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HIFIMAN HE-R10P Planar Magnetic Headphone Review

A New Level of Flagship

Alright, if you already read our review of the HIFIMAN HE-R10D headphones then don’t worry – this is not a duplicate review. We’re going to look at the HE-R10P headphone which is the planar magnetic variant of the HIFIMAN HE-R10 series. Yes, they look very similar, but general aesthetics aside, these are very different cans.

HIFIMAN is a big player in the game of audiophilia. Their HE1000 and Susvara planar magnetic headphones are some of the world's best cans. They are some of the first headphones that really helped convert me into an audiophile. The Ananda BT's are some of the best-sounding wireless headphones on the market and a personal favorite. HIFIMAN is typically known for its open-back planar magnetic design, so the fact that they released a closed-back model certainly piqued my interest.


Riff Notes Logo

Pros

  • Superb sound, soundstage, imaging
  • Wireless option via BlueMini Bluetooth Adapter
  • Three cable options
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Polarizing ear cup design
  • Bulky Bluetooth adapter
  • More “open” sound than most closed-back headphones
  • Price – but very deserving of flagship status

Materials, Quality, & Comfort

The HIFIMAN HE-R10P is much aesthetically the same as its sibling, the HE-R10D. It’s a large headphone – but one that’s relatively unassuming. Apart from the interesting cup design, it’s not a flashy headphone – and that’s just fine with me. If the RAAL SR1a is the DeLorean of the headphone world, the HE-R10P’s would be the 1954 International Woody Wagon. Ultimately looks are looks, and you’re either going to like them or not. But, as they say, you can’t judge a book by its cover, and you shouldn’t completely write off the R10P’s if you’re not a fan of the styling.

Ear Cup Breakaway diagram

The headband is large - and it does a great job of distributing the weight evenly and even lifting the pressure off the ear cups. I suspect it will even get better with time as the leather and padding softens and wears in. The exterior of the headband is made of all-natural lambskin, a material famous for being both soft and luxurious. The inside is high-grade memory-foam, selected to achieve the most comfortable fit and elasticity. The headband skeleton itself is made of solid steel. The ear cups are large enough that I do not feel pressure in the cups and there is also enough room internally to reduce temperatures despite having a good seal. If there's one thing that really destroys my listening experience, it's sweating under my headphones. Luckily, it's not an issue with the R10P. HIFIMAN's "Tranquility" ear pads feature high-quality leather on the outside, which uses a ring-shaped inner surface to absorb sound and prevent sound leakage through the sides of the ear pad. This forces the sound to target the listener's ear. The contact edge is constructed of highly permeable material to ensure optimal head comfort. The structure is both lightweight and strong and designed to convey detail and musicality that is on an entirely new level of premium headphones.

So, let's talk about the obvious. What is up with that ear cup design? The cup design is made of a wood shell, through a means of CNC carving. The metal components are incredibly light and milled also from aviation aluminum. The wooden ear cup's large internal space brings sufficient volume and "breathing room" to the powerful driver. It essentially helps to create a larger soundstage for an already impressive planar magnetic driver. It's amazingly effective too. More on that in the next section.

The grain patterns on the wooden ear cup design are striking. I like this grain pattern and stain choice much better than the R10D version. These look much more natural -. they almost stand out like an artistic structure on your head. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but you'll probably get a glance here and there if you wear these out in public. The shaping of the wooden design seems unnatural at first, until you realize it's curved, shaped, and angled in much the same way as your outer ear. Your ears do not lay parallel to the sides of your head, so why should your headphones? Some manufacturers solve this issue with sloping ear cup padding; thickening in the back to angle the drivers to be pointed directly down your ear canals for a more immediate presence.

The angles and design of the ear cup housing in much the same way create a chamber for the sound to resonate in a way that compliments the shape of the ear. Other flatter housings design their sound to be emitted directly to the side of your head. By doing this the sound bounces off the folds of your outer ear before reaching your eardrum. HIFIMAN's design isn't just for aesthetic purposes but also for acoustic ones too.

HIFIMAN includes three different cables with the closed-back headphones - a welcome addition. Most manufacturers only include one, maybe two at most. You'll find a balanced XLR to 3.5mm, unbalanced 3.5mm to 3.5mm, and an unbalanced quarter-inch to 3.5mm. The headphones themselves are single-entry on the left ear cup. The cables themselves feel nice, covered with a cloth sheathing and gold-tipped connectors. You'll find the headphones compatible with just about every piece of gear, right out of the box.

Overall, the HIFIMAN HE-R10P is a large headphone, but you won't find it any more cumbersome than other larger-sized audiophile-grade headphones out there. In fact, given the light weight, it might be one of the most comfortable on the market for larger headphones. It's perfect for those wanting longer listening sessions but don't want to sacrifice driver size or the overall punch in fidelity.

The shaping of the wooden design seems unnatural at first, until you realize it's curved, shaped, and angled in much the same way as your outer ear. Your ears do not lay parallel to the sides of your head, so why should your headphones?


Sound Quality

Driver diaphragm diagram

There it is. There’s that amazing HIFIMAN sound that made me an audiophile. Let me start off by saying that these are not just a “better” version of the HE-R10D. I mean, these are flagship reference headphones, baby.

The HIFIMAN HE-R10P is a warm-leaning, smooth, and mid-centric sound signature. The bass is incredibly punchy for a planar magnetic headphone, and the closed wooden ear cups help these lower frequencies stay tight and immediate. I’m a big fan of closed-back planar magnetic driver headphones, as the driver itself is great at imaging and staging, and the closed-back nature of the ear cup design keeps the sound personal and intimate – keeping you close to the action. The HE-R10P is no different, and although the wooden ear cups allow more sound to bleed than your average closed-back headphone, it’s a headphone I can listen to for hours with very little fatigue.


Weezer – Everybody Wants to Rule the World

Aiding in the lack of fatigue is the fact that the HE-R10P’s are smooooooth. The best way I can describe this is by saying they are just pleasant to listen to. Weezer’s Teal album is a collection of covers from the 80’s from various favorite pop hits. It’s a solid take on Weezer’s slight interpretation of these classics while staying somewhat true to the original. I started up Everybody Wants to Rule the World, originally by Tears for Fears. From the first ten seconds of the song, I’m picking up on a low rhythmic synth that I’m hearing for the very first time. I’m streaming this on Qobuz in 192 / 24 for the record, and everything is fast and crisp in the R10’s. Weezer has some great power behind the guitars, and the headphones really show that off, giving them incredible body in the midsection without disrupting the balance of the clarity in the vocals and the weight of the drums. It’s really quite impressive.

The Four Freshmen – Pennies from Heaven (Remastered)

To show off the smoothness of these headphones further, I switched to some Four Freshmen. I feel like I need to have a glass of Macallan 25 next to me while listening to these voices of velvet. The HE-R10P’s soundstage is wide, yet despite the performance itself of four different voices sounding like one, I can distinctly pinpoint the different parts. The drivers really bring out the warmth and weight in the voices due to it being mid-forward. Instrumentation is clearly mixed to be on the periphery, and the horns and drums provide plenty of punch and fill out the soundstage without taking away from the intimacy of the vocal performance and harmonies. Clarity is again impressive and there is a slight emphasis on the upper treble range that is noticeable here.

Ben-Hur/King of Kings: The Twelve Choruses

Ah, a legendary collection. This is a phenomenal album that any fan of classic film or choral works will appreciate. A collection of twelve of some of the most iconic choral presentations from Ben-Hur (1959) and King of Kings (1961) arranged by the composer himself, Miklos Rozsa. The Winchester Cathedral Chamber Choir completely fills the soundstage of the HE-R10P and it is certainly an experience to behold. The organ serves as the singular instrumental accompaniment and you can feel the extension in the lower frequencies. This album really shines a light on how expressive the HE-R10P’s are with dynamics. The clarity and subtleties in the pianissimo all the way to the fortissimo levels of the choir had an emotional impact on me, as with most other subpar headphones the dynamic range is lacking, therefore almost sterilizing the listening experience. In the right environment, the HIFIMAN HE-R10P can give the listener an almost spiritual experience with their music – letting the sound take over not just audibly but physically and emotionally as well. Not many headphones do that for me.

The Magic Sword: Vol 1

Time to turn up the synthwave. I was interested to see how the headphones handled some synthwave/EDM. The mid-forward and punchy bass qualities of the HE-R10P did not disappoint. Most headphones can crank out bass just fine, but what sets HIFIMAN apart in this genre is the attack and speed of the driver. It’s fast and precise. The low end is thick but very clean – the sub-bass even shines through as pure energy in these cans. One of my favorite tracks, Sword of Truth, has such an incredible build and beat drop halfway through the track I felt like I was on a roller coaster. My stomach just fluttered in anticipation for that moment, and the trap beat and pad synth took over. I was not in control anymore. Despite being mid-forward, there is still an amazing amount of clarity and energy in the high frequencies that give the perception of a well-balanced headphone.

The acoustical engineering in the closed-back ear cup design also aids in the frequencies not competing with one another and the overall wide soundstage and deep imaging. I haven’t listened to a single genre that sounds bad on these headphones. They’re simply phenomenal. Another thing to keep in mind that being planar magnetic drivers, the more power you put through them with an amplifier, the better they are going to sound. We recommend the use of an amp with these headphones to get the very best sound.

Weezer - Teal Album Cover
Great Gentlemen of Song - Four Freshmen Cover
The Twelve Choruses Album Cover
Magic Sword Vol 1 Album Cover

Bluetooth

The HE-R10P (and HE-R10D) headphone has the option to transmit audio wirelessly. HIFIMAN has developed what they call the BlueMini Bluetooth adapter. The device connects to the underside of the left ear cup, giving you the option to transmit audio via Bluetooth or via USB-C. There is a single pairing button on the BlueMini, a USB-C port, and a status LED. The device itself has enough juice to give your headphones 7-10 hours of battery life, depending on various factors like volume, codec, etc. The BlueMini uses a variety of HD Bluetooth protocols including LDAC, aptX HD, aptX, AAC, and SBC.

What is the BlueMini? The BlueMini is a detachable Bluetooth module with a built-in DAC and amplifier. It allows the HE-R10 series headphones to be configured for wireless audio transmission when desired.

Audio transmission with Bluetooth 5.0 is great, especially when using one of the HD audio codecs. Understanding that there is a place and time for Bluetooth and wireless audio can go a long way to ultimately appreciating its value. Lots of times audiophiles can be quick to snap about the inferior fidelity of wireless audio, without realizing that it affords you the opportunity to listen to music untethered, or while doing other things than sitting in a chair. On top of that, HIFIMAN allows music lovers to even disconnect their favorite audiophile headphones for a stroll. In a recent review, we called the HIFIMAN Ananda BT (a Bluetooth variation of the popular Ananda headphone) one of the best-sounding wireless headphones on the market. There is a value in Bluetooth which results in convenience ultimately. If you understand that convenience comes at the price of fidelity, then you won't be disappointed. But the fact that HIFIMAN allows you the option for what might be your new favorite audiophile-grade headphones is just icing on the cake.

The BlueMini comes in the package with the HIFIMAN HE-R10P and the HE-R10D headphones.

BlueMini diagram

Dragon Cables

The HE-R10P's cables feature a newly designed, single-crystal, copper silver-plated structure. The combination of a high number of strands and the ratio of the various ingredients ensure a low signal loss. The new TRRS plug/socket solution allows for a direct balanced input that is routed to the appropriate drivers. The cables themselves sound good, and I appreciate the effort put in to allow the music listener various connection options out of the box.

However, I was left wanting. Ultimately the articulation and definition of the driver performed tighter and more resolute when I used a Silver Dragon cable. The Silver Dragon headphone cable is going to best mimic the sound of the stock cable, albeit with tighter and more defined low-end and a more detailed presentation. The Silver Dragon is a great choice for those wanting more detail and clarity from their headphones and music. I used this pairing primarily for jazz and classical, providing a very intimate listening experience with artists like Chet Baker and Miles Davis. Hearing the breathiness, inhaling, and exhaling of the performers being accentuated in a natural way lends an entirely new performative element to the music. It's as though the experience itself is almost improvised for the first time, making you forget that it's a recording entirely. Yes, I know it sounds romantic and too good to be true, but that's what makes HIFIMAN stand out from the crowd - that attention to detail and realism that is hard to find anywhere else.

Since the HE-R10P are on the warm side, you're already going to get a lot of low end - but if you want a little extra, then the Black Dragon cables will certainly deliver. Made with UP-OCC copper, it will give you a more musical presentation to your audio that will warm the bass and mid-range tones creating an "I'm there" feeling. If you're really wanting a more neutral and uncolored sound to your tunes, then the Blue Dragon is going to lift the veil, improving aspects such as clarity, staging, and detail.

Included Cables image

We've created full-size cables to be compatible with the HIFIMAN HE-R10D and HE-R10P give you the very best quality components so you can be sure that nothing is getting in the way of you and your music. We are also in the process of designing portable cables for those who are looking for a more flexible single-entry cable for the HE-R10 headphone series.


Verdict

These headphones helped me revisit that experience of falling in love with music all over again; I’m hooked. The HIFIMAN HE-R10P planar magnetic headphones are indeed flagship-level sound and are some of the best closed-back planar magnetic cans I’ve heard. The warm, mid-forward sound signature is smooth and enjoyable. Combined with the overall comfort of the headphone, and you have a perfect recipe for some amazingly long and pleasant listening sessions. The styling may be polarizing for some, but the sound quality quickly made that a moot point for me. If it’s in the budget the HIFIMAN HE-R10P high-end headphone will NOT disappoint.

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What's In the Box

Included:

  • HIFIMAN HE-R10P Headphones
  • BlueMini Bluetooth Adapter
  • 3.5mm Unbalanced Cable (1.5m)
  • XLR Balanced Cable (3m)
  • 1/4" Unbalanced Cable (3m)
  • Manual (hardback)

Specifications

Technical Features
  • Open vs. Closed: Closed
  • Frequency Response: 10-60kHz
  • Impedance: 30Ω
  • Sensitivity: 100dB
  • Stock Cable: 3.5mm (1.5m) | XLR balanced (3m) | ¼" (6.35mm) (3m)
  • Weight: 460g
Bluemini Features
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • AMP Output in fact: 230mw
  • AMP Output in theory: 1125mw
  • TDH <0.1% @1W/1KHz
  • SNR: 95dB
  • Battery Life: 7-10 Hours
  • Bluetooth Codecs: LDAC, aptx-HD, aptx, AAC, SBC
  • Transmission: Bluetoon/USB Type-C
  • Weight: 25g

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