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Every single time I write a review of Hifiman’s product, the introduction paragraph is getting harder and harder to write. How many times can I point out that this is the nr.1 manufacturer in the world when it comes to headphones.
They do offer arguably the best value models in every price segment when it comes to open-back, planar-magnetic headphones. It’s quite recently though when they started to go into dynamic driver headphones, so this is pretty interesting.
Their first dynamic headphone was the HE-300, a budget model released back in 2012 I believe. While it was certainly a good product, it wasn’t meant to flip the audio world upside down, mainly because of the market it was targeting.
Then, after many years Hifiman announced the R-10D and R-10P, and it was one of the most controversial announcements in headphone audio well…ever. Hugely based on the legendary Sony MDR-R10 with those huge and asymmetrical earcups, Hifiman surely grabbed a lot of attention. Some time has passed, and Hifiman has launched yet another model in this line, the HE-R9, which we’re going to review today.
What’s really interesting, is that Hifiman went with wired headphones with an optional Bluemini R2R Bluetooth module, and this is a hugely functional combination. The Bluemini R2R was originally supplied with the Deva Pro, our “Best Product of 2021”. This is THE headphone that will forever change the landscape of Bluetooth over-ear headphones. The Deva Pro is an outstanding product that I use very frequently, so this is very nice to see Hifiman trying to squeeze the most out of it.
Let’s get into the design, build, and comfort of the HE-R9. As mentioned at the beginning of this review, the earcups are hugely influenced by the legendary Sony MDR-R10, widely regarded as one of the best headphones ever made.
So, speaking about the design, the R9 is basically a Deva Pro with closed-back, cherry-colored, huge earcups. While I won’t recommend wearing them in public (mainly due to the fact that you’ll look like an aircraft pilot), they do look great. The huge earcups add that layer of refinement to the overall basic design, and it’s just impossible not to draw attention while wearing them.
The build quality is good, not perfect, just like with all Hifiman headphones. The R9 feels substantial and lightweight at the same time, and it feels really solid. The whole construction does not make a single noise, so the R9 will last you a long time.
As far as comfort is regarded, the R9 is just like any other Hifiman headphones, very comfortable. The lightweight construction paired with a very good and soft headband and plush earpads all make for a very pleasant experience, even while wearing the R9 for many hours without break. I don’t have any problems with listening to the R9 for the entire day, and my head and neck don’t have any problems with that, something I cannot say about many other headphones on the market. As I said in many of our reviews, Hifiman first handles the ergonomics, and then they build the headphone around it, and this is THE way to do headphones.
The Bluemni R2R Bluetooth module is pretty lightweight and it plugs into the left earcup, not adding too much weight to the entire construction. It’s easy to use with just a single button and a USB-C connector, so using it is just as simple and pleasant as it gets. It still amazes me how was Hifiman able to squeeze such a great sounding circuit with Bluetooth in such a small unit, this is some next-level wizard action.