Rhapsodio Solar

Average User Rating:
4.85714/5,
  1. PinkyPowers
    5.0/5,
    "Of, Relating To, Or Determined By The Sun: A Review of the Rhapsodio Solar CIEM"
    Pros - Detailed and clear. A wealth of deep, deep bass. Glistening highs. Perfect Mids. Delivers a thick, full sound.
    Cons - Cable is rather stiff.


    What would you do if you owned a pair of IEMs you loved completely—if only they weren’t so god-awful big?

    That’s my predicament with the Jerry Harvey Audio Siren Series Angie. I’ve now owned her just under a year, and sound-wise she leaves nothing to be desired. Everything I wrote in my review still holds. And then some! Unfortunately, her size causes me sorrow and distress in regular intervals, tarnishing an otherwise miraculous relationship.

    Modern wisdom says the solution to this conflict is to go custom with Angie, and I very nearly did. Yet I couldn’t shake the notion this was an opportunity to explore something new, something I may like even better.

    My passions run towards a warmer, weightier sound. Angie is capable of superb note thickness, but I wanted to push this philosophy even further. The Noble Kaiser 10 almost got my money, its legendary status as a beefy, warmth-monster speaking directly to my aforementioned disposition.

    However, the Solar BA10 repeatedly beat out Noble by Head-Fi members who owned or tried both. So in a reckless leap of faith I contacted Rhapsodio.



    Big Boss Sammy at Rhapsodio is highly responsive on Facebook—not so much via email—and he took good care of me. Being a life-long artist, I simply had to design the CIEM myself. I sent him some proof of concept images for the look of my custom Solars and he and his team were enthusiastic about tackling the project.



    Now, I’m not going to lie to you, Sammy is not the greatest with English. Communication is hit or miss at times. Now and again I must take pains to make certain we understand one another. Although, seeing as I don’t know any second languages, he’s doing far better than me. Plus, he’s very patient with me and willing to work things out until all the details are agreed upon by both parties.

    This is my first experience with Custom In-Ear Monitors. I found an Ultimate Ears-approved Audiologist very close to me. She made the process painless, admiring how clean my ears were and commenting on my average canal size… which I felt undercut the praise a little. There’s nothing average about this man’s biology; I’m an experimental mutation the likes of which shall never be seen again.

    Wait-time on my CIEM Solar ended up being two months… the first go around. For someone who’s previously only gone the universal route, waiting months for a new earphone is hard on the psyche. So you can only imagine the mental anguish of finding out the left ear piece does not seal well. I held on to them for a week, trying to maintain my denial. Eventually reason won out.

    Back to the Audiologist for another ear-mold. And another one-and-a-half-month-wait for the refit.

    And the left side is still not perfect!

    Placing blame for fit issues with CIEMs is not clear-cut. It could be the Audiologist, the earphone manufacturer, or even your own damn fault. Maybe you tensed your jaw while the impressions set.

    The fact the left monitor still does not fit perfectly is fishy. I shall bring my IEMs into the Audiologist and try to figure out what’s going on here. I CAN achieve a good seal. It just doesn’t last like a custom fit ought to. You needn’t worry that my review is compromised by sub-par audio. I’ve put a couple hundred hours on these with absolute perfect seal. I know what these truly sound like.

    Who’s at fault over fit issues may be a gray area, but it’s far easier to blame Rhapsodio for the adventure I’ve had with the cable.

    During our very first correspondences I stated my want for a 2.5mm TRRS Balanced cable. I went so far as to put that info, along with other specifics, in the PayPal notes upon purchase. I wrote a lovely letter that traveled with my ear impressions across the ocean which also made reference to the type of termination my cable should have. I made further comments about it during the many Facebook chats I enjoyed with Sammy.

    The first time my Solars arrived they came with a 3.5mm TRS cable. I laughed. Sammy Laughed. When they came back after the refit, it still only had a 3.5mm TRS cable. I groaned, and Sammy cried. He decided to build me a special cable with a special new connector he found. Sammy claimed it changed the sound in a way he was very excited about.





    It’s a fine bit of work to be sure. The only thing different is the termination, and yet he’s right, it does sound truly different. Even when I use my 2.5mmTRRS-to-3.5mmTRS adapter, to rule out my AKs balanced output as the culprit, there is indeed a change. It sounds a tad clearer than the other cable, but the bass is audibly lower, which I’m not a fan of.

    The volume in general is also lower, which should not be, since my AK120ii puts out more voltage through its 2.5mm output. There must be a ridiculous amount of resistance in this jack. Unfortunately, the lack of bass is not an illusion due to the lower overall volume. When I volume match, and listen critically, the lows are lessened by a serious margin.

    I think I’ll re-terminate this new cable myself when I find the motivation. For now I’ll stay with the single-ended 3.5mm cable.

    The standard Pandora cable is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship and right sturdy, but I don’t like how stiff it is, or the rough texture coating each strand.

    Sammy also turned my regular old standard Solars into FarInfrared Solars, which involves placing magic stickers on the driver clusters inside the shell. It’s meant to make the sound cleaner, with better extension. But no one can explain how or why. Since so much time past during the refit, I’m in no position to give a reliable comparison between the two versions. I loved them before, and I love them now. The stickers are pretty though.



    Which makes this a good time to talk about how these buggers actually sound, yes?

    The Rhapsodio Solar BA10 delivers a full, bassy presentation, with enough treble to maintain good air and detail. The vocals stand back a pace on the stage, letting the lows and highs swell around them to wonderful effect. Very much like a live rock concert. Solar uses ten Balanced Armature drivers: A pair of large drivers for bass. Four medium-size boxes dedicated to the middle spectrum. And four tiny tweeters administer the highs.

    I cannot call the Solar v-shaped. The Klipsch R6 is v-shaped. In contrast, Solar is artfully done, as you never lose the vocals, no matter how much bass exists on the record. Like I said before, the mids simply take a small step back, nowhere near enough for the other frequencies to bury them.

    Nonetheless, the Solar’s bass is its defining quality. It blooms and rumbles deep into the lower reaches. It’s fast and smooth and remarkably natural in tone. It sounds more like a dynamic driver than a BA. Such warmth swaths the music, creating a tangible, earthy presence.



    You would expect earphones like this to be dark in balance, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Solar’s treble pierces the gloom in clear, bright highs that sparkle like a pearl in sunlight. The treble is clean and honest, widening the soundstage and revealing all the subtle complexities of the track. Upon first hearing Solar, I marveled at how much air there was, given the amount of bass and the thickness of the sound. Those highs truly elevate it above the murky fenlands that often come from too much sub frequency in the mix.

    Terms like “recessed” are misleading when talking about the Solar’s vocal range; you can hear them perfectly. There is detail, grit, and vibrato. They sound true and right. With Rock & Roll, they could not be placed better in the mix. Still, if you are a purist at heart, and hold neutrality at top priority, then Solar is probably not for you, as they are tuned for fun and pleasure-listening, not professional/critical-listening.


    Solar and AK120ii secure in my Pelican 1060 case, with 1062 foam insert.



    I’m cobsmacked at how much the Solar sounds like my early favorite, the Audio Technica IM03. Yes, Solar is much thicker, and noticeably more detailed, yet bass punch and treble sparkle are nearly the same, with Solar just barely edging ahead. Overall balance and tonality are very alike. The IM03 is just a little closer to neutral with the vocals. The Audio Technica is one of the most natural-sounding earphones, and Solar does not necessarily beat it here, but rather matches that high grade.

    Jerry Harvey’s Angie has been my closest companion for so long now. She sings with a voice I fell in love with upon first hearing it. Even after weeks and weeks with nothing but Solar in my ears, when I come back to Angie, I don’t know which I like more. Each does a couple of things better than the other.

    My preference is to keep Angie’s bass attenuators at 2:30, giving her a warm, bassy profile, without losing detail or air.

    Although Solar has two drivers more than Angie, note thickness and weight are about the same, both much fuller than the IM03. Angie is capable of nearly the same volume of bass, but Solar reaches deeper into the sub bass and the lows come off fuller and richer because of it. Amazingly, Solar also possesses FAR greater air in the presentation. Even when I turned Angie’s pots all the way down, Solar sounded brighter, with a better sense of space and atmosphere. This is likely due to Solar’s outstanding treble. I’ve always praised Angie for having clean, well-extended highs, but Solar adds some real sparkle to its top frequencies, and that makes a world of difference here. It brightens the stage up, revealing details Angie might miss.



    So you may think by the above paragraph that I clearly favor Solar, but as I’ve said, it’s not quite so easy for me. Angie is smoother and lusher. Probably owing to its lack of sparkle. Every detail is not highlighted, rendering a more forgiving melody. Angie is not dull or muddy. FAR FROM IT. Though compared to Solar, she’s certainly the easier, more euphoric monitor. She pours honey in my ears and I love her for it.

    I planned to sell off Angie when the Rhapsodio Custom came in, but I’m not sure I can do that. Her size really is a detriment, but if I don’t have to use her as my every day carry, maybe I can keep her around for the occasional sexy fun time when I lust for that old honey again.

    In the meantime, The Rhapsodio Solar FarInfrared BA10 CIEM suits my needs splendidly. It is a killer earphone and I can’t recommend it enough. The same goes for Rhapsodio as a company; Sammy helms a magnificent ship over there in Hong Kong. While it may be young, Rhapsodio has grown mighty, and I look forward to seeing where next it sails.

    -~::Pinky_Powers::~-





  2. RRC-Tyr
    5.0/5,
    "Rhapsodio Solars: Hidden Gem in the IEM World"
    Pros - Bass depth and impact, Great mids, resolution and clarity
    Cons - Lack of accessories
    The Solar
    -10 balanced armature drivers
     
    Introduction
    To start, this is my first time writing a review so please bear with me and I would also like to put a disclaimer that everything written here is based on my opinion only and does not in any way undermine products from other manufacturers.
     

    (Credits to my friend for photo above)
     
    Information
    For the source, I am using an LG G4 running Onkyo HD Player through a MicroUSB OTG cable into the Chord Mojos. Music genre ranges from pop, rock and instrumentals most of which are from Japanese artists like Nana Mizuki, BACK-ON, SPHERE, fripSide and the like. Below will be a list of a few songs listened to for this review. Lastly, all music formats listened to are in FLAC. The Solars used for this review is the Universal version with Rhapsodio's very own "wind" tips (L). This was used as it provided the best fit out everything else. Though I didn't get a chance to take a photo for comparison, I would say the IEM is roughly, if not the same size as JH Audio Angie's. So if you have ears that are in the smaller side, I would suggest getting the custom version. Also, before anything
    Sammy also allows one to put a custom logo and designs/colors not in the website. Feel free to contact Sammy for requests, he is an approachable guy and really nice if I may add.
     
    Treble
    First off, this is the only element in the Solars that I would say does not 100% fit my preference. To start with, the treble is quite sparkly at least for my taste. Though not my cup of tea, it contributes to the overall fun sound signature of the Solar. Quoting what Sammy said 'after around 100-150 hours of burn in, it should lessen'. The sparkle can easily be heard on relatively high volumes especially on high pitched female vocals. This leads me to my next point, treble extension. The treble extends quite high in the Solars to the point that you think your ears will break but never does. If you're the type of person that likes a V-shaped sound signature, then I would 100% recommend the Solars.

    *Note: After roughly 80 hours of listening, I am happy to say that I have learned to love the sparkle in the treble, as a
    matter of a fact, I find that it actually enhances female vocals and contributes to the overall "fun" nature of the Solars*

     
    Mids
    One word, speechless. This is the only thing I can think of that can describe the mids of the Solars. The midrange is full, clear, and natural. I can't think of anything wrong with it at all. As I mainly listen
    to Japanese songs, the midrange is extremely important due to the songs being vocal heavy. The main issue I had coming from full sized headphones(HD650) is that the mids sounds veiled but for the Solars it doesn't sound veiled at all even with the amount of bass present. The mids are unique in the sense that it presents male and female vocals quite differently, males vocals have that slight warmth to it to portray that deep voice while still maintaining clarity. On the other hand for female, the amount of clarity and detail is simply breathtaking.It's like the perfect blend of treble,midrange and bass all in a single package, not one element tries to overshadow the other. I would not change anything which regards to the mids, simply amazing.
     
    Bass
    Before I start ranting on how much I love the bass of the Solars. I would just like to point out that I am a basshead and as such I love earphones that can produce that punchy bass but I am also quite picky when it comes to the quality of bass. Most people think that as long as it has that boomy sound, it has good bass but there is a difference between just boomy bass and good quality bass. And for me the Solar have ticked all the boxes for being a quality bass even exceeding my expectations. The bass of the Solars is fast, punchy and goes really deep. I would say that even if you're used to having little/no bass, you will appreciate what the Solars have to offer. The bass is punchy but in a controlled way, what I mean by control is that even though it extends quite deep for whatever reason the midbass is not muddy at all. The best part is that it doesn't make the vocals sound veiled at all either. I don't know how Sammy did it, but whatever he did it is just amazing.
     
    Soundstage
    Coming from full sized headphones, I would say that my standard for soundstage is a bit different mainly due to being used to the wide and surround like presentation. Taking this into consideration, I would say that the Solars comes up quite close, only lacking a bit of width and height compared to their heavier brothers. If I would use figures for comparison, headphones would present itself as half a circle where each of the instruments have a significant gap as to where they are being played almost like attending a concert with a huge stage. And like a concert, you need to pay a premium price
    to be able to listen closer. On the other hand, the Solar soundstage would be similar to listening in a bar, a bit narrower but the instruments are closer to each other and more in front of you. Though the depth is in my opinion, better than what full size can give. Lastly, the presentation is nice and airy with great resolution. All these things considered, I would say that the Solars is one of the best I've heard in a while in terms of soundstage/presentation.
     

    Final Remarks:
    Overall, I would say that the Solars is a great all-rounder if you happen to be in the market for one. Also, if you're the type that wants music to be presented in a realistic and fun manner then I would 100% recommend the Solars. It can definitely hold its own against other TOTL iems from other manufacturers. Considering also the price, one should definitely put the Solars up
    in the list of contenders. As I would say it is one of the best, if not the best bang for the buck IEM in its price range.
     
    Comparison
    These comparison are based on roughly only 2 hours of auditioning due to time constraints when I met with Sammy. So basically, initial impressions and comparison.
     

    Rhapsodio&Rooth Hybrid Collaboration(MSRP unknown)
    First off I would like to thank sammy for giving me the chance to audition these iems. If I had to compare these IEMs, it's like the little brother of the Solars. Like how little brothers are in real life(at least as kids), they are livelier and more in your face type of IEMs. If the Solars are front going to midrow the rooth collab hybrid is on the front row period. Every aspect aside from soundstage is accentuated,
    treble is more sparkly, while bass hits hard but not as deep. For me, because the bass hits harder; it felt like the bass is not as fast and sometimes find it difficult to catch up to bass heavy fast paced songs. Also, because of this the sound is a bit muddier and sometimes midrange is slightly overshadowed. As I said earlier in this review, sparkly treble is not my cup of tea and as such the rooth collaboration hybrid is not for people that have similar tastes. Though this is the case, I would highly recommend the IEM to people that mainly listens to rock/pop and just wants to have a great midrange iem.
     

     
    Rhapsodio Galaxy(MSRP $1600, comes with SG 2.98 as stock cable)
    This is an IEM that is still currently in development by sammy so these impressions/comparison will not be the final product but roughly 60%-70% of it. The Rhapsodio Galaxy is what I would say how a reference sounding IEM should sound like. If I have to give a comparison, it is literally an HD800 in IEM form. Treble extends really far when called for(even further than the Solars imo) with just the right amount of sparkle. Bass is there only if it's called for, and when it hits it's just the right amount(might not satisfy bassheads). By right amount, you will definitely hear the bass,but once the next note hits it's gone which is probably why I feel that the galaxy is heads above the Solars in terms of clarity and resolution. As a comparison, Solar bass can be felt but Galaxy is more analytical? Lastly  soundstage is similar to the Solars, like the Solars compared to full size headphones,the soundstage is relatively narrower and more compact with one another. Big words as this may be, I think this IEM is a HD800 in a smaller more portable casing sacrificing only some aspects of full sized headphones like comfort and soundstage width and height. Definitely a TOTL item like it's brother the Solars just catered for a different set of people.
     
    Upgrade Cables
     

    Rhapsodio Golden Litz Cable (roughly $650)
    This is the most expensive invoking cables that I have ever used from the day I started getting into audio. The cable just screams premium in all aspects(particularly color). Now does it sound as good as it looks. In my opinion, it does though imo it's catered for a different set of people. The most obvious thing when I change to these cables is clarity and resolution in the midrange and improves on what the Solars can already deliver with stock cables. Treble extension became even further with these cables to the point that it is ear piercing. This is where for me how the cables transformed the Solars into more reference sounding. As for bass, compared to the stock cable of the Solars it turned into something like the Rhapsodio Galaxy bass, just enough when called for. Soundstage became wider for sure and height is improved a little bit, small but good change. The cable for me is an attempt to retain all the great things about the Solars while trying to mix in little
    bits of how Galaxy and headphones sounds like.
     

    RSD Nylon Mark 1
    One word "reference", this is the very first thing that came to my mind when I listened using these cables. the transformation is just unreal for me it's like I was using a different IEM close to that of the Galaxy. It transformed the Solars into something opposite of my tastes. As a basshead,I felt that the bass became less and honestly almost non-existent for me. It's like when you're eating cake and you removed the icing which made the Solars sounded a bit dull for my taste. If you're the type of person that likes the treble and upper midrange then by all means this cable is a specialist in improving those two aspects. Don't get me wrong, it is a good cable just not for me. Honestly the one cable I spent the least time on.
     
    2.98 Silver Litz Cable
    Of all the cables mentioned, this is imo the best pair for the Solars. It made the Solars a bit warmer and improved the midrange quite a bit while lessening the sparkle in the treble of Solar. If you're a basshead and you think that the Solars are still lacking then you're in for a treat. These cables gives more authority to the Solar's bass almost like you made the Solars lift some weights. Bass impact and texture is improved and for me brought the drums closer to the vocals in terms of imaging which made it sound like you're in the front row. Mids became slightly more forward resulting in more
    in your face yet fun signature. The cable made the Solars sound fuller while still retaining the overall nature of the Solars.
     
    List of some songs used.
    1) Vitalization- Nana Mizuki
    2) Complication- ROOKiEZ is PUNK'D
    3) Imagination- SPYAIR
    4) Two souls- toward the truth- fripSide
    5) Gyakkou no Flugel- Takayama Minami & Nana Mizuki
    6) Brand New Smile- Takagaki Ayahi
    7) L.L.L- Myth&Roid
    8) The first ending- Myth&Roid
    9) Bokutachi wa Hitotsu no Hikari - Love Live
    10) Irresistible- Fall Out Boy
    11) Phoenix- Fall Out Boy
    12) Clock Strikes- One OK Rock
  3. ezekiel77
    5.0/5,
    "Rhapsodio Solar: Arise, Empire of the Sun"
    Pros - Immaculate balance, natural lifelike timbre, coherence, excellent bass, mids and treble, large soundstage with accurate imaging, robust build quality.
    Cons - Slightly veiled mids, sluggish bass at times, blunted note attack (can be too smooth), arguably best sound quality from silver cable.
    Introduction
    A wise man once said that in summit-fi, there are no weaknesses, only preferences. He must work in marketing. I’ve been in the head-fi game since 2012, still a relative newbie, and have tested, bought and sold my way up the ladder in pursuit of “the perfect sound”, which does not exist. Still, the journey has been nothing short of enjoyable, as I continue to be wowed by the many new ways music can be presented.

    Enter the Solar. Rhapsodio is a boutique brand from Hong Kong led by Sammy, who is active in Head-Fi and Facebook. The company is making waves for its impeccable IEM tuning and fancy upgrade cables. The Solar came highly, highly recommended among its reviewers, frequently garnering 5-star reviews. And being a 10BA-driver IEM, was naturally aligned with the Noble K10. Coming from a small city with no interest in developing head-fi, I had no means of testing either. So based on a few stellar reviews, the lower price of the Solar (at the time), and the friendliness of the guys in the Rhapsodio thread, I took the plunge to depths unknown, and bought the Solar blind. I chose the custom, because there’s nothing like commitment in your purchase, heh.





    Equipment Used:
    Astell & Kern AK100ii
    Chord Mojo
    Rhapsodio Solar
    Campfire Audio Jupiter
    JH Audio JH13 FreqPhase
    JH Audio Angie
     
    Albums Listened:
    Adele – 25
    Amber Rubarth – Scribbled Folk Symphonies
    Daft Punk – Random Access Memories
    The Eagles – Hell Freezes Over
    Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
    Jeff Buckley – Grace
    Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
    Xiomara Laugart – Tears and Rhumba



     
     
    Packaging and Accessories
    I was hand-delivered the Solar by Sammy himself. It came in a simple, classy packaging: all-black cardboard box, opening to reveal a metal miniature suitcase that would probably survive an earthquake, and in it… the power and glory of the sun. Also, the Pandora OCC cables. There weren’t any other accessories per se, but it’s a custom IEM, and I wasn’t expecting any. You were expecting a cleaning cloth?

    Fit, Isolation and Comfort
    Sammy gestured me for a quick fit. Being brand-new CIEMs they had slight resistance going in. Oh don’t worry, they will be coated with a delicate layer of my exquisite cerumen (that’s earwax to you) and will slide right in with repeated fits. And get a really nice sheen while we’re at it. So back to the subject, the fit was perfect, 100% seal for both ears in the first fit. No refits needed, REJOICE! Isolation was near-total blockage of external noise, and that is to be expected in well-made CIEMs. Comfort wasn’t the best and never will be in the first fit, but as of today, they slide in, stay put, and after an hour or so I don’t feel like I have anything inside my ears. Supremely comfortable.




     
    Design and Build Quality
    After a quick listen, I took them out of my ears to admire the fruit of my good taste. “Man, I chose good. Look at ‘em!” And I could look at them all day. Black with gold flakes is a Rhapsodio favorite, nearly a trademark, and a timeless design. The build quality is also flawless. I gave Sammy the thumbs up. He gave me an amused “of course” look. It’s really a different feeling when the creator of the CIEM is standing right in front of you. I wanted to gush at his genius, yet had to hold back, as I was certain everyone else has already gushed at his genius. In the end I mustered three words, “好好听 (a very good listen).”

    Cables
    Each Rhapsodio IEM comes with a house cable priced from $130 upwards, and have the look and feel of upgrade cables. The “stock” cable paired with the Solar is the OCC Pandora. After a week or so with it, something felt off, and I had to PM Sammy. This is a matter of preference of course, but to me the notes lacked attack and bite, and I was nodding off even while Rage Against the Machine (a very popular band known for their ballads) was playing. Matter-of-factly, Sammy suggested the RSD silver litz cable for more excitement in the sound, and so I bit. Holding the silver cable in my hands for the first time did not inspire confidence. It was more rigid than the Pandora, and has an unwieldy memory effect. The cable has more of a “backyard DIY” look compared to better-known brands, and the pins did not insert fully into the Solar. The sound had better be good! And true enough, there is a marginal improvement without messing with the overall signature. More note urgency and sparkle. Not a night and day difference, but enough to tell a difference. I didn’t a/b both cables because I sold the Pandora back to Sammy. I’m cheap. Now onto the sound.





    Sound Impressions:
    Overall Signature

    I’m a wordy dude, so no worries if you’ve skipped everything above. Bro’s got your back. What you need to know is the sound impressions are made with the RSD Silver Litz cable, not the stock Pandora copper. The cables are ran-in for 100 hours, and the Solar about 200 hours total before serious listening began. Sammy’s a proponent of burning-in, and I understand it’s controversial here, so just assume I’m following manufacturer’s instructions if that makes you sleep better at night. The signature is U-shaped, with enough bass to blow your house down, and a smooth yet sparkly treble that’s perfectly balanced. The mids are slightly pushed back, but still very detailed. Notes are thick and rich with a smooth finish, never fatiguing. Attack and decay is natural-sounding but its speed can be sluggish, noticeable in fast tracks. Very good separation and layering of notes owing to a deep and tall soundstage. On the whole, you get a very coherent sound, with a pleasing, easy-to-like signature, and natural, lifelike timbre in instruments. That’s the Solar’s main selling point.
     
    Bass
    The bass never ceases to amaze me. It’s definitely boosted for your enjoyment, but the bloom and decay sounds so natural, like a well-tuned dynamic-driver. Double bass, bass guitar, bongos, they sound alive and inviting. It reaches deep into your throat, and you feel it! Subbass is gently elevated while the midbass is plenty generous, with a rich tonal body. It does sound slower in complex passages, and not too detailed. But it segues very naturally into the mids, with no bleed at all. The deep soundstage helps in getting the most out of the bass, yet separating it cleanly from the rest of the spectrum. It has its own playground, and flourishes in it. A top, top bass. Hugely satisfying, like something from high-end speaker systems. And I’m not even a basshead.

    Mids
    Sweet, rich, creamy, a gentle but satisfying bite, and well-layered. I assure you I’m not reviewing a fine slice of cake. Although employing a mild U-shaped signature, the mids are still allowed to shine. You get used to the location of the mids, at the deepest part of a semi-circular stage, rather than occupying centre stage. Pop in a record heavy on vocals, acoustic guitar and pianos, and bask in its magnificence. Lower mids carry some body from the upper bass, lending richness and authority to the notes. Upper mids are intimate and melodious. Vocals are located above and in front of the head, with good heft and weight. They sound natural and pleasing, especially male vocals. Guitar plucks are realistic and have fantastic timbre. Pianos sound like the real thing. A GREAT slice of cake. Smooth as butter with no grain, perhaps a bit too smooth, as detail-heads will be clamoring for clarity. Compared to detail-oriented IEMs, there is a veil, but on its own, its richness and smoothness will make you sit back and enjoy the music.





    Treble
    The most accomplished of the whole spectrum. Where the bass can be sluggish and the mids can be veiled, the treble is hardest to fault to my ears. Hugely resolving, extending for Miles (Davis), with nary a touch of harshness. It’s quite exciting yet forgiving, achieving a splendid balance between smoothness and clarity. Cymbals and hi-hats decay with realism and a certain je ne sais quoi, trumpets bray triumphantly without piercing the ears. Cavalli Audio might have taken the name, but listening to the treble is truly like liquid gold. Some sparkle and shimmer, a fluid and seductive character, and precious to no end.

    Soundstage and Imaging
    This is the IEM that taught me about height, that it’s not enough for a soundstage to be wide and deep, hang on bruv, there’s a third dimension! Where the width is good, but not the greatest I’ve heard among TOTL IEMs, the depth and height are astonishing. The music achieves a definite 3D space, with width, depth, height and layering used to maximum effect, creating a wonderful, enveloping soundscape. Think back to when you were a kid going inside a circus tent for the first time, the sensation overload and being amaze-balled by everything. Okay maybe not that big but you get the idea. Imaging is stellar. Each instrument occupies their own space inside the tent and is allowed equal opportunity to shine. Even with the note thickness of the Solar, separation and air between instruments are well below the lime (sublime). My jokes might fall flat but not the Solar. Like the first burst of light at dawn, the Solar provides light and warmth and invites you to immerse in its splendor. What a sight, what a sound.





    Comparisons:
    Campfire Audio Jupiter

    The Jupiter is a well-loved 4BA universal with a solid build and a neutral-with-slight-warmth signature. Its subbass and midbass are boosted equally, unlike Solar with more midbass emphasis. Note thickness is similar for both, but impact, slam and rumble definitely goes to the Solar. But curiously, bass detail and separation are better for the Solar despite the elevated midbass. It makes good use of its depth for better layering. Jupiter’s midbass stumbles more in fast passages, notes less well-articulated. For mids, Jupiter’s are in-your-head whereas Solar’s are more above and in front (studio vs stage). Solar has sweeter and more natural mids despite being slightly veiled. Jupiter has boosted upper mids and lower treble that increases detail and clarity, however this makes some instruments, especially trumpets, sound unnatural. Treble in the Jupiter also has more sparkle and shimmer, but not as forgiving and once again, natural sounding as the Solar. Jupiter has the wider stage, but is no match for the depth and height of the Solar. Overall, Solar sounds more coherent with a seamless spectral transition. Jupiter no doubt has a more exciting sound and a bigger wow factor on first listen. But its thick bass and sparkly treble, while good individually, can come out disjointed at times. The Jupiter seems like the kid trying to impress the teacher with his knowhow, while Solar IS the teacher.

    JH Audio JH13 FreqPhase
    The 6BA 13 is my reference, the yardstick by which all TOTLs are measured by. Its exciting, fast, balanced sound makes this an endgame for rock and metal. Against the Solar is a battle between two ideologies, the quick aggressor vs the relaxed slow-burner. Notes are thinner and nimbler on the 13, with a faster and impactful attack and decay. It makes for a very engaging listen. Solar, as I’ve said, has a more natural, lifelike tuning. Sounds sluggish next to the 13, but shines so much more on low-tempo tracks when emotion and euphony are called upon. Then it makes the 13 seem cold and “digital” in comparison. If we go by sections, bass extension is equal for both, but Solar packs more rumble, with a more accurate, realistic timbre. The 13’s mids, probably the weakest point of the 13, is no match at all for the natural, emotive Solar mids. 13’s vocals might sound clearer with a veil removed, but tends to be shoutier. 13’s treble too, is splashier, less forgiving, and can be downright harsh in poor recordings. Certainly more exciting but error-prone next to the Solar. In terms of presentation, Solar has a more immersive, enveloping sound with good layering, while 13 seems to present its music like a flat canvas in front of you. There is width and some depth, but the separation and air between instruments are lacking next to the Solar. And I will again harp on the lifelike timbre of the instruments presented by the Solar. The 13 does cymbals, drums, percussion and high-hats very well, but just about every other instrument is bested by the Solar.

    JH Audio Angie
    The Angie is an 8BA IEM that’s known for its mid-forward neutral sound, and to me the best-tuned of the Sirens. In contrast to the 13, the Angie and Solar share many similarities. Let’s get to it. Angie (at bass port 2:00 position) has slightly more detailed bass, with cleaner notes and quicker decay. Solar is warmer, slower, midbass-heavy, punches harder, with a natural decay, and sounds dynamic-like. Angie sounds like a very good BA bass. Mids they go blow-for-blow, decided only by preference. Angie’s mids are more prominent and upfront, with a bit more detail but grainier. Excellent tuning, except vocals are in-your-head. Solar's mids are located further back, sounds sweeter and smoother but very slightly muffled compared to Angie's mids. Both sound natural, with realistic timbre. I would gladly go for either. Treble is another close fight. Both have equal extension and detail. Angie with more precise, articulated notes, and Solar with sweeter, thicker notation. More treble shimmer and sparkle on the Solar, very addictive and natural. Both are just as forgiving. In terms of staging, Angie is wider, whereas Solar is taller and deeper, with better layering of music. Not to say Angie’s imaging is bad, but Solar makes a better case, using its width, depth and height to create a splendid 3D image. Imaging is a mighty Solar strength! Overall, both are in the same ballpark of warmish, smooth, detailed premier IEMs. Angie has the thinner and better-separated notes, giving the impression of more detail. But Solar, with its thicker, richer notes actually sound airier because it uses its depth and height very well. A rare feat indeed.




     
    Conclusion
    This is my first TOTL review, and with apologies to Sammy, I’ve really taken my time with it. Moments of critical listening were interrupted by hours upon hours of sheer musical enjoyment. I have not heard realism from instruments as good as this. It’s uncanny! And like a drunk uncle who knows not when to leave or shut up, I will drill these words again to you. Natural, lifelike timbre. I’ve said natural like a few hundred times in this review alone, because it really was a revelation to me. If you want a well-balanced all-rounder suitable for nearly all genres, with pinpoint imaging and a satisfyingly large soundstage, please do consider the Solar. Its bass, mids and treble gel together in a super-coherent unit, ignited by its immaculate balance. It truly has no deal-breaking weaknesses.

    At this level, and especially with this signature (warm, smooth, detailed), people will gravitate towards fellow headliners Zeus, A12 and of course, the nambawan custom in Head-Fi, the legendary K10. I daresay the Solar stands with that elite group of CIEMs, and trades blows with them week-in, week-out in Head-Fi battles/comparos. Sort of like Austin, Triple H, Undertaker and the Rock. The past year has been a watershed moment in IEM history, with breathtaking TOTLs arriving every other month, portable audio has never been this exciting. With more reviews, good word-of-mouth, and aided by the excellent customer service of Sammy and co., I hope to see the Solar withstand the test of time.



     



    autumnholy, Wokei, Kerouac and 7 others like this.
  4. shotgunshane
    4.0/5,
    "Rhapsodio Solar - Endless Power"
    Pros - Design Options, Cable Quality, Technical Prowess, Male Vocals, Bass Power
    Cons - Bass Power, Price

    Rhapsodio Solar

     

     
    Note: The custom in-ear in this review was provided at a discounted rate. 
     
    Rhapsodio is an up and coming manufacturer of both custom in-ears and custom-like universals. The owner and primary voice of customer service, Sammy, is a very friendly and passionate audiophile, who is quick to respond to inquiries and questions, particularly over Facebook messenger, which seems to be the communication method of choice. While not necessarily a new company (Sammy and team have 3+ years in business), it wasn’t until the introduction of the Solar, that word of Rhapsodio really started to take off on Head-Fi. Based in Hong Kong, they have been hard at work revamping the lineup and bringing new and different models to light, such as the Rti2- incorporating dual dynamics into a hybrid design, along with the aforementioned Solar- which contains 10 balanced armatures. Most recently they’ve even introduced a new single dynamic flagship, in the form of the Galaxy, an UltraMag II generation 10.3mm dynamic housed in an all metal, ergonomic enclosure. 
     

    Design, Build & Accessories

     
    The Solar comes in both custom form and the custom-like universal form. The universal differentiates itself from the full custom with a metal nozzle and mesh screen that covers the opening. The model used for this review was the full custom version.
     

    Universal Example (courtesy Rhapsodio)
     
    Manufacturer Specs:
    1. 4-way passive crossover design
    2. 10 balanced armature drivers (2 tweeters, 2 high, 4 mid, 2 bass)
    3. Frequency response: 20 ~ 20,000 Hz
    4. Impedance: 26ohm
    5. Bundles with Pandora Sound SPC/OCC CM Cable
    6. 1-year international warranty
     
    Rhapsodio offers many finish option for both their custom and universal offerings. There are multiple base colors that can be chosen, along with faceplate finishes like wood, carbon fiber, metal and gold flake. The website’s product page shows just a few of the more popular options. A further endless array of options can be seen on the photo section of their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/rhapsodiohk
     

    Goldflake Custom (Courtesy Rhapsodio)
     
    The custom version comes standard with the Pandora cable. The Pandora is made from silver plated copper, contains four conductors and is finished in a round style braid. The conductor’s outer sleeve finish is very peculiar. It almost feels like its part leather- you detect what feel like little fibers, just like the backside of a leather strap, when you run your fingers across its surface. It’s a rather strange sensation but I found I really enjoyed the uniqueness of this custom cable. The Pandora is also finished with a memory section for over the ear wear. The memory section does not contain a wire but is more of a preformed section to prevent the cable from flopping off the ear. Also included was a cable snap to keep the cable in a wound position when storing. Both aesthetics and usability are very good. 
     
    Rhapsodio supplied the Solar in their newest case design. The case is designed for storage, rather than carrying around in your back pack, much less your trousers. To say the new case is robust and sturdy would be an understatement. While being absurdly over-sized (it looks as if it could store a brick), it contains a Nerf factory of protective foam- this is the ‘Fort Knox’ of protection. 
     

     
     

    Sound

     
    The overall signature is bass forward with a very full lower midrange. Bass texturing is brought to the forefront. Bombastic and powerful, the bass absolutely slams with impact. Vocals are very full bodied with great heft and emotion- romantic and thunderous are descriptors I’d heavily associate with the Solar. Treble is weighty with some sparkle but laid back for an easy going, long term listen. In fact, I would dub Solar as the bass lovers’ audiophile in-ear. 
     

    Comparisons

    Solar vs Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor (discontinued; replaced by UERR $999)

    ...a tabernacle of indulgence

     
    Next to the UERM, the Solar is practically a bass monster. The difference is rather stark. Solar is a thunderstorm of power and authority next to the leaner, seemingly more polite bass of the UERM. The UERM bass has always held very good texture for me but Solar pushes bass texture to the forefront, and it really takes a moment for the brain to adjust to the UERM when coming directly from the Solar. The one trait in bass they both share is a slight tilt towards mid bass over sub bass, however with the boost Solar has, there is plenty of sub bass rumble as well. While the UERM bass is about precision over presence, Solar’s bass is very much in control and doesn’t sound boomy or loose, even at such great quantity. 
     
    The lush lower midrange of the Solar is thicker, richer and more forward than the lower midrange of the UERM. Both are slightly laid back in the middle to upper midrange around 2k, but Solar bounces back a bit sooner after 3k. The lower midrange prominence and previously described dip, give Solar a slightly recessed vocal compared to the more linear UERM, but it also gives Solar a nice forward projection- giving it the ability for a slightly more out of head presentation. Midrange resolution is the UERM specialty and Solar certainly holds its own. When it comes to resolution, Solar doesn’t shy away from pushing small details to the forefront. Like everything else about the Solar, details are easily heard, bold in presence and projection. The UERM is more nuanced, almost delicate in comparison.  
     
    The light airiness and crispness of the UERM treble is again in stark contrast to the weightier, smoother treble of Solar. The Solar cannot be construed as airy- whereas distortion guitars soar to weightless heights with the UERM, the Solar is more about the grit, the grim and the undulating rhythm of drop D tuning. If some feel the UERM can be a bit on the analytical side, then Solar is built for long term, fatigue free treble listening. 
     
    If the UERM is an outside, open air venue, Solar is a tabernacle of indulgence where the whiskey flows and inhibitions are abandoned. While the UERM is much wider, Solar is not only much deeper but also has more forward projection and sounds a bit taller in direct comparison. The Solar’s depth helps to give a more precise instrument placement but the UERM has more air between instruments for more separation and space. The sonic images are about as different as they come. 
     
     
    Solar vs Empire Ears Zeus (pre revision $2099)
     

    ...powerful and thunderous

     
    Bass is the Solar specialty. It is both powerful and thunderous, and impact as well as rumble can be quite vociferous. Texture is really top notch as well,l and overall bass balance is slightly tilted towards mid and upper bass. Zeus, however, seems to take the Solar’s specialty and ups the ante. Albeit much less in quantity, texture and rumble are simply excellent, with an overall tighter and more sub bass oriented bass presentation. The result is an even more nuanced, yet delightfully indulgent performance. 
     
    Zeus places the vocalist not just front and center, but almost as if you are next to the microphone, or possibly you are the microphone. In You Outta Know, Alanis is exceptionally clear and the depth of her anger is easily felt with Zeus. In comparison, Solar puts noticeably more distance between you and Alanis, and while she remains very clear, the sense of anger is nowhere near as palpable. It’s the equivalent difference in watching a performance and being subjugated to it. 
     
    Solar note thickness and weight is obviously greater than on Zeus, and lower midrange notes are a good bit fuller, richer and easily lusher as well. Male vocals are full bodied and bursting at the seams with power. Consequently, the Zeus midrange is overall more resolving by letting the listener more easily hear low level details.
     
    Treble sparkle seems to be fairly similar between the two. Neither should be considered bright or airy but both possess a clean, weighty and articulate treble. The biggest difference will be in perception, due to the differences in note thickness and weight from bass through midrange. Being that the Solar is thicker and bassier, its treble presence seems a little more laid back next to Zeus. This again gives Zeus an upper hand in treble resolution, as it isn’t competing as heavily against the lower and middle ranges, and allows the listener to more easily hear low level detail. 
     
    The Solar is not particularly wide but doesn’t sound closed in either, a similar trait shared by Zeus as well. Solar has excellent depth compared to most TOTL offerings and height seems proportional to its width, however this is where Zeus really begins to stretch it legs and take things to a much higher level. Zeus depth and the layers within this depth are simply unmatched. While the Solar’s image is pretty precise within the stage, especially when listening for placement from front to back, separation just isn’t quite on the same level as Zeus. This is mainly due to the enhanced bass that seems to fill any sense of space and air between instruments, whereas Zeus seems to have a void of blackness between instruments. These elements of the Zeus performance help to push its overall sense of resolution and detailing to the next seemingly unattainable level. 
     
     
    Solar vs Perfect Seal AR6 ($950)
     

    ...a ruthless villain

     
    The AR6 bass sounds incredibly linear up all the way through the midrange, in that no part of the bass response sounds louder than another- rumble and impact are on equal footing and extension reaches into the lowest registers. While the Solar has great rumble, it has a tilt towards mid bass impact. Both rumble and impact are bigger and bolder than the AR6 and extends just as deep. When listening to rap and hip hop, the Solar really begins to stretch its legs. The Solar hits with power and authority; it makes you move to the aggression and attitude in 100 Miles and Runnin’ and Straight Outta Compton. The AR6 is no slouch in this genre but the Solar takes the Spinal Tap route and turns it up a notch to 11. When it comes to bass, the Solar is A Ruthless Villain. 
     
    The AR6 has a very linear midrange with a slight peak in the upper midrange. Vocals are exceptionally clear and resolving. The AR6 really seems to excel in female vocals, bringing to life the emotion and energy in the upper midrange vocal registers. In contrast, the Solar lends itself to male vocals, due to its lusher lower midrange. Male vocals are delivered with more power, authority and evocative connection. If a song is about the emotional loss of a friend or loved one, the Solar can really make those words weigh heavy on the heart. On Solar, Brooks & Dunn’s Believe is an emotional roller coaster of grief and hope. At the moments of loss, Solar broods and wallows in the emotion; in the moments of hope and belief, Solar envelopes with the tingling of inspiration and hope. Solar lets you connect directly into the heart of Ronnie Dunn. 
     
    The AR6 treble has greater presence for a brighter and airier presentation. In comparison, the AR6 treble sounds thinner next to the weightier and thicker treble of the Solar. The AR6 treble is perhaps just a hair under a neutral presentation yet with plenty of sparkle, whereas the Solar treble is a good bit more laid back and easier going. Even though laid back in treble, it still has excellent tonality and articulation.
     
     
    Solar vs 64 Audio U10 ($1399)
     

    ...denser, meatier and harder hitting

     
    The U10 and Solar are both bassy signatures but where Solar’s bass is slightly tilted towards mid bass, the U10 bass is heavily tilted to deep bass. While I consider the U10 bassy, the Solar takes it the next level over the U10. Solar bass comes across as denser, meatier and harder hitting compared to the U10’s bass which is bouncier and feels lighter and airier in nature. The U10 creates more rumble, due to lessor mid bass presence, but bass textures are thrust more to the forefront with Solar’s bass presentation. 
     
    Both the U10 and Solar have full bodied lower midranges that make for intimate and engaging male vocals, although upon direct comparison, the Solar has a more evocative and romanticized presentation. Due to Solar’s greater mid bass, however, vocals are a little further back in the mix than the U10’s. Again the Solar’s midrange seems denser against the airier midrange of the U10. Typically an airier midrange is in reference to a brighter midrange with greater upper midrange emphasis, and while the U10 does have a larger peak from the upper midrange into the lower treble, it also seems to be impacted by the Adele model breathing more air in to the notes. While distortion guitars soar with more air in the U10, it can also exacerbate sibilance in tracks, whereas the heavier sounding Solar remains smoother, mitigating occurrences of sibilance. 
     
    The U10 has an obvious greater overall emphasis on treble. U10 treble notes are noticeably thinner next to the weightier treble of the Solar. While switching back and forth, Solar seems a good bit darker in contrast to the more U shaped U10. This is most obvious in the opening segment of David Lee Roth’s Just Like Paradise, which has a light, airy upper register that just makes me want to take the top down and cruise. The U10 does a better job recreating this airy ambiance with its brighter and sparklier upper end. 
     
    To some degree, the outside, open air venue versus the tabernacle of indulgence comparison of the UERM also applies here, albeit the U10 is not open sounding as the UERM. The U10 does a better job of placement from left to right and Solar has greater depth with more precise placement from front to back. The Adele module in the U10 just makes everything seem somehow lighter than air; a show in the clouds, especially against the heavier and darker backdrop of the Solar tabernacle.
     
    Conclusion
     
    Rhapsodio’s Solar certainly lives up to its status as a TOTL offering, and its technical prowess, on top of a bass forward signature, make it an intriguing model for bass-first loving audiophiles. While Solar doesn’t come cheap, the finishing options and custom-made stock cable make it a worthy accessorized high end custom in-ear. 
    proedros, Kerouac, flinkenick and 2 others like this.
  5. MikePortnoy
    4.5/5,
    "Rhapsodio Solar Custom In Ear Monitor Review: Bold Music"
    Pros - Musical approach, Separation, Natural sound, Comfort
    Cons - Transparency, Mid-bass presentation
    Introduction:
     
    Rhapsodio is a Hong Kong based company that produces in ear monitors and upgrade cables. Rhapsodio’s owner, Sammy, has a strong background and tuned many different in ear monitors such as Hybrid Series, Solar series and Galaxy Series. While Solar series utilize balanced armature drivers, Galaxy series are powered with UltraMag dynamic drivers. In Solar series, there are two versions of the same tuning: custom and universal. The reviewed unit is custom made and consists of 10 balanced armature drivers per side. Sammy also offers some high quality aftermarket cables such as Litz and Pandora series. My favorite is 2.98SG/8 braided cable that has a very strong imaging and resolution.
     

     
    Build Quality, Internals and Accessories:
     
    The reviewed unit is refitted, since there was a slight disturbance at the left side. Sammy quickly handled and remade it. After refit process, the monitors become quite comfortable. Even during long listening sections, I have no pain at all. I like the body color as well as beautifully crafted faceplate with Rhapsodio’ logo.
     
    As I mentioned before, Rhapsodio Solar is powered with 10 balanced armature drivers (2 tweeters, 2 highs, 4 mids and 2 bass) with a 4 way passive crossover system. There are 3 main acoustic ways; one of them is bigger than two.  According to Rhapsodio website, the impedance of the monitor is 26 OHM. Solar has industry standard 2 pin sockets. They are neither too tight nor too loose; I think that they have good durability. 
     
    The stock cable of Solar is from Pandora Series, SPC Pandora. Pandora utilizes 4 silver plated conductors; on the other hand, many standard cables have 3 braids as standard. Overall build quality of Pandora is nice, but it is not as soft and flexible as Westone’s standard cables. In addition, Pandora has 3.5mm golden plated plug and good quality 2 pin connectors. However, I find its memory wire a bit long and rough. 
     

     
    Sound:
     
    Rhapsodio Solar is warm and dynamic sounding unit with a slight V shape signature. Some may find its atmosphere a little dark, but high frequency has a little bright tone creates detailed and alive presentation.
     
    This review is about custom version of Solar. So, please note that universal version may differ in accordance with tips used and insertion depth. During critical listening, Solar was tested on Lotoo Paw Gold and the BIT Opus1.
     
    Low Frequency:
     
    Solar has powerful and punchy sub-bass hits. Hitting to depth ability is quite good and overall tonality can be seen as natural. Resolution and texture are good; Solar has a fast response in sub-bass region, but ‘’hanging in the air’’ time could be a little longer.
     
    Even so Solar has V shape response, the energy focus of the overall presentation leans towards to low frequency due to the prominent and intensive mid-bass’ notes. In general, mid-bass’ notes don’t tighten the stage. However, if the quantity is plenty in the track, the mid-bass band can be thickened and the background becomes a little congested. On the other hand, mid-bass provides a nice musicality, softness and body.
     
    Mid Frequency:
     
    The midrange of Solar isn’t located very distant, thanks to full bodied and weighty notes. Indeed, Solar is very dynamic and powerful, also creates full-bodied instruments. Parenthetically, vocals sound a little closer to listener, when compared to instruments’ locations. Average note thickness is on the thicker side, but it may sound a bit too thick due to the possible mid-bass thump depending on tracks.  Resolution and transparency levels are not very high, but enough for a flagship. Solar isn’t very forgiving in upper-midrange, since there is a slight brightness here.
     

     
    High Frequency:
     
    Solar has prominent treble notes, but it doesn’t have a forward presentation. Control and resolution is good, but tonality isn’t so close to true tone. Despite that, Solar's treble tonality can be accepted in natural region with non-piercing notes. I don’t find them too sensitive to bad recordings. Speedy Solar can handle cymbals in fast metal tracks, but they are cut a little too early.
     
    Soundstage and Separation:
     
    Solar has effectual stage dimensions; there is no overly wide or super deep stage, but it carries a nice amount of depth to create sufficient space for a good layering. Also, the performing area of Solar isn’t congested and there is a fair distance between instruments. However, this distance is filled with warm air rather than neutral one due to the mid-bass presentation. Thanks to prominent and open-toned treble notes, this warm air doesn’t make Solar a boring custom in ear monitor. 
     
    The background of Solar is quite black and stable with strong instrument separation. However, Solar may have congestion pursuant to the mid-bass density depending on tracks and the background may become less clear. This problem may reduce the separation level by a small margin. Imaging and focusing is pretty strong with good coherence ability. Even if Solar has a V-shaped signature, the stage isn't located too distant. 
     
    Selected Comparisons:
     
    Rhapsodio Solar vs Spiral Ear SE5 Ref
     
    Overall, Rhapsodio Solar is a warm sounding monitor and Spiral Ear SE5 is closer to have a neutral sound in comparison. Both have natural sounding perspective, but SE5 has truer tone.
     

     
    Low Frequency:
     
    Solar hits harder in sub-bass region, while SE5’s notes hang longer in the air. Solar’s attack and decay ability is a little faster than necessary. Solar uses larger and more impactful notes, but SE5 offers slightly more resolution in low end.
     
    In mid-bass range, Solar has significantly more prominent and warmer notes; SE5 offers more resolved and detailed presentation. In accordance with the mid-bass quantity, Solar sounds thicker and weightier overall.
     
    Mid Frequency:
     
    Solar has a V-shape signature versus SE5’s mid-centric and open-toned presentation in comparison. When viewed from this aspect, the midrange of Solar is located laid back, but sounds with bolder and darkish touches.
     
    On the other hand, SE5’s midrange is more resolved and transparent, and it is better in terms of recreation both thick and thin notes well. Solar may perform too thick and more colored pursuant to mid-bass thump, yet it creates good body for vocals and instruments. Also, Solar is brighter in upper mid-range and tends to sibilance more, while SE5 is less detailed, but smoother in this area.
     
    High Frequency:
     
    In comparison, Solar has more prominent and brighter treble performance. SE5 sounds with less colored and more natural notes. In terms of speed and extension, SE5 has a slight superiority with more natural note releasing, but Solar seems to be more detailed in accordance with more alive and prominent lower treble. In addition, Solar is less forgiving against bad recordings.
     
    Soundstage and Separation:
     
    Both don’t have a large stage, but Solar is slightly wider and SE5 is deeper. Solar has warmer stage structure, while SE5 is much neutral in terms of air between instruments.
     
    However, SE5 seems to be congested while locating instruments. By the same token, Solar may have a background clarity problem when comes to tracks dominated by mid-bass’ notes. Solar slightly betters SE5 in terms of imaging, but SE5 allows focusing a little easier. Overall, both have an impressive instrument separation. 
     
     
    Rhapsodio Solar vs Empire Ears Zeus (Custom version)
     
    As it is in the SE5 comparison, Solar has a V shape signature and Zeus has mid-centric approach. Overall, Zeus has open-tone, while Solar is bolder and warmer; both have a musical approach, but Zeus sounds more technical.
     
    Please note that EE Zeus universal version may have some differences in sound.  
     

     
    Low Frequency:
     
    Solar has more impactful hits, while Zeus has cleaner and more analytic sub-bass structure in comparison. Resolution and texture levels are similar; both have fast sub-bass’ response. Solar’s tone is more emotional, while Zeus follows a more technical way here. Like sub-bass range, Solar has more mid-bass quantity with a warmer tone. Due to mid-bass presentation difference, Solar may sound too warm and have background congestion versus Zeus’ airier approach. Mid-bass’ resolution level is higher on Zeus; Solar misses some little nuances.
     
    Mid Frequency:
     
    Zeus sounds more forward and aggressive with slightly thinner and cleaner notes; Solar’s midrange is located laid-back in comparison. Resolution and transparency are better on Zeus; Solar has hollow midrange presentation. Zeus is better in terms of note recreation and articulates details more than Solar does. Both have slight brightness in upper midrange; Zeus has more forward notes, while Solar is smoother and less stressed. Vocals are weightier on Solar by a small margin, but Zeus has more resolved and transparent vocals. However Zeus tends to sibilance more.
     
    High Frequency:
     
    Zeus has slightly more alive treble notes, while Solar is weightier and warmer in high frequency presentation. Zeus sounds brighter and cleaner in accordance with its general character and low end’s dominancy of Solar. The overall treble speed and resolution level is similar, but Zeus is slightly more extended. Both aren’t very forgiving against bad recordings. 
     
    Soundstage and Separation:
     
    The overall stage depth is better on Zeus and it is airier with a bit wider stage. Zeus spreads neutral air between instruments, while Solar has much warmer air in the area due to mid-bass presentation. Both have an impressive instrument separation, but Solar’s background is blacker by very small margin. On the other hand, Zeus has definitely clearer and cleaner background. Zeus has better imaging, but Solar is more coherent with a bit better focusing ability.     
     
     
    Rhapsodio SG2.98 4 Strands Cable on Solar:
     

    Pandora stock is on the right side.
     
    As we all know, Solar comes with Pandora cable as standard. 2.98, old RSD flagship cable, is made by silver/gold alloy material. Overall, it has a warm sound and offers higher resolution notes. It doesn’t carry the characteristics of a regular silver cable. 
     
    In general, 2.98 cable reduces low frequency’s quantity by a very small margin and makes sub-bass tighter and cleaner. Also, mid-bass becomes more controlled and the thump is becoming smaller. When compared to Pandora stock, 2.98 cable offers a little more forward midrange, but Solar still keeps V-shape signature. The resolution is slightly improved and instruments become cleaner and a bit more transparent. Overall treble tone is similar, but 2.98 cable creates more resolved and slightly clearer high frequency presentation. The width difference is not very significant, but 2.98 cable has deeper stage and better layering as well as a bit better separation.
     
    Note: 2.98 8 strands cable is a definite upgrade over 2.98 4 strands. Apart from its synergy with Solar, tone and imaging gets perfect with 8 strands.
     
    Final Words
     
    Rhapsodio Solar is non-fatiguing, warm tuned and dynamic sounding custom in ear monitor. If the expectation about transparency is not very high, with its strong instrument separation, Solar would be a good alternative for who prefers warm atmosphere and musical signature. The craftsmanship is also very nice and comfort is pretty good for long listening sections.
     
    The MSRP is 1550 USD for the custom version of Solar.       
     
    Please check the links for further information: 
     
    http://www.rhapsodio.com
    http://www.rhapsodio.com/products/iem/balanced-armature-series/
     
     
    Ritvik, proedros, AmberOzL and 5 others like this.
  6. ozziecook
    5.0/5,
    "The life-giving Solar"
    Pros - Balance, bass detail, sweet treble, clarity, airy soundstage, design, service
    Cons - Tip options

     
     
     
    David Bowie, John Lennon, Jeff Buckley, George Best, Nick Drake, John Martyn, Syd Barratt, Kurt Cobain and my mother & father. I’ve lost some big loves over the course of my lifetime. Sadly you can’t bring all of them back. But on occasions, I swear that some of them are back in the same room with me.
    Those occasions are when I have Solar in my ears.  Ah the wonderful, life-giving Solar. 
     
                
     
     
     
    Here’s the story. On first insertion, these purple wonders were like a wobbly, slightly lame drunk dog trying to find its feet.  Raspy, limp, loose and thin. Every track seemed different in quality. Tubular Bells II, to Mike Oldfield’s credit, was astounding. Much of the rest of my cherished lineup was comparatively grisly and I reached yearningly for my FX850’s.
    Angry, with steam and cranky notes still coming out of my ears, I emailed poor Sammy with a list of complaints. He simply replied, ‘Burn. 200 hours’.
     
    So for the next few days, I obeyed the monosyllabic master magician. And boy, oh boy am I glad I did. If ever there was such a myth about the myth of burn in, this was it in action. (It can't really have been my brain can it?)
    Encouraged by a few helpful head-fiers I also added an amp and some decent tips (see below) and persevered. Eventually we had lift off into the Solar system. Sunshine, thunder and hail filled my ears and head space.
     
    I won’t drone on about the accessories which have been covered aplenty by others here. Nice box, yes…even nicer case, great cable, average assortment of tips (sorry Sammy, please get some foamies in there!). But the IEMS themselves were glorious things of beauty. Granted they’re my first proper TOTL iem but they look as good as my wife did when I met her (speaking of my wife, move over gal…I have a sweet pair of new young lovers in my bed with us - deal with it! :wink:
     
    Sammy. Again, most people here have paid homage. I will too. He doesn’t say much, but he’s quicker than a Novak Djokovic return at getting back on email - and I like that. It’s the way I work in my business and it’s nice to see someone else who values customers and efficiency as highly. The only downside. He released Galaxy just after I received my Solar. I would have like to have known about that, the cheeky monkey - but I guess business is business.
     
    My setup then: Plenue P1 → Cayin C5 →Pandora Spc  → Solar → ear ‘oles
     
    Please note, these reflections are based on the above and Trinity Audio foam tips so your mmv. Another point to note;  whilst I have lengthy experience of multiple iem and headphone listening and an unhealthy obsession with chasing aural nirvana, I haven’t experienced many actual TOTL’s for longer than a few minutes – so there won’t be much of the, ‘lower mids on the Solar through the wibbly dangly whip snapdragon cable are 10hz more recessed than the SE5.326 but the upper shrill range is more resolving than the JH NormaJean’-type of comparison. Sorry.  
     
    Also, my impressions on the Solar will be based purely on the set up above – through the P1, which has a multitude of EQing options, and the Cayin. So pure barebacked Solar impressions, these aren’t. (How many really are, I wonder?) I’m merely telling you my experiences at my preferred settings.
     
    So, with my Solars still burning in, I ran through my motley and dubious collection:
    Floyd, Steely Dan, Beethoven, Gabriel, Fleetwood Mac, Amber Rubarth, Steven Wilson, Kate Bush, Supertramp, Yes, Miles Davis, Mozart, Sting, Diana Krall, Agnes Obel, Bonobo, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Bowie, Holst, Radiohead, The Beatles, The Doors, Wycliffe Gordon, Vivaldi, Van Morrison etc etc. And like Frankenstein’s monster…it slowly came alive.
     
    Sting’s ‘All this time’. Now this is a quasi-live album. But the production is superb. The Solars put you in the nightclub, with glasses chinking slightly in the distance…it seems more like you’re on stage than in the audience…and then ‘Fragile’ begins. Piano music is notoriously difficult to reproduce well…but the Solars do just fine, with a pleasing depth of body and delicate tinkling up higher. And the strings and wind instruments…just beautiful.  There’s a real sparkle to the treble too and a real sense of distance and air between the instruments that the fantastic Solar treble brings.
     
    The best album, I find, to check out soundstaging and imaging is Amber Rubarth’s binaural ‘Sessions from the 17[sup]th[/sup] Ward’. It’s a threadbare mix of drums, guitars, violins and Amber’s vocals in an acoustic, almost echoey setting. With the Solars it’s like being in a hologram with drums pounding deep far to the right, guitars to the far left and in the middle and Amber just in front. You can hear her move her head as she sings and her intakes of breath as she reaches for the next syllable. Then there’s the strings reaching deep around you. It’s not easy to harness Ms Rubarth’s voice as it can be a little harsh on the highs with some iems. Not so with the Solars. It’s just clean, pure with a touch of echo - and not a trace of sibilance either.
     
    Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side…’. Oh no, not that, I hear you say. Yep, fraid so. None better for comparing what I’ve heard before as it’s been with me for…a long time. OMG. I’m drifting into cliché when I say I’m hearing things I’ve never heard before. But it’s true. There are occasions with Solar when you feel like you’re actually inside the music looking around at each instrument and note. Something catches you and you focus on it, almost looking around the specific sound from each angle. That’s what it was like with DSotM and Solar. I’m sure I heard a bum note too…or a recording glitch. Must check it out again sometime.
     
           
     
     
    I’ve got a confession. I love Peter Gabriel. Not in that sense of course. He knows it mind…as I spoke to him once or twice about a book I was going to write on him and I think I must have made a real arse of myself.  Here’s a brief embarrassing story. When I was a despatch rider years ago, I had to deliver some tour badges to Phil Collins’ house in Surrey and he invited me in for a whiskey. It was a cold, wet night and he took pity on me. Nice guy, Phil. Lots of scars, I noticed. But instead of being starstruck, all I could talk about was Peter Gabriel and how he was a hero of mine (what a twa* I must have been) and that never published book. All he could say was, ‘he’s not all that you know’.  Ha.
    Bless him. He even left me a tip for waiting time when it was me blithering on for hours about Peter. Hey, I was young, gimme a break.
     
    Anyway. Peter Gabriel’s ‘New Blood’ album. Sh*t me. This is aural sex if ever there was. The orchestral versions of ‘The Rhythm of the Heat’ and ‘Downside Up’ are just eargasmic (pardon all these cringeworthy puns!). Full bodied, highly involving, dripping in emotion…with Gabriel’s voice winding round the orchestra’s booming drums and strings and his daughter’s vocals beautifully clear sweet and somehow suspended.  ‘Intruder’ is just frightening. Peter is in right up close in your ear, whispering, ‘I know…something about…opening windows and doors’. Get yourself outta here! 
     
    So I won’t go on any longer rhapsodising about Solar (oops, another pun) in terms of my music. I’m impressed as you can tell. It’s true what they say, Solar does hit hard when it wants to. The bass reaches deep when needed and eases off when it’s not wanted. It all takes a bit of getting used to, as any signature does, obviously. At times I felt it was too bassy. And sometimes I felt it was too bright. But that’s because you just look for faults and struggle to unpollute your head of lingering comparisons. Ultimately I have a suspicion it’s just right. Treble-wise, there is a nice sparkle in the highs, enough to give it space and air. Bass: 9/10 (undecided about BA bass v DD but this is as good as I’d expect from a pure BA). Treble: 10.
     
    The mids. I haven’t mentioned the mids so far. Well some experienced headfiers have mentioned a slight V-shape. I’m not sure I’m experienced enough to say either way. All I can say is, it’s not anywhere near as v-shaped as the mid-low end iems I’ve tasted and spat out. For me, Solar’s mids are lovely and smooth with plenty of detail that I’ve hitherto missed before now managing to find its way through. Sometimes, yes, the vocals can be not so forward as you’d expect…but then again on certain tracks you wouldn’t want them any closer. 9 (some other TOTL’s would possibly deliver better).
     
    The soundstaging? Very impressive. Best I’ve heard.  Iems are always going to struggle a little as there’s not much air or distance between the sound and the ear drum. So it’s always going to take a real trick of sound engineering to reproduce what we’re used to in the real world. Somewhere deep down I think when we listen to any iem we know that it’s not natural what we’re hearing  – which is possibly why we’re always looking for the next feat of engineering. But Solar is at times astounding. Others just good. Could be down to the production.
    Soundstage: 9.5. Imaging: 9.5.
     
    Warm or bright signature? Thick notes or thin? Difficult one this, as I find Solar a bit of a chameleon. Generally it's on the slightly warmer side of neutral with a more analogue sound. Note thickness I've found can vary - sometimes it can really surprise you with its weight, depth and sheer size of sound as well as its ability to pound hard and fast. Other times it can sing like an angel - soaring lightly and seductively - especially on classical.
     
    Ultimately it seems Solar has an uncanny ability to adapt to what you're playing. And the sheer detail it presents can astonish. If it wasn't for the annoying niggle of curiosity, we could well be talking endgame here. Congratulations to Sammy.
     
    Hope you’ve enjoyed the read and my first review. To make up for the lack of comparisons, I’ve tried to be entertaining!
  7. Mimouille
    4.5/5,
    "The Rhapsodio Solar - The Gifted"
    Pros - Technically very proficient and fun at the same time, easy to drive, plays well with all genre, competitive price performance ratio, service
    Cons - Not much: a bit large in universal, and some may like faster sound / tighter bass
    Brand: Rhapsodio (Hong Kong - http://www.rhapsodio.com/)
     
    Product: 10 balanced armature driver Solar (http://www.rhapsodio.com/solar-10ba/)
     
    Price : 1350$
     
    Customer experience: 
     
    Sammy is a cool guy. He is clearly gifted in creating and tuning IEMs when you see what comes out of his little workshop (I've been there and it's...Hong Kong sized). I am not sure he is the most organized or rigorous person out there, more of an artist personality, but very passionate about good sound, always trying new stuff, very flexible, very easy to deal with. Honestly any audiophile can find an easy way to deal with Sammy. Once you contact him he is quite reactive (if you use multiple media it is better, mail, facebook, etc.) even if his communication can still be improved. But you know, this is a small operation, he can't invent tons of new IEMs and answer to all the emails at the same time.


    Build quality and ergonomics:

     
    The Solar have a good overall build quality. The designs are plentiful and come out nice. There is a nice quality feel to them the IEMs are well finished. It is not Fitear / Vision Ear level, because for instance you can feel a small seem between the IEM body and the faceplate, but still very solid, professional and quite pretty. I really love the understated look on mine.
     
    In terms of fit, the IEM is quite large, because it is housing 10 BA. Plus, if you have a transparent model, you can see that some of the drivers are HUGE. So the fit requires some playing around with tips, but honestly the Solar is not immensely tip dependent in my experience, so after 20mn of playing around with the provided tips, you get good comfort, decent isolation, and the incredible sound these are intended to have.

    Pairing and sensitivity: this will be easy. The Solar sounded at least great out of all my sources, and had little to no hiss with most of them. So, it is easy to drive yet not overly sensitive. The down side of this is that I think that their scalability might be slightly inferior to that of the Zeus for instance. The good point is that a simple source gets you 90% of the way.

    Sound quality: my friend Tupac told me: the Solar is V-Shaped done right, and I agree. The mid bass is boosted but reasonably so, the highs are sparkly but never aggressive. I do feel that the voices do seem a bit distant, especially on some lesser recordings. To be clear, the mids have a nice level of air and transparency, but I wouldn't call this a mids-head iem. The mids will not grab you like on the Zeus. The resolution is good but not the best I have heard in this price range (Zeus / SE5 Ultimate). The bass is very good in terms of texture and depth, but lacks a bit of speed and tightness to my taste. It is not really a matter of quality but more of preference. If you like your bass unboosted and tight like a nuns ass (NT6 like), this is not for you. But is far from bloated (like the TG334 for instance). The highs are great because they manage to be well extended and detailed without being fatiguing for a second.
     
    The key qualities of the Solar are first the overall balance of the sound. They manage to be fun without adding too much coloration. And second and foremost is to me the spaciousness. You have reasonable depth, but most of all huge width and height with great separation and good imaging, making for a really nice and laid back 3D experience.

    Conclusion: the Solar is really very impressive without trying too hard. A couple of months ago, I visited a few shops in Beijing and Hong Kong and tried the K10u, the Akt8ie. the Oriolus, the Fitear Aya, Monet 34 and 335SR, the Aurisonics Harmony Series, the Campfire Audio Lyra, and the Solar. A week later I ordered the Lyra. The only ones that came close were the 335SR and the Oriolus. It does mostly everything right and nothing really wrong. Some IEMs can be better in a certain aspect, but few manage such a balance of qualities. To me it is one of the best TOTL all-rounders. It is maybe not the best fit for my needs (as I usually have 3 or 4 TOTL with different flavors), but I cannot imagine anyone not finding it at least great. And at 200-1000$ less than the competitors, I really do not see what you are waiting for.

     

     

  8. mahesh
    5.0/5,
    "Rhapsodio Solar "End game Iem""
    Pros - Amazing thunderous bass, lush mids , sweet airy high
    Cons - none so far
    Rhapsodio Solar "End game Iem".
     
     
     
     

     



     
     
     
     
    I got my solar and after careful listening for 2 days i came to the conclusion : solar is definitely a TOTL iem.
    When i got them they were in a shiny aluminum box, inside is the solar itself,looks stunningly beautiful,they look and feel very premium.
    I tried all the tips provided but i got best fit with comply t500 tips,
    Now a little bit about sound
    I dont have any hiend iem experience other then the akg k3003, and some hours on jh audio angie, I more listen to entry to midfi stereo at home,or visit some hiend audio shops in Paris to listen, so what is hiend audio, i am well familier with.

    I never write any review, i am a person who appreciate and enjoys reading other people reviews, I am more like spectateurs.
    But after listening to solar, i said to myself hay why not…..
    So my review will be more like a very unprofessional, but will be straight for my heart. please guys ans gals English is my third language but still i will try my best.

    Ok solar reminds me of my akg k3003 for sure but does everything better especially in the bass, sub-bass. On akg sub-bass is almost lacking compared to solar,akg bass is slower and has less rumble, and has elevated mid bass may be 80 to 200 hz. Angie bass is fast but dont have a texture of solar.
    Listning to Hans zimmer Dark knight rises ost , i can feel the sub bass……..
     
    I give note on bass Solar as reference
    Solar   :100
    K3003 : 90
    Angie  : 97
    Sony xba 4 (why not) : 80
    Fostex t5 : 85
     
    Mid on solar is as upfront as akg, but very liquid ,lush resolving,while listening to Hubert sumlin "sometime i’m right ,his voice is so beautifully presented i could easily compare with Raidho d1 passlabs mono combos.
    Listening to Youn sun nah "moondog" her voice is so lush even k3003 couldn’t come close
    But Angie medium is similar to solar…..but still solar mid has a sweetness..

    I give note on medium as solar reference
    Solar :100
    K3003 : 95
    Angie:97
    Fostex t5 : 85
    Xba4 : 75
     
    High on solar are crisp and has a great extension and body, hi hat cymbals sounds more real or accurate then akg, when i compared to Angie being more laid-back lacking a litttlebit of shimmer and air. Akg high is great but at the same time siblent.
     
    Note on high solar as reference
    Solar :100
    Akg k 3003:98
    JH Angie:97
    SonyXba4:93
    Fostex t5 :90
     
    Soundstage on solar is wide and has good depth, which k3003 lacks,while Angie has as wide and depth as solar but still solar has a great sense of depth. k3003 soundstage width is comparable to solar or Angie.
    Instruments are nicely and distinctively presented all over and almost behind the head, very impressed.
    Instrument placement and separation is also impressive on solar, notes are thicker on solar so sometimes k3003 sounds thin compared to solar
     
    Note soundstage solar as reference
    Solar width : 95
    Solar depth :100
    Akg width : 95
    Akg depth : 80
    Angie width: 96
    Angie depth : 95
    Xba4 width : 75
    Xba4 depth : 70
    Fostex t05 width: 80
    Fostex t05 depth :70

    Here are some my imaginary pics of soundstage
     
    Solar:
     

     
    Akg K3003

    Jh Audio Angie

     
    Sony Xba 4

     
    Fostex te05

     
     
    Here are some my imaginary pics of Imaging
     
    Solar:


    Akg k 3003


    Angie:


    Sony xba4:

    Fostex te05:

     
    Details and micro details are also very nicely heard, for example listening to Melody Gardot « Don’t Talk » I can easily hear when she whispers which was almost
    inaudible on akg, even xba4 was better than akg.
     
    So in conclusion I must say that I’am very impressed with Solar’s sound, women voice sounds more exquisite,delicate,charming.
    Solar has a great clarity, presence, Bliss. very welcoming sound, I listened almost all genres of music and they were all rounder iem.
    Right now i am listening to David Bowie (we will miss him) Tom Waits and Nick Cave and having eargasm……

    proedros, Kerouac, hqssui and 2 others like this.
  9. rookie2009
    5.0/5,
    "Rhapsodio Solar - A Gem Among Stones"
    Pros - Nice full sound, large soundstage, excellent detail without causing fatigue..
    Cons - Packaging could be more premium, could include more accessories...

    Disclaimer: First attempt at a review so be nice [​IMG], but more importantly my impressions are subjective,each person can often have varying opinions on monitors,different strokes for different folks etc..
     
    Introduction:
    Hailing from a small studio from Hong Kong under the tutelage of Chun Yin Mak Mak, or better known to us head-fiers as Sammy are Rhapsodio with their 10 driver balanced armature in ear monitor called “Solar”. They are a small team and have been in existence since 2012, but are making giant strides in the competitive world of in ear monitor manufacturers. Sammy is very extensive in his research and driver configurations and this can be seen in the Rhapsodio product range which caters from single dynamic driver in ear monitors, to 6 driver in ear monitors to the aforementioned Solar which is a 10 driver.
     
    However, while normally most companies offer a standard copper stock cable with their monitors, Rhapsodio are unique in that they also offer super high quality upgrade cables to complement their range of monitors.I can say from my correspondence with Sammy during my purchase that he is very helpful throughout the entire process, which I appreciated as personally speaking, customer service is as important as the product you receive.
     
    Build Quality and Packaging:
    The Solar arrived in a Rhapsodio branded Pelican style hard case which offers adequate protection. In this case of course are the Solar themselves in all their glory along with an impressive looking cable connected to them. What really impressed me was the build quality of the monitors themselves, to me they look beautiful with their 24k gold nuggets fused together with the black shell to form something that will rival the most aesthetic monitors available in the market today. They utilize the traditional 2 pin connection as used in ciem’s, which I personally prefer to mmcx connections as I feel they are more secure.
     

     
    In addition to that, the stock cable is perhaps the most impressive I have ever received with a monitor and I have owned plenty ranging from companies such as Noble Audio, Heir Audio, and JH Audio. The 3.5mm jack is of high quality with adequate strain relief, while the actual cable is constructed of 5N silver plated OCC copper. We then have a metal Y-split and a plastic slider suitable for chin locking. The ear guides on the cable utilize memory wire which is hidden from view by some black shielding. Microphonics are non-existent with this cable which is another positive
    .
    We also receive a variety of ear tips to choose from, the stock tips from Rhapsodio which I believe are called “Wind” tips and also the ever growing in popularity Spinfit ear tips. The Spinfit provided are the Taiwan version which are a touch more stiff/rigid than the Japanese Sarounbi version which are very flexible.
     
    I would describe the shells of the Solar as the “universal custom” type in comparison to some of the more generic shapes you see available. I think Rhapsodio have really nailed this fit wise and somehow managed to keep the size to a minimum to ensure it does not protrude from the ear like a Frankenstein bolt (yes JH Audio, I’m looking at you [​IMG]). It’s a really snug fit with pretty good isolation once you use an adequate tip, and if you are like me you will amassed several brands of ear tips at this stage to aid you when using universals. I would recommend people have a look at the JVC Spiral Dots, Sony Hybrid, or Ultimate Ears tips if the provided tips from Rhapsodio do not agree with you.
     

     

     
     
    Sound:
     
    For this evaluation I will be using the Solar from a Chord Hugo with my Sony NWZX2 as a source and a 7n crystal copper interconnect.
     

     

     
     
    Bass:
    If I were to describe the bass of the Solar, it would have to be punchy. By no means do I consider myself a basshead but at the same time a monitor must have adequate response in this department. The Solar has plentiful bass, digs deep when the recording you are listening to requires it to, thus making it an enjoyable experience with excellent transient attack and fast note decay. There is no bleed from the bass into the midrange either which can be the case with some monitors and is to the detriment of the performance of the midrange. To my ears the bass performs very well across all genres, bravo.
     
    Midrange:
    I consider the Solar to be a full sounding monitor with a balanced sounding signature, with the midrange perhaps being pushed back by the smallest of margins but not to the extent that I would consider this even close a U or V-shaped monitor. The Heir 8.0 is one of the richest sounding monitors I have owned previously. From memory the Solar is not quite as rich or lush as something like that, but simply put this is a superior tuned monitor in comparison to the midrange on the 8.0.
     
    Personally I have a diverse taste in music but mostly I listen to hard rock or metal (Megadeth, Iron Maiden etc) and the Solar brings a fullness to guitars which make listening to these particular genres really fun. To me, there are no obvious peaks or dips in the midrange, just a smooth enjoyable experience without congestion in this range.
     
    Treble:
    I would describe the treble of the Solar as sweet, but at the same time it somehow manages to retain a great amount of detail without it becoming piercing or harsh. There is absolutely no sibilance either which can often be an issue for me at times with some monitors (often this can be due to poorly mastered recordings too). If I were to compare Solar to something like the AKG K3003,the Solar is undoubtedly a lot less fatiguing to my ear, often with the K3003 I might have to take a break if I was listening for a couple of hours, but that may be down to the Knowles 30017 speaker it uses which is very detail orientated. My point is that you can listen to the Solar for extended listening sessions yet somehow it keeps all that detail without being fatiguing which is really a great achievement by Rhapsodio here.
     

     
    Soundstage:
    In terms of soundstage to date, the most impressive I’ve heard was the JH Audio Roxanne Universal, but the Solar is certainly not far off it providing great width and depth but ultimately perhaps not to the same level of the Roxanne,however it certainly bests my Sennheiser IE800 or AKG K3003 . Imaging on the Solar is top class, some of the most impressive I have experienced to date with great separation, you could lay back and pinpoint each instrument on stage such is the quality, overall a very coherent experience.
     
    Summary:
    If you are seeking a top of the line in ear monitor that does everything very well, then the Rhapsodio Solar may be the one for you. The full presentation and large soundstage performs amazingly well across all genres. Prior to receiving the Solar my favourite monitor was the JH Audio Roxanne which comes with a slightly coloured presentation as JH Audio tend to have their own house sound. Based on sound quality and ergonomics, it seems I may have a new favourite in ear monitor on my hands.
     
    I would have no hesitation in recommending the Rhapsodio Solar to other head-fiers,it certainly warrants its place alongside other top of the line iems from rival companies and I look forward to seeing what Rhapsodio produce in the future [​IMG].
     
    Price: $1350
     
    Links:
    http://www.rhapsodio.com
    https://www.facebook.com/rhapsodiohk
     
    Specifications:
    ·         4-way passive crossover design

    ·         10 balanced armature drivers (2 tweeters, 2 high, 4 mid, 2 bass)

    ·         Frequency response: 20 ~ 20,000 Hz

    ·         Impedance: 26ohm

    ·         1 year international warranty

    ·         Bundles with 5N Silver Plated OCC Copper Cable

    proedros, Kerouac and flinkenick like this.
  10. subguy812
    5.0/5,
    "Solar...it's all about the balance"
    Pros - Balanced overall sound signature; Solid sub bass; extended treble; very detailed
    Cons - Accessories
    Introduction:
    I do not consider myself an audiophile. I love music and I love good sound and that is why this is my hobby. I prefer to find the best portable setups available. I do not want to be tethered to a desk with an amp. I enjoy finding the best possible pairings I can, something I can enjoy anytime, anywhere. I don't read graphs or charts, when I listen to music my ears tell me what I like, not my eyes. If this hobby becomes work as opposed to my getaway I will find another hobby. I have had many iem's at all levels of price with a variety of driver types and number of drivers. One thing I have learned is price, or the number of drivers is not indicative of a pleasing sound signature. 
     
    Enter Rhapsodio Solar...http://www.rhapsodio.com/
     
    The Solar:
    -MRSP (Universal): $1450
    -10 balanced armature drivers (2 bass, 4 mid, 2 high and 2 tweeters)
     
    My quest started by reaching out to Sammy and discussing options. I will say that Sammy is a quick communicator. There are many design options and ultimately I gave the reigns to Sammy and told him to design the face plate & base combination that he liked, and he did. I must say it was a sexy choice.
     
    Sammy responded to my questions via mails quickly and then we switched to Hangouts so communication went smooth all the way... I love this guy Sammy!
     
    I have never seen such shipping speed from Hong Kong. I received my Solar two days after it was shipped. WOW!  [​IMG]
     
    Packaging/Contents:
    When the Solar arrived, it was in a postal envelope and inside was a plastic, latched, branded Rhapsodio box. I also ordered an additional cable which was included in a blue Rhapsodio drawstring bag. Six pair of eartips was included, three pair of Wind tips and three pair of Spinfit tips. The Wind tips have a wide bore and the Spinfit tips have a more narrow opening. There is an included leather strap to help keep the cable wound. Nice touches, but I still felt there was no choirs of angels singing once I saw the opened the package. I am not sure I could offer any suggestions but these are TOTL iems and packaging and accessories could create more of a wow factor.
     
     

     
     

     
     

     
     

                 WIND TIPS(WIDE BORE) & SPINFITS
     
     
    Design & Build Quality:
    Sammy chose a Wood faceplate with smoke transparent bases for my universal fit Solars. I think it a classy and sexy design. Actually it is the same design I have in another iem, the Heir 8.0 universal.
     
     

          SOLAR WITH STOCK PANDORA SPC CABLE
     
    The build quality is great. I examined the Solar for any flaws and I could not find any, which is impressive coming from a small custom iem boutique in Hong Kong. The cables as well are built to last with quality in mind, you could almost rock climb with these cables. The nozzles have waxguards installed.
     

                   RSD SILVER LITZ 4-BRAID CABLE
     
     

          SOLAR DESIGN WOOD WITH SMOKY BASE
     
     

                   SOLAR IN ALL OF IT'S SEXINESS
     
     

                     IT'S ALL ABOUT THE DRIVERS
     
     
    Comfort:
    The Solars are slightly bigger than my Heir 8.0 universals. I would say the Heir is the most comfortable of the two, however the Solar is not uncomfortable. The Solar is larger but I do not fight with comfort issues as I have with the JH Angie or Layla. The Wind tips are comfortable as well as the Spinfit. I also use the JVC Spiral Dot tips(Wide Bore).The JVC seal well but provide the least comfortable fit. The isolation is good and when music is playing it covers up for many external noises.
     
     

     
     

     
     

     
     
    Sources:
    I used a Nexus 6p streaming Tidal and an AK120ii for testing and review purposes. The Solar are driven easily by both of these sources.
     
    Sound:
    For review purpose, I used the largest Wind tips and large JVC Spiral Dot tips. The JVC sealed the best and the Wind tips are the most comfortable, so you can choose your poison, however I will say that it is very important to use a wide bore tip to achieve the soundstage that the Solar is capable of achieving. I tried a deep insertion and shallow, I found a deep insertion offered the best sound quality.
     
    Upon first listen I was like meh, okay these sound a bit thin. I experimented with tips and listened to what provided the best seal. After about an hour the smile started to wash over my face and the smile hasn't left yet, in fact it has become Cheshire cat like after around 25 hours of listening time. These iem's have really started to open up. I am not going to start a debate about burn-in. Believe it or not, these are improving and Sammy said they will be at their peak in 200 hours.
     
     I look for a balanced sound with an emphasis on details and tone of instruments. I actually prefer an IEM that is slightly colored, a fun, lively, detailed sound is my favorite signature, something very musical. That said, the Solar confidently checks all of those boxes. The level of detail and clarity combined with the sub bass and mid bass layering, a balanced mid range with sparkly, lively treble and no bleed over into the various ranges from any other range. HOLY SMOKES this is one balanced TOTL iem. Balance, balance, balance.
     
    Bass:
    The bass on Solar is deep in the sub levels and detailed and layered in the mid bass range. One of the finest blends I have heard. The iem has a sound signature that is colored but again, never bleeds into the other ranges. The tone of the bass in the mid bass range is awesome, clear and detailed. As a comparison the Angie could have the same level of bass if you cranked the inline bass control above 1:00. The Solar has more detail in the bass as compared to the Angie. The Heir 8.0 has more of a bass presence throughout the signature, however the quality is not on par with the Solar. Is this a basshead iem? I would say it would please the basshead. As I have said I prefer a slightly colored signature and the bass in the Solar is very satisfying, although I don't consider myself a true basshead.
     
    Midrange:
    The mids of Solar are crisp, clear and incredibly detailed. The tone of female vocals shine and male vocal sound strong. The mids are not in the least veiled and could be considered some of the most blended and balanced I have ever heard in an iem. The soundstage is wide and when listening to some Radiohead the imaging was providing me with a spatial eargasm. There was some 3D stuff going on there. 
     
    Treble:
    The treble of the Solar is ever present. At no time is it strident or sibilant. It is sparkly and this helps to create the incredible soundstage that the Solar proudly shows. Overall the treble produces a sparkly life to these iem's in contrast to the opposite bass spectrum that thumps when called upon the balance between all ranges continues to impress.
     
     
    Presentation:
    The Solar presents itself in an airiness with nice resolution. It would be considered a slight V shape, however the mids do not sound distant. The entire frequency spectrum is represented and the speed is never thick of lagging throughout the entire signature providing a fine iem. The tuning is superb and the it is well engineered.
     
     
    Summary:
    I have around 25 hours already of listening time already. After the initial hour the Solar really started to open up. They have a very balanced sound, very musical and fun. That is not to say that they are not true to representing the sound and tone of instruments, believe me the sound is quite realistic. The sub bass rumbles as well the bass is clear and defined in the lower mids. There is no bleed over in the mids to muddy the sound. The mids offer a great deal of clarity and are very detailed while the treble is a little forward but not harsh.

    I have listened to many genres of music with them. From jazz, blues, classic rock, alternative, classical and finally some edm. Radiohead, which generally to me don't represent well in headphones, and the spatial feel was terrific. The imaging was providing me a wild ride. I did receive a 3d sense to this.

    Wide bore tips create a bigger soundstage and the soundstage can be quite wide at times. With some high quality Jazz FLAC files, ie... Jazz at the Pawnshop the details and crispness made me feel I was in the audience, front and center.

    Crunching guitar sounds from AC/DC are awesome. Female vocals, such as Sade or Norah Jones sound great as well, and this surprised me a little.

    Overall a very balanced, detailed presentation. The little "enhancements" and peaks in parts of the spectrum are all in the correct spots. 

    On a final note...I have only dedicated my review time to the stock SPC cable. For me switching from iem to different iem confuses my thoughts and I never truly get to appreciate or loathe a specific iem. Upon completion of this review I will listen to the SIlver Litz and include my thoughts. The pairing of the SPC cable has never made me want for more.

     
    These are TOTL iem's period. Once you reach this level it is not a matter of "better", it is a matter of finding a sound signature which satisfies and agrees with you.This iem checks all of the boxes with a balanced confidence not heard in many other iem's.
     
    A must have!!!!