RHA as a brand needs no introduction. An independent audio company from Glasgow, Scotland that’s captured many hearts with their offerings in the IEM space, everyone into portable audio has definitely heard of them. The TrueConnect is their first foray into the massively popular True Wireless segment and honestly, they’ve done a good job.
Design, Build Quality, Comfort and Fit
The TrueConnect come in an attractive but minimal box that opens up to reveal the earphones in their case. Beneath that, you’ll find some paperwork, a USB A to USB C charging cable and an earbud caddy with 6 pairs of silicone tips and 3 pairs of Comply foam tips in various sizes.
Right off the bat, the case is probably the handsomest true wireless case around. A cuboidal case that measures 2.9 x 1.1 x 1.6 inches, it’s covered in this soft touch black finish that feels great in hand but unfortunately, is a skin oil magnet requiring frequent wipe downs. Sleek grey aluminum side panels and an understated RHA logo along with 3 LED battery life indicators and an USB C charging port complete the package. It has a really REALLY satisfying closing and opening mechanism that I found myself playing with often – great props to RHA for including a fidget toy. The case swivels on a central hinge to open and it reveals the two buds nestled into their charging recesses. There are magnets to easily position your buds that make sure they don’t slip out and fall and the pogo pins always find their mark so you don’t have to worry about if the bud is charging when slid in.
The buds themselves feature an all plastic construction with a soft touch rubber finish that feels good to touch. It’s my long held opinion that a high quality plastic construction trumps poorly made design with premium materials and the TrueConnect are a great example of that – they feel very well made and look and feel premium. There’s a red dot that serves as the right earpiece indication marker and the RHA logo is again, extremely understated on the flat portion of the lollipop-shaped earbud. It is a very shallow fit that is comfortable for most people out of the box – if not, tip rolling is really simple. While I didn’t have many issues with the fit, it sometimes felt a little unstable and liable to fall out which the foam tips fixed. As a bonus, the foam tips provide great passive isolation, which is amazing if you are going to wear these outside with a lot of ambient noise.
Usability and Functionality
The flat portion featuring the logo on the earbuds depress to act as a button on both earpieces. The pairing process is quite simple, just press the button on the right earpiece for 5 seconds until the indicator LED starts alternating between red and white colors. Then just use your phone to search for it via Bluetooth and pair. I really dislike the button placement – using it when in my ear leads to discomfort and makes me reseat the earbud each time, most of the times I ended up pulling out my phone to do the task. Play Pause is one single tap on either side, while two taps and three taps on the left earbud goes next and last track respectively, on the right earbud it increases and decreases volume. Tap and hold on either side brings up the default voice assistant for you to speak out commands to. Overall, not a fan of the onboard controls.
Battery life is a strong suit with me never having to hunt for a charger. While I don’t listen to music for such extended periods of times, I was at 40% battery on the earbud at the 2 hour 50 minute mark (as reported by my smartphone) which extrapolates really closely to the advertised 5 hour playback time. The charger can charge the earbuds 4 times over leading to a total of 25~ hours of playback which is pretty amazing and should get casual listeners through most of the work week without having to charge. The case can charge the earbuds to 50% in just 15 minutes so even if you do run dry, you can quickly top it off to squeeze another 2+ hours of playback.
I only very rarely had any connection problems and those too were quickly resolved. Usually, the TrueConnect maintained a steady Bluetooth connection to my phone and each other. Not having a custom app for firmware updates or setting up EQs is a bummer though.
As soon as you put them in, the first thing that strikes you is the warmth of the sound. The TrueConnect are unabashedly warm, with a nice bump in the midbass region. It might take a little fiddling to create a perfect seal but once you do, the thumps are very enjoyable to listen to and should get anyone to tap their feet along. The constant percussive beat in Coin – Malibu 1992 is eminently noticeable but it doesn’t detract from the rest of the song – even if it bleeds slightly into the mids. 8/10.
Speaking of the mids, it is presented really nicely if a tad bit intimate. Not much to say here, it isn’t shouty, there aren’t any glaring defects to be seen. Not terribly captivating but nothing bad either. 6.5/10.
The highs are thankfully not sibilant but they do sound a little artificial. A bit of sparkle shows through but there is this feeling of something being off when things like hi-hats come into play. Detail retrieval is pretty bad (although no fault of the drivers I presume – the TrueConnect uses SBC and while it’s not terrible, it’s nowhere near good as the higher quality codecs). 5.5/10. The soundstage is a little cramped but it’s wider than it is taller. Imaging seems okay. Instrument separation is a bit of a hit or a miss, it sounds a little congested at times.
At the RHA TrueConnect’s current price point, it takes square aim at undercutting the Samsung Galaxy Buds by a small amount and as such, is a direct competitor. When going toe to toe though, the RHA falters.
The TrueConnect have much better bass than the Buds, hands down. No contest. The Buds have slightly better mids that aren’t quite as intimate as the TrueConnect. They also showcase better emotion, probably due to the better codec used.
The Buds have slightly tinny but nicer sounding highs than the TrueConnect without any weirdness. They are also better at all the non-tonal characteristics.The Samsung Galaxy Buds handily trump the RHA TrueConnect in terms of features. From having the case be more than just a powerbank to a bucketload of features and touch sensitive controls on the earbuds, the Buds make the TrueConnect look like a last-gen product especially when the price difference is so low.
Aesthetics are subjective but I feel like the TrueConnects look better and the TrueConnects have a much better microphone than the Buds.
The RHA TrueConnect offer a crowd pleasing, warm sound in a really attractive package. With a long battery life and an IPX5 rating, they’d be a great companion to you through your commute as well as at the gym. Unfortunately, the lack of features a pretty major blackmark against the TrueConnect especially when compared to the competition. Overall, it is a good product and makes me eagerly await for the next iteration which will probably improve on all the pain points here.