Audiophile | Head-Fier
Shreyas Muralidharan, Delhiite, tells us what he thinks of the RHA T20.
Design & Build
The build and fit of the T20 will be familiar to those who own the T10/ T10i, RHA's previous flagship models, as the build is exactly the same; all the changes have happened internally, barring the one obvious change of color of the over ear hooks which are now black, as opposed to grey / silver on the T10/ T10i. The build quality, in one word, is excellent in my opinion. The housings, connector, y-split are all made of stainless steel, which has become typical of RHA and there's good strain relief on the jack. The over ear hooks on the cable are a patent pending mouldable design, which is very good indeed.
The included range of tips, silicone or foam, ensure that you get a good fit and seal off the outside noise very effectively. My minor gripe would be on the fit, especially related to the over ear parts, which seem to need moulding every time you put on the headphones, or else they seem loose on top of the ears. Your views may vary though. And apart from this, I'd give full marks to the build and fit of the T20, not least because of the 3 year warranty (yes, 3 years). That's just brilliant in my opinion.
Sound & Performance
The main USP as far as the T20 (and the T10 before it) is the inclusion of additional sound tuning filters named 'bass', 'treble' and 'reference' respectively, allowing theoretically for a wider range of potential buyers than that offered by an earphone with a single sound signature. Let's find out if they deliver. Most of my listening has been done using the Reference filter, and as with any new headphone, a burn in time was required to get familiarized to the sound signature.
I do not have much of an idea about burning in for the drivers, and this being a review unit, has been used for a good duration of time before it reached yours truly. Once I got used to the sound though, it was good. Very good. With a Capital G. It instantly outclassed my current gear, except for my HD558
open full-sized headphones, which I've been using at home for the past 3 years. I am not an expert at describing sound technically, but from whatever I've heard so far, I believe the soundstage is wide, which I prefer. I have not yet learned to distinguish good soundstage depth, and so I shan't venture there.
In comparison to my Havi B3 Pro1, which are no mugs themselves, I felt that a blanket had been lifted off the Havis when I put on the T20. The detail retrieval and instrument separation are very good. They are highly efficient earphones, and a turn to about 1/3rd of the volume knob on my E12A was enough to deliver powerful clear sound to my hungry ears. Since I do not have experience with top of the line universal fit IEMs or custom fit IEMs, I would not be able to do that comparison here. I sure wish I could, though, especially with the top end dynamic driver models like the highly regarded AKG K3003, or the IE800 etc.
Anyway, suffice to say that clear, detailed, rich and highly resolving were the terms that came to mind upon getting used to the sound signature of the T20. I did feel though that the midrange was ever so slightly recessed, but maybe that's just my impression because I've not been able to fathom till now what true, neutral sound actually sounds like. So, it could be that my 'ideal' midrange level was slightly more forward than that offered by the T20. YMMV though. Treble Filter >
A brief listen using the treble filter was enough to judge that it wasn't my ideal preference because my main genre preferences are rock, folk, acoustic, progressive etc. But those who do prefer their treble to be slightly enhanced, without becoming harsh, would definitely prefer this one on. I guess electronic and classical music lovers might like this filter more. I'm not sure though, as I very rarely listen to these genres. Bass Filter >
The bass filter would be instantly appealing to tracks which rely on heavy basslines, drums, percussion and I guess electronic, hip hop, and heavy metal music in general. I used the bass filters for some tracks which benefitted with a bigger bass impact, for example tracks like Hatesong by Porcupine Tree, which is a mid tempo bass line and kick drums driven track, with the bass guitar prominently used throughout the song. On the other hand, when the bass filter was used for tracks which didn't require bass enhancement or didn't improve the sound using enhanced bass, the overall output felt a little muddied. Reference Filter >
The tightness of the bass response while using the reference filters was traded off for a more enhanced but less refined one when listening to folk, rock, acoustic and even some metal tracks. Overall, the reference filter was the preferred pair, for my tastes at least.
Accessories & Complementary Gear
For this review, I've used my own gear as the music source, and considering that an IEM would be mainly used as a portable or semi portable solution, my source setup has been the FiiO X3 (1st Gen) connected to the FiiO E12A through line out using the FiiO L16 Line Out cable interconnect.
RHA have ventured up the price ladder with their new flagship, and I feel they're on the right track. I haven't been able to listen to their first flagship, the MA750
, which I was looking to purchase at one point, but settled for the Havi B3Pro1 instead, and the MA750 was the model that got RHA the fame they deserve, in my opinion.
Now would the T20 be recommended by myself? Whole heartedly. Is it the best price/ performance value out there in this price range? Yes it probably is. The sound tuning filters sure add a whole lot to this department as it can cater to a whole range of consumers, be it the big bass loving, or the slightly treble inclined individuals, there's a filter for that. The sound signature, apart from being 'rich' and not dry at all, is fairly uncolored in my opinion. And overall, a one word description for these T20 stainless steel flagship IEMs from Scotland would be, 'brilliant'. Thanks for reading, cheers & happy listening! Send in your reviews to get and get a chance to feature on our website! Review your Gear Now!
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