RHA T10 Review
Thanks to RHA for the sample.
First Impressions: If there is truly one thing that can be said about RHA, that absolutely everyone can agree on, my word don’t they know how to put a package together. Just look at it. No, seriously just look at it. While I being well versed in headphoney stuff I recognise that the tip holder I see in there is not practical, not one tiny bit, but just look at it. Never has there been a tip holder that looked so impressive. Carry that on to the filter holder too, dubious practicality but god, just look at the damn thing!!! As very first impressions go, you peel back the lid flap and visually you cannot hope to be unimpressed with just how good it all looks.
First listen, they came with the “reference” filters on them. Hmm by “reference” I think they mean the same as was meant on the Kommands. “Reference” actually means V shaped, lots of bass and lots of treble. Eek gosh there is a lower treble abrasiveness, ear scratchy scratchy. I’m not worried as that’s the sort of thing a burn is usually smooth’s out but I suspect the silvers won’t be my filter of choice. I’d be willing to bet right now that it’ll be the black or “bass” ones that suit my little ears best.
Source: Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., FiiO E7/E9 combo, HiFiMAN HM-650, Nexus 5 and FireyeDA.
Lows: All of the reviews I’ve read on the T10 say its bass is gargantuan, even with the treble filters it’s ever present and dominating. I don’t hear that. I went through every tip they came with and several others. After some time and trouble I settled on the foamy ones I liked so much with the 750. What I have found is that the bass is highly variable. I still can’t say I found it be so insanely vast as some have reported but it did change significantly. You see with softer sources like the lovely HM-650 the bass was more genteel and polite. On changing to more cool and aggressive ones like the FireyeDA the bass got significantly more face smacking. Like my old and unlikely favourite, the Denon C751 there is a cold, hard and unyielding quality to it. I think it in part down to the unyielding enclosures. it’s a big dark, cold bass that reeks of power yet so cleanly detached.
While it was a bassy it’s really nothing beyond what so many others are these days. The one that springs to mind is the Momentums. These have the same if not a touch more deep bass while the senns bass spreads up towards the mids a little much where these just don’t at all. That’s all using the Bass filter almost exclusively. I really did not find the bass on the treble filters to be overarching in the slightest and I’m hardly a bass head. It’s really high quality bass and it really shifts some air when you push it hard, I could see fans of things like dubstep or other electronica loving the deep deep punch its capable of.
Mids: Nice. They always have a slight air of reticence to them and I find that there is an overall hard quality. It’s not unlike some other metallic beasts and the ones I’m most reminded of are the C751 and the HJE900. There is a hard, inorganic quality that is somewhat hyper digital, an unyielding quality. In my head it comes over as a cold darkness. With its hard deep bass, highs I’ve yet to come to and the mids that have a dryness that feels so explicit. Detail levels are as you might expect rather good and their vocal coolness emphasises that detail. It’s not something you melt into but that you can examine and it cuts through vocally like a knife.
Guitars and strings likewise have a certain coolness to them that makes them feel so clear and hyper explicit with every note edge so clearly defined. Actually fast acoustic guitar sequences are splendidly explicit.
Highs: Hard. I found that if there was one acoustic aspect I did not get on well with it was the treble. There is a real hardness to them, as with some other hard enclosure IEM’s if encountered. A complete lack of give so the enclosures are desperately hard and unyielding. The C751, the MA750, the HJE900 all exhibit the similar lack of forgiveness. It’s hard and it can be aggressive. The foamy tips did soften the edges of that treble which I would characterise as still somewhat cold. It’s hard and explicit. Extension wise it is more focused on the lower and middle highs, extension it quite tamed by those bass filters. With the V and treble ones they are considerably more alive. Wildly alive even, much sparkle and dazzle with a really crisp edge to it. Treble junkies who loved the likes of the DBA-02 will no doubt be greatly pleased by its clean metallic twang.
For little old treble sensitive me, in a heartbeat the relatively less abundant treble of the bass filter was the one I got along best with. The treble though is still that hard and unyielding kind. It’s very explicit and makes everything feel hyper clearly defined, a very clean sharp edge. I know that some will adore this sound, the aural equivalent of brutalist architecture. A projection of authority, power, ability and with great severity. You will either love it, or well you get where I'm going. Its potent stuff but with the bass filters on even I could find it quite liveable.
Fit: Excellent. Not really much more to say, of course you have to wear them up but I would anyway. The ear guide here is rather better than the one on the 750 too. Curiously I seemed to get a much more hard seal on the right ear. A tiny bit of driver flex inducing but after a min or two it equalised.
Comfort: Great. My hands tell me they are a bit heavy but in the ear you’d never know it. I’m sure give their shape there will be someone out there they want get along with, but it wasn’t me.
Cable: Huge. It’s thick, really thick and it’s equally grippy. It did like to work its way between my open jacket and my jumper then tug at my ears every now and again. Otherwise the thing is a monster and you could probably tow a car with them. (Disclaimer, RHA probably won’t recommend you actually try that.) The jack and y splitter too are of the most impressive build.
Build: The best build quality of anything, ever. Well you get what I mean, the buds are created by heating steel to 1300 degrees and injection moulding them. I would put money on these things out living me. Impressive isn’t the word.
Microphonics: Erm none pretty much. There is a neck synch too so if you were getting any you could remove it but I honestly never noticed any.
Amped/Unamped: Plugging these into my Nexus 5, not a device known for its elegant treble I found that on the whole they were pretty good. That it comes in a phone version (the T10i) so clearly RHA have aimed for it to be a driver that doesn’t need shed loads of power to sing. It worked really very impressively well. Its bass stayed taught and vigorous with only a little softening. The treble though, well it stayed vigorously forceful. It’s still a cold hearted beast. I can’t fault its ability to sound great out of any old source no matter how weedy. Though I am thinking maybe their dark and cold tonal nature might be well complimented by the warm and soft Iphone hp output?
Anyway in short, yes with an amp it certainly takes on a tautness and there is a noticeable difference but while growing with a more power source it does not really yearn for one like some do. That said, with a cold, clinical source and it becomes a truly dark beast of a thing. All dark, bassy, hard and all of the power. The FireyeDA and Danny Elfmans "What's This" and I’m grinning like an idiot trying desperately not to burst into song in the office.
Isolation: Pretty good. Around what we have come to expect form a dynamic, maybe a touch more. So it would be perfectly reasonable an option for normal out and about, on a bus etc etc. Not one I’d personally opt for on the Tube or a long flight but it would do if needs be. Obviously its way more than sufficient to block out that bus coming up behind you.
Accessories: So you get 10 pair of tips in the fanciest tip holder thing ever, then you get the 3 sets of filters and their little holder thing. There is a 6.25mm to 3.5mm jack and there is the case. I still don’t love the case they give you. It works but it’s just a bit big and well I don’t know, I just don’t really like it. Clearly a completely rational assessment there but what can I say, there’s just something about it I don’t like.
Value: Hmm. If you are a habitual breaker of things then RHA is probably the brand for you as the sturdiness of the T10 and MA750 are beyond imagining. Sound wise. The 750 was instantly apparent great value, the T10 though I’m just not feeling it. It’s good but the things in my head I want to compare it to are all a bit cheaper, granted the T10’s have the most epic build quality and are clear visual statements of premium goodness. With the filters too its one that would make for a great gift, it looks wildly impressive and they can tailor the sound to their liking somewhat.
Conclusion: I do like while I’m reviewing something to have a look and see what others have said about it. If there is something in particular it can give me ideas on what to play or what to pair it with. The reviews I read often said the T10(i) were so stupendously bassy it was a problem. I did not find that at all. I mean its well above neutral but you know I constantly chose to use the bass filters. Sure it’s pretty bassy but next to the C751 or Momentum and its just not the most bassy, it’s not especially close either. So those saying that even with the treble filters on the bass was overwhelming, from some reviewers I trust the ears of too, I just wasn’t getting it. Why you may ask, I know I did and the summation of all my efforts in this regard were, god knows. We could not figure out why we were hearing things so differently.
The more I listened the more it really reminded me of the old Denon C751. Big, dark, cold bass. Cold in that it feels hard and unyielding with none of that gentle softness I associate with warmth. The uppers too have a hard and unyielding quality. They are relentless. Gosh they to me are so much like a newer version of the C751. Such unyielding potency and vigour. Think Michael Jacksons "Earth Song" played at volume, it feels so powerful, like there is some endless reserve from which to draw and simply overwhelm anything in its way. No give, no bending to the will of anything else. Raw and unconquerable like it’s some newfound force of nature, no wait some force outside of nature as there is no natural softness here. Like some behemoth of steel coming at you as a battleship might. You are of so little consequence it just powers right through, ignoring you.
The T10 is however a master of build quality and it has enormous visual appeal. Both are aspects that are runaway successes. Sound though, if I personally had to pick I’d find myself opting for the cheaper and almost as lovely and well built MA750. I don’t recall anyone saying anything bad about it or not getting along with it. The T10 though is more of an acquired taste, some will love it but like marmite, others will hate it. That is despite having the tuneable filters too. No doubt the T10 is an impressive work of art, just maybe one that isn’t to everyone’s tastes in the way the 750 was.