A review of Rhapsodio R-1L: From a perspective of an average newbie
Apr 20, 2013 at 4:43 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 23

audionewbi

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Posts
9,112
Likes
3,014
Rhapsodio R-1L
[size=10pt]I got up today nice and early, decided to brew up my cup of coffee and spend the early hours of the morning comparing CK100PRO and R-1L. There are many ways one could go about reviewing things however I took the extremely subjective approach as this is the only means possible to me. As much as I respect objective review I still believe the final judge is our ears.[/size]
[size=10pt]This is my very first serious review and I hope the mistake visible in this review is forgiven and surely I will not quiet my day job. [/size]

[size=11pt]1. A little background on the purchase &  a really quick comparison too ER4S[/size]
[size=10pt]I have always had a great appreciation to my ER4S and when I read that R-1L is using the same driver as ER4S and the tuning while is not a complete clone of the ER4S it is trying to basically improve on the ER4S already reference level sound I had to have this.
I feel they are not an exact clone but share a great part of their sound except the treble. To my ears R-1L is the louder ER4S on the mid-range and bass however R-1L has a treble similar matching the CK100Pro. It could be my ears tricking me as initially I thought of R-1L as a louder ER4S but now I do not. To me that is a good thing. R-1L can be enjoyed on a larger variety of DAP unlike ER4S.[/size]

 
[size=11pt]2. Accessories and build quality and specs and isolation[/size]
[size=10pt]2.1 Accessories:[/size]
[size=10pt]·         [/size][size=10pt]Great cable quality, mildly stiff, the 3.5 mm jack feels heavy and solid. [/size]
[size=10pt]·         [/size][size=10pt]Provided tips are poor, I found the best fit obtained by sony hybrid.[/size]
[size=10pt]·         [/size][size=10pt]There is no tool for replacing the filter when it needs cleaning in future. It would be nice to include some spare filters in future.[/size]
 
           
 
 
 
 
[size=10pt]2.2 Build quality:[/size]
[size=10pt]·         [/size][size=10pt]It is solidly built unit. The entire pieces seems to be built from one solid piece, I do not see any fusion join on the IEM. The IEM feel like marble glass when I touched the for the very first time.As you can see from the pictures above they are not that large. They are not as thin as ER4S and are not as thick as Ortofon EQ-5. Those who dislike shallow fit might hate this however this IEM should fit everyone. I have small ears by the way. 

EDIT: What I like about this IEM is when they are inserted in the ear the flat back makes them extremely comfortable for those who like to lay on one side of their head and listen to music. This also makes those long train trips where you like to rest your head along side the train window but most of the time you cant because your headphoe or iem is pointing out. [/size]

 
 
[size=10pt]2.3 Specs:[/size]
[size=10pt]·         [/size][size=10pt]I know nothing about the specs. No information was given to me. They insisted to keep is hidden until everything is fine tuned. The only thing I know is they share the same driver as the ER4S. They also provided an FR chart which I have included below, this is honestly all the info I have. In a way I actually think that is a good thing I do not know anything about this IEM, this will reduce the bias I might get based on judging it for its. [/size]
 
 

 
 
[size=11pt]3. My setup:[/size]
[size=10pt]The reason why I went with the following setup is that it is the only way I can A/B the unit with the less amount of bias.
I burned this IEM using XLO reference CD for a period of 50 hours. [/size]

 
[size=11pt]Source :iPod [/size][size=11pt]connected to DDsocket 1(Muses 01, 9V edition) -->Amp: Arrow 4G: gain 1, bass, treble and cross setting 0 -->IEM: CK100pro and R-1L [/size]
 
 

 
 
 
4. Sound review:
 
[size=10pt]CK100PRO:[/size][size=10pt] Few days ago I was so memorized by R-1L that at one point I thought they are better sounding than CK100PRO.  [/size][size=10pt]But then I realized my sonic memory is extremely poor. This in my view can be both a good and a bad thing. The positive of a bad sonic memory is that you can get used to a decent sounding IEM quiet easily without missing the sound you heard from your incredibly detailed, yet bulky and expensive and non-pocket size desktop setup. And of course the bad is that you can never be able to tell on the spot how the gear you are listening to right is any better than the other one you just listened to. Hence making  A/B testing essential. [/size]

[size=10pt]CK100PRO definitely has better micro-detail, treble is much more present and it has foot tapping PRaT compared to R-1L. The bass slam of the CK100PRO is much better and the decay is just to liking. I cannot judge the speed of the CK100PRO and R-1L due to the type of music I listen to but I would guess CK100PRO should perform as good if not better. But I don’t think the difference should be significant as they are both using Balanced armature drivers.
So no one should be surprised at this point why a $699 IEM is performing better than a $280 IEM  which is arguably at best  is an engineering sample of the R-1L. (More on this later)[/size]

 
[size=10pt]So you may ask why did I choice to compare a $699 IEM against the R-1L? To my supersize R-1L treble signature has an uncanny resemblance to the CK100PRO.  The reason why I foused on the treble signature of the R-1L and not its other frequency is because upon listening the treble is what attracts your attention. It is not that it is a bright sounding IEM no, it has to do with the fact that treble is just done right. Never at once with the right fit the sound is sibilant. Believe me I tried to find that sibilant point but I couldn’t.[/size]
 
[size=10pt]R-1L:[/size] [size=10pt]To point out again[/size][size=10pt] to my ear R-1L treble shares the same sound signature as the CK100PRO. The R-1L is still a very competent IEM, if one does not do a direct A/B comparison to much more expensive IEM they will not be thinking of upgrading to anything  else anytime soon as it really does not have any major flaw in its current tuning. The bass is present in the R-1L however it is not there to be the center of attention, the bass is there to come to action whenever we call on it. R-1L is all about sparkling treble, tight bass with moderate to low impact. While it lacks the micro detail of CK100PRO it is still more than adequate for wide type of music.[/size]
 
 
[size=10pt]So the good:[/size][size=10pt] I actually find it that having just enough detail treble is better as I am less distracted on what goes on in the background and I am paying more attention to the music track as a whole. But there are those of us who actually like to be able to hear for examples Miles Davis taking  a full lung worth of air just before he is about to blow his lungs out on his trumpet. If you are after such level of detail R-1L is just not going to provide you that much detail.
I found that R-1L sounded better than any IEM I own right out of ipod  touch 5G. The R-1L benefit from amp however be careful not to pair this with high gain  amps as it will not give you much headspace to adjust volume. With O2 I was able to go only up to 10-11.

The sound stage of R-1L is not wide also they are no way as narrow as the ER4S. The sound stage feels like I am a good  2-5 meters away from where the musician are performing.
I cannot comment on instrument separation and airiness as I do not quite understand how to explain them but playing ‘Mouvement by Helmut Lachenmann’ my humble ears could not find any fault on them. They seem to keep up well on all the instrument playing on that track. They managed to perform as good as my EX1000 on this one track however when playing percussion based track, something like Zahir Hussien tabla and cello EX-1000 was clearly winning over them with great authority. But that is obvious as dynamic drivers will always have better body when it comes to such instruments.
Simply put the sound is not congested however it is nowhere as wide as the akg k702. If I consider k702 sound as large, and ER4S small I would describe R-1L sound stage as somewhere between medium-large.[/size]


 
[size=10pt]And the bad:[/size][size=10pt] The first obvious bad is the distortion I heard at loud volume. Yes I was stressing the IEM on purpose just like I do all my other IEM using O2 and still now I have never encountered such problems. While some might argue I was pushing the IEM beyond its limits I agree but considering how I had on information on their maximum power handling mW I cannot know exactly what caused this distortion.
I thought that it might be due to poor fit but I was sure I had a perfect seal and there was nothing wrong as I tested over 16 different types of tips from three different companies. So I contacted Rhapsodio and they confirmed that yes some of the IEM they made have this and they will fix it in future tuning. I was some want annoyed as I assumed they would not sell an IEM that would have this issue. But this was mistake on my behalf as I did not read their post which clearly stated that the tuning is not finalized on this and this is why they have not catalogued most of their future products yet as they are still tuning them. So my IEM arguably is one of the half dozen units they have built and quite possibly in future the tuning might change a lot. However Rhapsodio did told me they are going to stick with this signature and all they will be doing is upon final release they will address the distortion issue and further do more fine tuning. [/size]

 
[size=10pt]The second and only other issue I have with this is I do wish R-1L has a little a better PRaT, you know the feeling that you get when you hear the string of the double brass plugged and you can hear its vibration echo in your head, sadly it is not quiet achieved with R-1L having said that I also do not get that feeling from my ER4S and ACS T15 which are the other two single BA IEM that I own currently. I do not know if that is the limitation of using only a single balanced armature driver so take what I said with a grain of salt as I do not know the limitation of using only single balanced armature compared to 2, 3 or all the way up to 10![/size]
 
5. Summary:
 [size=10pt]I believe R-1L can be a popular hit on head-fi if they can find a way to reduce the price to 180-220 USD price regions.  As it stands despite not comparing it directly to ER4S I can recommend this to the folks who want ER4S but with more sparkles on the treble and of course better bass presence without wanting to have a dedicated amp.
Do I recommend this over ER4S at $280, not quiet. I still believe ER4S paired with a good amp provides more linear control over the volume and can provide you a better critical listening compared to R-1L however if priced at 200 or less I will recommend this over ER4S for anyone who like to have an IEM which does treble just right, even for those bass lovers who are incredibly sensitive to treble.[/size]

 
This IEM is more suitable for female vocal based tracks, it even handled Tom waits 'Mule Variation' nicely with no fault however it did not provided me that deep warm feeling I get when I listen to Barry white.
 
=-=-
UPDATE: Based on the FB update they have come up with an adaptor which further improves the sound. I will write on this once I get to hear it. 
 
Apr 20, 2013 at 5:57 AM Post #3 of 23

H20Fidelity

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 11, 2012
Posts
16,254
Likes
6,683
Would you say the distortion kicked in far above your usual listening level? I know IEM's like Klipsch x10 distort earlier than many others. Was the volume past a comfortable level?
 
Apr 20, 2013 at 6:11 AM Post #4 of 23

audionewbi

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Posts
9,112
Likes
3,014
Yes it was, this is the reason why I did not send back the unit to have it replaced as it is way above the normal listening level I do. For example using ODAC(set at max)+O2(set at 2-4) I used to get distortion.
The early spikes that I encountered was all gone after find the right seal for my ear.

 
Quote:
Would you say the distortion kicked in far above your usual listening level? I know IEM's like Klipsch x10 distort earlier than many others. Was the volume past a comfortable level?

 
Apr 20, 2013 at 6:26 AM Post #5 of 23

H20Fidelity

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 11, 2012
Posts
16,254
Likes
6,683
Yes it was, this is the reason why I did not send back the unit to have it replaced as it is way above the normal listening level I do. For example using ODAC(set at max)+O2(set at 2-4) I used to get distortion.

The early spikes that I encountered was all gone after find the right seal for my ear.


 


Well, all IEM's are going to distort at some point, and you did have them amped, maybe it was just a little bit to much power. :xf_eek: I know Rhapsodio's RDB+ v1 will take an absolute hammering if you work them, I have not been able to make RDB+ v1 distort, it was mentioned in my review. My ears said enough before they reached such a point.

What about if you run R-1L through the Rocco BA on full volume? Any distortion? If so what volume level can they handle before it does.....
 
Apr 20, 2013 at 6:33 AM Post #6 of 23

audionewbi

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Posts
9,112
Likes
3,014
 My very first encounter to distortion came from pairing the AK100+MHd-Q7. The distortion was heard when I had the Ak100 set at 75(max) and the MHd-Q7 set at 1/3. However as soon as I had the AK100 set at 50 the distortion was gone. I thought I should include that in the review as it was something I experienced.

I honestly loving the R-1L with Rocoo BA. There is no distortion with BA however on certain tracks I do wish the sound could be louder. 
 
Overall I did say if they sounded better than my ACS T15 I would be happy, they sound considerably better than ACS T15. ACS T15 retail price is 240 USD. 
 
Quote:
Well, all IEM's are going to distort at some point, and you did have them amped, maybe it was just a little bit to much power.
redface.gif
I know Rhapsodio's RDB+ v1 will take an absolute hammering if you work them, I have not been able to make RDB+ v1 distort, it was mentioned in my review. My ears said enough before they reached such a point.

What about if you run them through the Rocco BA on full volume? Any distortion?

 
Apr 20, 2013 at 6:40 AM Post #7 of 23

H20Fidelity

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 11, 2012
Posts
16,254
Likes
6,683
I think maybe it's just the nature of R-L1, especially if it's not occurring at normal listening levels, then I'd be worried.

And you're right, for some reason Rhapsodio's IEM get along very well with the Hisound player.
 
Apr 20, 2013 at 6:48 AM Post #9 of 23

H20Fidelity

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 11, 2012
Posts
16,254
Likes
6,683
Likewise here pairing BA with RDB+, nice neat package.
 
Apr 20, 2013 at 6:49 AM Post #10 of 23

lee730

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 9, 2011
Posts
16,803
Likes
451
Quote:
 My very first encounter to distortion came from pairing the AK100+MHd-Q7. The distortion was heard when I had the Ak100 set at 75(max) and the MHd-Q7 set at 1/3. However as soon as I had the AK100 set at 50 the distortion was gone. I thought I should include that in the review as it was something I experienced.

I honestly loving the R-1L with Rocoo BA. There is no distortion with BA however on certain tracks I do wish the sound could be louder. 
 
Overall I did say if they sounded better than my ACS T15 I would be happy, they sound considerably better than ACS T15. ACS T15 retail price is 240 USD. 
 


lol are you honestly gonna listen at volume 75 anyways? Or is that to just test it? I figure as long as it don't distort at safe volumes or somewhat above safe volumes is key... Poor ears :p.
 
Apr 20, 2013 at 6:51 AM Post #11 of 23

audionewbi

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Posts
9,112
Likes
3,014
I am a quiet listener however I was using and amp with it and based on AK100 thread they advised me to set the AK100 volume at max and that should be good enough to act like a lineout. For some reason I think that was impacting the lineout of the Ortofon MHd-Q7 and hence the sound I heard from the R-1L. 
Quote:
lol are you honestly gonna listen at volume 75 anyways? Or is that to just test it? I figure as long as it don't distort at safe volumes or somewhat above safe volumes is key... Poor ears :p.

 
Apr 20, 2013 at 6:56 AM Post #12 of 23

audionewbi

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Posts
9,112
Likes
3,014
One day I might buy the hybrid technology. I really like the k3003 form factor, I hope in future we see more of such design produced.
 
I think inside the housing of the R-1L we can easily fit a dual BA without needing to increase the size. I do not know how this things work but I do like to see a an IEM that takes on phonak PE 232 or ever better the j-phonics. 
 
I asked my friend to bring his camera next week and take some close up from the R-1L. It is really built nicely. it feels like it is carved from one larger glass marble. 
 
Quote:
Likewise here pairing BA with RDB+, nice neat package.

 
Apr 20, 2013 at 7:42 AM Post #13 of 23

taz23

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 26, 2012
Posts
321
Likes
158
Personally, I have not experienced any noticeable distortion when listening to the R-1L at normal levels.  So I suspect this may not be a big issue for most listeners.  Nevertheless, it can be useful to learn about the technical limits of the IEMs.
 
Quote:
 My very first encounter to distortion came from pairing the AK100+MHd-Q7. The distortion was heard when I had the Ak100 set at 75(max) and the MHd-Q7 set at 1/3. However as soon as I had the AK100 set at 50 the distortion was gone. I thought I should include that in the review as it was something I experienced.

I honestly loving the R-1L with Rocoo BA. There is no distortion with BA however on certain tracks I do wish the sound could be louder. 
 
Overall I did say if they sounded better than my ACS T15 I would be happy, they sound considerably better than ACS T15. ACS T15 retail price is 240 USD. 
 

 
Audionewbi, I was previously using BA-based IEMs.  When I listened to the T-Peos H-100, I am hooked onto the hybrid system and have been looking for a better pair of hybrid IEMs without breaking the bank.  The most notable advantage was the impactful bass of a good dynamic driver and the treble sparkle of good BAs.  Of course, it must be tuned rightly... and thanks to H20fidelity, I found out about the RDB+ and ordered one.  Given all the positive comments on it, I have no doubts that it is a capable IEM and will satisfy my needs.
 
Perhaps you can consider the RDB+ too, especially when it is not as expensive as the K3003. 
etysmile.gif

 
Apr 20, 2013 at 7:53 AM Post #14 of 23

audionewbi

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Jan 24, 2010
Posts
9,112
Likes
3,014
I would love to try RDB+ but my small ears is the reason why I have not done so. I can deal with my pessimistic mind towards such technology but my small ears, that I cannot do anything about. 
 
Apr 20, 2013 at 8:35 AM Post #15 of 23

tomscy2000

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 11, 2010
Posts
5,905
Likes
2,223
Location
On Hiatus
Nice review! Fair and balanced! (unlike the company that trademarked that slogan... *ahem*)
 
I think the distortion issue may have to do with their choice of resistors, but I don't know. Apparently, they posted on their Facebook that the problem was solved. They should exchange you a new one, seeing as you're an early adopter.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top