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RHA T20 Review by mark2410

  1. mark2410 Contributor
    RHA T20 Review
    Thanks to RHA for the sample.
    TLDR? Try here http://www.head-fi.org/t/790030/rha-t20-review-by-mark2410#post_12133115
    First Impressions:  Well my first impressions of the T20 took place waaaay back at Canjam.  My instant notes made there and then are up in the Canjam impressions thread if you care to go hunting.  The main take away was, oh yes baby, these right here these are what the T10 should have been.  Hells yeah!!  These are looking to be top tier contenders.  Certainly they look the part, they are maybe in my opinion the best looking IEM available right now.  Mind you there are a few other stunners and looks can be subjective but surely no one looks at these and thinks they don’t look impressive?
    In the ears and I’ve left the “Reference” filters on them.  There is a good chance I’ll swap to the “Bass” ones shortly and never leave them but that’s my personal preferences showing.  These things as are, are bloody good.  These are the 750 but better, lots better.  It’s safe to say right now these are one of the best IEM’s your pennies can buy, the only thing in doubt is to quite where exactly they slot in-between.  It’ll be near the top I know that but it’s becoming a crowed area, sigh, I think there may be much swapping about, and then the filters.  Urgh this is gonna be much work isn’t it.
    Source: Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., FiiO E7/E9 combo, HiFiMAN HM-650, Nexus 5 and FireyeDA.
    Lows:  Squeeee!!!!!  Regulars will know I’m not a bass head.  It’s not like I hate bass, I like it, I like it rather boosted too, just not insane vomit inducing levels (TFTA, yeah I mean you.) So here with the “Reference” filters on and they are awesome.  Swapping to the “bass” ones and they are a boosted though I’m not instantly loving and preferring like I thought I would.  It seems a little deep bass boosted disproportionately to the middle and upper bass region.  The trouble also get muted with is what I expected to happen and the air is a little sucked out of the mids.  Not that it’s bad just it’s more of a difference than I anticipated.  Bass filtered its big, hearty and the bass warms up, takeing on a tiny hint of softness and smooths.  Reference, its more ridged and marble like.  God I rather like both, they are fantastic to the point I can’t bare to unplug myself from the Solo Ultra,  Cyndi Lauper’s rendition of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”  is amazeballs good.  So delicate and soft then it roars to life and tears your face off, squeeee!!!
    Okay with the Bass filters it’s actually a bit much bass.  It’s not compared to some crazy things.  It’s up nearing the level of the IE8 except the IE8 sound flabby and slow beside it.  Yes the IE8 sounds relatively flabby in the bass.  I’m not saying one is “better” than the other they are differently styled.  Here we a visceral impact, like being slapped by the missing marble hands of the Venus de Milo.  Graceful and delicately sculpted but as unyielding as it is beautiful. 
    Mids:  Bass filtered it’s a little enclosed and has a little bit of air sucked out of it.  Reference in and it opens up notably, space, free open air and even more so with the ultra-sparkly Treble filter.  Argh I find myself agonising between the Bass and Reference as to which I like more.  The Reference is arguably the more tonally perfect but then I like the darkened hint the Bass one gives.  Either way they are very clean and articulate.  Rather unforgiving too and their rigidity makes them not super suited to soft and laid back vocals.  It wants to be clean and precise as is the nature of its ultra-precision manufacture.  Its unyielding, metallic, machine like lack of give.  I find its tonality to be near perfect but it does now and then feel a little artificial and metallic.  The faintest grace and beauty at times is subsumed by a digital accuracy.  Most however was stunningly accurate and pleasing.  Nora however just wasn’t pairing well. 
    Guitars, they twang with an almost cutting edge, such clarity and bight to them they feel super explicit and detailed on the first edge yet trail wonderfully and naturally.  Maybe a little unfeeling but I can’t fault its cleanliness.
    Quantitatively they vary as your expect with the filter in use.  The Bass one is bass heavy, then the mids then a little reduced treble.  The Reference is more or less even.  The Treble is slanted the other way from the Bass.  Mids however do dry and open up with the lighter filters.  With the Treble a little too open and airy perhaps.  They still rock with all the filters.  Wonderful tonality and timbre.
    Highs:  I’m kinda treble sensitive so my time with the treble filter was minimal.  Not that there was anything work with it, it was just too much more my preferences.  Extension though feels practically endless.  Super, ultra-mega clean too.  Perhaps a little too hyper accurate metallic.  Even with the bass filters its tonality is just so awesome.  The only issue is its accuracy and bang on metallic reproduction means it can be extremely unforgiving.  More than once with a badly mastered track the treble was grating on my ears.  This was highly, highly noticeable with the Studio V, oh god a badly mastered track on the there can get savage on the ear. 
    Otherwise the treble is exquisite.  Dynamics do the best treble in my experience and that here is among the best.  I’d still maybe at a push give it to the IE8 as being the more refined and with its less explicitly crisp nature favourable to my ears but still, the T20 is right up there as simply one of the best, most, dazzlingly talented trebles out there.  Just bare in mind it’s not got a forgiving nature.
    Soundstage:  Very good.  Of course having been comparing to the IE8 it’s clear it’s not on that level but it’s still a very grandly scaled soundscape.  The dry airy metallic nature on the Treble and Reference makes them feel so open.  The bass is more enclosed but your still talking a large room.  Placement is fine but it does rather better in integration, one big driver doing everything tends to make things seamless.  They are big and powerful things.  Just don’t hope for endless distance.
    Fit:  Great.  The ear guides didn’t get in the way.  Sadly they are built in so you can’t take them off but they are pretty good, for me anyway.  No issues.
    Comfort:   Great.  With a good fit comfort tends to follow and their shape fit my ears perfectly.  Despite being metal and thus rather unyielding they never had any pressure points.
    Cable:  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.  The Cable from the T10 and 750 is replicated here and it’s an awesome cable.  Its rubberised texture though can sometimes pull if it catches between jumper and jacket but that’s my only issue.  It feels super in the hand and it looks super too.  Then the Y splitter and jack, just look at them, they are just outstanding.  One small point of note, the cable here is more of a charcoal black rather than the grey previously seen, I liked the grey one better.
    Build:  They are made by heating steel up to 1300 degrees Celsius and injection moulding them. Part of me thinks that must be overkill, they are earphones after all do they need to be constructed so as to be so utterly indestructible?  Probably they don’t but wow, they are serious little beasties.
    Microphonics:  It was fine for me, you pretty much must wear them up which is fine with me and for the most part removes the issue.  They is a neck synch if you do get any though.
    Amped/Unamped:  Weirdly while I found that I was consistently having to crank the volume dial, you’d expect that they demand an amp.  Thing is they don’t, not really anyway.  They still sounded great out of my crappy Nexus 5.  The treble took a beating in quality and quantity but it was still very good overall.  With more power you get noticeable improvements to speed and solidity so I would always say if you have an amp, or good DAP then please use it to get the very best from the T20 However…….if all you’ve got is your crappy phone you’ll still find the T20 to be excellent in the meantime, until you do get yourself a nice amp for them.
    Isolation:  For a dynamic they are really good.  They are practically pushing at BA levels of isolation.  So as ever easily good enough for out and about or bus journeys.  At a push you could cope on the Tube or for long flights but not my first choice.  As ever my warning, do look where you’re going because you won’t hear deadly traffic sneaking up behind you.
    Accessories:  RHA offer an amazing looking package don’t they?  That tip holder thing, it’s just so impressive isn’t it?  You name it pretty much and you get it, tips galore including their own foamies with I’m rather a fan of, shirt clip you’ll never use, filters and filter holding thingy.  Then we come to the only downer, the case thingy.  It’s not that its “terrible” but the rest of the bundle is so fantastic it just doesn’t feel like it belongs.  I’d actually rather have the little hard case that came with the MA-450’s I believe.  Actually what I’d love to see is an imitation TF10 case, you know the one that was supposedly titanium, that’s the kind of case these deserve to live in.
    Value:  Well can one ever say that any earphone costing £180 is good value?  One could look at it beside something costing £400 and say this is practically the same level yet half the price so therefore must be great value, yet you can find something half of its price and say but that is nearly as good therefore it must be rubbish value.  Fact is at this kind of level “value” stops meaning much.  What we have here is a top class IEM that is top tier stuff, it costs at the lower end of top tier money yet has insanely crazy good construction and a great warranty.  I’d say that all adds up to good value for a product of this level.
    Conclusion:  The T10, I think it’s not really a secret that I didn’t love it.  Actually a lot of people didn’t love it and thus around Head-Fi the MA-750 was the RHA that would be recommended as the “best” offering from them.  The 750 was great, is great and the T20 is the next step, a fairly big step too, up from it.  The T20 is awesome.
    I know it won’t be entirely for everyone as at this level it’s all about personal preferences and while the filters may alter things about there is still a crisp metallic nature to the treble especially.  It has an edge and while it may quickly turn into a shimmer (quite beautifully in my opinion) it still won’t be to everyone’s tastes.  Honestly we currently spoiled with an assortment of wonderful IEM’s to choose from at this level, and while I most immediately mentaly jump to the IE8 and the DN-2000 I really cannot say that any of them is “better” than another.  They are all exquisite, they just are differently flavoured.
    So should you buy a pair?  Well if you have the money, yes.  It would impossible for me to categorically say pick these over the 2000 or 8 as each person is different and will want different things.  However I cannot for an instant see anyone buying these and being disappointed.  They are joyous and symphonic little buggers that when amped can move like lightning, with such articulation and power.  That bass especially is amazingly capable, so much fun too yet never overwhelming or suffocating.  The treble too is especially skilled.  Its timbre and tonality with metallic instrumentation is just so perfect, soooooo perfect.  Its acoustics are every bit as wonderful as the thing looks.  Love it!!!
    Walderstorn likes this.
  2. mark2410 Contributor
    RHA T20 Quick Review
    Thanks to RHA for the sample.
    Brief:  Timberal and tonal extraordinaire just got even better.
    Price:  £180 or about US$240 (plus about a tenner if you want the mic’ed version)
    Specifications:  Drivers DualCoil™ Dynamic, Frequency range 16-40,000Hz, Impedance 16 Ohm, Sensitivity 90dB, Rated/max power 2/5mW, Weight 39g, Cable 1.35m, multicore OFC, Connections 3.5mm, gold plated
    Accessories:  Tuning Filters with Holder, 6 pairs, dual density ear tips - S x2 / M x2 / L x2, 2 pairs, double flange ear tips - S x1 / L x1, 2 pairs, memory foam ear tips - universal fit, Stainless steel ear tip holder, Premium carry case, Clothing clip
    Isolation:  For a dynamic it’s actually really good.  Pushing towards BA levels, so it’s easily fine for on a bus or out and about.  Would do for flight or the Tube in a pinch.  Oh and easily sufficient to make you road kill if you don’t use your eyes when out.
    Comfort/Fit:  Despite the ear guides both were really good actually.  I’d probably have preferred without the guides but no problems, over and shove in to get the seated and then I was happy wearing all day.  Good stuff.  Oh and they must be worn up in case that’s an issue for you.
    Aesthetics:  They look outstanding.  Arguably the best looking earphones available at present.
    Sound:  All of the sound.  They are pretty damn awesome at everything.  You can nudge things about by using the filters that they come with but I’m sure you’ll play with them for the first day.  Then you’ll pick your favourite and never swap them again.  For me that was the Bass filter, though I came extremely close to going with the Reference filter.  I’m pretty treble sensitive and the Bass one mutes a bit so it won.  Not that I couldn’t have lived with the Reference if that had been the only option.  It’s labelled Reference but it’s still kinda slanted towards the bass over strictly neutral but it feels a very natural balance.  The Bass bumps the bass up by dialling the treble down, the Treble opens things up which dials down the bass.  The bass is lightning fast and it loves to punch, no, more like slap with you with a marble hand.  There is such rigidity and power yet it lacks any brutality.  Its marble like solidity yet so beautifully sculpted.  Its mids are wonderful too, a little cool perhaps but so well-articulated and tonally masterful.  Highs are cleanly metallic edged and can shimmer like nobody’s business with superb extension. 
    In short, the thing is excellent in every way, in tone, agility, potency are all impeccable.
    Value:  Well they aren’t cheap, but nothing at this audio quality level is.  With their insane build and warranty you arguably get a superb bargain, if you want top end earphones that is.
    Pro’s:  Construction is Magnificent.  Looks magnificent.  Sounds Magnificent
    Con’s:  Is somewhat unyielding.  Can’t really do soft.  Can be unforgiving.
  3. flippant1
    Thanks for your time to write this review.
    I have read mixed reviews on this set especially differing opinions of the bass.
    My own experience with RHA is the750's which I  wanted to love  but found the bass muddy and they gave me a headache overall. I find the Dunu DN-1000 a a beautiful combination of just enough enough bass without distorting the music. It's hard to describe unless you have heard them.
    Do you have any comparisons with other IEM's lie the Senn IE80 or Dunu?
    Hard to translate sound to text but I would really love a DN1000 profile with better isolation. The question is the similarities and to what?
  4. Walderstorn
    I also find the 750 bass muddy, but the price step to the T20 was 2 great for me at the time and after i could get them i went for the Trinity Kickstarter, but i willl definitely buy them eventually.
    Thanks for the review!
  5. mark2410 Contributor
    750 muddy??  cant say i ever have, are you using a tremendously warm source?
    the IE8 and 80 should sound more or less identical so comments to the 8 compare the the 80.  as for the 1000, well the T20 like the IE8 are better than the 1000.  not by a ton as things start getting close but they are both playing with the DN-2000, not the 1000.  i have reviewed both the 1000 and 2000, you may like to  have a read of them both so you can get a better idea of how i hear things compared to how you hear the some the things.  that should help in giving you a better idea of how the T20 will reflect on you.
    thanks your very welcome
  6. Walderstorn
    Yeap by muddy i mean its not very well defined imo. Mind that im not very experienced or may not use the right words/terms but i feel the bass lacks quality/definition, seems it gets all over the place.
  7. dlayman
    Nice, detailed review and pictures.  My opinion of them agrees pretty much exactly with yours.  I really like the 750, but I actually think the T20 is a better value despite costing twice as much.  They are in a completely different league and tremendously enjoyable - comfortable to wear, and warm but very detailed signature, especially in the mids.
  8. flippant1
    I spent a while reading your reviews, specifically the Dunu 1000 & 2000. I took the plunge and went for the T20i based on your review and I am thrilled with the results. I too went for the bass filter and find these very rewarding. I went the path from UE's to GR07BA to Dunu 1K & 2K and here.
    About 6 mos ago I bought the IE80' Either I had one of the counterfeit pairs or defective or my ears just "didn't get it" as I found them horrible- "muddy' with the bass spilling into the mids and a total lack of clarity. I sent them back. I was going to give them another try as I love the Dunu's- both but didn't get enough isolation for transit. BTW- U us Bose QC20i at low volume when I sleep. Love them for that use.
    I went with Rhe 20i after no love lost on the 750's. The 750's had all the elements but together, I found the bass "harsh" and they literally gave me a headache at higher volumes. An iPhone is my main source and I have really been enjoying the T20i's with no burn in- yet. I don't know if it's necessary. Opinions?
    I still have a bug telling me to try the IE80s again but have interviewed a couple dozen IEM's including Shure's, Etymotic, Senns- I can't even recall them all.
    Anyway after reading a good half dozen of your reviews I thank you for taking the time and would be very curious as to your top 3 choices for IEM's and over the ear cans, or even your top choice of each if that isn't too much to ask.
  9. mark2410 Contributor
    opinion.  the iphone is not the world best source,  apple gave up giving a rats behind about audio a long time age when they realised that most of their customers dont have a clue about audio and care even less.  sooooooo i can see why the warm iphone and ithe IE80 you would find warm and flabby.  they really ate attheir best with a cool, dry amp behind them.  the thing is synergy can really matter somtimes.
    my top three, well i did just post this http://www.head-fi.org/t/790581/mark2410s-2015-christmas-gift-guide
    not sure if that really answeres your question but what might be "my" top choices doesnt mean the "best" but simply onec that suit me and my preferences.  though my personal preffs tend towards a warm, slightly muted treble sound.  so things like the Curve v1, the KC3, IE7, SE530, RE-600, RE-262, R3 would all be contenders
  10. Deftone
    thanks for the review mark, a good step up from the ma750? then ill have to get my self a set next month. if they are revealing it should let my mojo show off nicely :)
  11. mark2410 Contributor

    thanks and yes, though a long as you realise at this level your into diminishing returns, so while they are a clear couple of steps up on the 750 there isnt the same distance going from the 750 to the T20 as there is going from some stock buds to the 750.
    however yes theey a good step up auraly and if i may say also visually, the 20s look so good its not funny.
  12. dlayman
    I was and am a big fan of  the 750, but I find the T20 a LOT better.  More refined, better extension at both ends, significantly better resolution.  I actually think the T20 is a better value than the 750, even at about double the price.
    Deftone likes this.
  13. Deftone
    yes i felt the burn of diminishing returns when i got IE800s!
    the biggest is problem with the 750 is when im listening to metal and theres 2-4 guitars going all at the same time it starts to smudge the details and seperation.
    do you think the t20 is improved in that aspect?
  14. mark2410 Contributor

    yes they do, however......
    not knowing what it is your listening to and how generally good the 750 is i wonder if they are the limiting factor in the chain.  your really starting to want lossless files if you can and even then lots of music isnt well enough recorded and then mastered, not to mention the dynamic compression that so often takes place.
    so yes the T20 is certainly better than the 750, just pointing out that at this exalted level you need good at all levels of the chain.
  15. dlayman
    That's exactly the type of thing the T20 excels at.  It really resolves detail well and instrument separation is much greater than with the 750.  Those kinds of details are what really makes music enjoyable to me and why I think the T20 is an even better value than the 750, even at twice the price.

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