Pros: Bass Quality
Fullness and Sweet Mids
Detailed but Relaxing Treble
Cons: The Housing is a bit large
Soundstage is not very wide
Mids missing some transparency
Rhapsodio Solar Review
Rhapsodio is a Hong Kong based company and the owner is Sammy.
The Solar is a IEM with 10 Balanced armature driver units, 4 passive crossover and 3 main acoustic pipes. I have tested the Solar with the 2.98G/ 8 braided upgraded cable that bring this IEM to a different level especially the mids and detail and have also used the Noble K10U stock cable. I want advise to those who want buy the Solar, that they should get this special cable.
The Solar is in terms of size bigger than the Noble K10 and a bit smaller than the Rosie IEM. It has a custom like shell and is sitting comfortable in my ears and I lıke the fit very much. Maybe people who have smaller ears will have problems with the fit.
The Solar comes with an acrylic housing and build quality of this housing is solid and they are no imperfections such as openings etc. The quality of the housing is perfect.
The 2 pin connectors on the housing are not too tight like on the K10 and lose like on other IEMs. It is easy to put in and out the cable that makes a cable swapping not an issue.
The cable is very robust and the braiding of this 8 core braided cable is tight and they are no big gaps.
We can say in short that the Solar has a build quality that is worth its price. Don’t mind that the Solar looks a bit rough, it is a very esthetic IEM.
The Solar has a slightly and wide angled V shaped sound character and is an IEM that sounds on the warmer side. Yes, it is warm but not is not as dark like the Heir 5.
The Solar sounds vivid and detailed, thanks to the slightly bright treble factor
The Solar has a strong and deep lower frequency presentation. This is the area where the Solar is surpassing its price with its detail. I can say that the Solar is in this regarding better than other totl IEMs (for example K10/Adel U12 etc.). The lows have also not the sort of sub-bass presentation that comes from only one point. The Solar is transmitting the lows with good separating to the ears. I have also the opinion that the Solar IEM has a bass presentation that is close to real and natural sound.
The mid-bass comes is soft with body to my ears. The mid-bass is not compressing the stage except some songs with high instrument density. The Solar has not a midbass focused bass presentation like the Noble K10 and is more sub-bass focused that makes it very pleasant to listen. The bass speed in genres like metal music is above average due to the bass extensions that is a bit higher than normal. But I have had no issues with many songs with exception of some critical listening’s. The Solar is in short an IEM with strong, tight and highly detailed lows.
Solar is a IEM with V shaped character that makes the mids a bit recessed. The sound is with the stock cable a bit recessed but is surprisingly upfront with the 8 core braided upgrade cable. The mids still a bit more recessed than those of the K10’s but the fact that the upgrade cable brings the mids upfront makes it very pleasant.
The Solar’s mid area has a presentation where instruments are a little bit behind the vocals. The vocals are warm, bodied and musical. People who like listen to vocals will like this. The instrument separation of the Solar is pretty good due to the wide and deep stage. They are only some problems with songs that have a high instrument density, but the general performance is quite successful. My only complaint to the mids is the slightly veiled presentation in this region. I would only wish that the 8 core cable could add more clearness and transparency to the sound that is otherwise perfect, with exception in some songs that I use for critical listening.
In shorts, there is missing only some clearness/transparency in the mids area and it would be very nice if they could add some brightness like in the treble area. His could make the Solar even better than the Fitear tg334. The resolution in this area is good enough for this price level.
The instrument timber in the lower regions is on a high level with the Solar that makes it suitable with jazz to ethnic music. The Solar IEM is showing a good separation between instruments and the vocals. Yes, it has a warm tonality in this area but that doesn’t mean that there is too much air with warm character between instruments. The air between instruments is filled with a neutral air that is not warm and makes the general separation successful.
The brightness, which is more present in the treble area than in the lower frequency’s and mids is avoiding the Solar to be classified as a warm and dark IEM and makes it to a member of detailed and vivid sounding IEMs. The treble has a slightly bright and prominent tonality. The only downside in the treble area is the extensions that does not extend enough forward. Instruments such as cymbals have good definition but the extensions are a bit too short in certain genres.
I do like the transition between the upper mids because of the soft and controlled presentation. The treble is not annoying in high notes of pianos, in the opposite it is sounding quite soft. Which I like too, about the Solar’s treble is the presentation of the side flute that doesn’t sounded like a horn. Especially the separation of instruments in classical genres such as Concerto’s and Quartets gave me some hours of pleasant listening. The Solar is in my opinion a rarely to found IEM, because of its success in both jazz/classical and pop/electronic music genres. The speed of Solar’s treble is good enough for some genres such as heavy metal or trash metal. But at times it may not be enough for some extreme fast metal songs.
In short, many people will enjoy the Solar’s sub-frequency power, wide/deep stage, instrument separation, silent & black background, full bodied & musical mids and vivid treble presentation.
Comparison with the Noble K10
The Solar and K10 are successful in the lower frequencies such as mid-bass and the sub-bass depth. The main focus of the K10 is the mid-bass, but I found the Solar mores successful in both sub- and mid-bass regions, because it has the ability to make cleaner and more powerful hits and has also the better lower frequency resolution.
The K10 has a mids that are more upfront and better resolution than the Solar. But the vocal performance is a bit subjective, because I found the K10 more successful with female and the Solar with male vocals, that’s because the Solar sounds fuller and has a more natural timber. If Solar have had more transparency and brightness in the mids, it could maybe more successful than K10.
The upper midrange of the K10'un is more pronounced than Solar. Bu the treble is equal in terms of quality. The treble of the Solar and the K10 does not extend enough forward and here is a quick decay while listening to instruments like bells, cymbals. The K10 has some issues with songs where you can find a high density of instruments, because it was hard to define instruments for example a side flute in a song. It was easier to define this side flute with the Solar due to the wider stage, which makes it more successful in this area. The general speed of this IEM’s with genres like for example trash metal is not the best I have heard before, but I can say that I found the K10 faster and more successful in such genres.
The Solar is superior to the K10 in terms of stage width, that has not a very wide soundstage I found the two IEMs at satisfactory levels in terms of soundstage depth.
The Solar is in general more successful in relation of instruments separation and the K10 in terms of definition. In the symphonic music recordings, where treble instruments and mid instruments were used together, the Solar’s mid-bass fogged out, while the K10 have had mixing issues and loosed the control in the upper midrange. I can say that the Solar was more successful in this records than the K10, due to its larger soundstage and the better/correct instrument positioning.
Pros: Detailed and clear. A wealth of deep, deep bass. Glistening highs. Perfect Mids. Delivers a thick, full sound.
Cons: Cable is rather stiff.
What would you do if you owned a pair of IEMs you loved completely—if only they weren’t so god-awful big?
That’s my predicament with the Jerry Harvey Audio Siren Series Angie. I’ve now owned her just under a year, and sound-wise she leaves nothing to be desired. Everything I wrote in my review still holds. And then some! Unfortunately, her size causes me sorrow and distress in regular intervals, tarnishing an otherwise miraculous relationship.
Modern wisdom says the solution to this conflict is to go custom with Angie, and I very nearly did. Yet I couldn’t shake the notion this was an opportunity to explore something new, something I may like even better.
My passions run towards a warmer, weightier sound. Angie is capable of superb note thickness, but I wanted to push this philosophy even further. The Noble Kaiser 10 almost got my money, its legendary status as a beefy, warmth-monster speaking directly to my aforementioned disposition.
However, the Solar BA10 repeatedly beat out Noble by Head-Fi members who owned or tried both. So in a reckless leap of faith I contacted Rhapsodio.
Big Boss Sammy at Rhapsodio is highly responsive on Facebook—not so much via email—and he took good care of me. Being a life-long artist, I simply had to design the CIEM myself. I sent him some proof of concept images for the look of my custom Solars and he and his team were enthusiastic about tackling the project.
Now, I’m not going to lie to you, Sammy is not the greatest with English. Communication is hit or miss at times. Now and again I must take pains to make certain we understand one another. Although, seeing as I don’t know any second languages, he’s doing far better than me. Plus, he’s very patient with me and willing to work things out until all the details are agreed upon by both parties.
This is my first experience with Custom In-Ear Monitors. I found an Ultimate Ears-approved Audiologist very close to me. She made the process painless, admiring how clean my ears were and commenting on my average canal size… which I felt undercut the praise a little. There’s nothing average about this man’s biology; I’m an experimental mutation the likes of which shall never be seen again.
Wait-time on my CIEM Solar ended up being two months… the first go around. For someone who’s previously only gone the universal route, waiting months for a new earphone is hard on the psyche. So you can only imagine the mental anguish of finding out the left ear piece does not seal well. I held on to them for a week, trying to maintain my denial. Eventually reason won out.
Back to the Audiologist for another ear-mold. And another one-and-a-half-month-wait for the refit.
And the left side is still not perfect!
Placing blame for fit issues with CIEMs is not clear-cut. It could be the Audiologist, the earphone manufacturer, or even your own damn fault. Maybe you tensed your jaw while the impressions set.
The fact the left monitor still does not fit perfectly is fishy. I shall bring my IEMs into the Audiologist and try to figure out what’s going on here. I CAN achieve a good seal. It just doesn’t last like a custom fit ought to. You needn’t worry that my review is compromised by sub-par audio. I’ve put a couple hundred hours on these with absolute perfect seal. I know what these truly sound like.
Who’s at fault over fit issues may be a gray area, but it’s far easier to blame Rhapsodio for the adventure I’ve had with the cable.
During our very first correspondences I stated my want for a 2.5mm TRRS Balanced cable. I went so far as to put that info, along with other specifics, in the PayPal notes upon purchase. I wrote a lovely letter that traveled with my ear impressions across the ocean which also made reference to the type of termination my cable should have. I made further comments about it during the many Facebook chats I enjoyed with Sammy.
The first time my Solars arrived they came with a 3.5mm TRS cable. I laughed. Sammy Laughed. When they came back after the refit, it still only had a 3.5mm TRS cable. I groaned, and Sammy cried. He decided to build me a special cable with a special new connector he found. Sammy claimed it changed the sound in a way he was very excited about.
It’s a fine bit of work to be sure. The only thing different is the termination, and yet he’s right, it does sound truly different. Even when I use my 2.5mmTRRS-to-3.5mmTRS adapter, to rule out my AKs balanced output as the culprit, there is indeed a change. It sounds a tad clearer than the other cable, but the bass is audibly lower, which I’m not a fan of.
The volume in general is also lower, which should not be, since my AK120ii puts out more voltage through its 2.5mm output. There must be a ridiculous amount of resistance in this jack. Unfortunately, the lack of bass is not an illusion due to the lower overall volume. When I volume match, and listen critically, the lows are lessened by a serious margin.
I think I’ll re-terminate this new cable myself when I find the motivation. For now I’ll stay with the single-ended 3.5mm cable.
The standard Pandora cable is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship and right sturdy, but I don’t like how stiff it is, or the rough texture coating each strand.
Sammy also turned my regular old standard Solars into FarInfrared Solars, which involves placing magic stickers on the driver clusters inside the shell. It’s meant to make the sound cleaner, with better extension. But no one can explain how or why. Since so much time past during the refit, I’m in no position to give a reliable comparison between the two versions. I loved them before, and I love them now. The stickers are pretty though.
Which makes this a good time to talk about how these buggers actually sound, yes?
The Rhapsodio Solar BA10 delivers a full, bassy presentation, with enough treble to maintain good air and detail. The vocals stand back a pace on the stage, letting the lows and highs swell around them to wonderful effect. Very much like a live rock concert. Solar uses ten Balanced Armature drivers: A pair of large drivers for bass. Four medium-size boxes dedicated to the middle spectrum. And four tiny tweeters administer the highs.
I cannot call the Solar v-shaped. The Klipsch R6 is v-shaped. In contrast, Solar is artfully done, as you never lose the vocals, no matter how much bass exists on the record. Like I said before, the mids simply take a small step back, nowhere near enough for the other frequencies to bury them.
Nonetheless, the Solar’s bass is its defining quality. It blooms and rumbles deep into the lower reaches. It’s fast and smooth and remarkably natural in tone. It sounds more like a dynamic driver than a BA. Such warmth swaths the music, creating a tangible, earthy presence.
You would expect earphones like this to be dark in balance, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Solar’s treble pierces the gloom in clear, bright highs that sparkle like a pearl in sunlight. The treble is clean and honest, widening the soundstage and revealing all the subtle complexities of the track. Upon first hearing Solar, I marveled at how much air there was, given the amount of bass and the thickness of the sound. Those highs truly elevate it above the murky fenlands that often come from too much sub frequency in the mix.
Terms like “recessed” are misleading when talking about the Solar’s vocal range; you can hear them perfectly. There is detail, grit, and vibrato. They sound true and right. With Rock & Roll, they could not be placed better in the mix. Still, if you are a purist at heart, and hold neutrality at top priority, then Solar is probably not for you, as they are tuned for fun and pleasure-listening, not professional/critical-listening.
Solar and AK120ii secure in my Pelican 1060 case, with 1062 foam insert.
I’m cobsmacked at how much the Solar sounds like my early favorite, the Audio Technica IM03. Yes, Solar is much thicker, and noticeably more detailed, yet bass punch and treble sparkle are nearly the same, with Solar just barely edging ahead. Overall balance and tonality are very alike. The IM03 is just a little closer to neutral with the vocals. The Audio Technica is one of the most natural-sounding earphones, and Solar does not necessarily beat it here, but rather matches that high grade.
Jerry Harvey’s Angie has been my closest companion for so long now. She sings with a voice I fell in love with upon first hearing it. Even after weeks and weeks with nothing but Solar in my ears, when I come back to Angie, I don’t know which I like more. Each does a couple of things better than the other.
My preference is to keep Angie’s bass attenuators at 2:30, giving her a warm, bassy profile, without losing detail or air.
Although Solar has two drivers more than Angie, note thickness and weight are about the same, both much fuller than the IM03. Angie is capable of nearly the same volume of bass, but Solar reaches deeper into the sub bass and the lows come off fuller and richer because of it. Amazingly, Solar also possesses FAR greater air in the presentation. Even when I turned Angie’s pots all the way down, Solar sounded brighter, with a better sense of space and atmosphere. This is likely due to Solar’s outstanding treble. I’ve always praised Angie for having clean, well-extended highs, but Solar adds some real sparkle to its top frequencies, and that makes a world of difference here. It brightens the stage up, revealing details Angie might miss.
So you may think by the above paragraph that I clearly favor Solar, but as I’ve said, it’s not quite so easy for me. Angie is smoother and lusher. Probably owing to its lack of sparkle. Every detail is not highlighted, rendering a more forgiving melody. Angie is not dull or muddy. FAR FROM IT. Though compared to Solar, she’s certainly the easier, more euphoric monitor. She pours honey in my ears and I love her for it.
I planned to sell off Angie when the Rhapsodio Custom came in, but I’m not sure I can do that. Her size really is a detriment, but if I don’t have to use her as my every day carry, maybe I can keep her around for the occasional sexy fun time when I lust for that old honey again.
In the meantime, The Rhapsodio Solar FarInfrared BA10 CIEM suits my needs splendidly. It is a killer earphone and I can’t recommend it enough. The same goes for Rhapsodio as a company; Sammy helms a magnificent ship over there in Hong Kong. While it may be young, Rhapsodio has grown mighty, and I look forward to seeing where next it sails.
Pros: Bass depth and impact, Great mids, resolution and clarity
Cons: Lack of accessories
-10 balanced armature drivers
To start, this is my first time writing a review so please bear with me and I would also like to put a disclaimer that everything written here is based on my opinion only and does not in any way undermine products from other manufacturers.
(Credits to my friend for photo above)
For the source, I am using an LG G4 running Onkyo HD Player through a MicroUSB OTG cable into the Chord Mojos. Music genre ranges from pop, rock and instrumentals most of which are from Japanese artists like Nana Mizuki, BACK-ON, SPHERE, fripSide and the like. Below will be a list of a few songs listened to for this review. Lastly, all music formats listened to are in FLAC. The Solars used for this review is the Universal version with Rhapsodio's very own "wind" tips (L). This was used as it provided the best fit out everything else. Though I didn't get a chance to take a photo for comparison, I would say the IEM is roughly, if not the same size as JH Audio Angie's. So if you have ears that are in the smaller side, I would suggest getting the custom version. Also, before anything
Sammy also allows one to put a custom logo and designs/colors not in the website. Feel free to contact Sammy for requests, he is an approachable guy and really nice if I may add.
First off, this is the only element in the Solars that I would say does not 100% fit my preference. To start with, the treble is quite sparkly at least for my taste. Though not my cup of tea, it contributes to the overall fun sound signature of the Solar. Quoting what Sammy said 'after around 100-150 hours of burn in, it should lessen'. The sparkle can easily be heard on relatively high volumes especially on high pitched female vocals. This leads me to my next point, treble extension. The treble extends quite high in the Solars to the point that you think your ears will break but never does. If you're the type of person that likes a V-shaped sound signature, then I would 100% recommend the Solars.
*Note: After roughly 80 hours of listening, I am happy to say that I have learned to love the sparkle in the treble, as a
matter of a fact, I find that it actually enhances female vocals and contributes to the overall "fun" nature of the Solars*
One word, speechless. This is the only thing I can think of that can describe the mids of the Solars. The midrange is full, clear, and natural. I can't think of anything wrong with it at all. As I mainly listen
to Japanese songs, the midrange is extremely important due to the songs being vocal heavy. The main issue I had coming from full sized headphones(HD650) is that the mids sounds veiled but for the Solars it doesn't sound veiled at all even with the amount of bass present. The mids are unique in the sense that it presents male and female vocals quite differently, males vocals have that slight warmth to it to portray that deep voice while still maintaining clarity. On the other hand for female, the amount of clarity and detail is simply breathtaking.It's like the perfect blend of treble,midrange and bass all in a single package, not one element tries to overshadow the other. I would not change anything which regards to the mids, simply amazing.
Before I start ranting on how much I love the bass of the Solars. I would just like to point out that I am a basshead and as such I love earphones that can produce that punchy bass but I am also quite picky when it comes to the quality of bass. Most people think that as long as it has that boomy sound, it has good bass but there is a difference between just boomy bass and good quality bass. And for me the Solar have ticked all the boxes for being a quality bass even exceeding my expectations. The bass of the Solars is fast, punchy and goes really deep. I would say that even if you're used to having little/no bass, you will appreciate what the Solars have to offer. The bass is punchy but in a controlled way, what I mean by control is that even though it extends quite deep for whatever reason the midbass is not muddy at all. The best part is that it doesn't make the vocals sound veiled at all either. I don't know how Sammy did it, but whatever he did it is just amazing.
Coming from full sized headphones, I would say that my standard for soundstage is a bit different mainly due to being used to the wide and surround like presentation. Taking this into consideration, I would say that the Solars comes up quite close, only lacking a bit of width and height compared to their heavier brothers. If I would use figures for comparison, headphones would present itself as half a circle where each of the instruments have a significant gap as to where they are being played almost like attending a concert with a huge stage. And like a concert, you need to pay a premium price
to be able to listen closer. On the other hand, the Solar soundstage would be similar to listening in a bar, a bit narrower but the instruments are closer to each other and more in front of you. Though the depth is in my opinion, better than what full size can give. Lastly, the presentation is nice and airy with great resolution. All these things considered, I would say that the Solars is one of the best I've heard in a while in terms of soundstage/presentation.
Overall, I would say that the Solars is a great all-rounder if you happen to be in the market for one. Also, if you're the type that wants music to be presented in a realistic and fun manner then I would 100% recommend the Solars. It can definitely hold its own against other TOTL iems from other manufacturers. Considering also the price, one should definitely put the Solars up
in the list of contenders. As I would say it is one of the best, if not the best bang for the buck IEM in its price range.
These comparison are based on roughly only 2 hours of auditioning due to time constraints when I met with Sammy. So basically, initial impressions and comparison.
Rhapsodio&Rooth Hybrid Collaboration(MSRP unknown)
First off I would like to thank sammy for giving me the chance to audition these iems. If I had to compare these IEMs, it's like the little brother of the Solars. Like how little brothers are in real life(at least as kids), they are livelier and more in your face type of IEMs. If the Solars are front going to midrow the rooth collab hybrid is on the front row period. Every aspect aside from soundstage is accentuated,
treble is more sparkly, while bass hits hard but not as deep. For me, because the bass hits harder; it felt like the bass is not as fast and sometimes find it difficult to catch up to bass heavy fast paced songs. Also, because of this the sound is a bit muddier and sometimes midrange is slightly overshadowed. As I said earlier in this review, sparkly treble is not my cup of tea and as such the rooth collaboration hybrid is not for people that have similar tastes. Though this is the case, I would highly recommend the IEM to people that mainly listens to rock/pop and just wants to have a great midrange iem.
Rhapsodio Galaxy(MSRP $1600, comes with SG 2.98 as stock cable)
This is an IEM that is still currently in development by sammy so these impressions/comparison will not be the final product but roughly 60%-70% of it. The Rhapsodio Galaxy is what I would say how a reference sounding IEM should sound like. If I have to give a comparison, it is literally an HD800 in IEM form. Treble extends really far when called for(even further than the Solars imo) with just the right amount of sparkle. Bass is there only if it's called for, and when it hits it's just the right amount(might not satisfy bassheads). By right amount, you will definitely hear the bass,but once the next note hits it's gone which is probably why I feel that the galaxy is heads above the Solars in terms of clarity and resolution. As a comparison, Solar bass can be felt but Galaxy is more analytical? Lastly soundstage is similar to the Solars, like the Solars compared to full size headphones,the soundstage is relatively narrower and more compact with one another. Big words as this may be, I think this IEM is a HD800 in a smaller more portable casing sacrificing only some aspects of full sized headphones like comfort and soundstage width and height. Definitely a TOTL item like it's brother the Solars just catered for a different set of people.
Rhapsodio Golden Litz Cable (roughly $650)
This is the most expensive invoking cables that I have ever used from the day I started getting into audio. The cable just screams premium in all aspects(particularly color). Now does it sound as good as it looks. In my opinion, it does though imo it's catered for a different set of people. The most obvious thing when I change to these cables is clarity and resolution in the midrange and improves on what the Solars can already deliver with stock cables. Treble extension became even further with these cables to the point that it is ear piercing. This is where for me how the cables transformed the Solars into more reference sounding. As for bass, compared to the stock cable of the Solars it turned into something like the Rhapsodio Galaxy bass, just enough when called for. Soundstage became wider for sure and height is improved a little bit, small but good change. The cable for me is an attempt to retain all the great things about the Solars while trying to mix in little
bits of how Galaxy and headphones sounds like.
RSD Nylon Mark 1
One word "reference", this is the very first thing that came to my mind when I listened using these cables. the transformation is just unreal for me it's like I was using a different IEM close to that of the Galaxy. It transformed the Solars into something opposite of my tastes. As a basshead,I felt that the bass became less and honestly almost non-existent for me. It's like when you're eating cake and you removed the icing which made the Solars sounded a bit dull for my taste. If you're the type of person that likes the treble and upper midrange then by all means this cable is a specialist in improving those two aspects. Don't get me wrong, it is a good cable just not for me. Honestly the one cable I spent the least time on.
2.98 Silver Litz Cable
Of all the cables mentioned, this is imo the best pair for the Solars. It made the Solars a bit warmer and improved the midrange quite a bit while lessening the sparkle in the treble of Solar. If you're a basshead and you think that the Solars are still lacking then you're in for a treat. These cables gives more authority to the Solar's bass almost like you made the Solars lift some weights. Bass impact and texture is improved and for me brought the drums closer to the vocals in terms of imaging which made it sound like you're in the front row. Mids became slightly more forward resulting in more
in your face yet fun signature. The cable made the Solars sound fuller while still retaining the overall nature of the Solars.
List of some songs used.
1) Vitalization- Nana Mizuki
2) Complication- ROOKiEZ is PUNK'D
3) Imagination- SPYAIR
4) Two souls- toward the truth- fripSide
5) Gyakkou no Flugel- Takayama Minami & Nana Mizuki
6) Brand New Smile- Takagaki Ayahi
7) L.L.L- Myth&Roid
8) The first ending- Myth&Roid
9) Bokutachi wa Hitotsu no Hikari - Love Live
10) Irresistible- Fall Out Boy
11) Phoenix- Fall Out Boy
12) Clock Strikes- One OK Rock