Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Rhapsodio Clipper Earphone Review by mark2410

Rhapsodio Clipper Earphone Review by mark2410

Thanks to Rhapsodiostore for the sample.

First Impressions:  Now when I was first contacted abet these, I didn’t know here they were.  More than that I didn’t know who Rhapsodio were either.  So a little google and I had a look at their site.  It’s a curious a line up they have, they have a ton of high end (i.e. expensive stuff) then they have the Clipper at just US$55.  It seems a curiosity in their line up.  Anyway…… it arrived and it’s just in its little case.  Open them up and they look nice, really remind me of the M6 Pro.  In the ears they go and instantly there is a big bass line.  Big, thumping, grrr, potent bass.  Rather fun, a bit too abundant but for most thats a boon anyway.   These are really not bad, too bassy but the treble is exactly how a like it.  A little subdued, nice detailed and nicely refined.  

Hmm the mids, they could maybe doo with a bit more.  Thinking this isn’t going to a midhead IEM, but its sounding great for bouncy pop so far.  Let’s see what some burn in will do if anything.

Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, 1G Ipod Shuffle with 75 ohms added, Nexus 5, Lumia 735 and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear.

Lows:   Oooooh god lordy there is an abundance of it.  Flicking to the M6 PRO which in everyway is what everyone will compare it to, they have waaaaaaaay more bass.  The quantity is much more akin the M6 normal version but with a quality level much more like the PRO.  Actually if you amp these they tighten up very considerably.  They still stay rather vast but get much more snappily punchy when running out of the Solo Ultra.   Hmm, I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or not, even with the Studio V 3rd. Anv. powering them they got not so much a punch but a kick.  A kick being not quite as fast as a punch but with considerably more follow through power.  The Clipper can be a right little beast at the follow through.  Of course it’s more probable that they won’t be running of a really fancy source.  However, with the old 1G Ipod Shuffle behind them, 75 ohm adapter in-between and their bass took on a nice blend of quickness and power.  Actually it was a pretty fantastic pairing.  Jumping back and forth with the M6 PRO these really are just like the quality of the PRO but with a massively boosted bass quantity level.  My ears would quickly adjust to all that bass and even though this is roughly stylistically exactly what I like, big warm bass, great mids and gentle treble.  The bass here pushing the quantity limit, it’s a pretty sealed IEM so it thumping out and it’s a bit of an air mover.  While it could be tremendously fun there would be other tracks where the bass was over present and needs to go sit down.  It doesn’t quite seem to know how to not raise the roof. 

Tonally its very pleasing though, a dollop of warmth but its firm and has this looming darkness behind it.  It’s a very pleasing presentation.  Like some grand symphonic vastness waiting for the right moment to fire up and come of you some great massive wave.  Unstoppable, deep, vast and you are going to be swept along in it no matter what you want.  Is it potentially fun?  Yep, barrel loads of fun.  Is it potentially annoying?  Yep, that too.  Most modern music, pop, chart like, semi mainstream stuff all sounds fabulous.  Grand, abundant, lively and powerful.

Mids:  Tonally they are little darkened, possibly a little creamy too.  As such they worked a little better on male than the girly vocals.  Anything that wanted some gentle smoothness, and a hint of over flow from all that bass energy.  Dark and rich and scrummy.  The cost however as that it’s not very airy, that such a bit of breath out of that type of vocal.  It encloses them, darkens the overall presentation and creates a more enclosed environment.  Like a darkened yet sumptuous club.  For me I was very pleased with it.  I know that it’s a little oppressing and it throws a bit of a shadow on the nuances but it was nice.  I can eat some cheap, creamy and rather scrummy Galaxy chocolate and I know that it’s not a high quality product, beautifully refined and exquisite but you know what, I still like the stuff.  As with them mids, they have enough detail to keep me happy and its dark style is something I can very easy melt into.  Be it more energetic pop or something some sophisticated and grown up.  It is just so easy on the ear.

Quantity wise I would rather there was more and if this was to be my only IEM I might find its desire to slightly thicken things and warm them, a bother.  However these are about enjoyment not an acoustic analysis.

Highs:  For me, great.  For others, well for purists, these are not neutral, they go well beyond natural too.  They are subdued up top, really quite considerably tamed and again, for me great.  However treble heads will not be pleased.  While these may be shaped like a monitor (i.e. over ear) but they are acoustically nothing of the sort.  The treble detail level I’m absolutely fine with, you know, listening carefully I believe they actually beet the M6 PRO too.  The Pro is rather more direct in its presentation and I am using the Solo Ultra but hey, the driver in them is clearly very capable.  However to really get heir treble detail out you have to throw power at it.  Its dark presentation, that darkly rich and foreboding, ominous tone masks the more obvious details, other things are much more open and forthright in their presentation.  These are somewhat dark and heavy. 

Now their treble presentation is personally very much pleasing to me.  It is, I love it, it’s so easy on the ear, no, spikes, no spikes, no leaping out energetically at you.  Treble head will not be pleased however.  You feed them moderately and the treble gets that bit lost.  It hasn’t got any edge to cut through.  It then is just a bit of a melange.  If you want gobs of treble, or detail it’s unlikely this is for you.

Soundstage:  For all its ominous, dark, encapsulating presentation it has a grandness still.  There is at large, darkly symphonic like presence.  Not really ever airy but there is a clearly size amount of space in which to move and to power project at you.  Holst’s, Mars is all that it mostly should be.  Okay it fudges a bit of detail that I know the best can manage but hey.  This isn’t the “best” it’s a US$55 earphone.  I’m just saying it can do power and it can do scale.

Fit:  I had no problems but it is rather sealed and I’m sure if I’d been using silicon tips I’d have had driver flex issues.  I didn’t get any proper air pressure problems but I could feel the pressure changes and inserting and removing.

Cable:  First off it is removable so you can change it easily.  I like it thought.  I like the look and it felt good too.  a little bit eye catching with its black and white Zebra stripes but nice.

Build Quality:  Over all everything seemed nice, the cable is good, its removable too so if you do kill it it’s an easy fix.  The buds while very light, they are plastic clearly, clearly, get it?  Anyway they look and felt just fine to me.

Comfort:  Great.  Aside from all that bass being potentially tiring if you listen for too long and too loud.  Physically they were great for me.

Aesthetics:  They look pretty lush.  That frosted, clear plastic looks great to me.  Each to their own of course but come on, they look great don’t they?

Microphonics:  I did get a bit.  Not really so much as to be a real problem but I did notice the lack of a cable synch.  Still the cable is replaceable if you really care enough.  It was there but not enough to bother me.

Amped/Unamped:  Well they want power, they love power and they respond well to power.  That said they don’t “need” power per say.  For example I found that my 1G Ipod shuffle with the 75 ohm adapter in there ran them great.  Not as good as the Studio or the Solo Ultra but it did a bang up job.  The bass in particular was soooooooooooooo improved, so much more snappy, lively, potent, grippy and bouncy.  Out of my crappy Nexus 5 they were in comparison so listless, so wishy washy meh, uninspired and you could say their performance, they were just phoning it in.  So while it isn’t priced like something that “needs” a proper amp, you may want to try and get something half decent.

Isolation:  Rather good.  These are clearly rather well sealed and thus I got pretty good isolation.  They would do you fine for normal out and about, on a bus stuff.  Tube and flights, hmm well yeah you could get away with them but not my first choice.  Very good for a dynamic though.  Naturally they will block out enough that if you fail to use your eyes near traffic you end up an organ donor.

Accessories:  Well, you get some tips and a case.  The case is pretty nice actually and while more tips might have been nice it’s a perfectly reasonable package.

Value:   I like them.  I like them a lot.  They are a bit source fussy but if you’re reading this I’d hope your primary source isn’t a phone.  Therefore, if you have a decent source, yey, these are awesome bass canons.  If you have your phone and that you’ll use for every day, then they maybe aren’t the best option for you.

Conclusion:  These are interesting.  Not just because they come from a company that seem to make almost entirely very high end things.  They have for example an IEM cable that they are selling for the reduced price of now just US$900.  That’s not a typo, yes I wrote nine hundred US dollars.  So that these then crop up at costing just US$55 they are a curiosity.  Then you listen and the keep running with that curiosity.  You see I mostly write the reviews while I’m sat at my desk and it makes sense to use the Solo Ultra, because using the computer to control the songs means it is really easy to pull up specific things.  There is no question that in this set up with all that power they sound crazy good.  Waaaay bass heavy but still just fabulous.  Then I plug them just into my Nexus 5 and then, meh.  Meh, meh, meh and the some more meh.  They aren’t “bad” but the difference is very noticeable.

So when you power them well they sound great, bass cannons but absolutely great.  Great detail and nuance in the bass especially and just great fun.  On that basis they are fantastic and off the top of my head, my favourite IEM at this price.  But…… and it’s a fairly big but, they sound so unspecial from my phone.  Yeah they are alright, okay, adequate, they just abound in mediocrity.  They are still overall very bassy and when it’s so so, I’m rather less keen on that bass quantity.  They are aren’t bad, they just aren’t anything special and there are so many things available these days that don’t especially deserve going out of your way to get. 

So would I / should you buy one?  Me, yeah totally.  I’ve got great sources, even my little 1G Ipod Shuffle could take these and go wild with them, when paired well they were cracking little things.  Bassy, rambunctious and potently beastly.  They really can be super fun to use, they really, really can.  You?  Well the trouble is if you’ve got a great source you probably are willing to spend more than this and get something further up the food chain.  Now the little 1G are cheap but they are rare these days, if you have something good though (I’ve read good things about the Sansa Clip) so maybe you got a little bit decent DAP and you’re looking for a cheap, basstastic, audiophile entry quality level earphone?  In that case yey!  Snap one up.  Paired well its super fun, fabulous bass quality at an almost silly bass quantity level.  Wooo!

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