanJam and was surprised at how much energy they brought to the audio mix. Though not as controlled a much more expensive HE1000se ($3500), I found the bass output an absolute joy to listen to. Needless to say I’m excited to see/hear how their more affordable version stacks up.
Rated frequency response is wide at 15Hz to 35kHZ. The efficiency is decent at 100db with an impedance rating of 32 ohms. This means the headphone should work well with most headphone amplifiers including ones built in to a laptop or phone. If you want more juice, I’d strongly consider a dedicated headphone amp as it will bring much more output and resolution to the headphone. If you want an elegant solution to adding more power while also making the headphone wireless-ready via Bluetooth, there will be a bundle that includes the Hifiman Bluemini R2R dongle for a total price of $749. The Bluemini R2R dongle directly attaches to the left ear cup, so there aren’t any extra cords to worry about. It supports BT 5.0, aptX-HD, LDAC and more, with a battery life of 8 hours. It also works as a USB-C DAC on Windows as an added bonus.
One extra bonus, also found on the HE-R10, is the dual input configuration. You can use the included 3.5mm TRS to TRRS headphone cable (single ear cup connection), or run a full balanced cable (sold seperately). The balanced connection uses the same plug types found in more expensive models like the Arya Stealth. With that being said, you can find a decent pair of fully balanced cables for $25-65 on Amazon that would work fine with a compatible amp. For this price point I love the flexibility of this headphone, as most people don’t want to buy several expensive pairs for different use cases.
Looks are subjective but I feel the looks are in line with the asking price here. The ear cups have a beautiful “Crimson Red” finish to them. I didn’t see any discussion on the ear cup material but I’d imagine at this price point they are plastic. You get real leather ear cups (with an athletic fabric for the interior), and a steel headband wrapped in leather. The headband style is very similar to the Devas and the Edition XS, both being less expensive models. This same headband style is also found on the much more expensive HR-R10P, the $5,500 planar version of the HE-R10D (dynamic). I don’t mind this headband design, as I found them extremely comfortable on my Devas when I used them for long periods of time.
All in all this seems like a promising model considering the price point, looks, and how many ways you can use it. At the end of the day it will come down to sound quality. If you’re too excited to wait for our review, the $599 option (wired-only) is already listed on Hifiman’s store: https://store.hifiman.com/index.php/he-r9.html