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Rhapsodio Galaxy

  1. taz23
    Head-banging, toe-tapping experience
    Written by taz23
    Published May 5, 2016
    Pros - Balanced, detailed, and musical
    Cons - May be unforgiving towards bad recordings
    I first came across Rhapsodio, a boutique IEM maker based in Hong Kong, back in May 2013.  I purchased their RDB+ v1 hybrid then, which is rather fun-sounding.  After a year or so, I thought I needed a more neutral-sounding pair of IEM, so I contacted Sammy again to check out his offerings.  Lo’ and behold, the great customer service from Sammy and the great experience with RDB+ v1 convinced me to purchase the Reference One Titanium (RTi1; single DD).
    I felt that it suited most of my listening needs (e.g., covering genres like classical, some pop, some jazz) very well, except for one drawback…  the bass.  The sub-bass was underwhelming in my opinion, even though it may not seem so from the frequency response graph.  But for its plus points (e.g., overall neutral sound signature with a slight hint of warmth, energetic presentation, heavenly vocals), I was very happy with the purchase and stuck with it for another 1.5 years.
    Forward to early 2016, that’s when the upgraditis hit me again, and I felt like I needed an IEM that deals with the sub-bass issue of the RTi1.  Of course, I contacted Sammy again because we have very similar listening tastes and I thought that he might have something new.  This is where I found the Galaxy! 
    This is my first formal product review, and it is simply because I am so impressed with the Galaxy that I decided that I should share the love.  I hope the review below makes sense and will be helpful to people interested in the Galaxy.
    Fit and feel
    If you would refer to the Galaxy review by San Man, you will be able to see nice images of the packaging, round metal case, and the IEMs themselves.  So I will not touch on this here.
    The Galaxy are very light in hand, and have a nice solid feel to it.  They came with the flagship silver-gold SG2.98 (98% silver, 2% gold) cable that costs USD380, which is great in terms of flexibility, microphonics, and looks.  (Flinkenick has a great review on this cable.)  But due to personal sound preferences, I have switched out the cable (moving this SG 2.98 to the RTi1 because it really enhances the sub-bass) and I am using a custom cable made with SoundPlus silver-copper hybrid wires instead.
    They came with spin-tips in a variety of sizes.  Initially, I thought these tips were doing a decent job in fit and sound isolation, until I saw comments in the forum about JVC Spiral Dot tips working even better.  Since I have the JVC tips, I gave them a shot and the secured fit is now instant with sound isolation that compares very well with my customs (maybe 90% of the isolation).  So do give them a try if you are having the Galaxy.
    Yes, the most important part…  But please note that I am just an enthusiast and can’t describe sound as well as other reviewers; so I hope I can convey my thoughts sufficiently here.  I am using the Galaxy with the Chord Mojo, fed by UAPP app on a Samsung Galaxy S3 on flight mode through a custom short silver-plated copper wire USB OTG cable.
    The biggest improvement of the Galaxy as compared to the RTi1 was the accuracy, impact, and quantity of the bass; this was done without compromising on the treble and mids.  I do note that I do not like a lot of bass, so please take this with a pinch of salt and refer to the comparisons below.  I am now very satisfied with the Galaxy, and I am very sure (at least for the present moment in time) that this is my end-game IEM, if such a notion ever exists.
    As I am a believer of cables, I will be writing with the two sets of IEM cables.  Of course, I am not able to do an A/B-type of comparison with the different cables, but I am confident of my findings because I have listened to both sets for extended period repeatedly. 
    SG 2.98: The sound of the Galaxy with this cable is smooth and definitely non-fatiguing.  The treble energy is slightly subdued as compared with my other cables, but it is not significantly rolled-off in any way.  I thought that the mids were largely untouched when switching the cables; but the bass was emphasized with the SG 2.98 and it is now closer to the bass quantity of the JVC FX-850 (or maybe a little more).  The soundstage was wide and deep, very spacious indeed.  Coupled with the immense level of details presented by the single DD, I feel that this combination is excellent for a relaxing evening of smooth jazz on the couch or even some exciting EDM.  Sammy, like me, also thought that the SG 2.98 gives the Galaxy substantial bass; he feels that a cable without gold (e.g., pure silver) will be more suitable for the likes of us.  For people who like lots of quality bass, this cable will be the one to get.
    Custom silver-copper hybrid cable: As I preferred a more neutral-type of signature, I tried out this cable.  The treble energy is higher now (which is my preference, coming from the Fischer Audio DBA-02) and that plays well with the violin pieces and vocal tracks I listen to; this part is rather similar to the RTi1.  Additionally, the bass quantity is reduced and I prefer this balanced amount of tight impactful bass.  There didn’t seem to be a huge change in the soundstaging too as compared to the SG 2.98.  The balanced sound I am hearing reminds me of IEMs like the Dita series, but the Dita series present music more like a 2.0 speaker setup while the Galaxy has the typical around-the-head presentation of headphones/IEMs.
    Drawbacks: The Galaxy has excellent clarity with immense levels of details.  As such, it reveals flaws in recordings and can be perceived as unforgiving.  For myself, I pay attention to the recording, so my files are of pretty good standard to begin with.  Of course, the Mojo provides an excellent source to this detail monster.  Initially, I was concerned that it will be too analytical with a detailed source, but the synergy proved to be out-of-the-world!
    The Galaxy is very musical while being analytical (not in a bad sense).  Personally, I look out for a pair of coherent-sounding and balanced IEMs; I am less particular about things like soundstaging.  To sum up, I value the toe-tapping head-banging sensation from good IEMS, and I get that immensely from the Rhapsodio Galaxy.  For that, I highly recommend the Galaxy.
    A consistent thing that you will see in the forum and reviews is that Sammy is always very responsive and helpful; this is both when communicating with him before purchasing and after-sales customer service.  So if you are on the fence about this Galaxy, do contact Sammy and have a chat with him.
      Solarsammy, Docterror and EagleWings like this.
    1. Rebelranger
      Excellent review and citing how helpful, reliant and customer focused Sammy is makes it very personal. The points about the cables is well noted. Kudos to you on a great review and to Sammy and ream for a great product!
      Rebelranger, May 5, 2016
    2. San Man
      Good review!
      San Man, May 16, 2016
  2. San Man
    A single dynamic driver masterpiece.
    Written by San Man
    Published Mar 10, 2016
    Pros - Dynamic, detailed, resolute, transparent and HONEST music reproduction. Small, comfortable, light, great fitting housings.
    Cons - No color choices, Spiral Dots tips not included
    **Disclaimer:  I was provided a small discount in return for writing an honest review for the Galaxy**
    My “Journey”:
    I’ll admit this right off the bat:  If I hadn’t lost one side of my Shure SE315 somewhere (it fell off the damn MMCX connector), I’d have never started this journey.  “Journey?”   Maybe, but it's looking more and more like an adventure!   An adventure of countless hours reading threads here on Head-Fi and elsewhere, reading reviews about possible IEM candidates, and doing research (I’ll get to that in a minute).   Basically, spending hours upon hours with my butt parked on my chair in front of my computer.
    I wanted an upgrade to the SE315, and after much ado, I selected the Westone W40s.  After a few weeks, they broke (damn MMCX connector again) and I returned them.   After much more reading, I opted this time for the Noble 4 universal IEM (N4U).  “How’d you come to that decision” you may ask?  Read, read, and read more!   Now, you’re probably thinking “Read?” and why not “Listen?”  Yes, for me it's "read."   Unfortunately for me, my only choice was to "read."   See, I live in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu.  You must be thinking "You lucky dude," or "Wow, what a problem to have."  True, I’ve got access to some of the greatest beaches in the world, a tropical climate, an average temperature in the mid 80’s year-round, and beautiful women!  What I don’t have access to, is a store where I can audition IEMs.  Nor do we have a “CanJam” here, or very many "meetups" for that matter.  None of that great stuff!  So, by reading reviews, I ended up on the N4U.  I was happy with my choice, they were a great upgrade to the SE315 and the W40 -  I had a great sounding IEM with basically a “reference curve,” which was one of my checklist requirements.  The memory wire leaves a bit to be desired, but it’s a great piece.
    But, as with anyone who plants roots in Head-Fi for any amount of time, I wanted MORE.   MORE!   Why can't we be satisfied???  Will we ever be satisfied for that matter?  And with that, I began to create my new checklist.  More bass and sub-bass.   Clearer, more open, and more coherent midrange.   More treble/high extension without being harsh or shrill.  In essence, I wanted a true TOTL IEM.
    Who am I?:
    I’m new here on Head-Fi, yup, a venerable “newbie.”  I’m a self-proclaimed newbie to the world of TOTL IEMs.   Prior to purchasing the N4U, my most expensive IEM was a measly $150.00.   That “Shure” changed (PUN intended), and quickly at that!  
    Although I’m new to this wonderful world of IEMs, I’m not new to audio.  In my younger life, I was in audio sales and a rep for most of the major car audio brand names.   Alpine, MB Quart, Rockford, Dynaudio, to name a few.  I’ve been to CES a few times, and I had the privilege of hearing 2 of the multi IASCA winning vehicles.   Anyone remember Richard Clark?  The 4 time IASCA winner? (Yikes, I'm showing my age)  Yup, I listened to that car and was APPALLED at how GOOD a sound system in a vehicle could be.   It was literally a game changer.  I’ve also heard many top of the line 2 channel speaker systems with single components costing more than my annual salary.  So, this isn't quite my first rodeo lol. Enough about me, let’s get into it.
    Galaxy Specs:
    Galaxyfreqresponse.jpg (Edited on 03-17-16:  Added the Galaxy frequency response chart provided by Sammy)

    A single driver you ask?   Absolutely!  One 10.3mm driver makes all the magic here.

    What’s in the box?:


        *Pair of Rhapsodio Galaxy in-ear headphones
        *Rhapsodio RSD SG 2.98 4 braid cable (exquisite!), composed of OCC alloy wire with 2% gold and 98% silver
        *6  pairs of tips    
            *3 Phillips tips (S,M,L)
            *3 Spin Fit tips (S,M,L)
        *Metal Rhapsodio branded storage container (beautifully made)
        *Rhapsodio branded aluminum locker box (hefty!)

    Build and Fit:
    When you first open the box and notice that the earpieces are metal, you naturally expect some heft and weight to the phones, but you'll be sadly disappointed.   Fear not, for you will be disappointed in a good way.   Each headphone is seriously light, and weigh next to nothing.  If I had to guess, I'd say the enclosures are made out of CNC'd aluminum.   The machining of the enclosures is very well done, and they feel very sturdy and strong.  There are no sharp edges present, and each enclosure is very smooth to the touch.   Sammy stated that they're made out of metal for the bass response.  Coincidentally, they clink like a pachinko ball when tapped together!  I'll admit it, they're rather unassuming at first sight. If you didn't know what you were looking at, you'd think they're some low-tier or budget IEM.   However, what they "give up" in heft and physical presence, they more than make up with comfort and non-fatigue for extended wear.
    The cables and headphone enclosures employ the standard 2 pin connect (thank god no MMCX) with a non-recessed connector.   The included Rhapsodio RSD SG 2.98 4 braid cable is simply beautiful.  Exquisite. The wires are soft and supple, with no memory wire over the ear (Hooray!).    There is, however, a small section of clear sleeve about 4 inches long from the 2 pin connector back with helps to keep the shape over the ear but it is in no way memory wire.  The cables themselves are very thin, with the diameter of the 4 braid section equal or less than the diameter of an Apple lightning cable.  The build quality is nothing short of excellent, and there's no discernable microphonics present.
    The Galaxy is shipped with 6 pairs of tips, but I just couldn't get the included Spin-Fit or Phillips tips to seal well, even when using the largest sizes.   Taking the advice from a bunch of forum members, I purchased the JVC Spiral Dot tips in the large size and viola!  Problem solved.  I get a better seal than the old Shure grey silicone tips I loved so much with more comfort to boot.   Do not hesitate to try these! 
    One great feature of the JVC tips is that they sit down on the sound tube, and offer very little obstruction to the end port where the sound exits.   Although the picture seems otherwise, there's very little to shroud the grill.

    My Setup:
    My humble rig consists of the following:  AK 100 mk2 -->  Chord Mojo -->  Sysconcepts 5mm optical cable -->  RSD SG 2.98 cable -->  Galaxy
    I'm not going to review it with the DAP only, because the majority of people playing ball at this level have some sort of secondary amplification and/or processing in their system.
    Test Music:
    I used a variety of music spanning many different genres, including:
        Pink Floyd, DSOTM :  Time, Money (of course, I went there!)
        Daft Punk:  R.A.M. - Fragments
        Steely Dan:  Aja
        Sting: Thousand Years, Brand New Day
        Ultrasone:  Reference CD (If you haven't gotten had the chance to listen to this, do it, it's quite superb)
        Arne Domnerus Group : Jazz At The Pawnshop (Thanks to dan2112 for the excellent recommendation)
        Eric Clapton: Change the World, Layla (Unplugged)
        Jewel:  Somewhere Over the Rainbow
        Lorde:  Royals
        Nirvana, Unplugged:  All Apologies
    First things first: Right off the bat, I was insructed by Sammy "The Magician" to "burn in."   "Piano music, 100 hours minimum, 25% volume level."   He's a man of few words, but man are those words powerful.  Me, being the newbie that I am, immediately opened up Google.  "Burn in headphones" was the search string.  Call me inquisitive, call me a skeptic, but I had to investigate.  It's in my nature.  Google rewarded with a plethora of information, ranging from "Wow, the sound changed" to "It's all snakeoil and viper venom."  I begrudgingly listened to him (Hey, I wanted to see what my brand spanking new TOTL IEM sounded like, wouldn't you?) and began organizing my piano music into a folder.   "Good god" I thought, this is going to take forever!   So, I snuck a listen to some Sting and Nirvana.   (From my wish list) More bass and sub-bass...check!    More treble/high extension....check!   No shrill or harshness in the highs....check!    More coherent, clear and open midrange....err, wait.   Hold on a minute, it's not happening here.   "Good god," I thought, "Did I make a mistake in my decision?"  It can't be, everyone who owns one says it should be there.   So I unplugged the Mojo, hooked up the Galaxy to the AK, fired up the piano music, and waited. And waited.  And waited.   10 hours went by, and it was the same.   Dammit!   Back to burn-in.   30 hours went by, and hey, something's happening here I thought.   Could it be?   Back to burn-in.   50 hours went by, and by golly, that Magician knows what he's talking about.   100 hours completed, but I went for more, and judging by how things progressed, I'm now a believer.  Easily over 200 hours by the time this review is completed.   Prior to writing this, every chance I got I continued to burn-in.   Man was I rewarded for my efforts.
    Sound Impressions:
    (I'm no expert, and my inventory is rather slim, so this will not be nearly as technical as a review by ShotGunShane, Mim, Twister6, Hisoundfior the like.  I'll try my best to use layman's terms and make this entertaining and understandable.)
    By God the bass is heavenly.   Deep, quick, snappy, and accurate with great extension.  Deep, deep notes galore!   "Is it a bass heavy IEM you ask?"  No, not at all.  The bass is never sloppy, it never loses control, it never has a hint of distortion.  Very balanced with no discernable mid-bass hump as in other IEMs I own.  The notes it productes to mne are perfect; They neither hangs nor disappear too quickly.  However, with as much bass as you do get, it's never overpowering and it never throws the muisc out of balance.  It's simply quality bass with effortless reproduction of the deep notes.  It's that good.  In fact, I was listening to a track on the Ultrasone disc and the Galaxy actually vibrated my sinuses!
    Vocals on the Galaxy are outstanding, I would say spot on almost dead in the middle with maybe a slight hint of forwardness.   The clarity is amazing, both male and female vocals come out very well defined, airy, and are superbly detailed with great coherence.   Initimate recordings such as "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "Layla" simply sound "pure," for lack of a better word.   No unnecessary coloration of the vocals, just accurate, coherent, airy reproduction of the male and female voice.  Besides reproducing spectacular vocals, the Galaxy also excels at instrumentation.   In "Change the World," Clapton's acoustic guitar is front and center and simply sounds "alive" when he plucks the strings and reaches into the lower extension effortlessly.    The accompanying acoustic guitars easily reach into the upper ranges
    Treble on the Galaxy is something to experience.   Clear, defined, detailed, coherent, with no sibilance heard.  Transparency is amazing, with instruments such as cymbals, flutes, etc, that live on this side of the spectrum sounding airy and detailed.    The Violins in "Andate Larghetto" Concerto No. 2 on Utrasone's Test CD (Track #9) easily detail the treble extension of the Galaxy whilst not having any harshness or shrill.  An even better example can be had with "Chakraphon - Improvisation II" on the Ultrasone Test CD (Track #14), where the Chakraphon shows some serious treble extension with notes that almost sound like tuning forks being struck.
    Sound stage and Imaging:
    The sound stage on the Galaxy is very wide, with great separation between vocals and instruments.   Furthermore, the sound stage itself has good height.  Closing your eyes, you can very easily place each singer or instrument on the sound stage with very little effort.  I will say the stage is easily more wide than deep, although I would not call the stage "shallow" in any way.   There is a great sense of space and air between all facets of whatever music pushes forth, and nothing sounds bunched together or "tight."  Both smaller and larger sound stages are presented well with the Galaxy.  In Arne Domnerus Groups' "Jazz at the Pawnshop," you're treated to a small, intimate sound stage with good width but short depth.   You can easily place the xylophone behind the clarinet, with the piano out to the left and the drums in the rear.   While larger, orchestral records easily portray a concert hall sized stage with great width and depth.
    Final Thoughts:
    Sammy has outdid himself.   When I began looking into the Rhapsodio line in my search, I was initially leaning toward the Solar instead of the Galaxy.   Multiple PMs to Sammy resulted in the recommendations below when asked of the differences between Solar and Galaxy (with the following requirements: more sub-bass/bass presence and extension, more clarity and slightly more upfront mids and more treble extension without being harsh or shrill sounding):  
    Sammy replied that I should be should be looking into the Solar, but "Solar but the treble extension is worse than galaxy. The galaxy soundings ultra bass and treble extension with front vocal. The resolution better grade than Solar two grade.

    Bass texture: Galaxy >solar
    BASS attack: Solar > Galaxy
    Vocals. Men: Solar =Galaxy
    Vocal women: Galaxy >Solar
    Soundstage: Galaxy >solar
    Treble: galaxy >Solar
    Resolution: Galaxy >SOlar
    Color. : Solar >Galaxy"
    What Sammy has done here is nothing short of incredible.   You get in the Galaxy is a set of IEMs that are seriously light, fit very well, and can be worn for hours with no fatigue.   They reproduce music extraordinarily, and have seemingly no shortcomings.    What they do, in my opinion, is reproduce music very honestly, with no unnecessary coloration to the sound.   I would label them more "reference" than "full or thick."  Galaxy's bass is deep and accurate, with a quick and snappy mid bass notes.   Vocal midrange reproduction is simply "pure," for a lack of a better word.   It performs equally superb in regards to either male or female vocals tracks.   Midrange musical instrument reproduction is simply effortless and accurate, with detailed, resolute, and airy output.  And ooh, that treble and extension! Glorious!
    If there's one caveat with the Galaxy, it's that it will make your reference recordings shine, while mediocre and poor recordings are exposed for what they are.   For that, beware!
    In closing, if you're looking for a new TOTL IEM that can excel at playing almost all genres of music with an honest, uncolored, detailed representation of the artist's work, then look no further.   

    Thank you to Sammy and everyone that's helping along my adventure!

    1. View previous replies...
    2. viper2377
      Fantastically entertaining review, excellently laid out in true reviewer style. I hope to see more reviews from you as this one reads well, aside from the obvious mistakes.. Maybe a revisit in coming months?? Something I rarely see.. Keep it up San Man!
      viper2377, Mar 18, 2016
    3. AbdullaSaleh
      I Have to get this iem,Thanks for the review.
      AbdullaSaleh, Apr 6, 2016
    4. San Man
      Thank you viper2377!
      AbdullaSaleh, you will not be disappoined!
      San Man, Apr 6, 2016