Today on our comparison wheel we have two headphones, both from renowned brands. While on one hand, we have the T20 from RHA, on the other hand, we have the Zn from V-MODA. So which one is the perfect pick, read on ahead to find out.
The T20 has RHA's Scottish design and are built to last for years on end. It looks quite similar to its predecessor, the T10. It has somewhat large stainless steel pieces that resemble the shape of a kidney (Compare it to any picture in a school science textbook and you’ll see what I mean). These earpieces have been created using injection moulding which gives an added finish and lovely shine.
The earpieces are connected with an earhook-style wire. Of course, while a lot of people aren’t comfortable with this, I find it pretty useful. It ensures that the earpieces stay in my ears and don’t fall off even while moving around. The memory wires also retain the shape of the ears so, I only had to adjust them once and that’s it. Now, they fit me perfectly whenever I need to use them.
The rest of the cable is made of multicore, reinforced, oxygen-free copper. It is thick and feels tough. I guess it should last long inspite of some tugging and pulling. It ends with a gold plated jack. Just above the jack, there is a spring for strain relief. I haven’t found this feature in most IEMs at this price and am sure impressed by RHA’s attention to detail.
RHA’S STAINLESS STEEL HOUSINGS VS. V-MODA’S ZINC ALLOY HOUSINGS
V-MODA is known for making headphones with a great Milano design and this flows into its collection of in-ears as well. The Zn is very special for many reasons—it's limited production! Only about 25,000 units were made in total, and it has specially tuned drivers meant for the modern audiophile who enjoys bass driven genres.
The V-MODA Zn sports an extremely stylish body. The Zn in its name stands for Zinc (remember the periodic table?). It uses a rare zinc alloy in its housings. To turn heads, the housings are encased in black durable plastic. This contrast i.e. of plastic and metal gives it an elegant look. Like other V-MODA headphones, it contains military-level materials and is rugged and ready for everyday use (including sports).
Coming to the cable, you shouldn’t expect anything but the best from V-MODA. The Kevlar-reinforced cable features a DiamondBack pattern. Kevlar is the material used in bulletproof jackets. This makes your cable tangle resistant and V-MODA even claims that it is 20 times stronger than the normal industry standard and can withstand frequent bending. The cable ends with an angled gold-plated jack.
The Y-split is encased in Zinc. This not only makes it more strong, it also adds a slight flashy touch to this pair of beautiful in-ears.
Let’s start with the unboxing process. The T20 comes in a cardboard box which opens like a book. On the inner part of the lid, there is information on the driver unit and frequency graph of the various filters. On the other side are the earphones, neatly packed underneath a transparent cover. Beside are the cylindrical filters (more on them later) and metal plates with 8 pairs of eartips (including 2 pairs of dual flange, 2 pairs of Comply and 4 pairs of silicone eartips).
These eartips make sure that the earphones fit comfortably and offer ample isolation. Remember the earhook-style wiring I mentioned before? Pair these and snug eartips and even a light jog will not be able to dislodge them. The only thing I wish was included with this pair would be an inline remote and mic. True, the T20i comes with a fully functional 3-button remote but that only works with iOS devices. Audiophile listeners will not miss too much.
BOTH ARE AT PAR WHEN IT COMES TO ACCESSORIES AND ISOLATION
Just like the T20, even the Zn comes with a cool packaging and lots of accessories. The earphones are encased in a cardboard box with a handle. To open the box, you need to cut the ribbon at the side (it’s like an inauguration ceremony!) and slide it out. In the front, you will see the Zn and 3 pairs of black eartips. Behind (in a secret compartment) you will find a leather carry case, ActiveFlex Sports earhooks, 4 pairs of clear eartips and a shirt clip.
The noise isolation with the clear eartips is decent. But, when I tried on the black eartips which have V-MODA’s BLISS (Bass Level Isolating Soft Silicone) 3.0 technology, all I could feel was the music, especially the bass. The sound isolation was also quite good. When walking around with the ActiveFlex Sports earhooks and shirt clip, the earbuds didn't fall out and were as comfortable as the T20.
Before trying out these in-ears, I was a little concerned about the weight. I mean, with metal housings and Y-split, it could be heavy and cause some fatigue. Surprisingly, these were not as heavy as I imagined, they were super comfortable and super lightweight.
Coming to the remote, well this time Android users will be happy to know that the Zn has a one-button remote and mic. It is not as good as the iOS variant which has a 3-button remote, but you can play/pause and take calls without reaching out for your phone.
The RHA T20 comes with a whopping 3-year warranty while the V-MODA Zn has a 2-year warranty.
The large earpieces weren’t simply created for an enhanced style. They were also crafted to fit the T20’s cutting-edge DualCoil dynamic drivers. Wondering what these drivers are? Well, just imagine them to be the earphone version of 2 concentric speaker drivers with a tweeter in the middle of the main speaker ring.
If you’ve heard the T10, you will remember that it had an uncontrollable bass that sounded bloated and bled into the mids. With the T20, you’ll have no such problems. Thanks to the DualCoil drivers, the audio frequencies are divided into two—bass & lower mids and higher mids & treble. This also keeps away that terrible bleeding.
Remember the filters I told you about in the ‘Usability’ section? Well, these help tweak the earphones’ sound signature to some extent. The Reference filter (grey) gives you a more balanced sound while the Bass filter (black) picks up the lows a bit. Again, it does not make the bass loud enough to overpower other frequencies, just a slight boost. The Treble filter (golden) make genres like jazz shine where you can hear the cymbals without any harshness.
I personally prefer the Reference filter and this review is based on this filter.
T20’s BALANCED SOUND VS. ZN’S RICH BASS
The soundstage is okay; neither too wide nor too narrow. Imaging and depth could be improved. At the same time, the detailing found in these in-ears is superb and I guess it kind of makes up for its flaws. The bass and mids fall easily in line. While the bass is not boomy, it certainly is tight. On some songs, the mids tend to drop a bit. But, on others, they shine beautifully. Vocals sound warm and lifelike. The highs are extended and extremely clear. They don’t sound harsh, but are, instead lively and detailed.
The Zn’s sound signature is V-shaped. The bass is powerful while the treble is sparkly and bright.
No matter how high you turn the volume, the bass does not distort. The sub-bass accentuates the beat even more and gives quite a punchy sound. While the highs are not as clear as the T20, they are rich and lively. There is no harshness that causes any fatigue.
On the other hand, I don’t think I have much praise for the mids and high mids. On some fast tracks the transition from the mids to the highs were not as smooth (esp. when compared to V-MODA’s Crossfade M-100). There is not much sculpting done here and hence these are not as impactful. On some tracks, a slight sibilance could also be heard.
The best part of the Zn is the super-wide soundstage (for an in-ear at least). The sound heard from these literally made me visualise a rock concert. One reason for this soundstage could be the special Italian acoustic filters (no changeable ones here though) and V-PORT airflow system. With this 3D sound, differentiating between instruments is very easy.
Bassheads may want to consider the V-MODA Zn. For audiophiles—The RHA T20 is probably one of the best IEMs at this price.
In a nutshell: Both in-ears are great and have proved their mettle in this review. Both have stunning looks. The RHA T20 has a stainless steel housing while the V-MODA Zn has a zinc alloy housing.
You can expect lots of accessories and noise isolation from both earphones. The major difference lies in the sound. The T20 has a balanced sound which can be tweaked with the help of its filters while the Zn has a rich bass and super-wide soundstage.