1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

    Dismiss Notice

RHA CL1 Ceramic

Rating:
3.58333/5,
  1. Takeanidea
    RHA CL1 Ceramic - an IEM to rule them all?
    Written by Takeanidea
    Published Dec 5, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Bass - inviting Mids - enticing Treble - shimmering
    Cons - Don't like to be separated from the DL1 for long
    IMG_20161129_112300027_HDR.jpg
     
     
     
    I got the honour of being part of the C1 World Tour .Thank you for the opportunity Micah and the RHA Team. Selflessly our Tour Organiser , @glassmonkey gave me the chance to unwrap this pretty special bundle of 2 IEMs and a Dacamp.Whatever I did, thank you! It’s not every day that 3 new products from the same manufacturer arrive on your doorstep.
    I have the rather daunting task on being the first person to receive the RHA Trio - the C1 IEM, D1 Dacamp and CL750 IEM. I won’t say I drew the short straw - of course , everyone wants to get their hands on these ; let’s just say you are on your own when you write the first review. There is no frame of reference , no bandwagon to jump onto. Therefore, and with some trepidation , I step into the unknown….
     
    Introduction
     
    IMG_20161129_114540650_HDR.jpg
     
    My journey with RHA began in 2015. I won a pair of MA750s
     
    816Ef8I2uVL._SL1500_.jpg
     
     
    following a slogan competition organised for the Headfi Cambridge Meet. I then went on to review the T20 for a headfi Tour.
     
    rha-t20.jpg
     
     
    The T20s were not to my liking. Specifically there was an edge to the treble that I could not reconcile with. The MA750s likewise had too much high frequency energy to be exactly what I was looking for. For the many many people that own and cherish these 2 IEMs , I mean no disrespect and I know there were good points to both of these IEMs. Some people are less tolerant to certain frequencies - with the build quality and the fit and the accessories and the value for money , I was desperate to like their products. But I couldn’t. Until now….
     
    About the C1
     
    IMG_20161129_111149129_HDR.jpg
     
    The C1 is a beautiful looking universal fit IEM. It comes with a balanced cable (mini XLR) that fits it’s companion , the D1 Dacamp , launched simultaneously on November 25th 2016. It has a 2nd cable , an unbalanced 3.5mm , for everything else. The cables are sMMCX terminated and have an extra long memory wire , which is not plastic ; it’s really wire and it stays put. 
    The C1 is a dual driver configuration , and  another hybrid design. Another unique one. This one is a dynamic and something called a Ceramic Plate Transducer. The dynamic is dealing with everything below 8kHz, the ceramic - everything above , up to where only bats remain. The C1 will fit into your smartphone. But it isn’t going to work properly. The C1 is for amplifiers. A smartphone is looking for an IEM of 16 Ohms impedance maybe 32 at a push and a sensitivity of 100 dB or more. The C1 is 150 Ohms and 87 dB. When we want our low output devices (smartphones, most DAPs) to work straight from the headphones we need that low impedance. In essence , the lower the impedance the less output is needed to achieve a decent volume level. The more sensitive the headphone , the louder it will be at a lower volume level. So why go for a lower sensitivity higher impedance level? I have the explanation from RHAs Iain from a previous entry on headfi prior to launch -
     
    From the makers
     
    “The IEMs specifically have the impedance they do because of performance. Our engineers were working on wideband dynamic drivers and found that a config with higher impedance allows them to get better control over the higher frequencies in the extended response. At the same time. they were working on the ceramic driver, and the two techs compliment each other very nicely - piezo drivers have very high impedance, a standard dynamic alongside one wouldn't work very well.”
     
    IMG_20161129_113738013_HDR.jpg
     
     
    The competition
     
    The Sennheiser IE800 , an IEM I own, has a wideband dynamic driver.
     
    61OeRLziEJL._SL1200_.jpg
     
     
    So when anyone mentions that word , I listen. Iain is also a fan of the IE800 so I wondered; have they tried to make an IE800 for the 21st century? You know , one that you can put on and it plays music without irritating the heck out of you? 
    I looked at the quote again ; the engineers were “working on wideband dynamic” and had added “piezo drivers” to the equation. I could picture in my mind an IE800 with an extended treble. I was worried because of my flawed relationship with the T20. But I was excited at the same time. This seemed like a huge departure from RHAs endeavours to date.  
    I was determined to find a way to have a proper listen to these IEMs. I have an awful lot of in ears. I have ACS Encore Pros. They have 5 drivers and they have the most superb bass response. I have the IE800s - a single wideband dynamic driver they have a thick syrupy sound with sparkle in the detail and therefore a decent soundstage. I have oBravo Erib 2as
     
    obravo_eamt-3a-3.jpg
     
     
    - a hybrid neodymium and planar IEM with mids I absolutely love - the mids almost have a punch to them. And a dozen others from Klipsch X11is , Sony XBA4ips
     
    169051.jpg
     
     
    down to Apple EarPods. The EarPods did a shootout with a Final IEM I had on review. I preferred the EarPods. That’s another story of course….
    I haven’t yet found something I would consider the perfect IEM for me. I have found the best bass(ACS) the best mids(oBravo) and the best highs and soundstage(IE800). Of course I know I’m extremely lucky to have 3 such IEMs but it doesn’t stop me from dreaming. Maybe there is something out there that can do all 3 elements to World Class levels. Read on , and you will see whether the C1 takes on any of these heavyweights…..
     
    Sound Quality
     
    IMG_20161129_114535742_HDR.jpg
     
     
    The testing begins
     
    I spent the first part of my listening starting not from the bottom. I started right at the top. The pinnacle. The peak. Time is short and I am not here to mess around folks. I got the shiniest meanest looking cable plugged it into that D1 Dacamp thingummy,  chucked the USB cable into my MacBook , and fired up some DSD. That is how I roll. A vinyl rip too. Nothing brick walled here. Not yet.
     
    [​IMG]
     
     
    I sat down and spent a lot of time adjusting my memory wire. I try the IEMs exactly as they come out of the box as a starting point. I figure we are strangers but the engineers know best. What they have put on the ends of the drivers are probably what sounds best in their endless research, I’m normally a medium type of guy, straight down the middle. Up until my reviewing has reached critical mass during the last 2 months this has worked well for me. Having tried so many I have finally realised that my left ear canal is much smaller than my right. With shoving so many tips into ears lately the problem of comfort is becoming more critical than before and the differences in isolation I am noticing more than ever. All IEMs are a different shape and comply in particular can be squashed up to a point where both the same size will fit. The C1 has comply supplied but on the drivers are silicons. When I tried the C1s on first I pushed them in and sat back and they were hollow and treble hot. And imbalanced to boot. I went to the box and swapped a left tip for a small silicon and the problem was somewhat diminished but still there. After a few minutes of pulling and pushing I realised the memory wire had so much flex I could manoeuvre them right by the sMMXC terminations. Minute adjustments to and fro up and down and I found my sweet spot. I don’t know your sweet spot. I don’t know you that well! But let’s get intimate - here’s mine. At least for the C1.
     
    The fitting
     
    I put them into my ears , push down lightly with my thumbs, and with my thumb and forefinger pull the memory wire gently toward my ear lobes until the bass gets loud. I then carefully pull the memory wire up while twisting the driver up. I then pull the top of my ear lobe toward the memory wire whilst pulling the memory wire toward it. We all have our ways of getting the right fit. With these, you just have to try and work at the fit until it goes right. When it goes right ; I truly hope you will notice what I did. This is why I have taken so much time up in telling you how they work for me. For me , all that work was worth it. 
    Up until I started experimenting with every conceivable micro adjustment the memory wire could take, honestly ? I thought here is a shinier version of the RHA stock sound - treble hot , too forward and too fatiguing. The sound , as I neared that sweet spot , started to change. The bass started to get big. The mids and highs started to get interesting. Really interesting….
    I dialled the C1s to the perfect angle and didn’t dare move. I was rooted to the spot. There was so much high end action going on. But it wasn’t harsh - it was extended. Extended like I hadn’t expected. It was quite a moment for me. The clarity of this was stunning. Of course I was listening to a DSD rip of Mick Jagger’s She’s the Boss. It was pretty well done as a recording. But this listening session was reminding me of putting on a top set of full size headphones, albeit with a bit more trauma to my ear canal. Over the next 6 hours the trauma became less of a problem don’t worry. There was no way I was taking them off, time as I’ve said before , is fleeting…..
     
    IMG_20161129_112300027_HDR.jpg
     
     
    Once I got these right , (and I don’t know how long that might take and what size or type of tips it may take, but bear with them) the C1s will soar. They have bass - good bass that comes from a good dynamic and the extension of that top end made me want to check out everything I’ve got. Immediately. A fraction of a degree of adjustment and I was left with a lacklustre treble hot mess of the rhythm and blues. The sound on the sunny side of the width of a hair follicle is a matter only my ears could tell the full story of. I will try and tell you as best I can what the sound signature is.
     
    Bass
     
    The C1 aims to kill it in the bass. There is sub bass without the full depth and punch of the bass hitters such as my ACS. Nor does it have the linearity and speed of my Sony XBA4s. The IE800s have a little more bloat than these but still a pleasant oomph to the lower end that resonates merrily around the ear canals. The C1 feels like a compromise between the 3 which really works. While we’re here let’s discuss bass a little more. Bass when you are sat down in a quietened darkened room in a chilled out mood listening to the ambient tones of Megadeth at a sedate volume is one thing. But; here’s another thing. You can take these out to play! Bass is everywhere on the streets, those mean streets. I mean low frequency rumbling really. An IEM with the best isolation out there will still be competing against the sounds of the street. There’s lorry’s out there -there’s wrecking balls to avoid. You wouldn’t want to be hit by one of them….. So bass is needed , and arguably it needs to have a lift and a visible presence. Our ears need to see it when we are out and about. Even when I hit the streets with the C1/D1(very carefully I promise you RHA) I had bass I could enjoy and hear where it was intended to be heard. Kate Bush Running up that Hill - has a constant drum beat that swings from left to right in the mix , much like a soldier beating out a march. What is hypnotic on some systems can get really tough to stomach at decent volume levels on something not right. When Kate sings “let’s exchange the experience” during that track - the bass goes down to subbass levels and is an impressive sound to have got out of the studio. Here it is done justice.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    The Jury have voted almost unanimously with the odd reservation. Which has to be there for the purists who like the fast linear bass and the Utopians and Abyssians who have it all and can’t see why anyone else is even trying.
    The bass of the RHA C1 Ceramics(this feels very formal now but it’s a hugely important thing for us all) is reaching down into the subbass and gives a vibration that I personally love to feel in a headphone. The mid and upper bass whilst not being super accurate has a great signature that will greatly benefit following the music whilst out and about without bleeding into the rest of the signature. And that I can’t wait to tell you about….
     
    Mids
     
    The mids are part of the mix here. They feel only slightly recessed. Vocals are easy to follow and guitars wail away effortlessly enough if you want to fix your ears on them. Male vocals , lower in the FR unless you’re much younger than myself, are slightly harder to follow in the overall mix. Female vocals reach higher up into the kHz and at the ends of the notes have that slight more clarity against the rest of the stuff happening behind , in front, to the sides….. 
     
    Treble and Soundstage
     
    This is where the wow factor occurs for me. That is , if it’s going to happen. The top end of the FR is where the magic is put. All the subtle effects , the echo, the space between the instruments, the places where the producer has artificially added them onto a virtual stage. When I talk about extension, I am really talking about the extra space that is created when I perceive there to be a higher volume of treble being presented to me. Often the feeling I have is that the treble energy is there to compete with a super boomy bass presence and the treble has had to be turned at an artificially higher level than it should be. Whilst on first listen this may seem to have an exciting live feel to it, it can quickly become tiring. What I get from that type of treble is a shrill ,harsh muddy v shaped sound.  That is not what I am looking for and probably not what any of us are looking for. The analogy of putting a curtain between the music could be used to explain this to you.
     
    IMG_20161129_114206237_HDR.jpg
     
     
     
    Bass is quite easy to instantly spot , what is going on beyond that is far more difficult to convincingly describe. Well I find it harder anyway. I find the C1s have that elusive extension, they have the live feel that you get that instant feeling for on a v shape. But the depth of the mix; right out to the edges, the clarity is all there. I listened to a vinyl of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells with all the scratches and rumble and sparseness and the six string guitar and mandolin at the start of the record did grate. I was about to try another track , but the track got busier, the record got cleaner and I felt like I was hearing it for the first time. 
     
    Sound quality conclusion
     
    The C1 has a bass that is full of life. Some may find it too much; I suspect this may be due to being a fraction too far into the ear canal. For me, the bass is great and gives us something to give us that little pick up on our hugely varied journeys to and from our places of work. The mids are slightly recessed to me; I still found it easy enough to concentrate on the vocal but there is an awful lot of other stuff happening desperate to distract me. The treble and soundstage - they got it right. I love it. RHA done good. 
     
    ScreenShot2016-12-06at00.11.05.png
     
     
    Build 
     
    Cables
     
    The cable I have been talking about needs further attention on this review. This is 1 of 2 in the box. It is silver core Ag4x and has that Mini XLR connection. The XLR is there to reduce cross channel interference. The braiding on both cables is beautiful. The joins have all had time spent on making them look robust yet elegant. The Y split is metal . The chin toggle , a cheap piece of clear plastic that could have cut from a lemonade bottle on the Noble Savants(which cost more)here are a thick perfectly machined double barrel that slide up and down the cable with no risk of snagging. The sMMCX terminals are colour coded and fit into the drivers with a click to let you know you’re home. This I found difficult to do with any speed. There is a notch that the terminals find but they sit at the top and bottom of the driver shells. I found that I  got the best chance of success by pulling the memory wires straight and spinning the cable gently around the driver until I got it to snick into place. The drivers have a delicate embossed L and R on them. It’s very tasteful. I would have liked a tiny bit of red and blue on the driver inputs to have helped me a little more. 
     
     
    IMG_20161129_111137359_HDR.jpg
     
     
    The braided OFC cable with the unbalanced termination has all the same build quality. It didn’t impress me in it’s capabilities as much as the XLR cable. The OFC sounded a little duller in comparison , it had slightly less of that extension I’ve been raving about. It enabled me to plug it directly into theBIT’s Audio Opus#2 which I had on review at the same time. I didn’t take that out and about but I did take my Ibasso DX100 around with them plugged directly in on high gain. Both units powered the C1s to high enough volume levels. The Opus needed to go into the red to fire the C1s into action , the DX100s took them on with ease, weighing in around halfway. The Opus#2 had a bit more magic to it ; what all in one solution that is. The DX100 still sounded pretty amazing for out and about rig. Neither could stand up to the immensity of the OTG bedecked C1/D1/G4 combo. That was everything was how I needed it. Everything sounded slightly lacking in comparison.
     
     
     
    Fit/Isolation/Microphonics
     
    The shape of IEMs bugs me a lot. I want all my IEMs to be this shape. Can this be arranged? At least from now onwards? This pebble shape fits snuggly into my outer ear. The shape of the RHAs is oval with a nozzle protruding at an angle from the top of the driver shell. 80% of my outer ear is taken up with the shell. The memory wires do their work and I get the magic. It would be a lot easier with the pebble shape. The isolation has not been reduced by the space within my outer ear. The memory wires have 360 degrees of flex over a significant length and push the tips far enough into the ear canal to make the rest of the World disappear. There is some leakage but it wouldn’t be heard on a bus or train or sat within 2 feet of your partner watching a TV programme.
    The cables have lots of weight to them. The driver shells are hefty for their size too. Wearing them over the ear is a sensible way forward and everything is set up for this. As such, the weight of the C1 is non existent. Microphonics, the noise perceived as a thud through the cable knocking against one’s body and reverberating up the cable and into the driver, is not in evidence.
     
    Value for money
     
    Always a bone of contention when you can get an IEM for under £10 and these are £399. The C1s have the extension worthy of a flagship. Flagships from some companies are retailing at over £3000. Yes, for an IEM. Therefore, a flagship for £399 is a breath of fresh air. This IEM is good value. To get the best from the C1s I would recommend partnering them with the D1. That adds another £399 to the equation. For this you get a balanced Dac/Amp and a balanced IEM that I believe will stand the test of time. 
     
    Conclusion
     
    Thank you to RHA for giving me another chance with your products. I was excited to hear about the C1 particularly. It felt like it was a departure from what we’ve had before. I’ve had a good long listen and an even longer think about what I need to say about this. My measured response is the C1 is an IEM anyone wanting to spend serious money on a portable earphone needs to have a listen to before they spend their hard earned cash. And if they can’t , and they are willing to part with £800 - take a chance! ***Provided they’ll refund if it’s not to your individual tastes(but please fiddle around with those memory wires first)***
    I feel like I’m a part of the next chapter in this company’s history. I’ve really wanted to embrace their previous efforts. Now I can jump on the bandwagon. It’s heading in the right direction.
     
     
     
     
    Equipment used:
     
    RHA
    CL1 Ceramic balanced / unbalanced IEM
    CL750 IEM
    DL1 Dacamp
    OTG cable
     
    Chord
    Mojo Dacamp
    Mini Optical cable
    OTG cable
     
    Sony
    XBA4ip 4 driver dynamic IEM
     
    oBravo
    Erib 2a 2 driver hybrid Universal IEM
     
    ACS
    Encore Studio Pro 5 driver dynamic Custom IEM
     
    Ibasso
    DX100 Digital Audio Player
     
    theBIT
    Audio Opus#2 Digital Audio Player
     
    Motorola
    Moto G4 Smartphone 
     
    Apple
    Macbook Pro Retina 15.6"
     
    Music played:
     
     
    Mick Jagger She's the Boss Vinyl DSD
    Kate Bush Hounds of Love Vinyl 24 96
    And many others ranging from Disturbed FLAC to Beethoven MP3s
      glassmonkey, H T T, BlinkST and 5 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Takeanidea
      Thanks Phil and Sanj. They certainly mean business. I am certain they're onto a good thing with the Ceramics. Phil, you'll need time with them, the treble does seem a bit way out there to start with, esp compared to most of the IEMs on the market.
      Takeanidea, Dec 7, 2016
    3. twister6
      You don't find treble to be overwhelmingly spiky?  I just read other few reviews, including Paul's (Brooko) write up with a measured FR graph and that treble spike looks painful :D
      twister6, Jan 7, 2017
    4. Takeanidea
      Hi twister6 , I loved the extension of the CL1s. Only listening to them with your own ears prove whether I am a misguided fool a genius or somewhere in the middle !
      I stick by every word I've said here. Brooko has his own ears opinions and graphs and does a fine job with them.
      I use my own judgement. I am not like brooko in my musical likes and dislikes ; I have an entirely different inventory from him and do not mind a lot of treble in my sound signature.
      Takeanidea, Jan 17, 2017
  2. MrOTL
    The way to Ceramic
    Written by MrOTL
    Published Jun 4, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - durability, liquid treble, clear sound stage, comfort, build quality, warranty
    Cons - Designed for stationary audio-source or Dacamp L1
    [​IMG]


    Intro.


    Ceramic is the most familiar material for humanity and requires many touches. This material obtains by applying high heat to raw natural particles, starting from ceramic cups to glasses, cements, optical fiber and synthetic diamonds.

    It is also resistant to sudden temperature changes, does not pass through electricity, has good corrosion resistance. However, is usually broken easily. ‘Zirconium Oxide’ which improves this weakness is 8 times stronger than plastic, but it is known as a hard material to process.

    The Scotland company ‘RHA Audio’ has been recognized by the US ‘Apple’ for its production philosophy, and as a co-operative company, it has delivered in-ear headphones to Apple stores around world since 2011. Now 2017, they released new ‘CL-1’ in-ear headphone using ‘Zirconium Oxide’ for high-end head-fi users.





    [​IMG]


    Exterior


    The exterior design of ‘CL-1’ is optimized for audiophiles using a dedicated portable DAC-amplifier ‘DACAMP L1’, or an audio system for headphones. The unit's housing is made of non-oxidizing zirconium metal, which has a stylish appearance is reminiscent of titanium and has a ruggedness that does not break easily even when dropped.

    Both unit houses have their logos and model names engraved on the front and back, and there is a black wire mesh duct next to the RHA logo. The nozzle part is fabricated in the shape of a whirl of aluminum metal on the wire mesh filter separately. The nozzle tubes are 4mm caliber size, so a variety of ear-tips are available for listening with.




    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]




    The 'CL-1' employs a sMMCX proprietary connector, so you can alternate between a 3.5 mm stereo braided oxygen-free copper cable and a 4pin mini-XLR balanced silver core Ag4X cable. Compared to the existing MMCX method, it is more tightly coupled. The length of both cables is same about 1.5 m (59 inch) and is recommended for use with stationary systems.

    The outer shell is made of high-quality material that does not adhere to dust, has good flexibility and has not been exposed to microphonic. Since the position of the Y-split point is below than normal earphones, recommend using the cinch up.

    Unlike other brands of cable ear guides, spring and wire are included. The unit is firmly fixed enough to float in the air, so if you put it well behind your ears, the weight of the unit will be well dispersed, helping you to enjoy your music for a long time.





    [​IMG]



    The silver core cable is designed separately for 4pin mini-XLR terminal of 'L1 DACAMP'. It is designed to be removable by pushing the black button at the top like the regular XLR. The copper cable’s polarity of 3.5mm stereo terminal is made long so that it can be connected smoothly to a portable device with thick case.

    CL-1 package includes silicon ear-caps, double flange silicone ear-caps, Comply Tsx-200 memory-foam ear-caps, clothing clip, carrying pouch, and 3.5 to 6.5 mm stereo converter. The 3.5 to 6.5 stereo converter can be screwed onto the copper cable. There are two small storage compartments inside the dedicated pouch, but it is narrow space for even basic components for CL1 use.






    [​IMG]


    Specification

    Driver: CL Dynamic + Ceramic Plate
    Frequency range: 16-45,000Hz
    Impedance: 150 Ohms
    Sensitivity: 89dB
    Rated/ max power: 10/ 50mW
    Weight: 14g

    Warranty: 3 years


    =======================


    Interior


    Overall sound signature of ‘CL-1’ pretty is analogous to weak V-shaped, with more weighted-on highs. Overall soundstage shifts two steps forward, that doesn’t make recessed layering of middles. Spatiality is expressed as if the instruments are resonating from the center axis of the listener, so that sonic brings a feeling of being opened and not confined.


    Due to the feature of trebles having liquid and taut texture, in beginning of ‘Paganini Caprice No.5, Op.1’, ‘CL-1’ does not miss the long stretches of violin strings, helps to blow out intensely. Since lower highs have no tail and are expressed in dry state, the scraping expression of classical guitar strokes sounds natural. But, the detail of the snare or high-hat may sound lifeless.


    While the reverberation becomes richer with lower frequency on middles, roll-off response speed is constant. Also, the middles are warmer and thicker than treble that make piano note or vocal belonged more like flat. The bass is relatively warmer compared to middles and highs, and as its band reaches upper band, it is heavier and roll-up speed is faster, so that the sonic details can be more expressed. The texture from harmonics of the brass and bass instrument represented in the sound source blow pretty well without filtration.





    [​IMG]




    With mini-XLR terminal of RHA DACAMP L1, ‘CL-1’ shows deep-bass naturally boosted and trebles analytically revealed. The whole sound stage is laid-back by two steps, dynamic range and width get bit bigger. That allows instruments to be more precisely positioned so that do not overlap each other. However, “ah” vowel coloration is caused because of rapid roll-up on upper midrange.

    If use the enclosed double flange silicone ear-cap together, the presentation of midrange moves one step more forward and the trebles get thicker to sound a stronger string instrument representation. Comply Tsx-200 Memory-Form including CL-1 package makes upper midrange and overall trebles closed, and lower bass smother, thus creating a soft sonic imaging ambiance that allows you to enjoy more genres of music.

    'CL1' has a 150 ohm high impedance and a low sensitivity of 89dB. If the required output environment is not reached, trebles and middles of ‘CL-1’ will present wiry and tizzy sound. Strongly recommend matching it with a dedicated amplifier 'DACAMP L1' or stationary audio system capable of driving low-efficiency headphones, as has required fairly-high input-power.







    DISCLAIMER

    Hello, I am a Head-fi product reviewer named 'Bigheadfiler' in South Korea. This review may not be perfect because it is my third English translation. I appreciate your understanding. Thank you.

    The 'RHA CL-1' in-earheadphone posted on review was provided by 'RHA Audio'. And 'DACAMP L1' sample was rented by Korean RHA official distributor 'Sovico AV'. This review has been written without any restrictions as respect author's autonomous decision making.




    Photo & Review by Bigheadfiler, 2017
      Matrix Petka likes this.
  3. B9Scrambler
    RHA CL1: "The Scalpel"
    Written by B9Scrambler
    Published Jan 4, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Build Quality - Accessories - Detail and Clarity
    Cons - Polarizing treble presentation - Annoying, bouncy ear guides
    Greetings Head-fi!
     
    Today we are going to be taking a brief look at RHA's new flagship earphone, the CL1 Ceramic.
     
    The CL1 took over the role of flagship late 2016, a position previously held by the T20. While they may look similar, the CL1 brings forth new tech and materials worthy of a flagship product, all back by a lengthily 3-year warranty. The housings are ceramic, the balanced connection utilized a silver cable, and the dual transducers are an all-new design utilizing a dedicated, high-frequency ceramic plate.
     
    The CL1 ends up being a pretty intense experience, so much so that I've nicknamed it "The Scalpel". It's a precision instrument that if abused can be dangerous to the health of your ears; i.e. LISTEN RESPONSIBLY! Keep that volume down.
     
    Disclaimer:
     
    The CL1 was sent to me as part of RHA's Head-fi tour that also included the brand new CL750 and RHA's first portable headphone amplifier and DAC, the Dacamp L1. These items were in my possession for 13 days before being shipped off to the next tour member. I got a couple extra days with them due to the holidays shutting down Canada post. There is no financial incentive for writing this review and all opinions within are m own. They do not represent RHA or any other entity.
     

     
    DSC00059.jpg       DSC00060.jpg       DSC00061.jpg
     

     
    Packaging and Accessories:
     
    The CL1 arrived with some surprisingly heavy and very premium feeling packaging. The matte black outer sleeve contains a glossy image of the CL1 with the Hi-Res logo and notation that they're made for use with amplifiers on the front. The side shows off the extensive accessory list and the two different MMCX cable inclusions; one terminating in a standard 3.5mm jack, the other in a mini XLR balanced format. The other included accessories are;
     
    - very spacious zippered semi-hard case
    - 3.5mm to 6.35m adapter
    - 6 pairs of dual density silicone ear tips
    - 2 pairs of bi-flange silicone ear tips
    - 3 pairs of Comply Tsx-200 ear tips
    - metal holder for the tips
    - Cable clip
    - Cleaning cloth for the ceramic housings
     
    While I did not open each set of silicone tips to try them out, I could see they were the same as those that came with my S500i and are of excellent quality.
     
    Sliding off the sleeve reveals a textured, matte black box with a magnetically sealed flap. A vector-graphics-esq image of the CL1's interior construction is printed on the front. I think it looks pretty cool. Unclip the flap and fold back the cover like you would a book and you're greeted to a large foam cutout containing only the CL1 housings. To the left under the cover is a feature manual tucked in a dedicated slot.
     
    Lifting out the foam sheet reveals the case and both cables neatly wrapped and sealed with a cardboard band. Above them sits the carrying case which holds the cable clips and all the spare tips, each pair of which is oddly wrapped individually. To their right is the adapter which I didn't think I could remove without damaging the foam since it was tucked in there so tightly. Since this was a review sample, others needed to take their pictures, and I really had no use for it, I left it where it was.
     
    This was a very premium unboxing experience, in my experience, and the included accessories were plentiful and of high quality. Excellent!
     

     
    DSC00062.jpg       DSC00064.jpg       DSC00068.jpg
     

     
    Build and Comfort:
     
    RHA is known for their build quality, and the CL1 does not disappoint. The earpieces are immaculately crafted from ceramic and feel weighty and extremely solid. The cable clicks in reassuringly and contains a notch to prevent spinning. This might bother some but I consider it a plus given MMCX connections are historically not the most reliable. The less it moves around, the better, especially at the CL1's MSRP of £349.95 / $449.95.
     
    The braided Ag4x silver-core (4-pin Mini XLR) and OFC (3.5mm/6.25mm) cables are pretty impressive. Left and right channels are denoted by blue and red coloring up near the connections to the earpieces. While not necessary given the somewhat inflexible over-ear design, it's still nice to have. Memory is completely absent and they are wonderfully flexible. The only knocks I have against them are the ear guides which I will get to, and the use of what looks like shrink wrap for the strain relief. This seems to be pretty common practice with high-end cables, but I think it looks like a blatant cost-cutting shortcut and feels cheap. The T20's spring relief set-up would have been quite appropriate here.
     
    The earpieces themselves I found wonderfully ergonomic and very comfortable. They slot into your ears hassle free and seal with ease. The issues I have with fit come from the built in ear guides/memory wire. It looks impressive but I found they didn't hold memory all that well and due to the weight of the cable would bounce around, tugging at the earpieces. I got tired of this after a few minutes of traveling so I resorted to using the CL1 only when stationary. I felt the CL750's formed tubes did a better job of guiding the cable and mitigating weight and movement.
     
    Over the CL1 is immaculately build and looks gorgeous. Comfort would be great if it wasn't for the bouncy ear guides that exacerbate the cable weight.
     

     
    DSC00090.jpg       DSC00091.jpg       DSC00104.jpg
     

     
    Sound:
     
    Amping: The CL1 was designed to be used with amplifiers, and it shows. With an impedance of 150 ohms and a sensitivity of 89db, my HTC OneM8 could drive them but just barely. The CL1 did not sound fantastic without amplification, lacking life and pizzazz. Tossing an amp into the mix, in particular the Dacamp L1, they exploded with life and energy.
     
    Balanced or not?: Once I figured out how to used the balanced option on the Dacamp L1 (amps aren't my jam) it offered what was clearly a superior experience. Some of the edginess apparent when listening through the 3.5mm connection was gone and the treble, while still aggressive as ever, was smoothed out around the edges making them more comfortable to listen to. Highly recommended that you listen to the CL1 amped and balanced.
     
    Tips: I stuck with the pre-installed medium silicone tips for the duration of testing. Comply foams were used briefly, but they ended up being more than a hassle than they were worth. The ear guides constantly moving the earpieces lead to an inconsistent seal more often than not. Foams helped make the CL1's enthusiastic treble response more tolerable, especially at the beginning when I was adjusting to their sound.
     

     
    DSC00092.jpg       DSC00093.jpg       DSC00094.jpg
     

     
    I feel the CL1 is going to be a fairly polarizing product. If you're treble sensitive, this will not be the earphone for you. If you're a treble-head, read on because the CL1 will give you the "fizz", as James May would say.
     
    I went into this product expecting it to be treble-heavy based on the comments posted prior to their arrival at my residence. That made me pretty excited. Excess treble fits in with what is generally a part of my preferred signature. That said, I quelled my anticipation so that when I sat down with them, I could form my own unbiased opinions. What were my first impressions? "Holy treble, Batman!", sums it up about right.
     
    The CL1's signature is dominated by very prominent, thin/sharp, and accurate treble that grabs all of your attention. This is not a sound for everyone, and probably not something you should be listening to at high volumes. Through the Dacamp L1 with my MTC One M8 (volume set to 80%) sourcing the beats, I listened on low gain with the volume set to just below 2 on most listening sessions. That was plenty of volume for me, if not too much on some songs.
     
    The CL1's treble is aggressive and uncompromisingly detailed, which unfortunately was very tiring on the ears. The only other product I have that prices within the same ball park is the Accutone Pisces BA. That too is a bright earphone but it's presentation is much more tame in comparison and the way it's tuned means the treble emphasis falls just short of causing exhaustion. It's one of the few bright earphones that I can listen to for hours on end. The CL1 on the other hand seems to have near endless extension, evident by their 16-45,000 Hz frequency range. The ceramic plate used to provide their upper end does it's job and it's damn impressive.
     
    I really enjoy the sound of the CL1's midrange. Vocals are on the thin side but reasonable natural and as with the treble, there is no lack of detail. Guitars have a great feel to them. The only problem is that they are disappointingly recessed. Background vocals seem to fade off into the distance and subtle queues in a mix tend to get lost. This is not an issue with the Pisces BA, which has prominent mids with a well-tuned weight to them.
     
    Luckily the bass brings things back. It's quick, accurate, maintains lots of detail and texture, and is elevated enough to fit in comfortably with the rest of the signature. Any less bass and the CL1 would come across anemic, any more and it would probably step on the midrange's tiny toes. The Pisces BA comes across as much bassier in comparison, particularly in the mid-bass.
     
    The CL1 never wowed me with an all-encompassing soundstage. It's possibly a little larger than what could be considered average. What impresses is the accuracy. The CL1 feels very focused with a black background lending to excellent instrument separation, uncanny clarity, and some of the best imaging I've come across. These strengths seemed to be exaggerated a touch due to the thin, prickly treble presentation.
     
    Overall the CL1 brings to the table insane clarity and detail supported by a very unique treble presentation. I would happily recommend this sound to a dedicated treble-head. Someone that likes to apply EQ to personalize their earphones would also have fun with the CL1. It is very receptive to minor and drastic changes without running into issues like distortion.
     

     
    DSC00098.jpg       DSC00099.jpg       DSC00100.jpg
     

     
    Final Thoughts:
     
    I feel the CL1 is luxury product with a luxury build and that it caters to a particular person; the discerning listener that loves their treble prominent and detailed with clarity to match. This is not a sound that everyone will enjoy, but is one that a dedicated treble-head should enjoy. To the rest of us, the CL1's presentation may come across overly polarizing and intense.
     
    I have to congratulate RHA for releasing the CL1 with such a unique tune and for not falling in line with a generic signature designed to please the masses. This is a gorgeous product with a unique sound that is deserving of the flagship title, even if it's not something I personally would consider for purchase.
     
    Thanks for reading, and thank you RHA for selecting me for this tour!
     
    - B9Scrambler
      Brooko, Deftone, peter123 and 4 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Ian Robb Forgie
      Interesting review I will have to admit I like a clear treble sound thats balanced I'll be following more comments from others. Would I be wrong to assume that they would be just to unforgiving playing a track without using the eq.
      Ian Robb Forgie, Jan 10, 2017
    3. B9Scrambler
      I definitely would not call these balanced. Way too much treble for that. My suspicions are that this earphone would be overly unforgiving for most, even with significant EQ. I could take out 10db of treble and they were still pretty sharp. Would love to see RHA update them with a filter system tailored directly at the treble presentation. 
      B9Scrambler, Jan 10, 2017
    4. Shure or bust
      So no k3003 replacement haha
      Shure or bust, Apr 19, 2017
  4. ngoshawk
    Good sounding attempt at a flagship IEM, especially when combined with the L1
    Written by ngoshawk
    Published Mar 26, 2017
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Comfort, decent reach in bass and treble, BUILD QUALITY, excellent cables
    Cons - V-shaped not for all, not really much...
    The nice thing about being last on the tour is that I have the benefit of completely broken in equipment. The new smell and feel is gone. Gone through many miles and air flights, and USPS trucks and many ears filled with various stages and consistencies of earwax. Various stages of responsibilities and obligations set under the guise of "I have to get this done, YESTERDAY!"
     
    That is the beauty of being last. I have no such pretense. I have no such obligation. No such responsibility. Kind of like when I applied for the tour....I was late, I was after the deadline...and well...didn't get onto the tour. But, as luck would have it, another dropped and I caught the RHA bug. As time would have it, I was between reviews, and successfully breaking in some of my own gear. Yiiipppeeee! It was fate. It was almost like RHA knew my Scottish heritage. I gladly accepted the spot, and waited. Other reviews and gear filled my time.
     
    I casually waited for the arrival, and perused the reviews. Having a pair of fine RHA ma750 (non-mic), I knew of RHA's near-legendary build status. Known for a build equivalent on par with a Swiss watch, I really like the sound. A bright vibrant sound reminds me of a stalwart Scot who is friend to all at a party.
     
    mens-polished-steel-swiss-military-hanowa-patriot-chronograph-watch-p9750-10057_zoom.jpg
     
     
    I was hoping that the sound of the enclosed gear would rival my happily owned ma750's. Reading the various reviews, all commented on that build as top notch. But when sound was discussed, the views varied wildly. Yes wildly, not widely. Widely denotes a common line in time albeit one with variance. Wildly denotes all over the place, passing that line with the speed of light, in all directions. I loved that, and awaited my take on that ride, grabbing hold late one Saturday, after the snail pace of my wait on the day of delivery (not the fault of the sender). As hours turned into MANY hours, the lateness of postal delivery...by tortoise I have no doubt, finally brought the product(s) to my door.
     
    k13002398.jpg
     
     
    Hence, the time begins....A huge thanks to Nik and the RHA team for including me on the tour. I will do my best with various devices in hand to give an honest open review.
     
    I have an affinity for the state of Kansas (otherwise known as “flyover country”). It stems from the hours and days and months I spent riding my mountain bike through that wonderfully peaceful scenery, as distraction from classes at Kansas State University (#EMAW). Far from civilization, we would just ride. Sometimes we met a rancher, but before we could be booted off his land for trespassing; we always mentioned how we had mended a section of fence for him, or cleared some brush from their fence line...something to show we cared about his land as much as he and his family. Over time our group grew to a hearty 5; but the rules did not change. We ALWAYS fixed something. The mutual respect between the rancher and our group of mountain bikers allowed us free entry onto land that few if any would visit, ever. This solitude was not lost on either the rancher or us. Ever.
     
    That affinity to Kansas carries over the group, which shares that same name, a group I wholeheartedly recommend you give a good listen. It was this music, which was used for the week (along with many of my standards). I could not think of a better tie between the heartland, and the Scottish country. A country with a proud heritage of many items. Not the least of which is the best single malts the planet has ever known. Of that there is not debate in my mind. It is with that same fortitude, which I do believe RHA crafts their wares. Having, and still owning the ma750, I understand. If the product cannot stand up to Scottish standards, it is of no use. It is not good. Well...I can unabashedly state that the quality of craftsmanship is excellent. Top notch is a term thrown about, but would not be a shy comparison here. It is that tie between Kansas and Scotland, which gives me the tie and the right to proceed on this solitude of listening. I am within, and I do not mind.
     
    DSC_0152.jpg
     
     
    V-shape sound. Bright highs, somewhat deep bass, bleeding into the sub-bass often. Not unpleasant, but not what I expected from a flagship. Definitely needs EQing.
     
    Compared to the FLC8S-recessed mids, lack energy. Filter versatility and a more vibrant sound. Again, EQ needed to compete.
     
    Compared to the Aria-not as neutral, overwhelming treble. Lack of control in bass. Aria defines warm full-even sound. CL1 has to try really hard and must be EQ'd to compete.
     
    An intimate sound stage accompanies that “power,” from the L1 to the CL1. This is not an unpleasant sound, mind you; it is just not as open and authoritative as I expected. Running my FiiO x5iii on 80/120, through Tidal and the L1 all the way up and on high gain, yields a decently loud sound, and of good quality. Again, the V-shape of the CL1 compliments the L1. But, I am left wanting MORE…. more power, louder volume…It was not until I hit 100/120, that the sound became uncomfortably loud. Granted, my old ears do have a hearing loss, but I have not gone that high on the x5iii with anything else. That said, when running the Line Out at 120/120 on the FiiO, I am allotted a good dose of power from the L1, which then drives the CL1 the way it was meant…Full, detailed, albeit bright, I am more happily enjoying the sound.
     
    For rock such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, this combination of full on Line Out and 2-3/5 on the L1 provides the CL1 with the necessity of power needed to portray the music almost as if one were in the crowd at an SRV concert…almost. The treble still seems a bit bright, and too far forward for my taste, but this can easily be compensated for by EQing the treble down on the L1, or whatever device you are using. That is IF you prefer a treble, which is not as hot as this.
     
    For me though, that hotted-up treble masks the detail I like in the mids. The bass and treble squeezing it out of the way hide that support piano, or support instrumentation, while they both compete for center stage. Those that like competing ends will most definitely enjoy this competition. And I can see the benefit of this in songs such as almost any Stevie Ray song. It is after all, his guitar, and the bass line, which holds the song together as SRV’s voice shines.
     
    DSC_0154.jpg
     
     
     
    As for the sound qualities of the L1, I stated before they are quite nice, and acceptable. Switching to Dave Holland and his excellent Hands album, my reactions are tamed, in a good way. Music of much better quality, allows the L1 to do its work. Paired with the CL1, I can now see the benefit of both. There is most definitely that synergy going on…the pair WAS made for each other after all…A good solid bass, paired with the forward trebles allow the Spanish guitars to play effortlessly. Recessed mids are not unacceptable here. Allowing both ends around them to come through, without congestion.
     
    If one likes expressive treble, then this may be your ticket. Not sibilant in nature, but a far reaching treble affords the CL1 to shine (pun intended) in that realm. This is definitely a V-shape, and one can accept that if ones likes. It has been said, though that for a “TOTL” IEM, this is too much of a V-shape. I would agree; but RHA has never really been one to follow the rules. Out the window went mediocre build quality for the masses, when they came along. Out the window went a tie with a large corporation, which aides their process (one needs only step inside an Apple store and you see a variety of RHA products). Out the window went a “neutral” IEM as a flagship. RHA is playing by their rules, and I completely respect that.
     
    If one does not like the sound, then one can EQ the sound to their tastes. This is an almost refreshing aspect. One with which you can either adhere to, or look elsewhere. I have not run an EQ as much on any of my other IEM’s, as I have with the CL1. And I do not mind.
     
    Running the CL1 through my FiiO x5iii and Aune S6 provide a MUCH different sound, than the DACAMP L1 does. Gone is the fairly even bass and treble push. An overly bright sound, overshadowing the decent bass is had streaming Tidal and Jimmy Buffett. The bright sound might suit some, but I find the treble too much to handle. That said clarity is extremely good with this set up. So, if you like an analytically bright sound with excellent clarity, then this is a good pairing.
     
    Repeating the sound, through the native FiiO app confirms that the triplet is quite a vibrant and bright sound. I admit it; I like a warm full sound. I adore a warm sound…it is like that Guinness, which you drink warmer than it should be, but you still love it; because it is just right. That said, I do kind of dig this cold analytical sound. This is Guinness like it was meant to be served…ICE COLD. And I’m OK with that, because I LIKE Guinness. And I must admit, I like this colder sound. This makes the CL1, quite good, detailed, with excellent separation and placement of musical note.  
     
    *Carryover from the DACAMP L1 review*
     
    I must say, as did @Brooko in his thorough review; that the more time I spend with this little device, the more I come to appreciate it. The more I appreciate the simplicity of plug-n-play. The more I welcome how seamlessly the RHA Team makes all of the functions work. The more I value the ability across listening/music platforms…FLAC? No problem. MP3? No problem. AAC? It…just…plays…running Los Lonely Boys (another of my all time favorites) through my x5iii, and the L1; the CL1’s simply shine. With this combination, I can bypass that V-shaped sound. I can forgive the need for POWER! There is no want for more, running these together. A benefit of the Line out on the FiiO, is that the volume is adjustable. A near unheard of feature in mid-fi DAP’s. And well worth it, in my mind. Born on the Bayou simply oozes through this combo; making me feel as if I was in a backwater open air Cajun shack of a bar. Throw a lime in a cold beer, and you are there. A superb combination, not to be diminished when one considers cost.
     
    Combined this “set up” runs north of $1600 USD. Not cheap, and for that outlay of cash, one would hope for this type of synergy. I guess it just goes to show, that even devices, which may be less than “worthy,” to some based upon their sonic preferences, can shine as part of the whole. I’m not saying I will run right out and purchase the RHA’s no; but I AM saying that for that kind of outlay, one could do much worse.
     
     
    This really does show that the CL1 performs best under the “influence” of an external power source. While not bad running solo, one truly benefits from the addition of the L1. Think Big Bird and Snufalufagus, Bert & Ernie, Statler & Waldorf from the Muppet Show; and you get the idea…solo, they really aren’t that good, but paired together…WOW! What a difference! To really shine, the other is needed.
     
      StatlerandWaldorf.jpg ernie-and-bert.jpg ff0652aa90f1426e6dd0330e1e0c9af3.jpg
     
     
     
     
     
    Alone, the CL1 is adequate, but not up to the level of comparably priced IEM’s, such as my Vibro Labs Aria, or the excellent Lend Me UR Ears FLC8S. When running at this price point, one must not only compete against the other I mention; but also “hand made” IEM’s such as the Campfire Audio Nova, and equally good Lyra II. This is a crowded market, as is the DAC/AMP one…
     
    This is not a bad thing as a consumer, mind you. But for the PR departments of competing companies, an absolute nightmare…How does one promote THEIR product over the other?! I’m not sure I can fully answer that, other than to say that as a company you must innovate…be different…apply your sound to a market, which has not been tapped yet; or at least not too much…And I do think RHA is on to something here. To combine a top quality DAC/AMP with a “flagship” IEM makes good sense. For the price of a near-entry level custom IEM, one can have a really quite decent IEM AND a very good DAC/AMP. To those with the need or cash to fortuitously think of that level; they should indeed consider the RHA CL1/L1 combo. It would be a good addition to an already existing DAP, or even to use as a desktop set up.
     
    That said if purchasing separately, I probably would consider the L1, instead of the CL1. To make the CL1 shine, the need for equalization keeps poking me in the side…and I do not like to be poked in the side, let alone poked anywhere.
     
    3173.eye_2D00_poke.jpg
     
     
     
    The L1 can overcome that need to tame the V-shape, or enhance it, should that be to your taste. The CL1, does indeed give a good base in which to work, and one for those who do like a V-shape. But, that should not limit those who may prefer another signature. With a good EQing, one can indeed make the CL1 work to their advantage, but it will take work. With that, I would recommend the pairing together. Or, if you only purchase the CL1, prepare to look for an external amp; it is in need of a good one.
     
    Comparisons:
     
    RHA CL1 Ceramic ($449) v Vibro Labs Aria ($499)
     
    A definite V-shape defines the CL1. Decent reach at both ends, allows the bass and treble to mostly shine. It is quite apparent that the mids take a back seat to both. If that is your ticket, then you won’t be unhappy. As for the Aria’s, the signature is more even across the board, with excellent clarity. Vocals definitely shine with the Aria, and they are quite good at representing that sound. With an overall sound on the warn side, this is my go to IEM. I see no reason to move up the “chain” any higher. The sound stage is bigger, too. While the CL1 tries to cover that lack of mids with elevated ends (verified by Brooko and his excellent sonic findings), and nearly pulls it off. I do like the sound signature, but to be completely happy, I would need to equalize the CL1 pretty heavily for my tastes. Something I do not have nor need to do with the Aria. To me, the winner here is the Aria.
     
    RHA CL1 Ceramic ($449) v Lend Me UR Ears FLC8S ($309)
     
    I came across a loaner pair of FLC8S’ and I am glad I did. I now own a VERY lightly used pair of my own. Complementing the Aria quite nicely, I am struck how from one day to the next I can be happy with either. Granted, with the ability to change the umpteen filters, you would be hard pressed to NOT find a sound, which you like. I currently run the black-red-gunmetal combo (from outside to nozzle), because I like the bass the FLC’s pull. This is where they best my Aria…bass…And a top quality bass it is. Far reaching, and sonically deep/correct (to me); the FLC is a steal for full retail, let alone a used pair. During my review, I lost my pair…I was so despondent that I nearly purchased a new pair on the spot. Luckily, I found them in a box of Vanilla Wafers, which I had taken to school…cue the Crackerjack jokes…That is how much I liked the FLC8S. The complementary synergy with my Aria, makes both better. I cannot get enough time for either…
     
    That kind of synergy evades me with the CL1. Only when I match the L1/CL1 combo does it come close to that level. But alas, it does not. It is good, and as I said, those with more neutral tastes will find the pair quite attractive. With the tuning ability of the L1, one can ALMOST overcome the deficiencies…almost.
     
     
    RHA CL1 Ceramic ($449) v AudioQuest Nightowl ($699)
     
    Not really a far competition, but what the heck, I did it, and I’m glad I did. I will say up front, that I am in love. I am in love with the sound of my Nightowl’s. A very different sound than my favourite IEM’s, but that is one of the points in my love. An almost holographic sound signature provides me with a wonderful alternative to the Aria. One, which is in complete complement. Decent bass, good reach in the treble, and mids, which are allowed to shine for what they were meant…honest and true. The NO allows the music to shine, sitting quite comfortably in the background. And I like that. Emminently comfortable, and a sound (to me) second only to the Focal Elear, which I was lucky enough to use as a loaner. So, as I said not really a far comparison. But one I made to make a point. A point, in that for the near-same-price (actually less) I can come away with the Nightowl and the FiiO A5, and be quite happy. Happier than I am with the CL1/L1 combo. Again, YMMV, but what with the multitude of options, the CL1/L1 combination is an excellent one to consider.
     
    DSC_0162.jpg
     
     
    Finale:
     
    You might think that will all of my gut punches, and near-denegration of the RHA’s, that they are not good. That would be false of you to believe. Here is why. I still own (OK, my son just absconded with them…) the RHA ma750, and like them. As I said, they were taken from me, but my son now enjoys them. As he should, they are a very good open sound, which competes well at its price level. The same is what I will say of the CL1/L1, both individually and in combination together.
     
    Taken separately, the CL1 is an honest attempt at making an affordable flagship. Albeit one with a V-shaped signature, which may not appeal to all. I get it, I understand its calling. I respect that, and would highly recommend to those that enjoy a V-shaped signature to give them a listen. Even if you prefer a more flat response, you can EQ-out the imbalances; and enjoy them. When you combine the CL1 with the L1, you have very good mid-fi combination, which can compete with other similarly priced options. The two were meant for each other, and that alone, might be worth a look…taking the consternation out of piecing together a combo might just do that. Impeccable build quality to boot, and you will be hard pressed to best this for the sound signature they provide.
     
    I want to thank the RHA Team for including me on the tour. I do love trying new gear; especially gear, which is out of my “comfort zone” so-to-speak. Gear, which after careful analyzing I would recommend most take a look at if ones taste, might run on the more V-shaped side.
     
    DSC_0157.jpg
    1. Dobrescu George
      I see you're still in love with your X5 and Night Owls! 

      Interesting that you like CL1 - I wish I give them a spin sometime as well. I am curious to say the least! 
      Dobrescu George, Mar 27, 2017
  5. Jackpot77
    The CL1 - RHA's ceramic flagship cuts through the audio landscape (literally)
    Written by Jackpot77
    Published Feb 24, 2017
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Excellent extension, superb ergonomics and build, great cable, high level of detail retrieval, bass texture
    Cons - Treble is far too hot for my personal preferences, can sound thin without serious amping, too unbalanced for a true flagship sound signature
    20170115_225203_HDR.jpg
     
    RHA CL1 – initial impressions
     
    Reid Heath Audio are a Scotland-based manufacturer who will be familiar to iFans, with their T10i and T20i all-metal IEMs being prominently displayed in Apple stores across the UK. Their products have been firmly aimed at the “consumer” end of the market, with models like the MA750 and the T-series occupying the very competitive pricing sectors between £50 and £200. As part of their recent world tour, I had the chance to hear their first foray into the more serious audiophile end of the market with their new CL1 Ceramic IEM, a hybrid DD/piezoelectric tweeter design encased in a fully ceramic housing and requiring more amplification than the average iDevice to get the most out of the included technology.
     
    20170115_225032_HDR.jpg
     
    Tech specs
     
    Driver type: Single DD + piezoelectric wideband driver
    Frequency range: 16Hz – 45kHz
    Impedance: 150 Ohms
    Sensitivity: 89dB
    Weight (w/o cable): 14g
     
     
    20170115_225218_HDR.jpg
     
    Unboxing
     
    As the current “flagship” in the RHA line, the CL1 comes in packaging that wouldn’t look out of place being wrapped around a popular fruit based audio product (handy, as one of their main retail distributors is said fruity merchant). The box is a large and sturdy black affair, with a good picture of the beautiful ceramic housings on the front and some serious technical breakdowns scattered around the remaining sides. Sliding the cover off, and you are presented with a hard carboard box which opens in “book” style to reveal a booklet about the CL1 on the inner front cover and reveals the IEMs, nestling in a thick black foam cutout. The initial impression screams quality and attention to detail, with the CL1 feeling like it demands every penny of its c. £350 pricetag.
     
    Pulling the foam layer out that the IEMs rest in reveals the remainder of the contents – further booklets containing info and the warranty card (both in nice black cardboard boxes), a standard RHA zippered carry case (about the same size and shape as a man’s wallet) and the two cable options (balanced and unbalanced) sitting in their own little chambers. Completing the loadout is a 6.3mm stereo adapter, sat in a bed of foam like the IEMs. Again, quality appears to be the order of the day here – opening the carry case to reveal the generous tip load out (all packaged individually in their own shrink wrap bags) also reveals a thin metal credit-card sized sheet built to hold all the tips once unpacked, ensuring that you can carry the full array of earplugs with you in the carry case at all times in some form of order. Overall, the packaging is well thought out, premium quality and gives a very good impression of the care and attention that has gone into this aspect of the product.
     
    20170115_225545_HDR.jpg
     
    Build quality and ergonomics
     
    The CL1 are moulded from a ceramic compound, which is harder and less resonant than their normal metal shells according to the supporting literature. The ceramic material feels exceptional to touch, with a super-smooth and glassy finish to the grey/black exterior that makes the IEMs look almost like ear-jewellery as opposed to audio gear. The finish is also top-notch, with everything looking smooth and precise, with the logo neatly etched onto the outer shell in an understated and classy way.
     
    The design of the shell follows their T10 and T20 models, with a small coffee-bean shape and a slightly angled metal nozzle, designed for over-ear wear. In practice, the CL1 fits into my ears as well as anything I have tried or owned, with a nice sense of solidity once in place and allowing me to get a great seal with the provided Comply tips. The cabling does come with RHA’s take on memory wire for the over-ear sections, which I’m not usually a fan of, but the plastic jacketed implementation on offer here does its job well, not interfering with my glasses when I wear them and keeping the IEMs seated firmly at all times. Moving further down the cable, the build quality and overall aesthetic effect is fantastic, with both cables having a multi-braid design with a flexible plastic sheathing to give a flexible, non tangling cable (for me, anyway) that sits nicely, exhibits practically no microphonics and looks like a top-end aftermarket cable. I am not a massive believer or disbeliever in the power of cables as they affect sonic quality (I am sadly too poor to spend much money investigating this either!), but if RHA ever brought out a range of cables with standardised connectors rather than their own sMMCX variant, I would certainly consider purchasing one for my other MMCX iems.
     
    20170115_225130_HDR.jpg
     
    Sound quality
     
    Test gear:
    LG G5 (with HiFi Plus 32-bit Sabre DAC add-on)
    Hifiman Supermini / Megamini
    RHA Dacamp L1
    Fiio X7 (with AM2 module)
    Test tracks (mainly 320kbps MP3 or FLAC/Tidal HiFi):
    Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – S.O.B. / Wasting Time
    Blackberry Smoke – The Whipporwill (album)
    Slash – Shadow Life / Bad Rain (my reference tracks for bass impact and attack, guitar “crunch”)
    James Bay – The Chaos & The Calm
    Sister Hazel – Hello, It’s Me (bass tone)
    Chris Stapleton – Whiskey And You
    Elvis – various
    Leon Bridges – Coming Home (album)
    Foy Vance – The Wild Swan
    Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (album)
    Aerosmith – The Definitive Aerosmith
    Mavis Staples – Livin’ On A High Note
    Twin Atlantic – The Great Divide / GLA
    The Darkness – Permission To Land
    Led Zeppelin – Mothership
    Shawn Mullins – Soul’s Core
    Sammy Hagar & The Circle – At Your Convenience (live album for audience sounds)
     
    20170115_224944_HDR.jpg
     
    General impressions on the sound signature
     
    The CL1 is billed as an IEM that needs amplification, and (barring the Pinnacle P1), this is the first IEM I have tried that definitely does need the help of a sturdy amplification system to bring out its true qualities. Like listening to music on a mobile phone or Sony EU-limited DAP? Not with this set of in-ears. Once you have properly boosted the signal coming in through the cabling, the true character of the IEM comes to the fore. The tuning RHA have gone for on their flagship is a sharply defined and unforgiving sound, with a slight hint of warmth in the bass which gives a little substance to the lower end but does nothing to blunt the scalpel-edge of the higher midrange and treble. Despite the obvious technicality, the treble tuning is a bit of a curate’s egg for me, being too sharp and piercing to be enjoyable for extended listening. As a listener with a natural preference for smooth and clear tuning over fizz and shimmer up top, that isn’t surprising in itself, but even treble-heads will find this a little bright in its current incarnation. To be able to listen for any length of time, I used the excellent Dacamp L1 that came with the tour package to cut between 2 and 3 dB from the treble to bring it within the bounds of listenability for me. Most comments that follow in the below sections are based on a treble reduction of 2 dB, so please bear that in mind.
     
    20170115_224910_HDR.jpg
     
    Difference between single ended and balanced operation
     
    Due to some serious issues between my PC and the Dacamp (and a non-functioning OTG cable for my USB-C toting phone which I am waiting to replace), I was only able to briefly test out the balanced operation compared to the single ended sound through the Dacamp, as after one three hour listening session my PC decided to give up the ghost and cease working with the Dacamp again. I don’t feel this is long enough to offer any concrete opinions on any major differences between the two modes of operation – opinion seems to be split on the benefits this offers, and to me, there seemed to be a little extra thickness to the sound, but that may just as easily have been expectation bias as anything more concrete so I will have to leave that to the other reviewers on our little world tour – for simplicity’s sake, please assume that the impressions below relate to single ended operation.
     
    20170115_225235_HDR.jpg
     
    Highs
     
    The first thing you notice with the treble is the crispness and definition of the higher frequencies, with a soaring presentation and practically limitless extension as it works up through the range. Like its younger brother the CL750, I truly believe that the CL1 is an IEM that can produce sounds only dogs can hear if it happens to be there in the music, with an effortlessness to the really high range that leaves you with no doubt that the piezoelectric driver tech is just getting started where your hearing finishes. Sense of location and “room sound” is exceptional with this IEM, with the drivers giving you an excellent feeling of being sat nearby when listening to acoustic guitars or singers, picking up on the imperceptible audio cues in the sound to flesh it out in your head nicely. In fact, the only IEM I can remember hearing with a similar effect is the Vibro Labs Maya, so in this aspect, the CL1s are definitely impressive.
     
    Listening to “Starlight” by Slash, the dissonance of the opening guitar motif is just inside comfortable, sounding edgy and defined. Myles Kennedy’s falsetto also comes across hot but enjoyable, with a thin but crystal clear definition to the chorus. Strangely, the power in the high vocals seems to overshadow the percussion in this song, which “tssk” crisply but then seem to evaporate into nothingness rather than decaying more naturally.
     
    Going hunting for harshness (as opposed to sharpness), Chris Stapleton gives my eardrums the usual indicators, with the sound sans EQ giving a touch too much rawness to be enjoyable for any length of time. The texture of the singer’s voice feels almost hyper-emphasised, with the chorus drilling into my inner ear and taking me out of the soulful vibe the rest of the song inhabits. There is a leanness to the highs that emphasises detail and texture, but without the accompanying body, it becomes too sharp for my personal tastes, crossing the line into audio anorexia in an attempt to have the most defined sonic cheekbones on the market. Using the Dacamp EQ does help, but in doing so, it takes a little of the glorious air and openness out of the sound at the same time.
     
    Switching to some electronic music, the results are better, with “Nobody To Love” by Sigma and “Go” by the Chemical Brothers benefitting from the sharply defined sounds to give an airy and engaging upper end to the respective tracks.
     
    20170115_225823_HDR.jpg
     
    Mids
     
    Again, texture and definition are the order of the day here, with a rasping detail to vocals and beautiful if thin sound to acoustic guitar and strings that can be quite compelling with the right track. The vocals sound a little overshadowed by the comparatively warmer and chunkier lower end and the rapier-like high end, so sit a little further back in my ears in something approximating a U shape for me. With the right acoustic or simple orchestral music, the quality of the dual-driver setup can really be brought out, with “The Trooper” by 2Cellos and “Saint Is A Sinner” by Slash sounding delicate and textured, shimmering through the earpieces with energy and life.
     
    The leanness of the sound can tend to leave the overall presentation feeling a little analytical in the vocals, without enough body to the sound to really drive home the emotional connection the texture and detail are reaching for. Similarly, electric guitars give more crunch than an explosion in a breakfast cereal factory, but don’t have the accompanying “whoompf” of physical impact to go along with the pyrotechnics. Technically, the midrange is detailed and carries good energy, but could do with a little more body. One flaw that is apparent for me is in a similar vein to the CL750, with a spike in the higher-midrange through to the lower treble that can make some male singers sound unpleasantly harsh and seems to cloud some detail from the higher ranges. On a badly mastered or sibilant track these can be downright painful, turning a nice session of ear massage into open-skull brain surgery at the drop of a hat. The fact that both new models exhibit the same tuning indicates to me that either it is a “side-effect” of the new driver tech they haven’t smoothed out yet, or a deliberate tuning decision. The spike can be supressed by judicious use of EQ, which tells me that the IEM should be capable of a smoother ride, so the choice to bake so much of a jump in the frequency range into the basic tuning is a little confusing to me.
     
    20170115_225258_HDR.jpg
     
    Bass
     
    The bass is a reasonably lean but textured affair, with a little lift above neutral but no massive feeling of body or presence. Kicking off with one of my favourite tracks for mid-bass texture, “Bad Rain” by Slash highlights the capability of the driver in certain areas, exhibiting good extension all the way down into the borderlands of the sub-bass region. It also sports a texture you could strike a match one like Clint Eastwood’s stubble, all definition and snarling cool but not a massive amount of body, just enough to rise above flat without warming the sound too much.
     
    Looking for liquidity and smoothness, “Hello, It’s Me” by Sister Hazel is up next. The wideband DD shows good speed and control with this track, giving a great rasp to the vibrating bass guitar strings. On IEMs like the Campfire Vega, this track can sound like someone pouring molten chocolate into your ears – with the CL1, the sensation is less molten chocolate and more warm milk chocolate milkshake in terms of filling the soundscape, keeping a nice sense of liquidity but painting everything with a thin layer of bass rather than a more viscous coating.
     
    Switching to electronica, “Nobody To Love” by Sigma has a crisp and bouncy bassline presence, but needs a little bass boost from tone controls on the Dacamp to really command the track. The normally thrumming sub-bass sounds more polite and restrained, highlighting not so much a lack of extension into the sub frequencies as a similar lack of real “meat” to the sound, in keeping with the mid-bass. Trying “Heaven” by Émile Sande, which opens with a solid sub-bass rumble and pins it to the foundations of the track, the CL1 is again polite rather than throbbing, the sub-bass not quite filling the soundscape like it should. Moving up through the frequency range, the rest of the bass is crisp and defined, however, with a decent kick to the drums and good overall feeling of speed.
     
    Overall, the bass is a lean, mean creature on this IEM, with plenty of detail but just lacking a couple of lbs around the middle and lower portions to really hammer home the quality. For people who value a leaner “audiophile” style bass, this will probably be close to perfect, but for my personal preferences, it is just a little too much rasp and not enough thud to help me engage with non-acoustic styles of music.
     
    20170115_224902_HDR.jpg
     
    Soundstage/separation
     
    The soundstage on the CL1 is a decent size, extending outside my ears in all directions in a nicely spherical arrangement, with as much depth as width. Helped by the supersonic extension, direction cues are very good with this IEM, with a precise sense of placement of instruments across the soundstage to my ears. In terms of separation, the technical prowess and overall sharpness of the sound in the higher registers helps to keep the instruments nicely distanced, with multiple strands of guitar or keyboard riffs winding around each other without blending together, allowing the listener to quite easily pick them apart with minimal effort.
     
    20170115_225914_HDR.jpg
     
    Tip and cable choice
     
    The CL1 ships with two of their proprietary sMMCX cables as standard, one in “standard” 3.5mm TRS configuration using OFC copper, and one using silver cabling and using a 4-pin balanced connector for use with the new Dacamp. Both cables are gloriously thick and supple, making the usually stellar looking ALO Litz cabling from my Campfire Audio IEMs look positively anorexic and stiff in comparison. The finish on both cables is top-notch, with solid metal on the Y-split and cable jacks, and a well-implemented memory wire earhook that sits nicely behind the ears without the need for too much moulding. The cables are high quality and beautiful looking, with minimal microphonics and an overall impression of quality that will happily hold up against plenty of after-market options without looking inferior. If it wasn’t for the bespoke sMMCX termination, I would say these are the best stock cables I have come across yet, pushing ALO/Campfire Audio hard in overall quality and sonic capability.
     
    Tips are the standard RHA fare, with multiple dual-density silicon options, some dual flanged silicon and a smattering of Comply Tx tips. For my personal preference, the dual-density silicon fitted beautifully but did nothing to alleviate the excess treble present in the base IEM tunings, so I found the best synergy with the Comply Tx-comfort series tips that are included. The “Waxguard” covering takes a little edge off the highs, still leaving it with plenty of crunch and bite but taming it just enough in tandem with some heavy EQ from the Dacamp for my personal preferences and also allowing the best seal in my ears.
     
    20170115_225814_HDR.jpg
     
    Power requirements / DAP synergy
     
    At 150 Ohms and 87dB sensitivity, there is no doubt about the fact that the CL1 is definitely an IEM that requires amplification to sound good. It even says so on the front of the box. That isn’t to say that the CL1s can’t be run from a more modest setup – my LG G5 manages to get passable volume out of them at close to full tilt on Neutron Player. What it doesn’t get is the proper sense of dynamics and fullness to the sound that the Cl1 is actually capable of. Putting additional power through these IEMs helps fill out the sound in the mid-range, and retains the extension on the treble but helps smooth out the sharpness to listenable levels. Without gas, the sound signature sounds thinner and almost shrill with certain music – with am more sturdy source, the “true” signature comes out, the treble settles down and the midrange comes fully out to play. As you would imagine, the RHA Dacamp L1 pairs well with these IEMs (in fact, due to their proprietary sMMCX connectors, this is currently the only option if you wish to run the CL1s in balanced mode to take full advantage of the extra horsepower), with the CL1s singing properly on the “High” gain setting without sounding forced or overloaded.
     
    Another surprisingly synergistic combination is provided by the new Hifiman Supermini, with the higher than usual voltage output of the tiny DAP bridging some of the power gap between standard phone/DAP outputs and the beefier Dacamp L1 and producing a more nicely rounded and pleasing sound out of the CL1s. The little brother of the new Hifiman range (the Megamini) also does surprisingly well here too, requiring a good few more volume steps to reach the same output but again sounding a little fuller and less harsh than the G5, sitting between the phone and the Supermini.
    Fiio X7 – like its little brother the CL750, I didn’t find the pairing with the AM2 module on high gain to be particularly pleasing for my ears, even with the extra power from the “mid-range” amp module. The tonality of the music sounding a little too etched for me – for my ears, this isn’t a pairing that goes together particularly well.
     
     
    20170115_225413_HDR.jpg
    Overall conclusions
     
    Like its younger sibling the CL750, I think the CL1 is more a sign of the potential capability of the driver tech that RHA are debuting here rather than the finished article. It provides excellent high end extension and superb crispness and definition, but then overcooks it a little further down the scale and buries some of that crystalline beauty in the hot and harsh lower treble/high midrange. The bass is textured and capable, with a little warmth but not quite enough body for my personal preferences – without the midrange spike, they would blend much better with the rest of the frequency ranges to give a nice coldness and analytical spin on the sound overall, with just a hint of substance. As it is, they aren’t thick enough to warm the lower end enough to overcome the more recessed midrange. This isn’t to say this is a bad IEM if you like crystal clear and icy cold detail, with a king size serving of heat. For some people, this will provide the sort of sound that is more commonly brought up when discussing things like the HD800, with the undeniable ability of the tweeter bringing something different to the party than most current “flagship” offerings. As a flagship, the beautiful build and top notch cable and packaging are certainly befitting of the tag, and if RHA can take a healthy dose of sharpness out of the high mids and send the bass on a strict gym regimen to pack on some weight, they could have a real contender on their hands. In its current form however, it is a little too lean and a lot too sharp for my personal tastes – I look forward to seeing where RHA go with this technology, however, as I don’t think the story is quite over yet.
      Brooko likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. EvilKillaruna
      It hasn't, but at the same time it's not the lightest in all their IEMs (CL750). If you want hear strong deep bas and some serious quality, get the T20 (not T20i).
      EvilKillaruna, Feb 25, 2017
    3. pedtool101
      How many hours of break in time is on them at the time of this review?
      pedtool101, Mar 11, 2017
    4. Jackpot77
      As they were a tour unit, I don't know - I think I was around 4th on the tour schedule, so a minimum of 100hrs prior to my time with them would be my guess. I didn't notice any difference in sound during my listening as the hours racked up anyway.
      Jackpot77, Mar 12, 2017
  6. daduy
    Awesome bass but overly done treble
    Written by daduy
    Published Feb 1, 2017
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Build quality, excellent fit and ear guide, awesome bass
    Cons - too much treble
    Disclaimer
     
    I got this unit as part of Australia/New Zealand tour arranged by @RHA Team, thank you very much for including me in this tour :)
     
    Introduction
     
    I am just another music fans in this world, I love listening to music, and that made me stumble into head-fi around 10 years ago when looking for the best way to listen to my music. I am not in anyway an audiophile, heck not even close, so please forgive any lack of details in my review. Most importantly this is my personal impression on the unit, most likely i heard things differently than you, my ears, my preferences, my brain :)
     
    I've listened to RHA CL1 for about 4 days. I've used them with LG V10, Walnut V2 DAP, and through RHA DACAMP L1 . The source will be either my personal music or google play music.
     
    Music preferences
     
    My music preferences is mostly instrumental, whether it's Classical, Jazz, Celtic, New Age, etc. I also enjoy music with vocal on them, but my playlist is mostly instrumental. I would say around 80/20 mix.
     
    Example of the music I listen (not limited to):
    - Acoustic Alchemy
    - Tony McManus, Soig Siberil
    - Hawaiian Slack Key guitars
    - Fusion Jazz (Lee Ritenour, Dave Grusin, Fourplay, Special EFX, you get the idea)
    - Akira Jimbo, Tetsuo Sakurai, Casiopea
    - Incognito
    - Europa Galante/Fabio Biondi, Musica Antiqua Koln, Rolf Lislevand
    - Yoko Kanno
    - Madonna
     
    Sound signature preference
     
    Hmm...not sure what my pref is, I enjoy Fostex TH-600 very much, It's one of the best headphone I've heard, so that make me a fan of U or V shaped sound signature.
     
    Having said that I also enjoy ZMF Blackwood which have mid-centric sound sig compare to the TH-600, so i guess i am flexible :)
     
    My typical listening gear is: Asus Xonar STU -> Project Polaris -> ZMF Blackwood
     
    When travelling I usually use MEE P1 straight out of DAP/Phone.
     
    Build Quality and Design
     
    I was quite impressed with the build quality of CL750, but CL1 is just a step (or maybe two) above them. It's hard to describe how beautiful and smooth the ceramic is, it's a pleasant feeling to hold and felt so good in my ear. The fitting for me is perfect, it's like it was custom mould for my ears. I also have to praise the nice flexible ear guide, they are firm enough that it will hold on my ear, but flexible enough to bend as you like to fit your ears.
     
    Sound Quality
     
    Ok the most important part for me, sound quality, so how do they sound? They have a bit extreme V shaped sound signature, treble and sub bass is very emphasized, the effect of that is the mids feel quite recessed. I love the bass, they are quite detailed that you can hear the bass texture and there is plenty in there to provide enough kick to the music. The treble....well...there is so much of them, and this in my opinion is a double edge sword.
     
    I listen to a lot of acoustic guitar music and I found CL1 sound sig quite enjoyable, string sound on higher frequency sound crispy and clear thanks to the elevated treble, unfortunately there is so much treble sometimes the string sound is so sharp it's painful. One of my typical test music is Acoustic Alchemy - Girl With A Red Carnation, and there is a point in there where the steel guitar sounds quite sharp, I've never had this kind of experience with other IEM or headphones before. It's interesting because CL750 never sounded bad with my instrumental music, but CL1 can be bad with bright instrumental music. 
     
    Female vocal is a even worse, this is dependent on the mastering (and maybe quality of the source as well), for example, I tried listening to Vanessa William - Colours of the Wind and the sibilance is quite extreme that I can't finished the song. Madonna - Cherish is almost similar experience. From what I can hear both recording is a bit bright, and the CL1 just doesn't play good with bright vocals. SSSSSSSSslytherin, imagine song with heavy sssss and amplify them, you'll get the picture. However, not all vocals are sibilance, for example Orange Pekoe - Oriental Jazz Mode sounded just fine to me.
     
    I do found solo piano to sound great with them, most of the solo piano recording i listened to tend to sound bit dark, so CL1 fits them well, even better than CL750.
     
    Having said that, if you don't mind using EQ, i find that lowering the treble really make huge difference, with the treble reduced, they become better balanced and actually a very good IEM. 
     
    Comparison
     
    RHA CL1 vs MEE P1
     
    P1 is quite balanced with slight mid bass hump, while CL1 is extreme V shaped sounding, so they are quite different. The bass is better on CL1, but for me thats the only thing the CL1 wins again P1, again the treble of CL1 while good, can be disturbing and painful, while P1 can pretty much go with every song without a hitch.
     
    If you reduce the treble on CL1 using EQ, then it's a worthy rival for the P1, however remembering the price difference between the two, I will say P1 is the one providing better bang for your buck
     
    RHA CL750 vs CL1
     
    When i listen to CL1, i have and immediate feels that the CL1 is like the big brother of the CL750, very similar sound signature but more, specifically more bass and treble. More bass - great!, more treble - hmm, not so great for me. CL750 alread a bright IEM by default, and CL1 somehow add even more trebles make them sounding hyper-clean and bright, while this might be favorable for some music, when you hit those bright recording it's really painful to hear them.
     
    Again, with EQ they can be a better IEM, I prefer the bass of the CL1, but prefer the treble on the CL750, so a bit undecided here. However comfort and build wise CL1 is way better than CL750. 
     
    Notes on balanced cable
     
    The CL1 came with a silver balance cable, and since DL1 support these balance connection, I just have to give it a go.
     
    The following observation is based on my listening, no proper measuring or volume match has been done: I am pretty sure that when i used the silver balance cable out of the DL1, i hear more sub-bass and (sadly) even more treble. I am not sure if there is something different inside the DL1 circuitry or if it's just my imagination but thats what i heard.
     
    On the normal copper cable, my sweet spot for CL1 through the DL1 is -2 treble, when using the silver balance cable, i have to bring down the treble to -3. Again this is purely based on my listening, but other then the elevated bass and treble, I can't hear any other difference. In this case I honestly prefer the normal copper cable.
     
    Summary
     
    While I did enjoy CL1, I have to be honest that their treble is bit of a dilemma, by nature i prefer a bright sounding cans/IEM, however the CL1 just have too much.
     
    If you don't mind using EQ, you will find CL1 a very good sounding IEM.
     
    If you don't like EQ, and thinking about getting the CL1, I would recommend a trial first before commiting to them.
     
    If you're treble maniac, look no further, this is your heaven.
      Brooko likes this.
  7. potatoe94
    Nothing Impressive
    Written by potatoe94
    Published Jan 26, 2017
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Solid build quality , loads of accessories
    Cons - Possible sibilant at "t" & "s" , emotionless , metallic sounding .
    Box & Accessories 
     
    _DSC6241.jpg
     
    Was greeted by a high quality flip packaging , opening it , reveals 2 tiny ceramic pebbles .
    Under it was where the documents and cables were stored . 
     
    _DSC6246.jpg

    The quality of the entire packaging felt luxurious , what's included is a 1/4" jack , which has the same stainless steel case as the jacks , a high quality case which was padded and a significant improvement over the previous RHA case . The previous RHA case made of leatherrette peeled at the edges where they were most contacted with . Overall the new pouch looked like it could sure stand the test of time and daily torture . The most interesting thing i noticed was the fact that they included 2 different cables , which initially i thought they were both 3.5mm with different cable materials (eg Silver/Copper) , turns out that they are not only different materials , they have different termination , with one being the default 3.5mm & the other , the mini XLR balanced Plug , which is meant for their amplifier (head over to their amplifier DACAMP L1 on my review on it) . Like RHA products , they provide a vast number of silicone eartips from dual densities to foam , all at different sizes , so you'll never have an excuse on not getting the perfect seal ! 
     
    Audio
    Although RHA have sent the review unit to me for demo , Do note that the review is done in no particular favor of RHA , and i do not get to keep them . What you are about to read would be an honest impressions from my point of view , however your mileage may vary . I did not went to read about the IEM before hand and have zero knowledge on the retail price or any technological "breakthroughs" to note . This is to keep the review as fair as possible , by just blind hearing them . 

    The CL1  is well balanced over the entire spectrum with a lighter sounding characteristic . It presents itself to be a very clear IEM , allowing instrumental separation to be done easily , soundstage is not wide , but is nothing commendable as well . It does however , present some sibilance in the "t" and "s" with some songs , this may be an issue for peole who run directly from their player , and would seriously reccomend you trying out the pairing before making your purchase . Comparing with the CL750i , you would notice a slight improvement in detail retrieval ., trebles are much more controlled , and less harsh . Overall a very fatiguing experience as i have to take them out of my ears as it just doesn't sound comfortable for long , probably because of the treble spike around the t and s . 
     
    Pairing
    Pairing with the DACAMP L1 with the 3.5mm was nothing amazing , it simply had more room for you to tune it to your liking , with the bass and treble adjustments . The only gain option i can set it to would be the LO option , where even within the LO option , i was unable to turn the volume anywhere higher to have me to try the other few gain options available . The treble was way to distracting to turn it up , so turning it down would be my suggested option . 

    Pairing it with the Mini XLR Balanced cable , it was when things start to get alittle more interesting and musical , with acoustics being more believable and everything more tangible . The sound produced was still pretty cold and metallic even with the improvement , but i felt that this should be the only way that these 2 should be paired , by XLR . I could listen to this pairing for awhile longer before the listeners fatigue kicked in again , and forced me to remove them from my ears to have a break from it . 
     
    Honest Final Thoughts
    The audio produced is not particularly on the musical side , but on the analytical end . It was after my period of listening that i found out they were retailing at S$848 , which i honestly think is too much of a price ,regardless of the research and material that went into it . Personally i rank IEMs based on their musicality and enjoyment , and completely disregard the price point or technology behind it . This was simply not musical nor enjoyable enough to recommend it to a friend , and i certainly would not pay for it .

    The RHA MA750i would still be a far better recommendation option for the price of only S$178 . 
      Hawaiibadboy likes this.
    1. all999
      Hi! Is it a review of CL1 earphones or CL1 + Dacamp L1 combo? 
      all999, Jan 26, 2017
  8. Delance26
    CL for so Close
    Written by Delance26
    Published Jan 23, 2017
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Great extension, superb build, nice cabling
    Cons - Treble hot, sounds best with the Dacamp L1, poor value compared to the CL750
    About the reviewer:
    I am a 24-year-old science teacher, which means I am poor and like to find headphones that offer an excellent value.  When I first started my “audiophile’ (I tend to not like that term, rather all things audio lover) hobby I generally was akin to a more laid back, warm signature.  I do still love that signature in a pair of headphones, but have recently developed a taste for treble in the past year or so. 
    I listen to just about every genre of music, especially singer-songwriter and music scores.  I do, however, listen to many contemporary pop artists and some rock music.  I always make sure to listen a wide variety when reviewing headphones, but bear in mind everyone has their own unique tastes!
    When looking at headphones there are a few things I value over others.  Those things being: are they well-built, are the comfortable enough that I can wear them for long periods, and can I appreciate the sound they provide (which is extremely subjective).  
    Hello, Head-Fi! I am one of the members who was lucky enough to be selected to review the three newest products from RHA here in North America.  These products are the CL750, CL1 Ceramic, and the Dacamp L1.  Today you will be reading about the CL750.
     
    Disclaimer: The CL1 were provided to me as a part of the North American Review Tour by RHA.  I have been given 10 days to listen to and then write a review where I will pass them along to the next reviewer.  My opinions written in this review are just that, mine.  They do not reflect RHA as a company.  I am receiving no monetary compensation for this review.
     
    Introduction:
     
    My first introduction to RHA was about a year ago when they first released their first microdriver IEM, the s500i.  I found them a superb value at their price point, even though they had a pretty strong v-shaped sound and poor isolation.  I was also not too fond of their fit.  The CL1 is the new flagship of RHA.  It retails for 449 USD and 349£.  It is the first dual driver headphone by RHA, and the first ceramic housed IEM.  The CL1 introduces lots of new for RHA.  The question is, how does this new actually perform?
     
    I will apologize upfront: no pictures for the CL1, there was a terrible tragedy in which those photos got deleted, and I have since passed the RHA trio onto the next reviewer.  Luckily for you, dear reader, other reviewers have wonderful photography skills and have already taken amazing photos!
     
    Build Quality:
    I am not going to spend large amounts of time talking about the packaging of the CL1 simply because many other Head-Fi member have already done a wonderful job, so instead of rehashing past statements I will simply say the packaging is nicely done and well presented.  The CL1 also comes with a wealth of accessories; including a nice carrying case and plenty of different ear-tips to choose from.
     
    Design and Comfort:
    The CL1 is made from a ceramic material which offers extremely strong, low resonance, housing for the drivers.  They have a decent heft to them which further reassures the durability of them.  The fit and finish of these is top-notch.  Thy certainly give the appearance of a premium IEM. 
     
    Sound:
    The cables for the CL1 are removable, although currently can only be replaced by RHA as they have a unique MMCX connector named sMMCX.  The difference is that it has a small clip on the input which locks the cable in place.  They idea is to increase the durability of the connecter as MMCX connectors are known not to be the most reliable.
     
    One cable is essentially the exact same as the CL750 being copper braided with a threaded 3.5mm jack at the end.  The difference is that the CL750 cables are fixed, the CL1 is removable and features the aforementioned sMMCX connector.  The second cable is silver braided (which means things are getting more serious) and has a mini 4-pin XLR connector.  It is meant to be used with the Dacamp also released recently by RHA and included in this tour.
     
    In summary: this is a very well-built IEM that looks and feels amazing.  It certainly will not be easy to damage, and RHA backs it up with a 3-year warranty so you know they are standing by their design choices, even if many question the sMMCX connector.
     
    Sound:
    Alright, cool, so this is all great and wonderful, but how do they sound? Afterall, I do not care if they look great if it sounds like a screeching squirrel in my ear (yes they can screech and it is terrifying). Short answer: Polarizing detail, with thudding bass.  These headphones have some serious treble present.  It is so present that it over-shadows the upper mids.  Since the bass is boosted a touch it also pulls some attention from the mids as well, essentially leaving no love for the mids.
     
    The bass of the CL1 is good, don’t let my prior statement fool you, it is tight and has lots of punch.  I did think it had a little too much at times.  It does, however, had lots of fun to the music and allows it to pair well with music that has lots of lower tones present.
     
    The mids are where this story takes a sad turn.  It is almost as if it is the forgotten middle child.  The bass and the treble both outshine it, which in turn cause the mids to feel distant and thin.  I regularly felt myself almost straining to hear the vocals in songs, which is never a good thing as it causing listening fatigue.
     
    Ah yes, the treble… It is what I would call polarizing.  What I mean by this is that some are going to love the micro detail it provides.  Others are going to run and hide as it is just too much.  For me personally, it was alright.  I am pretty tolerant to treble, and have actually started liking more treble-focused headphones in the past year.  I would highly recommend using good recordings, as poorly recorded tracks will sound terrible.  You can hide nothing from the all-seeing treble of the CL1.
     
    Sound with the L1:
    There has been lots of discussion on the L1 and how it seems to magically turn the CL1 into the best thing since sliced bread.  I agree, to an extent; let me elaborate.  All of what I said above is still true.  It has a very distinct V-shaped sound.  However, when you connect it to the L1 it is almost as if it gives more space to the sound.  The tonality is still the same.  If you hate treble, you are still not going to like the sound with the L1, unless you EQ.  However, the L1 manages to breathe life into the CL1 which make the mids sound much better and turn the CL1 into an extremely lifelike IEM that reproduces the smallest of details.  The downside, it will cost you $1000 which enters then enters the realm of very high expectations.
     
    The CL1 is a unique sounding IEM.  It is one of the most uniquely tunes flagship IEM’s that I can think of.  It will be an IEM that I think wins many fans and many enemies.  My hope is they continue then CL line and have a more vocal focused version.  I think if they managed to do this, even if it sacrificed a bit of the detail, it would be an amazing IEM.  Until then I will keep dreaming!
     
    Comparisons:
    I do not have a whole lot of IEM’s currently that match these in price, but I will make a few in case they apply to you.
     
    CL750 (140 USD) vs. CL1 Ceramic (450 USD): Here comes a match up I am sure many will be interested in.  The two new IEM’s from RHA pitted against each other.  For those that read my CL 750 review, you already know which one will come out on top: the CL 750
     
    The CL750 has very similar tonality but reduces the bass and treble a bit which allow the mids to come forward enough to make it a wonderful sounding IEM, especially got the price.  Considering that the CL750 is a third of the price and arguably sounds better is pretty compelling.  Sure, the CL1 has better detail retrieval and sub bass, but not nearly worth the extra 300 dollars better. With the L1 the CL1 is definitely superior in every way to the CL750, but that is also several times more expensive; a rather large mark against the CL1
     
    Vibro Labs Aria (499 USD) vs. CL1 Ceramic (450):
    I am going to be blunt straight away, the Aria is a completely different IEM than the CL1.  It has a lushes midrange and robust bass.  It has a slight treble sparkle present, but not harsh at all.  In contrast, the CL1 has a thin midrange and excitable treble that can be painful to some. 
     
    In the end it largely comes down to preference, but if I had to choose, I would get the Aria.  It is easy to love with its familiar tuning, and stunning aesthetics.  It also has a more user friendly cable option and is much easier to drive.  While it is not as detailed as the CL1, some may consider this a positive.
     
    Conclusion:
    I am not going to try and draw conclusions for you, but simply sum up my experience with these over the past 10 days that I have had the privilege to listen to them. 
    The CL1 is a good headphone, but at this price point and flagship status, I wa a little underwhelmed by the CL1.  I am not saying it is bad, it certainly has great merits.  What gives me a slightly negative tonality is that the CL750, the little brother of the CL1, sounds very similar to the CL1 and is far less expensive and in many cases sounded better.  While adding the L1 improved the sound of the CL1, it only adds more dollar signs to the price of the product.
     
    Final verdict: Unless you truly love treble and detail extension, I would consider other options.  Especially the CL750, which has wonderful treble, but not as sharp. My hope is RHA will make revisions and release a variant of this headphone.  If the tuning is tweak just a small amount it could shine into a truly amazing headphone.  It is a good first step in a unique direction for RHA.
    Thank you to RHA again for giving me the opportunity to listen to the CL750.  I have enjoyed every moment with these.  For those of you reading this review, thank you for taking your time to read my opinions and impressions of these new IEM’s from RHA.  If you have any questions regarding them let me know!
     
    Happy Listening!
      B9Scrambler likes this.
  9. FortisFlyer75
    CL1 Flagship Rollercoaster...
    Written by FortisFlyer75
    Published Jan 15, 2017
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Build & Design, Balanced cable included, accesories, A more fun reference sounding flagship with excellent extension and good bass presence.
    Cons - Upper mid bass hump at times, lower treble to sharp. recessed mids losing some micro details at times.
    RHA CL1 Ceramic IEM Review
     
    January 2017
     
     
     
    DSC02218.jpg
     
    Intro
     
    This is the second review I am doing on RHA’s new range of CL IEM range with the first one been the affordable £99 CL750   and now I am embarking on the other end of the RHA price scale as this is their new flagship IEM the CL1 which weighs in @ £349 which takes the design in a new direction with this IEM’s in terms of the build which I will touch upon in “Build, Design & Fitment.
     
    I am going to include quite a long intro taken from the CL750 review which can be found here:  http://www.head-fi.org/products/rha-cl750/reviews/17775  as it is the same experience with both CL IEM’s I had when I heard these at a London show recently so if you have read it already from that review or just want to get to the nitty gritty then please scroll down to the “Unboxing” heading to roll on with rest of the review although I will refer to my experience of “the show” where I first heard these which relates to then and now as hearing them in a review two months on.
     
     
    DSC01846.jpg DSC01842.jpg DSC01850.jpg DSC01852.jpg
     
     
     
    What’s in the box?, unboxing…
     
    One thing RHA have done which shouts out we want this to be a flagship model is the packaging as even at £349 for an IEM I have seen far, far worse packaging than on here, it actually makes me wonder how much this cost alone as you have the outer card slip case cover which shows you your product.. Then once slid off you are left with a hard case presentation where the lid is magnetic and just flips open like a book to reveal the CL1’s both detached from cable sitting in their own foam protection housing on display and is a wow factor when opening up to see the high gloss polished finish of these ceramic shells.
     
    Once that tray is lifted underneath you are then greeted with the carry case which has the tips inside which uniquely are in a steel sheet holder and just pop out which is a cool touch for tips RHA have always done with their tips.
     
    In the compartment next to it a separate cardboard box which has the user manual inside. Take that box out and underneath on the bottom is the ¼ inch adaptor which is finally crafted and has a nice touch with RHA engraved on the side ( I wish RHA would also sell these separately!) then you have both the SE cable and the Balanced cable and almost forgot there is the cleaning cloth and a clothing  clip, how dare I forget that!
    The included accessories as listed below are:
     
    1. Custom detachable cable system (MMCX)
    2. Braided Ag4x silver-core (4-pin Mini XLR) with MMCX detachable cable
    3. OFC (3.5mm/6.25mm) cable with MMCX with detachable cable
    4. Case protector
    5. 11 pairs of silicone and Comply™ foam ear tips
    6. Clothing clip
    7. Cleaning cloth.
     
     
     
    DSC01948.jpg DSC01958.jpg DSC01956.jpg DSC01962.jpg DSC01966.jpg DSC01970.jpg
     
     
     
     
     
    Build, Design & Fitment…
     
     
    Design…
     
    The design is pretty much the same in shape as you see their T20 shells but here the similarity ends with the CL1 to be the first shell to be done by RHA that is a ceramic housing shell which is injection moulded (Zr02 Housings) that uses a seven stage process to manufacture them which is meant to accumulate into a headphone with low acoustic chamber resonance thus eliminating distortion.
     
    The driver is also a first for them using a dual transducer configuration which essentially brakes down into two components with one been the CL dynamic transducer which handles the frequencies below 8khz been the mid-range and the bass then for above that for the treble they have used a High frequency ceramic plate transducer to achieve extension in this area like no other and given RHA track record for liking to show off the treble more than some IEM manufacturers out there makes this interesting to see how it pans out.
     
     
    DSC02057.jpg DSC02054.jpg DSC02025.jpg DSC02017.jpg
     
     
     
    Build…
     
    The build is no different to any other RHA piece of gear, that is of course to the highest standard with what always seems a keen eye to even the little details throughout the whole design process and these feel and look like a flagship model and the drivers feel fairly weighty in the hand just detached from the cable.
     
    I do like the shiny polished finish of these ceramic shells (just don’t leave them outside in summer with magpies lurking!) and they fit just like the T20 shell does which is easy and comfortable with overall comfort coming part of the way down to which tips you go with from the vast choice of silicone and Comply’s RHA provide with them.
     
    DSC02039.jpg DSC02253.jpg DSC02079.jpg
     
     
     
    Cables…
     
    RHA have been kind enough to provide not just the standard 3.5 SE cable but also the balanced XLR cable that coincidentally fits into their new L1 Dacamp but I can actually imagine a few companies that would not of included this in the first place so is welcome to see this although it leads to shall I get the Dacamp as I’ve got the cable ready to go!?
     
    Both cables are of good quality again with very well made machined plugs and the cable is kept simple with a clear PTE jacket which is nice as you can see the copper or silver wiring underneath on both the cables and are both finished off with the sMMCX connectors to attach to the CL1 shells and this was actually my first time in using them and have to admit it felt a bit clumsy to detach and attach that I thought it would be but guess and hoping if I was to own these it becomes easier like riding a bike after a while? Where did those stabilizers go?...
     
    Most importantly I never noticed any micro phonics from them which actually makes a change of late from every IEM I have been come across with their cables which seems to be an afterthought.
    Finally the ear hooks are something RHA take notice of any throughout their IEMS in the past and are a good quality build and design with RHA probably have made these even more ergonomically friendlier than the T20’s ear hooks and work a treat and help stay in place really well once on keep them in place without you knowing they are there.
     
     
    DSC02234.jpg DSC02322.jpg DSC02061.jpg
     
     
     
     
     
    Sound Impressions
     
    To start with before we get to the Dacamp L1 combo I will run through with how the CL1’s performed with my gear to see how they pair for those who might not be able to get both.
     
    The following impressions were done with:
    Chord Hugo
    Vorzuge Pureii+ amp
    Sony ZX1 Walkman direct H/P out, and as source to Hugo/ Pure combo
    HiFIMAN Supermini direct H/P out
    HP X360 Spectre WIN10 laptop via Hugo/ Pure via Vertere DFI USB cable
     
    Music files used: WAV, FLAC, DSD DSF
     
    With already owning a pair of RHA T20’s I had been saying every time I was at their stand at a show was you guys need to really do a higher model, a new flagship that will just scale up on what they have and two years on almost they have done just that with the CL1 dynamic ceramic hybrid IEM with the ability to gain greater extension in the upper frequency region where 747’s cruise and UFO may be spotted (apparently?)
     
    I must admit it was not quite what I was expecting as I assumed and envisaged it would once again be an IEM that was efficient friendly that would plug into a smartphone or your normal everyday DAP and go but no, RHA have decided it needs an amp to power these new CL IEM’s in order to get the best out of the 150 ohm demanding drivers but we touch upon this subject later on RHA direction of these new models a bit more in the conclusions section.
     
    So, yes for anyone wanting for this to go with their DAP it will need to have a powerful amp built in to take advantage of getting the best from what the CL Dynamic driver can deliver to provide the gusto and guts in balance if what RHA want you to experience in terms of sound and feel as this is a dynamic driver that can and will rock if you feed it with a diet of Motorhead and Underworld.
     
    This does however seem just a tad more easier to drive than the CL750 considering it is exactly the same to drive @ 150ohm but found on all devices the volume would be a couple of clicks down from what I had to have it on the CL750 yet  saying that it still wasn’t enough for my Sony ZX1 (Japan version) to drive properly as like the CL750 even with the ZX1 feature to get more output power by disabling the sound enhancement feature which many ZX1 owners do to drive some headphones out of it still was not enough to listen to how the CL1’s are meant to be heard.
     
     If in a quiet room with them you could have an acceptable listening session which would still be just a bit too low on volume still with them but it just does not have the guts to drive them adequately.
     
    Just like at the show in London I had been to recently the CL1 was just like the CL750 and did not sound right with  them been too much thinned out and coming across as too hot, I know these are showing a V shape to them anyway but it was still too much just unstable treble with not much bass present but was still doing better than the encounter I had with the CL750 at the show as it was sounding the more promise of sounding like a pair of musical IEMs out of the two as there was a bit more warmth compared to the CL750’s had despite still sounding somewhat too washed out in general.  This was pretty much the case with both my gear and the L1 Dacamp. 
    Again like the CL750 review unit I have now received this has changed quite a bit since two months prior at the show to what I heard and is almost a different beast in many respects as there is a better balance now with a treble that is more coherent and tamer, not strained or thrashy anymore [and there is a bass presence that is there from mid bass to sub bass which  is actually tuned quite low. 
     
    The mids seem to be the one that still takes a back seat and sits a little behind both the treble and bass energy but am hoping the ability to find air and space with the soundstage will help keep things clear and concise like some other V shaped equipment I have heard in recent months including the still slightly recessed CL750.
     
    DSC02357.jpg
     
     
     
    Treble…
     
    So like the Cl750 I first wanted to try these with my Chord Hugo to see how they would be and much as I wanted it to work with my Chord Hugo which I love the only Achilles heel for me with the Hugo with what I was saying with pairings I find some sources or headphones/ IEMS that are prone to been bright with too much treble energy in the first place gets too sharp and strained on the ears. With the Hugo especially with Headphones I have found the Hugo cannot drive certain cans properly (and I’m not talking about volume levels here either, the Hugo has plenty of power in theory) it is having a detrimental effect when paired with the Hugo and  is the same here with the CL1’s when paired although better than the reaction of the CL750 pairing with Hugo as that was more neutral/ flatter sound which was more brighter signature.
     
    The CL1 ability to have great treble extension also does still not match quite right for balance together with the Hugo still resulting in an anaemic strained sharper treble to point of too sharp and uncontrolled with notes losing real definition there.
    This is why I have for this scenario with the Hugo had to re-purchase a Vorzuge amp in the  Pureii+ (sold my Duo originally) which are very good underrated small amps although they are not cheap is a good match with the Hugo in that it seems to counter balanced this issue I find with the Hugo.
     
    With this In the chain the CL1 balance was more evenly matched all round with the treble has this pretty convincing ability to scale with great extension high and wide but it does still show a tendency even with the Pure to reveal a sharper side to the lower treble region like a typical RHA right on cue which will detract away from details more in this area which still might be too much for some even though the Pure calms it down a lot more than the Hugo it is still present which is a shame as the top end extension has a great amount of detail articulation with brilliant decay to top end notes. 
     
    The tricky balance here is trying to execute this with it still been cohesive to the rest of the audio range yet not sound hot which with RHA been known for having a more treble pronounced approach is a fine line to tread all round and this was always the biggest worry after what I had heard at the show and knowing from the way the T20’s are tuned in general which just keep it within the boundaries although at times does come close for me even with some stuff to tolerate on sharp treble as I am also prone to treble sensitivity in the past with certain equipment which I do mention some of them in the CL750 review.
     
    My experience of RHA equipment  they are one of those that can be tricky with their pairing but once you find the right partnership with equipment and found best tips for the IEMS in terms of comfort and sound then it can be the difference between chalk and cheese sometimes but even with the CL1 it is still there to an extent.
     
    The CL1’s ceramic plate balances metallic sounds to sound tonally balanced with a shimmer and to yet it brings just the right amount resonance to trailing notes with plenty of air surrounding them to pick out above everything else playing as the soundstage and separation is also apparent and more vast in scope than it’s now predecessor flagship the T20. 
     
    This is the one thing that has surprised me from hearing these at the show is what I’m now hearing is now a more airy articulate treble that is a lot less piercing although it is still evident in the lower treble it is more detailed as it rises up the range and with the upper mid-range is with the right  type of music can rise and soar with quite an climax when climbing the frequencies like a song I stumbled on with the Eurovision song contest winner 2014 Conchita Wurst “Rise Like a Phoenix” which should have the lead song for one of the James Bond films but anyway this really shows a lot of the good sides to what the CL1 can do with a song that climbs up the frequency range from the bottom and some of the bad all at the same time but it still managed to make this song sound powerful and big with an immersive feeling that makes the hairs stand on end.
     
    They can still have the ability as any RHA with wrong tips and combination of bright or poor recording show symptoms of going over the edge like the T20 is able to but unlike I had heard them at the show it was not doing this in general across the board with my well known tracks with good to Excellent recordings. 
     
    Even though I am finding this area more acceptable now whether it will for others remains to be seen but I do stress to get this RHA balance of their treble more acceptable will be a combination that will depend on tips used, quality of the actual studio recording and file quality used and in general the  paring of equipment synergy wise. 
     
    For those who like to EQ this will not be so much of an issue but for those who like me are a bit old school or just want their equipment to blend first time like a set of Hi-Fi separates used in a speaker set up it with not much patience for finding the right match may be turned off by this.
     
     
    DSC02333.jpg
     
     
    Bass...
     
    Turning to the bass section next was another question mark I had from hearing them at the show originally as really there wasn’t much bass as such present which made them seem unbalanced which even when it was with their own Dacamp which was confirmation at the time it was not just my gear.
     
    It was one of the things the RHA team did say the finished versions would have more presence in this area and I must admit I took that with a pinch of salt as I was not pessimistic about this happening but just more cautious of not getting my expectations too much after they had said that to me as I didn’t want to be too disappointed when I finally heard them again.
     
    Well, the depth the bass now goes to is what I would actually call sub bass in a dynamic driver and has a varying level of range in dynamics that makes hearing a song easy to track when it goes from high to mid bass to finally delivering a good amount of sub bass which can rumble when it wants to.
     
    The CL bass is quite layered in texture with what I was hearing, this section sounded good with the Hugo on its own anyway as it does not struggle here and delivers a controlled and punchy low end which can also extend further when required but it does it with a visceral feeling at times as we now have what if a more familiar dynamic type bass response with a nice amount of rumble in the low end without been over bloated.
     
    One thing I cannot be critical off now with the CL1 is its ability to extend low with a good well controlled sonic boom when asked upon and have a punch to upper bass notes makes this signature quite energetic with a lot happening both ends on the CL1’s.
     
     So… all this has been a revelation on the bass front to me from what I had experienced at the show and was just nice to see RHA had paid as much attention to this end of the spectrum as they have with the  top end with the ceramic plates.
     
     Only irony thing with the bass I was hearing and was thinking to myself now was some might find it a bit too much bass for those who prefer a flatter bass response but me personally I’m used to a JH16 bass which can sound boosted in an obvious sense much as I enjoy them but the CL1 does come across sounding natural enough with the way the sub bass is handled it does not sound boosted and has an organic free flowing feel when hearing it go down the FR range with songs.
     
     With the Pure added into the mix with the Hugo the bass is same in quantity but is done with a slightly more broader dispersion of bass rumbles to the more linear controlled bass on the Hugo although the upper mid bass sounds to me at times to be more elevated which can be a bit distracting to the rest of the music especially when its the mid info which is already recessed especially with vocals been sat back makes it then more difficult to hear what they are singing.
    Both Hugo or the Pure amp is  good with the CL1 which conveys them well in detail which ever it is paired with here.
     
    It still sounds good on the ZX1 but does not quite have that impact nor slam as when amped with the Hugo or Pure hence I didn’t listen to the CL1 too long with the ZX1 here.
     
    With the HIFIMAN there is bass to be heard rather than felt as the Supermini is a bit like the Hugo in delivering a controlled tight bass but just lacks that more on the ability to portray the detail and depth to the Hugo but shows although it was not the perfect marriage with the Supermini it was far from been a bad one again and would still be able to have a session with just the Supermini and the CL1’s. 
     
     CL1 showed it was able to perform with another source although the 150 ohms was still pushing the Supermini towards the end of its volume settings depending on the level of the original recordings as quite a few older albums compared to most modern recordings seem to be a few DB lower. 
    The Supermini was a much better pairing with the CL1 to what the CL750 was here.
     
    DSC02350.jpg
     
    Mids…
     
    Now the bass has finally arrived on the CL1 and the treble has articulated higher extension makes for a bit of a V shape sound going on but it still sounds fairly clear in the mid-range and gives the impression of more depth with the mids sunk in a bit more like an echo chamber of a bigger amphitheatre style sound. 
     
     
     The mids do sound a bit colder, more clinical with the Hugo stand-alone as it is quite a flatter sounding signature with a big open soundstage but is still engaging with enough detail in a dynamic enough presentation that gives the Hugo it’s crown for sounding fluid analogue in the mid-range but the CL1s still translate how the Hugo perceives its more neutral approach here quite well.
     
     It was just as satisfying with the Pure in the chain with the Cl1s having a slight more forward feel to the mids as to with the Hugo as the Pure is a little above flat mid driven and fills out the CL1’s a bit more than normal in this area which may suit those wanting to bring forward the mids a tad more on the CL1’s which I personally welcomed without having to do EQ adjustments. 
     
    With the ZX1 and Supermini as daps direct they both sounded at home with the CL1’s here as they could still pick up on details fairly well without having to be driven hard but again not quite both having the extra juice with the amps they do not drive with enough authority and lack space, depth and body because of this and with this brings me nicely on to the,,,
     
     
    DSC02347.jpg
     
     
    Soundstage…
     
    Soundstage and imaging is good in general as this is what the CL1’s do well with the assistance of these new ceramic plates with the ability to sound good with the treble extension it is capable off and just space for everything to breath and give clarity for detail and the Hugo compliments the CL1’s perfectly here for space and airiness despite the Hugo not pairing with that top end well with treble been too bright with the CL1’s whilst the Pure in the mix will reign it in compared to the Hugo as it is slightly more centrally focused but speed and timing with imaging is good on the CL1’s through the Pure with above average headroom allowing the CL1’s to be driven a bit more rugged if needed to without fear of losing detail and subtleness of dynamics in a song at louder levels. 
     
    Compared to amping the two DAPS are a bit more underwhelming with soundstage and imaging although the ZX1 is not poor it does not excel or shine like the Hugo or Pure does and the Supermini is a little flat and feeling condensed with soundstage even though stereo imaging is precise enough it felt unengaging to a degree with this combo for soundstage. 
     
    So with my combination of gear I own currently I found they do need good adequate amping and would take a really good amp section in a dap to be a one box solution for the CL1’s but unfortunately cannot gauge which DAPS they would be only owning the HIFIMAN Supermini and Sony ZX1 at the moment (can only say from experience maybe the HIFIMAN 901, Questyle QPR1 or A&R ARM2 possibly?) but it did show again this pair of RHA’s is no exception to having to find that fine balance of getting the paring right for synergy between the CL1 and the equipment feeding it.
     
    In essence get the paring right the Cl1 will be fairly balanced with enough depth and width and height  combined with clarity with good musicality is quite engaging but get it wrong will sound good as two cars colliding in a crash with metal on metal action going on.
     
    So in a nutshell I would say they are fussy (quite fussy in fact) but get it right and they can sound more pleasant with a lot of musicality richness that is quite dynamically fun keeping a sense of tonal correctness along the way so is a bit of a mix mesh mash up between them trying to been linear and fun for a flagship but actually becomes more of the latter to my ears (which is not a bad thing, more just an observation)
     
    DSC02343.jpg
     
    With the Dacamp L1
     
     
    Firstly in SE mode…
     
    DSC02213.jpg DSC02071.jpg
     
    After going through the arduous impressions of how the CL1 reacts for those who can only get or want the IEM with other amps it was now down to how does this pair with the new RHA Dacamp L1 that was you can’t help thinking was primarily designed with this CL1 IEM in mind.
     
    First thing I noticed was after comparing the CL1 on my range of gear was how the treble sounded with the Dacamp, again it was nothing like I had heard them when paired together at the show in London that is for sure!
     
    Treble…
     
     After a few hours of listening to the two paired together I was finding the treble on the CL1’s were less edgy with the Dacamp which made it more listenable in that hot spot area of the treble and felt like they were not going to scream at me and if anything these were a bit more friendly and sweeter than when I had them on the Hugo/ Pure combination as I think the Dacamp is to me actually warmish sound to the amp which I think is taking a certain amount of edge from the sharp lower treble section.
     
    It is still dependant also on if the recordings are brighter the lower treble will accentuate this more so but I found not too many tracks were given me the normal ear piercing in this area.
     
    The CL1 still retains a sense of tonal presence and clarity with enough extension to details in the higher frequencies and the Dacamp has been designed to go in hand with the CL1 to match each other in the higher extension range which almost supersonic in their range in a good way with the upper treble with that extension which is a shame it is  still a tad hot in the lower treble to a degree. It’s like the good old days of Concorde breaking the sound barrier where it would be a cut-off point where it goes bang and goes hypersonic yet the CL1 is the opposite way round with its treble.
     
    There is plenty of energy going on but it is very measured and even when notes rise up the octaves to a higher pitch there is a nice sense of it been on a crest of a wave  where you really appreciate that area where the notes can hit higher with better accuracy.
     
      There is a good amount of sparkle with clarity when chimes or triangles ring with a nice resonance.  High notes are also positioned quite accurately and are easy to pick out in between busier passages and was great to hear things shot from left to right when they happened as the CL1 steering or panning was solid and effective in making you take notice when this occurred.
     
    It still does not feel like the most expansive soundstage I have ever experienced but I think the perception of air and space it does create is partly coming from the hollowness of the recessed mids as well as the exceptional extension of these IEMs.
     
    If I was marking the treble over all out of ten with the Dacamp L1 I would give it 7.5/10
     
    DSC02086.jpg
     
     
    Mid-range…
     
    The mids which are no doubt recessed, more so than the Cl750’s are and would usually bug me as my perfect scenario if anything is to have the mids to the fore but I could still make out lead vocals clear enough although not as close as I would like them and they did have a good texture to their voices and was actually quite good tonally having a leaner sounding tone which is good for the upper mids in vocals but still enough body to have a fuller type vocal sound powerful enough without sounding too coloured as there is a sense warmth to these ceramic shells that was very noticeable after coming from the CL750’s.
     
    Never overwarm but there was an obvious step up from the 750’s in terms of tonal finesse with notes and harmonics having better resonance and timbre yet it seems to have a little more trouble expressing some details as they seem to be getting hidden a little bit more than normal and was not sure if this is due to the mid-range losing this slightly as it is not projecting it quite enough as I would not say it is been drowned out by anything like the mid or sub bass as it does sound articulate and airy enough in general to pick things out but sometimes after hearing recently IEMS like the Mayas which have great mid articulation revealing everything you need to hear or even my JH16’s which are similar shape I can hear these details a lot more easier. 
     
    Other than that part detail in general that does come through articulated with enough grain and nuances in the details of notes from the twin Sabre dacs and there is good layering and imaging going on in the upper mid-range with good clarity and localization of instruments and upper mids lend to projecting songs that having good dynamics.  If that loss of finer details and vocals been closer with maybe a little more body to them was there then this would be a more in balanced to the accentuated way both the bass and treble have been tuned. 
     
    Again if scoring the mids with the Dacamp I would say it would be 7.5/10 again.
     
     
    DSC02216.jpg
     
     
    Bass…
     
    The synergy with this amp is good, no I will rephrase that… It is a match made in heaven (almost) and you can see it was meant to go together as the layering and timing is executed with an ease that makes the sound flow quite freely with good timing between the mids and bass as the improvement in this section is quite a vast one as it has gone from to lean as in I am a studio reference monitor to having quite a flexible response and can kick quite low with a thump which was more so when I heard film Soundtracks with sounded good anyway with the CL1 with my Pure amp but with the L1 it made it more explosive and widespread in bass note reverberations which made this in turn excellent for any live or rock/ metal as with the ability to have a very clear and prominent high treble range really suits those genres above as they exude those ends of the spectrum from which they thrive on those end of the scales for their energy and power. 
     
    The mid bass can actually sound like it did with my gear is a little lifted to me at times and was almost like I was been distracted by this. It is not flat at all and seems to have an bump with the upper mids bass which can sound a bit odd as in not maybe natural in relation to the lower mids and bass connection so may sound okay with beat driven music, dance and R&B tracks maybe but may be distracting a bit with music that has more natural rhythmic passages in the mids. At first I thought it was due to my Pure amp doing this when I first heard it but now it still shows signs of it on the Dacamp I know it is a trait of the CL1’s. 
     
    Apart from that he way bass notes can transcend through to the low bass is a joy to hear and is quite a flexible sounding bass which has good amount of texture and detail as well as subsonic ability to feel this bass when it hits ultra-low frequencies.
     
    The one thing I thought I would never be saying about these IEM’s in this review from listening to them at the show is how much impact and range they do have which has impressed me as I thought with this been a new flagship when they said the finished version would have more bass I was thinking a conservative extra 1-2db extra but feels and sounds like more than that.
     
    Put it this way I never had to turn the bass up on the Dacamp at any stage with these, if anything I would in general only of ever turned it down with the mids to come through or dial down the treble to counter act this a little but in truth with the amount of testing with different gear and music could not quite get this adjustment quite right to suit across the board and was actually better off leaving it all set neutral despite my only main reservation been with the mids area been a little recessed and missing that area with some detail retrieval just not coming through at times.
     
    Out of ten for bass with the Dacamp for me would be an 8.0/10
     
    Also taking into account sound staging and imaging out of ten would be 8.5/10
     
    Over four sections that scored 31.5/40 (before going to balanced mode)
     
    DSC02205.jpg
     
     
    General findings….
     
    The Cl1’s I think are still accurate with tonal reflections of instruments with guitars reproduced really well like the CL750’s can but it just adds a refinement and kid glove approach to the delicate string work with the CL1’s which can really buzz with fret work and make it come alive. Tonally maybe a bit more warmer and accentuated to the CL750 in this area but it still sounds pleasing to listen with string work.
     
    Piano work sounded okay but sometimes actually sounded a little veiled than they should be on the CL1’s and never quite matched what I heard with string work unless it was a piano been strangled by someone like Elton John with one of his faster pop songs back in the eighties which was hitting the upper mids which would catch your attention then it would sound on key with clarity around the notes.
     
    Classical pieces and some cathedral music showed it had enough space and air to move but its depth and head stage is more impressive of the four and is a bit like a see saw ride from top to bottom with this music with the frequency range the CL1 can operate at with the Dacamp. 
     
    I enjoyed it enough on here but feel the sort of genre if any that just slightly losses out with the recessed mids is jazz or blues music just where it was not quite bringing some of those mids info retrieval forward enough to bring it more forward in the soundstage.    
     
    On the whole this does sound good with most genres, I just think a couple just suffer a little bit more in been able to shine fully but I still enjoyed listening to Ryan Adams various albums as he has the ability to cover different sounds with each album he does…
     
    Like the Live at Carnegie Hall suits the way the acoustic set has excellent reverberation and room echoes with the CL1’s excellent string work and feel the mids do not suffer here with this album because of this setting and minimalist amount of instruments needing to share that space to get the finer details out there.
     
    Unlike his other self-titled album released in 2014 which had a dry course electric guitar sound led band filled studio sound then just struggled to hear some of the finer details here which from what I’ve heard with the Pure and Hugo is sometimes was easier to pick this out with the CL1’s so it also would point to the Dacamp also attributing to dealing with finer details which I have become accustomed to with the Hugo in recent couple of years.  Yet on the Hugo with Pure amp the CL1 still could not quite reveal details as easier as the Mayas or JH16’s do in general.
     
    Overall apart from the things I highlighted with the mids as I am admittedly a bit of  mid centric lover anyway with choices like the JH16’s or my T20’s I am not always going to choose the most mid forward sound out there if it can still show the ability to produce details easily enough and the lower treble which was a little below par in comparison to the upper extension these CL1’s are capable of I really still enjoyed the combination of these with the Dacamp.
     
    There is a good synergy on the whole even with the Hugo & pure set up which can gleam more detail and bigger soundscape this combination that made them still listenable for a good session as it was actually has the ability to be just musical enjoyment as the overall layering and tone with its warmish presence is quite an addictive listen with them together despite the CL1’s ability to still be a little too much in the lower treble area.
     
    But how did this sound in balanced mode and I hear you ask as after all this is probably is its obvious point of interest in the armoury when people see this amp and dac has balanced added into the mix.
    Well after four days of SE with the CL1 decided it was time to try them. 
     
    So beware the following is from my ears and not plotted using a super computer from the Star ship Enterprise! All I can say is I have had bad experiences of balanced (actual ownership) also before which actually did put me off for many years as I dispelled it in my head as anything worth the hassle of SE until I heard a balanced set up last year on a good set of open backs but was with a relatively cheaper desktop dacamp in comparison which changed my mind a bit on this so I went into this one with an open mind as I have been both ways with the thumbs for balanced so here is my findings using ear lobes only….
     
    DSC02209.jpg
     
     
     
    with Dacamp L1 BALANCED
     
    DSC02227.jpg DSC02229.jpg DSC02223.jpg
     
    I thought it might take a bit of time to start to notice any changes if there was any but it was quite immediate to my ears there was a difference in how the soundstage and headroom was flipped on its head to what I had been hearing as the CL1 becomes wider and more accurate with picking things out as the panning with stereo imaging.
     
    It was another level but what also gave it like an extra dimension was how the sound approached in terms of depth and height in conjunction with the more accurate sound staging and stereo imaging for me to this pairing to another level really as there is even more room for everything to breath and work with just more accuracy of the sound filed and where sounds come at you from and where they are going. 
     
    It still does not bring back the area in the mids with some of those lost details but it helps give a bigger picture to paint with the bigger sound staging in width and height as well as more defined accuracy of where sounds are coming from.   Nor does it at the same time seem to do anything to tame the lower treble which can still glow hot at times.
     
    Going back to one track I have always used as one of my demo tracks for example is Yello - The Race track which just sound bigger with more space been able to hear things pan passed with more cohesion and easier tracking as the racing cars roar past from right to left and the lower to upper frequency’s seem to approach more from back to front with ability to scale over the top of you more in your head which made it feel like a more grandeur in its all-round delivery in terms of scope and scale.
     
    It was a bit like;  imagine being stuck under one of those Gazebos only enough room for two people but have only attached two of the three leg parts it takes usually to get the proper height they stand at, well that was SE ended mode. 
     
    …Then plugging in balanced mode was like adding the last third of those leg parts to get the full height and used a double width Gazebo that can now fit eight people under there and that was how I heard going from SE to Balanced just without the Sausages and Burgers (and indigestion!)
     
    I tried this back and forth over my last four days at different times whilst still trying to keep the volume near damn it by ear and still even in balanced would hear the same effect whether it was lower or higher than the SE volume (more importantly lower to note) using same songs over again then some fresh ones out of the blue I was not hearing any different from my fist lot of findings so for me the balanced part of this despite not having a magic fix to some of the missing mid area of detail retrieval really made a difference so much so it was not the same going back to the SE way after hearing how the Dacamp running balanced performs with this.
     
    I did  try SE several times after but in short now this is killer mode for me this combination of balanced with the CL1 and L1 Dacamp and think RHA know that too! 
     
    For me in my heart this is a big boost in the arm for this EIM which will make it harder to weigh up things even more come the end of the review as this was a good pairing enough in SE mode on the whole and in some ways more enticing listening to the CL1’s with RHA’s own Dacamp despite the Hugo Pure combo bringing more air and soundstage with finer detail retrieval in the DAC area there is an obvious musical synergy going on between the CL1 & L1 and going to balanced has pardon the pun just tipped that balance of these two going together as a perfect marriage that will end up having listening sessions for hours at a time with ease with this combo of Balanced mode set up.
     
    For me now the score is now 3-2 in favour of what I’ve heard from a balanced set up down the last several years and can say this one shines in balanced together as opposed to SE mode.
     
     
    Pre - Conclusion
     
    DSC02217.jpg
     
     
    This is a hard one out of all of them really as this has so many different areas to take into consideration mixed together with what I heard.
     
    There is the fact I have been used to the Hugo DAC which for me is still one of the best detailed DACS in this portable price range even two years on and have to take into account you do get used to a certain level of sound but on the other hand I never would of thought I would like a pair of £250 headphones until this year as much as some of the other cans out there that can cost three times that even if the resolution on some of those £1K cans are still edging the £250 pair (which was the Meze Classic 99’s by the way)
     
    Then been a long awaited “Flagship model” from RHA does this mean is has to be linear and flat sounding?  I honestly thought when I went to that show in London recently and heard these this was going to be a very flat reference sound especially as I did not feel that both these CL IEM’s sounded right at all… even it was aiming to be a reference studio flat sound it was far from that at the show and did get me quite concerned to where their direction was going at the time. 
     
    I do not mind admitting walking away from the their stand like out of that scene out of the Wedding Singer where Jon Lovitz has just done his audition in front of Drew Barrymore when Adam Sandler has his turn then breaks down singing “Somebody Kill Me Please!) and Lovitz peeps from behind the stage curtain to say “His Losing His Mind!) which is what I thought was happening to RHA at the show with the both CL IEMS but turns out like Robbie Hart RHA turned it around for a happier ending!
     
    Now after having them for 10 days to strip apart like a mechanic does to an F1 car after a race I have found some surprises both bad and good which is where the struggle begins a little.
     
    I have to say my expectations for quite a while of what their next flagship line would be something efficient that could be powered by a normal phone or any DAP like my rather weak powered ZX1 Walkman that was only ever designed for IEM to start with really so was taken back that RHA had decided to make two IEM’s that would need more power with at the end of the day would be in most cases a separate amp need in the chain hence the clever marketing here of the third addition of the L1 Dacamp. 
     
    I can see where RHA are coming from albeit it still relatively at the other end of the pricing ladder they still work in they wanted to cement themselves as been viewed as one of the more Hi-Fi seen companies revolving in the Head-fi world that reflects their British Hi-Fi culture way of thinking with sound and engineering as well as it been apparently the only way (amping) they could get this treble extension like they wanted was to go that route…
     
    But I still feel their next step should have been a friendly efficient IEM we could all use with ease in terms of pairing with equipment which I am sure will be their next chapter now they have their showcase “look at what we can achieve” and they can by looking at what they have produced in the three new products that cater for different taste and needs.
     
    And now I have tried the CL1 for almost best part of ten days shared amongst the CL750 and L1 for time I do like these new flagships and do feel they take off in some areas to the T20 que that does it without thank god making the T20 seem completely redundant as I just purchased one recently anyway! 
     
    But it has raised its game on these with overall refinement in sound quality as well with a change in signature but does not move away far from its previous tuning stable in FR shape although it has been tweaked here and there with some been for the better but at same time some oddly for the worse which is almost like giveth with one hand take away with another type scenario.
     
    Nitty gritty now… I found they can match other equipment really well although I have decided  to label RHA across the board they are fussy with what they pair with to get the absolute best from them as there is that fine line of them either sounding great or poor, so my Hugo – No, my Pure with Hugo or alone with ZX1 then they are magic and really suit the Pure amp despite the CL1’s couple of misgivings.  Unfortunately I only had two daps that although one was better they both were not a substitute for a really good portable amp to perform as the Pure or L1 amps could muster. 
     
    There was a couple of surprises on a negative note with the way it sounds or has been tuned as even though the treble extension has been executed really well and that end sounds tonally good the lower treble was not quite right in detail and still has the RHA ability to come across hot.
     
    For me it was actually not quite as annoying as the mids which like other RHA have sounded before it is somewhat recessed,  enough with the shape of the signature as a whole there was an area in the mids where I could not make out certain details as easy to what I had done before with my fav old tracks I religiously use so did take away a bit from certain tracks you know inside out and enjoy the most so there was just a couple of things that do not quite make this perfect but then again all though not exactly not bottom end now even for a flagship this still far from the big boy’s shoot now days that seems to be standard fair that go above the £1k mark.
     
    And there in my head lays trying to balance what I know how RHA are up till now to what this their next offering is in taking the next step and factor in if someone is also about to hear these for the first time and to top that off what I originally heard at that show which initially was a worry for me. 
    So bit of a combination of balancing there to do really.
     
     
     For newbies to RHA I feel if pairing these with your own equipment might not be used to the “RHA” treble and understand where you would be coming from on that and would only say do give it time especially with these but it will be the pairing of your own gear and this which is the biggest hurdle also well as and I cannot stress enough getting good master recordings and file type plus the tips right also as this alone could be the barrier between good and evil in hearing them in conjunction with equipment pairing.
     
    If that is not right you might not ever hear how the CL1 could sound like.  This is not a fault of one or the other but it is just one of those Head-fi anomalies, after all look at my experience with them with the Pure amp in the mix, happy as Larry or should say CL1. Just with the Hugo then makes it a no, no!
     
    But if you are open to a new Dac/amp combo and want to hear what it is like when two items are designed in house to work together then this is it and that is before I take into account the balanced side of the L1 Dacamps performance but I will not shy away from it will still not fix the only couple of real negatives I could find with the CL1’s which I will admit and not shamefully even with my bliss ownership of my Hugo and Pure amp for me I just love this combo of the CL1 with L1 which was cemented in stone for me with balanced mode.
     
    If it was not for me buying some non Head-fi related boys toy recently (and Christmas!) thus not enough money left I would of looked at pulling the trigger on the two together for sure as it is a special combination they have made there when it is in balanced mode.
     
    The CL1’s is a case if you can get to hear these for yourself then it is highly recommended so even if it is for the worse at least you know… but at same time it could be something you fall in love with and glad you did take the time to hear it as you just may like the overall way these sound.
     
    For me this was far away from what I heard at the show two months before release and I have to say was relieved with what I heard with the finished retail versions as it was a big turnaround albeit still not quite perfect with a couple of imperfections that just blot it’s paper even at this moderately fair price for a “Flagship”.
     
    So in a nutshell I would personally still have them but even with the gear I have now it would probably have to be with the Dacamp L1 together strange as that sounds as it does sound sublimely magical with that Dacamp L1 especially in balanced.
     
     
    DSC02219.jpg
     
     
    Final Conclusion
     
    I feel it is like 85-90% there and just needs a couple of tweaks sound wise and would be there for me as perfection with this signature they have gone with and with what they have brought to the table I have actually now manage to overlook on the most part you need to use these with an amp to get the best from them although I should still be peeved with this from my stand point I feel next time is the time for them to deliver with a normal driven higher end IEM that does not need an amp still.
     
    Over all taking into consideration the build quality and design (which is usual for RHA) with the overall fairly decent “musical” sound signature for Flagship with their highest IEM model to date even with the couple negatives with the sound I think this is still an enjoyable IEM which hits it’s peak performance when running balanced in situ with its mothership Dacamp feeding it.
     
    It is taking RHA in the right direction for the future albeit shall we say a work in progress and factor in it has to be used with an amp to make it sing I would still recommend them as an IEM alone (but take head of the caveats I mentioned at your own risk!) and Highly recommend them if using with the Dacamp L1 balanced.
     
     
    DSC02091.jpg DSC02220.jpg DSC01979.jpg
  10. noobandroid
    Jet up
    Written by noobandroid
    Published Jan 7, 2017
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Still maintaining that great mid, cable changable
    Cons - Treble spikes, slight weaker bass mass
    Special thanks to RHA for this tour unit, it came along with the CL750 and RHA DACAMP 1, hence I will be reviewing the setup as a whole package, in this case, DACAMP 1 + CL1
     

    Packaging

    20170107_1445021.jpg
     
    As shown in the photo, besides a very thick booklet which I'm not interested in, there are 2 cables and a bag with multiple tips in it, and also the steel card for storing tips. The left cable is a mini xlr attachable in MMCX socket to the CL1. The right is copper with standard jack + MMCX.
     

    Earpiece

    20170107_1443441.jpg
    Outside the earpiece is a mesh port, wonder if you can see it or not.
     

    Sound

    I will be describing the DACAMP 1 + CL1 as a whole, with 2 sub sections, 1 with XLR and 1 with standard jack.
     

    XLR

    Using the XLR, and with the CL1, the song I use is the Pentatonix, which is a capella group.
     

    Treble

    The treble on the CL1 is very sharp and can be ear irritating if you can't take the treble that goes clicking. Some might like it, but frankly i don't. RHA has take a turn to the worse, in comparison to my old faithful M750i, which has a softer treble tone to it, so that you can enjoy music for long periods. Ear piercing trebles, what were they thinking?! 
     

    Mids

    The good old mids are still maintained, vocals are clear and speeches can be heard correctly without much muffled effects or flatness. 
     

    Bass

    Although i spotted the bass port, i expected big fat bass, but i was wrong, the bass is short and punchy, with some power to it when it needs to. Maybe the port isnt for bass flex but other things? I have no idea.
     

    3.5mm 

    On this section, I will only point out the major difference in comparison with the xlr mode.
     
    The first major change is the brightness and the treble spike of the XLR. It might also be due to the silver cable used, so the spike is heavy but greatly toned down while using the standard cable. No more ringing in my ears, thank god ~~
     
    Other factors remain consistent. So if it was me, i suggest strongly copper based cables, as I suppose the driver is already tuned towards high trebles so we do not need the silver cable to make it worse. If you want an xlr config, get a copper + xlr, it will be much better.
     

    Side note:

    For both cables, the ear guides are a pain to have it wrap around the ears. They go all weird and cannot get a good wrap like the 750 cables do. Keep that in mind before getting this IEM yeah..
     

    Conclusion

    This ends the part of my review of the CL1, the other RHA tour items as an individual review will be at that head gear page when it's ready. For CL1, I am quite not convinced that it is any better than the MA750i, as the whole sound quality has taken a makeover, and for me it's not a fit. So for me, I would not buy it as in all comparison, MA750i still has the better equation out of them all.
     
    Special thanks to RHA for the chance to take a dive into their new refinements, appreciate it.
      Deftone likes this.