Sources and gear used in the review:
Sansa Clip+ (just to be cool)
iPod Touch 2G
C&C BH portable Amp
SMSL Silver plated interconnect cable
Street Wires Zn2 copper interconnect cable
P&D Amp-K Pro
All files were 16/44 FLAC files
(Majority of listening was done with Colorfly CK4 / C&C BH / SMSL silver plated)
Build Quality / Comfort / isolation / design
RDB+ molds are made of acrylic, incased inside are one dynamic driver and one TWFK. balanced armature with two drivers inside each, (mids one driver in the twfk, highs - second driver inside the twfk) size of the dynamic driver is unknown to me unfortunately. Overall, the build on this unit pleasing but looking closely I could see room for improvement, namely around the meshing inside the nozzle which may come out over time, I have some concern about the ports / pin holes wearing over time but this is just a basic phobia I have with detachable cables not so much a problem. I am also rather fond of the carbon fibre faceplates which can be chosen in a number of colours when you order.
Inside the shells is very interesting, something I've never come across before, TWFK balanced armature is actually seated inside the nozzle (not inside the shell) they sit just behind the meshing so you're actually inserting them into your ear canal, Impressive! I like the concept of this certainly. Just behind the BA's is the dynamic driver enclosed in an acrylic dome then sealed from behind. (inside the main acrylic shell) with a bass port on the outer casing.
When worn RDB+ is surprisingly incredibly comfortable for me, that includes any other universal I've ever worn especially with the pure silver tour cable included which is so soft and smooth it feels like you're wearing a very light single silk strand from a spider web. Isolation using Vmoda Bliss 3.0 tips was also above average blocking out most ambient noise and fitting the shells without any fuss what so ever, there's no wrestling match going on. But I must stress again how impressed I am in the actual comfort levels wearing these shells, there's no pain, no fatigue I can simply forget it's there, which may not be a persons first visual impression looking at them. I can lay on my side wearing RDB+ in bed without a problem, the shells sit flush to my ear.
The low end on RDB+ is a touch forward, nowhere near the amounts as something like Westone 3 but surely a little obvious, I find RDB+ bass, accurate clean with slight punch staying fairly true to the source / genre being used. If you need big sub-bass on your EDM or Dubstep do not fear RDB+ will deliver, extending deep, with great texture far beyond the Westones low end detail, much cleaner / tighter but, RDB+ low end also does a wonderful job never over crowding it's partners. If a track is relaxed these hybrids will acknowledge adapting, only popping back out when summoned.There's a slight presence of mid bass which helps fill out the lower mids, again nothing like Westone 3 but slightly more than T-Peos H-100. There's also great speed but I have heard faster from something like Yamaha's EPH-100 6mm micro driver.
Being a Hybrid one thing I'm fond of is... there's no bass bleed, none what so ever I could detect, just clean detailed, wonderfully textured well seperated bass, this surely lets the mid range show full potential. The low end also has very good acoustics, drum presentation is a sheer detailed joy. I would say T-Peos H-100 hybrid can reach as deep and may have little more in quantity , possibly a touch tighter, however overall I enjoy what RDB+ brings to the table here and is hard to fault.
Well, what can I say, this is the heart of RDB+. The mids are indeed a touch recessed, not so much as something like H-100 but surely a little set back from neutral. Overall the tone remains fairly natural (neither warm / cold) I also find the mids depth changing with different sources, for example Colorfly C3 they're almost spot on, maybe even a touch forward for my personal tastes but that is trend of the Colorfly C3. Using CK4+ / C&C BH amp combo RDB+ are allowed to shine their fullest, expressing detailing beyond what I have heard before, they're rather transparent, clarity is something else and all those songs I've listened to for months when testing were taken to a new level of well controlled detail, I could hear deeper...deeper into mid range samples and admit to you guys... there have been a few wtf moments saying to myself... did I just hear that? or wildly bursting out laughing. They're just so "clear" and transparent you can get lost in one song for ages, the clarity and stereo channeling melts your ear drums with juicy goodness!
There's a light lack in the lower mids which doesn't hurt the presentation but obvious to those coming from something thick like Westone 3 however, this gives RDB+ it's texture the ability to hear everything going on in a song effortlessly. Everything is there for you to absorb, layering is spot on, this really shows how awesome the TWFK's can be when highly tuned. Although micro detailing and decay is not as aggressive as Rockit R-50 (which by the way is a micro detail monster) the low level detail on RDB+ is quite good however, I have heard stronger micro detailing and would prefer a touch more presence for this price range.
The high end of RDB+ is something I can't really grasp, while it tends to stay true to the source material it also can be a touch soft for my tastes, especially from a TWFK. I am used to something heavy hitting like the Rockit - R50 high end or Triple-Fi 10 which can slap you with some authority up stairs, (makes your ear drums tingle and probably not healthy) however, RDB+ takes a different approach. The highs are very well detailed, there's no problem hearing what's going on but seem a little absent at times for my tastes, a touch back seated / smoothed over. I could use a little bite to them or snap / shimmer, I have found myself saying I love the treble on this song but have needed to turn up the volume bringing that high end up to speed which by that time the mids are melting extreme levels of clarity in your ears out weighing the high end.
Soundstage / Imaging:
The stage is wide, very wide and airy, remembering you have armatures inside each nozzle which in turn are inserted inside your ear canal, I am rather impressed, there's lots of room to breath. Although there's more width than depth RDB+ is the perfect example of out of the head experiences, the stage displays good height and overall the head stage is rather impressive. Having a stage this big with a see through mid range allows for a great experience, one that lets you find new samples in tracks you haven't heard before. When using Colorfly CK4 / C&C BH amp it's like you're in exploded view, samples actually image all around your head, not only side to side but infront and behind the skull region. Good fun.
Now, the imaging is something I've been speaking about off screen, there have been times I've been impressed and other times not so much compared to something like Rockit R-50, it does a great job of instrument placement very accurate however when things speed up for example in busy EDM tracks RDB+ fast paced imaging can become a touch loose or lose direction, it drops some precision, and I must admit I have put them to the test with some very hard tracks but these are tracks R-50 can image without struggling. Overall basic instrument placement and space is spot on and very hard to fault, maybe I'm just being picky here. I also found the imaging was stronger on Colorfly C3 which is another natural trend beside it's older brother CK4+
10/10 The best I have ever heard, takes everything I have heard in the past and almost puts it to shame,, RDB+ is just so well layered it's a force not be reckoned with, the more samples you throw into a track RDB+ soak up without question like a precsion juggling act at a circus. Complicated tracks are no sweat for this hybrid and in my opinion almost flawless, not comparable to anything else I've heard in the past. it shows real authority without being obvious. If you want one sample in a song just choose your flavour and follow it and trust me with this hyrbid there's many to pick from. RDB+ also has wonderful ability to share samples with you effortlessly.
This is the part that sold me on RDB+, it's ability to show emotion in tracks, I've heard atmosphere in songs and felt a vibe in the past but RDB+ go beyond that, they bring out emotion in songs especially acoustic genre with vocals. There have been moments I have felt happy, teary eyed, excited, relaxed, everything we've spoken about above brings deep meaningful listening experience. I believe this is what true listening is about, it may have some weak points I mentioned but overall presentation, how everything works together is delightful, you extract 'meaning' from a song. That low end never comes past the mids, stereo channeling is excellent, if you turn the volume up a touch you can just melt liquid clarity into each ear canal, which is something I truly enjoy.
But again a big note on the emotion RDB+ brings to the table, it's taken IEM listening to a new level, something I've only read about in the past. Another big mention for how loud these go without distortion, I have honestly not been able to make them distort, my ears made me stop before RDB+ gave in. (they go loud trust me) I have not encountered that before. they just keep going and going the more you feed them. So for me to experience all the above absolutely sold me on RDB+ I just had to have a pair.
RDB+ handled all genre's without a problem, everything from rock, metal, pop, dubstep, ambient, classical you name it, I had not one genre RDB+ wouldn't play ball with, this a major plus, something that's not found in a lot of IEM's on the market today. If I had to say RDB+ excel in any genre it would be acoustic because there have been some real wow moment with some of my albums. This hyrbid also works overly well with vocals, giving them a real life like experience along with instrument realism.
Overall, stumbling across this IEM has been the best thing that could happen to me the last few weeks and probably the best thing for 2013 so far. It's accurate and very hard to fault. I had been searching and searching for something that would meet my expectations only to muck around with mid tier IEM's which although meet expectations for most parts leave you lusting for more constantly, RDB+ have shown me what's out there, it may not be the cheapest at $500, but surely good value for money, remembering there is always a price of diminishing returns. When I first heard RDB+ I had so many high expectation and I'll be honest the first 10 seconds on that first initial listen, they didn't meet them. I thought that's it? this is what $500 will get you? However, not long after sitting down getting over that first sense of hype did they open up to me. I have since bought the discontinued demo pair, because I MUST have them, for myself. I would like to thank Charles from Rhapsodio for his wonderful customer service, patience and communication over this time.
Would I recommend them?
Without a doubt, Rhapsodio's overal impression on me has been more than confident not only their products but customer service. I believe it's company's like this who offer such competitive prices may form the future of higher end in ear listening.
Since writing this review there has been some demand to bring the discontinued model back for purchase, I am happy to announce RDB+ v1 has been confirmed as re-available for purchase through Rhapdsodio.
(Please contact them for further details)
Edited by H20Fidelity - 4/28/13 at 4:08am