Drop + Hifiman HE-R7DX review: These $99 headphones are worth buying

Pitching for the Drop and Hifiman HE-R7DX headphones is pretty simple: bring the essence of audiophile audio to an affordable level. At $99, these cans should be a solid start for budding audio enthusiasts, promising great audio even when you’re driving them from a standard phone or computer rather than a powerful DAC. In fact, Drop’s page promises “superb isolation, impressive detail” and even “open rear soundstage”. It sounds like a winning formula, but does the HE-R7DX live up to the bill? To find out, we tested the HE-R7DX for two weeks.

The first thing you’ll notice when you take these headphones out of the box is the design, which is simplistic but slightly retro, with large navy blue plastic ear cups and a black textured leather headband that has become Hifiman’s trademark. the two components together complete with small metal forks. I’ve seen some complaints that the design might be a little bland, but to me there’s a certain minimalist and refined quality to the HE-R7DXs that makes them feel a lot more expensive. You won’t find any additional controls on the underside of the headphones to adjust volume or anything like that – that’s up to the host device – and as these are headphones rather than a headset, there’s no microphone included either. Connectivity is kept nice and simple with a basic 3.5mm audio jack at the end of a rather chunky cable, and you also get a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter in the box to make the enable use with more professional audio equipment.

drop x hifiman he-r7dx headphones

Admittedly, these are some of the odder-fitting headphones I’ve tested, with very little adjustment options other than the headband. There’s no real pivoting on the earcups, aside from the natural pivoting when you put them on your head. The HE-R7DX are also among the looser fitting cans I’ve used as they just rest on top of your head instead of clamping around your skull. It’s a feeling that takes some getting used to, but helps make these headphones extra comfortable for extended listening periods. They weigh 338g, which is heavier than many of the similarly priced gaming headsets I’m used to, but in the headphone world, the HE-R7DXs are fairly light, which makes them even more comfortable.

It would be easy to assume that the loose fit would mean they let noise leak out, but in fact the HE-R7DXs offer pretty good noise isolation even when no music or audio is playing. The sound of the rain outside my apartment was muffled somewhat, as was the noise of the builders outside; That being said, typing was not drowned out by my Das Keyboard MacTigr unless I cranked the cans to near-maximum volume.

The point of volume leads me nicely to the sound quality. The HE-R7DXs sound, well, pretty good. Proper fit is key though, because without it you won’t get a seal good enough to experience the powers of these cans. They offer Hifiman’s signature neutral sound profile, which means that every part of the frequency response is well represented and thought through. They’re definitely not bass-heavy monsters, that’s for sure.

Truth be told, the bass here isn’t as impactful as you might first expect, with a lack of punch. That’s not too bad though, as it oozes a little more nuance and texture and offers a more rounded low-end, as opposed to one that feels like you’ve been hit over the head with an axe. A listen to Elvis Costello’s Watching The Detectives illustrates this perfectly, with the low-end tones of Bruce Thomas’ simple bassline providing a helpful cushion for the rest of the music to rest on.

The HE-R7DX’s midrange is also well-handled, with a smoothness and neutrality that makes these sound a fair bit more expensive than they are. They’re also a detailed listening experience, with lots of subtle tones extracted in tracks like a live excerpt from James Taylor’s pounding Steamroller Blues that I hadn’t noticed before. It handled vocal-focused tracks like Crosby, Stills & Nash’s Helpless Hoping beautifully with wonderful clarity, but also handled heavier tracks like Rush’s Working Man well, with Geddy Lee’s almost screeching voice coming across with excellent detail.

When it comes to the top end, these Drop and Hifiman cans excel in their treble delivery, with strings and percussion having a sharp but sweet shimmer and nice overall sparkle. Neil Peart’s cymbal rides in Working Man’s instrumental section didn’t feel harsh or overdone, instead complementing the existing low and mid ranges well. Steely Dan’s fabulous Do It Again has always been a favorite for testing the highs, and its opening minute of competing percussion elements doesn’t sound like they’re all layered with the HE-R7DXs. Instead, each gets their own space to breathe while sounding great.

While the full frequency response sounds particularly nuanced yet balanced on the HE-R7DX, it gets particularly good on the front of its soundstage, or breadth of audio. For a pair of closed backs, they offer brilliant separation, giving different areas of the band plenty of breathing room, helping to get as much out of a song as possible. Closed backs can sometimes sound a bit overloaded when instruments and vocals mix, but with these cans the sound has a sense of depth that’s almost overt in quality and presentation. Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl provides a fantastic example, with its opening drumbeat carrying a beautiful reverb, as well as the vocals of the backing singers. Additionally, the little bongo noises in the far right corner sounded as fun and energetic as they should when listening to Earth, Wind and Fires September.

All of this combined makes the HE-R7DXs a brilliant all-round pair of headphones that you can use for work as well as listening to music and gaming. The fact that they don’t sound too harsh or overbearing and offer a fairly ‘soft’ profile means they handle different genres of music equally well, signaling a refinement to their audio that doesn’t seem like it should be one more affordable Pair of dynamic driver headphones.

Moving on to some of the other key tech pluses, the 16 ohm impedance is fairly low, which means you can even drive these headphones with a smartphone or a computer’s built-in audio with ease. To be honest I don’t have a fancy DAC/AMP and I just plugged this into the spare 3.5mm jack on my MacBook Pro and to get such high quality and balanced sound from something so low power it must this should also be a good sign if you want to run this on high-end devices.

In total, for $99 the Drop and Hifiman HE-R7DXs represent excellent value for money when it comes to more audiophile headphones. They give them a beautiful and refined, almost velvety-smooth sound profile that makes them a wonderful all-rounder for both gaming and music, and a brilliant soundstage that many similarly-priced closed backs might not be able to match. Their fit will admittedly take some getting used to, but once everything feels right you’re sure to have a blast with these cans.

https://www.eurogamer.net/digitalfoundry-2023-drop-x-hifiman-he-r7dx-review-are-these-99-headphones-worth-buying Drop + Hifiman HE-R7DX review: These $99 headphones are worth buying

Fry Electronics Team

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