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RHA’s T10i headphones offer bold design, stellar sonic experience Featured

Posted On Sunday, 24 January 2016 00:00 Written by
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The key to the success of the T10i’s sound is its handmade, high-fidelity dynamic driver, which is built to interact with all of the different filters and provide a powerful but still crisp sound from all types of music. The key to the success of the T10i’s sound is its handmade, high-fidelity dynamic driver, which is built to interact with all of the different filters and provide a powerful but still crisp sound from all types of music. Photo courtesy of RHA

On the one hand, headphones are a pretty simple thing; you plug them in your ears and listen to music. Not too complicated.

But the reason there are hundreds of sets of headphones made by a variety of manufacturers at a variety of prices is that not everyone does it the same way. And some companies do a better job than others and getting you the quality sound you are seeking.

One brand whose stature is rising is Scotland-based RHA, and they’ve ventured boldly into high-end headphone territory with the T10i offering, which sell for about $200.

The question, of course, is whether they merit that price, and after some time testing out a set of RHA T10i headphones I’m here with the full details of my experience.



Design

Before we get to the function part of this review (aka the sound experience), let’s talk about form.

The T10i set looks unique from just about all other headphones you’ll see, in a very good way. as it is custom-made via metal injection moulding to fit almost perfectly in your ear.
The quality stainless steel build means they will be very durable (even well beyond the three-year warranty period).

This is a hefty set so I was worried about weight at first, thinking they might not be comfortable in the ear or even fall out. But I quickly found that if you wear them as instructed, with the cord wrapping around the rear of your ear and then adjusting to fit your ear shape (not 100 percent perfect fit, but mostly), comfort is not a concern and they stay firmly in the ear. Even the cord impresses, as I experienced very little tangling with the T10i set. And as usual with RHA, a quality carrying case comes with the T10i headphones so you can transport them safely and keep them clean.

Name that tune

So what does the T10i offer that other RHA sets don’t? For one thing, you can customize the way you hear your music. A variety of tuning filters can be used with the T10i set to fit certain types of music -- including one for more bass-heavy music, another another that’s more treble-focused. Changing the filters is a pretty simple process, too (screw one off, screw another on ). A full set of earphone tips is included, of varying sizes to fit all sorts of ears.


With the “i” in the name, you may have guessed that this set is meant to interact with the iPhone or iPad. This is true, but it is also able to be used on other devices too -- you’ll just get more functionality out of it on an Apple product. There are also non-”i” versions available (for $10 less).

Sound
So how does the T10i do in terms of sound quality? Excellent, by all standards.


Music comes through loud and clear (sharp sounding, not muddy or tinny), but isn’t overly harsh even when heavy/loud music is playing.
You’ll hear details in the music that you can’t get out of a pair of cheap earbuds.

Sound will change based on what tuning filters you are using, so you can experiment with the filters as you wish until you find that perfect fit for you. Some people might pick one setup and stick with it forever; others may keep swapping filters out.

Either way, the noise-isolating promise made by RHA on the T10i set is definitely accurate. Whether you’re needing to get into a zone and do some writing or studying or work as you listen, or just want to take in the music and forget the world, these headphones will definitely do the trick.

The key to the success of the T10i’s sound is its handmade, high-fidelity dynamic driver, which is built to interact with all of the different filters and provide a powerful but still crisp sound from all types of music.

S500i
For those more on a budget, RHA has other models available. The S500i is a much more basic set of headphones, with a less bombastic and thorough sound than the T10i, but it’s also a lot less expensive at $50. These are aimed at folks looking to graduate from earbuds but not quite ready or willing to pay for premium level.

This model is much more lightweight, the build quality is decent, and is very portable in the little  pouch that comes with it. 7 sets of ear tips are included.
My biggest concern with the S500i is that after a short time, they felt a bit uncomfortable in my ear -- not something I would wear for a long stretch of time.

The sound is decent, not tremendous, but this is not unexpected considering the price point.

A middle ground between this set (S500i) and the T10i high-end offering is called the MA750i, which may be the best bet for people torn between high and low. I tested it last year and found it to be very impressive for its price point ($130).

Bottom line
For people like myself who listen to music almost religiously every day and want to hear it as impressively as possible, often via headphones, it’s critical to have a quality device with which to hear our tunes, both in terms of sound reproduction and how it feels on or in the ears.

I’ve tried products from a variety of competitors, and while RHA may not be the biggest name in headphones, its products could easily outshine some of its more popular competitors in a head-to-head battle.

The budget S500i set ($50) has its flaws, but it’s still well-made and within its price range it’s among the best buys. If you’re in the more mid-level price range, the MA750i set remains one of my favorites. And if you want to go to the higher end and get a full audio experience, you can get the customizability of the T10i set for about $200.


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Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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