So late last year I wrote the review of one of my all time favourite earphones... the RHA T10i. The RHA T10i review highlighted just how many things the Glasgow based company got right when it came to their flagship model. From head to toe it was simply brilliant with plenty of nice well thought out design cues as well as one of the most comprehensive (and useful) accessory packages on the market. Testament to how much I actually like the RHA T10i is the fact that I use them, almost, on a daily basis. Even with a range of infinitely more expensive units in my possession its always the T10i that seem to come with me when not using my customs like the Minerva Mi-Artist Pro or the UM Miracles. Now, the T10i are not what most people would classify as all rounders. The T10i are suited for specific genres such as modern pop, Hip Hop, electronic and dubstep where the humongous soundstage and head smashing sub bass shine. Well this time the company are introducing with the RHA T20 that will sit along side (Not Replace) the RHA t10i in their line up. Its not a successor it has the same incredible build but with new dual coil drivers aiming to create a more detailed and balanced sound.
For this review, since the RHA T10i And RHA T20 share the exact same build, packaging and accessories I am simply going to use the respective sections from the RHA t10i review in describing all those respective areas. For sound quality, that will cover my impressions from a week of listening with the T20. In this section I will be making select comparisons with the T10i on certain tracks. Finally as I have now been using the T10i for some time in the Areas such as accessories and build I will add starred footnotes to each section revealing my long term experience's in using these awesome IEM's.
I hope you enjoy and feel free to ask any questions down bellow or on Twitter.
THE MEAT OF THE REVIEW
"Yet again RHA smash it out the park and manage to put together one of the best consumer headphone packages on the market. The graphics, photos and branding all work together to make the item desirable and if you got this one for Christmas this year you would be very excited when you open that package. There is a book like flap on the front of the box that when opened reveals the headphones through a small packaging window and on the left is one my favourite features on RHA's T10i Packaging, the information. The packaging is loaded with detailed information ranging from the concept of the design, to technical specifications, how to use them and frequency graphs. Almost everything you need to know is on the outside of the box which can certainly help a buyer in store."
*The packaging on the new T20 earphones is exactly the same as described above.
Yet again, RHA nailed it. Everything you would want in an earphone is included but not only that its RHA T10i's little touches again that make the overall package stand out against similarly priced competition. On inside you get the RHA T10i earphones themselves (more about them later), a par for the course shirt clip that I never use on any earphone, a carry case. The case is a synthetic material designed to carry the earphones, tips and filters all in one place and. There is some nice RHA branding on it and whilst a good case I would prefer to have seen a hard case being provided instead of soft (something similar to the Dunu DN2000 case or a Pelican 1020). Next up you have the spare tips of which there is a plentiful supply of high quality tips meaning anyone can find a decent seal. What is great about the RHA t109 is the way they don't just throw a bunch of tips together in a plastic bag as so many manufacturers do, they go the extra mile and created a card style tip holder carved out of aluminium to keep everything in place and make size matching tips a breeze. The RHA T10i's tip holder was something I have seen in both the RHA MA600i and RHA MA750i and its most welcome again here. What’s new though is that they have done the same for the filters, with there own aluminium engineered filter holder. So about those filters? The filters come in three different tuning options, one for highs, one for neutral and one for enhanced bass and unlike other companies who seem intent on making filter switching the most fiddly and frustrating exercise in the hobby RHA have made simple screw in metal units. Its incredibly simple and quick to do and one of the best systems I have seen for tuning the sound to date. Thats a lot of accessories, a lot of high quality accessories.
*After having used the RHA T10i for some time now I can say that everything is in good order, the eartips seem to just last and last. With regards to the filters on the RHA T20 they follow the exact same setup as on the RHA T10i providing tuning in treble, reference and bass. The one main difference here is that due to the T20 being a more balanced headphone to begin with the filters are more adaptable throughout the range. I found that I could use all the filters on the RHA T20 as opposed to mainly sticking to the treble and reference filters on the T10i. When using the T20 even with the bass filters it sounds similar to a T10i with the reference filter but with more tightness in the upper region as well as a more detailed mid section.
RHA are kings when it comes to build quality, there really are few earphones that can match the RHA T10i for build quality and that runs right through almost every feature of these excellent IEM’s. Lets start at the jack its custom machined metal and attached to the excellent slightly extended cable with a strain relief that is unlike any other. Its like on of those spring door stops wrapped around the cable and doesn’t just stop the cable from bending at strange angles it also jumps back to its optimal position as soon as pressure is relieved the jack could have been left as smooth metal and I would have been perfectly happy but once again the extra thought is put into function and the design team have added knurling give additional grip. Further along is the cable split which is also made out of machined aluminium (no off the shelf parts here) and then even further along is the very nice volume control and microphone. Call quality was excellent on the T10i with everyone saying my voice was being picked up clearly and without distortion. Next up is the Housing. The RHA T10i earphones are, in my opinion at least, one of the best looking IEM’s that I have ever seen, maybe even better looking than the Final Audio Heaven Earphones reviewed last year. Ergonomically injection moulded stainless steel housings look incredibly sleek and are very well put together. Quality control obviously a priority at RHA. The company again stand by their earphones with a continuation of the outstanding 3 year warranty offered on other sets and I just can’t see them getting a lot of returns on them as they seem about as indestructible as a set of earphones can get.
* Well heres one area where I can attest to just how well built these earphones are. My T10i have been with me for over half a year now, with use just about every day. The have been commuted with, taken to the bush in Africa, ridden with on my enfield through the himalaya's and survived the heat humidity and sweat of a Muay Thai camp in Thailand.....THEY STILL LOOK BRAND NEW. There are no scratches or dings, no stress on the cable, no mic cut outs etc. There is no wear to the filter screw threads even after multiple changes... Nothing... the RHA T10i are absolute tanks and given the T2o are the exact same build I really cannot foresee you having an issue with them.... its no wonder RHA are confident enough to offer a 3 year warranty.
Isolation & Fit (9/10)
Isolation of course is tip/user dependent and I found that when using the standard sized tips the RHA T10i were good isolators that would work well for travel and commuting, this would obviously improve further by using the included comply or bi-flange tips..
The RHA T10i are one of the most comfortable earphones I have worn all year. Of course those long term readers will know that I prefer to use over the ear earphones and with the fixed ear guides such as the Shure SE215 and the T10i sit beautifully in my ear never losing their seal. I thought the RHA MA750i fitted well but the ergonomic design on the T10i RHA has yet again taken it up another notch.
* Another long term update and its no surprise that the RHA are in use every day, the cable guide unlike numerous other earphones I have had still works exactly the same as it did on day one. Perhaps the most important thing I have liked about the RHA T10i and will about the T20 is the cable being just slightly longer than most of the competitors i found this makes it incredibly comfortable to use especially when commuting.
Sound Quality (8.5/10)
RHA are quite right in saying that the RHA t10i and t20 shall stand beside each other in their product line up. When you get into the world of audio you will notice that there is very rarely a headphone or earphone that will suit every job. Instead we find ourselves searching for the one that will both suit our preferences in design and in tuning (for our preferred genres). I think anyone that reads my reviews on a regular basis knows that the main reason the RHA T10i has been my go to universal in ear since November of last year is due to design, the fit and features that make it reliable and a joy to use. The sound from the RHA T10 is always going to suit modern Pop and Electronic music best. This is where you feel the 10's driver deliver those mountains Sub-bass best. The T20 though sits far more in centre ground, its still not a balanced earphone, it can still hit very hard when it needs to but its tighter, clearer with more revealing highs and mids that the T10i.
Highs - The highs observed during the RHA T20 review were far more prominent than on the RHA T10i earphones they had a lot more presence and sparkle to them yet still refusing to enter into that uncomfortable level. For a dynamic driver its a very good effort and is one of the main reasons that the RHA T20 sound so different to the previous version.
Mids - The mids in the RHA t20 review were excellent, one of my favourite parts of the whole presentation. Where as with the T10i the focus was on the low end with the T20 IEM's the real star is now the mids. The midrange is nice and tight with good details provided throughout most genres. Male vocals sound rich and full and with acoustic guitars you can pick up the note decay as it fades into a hiss free black background. Speed was also up there and the earphone managed to keep up on cluttered orchestral tracks with ease. Speaking of orchestral... just try listening to Metalica's S&M ft the San Francisco Orchestra with these... the combination of huge soundstage, good imagery and tight rich mids make for an incredible listening experience especially when you consider how cheap the RHA t20 go for.
Lows - While the RHA T20 do not extend to the deep and dirty levels of the T10 the remain able to hit hard. The display their low end in a much different way than its sibling. The T20 rather that rumbling and snarling at the low end is crisper and more textured. The decay of notes is shorter and the detail increased (most noticeable as you being able to better differentiate the sub bass from the mid bass).
So the big question is if I am choosing between the 2 for every day use then which one am I going to take? Well, as I do listen to a wide variety of genres, Jazz, rock, classic, hip-hop, industrial I am going to have to say that i would take the T20. This is simply down to simplicity, sure the T20 wont sound as good as the T10i's do when listening to Skrillex or Angelspit and if I know that I will be listening to them exclusively I would still be taking the T10i with me. Possibly the easiest way to put it is if you listen to mainly Hip-Hop, R&B, Electronic etc and little much else then go with the T10i and if you like Rock, Indie, classical etc the T20 will be the ones best suited for you.
The main takeaway I have overall is that RHA just do not make bad products. The attention to detail is very hard to find in other companies. I have spoken to the team from time to time and one think that stands out is that they are the company that is less driven by audio world BS. They could easily have priced there earphones in the $400+ mark and got away with it, but they don't, right through the range RHA offer unparalleled value for money relevant to the competition. They don't ever have a tendency to spout snake oil to sell their earphones they just stand by their products and let them do the talking and that in the audiophile world is what I find most refreshing.
Note: As I saw at Munich High End RHA is finishing off their new DAC and Amp Unit (pictures here) It looks cool as all hell and yet again is built like a tank. It features ES Sabre Dacs on the inside and a host of cool features so be on the look out for updates on that unit soon.