FirstLook: RHA t10i IEM's
The t10i has one of the most innovative constructions for IEM’s to date. A British company called Reid Health Acoustics or more commonly known as RHA has combined quality sound with premium builds for some time. The t10i are no exception, built using a new innovative process utilizing injection molded stainless steel and offering a solid way of tuning with interchangeable tuning filters have set these IEM’s apart from the pack.
Injection molded stainless steel the way we understood it: This process starts with stainless steel powder mix’d with plastic and injected into a mold which is 40% larger of the final product. Which is then heated to 85% of its melting point at which time the plastic burns away while any remaining air is forced out. Over a 10 hour backing periods, these stainless steel IEM’s shrinks to their final size and because of this forging process, it increases its durability.
The first impression with anything is crucial and RHA has done a great job with a well thought out packaging. The t10i is displayed through a clear plastic as well as documenting and illustrating all the part’s and their functions.
Upon removing the t10i from the packaging the first thing you will notice is the weight. Now I don’t feel this is excessive, but in comparison to other IEM’s there is a difference, but so is the solid feel you get from them “built like a tank and ready for war”.
As we work our way down, you will notice this spring type of casing over the wire. Which I believe is patten pending by RHA. The idea here is it holds it from so it can securely wrap around your ears. Interesting we will just have to spend some time with these and see if they are beneficial or become a nuisance.
Next down the list is the volume rocker and a microphone. The rocker itself appears to be made of rubber with a minus and plus signs, on either side and a dot in the center for play/pause. The back side seems to be made of stainless steel as well. Seems solid and each click is noticeable.
We have made it to the Y connecter which also seems like it could be a thin stainless steel tube. Not much here to say there is some writing on and knurling on the top and bottom.
Next up is the gold plated 3.5mm connection. My fist thought was dang it’s straight. I personally like 90 degree connectors, however I quickly realized why this made more sense. I run naked with my iPhone6 plus but not everyone goes this route. Because of all the different cases out there it does make more sense to go with a straight connector. The connecter is made of stainless steel shell once again and they have also added some type of spring around the base of the connector for some added protection while bending.
RHA has also included some parts / accessories with their t10i. They do come with one set of silicon ear buds pre-installed. Finding the right seal is essential for any IEM and RHA does understand this. They have included 5 sets of silicon, 2 sets of double flag and 2 sets of foam ear buds along with a flat piece of stainless steel to store them.
There is also another flat piece of stainless steel meant to store parts. This one store’s 2 sets of cylinder shaped filters which are color coded. Gold = Tremble, White = Reference, Black = Bass your IEM come pre-installed with the reference filters. These filters seem just as solid as everything else, smooth threads
Last is a leather zip up case to house all everything. The left side has some elastic on the top and bottom to attach the ear bud storage. On the right is an elastic / mesh pouch to store your filters. Everything fits very well and it’s nice to have a place to store everything
- T10i in-ear headphone
- Tuning Filters with Holder
- 6 pairs, dual density ear tips - S x2 / M x2 / L x2
- 2 pairs, double flange ear tips - S x1 / M x1
- 2 pairs, memory foam ear tips
- Stainless steel ear tip holder
- Carry case
- Clothing clip
- Handmade, High fidelity dynamic drivers
- Noise isolating design
- Metal injetion moulded, Stainless steel construction
- Interchangeable tuning filters
- 3-button remote and microphone
- Seclection ear tips
- Multicore , reinforced, ocygen-free copper cable with gold plated connection
- Mouldable over-ear hooks
- Carrying case and stainless steel ear tip holder
- Three Year warranty
- Drivers: Dynamic (model 770.1)
- Frequency range: 16-22000Hz
- Impedance: 16 ohm
- Sensitivity: 100db
- Rated/max power: 1/5mW
- Weight: 41g
- Cable: 1.35m,
- Connections: 3.5mm, gold plate
As with all IEM's, we test it starts with finding the right fit ear tip giving you the perfect seal. Any sound leakage here will skew our results before the testing even starts.
Next we listen to the IEM’s right out of the box a few times on different mediums. In this case, our first medium is using the iPhone6 plus especially due to indication on the box of its support. With some IEM's, we also run them through an amp, but this time around we does not. On our Mac Pro, our testing is done using a Duet2 by Apogee.
Over the past few years, we have put together what we consider to be a good playlist for testing (included below). It spans multiple genres in order to check things like frequency response, tone, clarity, vocals and soundstage. Our playlist streams from Rdio on high at a 320 bit rate.
Once we have an idea of how these IEM’s performances out of the box, we begin our time consuming burning processes.
Burning in headphones or speakers has consistently been a very controversial subject. In our findings, however, we find it has improved frequency response and overall tone to at least 80% of our tests. With that being said, we never found a case of it is degrading the sound. We are keen to include the burning process in our review so you don’t have to waste time on that 20% of the units.
Our Burnin Process consists of 100hrs at 10hr increments of Pink Noise. Increments are very important. Speakers need a rest period from all the pounding. We use a Mac app called “Burnin” which can be found on the Appstore. This app makes it easier to keep track of the different burning process, you have gone as well has options for different types of noise and a counter to keep track of your progress. Volume levels also have a big role to play as well. We like to maintain our audio levels just a bit louder than your average listening levels.
Pulling this all together we run the “Burnin” app which supplies us with Pink noise for 10 hours a night for 10 nights through our Duet2 at about 75-80% volume on our MacPro
Final Thoughts: (after a week of use)
I strongly feel you need the right tool for the job. RHA has done a find job pioneering a new way of manufacturing quality tools and the t10i has earned a stop in my own toolbox. With that said lets get down to business
Let me start by saying that I always need the larger ear buds in the past with no exception here.
- Double flange tips came in two size small and medium/large neither of which provided an optimal seal for me. So I will not comment on these
- The foam tips come in a one size fit all and provide a decent seal along with comfort. I will also note that the foam tips do not sit as far into the ear canal as the others tips.
- Last but not least the silicon tip comes in three sizes small, medium and large. The larger ones gave me the best seal just about as good as the foams.
With all that being said, most people will tell you a better fit will provide better bass and less ambient noise and they would be right. The foam and large silicone tips gave almost the same seal for me with the foam just beating it out just a smidgen. However, I choose the silicon as my goto tips because it was so marginal. With silicon, you don't need to compress it like foam so it's easier to be taken in and out. Now the fit was pretty close, however the bass was a little more not a whole lot, but if you really listen you can hear the difference. But as I said earlier, I am looking for a natural sound, i.e. How it was intended and feel that the t10i have a bit more bass than needed so sacrificing some of the tips is not a big deal to me here.
What it comes to sound RHA has gone the route of letting the user fine tune the tone. With something called tuning filters a small cylinder shaped shaft that connects to the ear bud. This shaft is filled with a dampening material which adjusts the tone accordingly. The t10i comes pre-installed with the reference filter in addition to the Treble and Bass.
These IEM's had a warm tone to them with a definite strong bass present, however a bit flat with the reference filter while the highs seem to get a bit lost due to the bass with the mids were spot on.
The bass filter on the other hand was like switching on bass boost and giving over the song to bass. This would be the bass head mode where their genre of music is where it shines.
The treble filter is my preference This is where you find more clarity and to me a more reference tone. The bass is still heavy hitting and prominence, but with a far clearer and more coherent presentation leading to a better soundstage.
I was a bit skeptical about the moldable ear hooks, but they really do hold their shape and creates a secure fit while reducing microphonics. The multicore, reinforced oxygen-free copper also contributes to almost no microphonics. The moldable ear hooks have something akin to memory retention. Once adjusted just right, they tend to end at just the perfect length just behind my earlobe's.
These IEM's was a great upgrade for me and do feel the quality and sound are there
but it may not be a choice for everyone. If you are likely to use them at a desktop or stationary place then go grab a set. However, if you intent to use them on the go then there are a few things to keep in mind below
Disappointments: (small nit-picking)
- The moldable ear hooks work very well once they're adjusted, however, if you tend to be using them on the go, be prepared to fine tune them a bit when taking them out.
- The cable is built very well with hardly any microphonics, however, it’s about a foot longer than my typical IEM’s which is the perfect length for being at a desk, but if planing using on the go tends to be a little bit long for use and storage
- The 3.5mm connector is straight and is very welcoming to those ruing cases on their phones, however the drawback is you don’t get that flush less extruding look and feel