General Information

RSV
  • reference sound tuning
  • 3-way-system with 5BA
  • high efficiency
  • linear phase

ANOTHER LEAP FORWARD
Based on the success of the company's current flagship RS10, Softears reconsidered some key concepts of the original design. Even though the RS10 holds its ground as a reference in-ear monitor, its complex crossover system makes it hard to drive. With the RS5 Softears created an avant-garde BA in-ear monitor that has a higher efficiency and is easier to drive – at a lower cost!

After one and a half years of dedicated research, Softears finally unveiled the all-new RS5, a 5 BA driver with similar reference sound tuning as the RS10. Not only does it provide “Reference Sound”, but the new driver configuration and crossover network make the RS5 easy to drive. It can produce great dynamics even from a conventional source like a smartphone.

The RS5 is unique in the Reference Sound line-up, not only because of its high efficiency, but also its capability to reproduce great dynamics like they are required from modern recordings.

SATIN CARBON & GOLD FOIL
The importance of an earphone is not only its sound. The RS5 brings trusted experience and modern technology together. This is represented by the combination of carbon fiber fragments with gold foil – a liaison of a cutting-edge material with a valuable metal. Every pair of RS5 receives a unique faceplate by skilled designers. This handcrafted process makes the RS5 an artwork on top of a set of reference earphones.

OPTIMIZED 3-WAY CROSSOVER FOR 5 BA DRIVERS
Great sound has high design requirements. The RS5 successfully combines acoustical filters with complex crossovers to have the BA drivers unfold excellent dynamics under the requirement of a near-perfect frequency response and near-linear phase. This is a rare and truly remarkable feat in audio engineering.

Utilizing acoustical filters and crossovers, the RS5 delivers astonishing audio performance. The crossover consists of a 3rd order LRC filter for bass, an impedance + low pass for the midrange, as well as a film capacitor for the high frequencies, totaling in 6 components to properly divide the signal to the 5 drivers per earpiece.

HEAR THE TRUTH
The frequency response is a success of incredible use of crossovers and tuning. The RS5’s framework is based on measuring the HRTF of high-end speakers in a room. The bass slope is the result of considering the placement and the loudspeaker’s surrounding. Softears matched the RS5 to follow that target so that it delivers natural and immersive sound with a lively timbre.

Another important aspect of the crossover system is the phase response. Most of the multi-driver designs on the market cannot achieve phase consistency, obstructing the timbre and imaging. The RS5 ensures a high consistency of phase across the audible spectrum, creating smooth transitions between drivers and an highly accurate soundstage.

The RS5 not only achieves accurate imaging and an excellent soundstage, but it also has very low distortion. This allows the tones to be reproduced perfectly, preserving their fullness and high dynamics.

For the RS5, Softears opted for the highly reliable 2-Pin 0.78mm cable connection. This allows you to choose from a wide selection of cables for high versatility or even the use of a Bluetooth adapter. This connection opens up many possibilities.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
  • Sensitivity: 125db/1VRMS @1kHz
  • Impedance: 8Ω @1kHz (±15%)
  • Frequency Range: 5Hz - 40kHz (1/4’ Free Field, -3dB)
  • Effective Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz (IEC-60318-4)
  • THD+IMD @94dB: <1% @1kHz
  • Cable Connection: 2-Pin 0.78mm
  • Shell: 3D Printed from Imported Medical Resin
  • Driver Configuration: 5 Balanced Armatures

Latest reviews

KuroKitsu

Headphoneus Supremus
Exodia, Obliterate
Preamble: Outside of QDC, I've always avoided the inevitable "giant killer" hype train that follows the locomotive of each Chifi release(s), which has devolved into outright apathy overtime. Chifi is an overly crowded market with a buckshot spread of products wider than Apple's yearly refreshes (and perhaps to Apple's envy). While those with smaller budgets might rabidly swear by the price/performance ratio of those products, those of us with slush funds to blow through (or a local store to visit) have found it to be a mixed bag. With prices following the mainstream brands out of the stratosphere and into space, but lacking the equal gain in quality that I expected to accompany it, that has me hesitant to spend any sort of funds to even listen to something that has decent accolades by the more famed members of the community. So while there have been releases that I'm interested in, hearing will most likely be relegated to a loan from local friends.

Softears has been making rumblings in the western market with the release of 4 models with a relatively wide range of prices. Their association with Moondrop of Blessing 2 fame, certainly caught my eye and warranted a look beyond the 5 seconds it takes me to go from curious to scoffing at a chifi release. The accolades from the community among the various models also demonstrated an increase in quality, complexity and know how as you go up the range rather than the normal "drop a cheaper than it would normally cost iem into the market" modus operandi that chifi like to take. So clearly I treated @riverground to lunch for bringing the RSV (among other things) to a meet up. Of course, my thanks to @ryanjsoo for sending the RSV over to us Canuck bois (Pls send us more stuff to try)

The RSV definitely impressed me and I'm keen to hear the RS10 down the line myself. Despite being a traditional all BA setup, it punches above it's weight for the price bracket that it belongs to. I have a particular affinity for 5 BA setups, as I find that tends to be a balance of price and performance. For those competitive Yu Gi Oh players, a 5 BA setup is like having the perfect starting hand in a meta deck, or drawing into whatever card you need to get a combo started. Something like the Andromeda is akin to running Future Fusion in to Five God Dragon (which is a great opening depending on the meta of course), but rather bland and expected. RSV is more akin to Yami Yugi drawing the 5th piece of Exodia on Kaiba's triple Blue Eyes (Monarch, Clairvoyance, Monarch MK II) *Note that I have listened to none of those at the time of writing*. Like the aforementioned 5 card combos, the RSV is greater than the sum of it's parts and can win the match in one fell swoop, draw your cards duelist.

Turn 1-----------Left Arm
Design:
Despite being only a 5 BA setup, the RSV takes from the chonky shells and nozzles that are also bread and butter to Moondrop's lineup. I was unable to get my Radius Deepmounts nor my Symbio Ns on the nozzle at all so the lack of a lip seems negligible since tips that do fit will most likely stay firmly in place. I had no issues with fit, but folks with smaller ears may have issues. The shell opts to go for a dark classy look with some gold flakes sprinkled here and there. This will not attract any attention beyond a slight glance in public. The stock cable is fairly pliable and supple and I had no issues with comfort. Cable swapping would probably be relegated more to the realm of aesthetics or for termination as required by the source in use.

Testing: As mentioned, the thickness of the nozzles made it impossible for any of the tips that I use to even get on so I stuck with the stick tips. The RSV isn't hard to drive and was set at 40 klicks at low gain off the 3.5 input of the WM1A. I did play around with high gain, but the only noticeable benefit from that was a lower listening level than a change in my perception of the sound. No hissing at all for those with sensitive ears.

Turn 2-----------Right Arm

Bass:
The RSV's is eerily similar to other notable 5 BA setups like the Andromeda 2020 and the Phantom right from the get go: A clear mid bass bias providing good slam and impact, but also good sub bass extension that isn't cut off early. It firmly establishes that we are long past the days of "BA Bass teehee" and that BA bass is competitive and can come close to DDs. This is a refined and warm bass that comes across as fun but without being overwhelming at any point. The bass shelf is clean with no bleed into the mids at all, but still provides ample body for the lower mids to shine. However the aforementioned iems do differ in one way with the bass: the lack of treble to balance out the bass makes them rather dark. While the RSV leans slightly towards the brighter side in comparison. The bass tuning while not innovative or particularly interesting, comes together with the rest of the frequency in a manner similar to the MMR Balmung.

Turn 3-----------Left Leg

Mids:
The mids are forward on the RSV and at times it came into shouty territory for me. That seemed more track dependant to me overall though rather than the forwardness. The linear lower mids actually benefit rather well from the body and warmth afforded by the bass and male vocals sound astoundingly well. Female vocals benefit as well from this, but this seems to be inversely proportional as the vocalist goes up the register. For lack of a btter descriptor, the RSV felt like it was unable to scale properly up the register. It's a "Do y'all have some more upper mids" situation where I feel the RSV could have boosted the upper mids a tad bit more. As a whole the RSV convys emotion in the mids much better than other 5 BA setups, with it being a step up from the Andromeda 2020, and a couple steps up from the Phantom. No one with upper mids sensitivities could complain with the RSV and those that find the Phantom's drop off too much are going to appreciate the RSV.

Turn 4-----------Right Leg

Treble:
Low count BA driver setups tend to suffer in the treble department, hence the creation of tech like CFA's TAEC and 64 Audio's Tia to allow for better than expected treble extension with a limited amount of drivers that can be allocated. Unfortunately it appears that BA treble and lower driver counts are still mortal enemies requiring a third party to settle their differences and let the treble truly sing. For the price, the RSV's treble extension is good but honestly it just can't compare to the likes of TAEC and Tia equipped iems. Where it does win, is in the tuning. RSV has good lower treble energy which by virtue of simply being existent unlike the Phantom's. Similar to the Andromeda 2020 it also has good air. Where it vaults to victory is what I consider the biggest mistake made on the Andromeda 2020: Treble sparkle. The almost non existent sparkle on the 2020 is even more egregious than the Phantom's non existent treble to my ears. While merely a good amount and not great or outstanding, the RSV's tuning to me is superior to the tech used in the 2020 and the Phantom.

Turn 5-----------Exodia

Conclusion:
Given the price of the RSV, interested parties will have to curb their expectations. And not just in the tangibles, but alo the intangibles. In a market filled with wide soundstages, the RSV is relatively narrower. Imaging is good and can handle tracks that are busy to an extent, but Scandal's Oyasumi is definitely going to be doing the opposite and keeping you up at night when the extent of the RSV's imaging hits your ears. In part to the narrower soundstage but also technical limitations, the RSV is not as dynamic as it's peers, but good enough for it's signature

Taken at face value and it's pieces, the RSV is deceiving like the 5 pieces of Exodia, they're useless at best and a waste of resources at worse. But when assembled, both are greater than the sum of it's parts. The RSV might not have the treble extension tech that it's peers have, or the technical acumen. But it's incredibly enjoyable: warm and intimate, emotional but balanced.

But when things like the Thieaudio iems exist at the same price bracke, you just have to ask: "But Kuro...."

So one more thing, one thing that sets the RSV apart from the rest of the price bracket that I saved for last: Positional cues. IEMs generally don't handle positional cues as well as we would like them to be. Even on my beloved Odin, I still find myself wishing they were better. Then came the Balmung...at an eye-watering price but I waxed poetic about it's incredible handling of positional cues. Surely this would be impossible to scale down onto a lesser technology flatbed? Up till now it was a definite no. Now's it's tentative yes. While there are other factors of the RSV that make it similar albeit scaled down Balmung, it's positional cues are exactly what I'd expect from a scaled down version of Balmung's final attack. I debated calling this review Baby Balmung or Balmung Jr, but finally decided against it as that would imply the RSV having a technical acumen beyond what it does. Even so, for that MRSP?!

EXODIA (RSV) OBLITERATE


Congratulations Duelist, you have won the match!

Animagus

Reviewer at Twister6
A strong contender from a long bloodline of reference IEMs!
Pros: Very well tuned for the price, reference IEM, very good natural tonality and timbre, good bass performance (especially for a multi-BA IEM), sub-bass rumble, forward upper-midrange, fairly neutral smooth and natural treble presentation, good resolution and separation, build quality and design, close to CIEM fit with medium-deep insertion, noise isolation, good cable and case.
Cons: Mid-treble dip takes away from absolute reference presentation as well as what could've been excellent technical performance for the price. Big shells could be troublesome for small ears. Could've used more variety in stock ear tips.

About Softears.


Softears is closely associated with the highly popular Chinese company - Moondrop, as they share a lot of R&D and manufacturing assets while remaining sister companies that run their business independent of each other. As per what I'm told, Softears' CEO is actually an automobile engineer by education who joined Moondrop after completing his studies. Moondrop's founder, Herbert invested in him to create a no boundaries, no budget restrictions R&D brand, Softears, to see what could be achieved if money was no object. If you haven't noticed, Moondrop's IEMs like Blessing2 and S8 use Softears developed drivers for the reference quality midrange they are particularly known for.

The product was provided to me free of charge for the review in exchange for my honest opinion.

Manufacturer's website - Softears RSV (Official Website) | Softears RSV (Official AliExpress Store)

Softears RSV Solo 4




Technical Specifications.

  • Drivers - 5 Balanced Armature drivers
  • Frequency response - 5-40kHz (Effective range - 20-20kHz)
  • Sensitivity - 125dB/Vrms @1kHz
  • Impedance - 8 ohms
  • THD - < 1% @ 94dB
  • Shell material - Imported medical resin

Included in the box.

  • Softears RSV
  • 4 core cable
  • Silicone ear tips - 2 types (SML)
  • Leather case
  • Manual
  • Warranty Card
  • Cleaning cloth & brush
softears-rsv-box.jpegsoftears-rsv-manuals.jpeg

Build Quality.

RSV, like a lot of resin IEMs, is made with medical grade resin but its build, design, fit and finish are executed to very high standards. The stock design has black shells with carbon fibre + sprinkled gold flakes faceplate design. The right shell has the Softears brand logo while the left shell has RSV in a font that reminds me of one of my all time favourite games - Need for Speed. Even though this isn't the first IEM I've come across with this faceplate design, RSV's faceplate looks particularly special as the clear lacquer is finished to high gloss without any smudges underneath, which highlights the layered carbon fibres and gold flakes with a nice 3D effect.

Cable – RSV comes stock with a matte-black 4 core braided cable with 2-pin connectors and a 3.5mm jack. There is no info anywhere regarding the wire the cable is made of but I quite like it. It has a powdery matte finish and is fairly supple. Aesthetically, it pairs really well with RSV and has minimal microphonics. It has pre-moulded ear guides and a red ring on the right connector to indicate the right channel.

Softears RSV Cable


Case - RSV comes with a very nice round black leather case. I would've loved it even more if the stitching was black too but the case is quite roomy on the inside and comfortably fits RSV with the cable.

Softears RSV Case


Fit and Comfort.

Just for reference, I have medium-large sized ears. RSV's shells are quite large but are one of the snuggest and most comfortable fitting semi-custom universal shells that I've owned or tried. Noise isolation is class leading because of its snug medium-deep insertion fit, which almost feels like a CIEM.

Just beware that RSV's shells are bigger than Moondrop's Blessing2 and S8. So, if you have small ears and the Moondrop shells were big for your ears, RSV's shells might not be best for you. Still, RSV has better semi-custom contours than the Moondrop siblings and might fit and slide in your ears better. One can only know fo sure by trying 'em out.

Sound Analysis.


RSV stands for Reference Sound Five and it may again come as no surprise that this too is tuned close to Moondrop's VDSF target curve (which takes inspiration from Harman and Diffuse Field target curves) but has Softears' own flavour and take on the curve. For a lot of our readers, seeing yet another reference or Harman Target style IEM being reviewed by me might've started feeling like a monthly affair, especially since I've reviewed a lot of them, a lot of them just from Moondrop (Aria, KXXS, Blessing2 and S8) but well, what do I say, I quite enjoy these different flavours and takes on the curve as this style of reference tuning and tonality are quite in line with my personal preferences, and they all do sound different, even though similar-ish in the larger scheme of things.

Summary - RSV has a warm-neutral reference sound signature with Harman Target style sub-bass bass shelf of around 6-7dB, very neutral and accurate midrange presentation, forward upper-midrange presentation with 10dB pinna gain, clean and accurate lower treble, a dip in mid-treble which is responsible for the warmth in the signature, and fairly neutral upper-treble extension and presence. RSV is very well tuned as it has excellent warm tonality and timbre presentation, which is not just very close to tonally accurate but also very easy to like, enjoy and live with on a daily basis.

Of course, it shares a lot of similarities with its similarly priced cousin, Moondrop S8, but also quite a few differences, which we shall get into later in this review. But first, let’s break down RSV's signature and performance in detail.

Bass – RSV has a 6-7dB sub-bass bass shelf which is quite in line with Harman Target's style of bass shelf boost. As a result, it not only has good low end extension but also good punch, rumble and impact. RSV has very DD like bass tonality and character, so well done that I probably would've guessed this as a DD in a blind test. It has softer and more rounded bass transients, which aren't the sharpest or quickest but have great slam and punch, which makes it extremely fun, exciting and pleasing to listen to. Even though its bass tonal character is very good, sharper transient precision and high-end definition is the only thing stopping it from TOTL levels of performance. Regardless, this is class leading BA bass performance and most might not even care or know what I'm referring to until you listen to something like 64 Audio's U12t, which I consider a great specimen of TOTL BA bass performance.

Mids – RSV has a very tonally accurate midrange presentation. Lower-midrange is clean and linear; quite neutral with ever so slightly fuller body than Moondrop S8. Upper-midrange has a very nice forward presentation with around 10dBs of pinna gain. RSV has excellent instrument tonal and timbral accuracy. Vocals and instruments have strong definition and presence. Midrange has good resolution, layering and separation between instruments.

Treble - RSV's treble sounds very natural and has no sibilance or sharp intrusive peaks. It has very accurate and natural sounding lower-treble presentation. Middle treble is my major gripe with RSV's performance. It has a dip in middle treble which gives a warmer tinge to RSV and takes it away from absolute neutrality. As a result, RSV has a pleasing tubey-warm, analog-ish character but is slightly missing the final shine, crisp sparkle and finesse that acoustic guitars, drum cymbals and vocals need to have for them to sound absolutely accurate and for RSV to have class leading technical performance. It is also responsible for the slightly softer transients that RSV has, which gives RSV its pleasing character but also takes away the absolute neutral crisp precision it could've had if it didn't have this mid-treble dip. Upper-treble has good extension and neutral presence that isn't too airy, nor too dark. I personally wouldn't have minded a bit more upper-treble sparkle and air since I like airy signatures but there is nothing wrong with RSV's upper-treble presentation as such and I can see a lot of people actually preferring this character more.

Soundstage and Imaging - RSV has good width and depth, fairly good for its price segment but it's not the biggest soundstage I've heard in this segment. What I really dig in fact is its very dynamic, musical and involving character that feels like I'm performing the songs with the band in a nice sounding, acoustically dead-neutral studio room rather than a lively hall or arena. Imaging is not the sharpest or class leading, primarily because of the mid-treble dip but is fairly decent for the price.

Technical Performance (Resolution, Separation and Detail Retrieval) - Even though RSV has a slightly warm character than absolute dead-on reference, it has good separation between instrument layers and overall resolution for the price. It's not class leading in its price range but is by no means a slouch. It has very good macro-detail retrieval quality but micro-detail retrieval is where it loses out against Moondrop S8 and other IEMs like Fearless S8F or Craft Ears Six but the latter two get help from their brighter signature, not merely technical ability or excellent absolute reference tuning. A bit more mid-treble and upper-treble in RSV would've definitely pushed those micro-details out way better. In this price range, jack of all trades goes to Moondrop S8 but RSV isn't falling behind by a lot. The thing is that RSV's tonality and timbre takes the cake over most IEMs under $1000 and the technical performance is fairly good that I definitely wouldn't mind using it as a monitor in concerts or for casual monitoring when recording.

Sofears RSV Solo 2


Comparisons.


Moondrop S8 ($700) - S8 is RSV's perfect contender for a comparison, with it being similarly priced at $700 and coming from the same family. S8 has 8 BAs whereas RSV has 5. Build quality is similar, though RSV's shells are bigger than S8's. Design choice is subjective but RSV's design is more my thing since I love black, but S8's clear shells are no slouch and definitely have high eye candy value. Coming to sound, even though they both take inspiration from Harman Target and are tuned to Moondrop's VDSF target curve, they are quite different in a lot of areas. RSV is more pleasing tonally with its slightly warmer analog-ish reference character, while S8 is more accurate when it comes to absolute reference, is cleaner sounding with faster and more precise transients and definition. RSV has very slightly more bass presence and takes the cake with its dynamic bass character, slam, punch and rumble, whereas S8 has cleaner, quicker and more precise bass transient presentation, while just a smidgen less quantity. For example, drum kicks have more punch in RSV but quicker attack and decay in S8. RSV has very slightly fuller instrument lower-midrange body whereas S8's sounds slightly cleaner and leaner in comparison. Both have similar forward upper-midrange presentations but S8 has very slightly more gain and as a result, a bit more instrument definition and presence. On the other hand, RSV comes off a bit more musical tonally, whereas S8 can come off slightly shouty at louder volumes in comparison. S8 has very slightly more lower-treble presence though both are quite neutral in presentation. S8 has slightly more accurate mid-treble whereas RSV has a deeper dip there, which is one of the main reasons for their character difference. S8 is also slightly airier in its upper-treble presentation, which may give perception of better extension, though RSV by itself has good upper-end extension and is very capable of playing information till 20kHz properly. S8's soundstage is slightly cleaner sounding, though they have similar width and depth boundaries. S8 is a bit more precise and sharper in imaging owing to better overall reference tuning. It has slightly more resolution and smidgen better separation between instruments layers. S8 also has better micro-detail retrieval capabilities too, though the difference is less than what you'd expect out of 3 extra drivers. Overall, S8 does better in technical performance and reference tuning accuracy. Even though S8 is as exciting for me personally, I can see a lot of people preferring RSV for its more pleasing and warm tonal presentation, which isn't as accurate as S8 when it comes to absolute reference, but is definitely more musical and fun.


Moondrop A8 ($666) - Moondrop A8 has 8BAs and its sound signature is a more fun take on Harman Target. RSV and S8 are more similar than RSV and A8 are. A8 has less sub-bass rumble than RSV but has more mid-bass slam, whereas RSV has a more neutral mid-bass presentation. A8 has slightly cleaner and leaner lower-midrange body compared to RSV as well as S8, whereas RSV is more linear and accurate. Both RSV and A8 have similar forward upper-midrange presentation but A8 has slightly stronger instrument definition whereas RSV is slightly easier sounding in comparison. A8 has a more neutral and accurate treble presentation whereas RSV is warmer in comparison. A8 is also airier in its upper-treble presentation, has a cleaner soundstage with a bit more depth and slightly better technical performance. RSV is more accurate in bass to midrange presentation whereas A8 is more accurate with its treble presentation. Both are equally enjoyable for me personally, where RSV is more musical, warm and pleasing tonally while A8 is cleaner, airier and more exciting.


Craft Ears Four (~ €520 and upwards) - CE4 has 4BAs and is a more fun take on Harman Target. RSV has more sub-bass rumble and punch whereas CE4 has north of neutral mid-bass slam in comparison. RSV is more tonally accurate and linear in lower-midrange presentation whereas CE4 has a dip in the 400-1kHz region. CE4 too has a forward upper-midrange presentation like the RSV but it has more presence in the 1-2kHz region which leads to RSV being more tonally accurate when keeping absolute reference tonality in mind. Post that, CE4 has the signature Craft Ears lower-treble dip in the 5-10kHz region whereas RSV is more a linear, natural and accurate in the region. Post 10kHz, CE4 has more presence in middle and upper treble, especially a significant 16kHz peak which makes it airier whereas RSV has a dip in mid-treble but is more neutral in its upper-treble presentation. CE4's treble sounds a little uneven compared to RSV's because of more substantial dip and boosts, which also makes CE4 a more fun IEM and RSV a more accurate reference IEM. CE4 has a slightly wider soundstage while RSV has slightly better resolution and separation between instrument layers.


Craft Ears Six (~ €870 and upwards) - CE6 has 6 BAs. I'd classify CE6 as a neutral-bright reference IEM while RSV as neutral-warm. Even though CE6 and RSV have similar bass tuning and quantity, RSV has more slam and punch owing to its warmer character and tonality, while CE6 has sharper and quicker bass attack. Both have similar neutral and linear lower-midrange presentation and forward upper-midrange presentation but RSV has peak presence at the more tonally accurate 2.75kHz while CE6 has it at around 3.3kHz. Treble is where they both differ significantly and do the opposite cutting and boosting. CE6 has a dip in lower-treble in the 5-7kHz while RSV is more neutral and accurate there. CE6 has a prominent 8kHz peak and is then more linear in mid-treble whereas RSV has a dip from 8kHz to around 14kHz. Then RSV is more neutral in its upper-treble presentation whereas CE6 has a significant upper-treble boost and is significantly sparklier and airier in comparison, which might tickle the sensitivity of the treble sensitive. CE6 has a slightly wider soundstage and slightly better detail retrieval because of its brighter character. RSV is a more pleasant sounding reference IEM whereas CE6 is vivid and energetic.


Custom Art Fibae7 (€1200) - Fibae7 has 7BAs and is CustomArt's take on reference tuning. It has a bass boosted Diffuse Field style sound signature. Fibae7 has a linear bass shelf of around 5dBs that boosts sub-bass as well as a bit of mid-bass (2dBs or so). Both have very clean and linear sounding lower-midrange, though Fibae7 sounds very slightly leaner around 500Hz. Both have forward midrange presentation but Fibae7 has a bit more forwardness/gain, and comes off shoutier in comparison whereas RSV is more pleasing tonally. Fibae7 has dipped and warmer lower-treble and mid-treble presentation but is airier and sparklier in upper-treble. RSV is more accurate and neutral in lower-treble presentation and a bit more even and linear in overall treble presentation, even though it too has a dip in mid-treble. Fibae7 has a cleaner, leaner and bigger soundstage compared to RSV, which is slightly warmer and more intimate sounding in comparison.


ItsFit Fusion ($950) - Fusion is a tri-brid with 1DD + 2BA+ 1 Magnetostatic driver. Fusion has a fun sound signature. It's not really a reference IEM. Fusion has ever so slightly more sub-bass rumble but you need to listen to sub-bass specific songs to realise that. Fusion has more, north of neutral mid-bass slam as well as fuller lower-midrange body. RSV is more reference style neutral in both those regions. Fusion upper-midrange doesn't sound as forward as RSV's because it has a dipped tuning, where it has peaks at 2.5kHz and 5kHz but dips in between those peaks. RSV is more tonally accurate in its upper-midrange presentation. Fusion has a dip in lower-treble in the 5-7kHz region whereas RSV is more neutral and accurate in the region. Post that Fusion has a prominent 8kHz peak whereas RSV has a mid-treble dip. RSV has slightly better upper-treble extension and presence compared to Fusion. Fusion has a wider soundstage but not as much depth as RSV. RSV is the more accurate sounding IEM with better tonality and timbre presentation as well as better and more consistent instrument definition and separation whereas Fusion isn't as linear because of dips in midrange as well as lower-treble.

Softears RSV + Case


Conclusion.

Softears RSV might not be the most accurate reference IEM or the best in technicalities in its price range but definitely has one of the most pleasing tonalities under $1000. Its tonality and timbre is so musical that I can comfortably sit back, relax and listen to music for hours and hours without any complaints, which I can't say for a lot of IEMs in my collection. If only it didn't have that mid-treble dip and had a bit more upper-treble (latter is a subjective preference), it would've definitely hit the ball out of the park, improving the technical performance too. Still, RSV has impressed me quite a lot to be honest. It has excellent build quality, a CIEM like snug medium-deep insertion fit, a reference signature which is very close to perfect, very good tonality and timbre, good resolution and separation and most importantly - a warm musical signature that is highly inviting and satisfying to listen to, which makes you wanna go on new music discovery journeys. If that's what you're looking for in your next IEM, definitely give RSV a shot!



Gear used for testing and review.

  • DAPs – HiBy R6 2020 | iBasso DX160
  • Laptop – Apple Macbook Pro 15″
  • Phone – OnePlus 7 Pro

Reference Songs list.

  • Dave Matthews Band – Come Tomorrow album
  • Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia album
  • Foo Fighters – The Pretender, Best of you & Everlong
  • Coldplay – Paradise, Up in flames & Everglow + Everyday Life Album
  • Ed Sheeran – Thinking out loud, Bloodstream & Galway Girl
  • Chainsmokers – Somebody, Sickboy, This Feeling & Closer
  • John Mayer – Slow dancing in a burning room, Stop this Train & Say
  • Gavin James – Always & Hearts on fire
  • Switchfoot – Meant to live & Dare you to move
  • Porcupine Tree – Sound of Muzak, Blackest Eyes & .3
  • Our Lady Peace – Do You Like It & Innocent
  • Linkin Park – Papercut, Somewhere I belong & Talking to myself
  • Maroon 5 – She will be loved, Payphone & Lost stars
  • Lifehouse – All in all & Come back down
  • Breaking Benjamin – Diary of Jane
  • Karnivool – Simple boy & Goliath
  • Dead Letter Circus – Real you
  • I Am Giant – Purple heart, City limits & Transmission
  • Muse – Panic station
  • James Bay – Hold back the river
zeissiez
zeissiez
Great review and I agree on the sound signature described. Personally, I slightly prefer the RSV over the S8 as it’s more coherent and fuller sounding. For orchestral, I prefer the S8. I also find the RSV having a more forward sound than the S8. Overall neutral tuning, fatigue-free and engaging.

KickAssChewGum

100+ Head-Fier
RSV - Midrange Reference Master
Pros: Exceptional musicality in a warm/neutral signature
Excellent resolution and imaging for this price bracket
Stunningly good value. I have yet to hear better for the cost.
Scales well with cable/source rolling
Cons: Really nothing at all.
Huge thanks to the incredibly lovely team at @Softears for sending me the RSV free of charge in exchange for my honest opinion.

When I recently reviewed the @Softears Cerberus, I expressed an interest in hearing more of the brand’s products. Thanks to the lovely folks at @Softears, I didn’t have to wait too long to do so, as the RSV was soon winging its way towards me.

As many of you already know, the @Softears brand is the luxury, high-end division of the Moondrop brand, responsible for many popular IEMs such as the S8, Variations and the Blessing 2 Dusk edition (tuned in collaboration with renowned reviewer/head-fier @crinacle).

Unboxing:

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As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not one to get too hung up on unboxing experiences but, I have to say, I think the RSV packaging is pretty cool, giving it a somewhat understated yet premium feel. Inside the main oblong box, there’s a beautifully crafted, round black leather carry case which contains the earpieces in individual bags for safe transport. On the opposite side of the box are the cable and accessories (including a cleaning brush and 2 sets of tips – silicone and foam in S, M and L sizes – and a braided, matte black 4 wire cable that’s soft and pliable, terminated with 2pin and 3.5mm connectors at each end. It’s a simple package but high-end in feel, much like a designer-label accessory, functional but very classy.

Design:

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This premium feel extends to the IEMs themselves. Each earpiece, of the pseudo-custom type, is beautifully crafted from medical grade black resin with carbon fibre inlays, interspersed with a few gold foil flakes. Even the printed logos are sexy as hell, with the @Softears logo on one earpiece and the (pretty cool) RSV logo on the other, reminiscent of that of a high-end sports car. All in all, a TOTL presentation for a mid-range product that retails at just $729. Bravo @Softears!

The shells are mid to average size and provide a very comfortable fit (for my ears at least) and provide a good level of isolation. They are also very lightweight (largely thanks to only containing 5 BAs, I suspect) and can be worn for a very long time with no fatigue. In fact, I have found myself completely forgetting they were in my ears on occasion, which is not something I can say that often about IEMs in general.

Inside, these are all BA IEMS - 5 in total - with 2 BAs assigned to the lows, 1 BA taking care of the mids and a dual-BA looking after the highs, all connected by a 3-way crossover. At an impedence of 8 ohm@ 1khz and a sensitivity of 125db/1VRMS@1khz, they are very easy to drive from either a DAP or smartphone.

Sound:

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A premium look and unboxing experience is one thing but that all amounts to nothing if the sound is lacklustre. But I’m pleased to report that the RSV really delivers where it counts the most. And I mean REALLY delivers!

The moniker RSV stands for Reference Sound Five and whilst the RSV certainly delivers on the promise of a reference sound, it is also infused with a deep musicality that is often missing from IEMs labelled as such. Their sound definitely leans to the warmer side of reference neutral, although that emphasis is reflected more in the sub-bass than the mid-bass. Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of mid-bass slam when it’s required, but the sub-bass texture and rumble is the star of the show here, lending tracks a weight and authority that is not often common in ‘reference’ monitors, let alone ones made up entirely of balanced armatures. In fact, the bass is so impressive on the RSV, that I constantly find that I’m having to remind myself that there is no dynamic driver in their make-up. Even more impressive is that there is absolutely no bleed from the lower registers into the mids.

The mids themselves are equally impressive, with a weight and texture that make both male and female vocals extremely natural. As the mids in any good reference tuning should, they sit very comfortably in the overall mix and, thanks to a slight recess in the tuning of the upper mids, never get harsh or shouty. Similarly, instruments have impressive body and texture, creating an overall very satisfying mid-range that never feels lacking in the way that warmer tuned IEMs often can.

In keeping with the RSVs overall warm to neutral tonality, the treble is incredibly well controlled, with a slightly laid-back quality that is never overly aggressive or sibilant. Despite this control, detail retrieval is still very impressive, with nothing lacking in the presentation.

Overall a very pleasing and incredibly coherent signature with excellent timbre.

From a technical perspective, resolution is much better than average in this price bracket. Actually, I would go so far as to say it’s pretty impressive. Is it as highly resolving as, say, the Orilous Trailli or even @Softears’ own Cerberus? Of course not, but those are monitors that are several multiples more expensive than these. Having said that, the RSV are not a million miles away which is super impressive. Separation and layering are equally impressive, even more so, in fact, than in a few much more expensive TOTL IEMs that I have experienced. Soundstage, too, is above average for this price point, with impressive depth and height in particular. Width, whilst still above average, is not the widest that I’ve heard, perhaps somewhat owing to the overall warmer tuning and dead-central vocal imaging, but it’s certainly nothing to complain about.

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When I reviewed the Cerberus, @Softears’ super impressive TOTL tribrid, I found its one failing to be the stock cable. Not so in the case of the RSV. The included cable, as well as being supple and comfortable to wear, is actually a pretty decent performer and matches the overall sleek look of the RSVs aesthetics. I would have preferred a balance termination rather than the 3.5mm offered here, but that’s a very small niggle, especially given the asking price.

Because I’m a cable freak, though, I couldn’t help myself and just had to see how the RSV would scale with a higher-end cable. I know many feel that it’s ridiculous to pair a mid-range monitor with a high-end cable, but I don’t agree, as I feel that if the combination of cable and IEM attain a level comparable to a similarly priced TOTL IEM, then that cost is justified. Given the overall sound signature of the RSV, I suspected that it would be a great match with the Eletech Iliad (@Eric Chong's outfit makes some exceptional cables) and, spoiler alert, boy was I correct! Paired with the Iliad, the RSV steps everything up to the next level. Soundstage is wider and deeper, resolution is noticeably increased, positioning and layering is even more precise, whilst bass is even more well-controlled with incredible texture. The mids, too, are refined further, with more texture and micro details present, and the treble has more sparkle whilst still retaining that pleasing, detailed, non-fatiguing, laid-back quality that keeps the overall signature so natural.

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In fact, the RSV/Iliad combo reminds me very much of that enveloping, ‘just right’ sound of the Orilous Trailli, and, just like the Traili, the RSV (with or without the Iliad) excels across pretty much all genres of music to equally pleasing effect. Is the resolving power of the RSV/Iliad combo equal to that of the Trailli? Is the layering, separation and staging as impressive? Not quite, of course, but, even with a TOTL cable such as the Iliad, the overall cost is less than a third of the cost of the Trailli, with FAR more than a third of the performance. Trailli lovers, please put the pitchforks away. I still love the Trailli and don’t ever intend to part with mine, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to how many times I reached for the RSV/Iliad combo over the Trailli in the last few weeks. That sub-bass rumble is just so damned addictive!

At the cheaper end of the cable scale, I found the @Penon OSG and @ISN Solar to be really fun pairings with the RSV as well, both adding a bit more sparkle to the treble whilst leaning even further into the slam and rumble of the low end, for a highly musical presentation.

From a source perspective, I tried the RSV from both my Astell & Kern SP2000Cu (with and without the @Cayin C9) as well as my @Cayin N6ii (with the recently released R2R R01 motherboard).

Out of the Sp2000Cu, the sound was exactly as described above (I tend to use the SP2000 as my benchmark DAP). Adding the Cayin C9 to the chain increases the size of the soundstage a touch in all directions and enhances the layering and separation slightly, with a slight increase in bass and overall note body.

The Cayin N6ii/R01 takes everything up a notch, retaining the clarity and detail of the RSV whilst ramping up the musicality, giving everything more of an analogue liquidity, particularly in the mid and lower registers.

This is pretty much in keeping with what I’d expect of a monitor like the RSV where, because of its relatively neutral signature, it is likely to be affected by the colouration traits of specific sources.

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If it isn’t clear already, I absolutely love the RSV. Quite frankly, it’s astounding what @Softears have achieved with only 5 BAs, from their incredibly well-balanced signature and impressive layering, to their spectacular DD-like bass. It is a perfect match with almost any genre of music and retails for an incredibly impressive $729.99. As such it is simply astounding value for such an accomplished product and is possibly the easiest IEM recommendation I have made to date. @Softears, fast becoming one of my favourite brands, have excelled themselves once again by pushing the boundaries of what can be done, not only within this price bracket but with BAs in general. The RSV is an astonishing success that makes me hunger even more for a chance to hear their two other IEMs, the RS10 and the Turii. Very highly recommended!
CT007
CT007
Lost me at, "several multiples".

Comments

Tony1110

Headphoneus Supremus
I'm in the market for some new IEMs after being out of the game for a while.

Been looking for something in the $700-$1000 bracket and the RSV regularly crops up as a well reviewed option.

I have struggled a little to enjoy 'reference' tuned IEMs in the past.

Does the RSV manage to avoid the sometimes boring and clinical signatures that are often associated with this style of tuning? How do they play with genres like indie rock, hip hop, EDM?
 

Animagus

Reviewer at Twister6
I'm in the market for some new IEMs after being out of the game for a while.

Been looking for something in the $700-$1000 bracket and the RSV regularly crops up as a well reviewed option.

I have struggled a little to enjoy 'reference' tuned IEMs in the past.

Does the RSV manage to avoid the sometimes boring and clinical signatures that are often associated with this style of tuning? How do they play with genres like indie rock, hip hop, EDM?
Hey Tony! May I ask which reference IEMs you've heard in the past? A lot of companies wrongly market bright and thin sounding signatures as reference just because they are revealing of details. But that's actually not what proper reference tuning is. IMO, IEMs tuned to proper reference target curves like Diffuse Field, Harman Target, etc are what should really classify as proper reference IEMs.

RSV is a very musical, slightly warm take on the Harman Target. It has a certain dynamism in its presentation, especially bass, which is highly musical. I personally enjoy it a lot to listen to music casually and have been using it as one of reference IEMs to cross check my production and mixes in the studio as well.

PM me if you have any specific questions regarding RSV or any other IEMs under $1000 that you might be interested in.
 
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