Rhapsodio Saturn

Rating:
4.75/5,
  1. Wyville
    Rhapsodio Saturn - A rocker's delight
    Written by Wyville
    Published Jan 15, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Warm and smooth, non-fatiguing, great bass, good vocal presence, fun and exciting, work great for punk, rock and metal
    Cons - Not great for classical music, memory wire, wide stem limits tip selection
    Rhapsodio Saturn

    Disclaimer
    I would like to thank Sammy of Rhapsodio for loaning me the Saturn for this review. No incentive was given for a favourable review.

    Rhapsodio Saturn
    • Driver: Single 11mm dynamic driver with titanium diaphragm
    • Impedance: 16Ω
    • Sensitivity: 106dB/mV
    • Freq. Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
    • Price: US$380

    Links:
    https://www.rhapsodiostore.com
    https://en-gb.facebook.com/rhapsodiohk/

    Rhapsodio
    Rhapsodio is a small, Hong Kong-based company that specialises in universal and custom IEMs, aftermarket cables, as well as lots of other stuff that can be a bit hard to keep track of. Let me explain... Rhapsodio is not your typical audio company and looking at the company's background it seems that this is just how they like it. Even the name comes from the combination of 'Rhapsody' and 'Audio'. A rhapsody is defined as "a piece of music that has no formal structure and expresses powerful feelings", something that seems to have been a deliberate hint to how the company works. Rhapsodio also proudly states on its Facebook page that they are "A place for crazy music lovers!!" It will then come as no surprise that the man behind it, the indomitable Sammy, is often seen as a bit of a mad scientist who is always working on several projects at the same time. This is something that I, being a polymath myself, can really appreciate and I have wanted to get my hands on Sammy's creations for some time now.

    Sammy's main speciality is in developing dynamic drivers and the Saturn under review here are based on 11mm dynamic drivers with a titanium diaphragm. Of course Sammy also has BA and hybrid IEMs on offer, because what else can you expect from any self-respecting mad audio scientist?!

    Saturn.JPG

    Build quality and fit
    The build quality of the Saturn is great and they feel solidly built. They are however a departure from some of Sammy's other creations such as the Galaxy, in that the Saturn are very lightweight. The shells are a bit bigger than some IEMs, but the shape of them is great and it makes them comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The stem is wider than usual and this makes it a little tricky to get tips on them. I tried various tips, but for the first couple of weeks I ended up using some that were included by Sammy. These were short and wide bore, so that the Saturn did not go very deep in my ears, still created a good seal and felt quite comfortable. In an effort to improve comfort further I continued to try different tips and eventually I managed to squeeze on Final tips at a size smaller than I usually take, which worked a treat.

    What I did notice was that the fit and comfort could be significantly improved by changing the cable. The stock cable is a light and very supple cable that is completely ruined by my arch nemesis: memory wire. Traumas of the past came back to haunt me, and my ears trembled in fear every time I picked up the Saturn. Most annoyingly, I felt that the memory wire pushed the Saturn out of my ear unless I got it to bend just right. Some people might like memory wire, but then again, some people also like anchovies on their pizza. I would much rather do without.

    Source
    All listening was done with my AK70, a neutral warm DAP that is more organic in how it presents the music, rather than analytical.

    Saturn_AK70.JPG

    Presentation
    When I first heard the Saturn I was shocked and confused. I was listening to my favourite Beethoven and it was a complete mess. Panic started creeping in... "Why are the violins all the way back there?!" ... "Who put the bloody tympani in front of them?!" ...and I began to wonder how I was ever going to write a proper review of them. Lucky for me I am a persistent sort of fella, or else I would have completely missed just what wonderful gems the Saturn really are!

    "Warm and smooth", most of the IEMs I have listened to since I started my journey down the audiophile rabbit hole have been a variation of this. The Saturn too can be described as warm and smooth, but they offer a very different take on this theme, not in the least because these are the first dynamic driver IEMs I have had time with since my venerable se215 went into retirement. Sammy has tuned these in a unique way that was a bit of a challenge for me to analyse at first, but incredibly enjoyable to listen to. With the right music, that is.

    The Saturn have a very wide stage with good height, but not a lot of depth. They offer a 'wall of sound' that, in combination with the tuning, works very well for certain types of music. Not classical, as is usually my main preference, but rather music such as punk, rock, metal and (down-tempo) EDM. The Saturn are warm and smooth with particular focus on bass and vocals. For classical music the focus shifts too much on the bass section, while instruments such as violins are pushed into the background. This slows down the perceived speed that is further reduced because the Saturn are dynamic drivers that do not have the speed and agility of BA drivers. The result is that a piece such as John Eliot Gardiner's interpretation of Beethoven's 5th Symphony, which is conducted at a very fast 108 bpm, feels lumbering and slow. The flipside of this is that punk, rock and metal get a more analogue-feeling low end that is impactful and has a wonderful texture to it. This is combined with a carefully tuned treble, to add real crunch to electric guitars, and well-placed vocals. It works incredibly well and to put it simply, the Saturn ROCK.

    Bass
    Straight off we start with what I consider the star of the Saturn: a lovely deep and growling bass that has a lot of texture and detail to it. The dynamic drivers do an amazing job at creating a bass that for the first time I consider to have something akin to speaker-like qualities. A bass-head's dream? Perhaps not quite at that level, but for me they certainly produce a very satisfying bass.

    The whole bass section is lifted, giving the Saturn a warm and somewhat darker signature. The sub-bass goes deep and gives drums a real impact, which is what works so brilliantly well with punk, rock and metal. It adds to the excitement that the signature as a whole is able to produce and works brilliantly well for something like Green Day, who love to hammer the kick drum. In fact, I felt that the Saturn rocked like nothing I have heard so far. The mid-bass too adds impact and gives bass guitars a lot more presence than I am used to. Listening to Aerosmith's 'Pink' I suddenly heard the bass guitar in the mix, something I had not noticed this clearly before. It was a lovely meaty bass with lots of texture and positioned very well in the mix. With lighter music such as Caro Emerald the position of the double bass ends up a little too far forward for my taste, but it is still very enjoyable to listen to how it is presented, as the double bass has a very natural tone. The lift in the upper-bass does reduce transparency and this causes issues with classical music. When the impact and quantity of the bass is combined with reduced mid-range clarity, it effectively places the double bass right in front of the poor violin player. There is no competition.

    EDM also works very well. Although some might perhaps prefer the speed and agility of a BA bass, I think that the sub-bass depth and slower decay is well worth it. I especially enjoy listening to Astronaut Ape and Carbon Based Lifeforms, which are types of down-tempo EDM that actually benefit from a slower perceived and (much) deeper bass. I often describe listening to this music as getting a brain massage and with the Saturn this becomes a deep tissue brain massage. It also emphasises the relaxed atmosphere this music is supposed to have. Great for music meditation!

    Mids
    The mids probably took me the longest time to get a good feeling for. The Saturn clearly have laid back mids because some instruments are placed much further back than I am used to. However, Sammy has found a way to make vocals about as prominent as with my Ei.3, although perhaps not quite as strongly presented. This caused my initial panic while listening to classical music, but I found that powerful instruments such as electric guitars were more than capable of competing with, or complimenting, the lifted bass and this is where the Saturn start to shine.

    It took some searching to find music that to my ears best showed off what the mids of the Saturn were all about, but I found it. Enter the Dutch symphonic metal band Within Temptation... The Saturn presented this music just as I had always wanted to hear it: A foundation of the bass section to create a dark atmosphere, then the growling, deeply textured guitars and impactful drums, above which rises Sharon den Adel's stunning voice accompanied by some lighter instruments. Sure, female vocals do have a bit of warmth to them, owing perhaps to a lower mid-range lift, but the positioning is very good and clear.

    Like a good guitar riff? The Saturn have you covered! I really enjoyed the intro to the Green Day track 'Panic Song', which is long and rolling, with electric guitars that have all the crunch I wanted in my punk rock.

    My impression is that the mids are laid back in order to create a very engaging V-shape that is warm, smooth and still very exciting to listen to, especially because Sammy managed to still keep vocals clearly present.

    Treble
    The treble of the Saturn is very smooth and detailed, but also quite a bit attenuated in my opinion. Although I sometimes see myself a bit as a "treblephobe", I found that the Saturn sounded like Sammy tuned an excellent quality treble that he subsequently went on to push into the background. It is extended and the resolution is good, but cymbals are reduced to background instruments. So do not expect too much in the way of sparkle and excitement in that area. That said, Sammy tuned the treble with a lower treble peak that contributes to the amazing crunch found in electric guitar strings. It is a specific tuning that I found could easily be ruined by pairing the Saturn with the wrong cable.

    Saturn_case.JPG

    Cables
    Bye, bye memory wire! ...I love aftermarket cables with pre-bent heat shrink, those are awesome! It was the sole reason I got into aftermarket cables in the first place. The first of such cables I considered buying was a Rhapsodio cable I found on the 'for sale' forums, I believe it was an RSD OCC Copper that I did not end up buying because it all sounded so very expensive. A year on and several miles further down the rabbit hole, I regret not buying it at such a great price. As such, I sadly had no Rhapsodio cable to pair the Saturn with and it did feel a bit dirty to plug in my current Effect Audio cables, but the Saturn seemed willing to be experimental. I tried out the Ares II and Lionheart, and very briefly the PlusSound Exo Copper.

    Normally I would happily write at length about the pairings, but to my ears they simply did not work well. The Saturn being warm and smooth, I expected the Ares II to work very well and Lionheart possibly amazing, as this is what happened with my Ei.3, but sadly not. Neither pairing worked very well in my opinion, as both "tamed" the Saturn and significantly reduced the crunch of electric guitars, the impact of drums and it lost that analogue feeling that makes the Saturn so wonderful for rock. The Exo Copper did a bit better as it has a meatier low end and something of a lower/mid treble lift, but it did not quite get to the same point as the stock cable. My guess is that the stock cable is a traditional SPC and that it forms a key part of the tuning. Perhaps a silver cable might have also worked, but because I had neither an aftermarket SPC or silver cable, I stuck with the stock cable.

    Saturn_Ei3.JPG

    Comparison with Custom Art Ei.3
    Both the Saturn and the Ei.3 are smooth and warm IEMs at a around about the same price point (Saturn US$380 vs Ei.3 €340) and I thought it would be interesting to compare them because those are pretty much the only similarities between the two.

    The bass is of course the difference between a DD bass and a BA bass. Back to back this is clearly noticeable. The Ei.3 are very tight and super fast compared to the Saturn's deep and meaty bass. Both hit deep, with the Saturn having the edge in sub-bass. Overall the Saturn have more bass presence and sound warmer, but it is really in the mids is where the two differ most. While both have something of a U-shaped signature, the Saturn's mids are further back and do not have the same key role as in the Ei.3's signature. The Ei.3 have mids that bind the signature together, whereas the Saturn's mids get out if the way to make room for the bass and treble to harmonise. Treble in both is attenuated, but the Ei.3 a bit less and combined with the lower mid bass, the overall signature ends up a little brighter (by comparison). The Ei.3 are the more versatile of the two and they even cope reasonably well with classical music, although their real strength is with fast EDM. The Saturn on the other hand present a more stable image and have a more natural tone, with of course that wonderful growl and crunch for rock (etc).

    In my opinion they both offer excellent value for money, but are very different propositions that will suit different preferences or moods. Both are also never fatiguing and even the biggest treblephobe will have no issues with either.

    Conclusions
    The Saturn present a wonderfully tuned V-shape that works exceptionally well for punk, rock, metal and (down-tempo) EDM. They present a warm and smooth sound that has an analogue feel to it. The bass is meaty and hits deep, vocals are clearly present and the treble is very smooth, but still capable of giving a bit of bite to add to the excitement of the bass. They might not work for all types of music, such as classical, but they are versatile enough that (for instance) older jazz recordings come through with a lovely hint of warmth to brass instruments and live recordings sound more realistic. At their price I think they offer excellent value and are well worth a demo for anyone looking for a really fun and exciting pair of IEMs. Great job Sammy!
      mgunin, AC-12, EffectAudio and 8 others like this.
  2. narco dacunzolo
    RHAPSODIO SATURN: A BUDGET ALL-ROUNDER
    Written by narco dacunzolo
    Published Jan 9, 2018
    4.5/5,
    Pros - WIDE SOUNDSTAGE, GOOD DYNAMIC, SOUNDS GOOD WITH EVERY MUSIC GENRES
    Cons - BASS RESPONSE IS NOT THE FASTEST ONE
    IMG_3761.JPG

    After reviewing Galaxy v2 and Infinity model, i am really happy to test the budget IEM in the Rhapsodio catalogue: Rhapsodio Saturn .

    As stated by the company “ Saturn is made with an 11 mm dynamic driver with titanium diaphragm, focusing on providing deep bass and high clarity with excellent layering that makes it an all-rounder.

    Apart from that, Saturn weighs only one-third of the other dynamic driver in-ear monitors of the brand, providing a light and comfortable feeling”.

    Saturn unit was sent me as a sample unit, I am not affiliated with the company and all observations and opinions will be only my own. Would like to thanks Sammy and Rhapsodio team for sending me this unit giving me the opportunity to test this product.


    LINK TO RHAPSODIO SHOP: https://www.rhapsodiostore.com/products

    LINK TO DARK KNIGHT CABLE: https://www.rhapsodiostore.com/products/dark-knight


    IMG_3626.JPG


    PACKAGING: Saturn comes in hard case with some silicon tips, that I really don’t understand why Rhapsodio persists with this type of eartips with all their models, I couldn’t find a good fit with them.

    Trying a lot of mine, I found a perfect fit with double flange tips, they not only provided me a better fit, but overall a better sound and isolation.

    Out of the box Saturn comes with a white two pin cable, I tested this IEM both with Pandora Dwarf and Dark Knight cable and found a perfect synergy with the second one.

    Dark Knight offers more details and a more neutral sound signature.

    Build quality is excellent, with a shell made up of transparent acrylic and a wood-style faceplate color, this model is really nice.

    Saturn is one of the most lightweight and comfortable two-pin IEM I have ever tried and I could listen for hours and never find any troubles or listening fatigues.

    Isolation is above average, if you can find the right eartip, but it is not excellent, I think it’s due to the big bore in the shell, that will provide you a big soundstage and imaging.

    topo.jpg

    SOUND:

    All my sound consideration has been made after 50 hours of burn in , with different DAPs such as fiio x3, x5, iFi Nano Idsd black label and my iphone 6 too.


    a word to describe this IEM could be an all-rounder: everything you will put in will sound great.

    Saturn shows quite a neutral sound, but on the warmish side, it’s not so clean and polite as the Galaxy V2 or Infinity models.

    In terms of bass, Saturn has a good impact thanks to the 11 mm dynamic driver with titanium diaphragm, it’s not one of the fastest I have heard but it’s very good for its price range.

    You can find enough bass quantity and surely cannot be considered as a bass-heavy IEM.

    Afterall, bass response gives a good dynamic and musical impact to the track, but will never cover other frequencies.

    Mids are not in face or too much laid back, I could say it has a U-shaped sound signature.

    Vocals are quite neutral and detailed, but in certain tracks they lack body and could be just a little thiny.

    Saturn is not a treble-ish IEM such as GALAXY V2 model, but offers a good clarity without harshness and sibilance issues, indeed, i could be able to listen to this IEM and never find any listening fatigue.

    The star of the show is the soundstage: is one of the widest I have ever heard.

    Still in the 1000 USD price range, it is difficult to find such a big soundstage and imaging: everything surrounds you and you can pinpoint every instrument.

    If you loved Dunu Titan 1 or fiio ex1 soundstage, this IEM will be a nice upgrade for you.

    With its low impedance is quite easy to drive, you can drive easily with your Smartphone, but I found a perfect synergy with Whistle DAC/AMP offering a better focus on mids and a stronger bass response.

    IMG_3567.JPG

    CABLES:

    I tested Saturn IEM with both Dark Knight and Pandora Dwarf cable and found a good synergy with the first one: Black Knight gives you better detailes and instrument separation with quite a neutral sound signature.

    Pandora Dwarf give you too much warmth to the sound, for this has a perfect synergy with the hissing problems of Galaxy V2.


    SATURN VS ORIVETI NEW PRIMACY: ORIVETI has a more detailed and better “near to life” vocals with a lovely romantic sound signature, on the other side Saturn gives you a better dynamic, a stronger and faster bass response and a bigger soundstage, it is surprising since ORIVETI shows quite a good soundstage for its price range.


    SATURN VS PERIODIC AUDIO Be: Periodic Audio Be has a more mature sound, I could consider a more audiophile sound signature with very detailed voices but maybe too much bass quantity.

    On the other side Saturn shows a more fun sound signature, with better clarity and much bigger soundstage.

    SATURN VS GALAXY V2: absolutely the winner is GALAXY for its better dynamic and transient response with a stronger and faster bass response ( one of the best I have ever found in a single dynamic driver), but is a good battle considering their different price range.

    Saturn has a more warm sound signature, with more details on vocals and in particular without any harshness and sibilance issues and with a bigger soundstage.

    FINAL WORDS: overall Saturn is a fantastic IEM for its price range, with a good dynamic and detailed sound, it is lightweight and comfortable and will suit well any musical genres.


    FINAL RATING: 8,8

    Frequency response: 20-20,000 Hz

    Sensitivity: 106 dB/Mv

    Impedance: 16 ohm

    images

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      mgunin, SeeSax and fiascogarcia like this.