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Rhapsodio RTi2

Rating:
4.5/5,
  1. flinkenick
    Double dynamic power
    Written by flinkenick
    Published Sep 26, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Allround, full sound, instrument defintion, bass texture
    Cons - Customization options limited (at time of ordering), more cable dependent than the Solar
    A short while back Rhapsodio launched two new flagships: the 10 BA, 5 way crossover Solar which I recently reviewed here, and more recently the RTi2; successor to their former flagship, the RTi1. “RTi” standing for ‘Reference Titanium’, referring to the 8mm titanium dynamic driver developed in-house by Rhapsodio. The ‘2’ however not only indicates it’s the sequel of the Rti1; it also sports a second dynamic driver built in the same driver shaft.
     
    Specs
    -MRSP (custom): $1200
    -Double dynamic driver design
    -Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
    -Impedance: 16 ohm
    www.rhapsodio.com
    www.facebook.com/rhapsodiohk
     
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    For this review I’ll be mainly comparing the RTi2 with its predecessor, the RTi1, to provide a baseline for comparison of its sound, but also my impression of the intention of its design. Please note that I’m going off memory concerning the RTi1 though since I previously owned it but sold it off for certain reasons I will come back to later on.
     
    RTi1
    The RTi1 share some similarities with Sennheiser’s flagship iem, the IE800. Both are single dynamic driver designs and have somewhat similar signatures. The RTi1 has till date the most clearest and precise upper midrange I have heard, that can rival most multi BA TOTL iems in beauty and precision. Although the treble can border on hot, it portrays similar beauty. While its soundstage is slightly narrower than top tier iems, imaging within the soundstage is pinpoint precise. The RTi1 is described as a “detail monster” on the Rhapsodio website and rightly so, the effortless presentation allows you to pick up on fast dynamics and transient sounds. But more impressive is detail in the form of subtle nuances in how tones are reproduced: the precision with which you can hear the reverberation of a chord of an acoustic guitar being struck, or a silent breath before a vocal sets in – it all provides a feeling of ‘enhanced realism’ the sound is more precise and beautiful than what you’re used to hearing. Especially female vocals sound mesmerizing. If I had to pick a song that represents the RTi1, it would be something from Alela Diane, like “To Be Still”. Three guitars that are gently plucked sound like glistening diamonds in the sun, with Alela’s voice sounding clear like an angel. I don’t listen to much unplugged music, but the RTi1 made me want to listen to violins, acoustic guitars and the sort. Simply because acoustic instruments sound so realistic, it feels like you can touch them while they are being played before you.
     
    And here comes the ‘but’ – The RTi1 sounds like it’s tuned from the top down. As beautiful and clear as it is, the relatively more pronounced upper midrange that extends on up to the treble comes at the cost of the lower midrange and the bass. Take a look at the graph provided by Rhapsodio on their website. 
     
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    So what you see is that the peak starts rising from 3 Khz on up – the sweet spot for vocals and the upper end of a lot of instruments. The dip below 2 Khz however affects the bottom end of electric guitars and male vocals for instance. See, the peak indicates that certain frequencies will be reproduced louder, and consequentially other frequencies are, relatively speaking, silenced, resulting in a thinner sound: electric guitars sound small in audiovisual proportions. What this basically comes down to is that the RTi1 is a specialist; it is the best iem I’ve heard for female vocals and acoustic instruments. If you listen to folk or singer/songwriter type music, classical or jazz, the RTi1 would still be my ‘endgame’ recommendation. But it is clearly not in its element for rock, while it lacks the bass impact for electronic-based music. At the time, its lack of allround capability was my reason for selling. Now that I have multiple and very different iems I would have appreciated it more; with a varied collection a specialist as the RTi1 increases in value.
     
    RTi2
    For this review I’m listening with a Cowon P1 connected to a Headstage Arrow 5P amp. The standard silver-plated copper has the look and feel of an upgrade cable, the handwoven 4-braid is thicker and sturdier than most provided cables. However, most listening was done with the Rhapsodio Silver Litz cable. The reason for this is, that besides that it significantly improves the SQ, the RTi2 was also tuned with the Silver Litz cable in mind. And it makes an excellent combination. The Silver Litz is a fairly neutral, transparent cable. The RTi2 with SPC cable can be considered warm, dark and somewhat bassy. It has good speed and definition. With the silver cable it is a great deal colder, but the background is blacker - improving the space between instruments. Without the Silver Litz the bass has a less pronounced delicious and addictive ‘round’ feel to it, but still has good texture and impact. The Silver Litz also makes the RTi2 more allround. Tones are tighter and better defined, making the RTi2 sound nice for rock and EDM – which quite frankly shattered my expectations based on their former flagship the RTi1. For now it suffices to say the RTi2 and Silver Litz cable are a match made in – well, in Rhapsodio’s studio, but you get my point. A sidenote is that the cable is not completely free of microphonics, compared to the standard silver-plated copper.
     
    So, finally without further adue: the sound. My first impression of the RTi2 was that Rhapsodio had simply added a second driver that was tuned from the bottom up, to compensate and balance out the sound. My main issue with the RTi1 was its thinner sound. The imaging was precise, and the focus of instruments was razor sharp: the edges of instruments were clearly defined in space. The RTi1 has a pronounced upper midrange. Like the Solar, it sounds like it makes music more beautiful than it is – like photoshopping an already foxy lady. But the disproportionate ratio between the upper and lower midrange reduces the total quantity of perceived sound. The RTi2 sounds full, warm and dark. It doesn’t aim at enhanced beauty. Instead it sounds realistic, and more non-fatuiging, although a slight peak around 5-7 Khz gives it a lively edge. Electric guitars have size and power, while retaining that precise definition. This results from the RTi2 being more balanced throughout the whole spectrum, up until the treble peak. This makes electric guitars for instance sound more forward then the Solar, but also improves their definition. In tracks with faster guitars iems with a mid centric sound signature are more easily prone to congestion. But overall, the RTi2 comes much closer at approaching the flat frequency of reference sound, as if it’s making a play for the ‘R’ in its name. The RTi2 sounds more serious than its predecessor. And that bass.. I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll probably mention it again. I just love that punch of a dynamic driver. I tend to leave my Arrow’s bass setting on I with the RTi2, but I imagine most people will be satisfied with its ouput. But the RTi2 really discerns itself from the hoard with its high resolution sound. Try to imagine a visualization of how you hear different components of a song – the guitar, vocals, etc. With the RTi2 the different components have more and smaller pixels – similar to watching high definition video. Tones are clear and precise, and have superior definition compared to TOTL, multi BA iems.  
     
    For instance, the RTi2’s treble peak gives it some similarities with the EarSonics Velvet’s U-shaped signature since on both treble is bit more forward, although the Velvet’s mids are pushed back further. While the Velvet has a thick note impact, notes are diffuse. This is where the high resolution of the RTi2 comes in to play; in comparison the Velvet’s tones are thick, but consist of larger pixels. With the RTi2, guitars and tones are precise and highly defined, and vocals sound clear and realistic.
     
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    Conclusion
    The RTi1, RTi2 and Solar each share separate similarities. Both the RTi1 and Solar share a more pronounced, beautiful upper midrange. In fact they can be viewed as following the same philosophy although with it's 10 BA drivers the Solar provides a much fuller sound and stronger bass. The Solar and RTi2 share a nice overall full sound compared to the RTi1, but are overall the most different from the three. But while the RTi1 and RTi2 share a precise, clear and highly detailed midrange, Rhapsodio’s new dynamic driver flagship has gone a different direction from its predecessor. The RTi1 has incredible strengths - that divine upper midrange and treble - but also weaknesses: a thinner sound, and relatively bass light. With the implementation of a second dynamic driver, the RTi2 fixes those issues: it sounds full and provides a powerful punch, while widening the soundstage. This makes the RTi2 more allround for different genres; I switch from rock to easy listening, and absolutely love it for EDM. When playing electronic music it sounds dark and somewhat analogue (although the Cowon’s signature is also contributing to this) providing a very different sound what I’m used to with the Velvet and Solar. It is much flatter, more balanced, than the RTi1 since the upper midrange is less pronounced. This provides very relaxing, non-fatuiging listen, but fans of the RTi1’s upper midrange should be aware that the two are more different than similar, which is probably why the RTi1 is still being sold besides the RTi2. The RTi2 doesn't have the same level of midrange transparency or treble extension as the RTi1. Their similarities lie in the high definition presentation of sound, complimentary to the high tech 8mm titanium driver. The RTi2 is very revealing, but also more dependent on high quality recordings than my other iems, which I think is reflected in its relatively low impedance of 16 ohm. But that fits the picture; with a black background, high definition portrayal of tones oozing with detail and nuance, and a neutral, balanced sound, Rhapsodio presents their high resolution iem: the RTi2.
      rpade likes this.
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    2. flinkenick
      Thanks @proedros! The Solar and RTi2 are both great but very different. The Solar is more mid centric with a fuller sound and thick note impact, the RTi2 has a more balanced slightly U-shaped signature and is more precisely defined (high res!)  
      flinkenick, Sep 28, 2015
    3. proedros
      looks liks rti2 will fare better with my slightly warm zx2 than the solar

      on the other hand , we bash noble for charging its 2-ba savant at 600$ and now i see the price here at 1200$....
      proedros, Oct 3, 2015
    4. flinkenick
      Well the difference is that the Savant uses 2 generic BA drivers. 2 dynamic drivers is different. The RTi1 has a similar signature to the IE800, both are single dynamic drivers priced at $800. The RTi2 adds a second driver to the driver shaft. And besides, RSD developed the drivers themselves..
      flinkenick, Oct 4, 2015