It's my first review here, just wanna apologise in advance for my limited vocab, but I really wanna share some of my thoughts with u all about this new pair of iem from Rhapsodio - Ref One.
First of all i know Sammy from few years back, before Rhapsodio was even established, but I never got to get my hands on any of his products. Last time when I spoke to him he mentioned he will be introducing this new series of monitors which caught my interest, and thats where it all began...
iPod Classic 80GB
5N OCC Copper custom-made interconnect cable
All files were .WAV
Ref One uses a pair of 8mm Carbon-fiber diaphragm driver, one on each side placed in an acrylic housing. At a glance they look great, fits well, but if you pick it up and look closely there are still room for improvements. Mainly because there are some very minor scratches on the edge of the carbon fibre face plate, they r so fine I could not really feel it when I go over them with my fingers (may be because I got thick skins...) so it does not affect the comfort, however I could see them if I observe under the lights.
The tips that came with the earphones did not work out very well for me, they were a bit too soft. I prefer using tips that are a little bit firmer, so I used the ones from my TF10pro, once I changed to my own tips they fit comfortably with a great seal, problem solved. I received an 7N OCC cable which comes with the earphones as a package, they were amazingly soft and they sound GREAT!!! It is so light I could not really feel it, the only trouble I had was straightening the cable when they were first out of the box, but after 2 days of use the cable straighten itself out anyways and no problem at all, just impressive.
Now this is the part we are all waiting for and this is the meat of this review, just want to let you all know before I go into the sound quality that these gems need an amp, having said that, they are not extremely difficult to drive, just a decent amp should do the trick quite well. I guess an amp of better quality would help pushing it further, but E11/TP30 went well for me. And I am just gonna break this off into four sections:
The bass from Ref One is not overwhelming, it is controlled and it is quite accurate too. It is extremely detail and filled with texture, I could imagine and feel the vibration of the bass drum when the pedal hits the surface of the drumhead; it is very tight however, it does not keep on ringing and remain "boom"ing like the 11pro. As a drummer I would say this is quite accurate. The bass is deep enough to feel it going down your chest where the sub-bass should exist, e.g) Why So Serious? from The Dark Knight (2008) - Hans Zimmer, but it does not over shadowing the mids and high.
I enjoy the mids from Ref One very much too, Like other dynamic drivers they offer a warm and rich tone but does not blur a bit of the music, when listening to Unplugged (1992)- Eric Clapton, I could not only hear the strings from the guitar, I was almost able to "feel" them and "see" them! It is how expressive they are and once again The sound is very detail, I almost went over all tracks of my library just because I seems to be hearing something new from every track. The transition from bass to mids and from mids to highs are very smooth.
I am not really a fan of treble, but I think they add the shines and glimmers to the track by filling in the little bits and pieces of details. They are not harsh at all, but at this stage they do seem a bit tensed and do not sound all that extended yet. I have a feeling after further burning in it would loosen up and improve a bit more, however I am quite happy with it, the only thing I would pick on is the sound from reproducing cymbals, but so far I did not really find a pair of earphones I am satisfied with this issue.
The sound stage is big and as I have mentioned numerous times, the imaging of Ref One is just amazing! The first impression from these earphones is that they are so natural and realistic, but at that time I did not find this a really "wow" feature. I just thought they were quite decent, very balanced, very clear and detail, but I did not find them as entertaining as 11pro as they are not exaggerating, but I was wrong. I switched between my ES3, 11pro and Ref One and did some AB test, I quickly notice how attractive the details and the clean warm tone Ref One is producing, the way how it projects the stage with all the details naturally and expressively without exaggeration. The tone of dynamic driver adds a gentle touch of warmth and the placement and positioning of instruments is just spot on, separation is accurate and very precise too.
Across my collection of earphones these are the earphones i listen to the most, mainly because of the fact that it shows me something new every time I revisit a track. If you are looking for a really artificial, fun sounding pair of earphones, Ref One may not be your cup of tea, but if balanced, clean, accurate detailed sound and precision is what you are searching for, you could give them a try and I am sure they will not disappoint you. I hope this review may sheds some light for those who are interested in these earphones.
Edited by kuenkuen13 - 11/17/13 at 1:02am