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First Look: Bass on a Budget

  1. B9Scrambler
    Hello Head-fi,
     
    I came across a nice little IEM the other day. So far I have about 20 hours on them, and while they are not outstanding, they are certainly a solid choice for a non-audiophile looking for an inexpensive pair of IEMs that look subtle, and pound out some serious bass.
     
    What are they? The Headrush Rhapsody.
     
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    Personally, I love the design. They remind me of a compact PureSound ClarityOne which, surprise!, I have on hand for a visual comparison. The Rhapsody are also aluminum which is nice.
     
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    When is comes to sound quality, the ClarityOne are heads and tails above the Rhapsody, but they should be given the 12x price increase. However, for overall design, the Rhapsody ape off the ClarityOne surprisingly well, yet still manage to maintain their own identity.
     
    The cable on the Rhapsody is thin and does not feel overly durable. The lack of proper strain reliefs everywhere but the plug does not instill confidence. The design is solid enough in the right spots to make me think this will not be a massive issue. Cable memory and microphonics are both very minimal. General build quality is quite good, and more than satisfactory for the low entry cost.
     
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    I mentioned they put out some serious bass. While I have no idea what their frequency range is, driver size, etc. as none of this is provided on the box, I can say they hang tight with the Sony XB50 when it comes to head pounding bass. I like to A/B headphones by using a splitter to cycle between each headset mid-song, and also use one bud from each at the same time. This helps me directly grasp how each IEM handles particular sections of my favorite test songs as I can analyze both more-or-less at the same time.
     
    The Sony XB50 in my opinion sacrificed a lot in the mids/treble in order to produce such awesome bass. While mid presentation between the two is similar, the XB50 has more forward treble. The Rhapsody produce smoother treble though, which I found pretty awesome given one of the only aspects of the XB50 that I really appreciate was how smooth they were. Compared to the Rhapsody, they are almost grainy at times. Sub-bass on both is quite good, with the XB50 edging slightly ahead. Bass is thunderous, and can get a little flabby, but in general is well-controlled and very engaging.
     
    The Rhapsody are definitely veiled and dark sounding, and as a result poor quality recordings (especially rock and metal) can sound pretty muddy. On the plus side, high quality recordings and electronic focused music sound great. I also tried out some binaural recordings I found on Youtube (not sure how valid they are, but, meh). Sound stage was above average in width and depth compared to my other low-end IEMs, but nothing compared to the NarMoo S1 and JVC HA-FXT90. Instrument separation is okay, but not spectacular.
     
    IMG_20140708_200012.jpg

     
    Note that the tips shown are not stock. The stock tips are very similar to the ones JVC uses on the T90, 3X, etc. but slightly less plush. While I love the JVC-style tips, the ones I'm currently using are my absolute favorite (for almost all of my IEMs actually). They are from an original release pair of Skullcandy Smokin' Buds before they moved to a more standard design.
     
    I'll be updating my impressions once I have had spent more time with them, but right now I am pretty satisfied with what they offer for the cost. I am also curious to see how they compare to a Head-Fi favorite, the Philips SHE3580...still trying to find a pair.
     
    - Scrambler
     
  2. B9Scrambler
    Final Impressions:
     
    One word - disappointment.
     
    Despite initially good first impressions, I have to say that overall these have led to a disappointing experience, for the most part. They are not all bad, so I'll start with what they ace.
     
    For an inexpensive IEM, the build quality is excellent, even with a slim cable. They've experienced a week of living in my pockets and my ears, and have held up very well. No nicks or scratches, damage of any kind etc. I tend to baby my headphones, but I didn't bother with these since their average buyer probably doesn't have a headphone case or any knowledge, or care, when it comes to maintaining their purchase.
     
    They do respond well to EQing, which leads into the bad...
     
    That awesome eardrum crushing bass bleeds horrendously into the mids with stock tuning. Given the quality recordings Muse produces, I enjoy using their albums for testing. With these....don't. Bellamy just melts away...it's depressing. As I mentioned in my original post, they are very smooth sounding and they only got better over time, but the bleeding bass ruins an otherwise pleasant experience. It's best to avoid music with vocals in general and stick to instrumentals.
     
    Now, boosting treble, dropping the bass a couple decibels, and adding small bore tips from the NarMoo S1 certainly helps tremendously in tightening up the bass and reducing blood loss, but you should not have to go through this much trouble to make them acceptable.
     
    I think these will be relegated to gym duty until they break. Too bad, because they don't fall flat in all aspects, just the most important one; sound.
     
    - Scrambler
     
    **PS...a tiny bug apparently got behind the glass of my monitor...its been driving my nuts while writing this....little f'er better not die in there, so help me God....**
     

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