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Rhapsodio Solar

  1. Metalboy
    Rhapsodio Solar
    Written by Metalboy
    Published Jan 11, 2015
    Pros - Extreme clarity, imaging yet very musical sounding.
    Cons - Lack of accessories
    This is a small review of the 10 driver Rhapsodio ciem. 
    Rhapsodio 10 Driver
    10 balanced armatures/5-Way
    Build Quality 85/100
    Some imperfections like bubbles but overall great build quality. 
    Bass 97/100
    Very fast, highly detailed. Can keep up with anything. Its boosted a little bit above neutral but overall this is a very neutral ciem. The bass is very similar to NT6 pros bass but a little less impact-full subbass and a tiny bit more midbass.
    Mids 100/100
    Best mids I have ever heard. Very neutral, extreme clarity. No other ciem/headphones can compete with these in my opinion that I have heard. The imaging and instrument separation is amazing. 
    Treble 99/100
    The highs on the 10Ba are very extended and has amazing clarity with a bit of a smooth sound. Cymbals sound very natural. Only one Ciem that I have heard beats these in this department. 
    Soundstage 9,5/10
    With 8,5/10
    Depth 10/10
    They have a very deep soundstage with lots layers and with the best instrument separation I have ever heard.
    Highly recommended if you look for a ciem with a neutral sound. The best ciem/iem I have ever heard. 
    Here is what my other ciems would score 
    JH Audio Roxanne (reshelled by Perfect Seal labs)
    Build Quality 85/100
    Bass 96/100
    Mids 97/100
    Treble 87/100
    Soundstage 9,5
    With 9,5
    Depth 9/10
    NT6 Pro (don´t have these anymore)
    Build Quality 90/100
    Bass 97/100
    Mids 95/100
    Treble 98/100
    Soundstage 9/10
    With 9/10
    Depth 8,5/10
    Kumitate Lab Hybrid 
    Build Quality 100/100
    Bass 86/100
    Mids 84/100
    Treble 80/100
    Soundstage 8/10
    With 8,5/10
    Depth 8/10
    Earsonics EM32
    Build Quality: 75/100
    Bass 90/100
    Mids 96/100
    Treble 98/100
    Soundstage 9,5/10
    With 8,5
    Depth 10/10 
    Wan Xuan I9Pro
    Build Quality 78/100
    Bass 65/100
    Mids 62/100
    Treble 42/100
    Soundstage 8/10
    With 8/10
    Depth 8/10
    Spiral Ear SE5 (reshelled by Custom art)
    Build Quality 90/100
    Bass 96/100
    Mids 94/100
    Treble 100/100
    Soundstage 9,5/10
    With (varies a bit from song to song) 8~9
    Depth 10/10
      AmberOzL likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. cheflatte
      Where did you purchase these? Thanks
      cheflatte, Jan 11, 2015
    3. Metalboy
      Directly from rhapsodio
      Metalboy, Jan 12, 2015
    4. DimitriTrush
      How do this compare to Noble Audio Kaiser 10.
      Both are 10 BA correct. Price wise is almost same as far as I understand..
      DimitriTrush, Jun 8, 2015
  2. karanehir35
    The Fantastic Sound
    Written by karanehir35
    Published Oct 21, 2018
    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.
    images (13).jpeg

    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.
      mrhero, chaturanga and Moonstar like this.
  3. MikePortnoy
    Rhapsodio Solar Custom In Ear Monitor Review: Bold Music
    Written by MikePortnoy
    Published Feb 23, 2016
    Pros - Musical approach, Separation, Natural sound, Comfort
    Cons - Transparency, Mid-bass presentation
    Rhapsodio is a Hong Kong based company that produces in ear monitors and upgrade cables. Rhapsodio’s owner, Sammy, has a strong background and tuned many different in ear monitors such as Hybrid Series, Solar series and Galaxy Series. While Solar series utilize balanced armature drivers, Galaxy series are powered with UltraMag dynamic drivers. In Solar series, there are two versions of the same tuning: custom and universal. The reviewed unit is custom made and consists of 10 balanced armature drivers per side. Sammy also offers some high quality aftermarket cables such as Litz and Pandora series. My favorite is 2.98SG/8 braided cable that has a very strong imaging and resolution.
    Build Quality, Internals and Accessories:
    The reviewed unit is refitted, since there was a slight disturbance at the left side. Sammy quickly handled and remade it. After refit process, the monitors become quite comfortable. Even during long listening sections, I have no pain at all. I like the body color as well as beautifully crafted faceplate with Rhapsodio’ logo.
    As I mentioned before, Rhapsodio Solar is powered with 10 balanced armature drivers (2 tweeters, 2 highs, 4 mids and 2 bass) with a 4 way passive crossover system. There are 3 main acoustic ways; one of them is bigger than two.  According to Rhapsodio website, the impedance of the monitor is 26 OHM. Solar has industry standard 2 pin sockets. They are neither too tight nor too loose; I think that they have good durability. 
    The stock cable of Solar is from Pandora Series, SPC Pandora. Pandora utilizes 4 silver plated conductors; on the other hand, many standard cables have 3 braids as standard. Overall build quality of Pandora is nice, but it is not as soft and flexible as Westone’s standard cables. In addition, Pandora has 3.5mm golden plated plug and good quality 2 pin connectors. However, I find its memory wire a bit long and rough. 
    Rhapsodio Solar is warm and dynamic sounding unit with a slight V shape signature. Some may find its atmosphere a little dark, but high frequency has a little bright tone creates detailed and alive presentation.
    This review is about custom version of Solar. So, please note that universal version may differ in accordance with tips used and insertion depth. During critical listening, Solar was tested on Lotoo Paw Gold and the BIT Opus1.
    Low Frequency:
    Solar has powerful and punchy sub-bass hits. Hitting to depth ability is quite good and overall tonality can be seen as natural. Resolution and texture are good; Solar has a fast response in sub-bass region, but ‘’hanging in the air’’ time could be a little longer.
    Even so Solar has V shape response, the energy focus of the overall presentation leans towards to low frequency due to the prominent and intensive mid-bass’ notes. In general, mid-bass’ notes don’t tighten the stage. However, if the quantity is plenty in the track, the mid-bass band can be thickened and the background becomes a little congested. On the other hand, mid-bass provides a nice musicality, softness and body.
    Mid Frequency:
    The midrange of Solar isn’t located very distant, thanks to full bodied and weighty notes. Indeed, Solar is very dynamic and powerful, also creates full-bodied instruments. Parenthetically, vocals sound a little closer to listener, when compared to instruments’ locations. Average note thickness is on the thicker side, but it may sound a bit too thick due to the possible mid-bass thump depending on tracks.  Resolution and transparency levels are not very high, but enough for a flagship. Solar isn’t very forgiving in upper-midrange, since there is a slight brightness here.
    High Frequency:
    Solar has prominent treble notes, but it doesn’t have a forward presentation. Control and resolution is good, but tonality isn’t so close to true tone. Despite that, Solar's treble tonality can be accepted in natural region with non-piercing notes. I don’t find them too sensitive to bad recordings. Speedy Solar can handle cymbals in fast metal tracks, but they are cut a little too early.
    Soundstage and Separation:
    Solar has effectual stage dimensions; there is no overly wide or super deep stage, but it carries a nice amount of depth to create sufficient space for a good layering. Also, the performing area of Solar isn’t congested and there is a fair distance between instruments. However, this distance is filled with warm air rather than neutral one due to the mid-bass presentation. Thanks to prominent and open-toned treble notes, this warm air doesn’t make Solar a boring custom in ear monitor. 
    The background of Solar is quite black and stable with strong instrument separation. However, Solar may have congestion pursuant to the mid-bass density depending on tracks and the background may become less clear. This problem may reduce the separation level by a small margin. Imaging and focusing is pretty strong with good coherence ability. Even if Solar has a V-shaped signature, the stage isn't located too distant. 
    Selected Comparisons:
    Rhapsodio Solar vs Spiral Ear SE5 Ref
    Overall, Rhapsodio Solar is a warm sounding monitor and Spiral Ear SE5 is closer to have a neutral sound in comparison. Both have natural sounding perspective, but SE5 has truer tone.
    Low Frequency:
    Solar hits harder in sub-bass region, while SE5’s notes hang longer in the air. Solar’s attack and decay ability is a little faster than necessary. Solar uses larger and more impactful notes, but SE5 offers slightly more resolution in low end.
    In mid-bass range, Solar has significantly more prominent and warmer notes; SE5 offers more resolved and detailed presentation. In accordance with the mid-bass quantity, Solar sounds thicker and weightier overall.
    Mid Frequency:
    Solar has a V-shape signature versus SE5’s mid-centric and open-toned presentation in comparison. When viewed from this aspect, the midrange of Solar is located laid back, but sounds with bolder and darkish touches.
    On the other hand, SE5’s midrange is more resolved and transparent, and it is better in terms of recreation both thick and thin notes well. Solar may perform too thick and more colored pursuant to mid-bass thump, yet it creates good body for vocals and instruments. Also, Solar is brighter in upper mid-range and tends to sibilance more, while SE5 is less detailed, but smoother in this area.
    High Frequency:
    In comparison, Solar has more prominent and brighter treble performance. SE5 sounds with less colored and more natural notes. In terms of speed and extension, SE5 has a slight superiority with more natural note releasing, but Solar seems to be more detailed in accordance with more alive and prominent lower treble. In addition, Solar is less forgiving against bad recordings.
    Soundstage and Separation:
    Both don’t have a large stage, but Solar is slightly wider and SE5 is deeper. Solar has warmer stage structure, while SE5 is much neutral in terms of air between instruments.
    However, SE5 seems to be congested while locating instruments. By the same token, Solar may have a background clarity problem when comes to tracks dominated by mid-bass’ notes. Solar slightly betters SE5 in terms of imaging, but SE5 allows focusing a little easier. Overall, both have an impressive instrument separation. 
    Rhapsodio Solar vs Empire Ears Zeus (Custom version)
    As it is in the SE5 comparison, Solar has a V shape signature and Zeus has mid-centric approach. Overall, Zeus has open-tone, while Solar is bolder and warmer; both have a musical approach, but Zeus sounds more technical.
    Please note that EE Zeus universal version may have some differences in sound.  
    Low Frequency:
    Solar has more impactful hits, while Zeus has cleaner and more analytic sub-bass structure in comparison. Resolution and texture levels are similar; both have fast sub-bass’ response. Solar’s tone is more emotional, while Zeus follows a more technical way here. Like sub-bass range, Solar has more mid-bass quantity with a warmer tone. Due to mid-bass presentation difference, Solar may sound too warm and have background congestion versus Zeus’ airier approach. Mid-bass’ resolution level is higher on Zeus; Solar misses some little nuances.
    Mid Frequency:
    Zeus sounds more forward and aggressive with slightly thinner and cleaner notes; Solar’s midrange is located laid-back in comparison. Resolution and transparency are better on Zeus; Solar has hollow midrange presentation. Zeus is better in terms of note recreation and articulates details more than Solar does. Both have slight brightness in upper midrange; Zeus has more forward notes, while Solar is smoother and less stressed. Vocals are weightier on Solar by a small margin, but Zeus has more resolved and transparent vocals. However Zeus tends to sibilance more.
    High Frequency:
    Zeus has slightly more alive treble notes, while Solar is weightier and warmer in high frequency presentation. Zeus sounds brighter and cleaner in accordance with its general character and low end’s dominancy of Solar. The overall treble speed and resolution level is similar, but Zeus is slightly more extended. Both aren’t very forgiving against bad recordings. 
    Soundstage and Separation:
    The overall stage depth is better on Zeus and it is airier with a bit wider stage. Zeus spreads neutral air between instruments, while Solar has much warmer air in the area due to mid-bass presentation. Both have an impressive instrument separation, but Solar’s background is blacker by very small margin. On the other hand, Zeus has definitely clearer and cleaner background. Zeus has better imaging, but Solar is more coherent with a bit better focusing ability.     
    Rhapsodio SG2.98 4 Strands Cable on Solar:
    Pandora stock is on the right side.
    As we all know, Solar comes with Pandora cable as standard. 2.98, old RSD flagship cable, is made by silver/gold alloy material. Overall, it has a warm sound and offers higher resolution notes. It doesn’t carry the characteristics of a regular silver cable. 
    In general, 2.98 cable reduces low frequency’s quantity by a very small margin and makes sub-bass tighter and cleaner. Also, mid-bass becomes more controlled and the thump is becoming smaller. When compared to Pandora stock, 2.98 cable offers a little more forward midrange, but Solar still keeps V-shape signature. The resolution is slightly improved and instruments become cleaner and a bit more transparent. Overall treble tone is similar, but 2.98 cable creates more resolved and slightly clearer high frequency presentation. The width difference is not very significant, but 2.98 cable has deeper stage and better layering as well as a bit better separation.
    Note: 2.98 8 strands cable is a definite upgrade over 2.98 4 strands. Apart from its synergy with Solar, tone and imaging gets perfect with 8 strands.
    Final Words
    Rhapsodio Solar is non-fatiguing, warm tuned and dynamic sounding custom in ear monitor. If the expectation about transparency is not very high, with its strong instrument separation, Solar would be a good alternative for who prefers warm atmosphere and musical signature. The craftsmanship is also very nice and comfort is pretty good for long listening sections.
    The MSRP is 1550 USD for the custom version of Solar.       
    Please check the links for further information: 
      Ritvik, proedros, AmberOzL and 5 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. MikePortnoy
      My pleasure mate. Thank you. 
      MikePortnoy, Mar 4, 2016
    3. tranhieu
      Any comparison with the TG334? The sound signature seems similar in some regards.
      tranhieu, Mar 7, 2016
    4. MikePortnoy
      Sorry, haven't heard 334 yet mate. 
      MikePortnoy, Mar 8, 2016
  4. Mimouille
    The Rhapsodio Solar - The Gifted
    Written by Mimouille
    Published Jan 18, 2016
    Pros - Technically very proficient and fun at the same time, easy to drive, plays well with all genre, competitive price performance ratio, service
    Cons - Not much: a bit large in universal, and some may like faster sound / tighter bass
    Brand: Rhapsodio (Hong Kong - http://www.rhapsodio.com/)
    Product: 10 balanced armature driver Solar (http://www.rhapsodio.com/solar-10ba/)
    Price : 1350$
    Customer experience: 
    Sammy is a cool guy. He is clearly gifted in creating and tuning IEMs when you see what comes out of his little workshop (I've been there and it's...Hong Kong sized). I am not sure he is the most organized or rigorous person out there, more of an artist personality, but very passionate about good sound, always trying new stuff, very flexible, very easy to deal with. Honestly any audiophile can find an easy way to deal with Sammy. Once you contact him he is quite reactive (if you use multiple media it is better, mail, facebook, etc.) even if his communication can still be improved. But you know, this is a small operation, he can't invent tons of new IEMs and answer to all the emails at the same time.

    Build quality and ergonomics:

    The Solar have a good overall build quality. The designs are plentiful and come out nice. There is a nice quality feel to them the IEMs are well finished. It is not Fitear / Vision Ear level, because for instance you can feel a small seem between the IEM body and the faceplate, but still very solid, professional and quite pretty. I really love the understated look on mine.
    In terms of fit, the IEM is quite large, because it is housing 10 BA. Plus, if you have a transparent model, you can see that some of the drivers are HUGE. So the fit requires some playing around with tips, but honestly the Solar is not immensely tip dependent in my experience, so after 20mn of playing around with the provided tips, you get good comfort, decent isolation, and the incredible sound these are intended to have.

    Pairing and sensitivity: this will be easy. The Solar sounded at least great out of all my sources, and had little to no hiss with most of them. So, it is easy to drive yet not overly sensitive. The down side of this is that I think that their scalability might be slightly inferior to that of the Zeus for instance. The good point is that a simple source gets you 90% of the way.

    Sound quality: my friend Tupac told me: the Solar is V-Shaped done right, and I agree. The mid bass is boosted but reasonably so, the highs are sparkly but never aggressive. I do feel that the voices do seem a bit distant, especially on some lesser recordings. To be clear, the mids have a nice level of air and transparency, but I wouldn't call this a mids-head iem. The mids will not grab you like on the Zeus. The resolution is good but not the best I have heard in this price range (Zeus / SE5 Ultimate). The bass is very good in terms of texture and depth, but lacks a bit of speed and tightness to my taste. It is not really a matter of quality but more of preference. If you like your bass unboosted and tight like a nuns ass (NT6 like), this is not for you. But is far from bloated (like the TG334 for instance). The highs are great because they manage to be well extended and detailed without being fatiguing for a second.
    The key qualities of the Solar are first the overall balance of the sound. They manage to be fun without adding too much coloration. And second and foremost is to me the spaciousness. You have reasonable depth, but most of all huge width and height with great separation and good imaging, making for a really nice and laid back 3D experience.

    Conclusion: the Solar is really very impressive without trying too hard. A couple of months ago, I visited a few shops in Beijing and Hong Kong and tried the K10u, the Akt8ie. the Oriolus, the Fitear Aya, Monet 34 and 335SR, the Aurisonics Harmony Series, the Campfire Audio Lyra, and the Solar. A week later I ordered the Lyra. The only ones that came close were the 335SR and the Oriolus. It does mostly everything right and nothing really wrong. Some IEMs can be better in a certain aspect, but few manage such a balance of qualities. To me it is one of the best TOTL all-rounders. It is maybe not the best fit for my needs (as I usually have 3 or 4 TOTL with different flavors), but I cannot imagine anyone not finding it at least great. And at 200-1000$ less than the competitors, I really do not see what you are waiting for.

    1. View previous replies...
    2. ken6217
      Try Nobel K10
      ken6217, Jan 18, 2016
    3. Mimouille
      Yeah try Noble K10 is you want somethign not as good as the Solar :D
      Mimouille, Jan 19, 2016
    4. Kerouac
      Well written and honest review Mimouille! I knew it wasn't gonna end up with 5 stars from you, as even your beloved $2100 Zeus didn't get that. Anyhow, now it's Galaxy time for you, right?
      @ken6217: although K10U probably is smaller than a Solar universal, so far there are (afaik) 3 members that have/had both Solar and K10. All 3 of them preferred the Solar and 2 of them even sold their K10's => maybe you should give it a try? :wink:
      Kerouac, Jan 19, 2016
  5. shotgunshane
    Rhapsodio Solar - Endless Power
    Written by shotgunshane
    Published May 2, 2016
    Pros - Design Options, Cable Quality, Technical Prowess, Male Vocals, Bass Power
    Cons - Bass Power, Price

    Rhapsodio Solar

    Note: The custom in-ear in this review was provided at a discounted rate. 
    Rhapsodio is an up and coming manufacturer of both custom in-ears and custom-like universals. The owner and primary voice of customer service, Sammy, is a very friendly and passionate audiophile, who is quick to respond to inquiries and questions, particularly over Facebook messenger, which seems to be the communication method of choice. While not necessarily a new company (Sammy and team have 3+ years in business), it wasn’t until the introduction of the Solar, that word of Rhapsodio really started to take off on Head-Fi. Based in Hong Kong, they have been hard at work revamping the lineup and bringing new and different models to light, such as the Rti2- incorporating dual dynamics into a hybrid design, along with the aforementioned Solar- which contains 10 balanced armatures. Most recently they’ve even introduced a new single dynamic flagship, in the form of the Galaxy, an UltraMag II generation 10.3mm dynamic housed in an all metal, ergonomic enclosure. 

    Design, Build & Accessories

    The Solar comes in both custom form and the custom-like universal form. The universal differentiates itself from the full custom with a metal nozzle and mesh screen that covers the opening. The model used for this review was the full custom version.
    Universal Example (courtesy Rhapsodio)
    Manufacturer Specs:
    1. 4-way passive crossover design
    2. 10 balanced armature drivers (2 tweeters, 2 high, 4 mid, 2 bass)
    3. Frequency response: 20 ~ 20,000 Hz
    4. Impedance: 26ohm
    5. Bundles with Pandora Sound SPC/OCC CM Cable
    6. 1-year international warranty
    Rhapsodio offers many finish option for both their custom and universal offerings. There are multiple base colors that can be chosen, along with faceplate finishes like wood, carbon fiber, metal and gold flake. The website’s product page shows just a few of the more popular options. A further endless array of options can be seen on the photo section of their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/rhapsodiohk
    Goldflake Custom (Courtesy Rhapsodio)
    The custom version comes standard with the Pandora cable. The Pandora is made from silver plated copper, contains four conductors and is finished in a round style braid. The conductor’s outer sleeve finish is very peculiar. It almost feels like its part leather- you detect what feel like little fibers, just like the backside of a leather strap, when you run your fingers across its surface. It’s a rather strange sensation but I found I really enjoyed the uniqueness of this custom cable. The Pandora is also finished with a memory section for over the ear wear. The memory section does not contain a wire but is more of a preformed section to prevent the cable from flopping off the ear. Also included was a cable snap to keep the cable in a wound position when storing. Both aesthetics and usability are very good. 
    Rhapsodio supplied the Solar in their newest case design. The case is designed for storage, rather than carrying around in your back pack, much less your trousers. To say the new case is robust and sturdy would be an understatement. While being absurdly over-sized (it looks as if it could store a brick), it contains a Nerf factory of protective foam- this is the ‘Fort Knox’ of protection. 


    The overall signature is bass forward with a very full lower midrange. Bass texturing is brought to the forefront. Bombastic and powerful, the bass absolutely slams with impact. Vocals are very full bodied with great heft and emotion- romantic and thunderous are descriptors I’d heavily associate with the Solar. Treble is weighty with some sparkle but laid back for an easy going, long term listen. In fact, I would dub Solar as the bass lovers’ audiophile in-ear. 


    Solar vs Ultimate Ears Reference Monitor (discontinued; replaced by UERR $999)

    ...a tabernacle of indulgence

    Next to the UERM, the Solar is practically a bass monster. The difference is rather stark. Solar is a thunderstorm of power and authority next to the leaner, seemingly more polite bass of the UERM. The UERM bass has always held very good texture for me but Solar pushes bass texture to the forefront, and it really takes a moment for the brain to adjust to the UERM when coming directly from the Solar. The one trait in bass they both share is a slight tilt towards mid bass over sub bass, however with the boost Solar has, there is plenty of sub bass rumble as well. While the UERM bass is about precision over presence, Solar’s bass is very much in control and doesn’t sound boomy or loose, even at such great quantity. 
    The lush lower midrange of the Solar is thicker, richer and more forward than the lower midrange of the UERM. Both are slightly laid back in the middle to upper midrange around 2k, but Solar bounces back a bit sooner after 3k. The lower midrange prominence and previously described dip, give Solar a slightly recessed vocal compared to the more linear UERM, but it also gives Solar a nice forward projection- giving it the ability for a slightly more out of head presentation. Midrange resolution is the UERM specialty and Solar certainly holds its own. When it comes to resolution, Solar doesn’t shy away from pushing small details to the forefront. Like everything else about the Solar, details are easily heard, bold in presence and projection. The UERM is more nuanced, almost delicate in comparison.  
    The light airiness and crispness of the UERM treble is again in stark contrast to the weightier, smoother treble of Solar. The Solar cannot be construed as airy- whereas distortion guitars soar to weightless heights with the UERM, the Solar is more about the grit, the grim and the undulating rhythm of drop D tuning. If some feel the UERM can be a bit on the analytical side, then Solar is built for long term, fatigue free treble listening. 
    If the UERM is an outside, open air venue, Solar is a tabernacle of indulgence where the whiskey flows and inhibitions are abandoned. While the UERM is much wider, Solar is not only much deeper but also has more forward projection and sounds a bit taller in direct comparison. The Solar’s depth helps to give a more precise instrument placement but the UERM has more air between instruments for more separation and space. The sonic images are about as different as they come. 
    Solar vs Empire Ears Zeus (pre revision $2099)

    ...powerful and thunderous

    Bass is the Solar specialty. It is both powerful and thunderous, and impact as well as rumble can be quite vociferous. Texture is really top notch as well,l and overall bass balance is slightly tilted towards mid and upper bass. Zeus, however, seems to take the Solar’s specialty and ups the ante. Albeit much less in quantity, texture and rumble are simply excellent, with an overall tighter and more sub bass oriented bass presentation. The result is an even more nuanced, yet delightfully indulgent performance. 
    Zeus places the vocalist not just front and center, but almost as if you are next to the microphone, or possibly you are the microphone. In You Outta Know, Alanis is exceptionally clear and the depth of her anger is easily felt with Zeus. In comparison, Solar puts noticeably more distance between you and Alanis, and while she remains very clear, the sense of anger is nowhere near as palpable. It’s the equivalent difference in watching a performance and being subjugated to it. 
    Solar note thickness and weight is obviously greater than on Zeus, and lower midrange notes are a good bit fuller, richer and easily lusher as well. Male vocals are full bodied and bursting at the seams with power. Consequently, the Zeus midrange is overall more resolving by letting the listener more easily hear low level details.
    Treble sparkle seems to be fairly similar between the two. Neither should be considered bright or airy but both possess a clean, weighty and articulate treble. The biggest difference will be in perception, due to the differences in note thickness and weight from bass through midrange. Being that the Solar is thicker and bassier, its treble presence seems a little more laid back next to Zeus. This again gives Zeus an upper hand in treble resolution, as it isn’t competing as heavily against the lower and middle ranges, and allows the listener to more easily hear low level detail. 
    The Solar is not particularly wide but doesn’t sound closed in either, a similar trait shared by Zeus as well. Solar has excellent depth compared to most TOTL offerings and height seems proportional to its width, however this is where Zeus really begins to stretch it legs and take things to a much higher level. Zeus depth and the layers within this depth are simply unmatched. While the Solar’s image is pretty precise within the stage, especially when listening for placement from front to back, separation just isn’t quite on the same level as Zeus. This is mainly due to the enhanced bass that seems to fill any sense of space and air between instruments, whereas Zeus seems to have a void of blackness between instruments. These elements of the Zeus performance help to push its overall sense of resolution and detailing to the next seemingly unattainable level. 
    Solar vs Perfect Seal AR6 ($950)

    ...a ruthless villain

    The AR6 bass sounds incredibly linear up all the way through the midrange, in that no part of the bass response sounds louder than another- rumble and impact are on equal footing and extension reaches into the lowest registers. While the Solar has great rumble, it has a tilt towards mid bass impact. Both rumble and impact are bigger and bolder than the AR6 and extends just as deep. When listening to rap and hip hop, the Solar really begins to stretch its legs. The Solar hits with power and authority; it makes you move to the aggression and attitude in 100 Miles and Runnin’ and Straight Outta Compton. The AR6 is no slouch in this genre but the Solar takes the Spinal Tap route and turns it up a notch to 11. When it comes to bass, the Solar is A Ruthless Villain. 
    The AR6 has a very linear midrange with a slight peak in the upper midrange. Vocals are exceptionally clear and resolving. The AR6 really seems to excel in female vocals, bringing to life the emotion and energy in the upper midrange vocal registers. In contrast, the Solar lends itself to male vocals, due to its lusher lower midrange. Male vocals are delivered with more power, authority and evocative connection. If a song is about the emotional loss of a friend or loved one, the Solar can really make those words weigh heavy on the heart. On Solar, Brooks & Dunn’s Believe is an emotional roller coaster of grief and hope. At the moments of loss, Solar broods and wallows in the emotion; in the moments of hope and belief, Solar envelopes with the tingling of inspiration and hope. Solar lets you connect directly into the heart of Ronnie Dunn. 
    The AR6 treble has greater presence for a brighter and airier presentation. In comparison, the AR6 treble sounds thinner next to the weightier and thicker treble of the Solar. The AR6 treble is perhaps just a hair under a neutral presentation yet with plenty of sparkle, whereas the Solar treble is a good bit more laid back and easier going. Even though laid back in treble, it still has excellent tonality and articulation.
    Solar vs 64 Audio U10 ($1399)

    ...denser, meatier and harder hitting

    The U10 and Solar are both bassy signatures but where Solar’s bass is slightly tilted towards mid bass, the U10 bass is heavily tilted to deep bass. While I consider the U10 bassy, the Solar takes it the next level over the U10. Solar bass comes across as denser, meatier and harder hitting compared to the U10’s bass which is bouncier and feels lighter and airier in nature. The U10 creates more rumble, due to lessor mid bass presence, but bass textures are thrust more to the forefront with Solar’s bass presentation. 
    Both the U10 and Solar have full bodied lower midranges that make for intimate and engaging male vocals, although upon direct comparison, the Solar has a more evocative and romanticized presentation. Due to Solar’s greater mid bass, however, vocals are a little further back in the mix than the U10’s. Again the Solar’s midrange seems denser against the airier midrange of the U10. Typically an airier midrange is in reference to a brighter midrange with greater upper midrange emphasis, and while the U10 does have a larger peak from the upper midrange into the lower treble, it also seems to be impacted by the Adele model breathing more air in to the notes. While distortion guitars soar with more air in the U10, it can also exacerbate sibilance in tracks, whereas the heavier sounding Solar remains smoother, mitigating occurrences of sibilance. 
    The U10 has an obvious greater overall emphasis on treble. U10 treble notes are noticeably thinner next to the weightier treble of the Solar. While switching back and forth, Solar seems a good bit darker in contrast to the more U shaped U10. This is most obvious in the opening segment of David Lee Roth’s Just Like Paradise, which has a light, airy upper register that just makes me want to take the top down and cruise. The U10 does a better job recreating this airy ambiance with its brighter and sparklier upper end. 
    To some degree, the outside, open air venue versus the tabernacle of indulgence comparison of the UERM also applies here, albeit the U10 is not open sounding as the UERM. The U10 does a better job of placement from left to right and Solar has greater depth with more precise placement from front to back. The Adele module in the U10 just makes everything seem somehow lighter than air; a show in the clouds, especially against the heavier and darker backdrop of the Solar tabernacle.
    Rhapsodio’s Solar certainly lives up to its status as a TOTL offering, and its technical prowess, on top of a bass forward signature, make it an intriguing model for bass-first loving audiophiles. While Solar doesn’t come cheap, the finishing options and custom-made stock cable make it a worthy accessorized high end custom in-ear. 
      proedros, Kerouac, flinkenick and 2 others like this.
    1. Kerouac
      Hmmm, quite an intriguing (and very well written with interesting comparisons) review. Somehow I expected ''God of Thunder!'' to become your review title some time ago :wink:
      Anyhow, it's clear that Solar has too much bass quantity for your taste. I also have the AR6 and while it has a very different signature, I can fully understand that it ended up at 5 stars in your earlier review. But 'only' 4 stars as a final verdict for the Solar? Ah well, maybe I'm more basshead (something for me to think about) than I thought I was :)
      Kerouac, May 3, 2016
    2. shotgunshane
      Don't take too much stock in the amount of stars. I'd prefer not to have that on the review and instead let the description speak for itself.
      shotgunshane, May 3, 2016