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Rhapsodio Solar

Rating:
4.83333/5,
  1. subguy812
    Solar...it's all about the balance
    Written by subguy812
    Published Dec 11, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Balanced overall sound signature; Solid sub bass; extended treble; very detailed
    Cons - Accessories
    Introduction:
    I do not consider myself an audiophile. I love music and I love good sound and that is why this is my hobby. I prefer to find the best portable setups available. I do not want to be tethered to a desk with an amp. I enjoy finding the best possible pairings I can, something I can enjoy anytime, anywhere. I don't read graphs or charts, when I listen to music my ears tell me what I like, not my eyes. If this hobby becomes work as opposed to my getaway I will find another hobby. I have had many iem's at all levels of price with a variety of driver types and number of drivers. One thing I have learned is price, or the number of drivers is not indicative of a pleasing sound signature. 
     
    Enter Rhapsodio Solar...http://www.rhapsodio.com/
     
    The Solar:
    -MRSP (Universal): $1450
    -10 balanced armature drivers (2 bass, 4 mid, 2 high and 2 tweeters)
     
    My quest started by reaching out to Sammy and discussing options. I will say that Sammy is a quick communicator. There are many design options and ultimately I gave the reigns to Sammy and told him to design the face plate & base combination that he liked, and he did. I must say it was a sexy choice.
     
    Sammy responded to my questions via mails quickly and then we switched to Hangouts so communication went smooth all the way... I love this guy Sammy!
     
    I have never seen such shipping speed from Hong Kong. I received my Solar two days after it was shipped. WOW!  [​IMG]
     
    Packaging/Contents:
    When the Solar arrived, it was in a postal envelope and inside was a plastic, latched, branded Rhapsodio box. I also ordered an additional cable which was included in a blue Rhapsodio drawstring bag. Six pair of eartips was included, three pair of Wind tips and three pair of Spinfit tips. The Wind tips have a wide bore and the Spinfit tips have a more narrow opening. There is an included leather strap to help keep the cable wound. Nice touches, but I still felt there was no choirs of angels singing once I saw the opened the package. I am not sure I could offer any suggestions but these are TOTL iems and packaging and accessories could create more of a wow factor.
     
     
    IMG_20151205_141556.jpg
     
     
    IMG_20151205_141658.jpg
     
     
    IMG_20151205_141720.jpg
     
     
    IMG_20151205_141935.jpg
                 WIND TIPS(WIDE BORE) & SPINFITS
     
     
    Design & Build Quality:
    Sammy chose a Wood faceplate with smoke transparent bases for my universal fit Solars. I think it a classy and sexy design. Actually it is the same design I have in another iem, the Heir 8.0 universal.
     
     
    IMG_20151205_141755.jpg
          SOLAR WITH STOCK PANDORA SPC CABLE
     
    The build quality is great. I examined the Solar for any flaws and I could not find any, which is impressive coming from a small custom iem boutique in Hong Kong. The cables as well are built to last with quality in mind, you could almost rock climb with these cables. The nozzles have waxguards installed.
     
    IMG_20151205_141813.jpg
                   RSD SILVER LITZ 4-BRAID CABLE
     
     
    IMG_20151205_142555.jpg
          SOLAR DESIGN WOOD WITH SMOKY BASE
     
     

                   SOLAR IN ALL OF IT'S SEXINESS
     
     

                     IT'S ALL ABOUT THE DRIVERS
     
     
    Comfort:
    The Solars are slightly bigger than my Heir 8.0 universals. I would say the Heir is the most comfortable of the two, however the Solar is not uncomfortable. The Solar is larger but I do not fight with comfort issues as I have with the JH Angie or Layla. The Wind tips are comfortable as well as the Spinfit. I also use the JVC Spiral Dot tips(Wide Bore).The JVC seal well but provide the least comfortable fit. The isolation is good and when music is playing it covers up for many external noises.
     
     
    IMG_20151211_204820.jpg
     
     

     
     

     
     
    Sources:
    I used a Nexus 6p streaming Tidal and an AK120ii for testing and review purposes. The Solar are driven easily by both of these sources.
     
    Sound:
    For review purpose, I used the largest Wind tips and large JVC Spiral Dot tips. The JVC sealed the best and the Wind tips are the most comfortable, so you can choose your poison, however I will say that it is very important to use a wide bore tip to achieve the soundstage that the Solar is capable of achieving. I tried a deep insertion and shallow, I found a deep insertion offered the best sound quality.
     
    Upon first listen I was like meh, okay these sound a bit thin. I experimented with tips and listened to what provided the best seal. After about an hour the smile started to wash over my face and the smile hasn't left yet, in fact it has become Cheshire cat like after around 25 hours of listening time. These iem's have really started to open up. I am not going to start a debate about burn-in. Believe it or not, these are improving and Sammy said they will be at their peak in 200 hours.
     
     I look for a balanced sound with an emphasis on details and tone of instruments. I actually prefer an IEM that is slightly colored, a fun, lively, detailed sound is my favorite signature, something very musical. That said, the Solar confidently checks all of those boxes. The level of detail and clarity combined with the sub bass and mid bass layering, a balanced mid range with sparkly, lively treble and no bleed over into the various ranges from any other range. HOLY SMOKES this is one balanced TOTL iem. Balance, balance, balance.
     
    Bass:
    The bass on Solar is deep in the sub levels and detailed and layered in the mid bass range. One of the finest blends I have heard. The iem has a sound signature that is colored but again, never bleeds into the other ranges. The tone of the bass in the mid bass range is awesome, clear and detailed. As a comparison the Angie could have the same level of bass if you cranked the inline bass control above 1:00. The Solar has more detail in the bass as compared to the Angie. The Heir 8.0 has more of a bass presence throughout the signature, however the quality is not on par with the Solar. Is this a basshead iem? I would say it would please the basshead. As I have said I prefer a slightly colored signature and the bass in the Solar is very satisfying, although I don't consider myself a true basshead.
     
    Midrange:
    The mids of Solar are crisp, clear and incredibly detailed. The tone of female vocals shine and male vocal sound strong. The mids are not in the least veiled and could be considered some of the most blended and balanced I have ever heard in an iem. The soundstage is wide and when listening to some Radiohead the imaging was providing me with a spatial eargasm. There was some 3D stuff going on there. 
     
    Treble:
    The treble of the Solar is ever present. At no time is it strident or sibilant. It is sparkly and this helps to create the incredible soundstage that the Solar proudly shows. Overall the treble produces a sparkly life to these iem's in contrast to the opposite bass spectrum that thumps when called upon the balance between all ranges continues to impress.
     
     
    Presentation:
    The Solar presents itself in an airiness with nice resolution. It would be considered a slight V shape, however the mids do not sound distant. The entire frequency spectrum is represented and the speed is never thick of lagging throughout the entire signature providing a fine iem. The tuning is superb and the it is well engineered.
     
     
    Summary:
    I have around 25 hours already of listening time already. After the initial hour the Solar really started to open up. They have a very balanced sound, very musical and fun. That is not to say that they are not true to representing the sound and tone of instruments, believe me the sound is quite realistic. The sub bass rumbles as well the bass is clear and defined in the lower mids. There is no bleed over in the mids to muddy the sound. The mids offer a great deal of clarity and are very detailed while the treble is a little forward but not harsh.

    I have listened to many genres of music with them. From jazz, blues, classic rock, alternative, classical and finally some edm. Radiohead, which generally to me don't represent well in headphones, and the spatial feel was terrific. The imaging was providing me a wild ride. I did receive a 3d sense to this.

    Wide bore tips create a bigger soundstage and the soundstage can be quite wide at times. With some high quality Jazz FLAC files, ie... Jazz at the Pawnshop the details and crispness made me feel I was in the audience, front and center.

    Crunching guitar sounds from AC/DC are awesome. Female vocals, such as Sade or Norah Jones sound great as well, and this surprised me a little.

    Overall a very balanced, detailed presentation. The little "enhancements" and peaks in parts of the spectrum are all in the correct spots. 

    On a final note...I have only dedicated my review time to the stock SPC cable. For me switching from iem to different iem confuses my thoughts and I never truly get to appreciate or loathe a specific iem. Upon completion of this review I will listen to the SIlver Litz and include my thoughts. The pairing of the SPC cable has never made me want for more.

     
    These are TOTL iem's period. Once you reach this level it is not a matter of "better", it is a matter of finding a sound signature which satisfies and agrees with you.This iem checks all of the boxes with a balanced confidence not heard in many other iem's.
     
    A must have!!!!
     
     
     
    1. View previous replies...
    2. vhsownsbeta
      Great review, much aligned with my own impressions. Momentum is building! Solar are astounding monitors.
      vhsownsbeta, Dec 12, 2015
    3. subguy812
      Thanks. It's one of the few pieces of gear that most opinions align. It is really rare almost everyone is hearing the same thing.
      subguy812, Dec 12, 2015
    4. Kerouac
      Superb written review and some very nice pics to!
      It's all about the drivers and the tuning of these I guess...once you've heard the Solar, I think it's almost impossible not to fall in love with it :)
      Kerouac, Dec 12, 2015
  2. tupac0306
    Rhapsodio Solar Universal Review: V-shape King
    Written by tupac0306
    Published Dec 10, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Punchy and deep bass, superb clarity, top class imaging and separation, great dynamics, detailed and resolving presentation.
    Cons - The universal size can be large for small ears.

     

     

     

     

     

     
     
    Build Quality and Packaging:
     
    The build quality of Solar universal is top class. As you can see, the 24k gold shell/faceplate design is absolutely a candy to the eye. The silver 4-wire cable is another feature that stands out because you don’t normally get this type of cable from a universal IEM package. Two types of canal tips (spinfit and wind tips) are included with different size options you can pick. The wind tips (red) is more like a wrap you put around the canal tubes, so it doesn’t take away much of the original sound of Solar making it the closest sounding to the custom version. The spinfit (white) tips provide a slightly more 3D soundstage and a bit more warmth and smoothness to the overall signature, which IMO is better for listening to vocals. The size of the Solar earpiece is larger than the average universals such as Shure or Westone IEMs, thus while the fit is fine, a portion of the shell is sticking out from my ears (but not to the extent of JH layla or Angie universals). Since it’s a universal IEM, the isolation is average, but still high enough to block the sound from the outer environment when playing music, unless someone is shouting at you. Actually the sound leak of universal has its own advantage over the custom version in terms of soundstage, you get a more sense of air and space from the universal. The comparison is similar to closed vs. open headphone, though not to that obvious extent. And you also got the choice to play with different tips to get different sound preferences.
     
     
    Sound:
     
    For review purpose, the smallest wind tips (red) are used, because it provides deepest insertion and most sealed experience for me, hence providing the most original sound for the Solar.
     
    The very first listening-section is very important for me because it can pretty much sum up whether I will like the IEM or not. For me, I always like the music to sound realistic and natural with only slight allowance of twist/emphasis here and there. Thus if an IEM is very colored, I will instantly know that it’s not my cup of tea. And I don’t get excited easily since I have owned more than 20 CIEMs. With that being said, Solar is one of the few IEMs that still get me amped up. The minute I put them on, I know I am encountering something special here. Superb clarity, resolution and dynamics without overly done, everything just sounds so effortless. Many thanks to Mim for the recommendation.
     
    I only have Astell&Kern 380 as my source right now, so sadly I won’t be able to compare Solar regarding to different DAC/DAP systems. The Solar can also be easily driven very well with iphone 6 (~half the volume is the highest I can take), making it a great on-go option. The review is done after extended periods of careful listening.
     
     
    Bass:
     
    The bass on Solar is one of the aspects that stand out the most. The impact and presence of the bass is slightly more than neutral. But for people who like some extra bloom, it sound just satisfying! The texture is superb with plentiful detail, thanks to the treble. The quality of bass is more like JH Roxanne/UM mentor type rather than noble K10’s, so it’s very clean and punchy with slightly faster decay than normal. The extension of bass is awesome producing rumbling up to almost 20 Hz. What’s great is the balance between the sub, mid and upper bass region. No specific area is lacking, thus giving rise to a very coherent and complete overall bass performance. The bass also is greatly integrated with the mid section, producing no mid disturbance or incoherence what so ever. I don’t feel like the bass is dominant when listening to normal bass-level songs. But when it’s called for in some bass strong music, that’s where the capability of bass becoming impressive. I just can’t stop knocking my head with the deep, punchy and tight bass slam. So whether you are a bass head or not, you will be amazed by the incredible bass Solar offers. When switched to the spinfit (white) tips, it scattered out some of the treble, thus making the bass slightly more natural in terms of ADSR.
     
     
    Midrange:
     
    The mid region of Solar is clean, clear with a lot of detail, producing excellent instruments imaging and separation. Its overall presentation is slightly laid back in contrast to bass and treble, but not making is anyway too recessed. It just doesn’t get the most attention within the whole spectrum. And to my ears there isn’t any obvious hump or cut throughout the whole midrange (250-5000 Hz), so again very coherent. Certainly the mid is not as evolving as the spiral ear SE5 Ult, but the distant presentation provides another listening perspective allowing you to capture the performance as an audience in front of a stage rather than in a recording studio. Both male and female vocals sound good on Solar with great resolution and clarity. When switched to the spinfit (white) tips, the minor reduction of treble quantity exposed more mid-section, providing a more evolving, smoother and fuller sound. So if you want to take a break and relax from the high resolving, detailed presentation, spinfit tips are recommended.
     
     
    Treble:
     
    Along with the bass, the treble of the Solar is another aspect that stands out the most. With forwardness of the lower treble region (6-9k Hz), it produces excellent clarity and airiness with sharp, pinpoint type focus/imaging enabling you to capture every little detail being presented in the music. The note attack and decay is also on the faster side of the spectrum. The treble character makes the Solar a master in presenting instruments. No matter it’s normal pop, heavy rock, or even very aggressive metal, Solar handles any type of instrument density/speed effortlessly with clean and tidy performance. The treble extension is just as great as my other top end CIEMs (audible up to over 19 Hz), only fall behind the most extended CIEMs such as spiral ear SE5 Ref or JH audio 13FP. Although the upper treble isn’t dominating much, the Solar is still very transparent, so you won’t get the “veiled feeling” in IEMs like Roxanne due to its extremely dramatic treble extension roll off. Overall the treble is capable of producing a lot of sparkles while maintaining superb smoothness and liquidity. The Solar finds its sweet point where the music is presented in a clear and articulated way yet not getting in the trouble of any sibilance, which is very well done.
     
     
    Presentation:
     
    The Solar presents great space in the music with approximately equal width (x, y) and depth (z). The soundstage is as large as top end CIEMs like spiral ear SE5 or Hidition NT6, but fall a little short compared to Tralucent 1+2 or JH Roxanne. Although the absolute resolution is not as high as SE5, its high clarity and airiness from the lifted lower treble make it equally detailed, just in a different way. Note ADSR is fast type of natural across the frequency spectrum which makes sense due to its slightly V shaped sound signature. The coherence from bottom to the top is impressive! I cannot notice any obvious cut or hump throughout the whole spectrum, especially around the bass-mid and mid-treble connecting regions. Overall the Solar is slightly on the brighter side of neutral with combination of great fun and accuracy.
     
     
    Summary:
     
    With its fun, exciting and unique sound signature, the Solar is more than incredible, definitely within my favorite IEMs/CIEMs. It is the best V-shaped IEM I have ever heard to date. The perfectly integrated bass, mid and treble really take you right into the music, and make you forget you are actually listening to an earphone. I am even considering going for the custom version! It’s an all-rounder that is capable of playing any type of genre of music from rock, metal, classical, jazz to pop, R&B and hip hop. While the never sibilant, clear vocal sounds superb on Solar, the instrumental performance is absolutely top class. IMO it can fit most of people’s taste for enjoying music regardless you want an easy-to-listen-to or audiophile type IEM.
     
     
     

    1. flinkenick
      Fantastic review mate, especially coming from someone so experienced!
      flinkenick, Dec 10, 2015
    2. Kerouac
      What an excellent Solar review! Very detailled sound descriptions with also some nice pictures added. I had some thoughts on the mids myself, but already posted that in the Rhapsodio thread. Thanks for the great read!
      Kerouac, Dec 11, 2015
  3. flinkenick
    The Solar: Rhapsodio's TOTL Contender
    Written by flinkenick
    Published Sep 16, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - full and natural midrange, upper midrange and treble clarity, fast and precise bass with enough qauntity
    Cons - customization options (at time of ordering, updated)
    Introduction
    Ever thought of what your perfect signature for an iem is, if you had to specify it as accurate as possible? I was once discussing a custom iem project with one of our local ciem makers, and he asked to list my preference for a sound. I told him I wanted bass that was as powerful as possible, while remaining fast and clean as it shouldn't distort the rest of the frequency. A full sounding midrange like the Heir 8.A was an absolute must, but with more sparkle and airiness up top. Unfortunately we did not proceed with the project, and a few months later I decided to gamble on a relatively unknown ciem based on limited information available: the Solar, by a small company called Rhapsodio.
     
    Rhapsodio is a boutique company based in Hong Kong, that recently celebrated their 3 year anniversary. The two owners Sammy and Sam are passionate about their craft, constantly experimenting with new innovative designs and improving their products. Rhapsodio was the first company for instance to introduce a hybrid design encorporating two dynamic drivers, a while back. Despite their high quality products and satisfied customers, they never managed to make that final ascension to the top of the audiophile community. With two new flagship models, the Rti2 sporting two dynamic drivers and the Solar with ten balanced armature drivers, as well as a new line of upgrade cables, Rhapsodio has come storming again in a fresh attempt to win over the audiophile community.
     
    21538161860_f76fbb5bb3_o.png
     
    The Solar
    -10 balanced armature drivers (2 bass, 4 mid, 2 high and 2 tweeters)
    -Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
    -Impedance: 26 ohm
    -MRSP (custom): $1550
    http://www.rhapsodio.com
     
    Sound impressions
    For this review I’m listening with a Cowon P1 connected to a Headstage Arrow 5TX. The Cowon has a fairly neutral presentation, with smooth tonality. The 5TX is also neutral, but provides a slight increase in tone definition and separation, and widens the soundstage by placing instruments a step back from the listener. It can also boost bass significantly while remaining nice and punchy. Most listening was done with the provided Copper Litz cable. -edit- note, this is a different cable than the current standard cable, the Pandora SPC. The Pandora is warmer, and fuller sounding; while the Copper Litz has slightly leaner notes with more treble sparkle.
     
    Overall, the Solar has a clean and natural presentation. The 4 BA drivers dedicated to the mids provide a solid foundation for a full and lively midrange, with nice thick note impact and clear, beautiful treble. Its signature is best described as natural, in a lively and colorful way. Soundstage width is not more than average compared to other top tier iems, but depth perception and layering is excellent. The precision with which you can hear the different rows of instruments is uncanny. Take the Eagles’ classic hit “Hotel California”. The song starts with the lead guitar presented close and intimate to the listener. The arrangement becomes more enveloping with guitars chiming in to the left and right, topped of by a drum to the right announcing the vocals are about to set in. Instrument separation is spot on - close your eyes and you can identify each instrument from the moment it sets in, as well as the distance between the guitars in the front to the vocals and guitars in the back. Depth perception and separation within the soundstage does not rely on subtle cues that required trained ears - I played the track to a non-audiophile friend that can get a decent fit. She was shocked by the accuracy of the 3D presentation, besides the beautiful tonality of course.
     
    Bass
    The Solar’s bass is fast, tight, and controlled. The high level of control prevents it from leaking to the mids, contributing to the overall clean sound. The bass is not ever present such as with the 8.A and Velvet, but comes with authority when called upon. While I wouldn’t consider the Solar bassy, quantity is definitely more than adequate for most – even for a basshead as myself. It provides ample punch for bass heavy genres as hardcore, hardstyle or hip hop. But its speed is its most remarkable feat. Even with rapid bursts of bass, the definition from the first to the last tone remains intact. Partially because bass decay is rather quick; the bass does not linger for any more time than necessary.
     
    Mids
    Ah, that gorgeous midrange. The Solar’s mids are full, clear and colorful. Now what I mean with colorful is that compared to other iems, it’s like peeling off that plastic protector from a new smartphone. It looked great before, until you realize what you’d been missing. The lower midrange provides that bottom end extension to fill up those classic rock ‘n roll guitars as in AC/DC’s “Who Made Who” (wait for the second guitar to kick in!), creating that nice full sound. It also contributes to the depth required for male voices. Consider Fink’s “Pilgrim”. The song starts with the drumming chords of two guitars, portraying a sense of urgency. The chords being struck should not only be heard, but felt. The vocal sounds deep, providing the perception that sound is being produced from the throat. A lacking midrange will miss that quality, appearing as sound comes only from the mouth. But the upper midrange is where the Solar really shines, especially higher pitched guitars like Mark Knopfler playing away on his Fender Stratocaster in “Sultans of Swing”, or Slash playing one of those heavenly solos in pretty much any Guns ‘n Roses track – this is how an electric guitar should sound: full bodied, clear, and extending smoothly up in to the treble. Vocals sound well defined and realistic with just a hint of warmth to bring out emotion, while the clarity helps female vocals to really shine.
     
    Treble
    The Solar’s treble keeps on extending up to the point you think it might break, but never does. The upper midrange extends on fluently to the treble, contributing to that overall clear and beautiful sound. As with the mids, rather than thin, the treble has a thicker presentation – violins sound beautiful and full, but less sharp and precise in their definition – emotive, rather than analytical. For synthetic treble however the thicker note presentation contributes to a more engaging experience, where you need that nice note impact to feel the music.
     
    Overall, the Solar sounds very lively and has the right properties for an allrounder: fast, punchy bass with enough quantity without distorting the sound. A solid midrange for instruments and vocals, and treble that extends far enough for classical music, but excites for electronic-based music.
     
    IMAG0232.jpg
    From left to right the Solar, Heir 8.A, Rooth LS-X5, Rhapsodio Rti2, and EarSonics Velvet
     
    Comparisons
    EarSonics Velvet ($700)
    The Velvet is U-shaped, with energetic highs and excellent punchy bass that will satisfy most bassheads (full review). The Velvet finds a great balance between being detailed without sounding cold and analytic, due to pleasant warmth that comes off the bass. Following the EarSonics house sound, the Velvet has nice thick note impact, providing a great sense of energy and musicality. When playing Muse’s “Defector”, treble is clearly more forward giving the electric guitars a more upfront ‘in your face’ sound compared to the Solar. The Solar is both smoother and more balanced – the guitars are less prominent and don’t dominate the overall sound. The same holds for EDM, where you want the main melodies to be more prominent. The U-shaped signature of the Velvet however gives it an exciting edge, partly due to the enhanced bass quantity. The Solar’s bass doesn’t fall far behind in quantity, but steps up in quality. The Velvet cannot match its level of speed and precision. So far for the good – the midrange is where the Velvet falls far behind. When directly switching between the Velvet and the Solar (or 8.A for that matter) for most instrument-based music, it can sometimes feel like there’s a hole where the mids used to be: the overall quantity of sound being heard feels reduced. Vocals lack depth and can sound hollow, while the lack of presence in the lower midrange makes instruments sound thinner and less dynamic. Due its U-shaped signature, the Velvet still sounds fun for V-shaped genres – EDM, hip hop, pop and energetic rock, but must admit defeat when it comes to music relying on instrument definition and vocals. While the Velvet's soundstage is slightly wider, the Solar steps up with imaging and depth perception.
     
    Heir 8.A ($1200)
    I’m guessing a lot of people are anxious to hear how the Solar compares to Head Fi's local celebrity: the Noble K10. Best I can offer, is the K10’s stepbrother from a broken marriage - the 8.A. With its gorgeous lush and thick midrange, the 8.A has a full and warm sound, partly due to that copious, ever present bass. The 8.A is the iem equivalent of 70’s American muscle car: strong and powerful - but lacking some precision and refinement. Details tend to get lost in the warm sound, and full and lush as it is, its midrange lacks a bit of clarity. The number one complaint of 8.A owners is probably the lack of sparkle in the treble, the 8.A just doesn’t go there. Bottom line however, is that the 8.A presents a very impressive midrange. The Solar calls  – and raises with detail and clarity in that beautiful upper midrange. The top end of electric guitars are better defined and have that sparkle that let them really shine. The 8.A however has more presence in the lower midrange, giving the bottom end of grungy electric guitars a bit of extra rumble. Due to the warmer sound, male voices sound slightly deeper. However with the Solar, vocals sound clearer and less veiled; vocals can come off a bit more distant with the 8.A. Part of the 8.A’s charm is in its slow ‘analogue’ sound, which presents its main weakness with fast music. Be it metal or EDM, the 8.A wants no part of it. EDM tones and fast guitars - the Solar is much quicker. The same holds for the bass; the Solar’s bass is faster and punchier, as well as more controlled and detailed. In a direct comparison they both share a beautifully full midrange, but differ in their upper vs. lower midrange presence. The 8.A has a unique charming signature, but there’s no denying that the Solar is technically on a higher level due to its speed, precision and clarity. If the 8.A is a 70’s classic muscle car, the Solar is a ’15 Porsche.
     
    Rhapsodio Rti2 ($1200)
    With two dynamic drivers Rhapsodio’s other flagship follows a different design, as well as philosophy (full review). Where the Solar strives for beauty, the Rti2 aims at realism. The Solar has a fuller midrange, and its treble extends higher. The Rti2 sounds darker than the Solar, in which the upper midrange and treble sounds slightly more accentuated, making the Solar sound a bit livelier and more colorful. The Rti2 might not have that full, multi BA sound, but music is portrayed with a higher resolution: instruments are sharper defined, while the Rti2 takes midrange clarity to a next level. The nuance of the chord of an acoustic guitar being plucked, a silent breath before singing - it’s all there. In short, acoustic instruments sound better with the Rti2, electric guitars with the Solar. The Rti2’s bass is slower, but has that nice round feel of a dynamic driver. Decay is slower and more natural, giving kickdrums that nice ‘thump’. The Solar is a clear winner concerning quantity, but the Rti2's seems to be less variable than the Solar's. While the Solar's bass doesn't require amping, I'll keep my Arrow's bass setting on I or II when listening to the Rti2. While the Solar’s bass is faster and more precise, my preference for bass goes to the Rti2 - albeit amped. You just can’t beat a high quality dynamic driver. Overall, the two flagships are more complimentary than similar. When comparing, either’s strength is also a relative weakness. The Solar has a fuller, but as a consequence, less pinpoint precise midrange as the Rti2. The Solar sounds livelier, the Rti2 more balanced and realistic.
     
    Summary
    If I had to describe the sound of my iems in one word, I’d say the Velvet was designed to excite. With its forward highs and thunderous bass it sounds emotive and energetic. The 8.A was built to sound cool. The 8.A basically sounds great for any type of music where artists perform in sunglasses and leather jackets, irrespective of their age. It doesn’t care if it’s too slow for modern synthesized music; it was made to rock. It’s certainly too cool to add any ‘sparkle’ in the treble. The high resolution Rti2 provides every subtle nuance in the music, the dynamics of instrument being placed: the Rti2 aims at realism. The Solar’s natural and colorful sound is built from a solid foundation of mids, extending on up to that sweet, beautiful treble. Detailed, without being analytic and full bodied without lacking clarity, and all of that perfectly balanced: the Solar was built to sound beautiful.
     
    21105092513_f95ac435a7_o.png
     
    Cable matching
    If you are interested in the Solar, it’s worth asking Sammy about their new cable collection. He might be inclined to give you a good deal on an additional purchase of one of their new upgrade cables. Switching between cables drastically changes the Solar’s signature, and slowed down the process of writing this review. Every time I thought I pinned down exactly what the difference between say the Solar or Rti2 was, switching cables reversed my perception of their relative differences forcing me to rewrite the review a couple of times.
     
    RSD OCC Copper Litz 8-braid
    When I inquired about their copper 8-braid, the first thing that Sammy said was that it is a hard cable. He warned me twice more before I purchased it, but I am personally not deterred by cable ergonomics. He wasn’t lying though, it’s probably the stiffest cable I’ve ever had – that being said, it also brings out the upper midrange and treble with a clarity like no other cable I’ve ever had. Female vocals, acoustic instruments or gently plucked electric guitars: this is the one cable you’ll ever need. It is somewhat of a specialist though, since the Solar becomes quite a bit more V-shaped. The consequence of the upper midrange clarity comes at the cost of a lower midrange recess affecting rock ‘n roll guitars, and sometimes the depth of male voices.
    Recommend for: acoustics, vocals, singer/songwriter type music, classical
     
    RSD Silver Litz
    Sammy recommended the 4-braid over the 8-braid due to that the Silver Litz remains very true to the sound of the iem. The 8-braid is warmer, but also adds more coloration. So, reluctantly, I got the 4-braid. The Silver Litz is a very balanced cable, bringing out detail in the treble without recessing the lower mids. It sounds slightly colder than the standard copper, without sounding bright. It’s a very transparent cable, although it doesn’t add that sparkle on electric guitars like the OCC Copper 8-braid. Bass is punchier than the standard Copper Litz and OCC Copper Litz 8-braid, and better defined. Of the three cables it is the most neutral.
    Recommend for: EDM, metal, rock, pop
     
    RSD Silver/Gold 2.98 OCC Litz 8-braid
    Of the three cables, this is the most serious sounding one. The cable is warm and midforward, and regularly brings out abundant detail in the (lower) midrange and bass that I overlooked before. Music sounds weightier, with increased note impact. The same holds for the bass, which becomes rounder and again, weightier. The treble appears slightly attenuated; this is not a ‘sparkly’ cable, as one would expect of a silver alloy cable. Not that treble is recessed, it is just as extended, but the relative forward mids dominate the overall signature more. I picture the 2.98 as the cable equivalent of the Heir 8.A, with it’s warm, midforward and somewhat analogue sound. As such this cable is also somewhat of a specialist. It excels for band-based music. Vocals, electric guitars, just anything that rocks. It is somewhat of a specialist though, as it doesn't have a clear background. Instead it sounds very heavy, which cannot be mistaken for muddiness as it has a high resolution. It’s best matched with iems that have strong mids, like the Solar or 8.A. The 2.98 can be considered the opposite of the RSD OCC Copper 8-braid; midforward vs. V-shaped. Rhapsodio: where you get a silver cable for the mids, and a copper for treble. Shocking.
    Recommend for: rock
     
    IMAG0236.jpg
    Top to bottom: 2.98 Silver/Gold 8-braid, Silver Litz, OCC Copper Litz 8-braid and standard Copper Litz. 
     
    Comparisons with the Solar in other reviews:
    AAW W500:
    http://www.head-fi.org/products/advanced-acousticwerkes-w500-ahmorph/reviews/14596
     
    Empire Ears Zeus:
    http://www.head-fi.org/products/empire-ears-zeus/reviews/14716
     
    Perfect Seal AR6:
    http://www.head-fi.org/products/perfect-seal-ar6/reviews/14957
     
    EarSonics S-EM9:
    http://www.head-fi.org/products/earsonics-s-em9-in-ear-earphones/reviews/14990
     
    (Photos credit to Victor van der Boom)​
    1. View previous replies...
    2. proedros
      Hey Nic, just one question about the cables part in your review - is this copper cable the same as the stock one provided ? or is the sound enhancement different due to it being an 8-braid (i think stock is a 4-braid) ?

      RSD OCC Copper Litz 8-braid
      also , the thing you say about silver cable beefing up the mids and copper cable beefing up the highs extends to cables by other makers as well ?

      cheers

      proedros, Feb 8, 2016
    3. flinkenick
      Hi Sotos,
      -The review was actually written with the copper litz cable, the former standard cable.
      -The OCC copper 8-braid was an upgrade cable that is no longer for sale.
      -The silver litz actually gives a slight recess in the lower mids, has a colder atmosphere, but makes the midrange clearer by improving resolution as well as treble sparkle. I will prob edit the whole cable part out.
      flinkenick, Feb 9, 2016
    4. Incarnation
      Hellooooo, just wanted to know, after so many other TOTLs are being released, do you think solar still has the capabilities to stand against the rest? :)
      Incarnation, Mar 11, 2017
  4. Kerouac
    Rhapsodio Solar (10BA flagship), pushing boundaries...
    Written by Kerouac
    Published Aug 12, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Great sound quality (lows, mids & highs) all over. Superb details, soundstage (width & depth) and imaging. Build quality and fit.
    Cons - Not easy (for me) to get some tips on the nozzle. Not a con with custom fit (had mine reshelled later on) anymore of course.
    Introduction:
    For starters, I'm not the everyday ''Hey, let's write a review'' kinda guy and because English isn't my main language, please forgive me my grammatical flaws and somewhat limited vocabulary on this one. I decided to make an exception for the Solar, because I think Rhapsodio is a brand that just deserves (based on their high quality products) more attention...
    http://www.rhapsodio.com/

    My Rhapsodio adventure started over a year ago when I picked up a RTi1 in the classifieds on Head-Fi. I especially liked the treble and details of that iem but imo it also lacked a bit in the low frequencies. Although with some added amps bass boost, the lows where there...it just needed some extra help to get it outside...

    For quite some months I was thinking about (because of multiple positive reviews that I read) a universal Noble K10 or Unique Melody Mentor, but then the Solar came on my radar and because Rhapsodio had a discount because of it's 3rd anniversary I chose that one instead and I'm glad I did [​IMG]

    When I ordered it, Sammy turned out to be a very friendly and helpful person to deal with and he answered my questions/mails pretty quick, so communication went smooth all the way...

    Build & design:
    When the Solar arrived, it came in a (nice looking) Rhapsodio box with the cables that I ordered and 3 different size of (I think Spinfit) tips. What more do you need?
    Solar01.jpg
    Rhapsodio cables from left to right: Litz copper (4 braid), Silver/Gold 2.98 (8 braid, 2% gold) and Panther MKII (8 braid copper)

    I chose the universal fit with ebony faceplates and dark transparent shells without the logo and I really like how that turned out designwise...
    Solar02.jpg

    The build quality is very good imo, it feels and looks like a professional job to me...
    Solar03.jpg

    Fit:
    The Solars shells are slightly heavier and bigger than my Tralucent 1Plus2 and 1964 Ears V6 Stage (also universal fit)
    Solar04.jpg
    Solar05.jpg
    Solar06.jpg

    but when I put them in my ears the universal fit (I've never tried a custom in my life, so can't compare to that) appeared to be almost perfect for me. The only reason I didn't rate the Solar on max for comfort and isolation is that that's probably only possible with a custom fit...
    Solar07.jpg

    The only downside was that (for clumsy me) it was a bit of a hassle to get the tips on the nozzle (as it seems wider than that of my other iems)...but when I put the large tips (that came with it) on it, it filled up my ears in a positive way (perfect seal) and stayed in its place, even while moving around. I can listen with it for a long time this way, without the need to adjust them in my ears.
    (* Edit 02 dec 2015: on recent pictures of the universal Solar I see it has a wax guard nozzle nowadays => should be much easier to get the tips on the nozzle that way)
    Solar08.jpg

    * Edit 03 july 2016
    OK, after about a year I decided the Solar was here to stay anyway, so I decided to have it reshelled into a custom
    Please click to enlarge and see the beautiful details inside...
    20160630_120224.jpg
    Now I've felt and heard the difference, I would advise a custom fit above a universal one any day!

    Source:
    At first I used all my 3 sources/stacks to listen with the Solar: iBasso DX90/Chord Hugo, Pono player (single ended) and FiiO X5/Cayin C5. But because DX90/Hugo was the most revealing and gave the best sound quality, I mainly used that stack for this reviews listening time and believe me, that were quite some (not unpleasant at all) hours...
    Solar09.jpg

    Sound:
    For me it's extremely difficult to describe exactly what I hear...some members (for example Jason with his ''Fit for a Bat'' reviews) pull that of in a way that I can only dream of (I only wish I had that skills), but here we go:

    Because of it's driver set-up (2 bass, 4 mid, 2 high & 2 tweeters) I was a bit afraid the Solar would have an overly bright signature, but this is not the case imo. Clarity is absolutely a strong point, but everything seems in balance and it all sounds very natural to me...I'm very impressed with the sound overall from the start and I consider the Solar to be a great all-rounder as it sounded excellent with all songs and genres (I normally listen to) that I threw at it...I'm not sure how much the 5-way passive crossover design plays a part in that, but I guess it has its contribution in the final sound result...
    Without the intention to get into a sound science debate, I tried it with both new ''upgrade'' Rhapsodio cables and imo they added a bit of their own signature to it. With the copper Panther MKII the sound became a bit smoother and relaxed, while with the 2.98 silver/gold cable it sounded more forward and transparent, with stunning details that sometimes seemed to be too good to be true...oh boy, oh boy...I almost couldn't believe my ears/brain sometimes...for this review I kept the 2.98 s/g cable on the Solar as it had the best synergy to my ears.

    Anyway, my attempt for a sound description:
    Lows: yes, totally there...bass slams with authority and goes all the way down... Listening to a song like Massive Attacks ''Angel'' it has great sub-bass too. With Hans Zimmers ''Why so serious?'' (from The Dark Knight soundtrack) at around 3.25 the bass seems to disappear under water, but the Solar pulls it of to follow it there and give you the rumble in your ears.
    Mids: I don't think I've ever heard it better than this in any other iem so far...the Solars sound isn't V-shaped because of it's marvelous mids and therefor sounds very full. Listening to almost every song mentioned in this review, it gave a very rich and complete sound without getting muddy...
    Highs: sparkly but (luckily) never fatiguing on the ears. Female voices, for example Tori Amos high voice in ''Winter'' or Heather Nova on her ''Island'' were a real treat (never harsh) to my ears. Cymbals or other high tones sounded amazingly crisp and clear without sibilance detected...
    Soundstage: very wide (but realistic) with excellent depth. I also listen lots of live music => a good soundstage is a very important quality in an iem to my taste... Listening to Madrugadas ''Majesty'' live at Tralfamadore sounded so real that it gave me goosebumps...''Midnight Rambler'' from the Stones classic album ''Get Yer Ya Ya's Out'' put me between the crowd and made me almost smell the grass (I mean the sort that cows eat) and mudd of the festival field and Jon Hopkins ''Collider'' took me on a short trip into space...
    Imaging: with your eyes closed, you can almost point out the instruments yourself at their place in the musical spectrum. For example, at the beginning of David Sylvians ''When Poets Dream of Angels'' different instruments are coming from all kind of directions and the Solar points them out for you precisely. Same story with Jimi Hendix ''Born Under a Bad Sign '' on his ''Blues'' album, it's almost if you're in the studio with the musicians playing around you...
    Details: on an almost scary level, nothing less than crystal clear and highly realistic I would say. The thunder and rain in Tools ''10.00 Days (Wings Pt. 2)'', the birds, bug and bells in Pink Floyds ''High Hopes'', the typewriter and all kind of strange sounds in Thomas Dolby's ''Dissidents''....it all sounds so real to my ears...all songs seemed to come alive though the Solar, proving it's obviously an utterly revealing iem, that can serve you the quality that the file and the source that you play it on are able to deliver...

    Comparisons:

    Solar vs Tralucent 1Plus2
    The 1Plus2 has a more laid back signature, where the Solar has a more energetic signature. 1P2 is known for it's very good soundstage, but the Solar is probably on par (* Edit 27 nov 2015: have been listening extra with 1P2 lately, focussing on it's soundstage and I guess 1P2 is still ''king of the hill'' concerning its soundstage width, where Solar has an incredible depth) in that department. Solar just sounds more realistic and dynamic, and after switching from Solar to 1P2 the latter sounded every time a bit dull and muffled for the first minutes...although I'm still very fond of the 1P2's sound signature, it just lacked that lively feeling of the Solar.

    Solar10.jpg

    Solar vs 1964 Ears V6 Stage
    The V6 Stage (2 low, 2 mid, 2 high BA) has a sound signature that reminds me of the Solar, but (although being an extremely good iem for ''only'' $700 imo) it simply lacks the high level of sound quality that the Solar can bring to the table...because the V6S universal has very long tubes they insert deeper into the ears and give me a more intimate sound (also narrower soundstage). Level of details with V6S are also pretty amazing, but the Solar is simply the better performer in every single department.

    Solar11.jpg

    Solar vs Sony XBA-Z5
    The Z5 (hybrid) still has the best lows (using a 16mm dynamic driver) I've heard so far in an iem, but the Solar comes pretty close. The Z5 also has a very wide soundstage, I think almost on par with the Solar, although Solar has better depth. But in every other aspect the Solar is the clear winner imo, as it has better mids, highs, imaging and details.

    Conclusion:
    Although I'm still curious about other company's flagships, I'm also totally satisfied (or should I say extremely happy) with the Solar at the moment. Besides that, I seriously doubt if there are many (c)iems out there that would top this one anyway...but when I ever win the lottery (as robbing banks is just getting too dangerous nowadays), then I will surely try that for myself...

    So, would I recommend the Solar? Well, what do you think?
    From the moment I started to listen to AC/DC's ''If You Want Blood'', my foot started tapping and if it doesn't stop within the next few hours, then I'm off to see a doctor...

    And for those of you who are still not tired (really?) of reading, for this review listening purposes and comparisons between the different iems above, I made a special playlist and these were the used...

    Test tracks:
    AC/DC – If You Want Blood / Angus & Julia Stone – My Word for It / Atoms for Peace – Stuck Together Pieces / The Beatles – Come Together / Beck – Morning / Björk – Hunter / Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Stop / Blitzen Trapper – Black River Killer / Blondie – Rapture / Bob Marley – Exodus / Booka Shade – Mandarine Girl / Brendan Perry – The Bogus Man / The Cure – Primary / Daft Punk – Fresh / David Bowie – Fame (live) / David Sylvian – When Poets Dream of Angels / Declan O'Rourke – Sara (Last Night in a Dream) / Deftones – Pink Maggit / DJ Shadow – Stem, Long Stem / Dire Straits – Water of Love / Eagles – The Last Resort / Fleetwood Mac – Dreams / Foo Fighters – White Limo / Gregory Alan Isakov – Master and a Hound / Gregory Porter – Liquid Spirit / Hans Zimmer – Why So Serious? / Heather Nova – Island / Jeff Buckley – Dream Brother / Jimi Hendriks – Born Under a Bad Sign / Jon Hopkins – Collider / The Knife – Silent Shout / Led Zeppelin – Babe I'm Gonna Leave You / Madrugada – Majesty (live) / Massive Attack – Angel / Matthew Dear – Up and Out / Moloko – The Time is Now / Morphine – Let's Take a Trip Together / Motorpsycho – Vortex Surfer / New Order – Sunrise / Pink Floyd – On the Run + High Hopes / Porcupine Tree – Trains / Radiohead – Subterranean Homesick Alien / Red Hot Chili Peppers – Venice Queen / Rolling Stones – Midnight Rambler (live) / Rush – 2112 + YYZ / Simple Minds – This Fear of Gods (live) / Steely Dan – Do It Again / Soundgarden – The Day I Tried to Live / Suzanne Vega – Tom's Diner / Tears for Fears – Woman in Chains / Thomas Dolby – Dissidents / Trentemøller – Take Me into Your Skin / Tool – 10.00 Days (Wings Pt. 2) / Tori Amos – Winter / Vangelis – Spiral / Van Halen – Ain't Talking About Love / Wovenhand – Corsicana Clip / XTC – Making Plans for Nigel / Yes – Does It Really Happen?

    Btw, the answer is ''Yes, I would totally recommend it, also for it's full retail price''
    Thanks for reading and happy listening to all of you out there [​IMG]
      Tony1110, AmberOzL, canister and 5 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Kerouac
      Thanks for the compliment(s) proedros...
      Trying probably ends up in buying :wink:
       
      Γεια σας
      Kerouac, Sep 23, 2015
    3. FidelityCastro
      What a great review, Kerouac. With a moniker like that, we should've known you can write very engagingly indeed...
      And seeing as you took the trouble to include your playlist, I've been checking out some of the ones I haven't heard of. So it's a double value review - bravo mate.
      FidelityCastro, Sep 24, 2015
    4. Kerouac
      Thanks FidelityCastro,
      Glad you liked the review and hopefully you discovered some nice new music on the way...or should I say on the road :wink:
      Kerouac, Jul 3, 2016
  5. Metalboy
    Rhapsodio Solar
    Written by Metalboy
    Published Jan 11, 2015
    5.0/5,
    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.
     
    Summary
    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