Macaw RT-10 interchangeable panel hifi earphones

Pros: Hifi sound with great bass extension, Interchangeable panels allows user to customize the look, Great price to performance ratio
Cons: Not for those seeking a linear sound, More panel options would be a nice touch.
At the time of the review, the Macaw RT-10 in-ear monitor was was on sale at Penon Audio’s website. Here is a link to their listing of the product:
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I seldom buy in-ear monitors as of the last six months. Review opportunities keep me occupied to the point that I don’t have enough time to listen too much outside of review and comparison samples.
I often chat with my good friend Alex about our reviews, earphones and life in general. When discussing newly released in-ear monitors a few months ago, he suggested I really need to experience the Macaw GT-100S. The design looked legit, and with his recommendation I had to bust the wallet out for this one. They ended up being a great buy, and one of the highest fidelity earphones under one hundred dollars that I’ve ever heard.
After that successful inaugural release, Macaw made their way onto my subconscious headphone radar. When the RT-10 talk was starting I was fortunate to secure a review sample.

I was given an opportunity to review the Macaw RT-10 in exchange for my honest opinion and unbiased review. I am in no way affiliated with Macaw. I would like to take this time to personally thank my good friends at Penon Audio for providing me a review sample.
My Background
I AM NOT a numbers and graphs audiophile or sound engineer. Personal audio enthusiast? Absolutely! Headphone junkie? Possibly…
There’s something about quality DAPs, DACs, Amplifiers and Earphones that intrigues me, especially if they can be had for low prices. I will buy the $5 to $500 earphone that looks promising, in hopes that I will discover that one new gem that can compete with the big names in this industry. If you look at my Head-Fi profile you will see that I have purchased MANY different headphones and earphones, ranging from from dirt cheap to higher end products. For me, this hobby is more about getting great price to performance ratio from a product, and have a variety of different gears with varying builds and sound to mix and match. With personal audio gear, we tend to pay a lot of money for minor upgrades. One thing I’ve learned over the last few years is that just because a headphone has a higher price tag, it doesn’t mean that it has superior build and sound quality.
I’m always looking for great audio at a great price. I’m after headphones and IEMs that give me the “WOW” factor. I can appreciate different builds and sound signatures as long as they are ergonomic, and the sound is pleasing to the ear. It is my pleasure to share my experiences with audio products and make recommendations based gear I have owned and used.
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The RT-10 came in a white box with black accents. The front of the box features close up picture of the earphone housings.
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The back of the box has specifications and schematics of how the RT-10 is constructed. There is also some information about the replaceable housing faceplates. I will cover this later in the review.
Specifications and Accesories
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Specification (from Penon Audio)

Model: Macaw RT10

Type: In-ear

Headphone output audio: HIFI

Headphone category: HIFI headphones

Impedance: 16Ω

Headphone sensitivity: 91dB/mW

Frequency range: 20-20000Hz

Interface: 3.5mm

Cable Length: 1.1M

Headphone plug type: Through Hole   

Microphone: No


Macaw RT10 In-ear Earphone

Silicone eartips(S/M/L)

Earphone panel

Storage bag

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The tips come attached to a metal plate that holds the three sizes in place. This is a great concept the same as many RHA products, and helps keep things organized. The RT-10 also comes with a synthetic leather pouch with a metal clasp. This will make your RT-10 very pocket friendly. There is also a very useful owner’s booklet that includes more information, specifications and a nice graph of the RT-10 frequency response.

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My biggest gripe about the Macaw GT-100S (my previous Macaw earphone purchase was the shape and weight of the metal housings. They addressed this with the RT-10. They are a VERY lightweight plastic with a shape somewhat similar to the GT-100S but with slight refinements in shape that make a huge difference. Macaw rounded of the edges where the housing makes contact with the ear, making them more comfortable. The lighter weight and smoother edges makes the RT-10 one of the better fitting earphones I’ve worn. I can pop them in my ears (with a good sealing tip) and forget about them.
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The RT-10 also has a customizable housing design feature that allows owners to change the faceplate of their earphones. The stock package comes with three different pairs of faceplates. Macaw also sells aftermarket plates on their website. Here is a link to take a look at their other options:
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Cable, Y-Split, Cable Jack, Strain Reliefs
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The cable on the RT-10 is a pretty standard black rubber coated sheathing cable you would often see on earphones in their respective price range. It is on the higher quality side of average, and nothing seems frail or flimsy. The cable has light spring and no memory. The Y-split is simple black rubber that ties in with the rest of the cable and has the Macaw name engraved on it. There is an included chin slider that can get snagged on the cable when adjusting it, but once positioned it does its job well. The jack is a straight style with a very slim plastic jacket. It doesn’t look to be incredibly sturdy, but should be okay as long as it’s handled with care. The strain reliefs at the housing and jack are very short, but I find them to be adequate.
The RT-10 is sound only. There is no microphone or remote. Plug it in. Play some Music. Have Fun. Repeat.
Ergonomics, Fit and Microphonics, Isolation
The RT-10 is designed for over the ear fit, and it’s a fantastic one. The lightweight and ergonomic housings in combination with the chin slider makes this a flawless fit. It is as simple as looping the cable, popping them in my ears, adjusting the chin slider, and forget about them. Microphonics are pretty much non-existent, especially with the use of the chin slider. Isolation is average.
Sound Review
I did my demo with my usual gear. I used an LG-G3 with the latest firmware for portable and smartphone use, and either my Shanling H3 or Sony Walkman F806/Cayin C5 amplifier for a high fidelity portable use. For desktop use I used my Toshiba Satellite Laptop in combination with a HIFIMEDIY Sabre ES9023 USB DAC/Bravo Audio Ocean Tube amplifier with a Mullard 12AU7 tube for higher impedance, and a Fiio E18 USB DAC & Amplifier in both high and low gain. Both were run at 24 bit, 96000 Hz. I also tested them with other DAPs and amplifiers as well. I used Google Music downloaded in its highest download quality (320 KBPS) and I also streamed FLAC via Tidal streaming service. I also used purchased and downloaded tracks in MP3, FLAC, WAV and DSD. I make sure that any gear I test has sufficient playtime before writing a review.
I used my usual same songs for testing gear:
“Limit to your love” by James Blake (bass speed, punch, response)
“Doin’ it Right” by Daft Punk (sub bass)
“Get lucky” by Daft Punk (bass to midrange transition resolution, male vocals)
“Madness” by Muse (soundstage, separation)
“Some nights” by Fun (soundstage and male vocals)
“The soundmaker” by Rodrigo y Gabriela (texture and imaging)
“Bassically” by Tei Shi (bass to midrange resolution, female vocals)
“Skinny Love” performed by Birdie (female vocals, acoustic playback)
“One” by Ed Sheeran (male vocals, acoustic playback)
“Outlands” from the Tron Legacy Soundtrack (symphonic presentation, imaging)
“Sultans of swing” by Dire Straits (detail, separation, balance)
“And Justic for All” by Metallica (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
“Ten thousand fists” by Disturbed (driver distortion, treble response, rock playback)
Note: Other tracks were used, but the listed songs were primarily used to asses and break down the gear’s response.
Source Selection
The 16 Ohm impedance is pretty standard for an in-ear monitor, making it work well with just about any source you plug the RT-10 into. The RT-10 sits in a sweet spot in that it is tuned to be forgiving with poorly recorded tracks and low bit rate files, but also scales with higher resolution music. They are a forgiving tuning that is also capable of rendering a hi-fi experience. Throw any portable source at it and they will most likely sound really good.
Sound Signature
Head-Fi is known for being a place where participants are always on the lookout for the next budget champ. For a while one of the contenders was the JVC HA-FX40. They were a V-signature and high resolution earphone that utilized carbon fiber diaphragms. Their biggest flaw however was a very spiked treble response that I found bothersome and impaired my ability to fully enjoy them. The RT-10 uses the same carbon fiber material in this earphone’s diaphragm. While their bass and midrange similarly matches the JVC offering, they have addressed the treble issues. What is left is a very entertaining bass forward and slight V-signature IEM that is sure to get the approval of many who experience them, including myself.
The bass of the RT-10 is robust and uber extended. There’s more rumble than there is punch. Mid bass is controlled and doesn’t destroy the overall tuning like many in-ears in this price range with bass forwardness. The bass isn’t the tightest or most responsive thing I’ve heard. It’s fun subwoofer type of bass that will get your head bobbing while jamming hip hop. They will make explosions have awesome impact when watching movies. They will give rock tracks depth that makes them that much more fun to listen to. It’s bass is extended enough to be appreciated and doesn’t keep that forwardness to the point that it impacts midrange or vocals very often. While on some occasions it can hit hard enough to impact midrange resolution, it isn’t the unnatural mid bass bleed kind of effect. The RT-10 bass works really well for commuting, working out, and for just about every genre of music.
Midrange is slightly behind the forward sub bass frequencies. They are definitely on the warmer and more intimate side. During complex passages when the bass is hitting hard at the same time, the lower midrange of the RT-10 will get a hair disjointed, but it is only noticeable during critical listening. The midrange is fairly high resolution but also slightly closed in. I don’t get an open and airy sense from them. Separation of sounds and details is good for the asking price, albeit not something I would brag to my friends about. Key words and thoughts that come to mind are polite, inoffensive, universally applicable, and set up to work well with the rest of the sound.
Treble response does take a small step forward from the midrange, but is still on the more neutral side of things. It is a snappy and accurate treble with good PRaT. I think it’s in a really good spot to round out a very entertaining and non-fatiguing tuning that many will really appreciate.
Soundstage and Imaging
The RT-10 digs deep and does it pretty effortlessly, but the polite yet still entertaining midrange and treble doesn’t make for the biggest soundstage. Imaging is pretty good with vocal tracks. With bass heavy tracks the RT-10 struggles giving a sense of instrument placement.
Zero Audio Duoza ($75 to $100 USD on many sites)
The Duoza is a pretty popularly tuned earphone. One of the first things I thought when I sampled the RT-10 “these sound a lot like the Duoza.” After doing an A-B comparison, there are some things about the RT-10 I prefer.
The RT-10 bass has more of an extended sub bass tuning and forwardness. Bouncing back and forth between the two, the Duoza is midbass forward in comparison. The Duoza does have slightly better separation, dynamics and imaging in it’s midrange. Treble tuning is very similar to my ears.
I give a slight edge to the Duoza in terms of build quality. Cables are very similar, but the metal housings are of higher quality as compared to the plastic housings of the RT-10.
As far as design is concerned, the RT-10 trumps the Duoza. Their ergonomic, lightweight and great fitting housings are far superior to the Frankenbolts of the bulkier Duoza. I also give an edge to the RT-10 in terms of accessories. The pouch, tips and organizing plate, and interchangeable faceplates are all a nice touch seldom seen at this price range.

Macaw GT-100S ($65 to $100 USD on many sites)
Many people who will take interest in the RT-10 will be people who have already had success with their GT-100S purchase. The GT-100S is a truly remarkable flagship product that has an insane level of fidelity throughout the entire spectrum. They are a solid metal housing, and come with three tuning filters.
The RT-10 is a more budget oriented earphone that has taken feedback from its flagship and implemented some improvements in design. While I don’t feel the RT-10 matches the fidelity level of the GT-100S, it isn’t far off. The RT-10 has more bass than the bassiest filter of the GT-100S and carries more of a sub focus. Midrange and treble are similarly tuned, but the GT-100S is slightly airier and more resolving.
The fit and comfort of the RT-10 is leaps and bounds better than the GT-100s. For that reason alone I would suggest this earphone to GT-100S owners, or to those looking for a super comfortable over the ear fit. Also, if you liked the GT-100S and wish they had a tuning filter that was just a hair bassier than the bassiest stock filter, your wish comes true with the RT-10.
The fact that I did comparisons to earphones more than twice the RT-10 cost is a testament to how well done Macaw has done with this new product. The RT-10 is a great fit and has great sound. From what I've heard it’s one of the premier earphones under thirty dollars. If you want a quality bass forward sound in a budget earphone with hi-fi sound that works for just about every genre, the Macaw RT-10 is what you’re looking for.

Thanks for reading and happy listening!
Really good review hisoundfi.  I really can relate as we seem to have the same road here.  You are just totally up there with your reviews.
I bought the RT10 on ebay last week and just received them yesterday.  Lightning fast service!
I really like what I am hearing so far.  I changed tips to the JVC medium Spiral Dots and it seems to give me a bit more highs, which I like.  But yes, the bass and lush mids are really really good for the price.
Is it me or the imaging and separation is really good on these?  I was listening to Holly Cole's The Train and wow... you hear stuff all over the place!
Agree with most of the review and agree with the comment regarding the imaging, only thing I'm not sure about is the fit they seem to sit a bit far out in my ears. Overall they are great value for money.
Really well written review! Got my RT-10 couple of days ago and i really think they sound rather fantastic for the price asked. Nice mellow sound without removing to much mid range and treble. I really like the airy presentation, i think they sound quite wide and spacious..Separation is rather excellent!
The fit in my ears is not really that good, however they sit comfortable but a bit to far out.