If you’ve looked around on the apple store website, and looked at earphones, RHA is a very prominent manufacturer. They offer four different in-ear monitors on the Apple website, the RHA S500i, Ma750i, T10i, and T20i. Today I’ll be reviewing the second highest model (2014’s flagship model), the T10i’s.
If you’ve never heard of RHA, it’s because they’re a relatively new company. They’re making waves in the audiophile industry, but in the mainstream market, they’re almost unheard of. In fact, they don’t even have a Wikipedia page. Founded in 2011, they design some of the nicest looking earphones around. Their earphones are pretty expensive, but you can expect them to last – and RHA backs that up, with a three year warranty. Nice going.
About the RHA T10i’s.
Each year, RHA upgrades their flagship IEM, and ups the price. The RHA t10i’s are 150% the price of the previous flagship, the MA750i’s, and about 60% the price of the flagship after, the t20i’s. Don’t think this is RHA ripping customers off though – each new flagship is entirely different from the previous, and is a noticeable step up in quality and technology. The RHA t10i’s retail for $199.95, and you can get the RHA t10 for $189.95, without the remote and mic. I recommend shelling out the $10 for the remote and mic, as it can come in handy at times. By comparison, $199.95 gets you the Powerbeats3 wireless on the beats side of things.
What’s in the box
When you first open the box, you’re greeted with the gorgeous earphones wrapped around a foam backing. The RHA t10i’s come with a plethora of ear-tips and tuning tips. The list of ear-tips are as follows
- Small silicone tips
- Medium silicone tips
- Large silicone tips
- Small double-flange silicone tips
- Large double-flange silicone tips
- Medium comply foam tips x2
There’s also tuning screw on filters:
- +3dB bass filters
- 0dB neutral filters
- +3dB treble filters.
Also in the box is a lovely fabric carrying case for the RHA t10i’s. This is an impressive set of accessories for a $199.95 earphone. Even the box itself is top notch, which a magnetic door. 10/10 packaging.
These earphones are all metal. This means that they’re heavier than your average set of earphones, but they provide a premium finish. The aesthetics of the RHA t10i’s are very polarising. While I, and many others love the look of these earphones, many of my non-audiophile friends hated the look of it, citing the oversized enclosure, and over-ear style. I love the look of these earphones, and they easily beat the aesthetics of say, the Shure 315’s. From an aesthetics point of view, the blue and red side indicators are ugly, but they’re useful to find out which side goes in which ear. The entire design feels sturdy and built to last. The cable and the over-ear hooks feel durable, and the 3.5mm plug is thick, and has a spring on it, to ensure you don’t bend it too far. The design overall is well thought out, but feels bulky in hand, and more importantly, in ear.
Comfort and fit
As previously mentioned, the earphones are larger than average. This was a problem for me, as I have pretty small ears. The earphones did fit, but the nozzle is pretty long, and I couldn’t get it all the way in my ears. Comply foam tips helped to create a better seal, but I found they came out of my ears after a bit of walking or jogging. The over ear hooks are ok, but they’re stiffer than I thought it would be, and I had a bit of trouble making it conform to my ears. These earphones are more suited for office or home use, rather than activity. Wearing them for extended periods was not painful, but it was slightly uncomfortable since they’re quite heavy. All of these problems are annoying for me, but probably not for people with medium to large sized ears.
Sound – Overall
The RHA t10i’s come with three sets of tuning filters – bass, neutral, and treble. Thanks to the oversized driver and ported design, these earphones will be slightly bass heavy, no matter which filters you put on. Unlike a lot of lower end bass-heavy earphones, the bass isn’t muddy or bloated. It’s got more bass than neutral, but not so much that it’s annoying, and it’s relatively clear as well. The best way to put it is that it’s a warm sounding earphone, as opposed to the clinical sound of, say an Etymotic IEM.Also thanks to the ported design, there’s a very open sound, and the soundstage is much wider than most other earphones I’ve tried. I’d say these earphones sound the most like an over ear earphone out of most earphones. The main selling point of these IEMs are the interchangeable tuning filters, something you don’t usually find on sub $500 earphones. Each filter changes the sound by just 3 decibels, and from my testing, that sounds about right. They don’t offer a drastic change, but it’s a nice addition.
Sound – Bass Filters
Beats lovers rejoice – the bass filter offers a similar sound signature to the Beats Solo 2’s. That’s not a bad thing – the Beats Solo 2’s were one of the best reviewed audio accessories by Beats ever. The bass filters offer a very warm sound, but the bass can be a bit overpowering at times, especially when listening to classical music or already bass heavy tracks. It’s overpowering for me, but bass amount is a matter of personal preference. I suspect most people will want to put the bass filters on, especially if they previously owned Beats or EarPods. The bass filters work by putting a bit of foam in the caps, dampening the treble by 3dB. The result is that the treble can sound a bit subdued, but bass becomes more punchy and hard-hitting.
Sound – Neutral Filters
The neutral filters offer a more reigned in sound signature, but it’s not neutral (a nearly flat frequency response). The sound is warm and inviting, but less overpowering. Personally, I still found these filters to be a bit bass heavy, but once again, that’s personal preference. However, I do appreciate the bass quality. It’s rich and warm, and it’s perfectly suited for late night listening when you don’t want piercing highs giving you a headache. These filters will probably be best for pop music and EDM. The neutral filters also work by putting foam in the caps, but slightly less, so the highs are more rounded and subdued than the treble filters
Sound – Treble Filters
These were my favorite filters. With a 6dB difference from the bass filters, there’s a noticeable difference. These have no foam in them, so you’re getting to hear exactly what comes out of the drivers. I found the sound still warm, but clearer than before. The bass is still nice and punchy, and female voices shine, and cymbals get the spark they deserve. However, the highs can be a bit fatiguing, if its late at night and you’re listening for an extended period of time.
Since I wasn’t able to get a perfect seal on these earphones for a good amount of time, the isolation wasn’t great, especially with the silicone tips. However, with the help of comply foam tips, there was a decent level of isolation, though the ported design means that the sound can leak in more easily than otherwise possible. Since the earphones are so big, I suspect the large covering of metal helped to provide better isolation. As with most earphones, they don’t function well as standalone foam ear-tips, as there’s next to no isolation without music playing.
If you’re looking for a major upgrade from your EarPods or Beats, these are the way to go. They are a magnificent piece of kit. They look good and sound good, and come with features usually reserved for $500+ earphones. Provided you have normal sized ears, these will fit fine, and you’ll love them. The inline remote and mic is useful, and I’d certainly recommend paying the $10 extra for it. The warm sound is perfect for casual listeners and audiophiles alike and Beats users will appreciate the bass filters. Overall, these earphones are a great IEM for a great price, and I’d recommend you to buy them if you can afford them.