Audio IEMs Reviews Universal-Fit

T10i, Reid Heath’s Stainless Steel Beauty

Full Disclosure: The T10i used in this review was provided as a sample from RHA.

The T10i is the new flagship from Reid Heath Acoustics (RHA), a Scottish audio company.

Founded in 2008, RHA began research and development into earphones and headphones, but it wasn’t until 2011 that they launched their first products to market.  Until 2013 and their introduction of the 750i, RHA had been targeting the lower-tier market with budget offerings. However, the 750i ushered RHA into the $100 and over mid-tier market.

The T10i is their first foray into upper mid-tier markets with an MSRP of $199. At the same time, regardless of price, RHA products have been about high quality offerings that exceed their respective retail tiers in build quality and innovation, and their latest product continues that tradition, with an opportunity to really stand out from the crowd.

Design & Build

They’ve taken this mindset of innovation to the next level using metal injection moulding (MIM) to produce an elegantly-designed stainless steel housing in the T10i. More on the metal injection molding process and the immense amount of precision and control it requires can be read here.

While other specialty audio companies like Japan’s Final Audio Design have been using the MIM process to produce their higher-end IEMs for while, RHA brings the process to the mass market — the T10i is simply stunning, possessing a clean and industrial aesthetic that would be perfectly at home in any Apple Store worldwide.

shells mic
RHA uses a special metal injection moulding (MIM) process to produce an incredibly beautiful and durable outer shell.

The shells sport a tasteful, small vent for the dynamic driver on the faceplate, next to the RHA logo and have small color-coded piece where the wire exits the housings, for easy right and left identification.

The overall wear is very ergonomic, comfortable, and low profile. Comfort is on par with previous generation Westone and Shure shells. The T10i is strictly made for over-the-ear wear and the patent-pending memory wire design is uniquely genius. The memory wire, or ear hook, is of a spring-covered ‘mouldable’ design. The springs ensure you can get any shape you need without being overly rigid and cumbersome like many typical memory wire designs. The spring also blends well with the industrial feel of the T10i design.

Perhaps the only out-of-place feature at this point is the bulbous strain relief ending to the ear hooks. Its black, rubbery, and over-sized appearance looks a little out of place on an otherwise beautiful monitor.

T10i shells mulch
The bulbous terminations of the mouldable ear hooks are an odd inconsistency to the otherwise beautiful design of the T10i.

The microphone module (with volume control), Y-split and plug are all made of the matching, shiny stainless steel of the housings. The T10i comes with three sets of interchangeable filters.

The filters allow the user to tailor the overall signature to their tastes and are labeled: Treble, Reference, and Bass.

They are of a simple twisting on/off design, and also have a small O-ring gasket to ensure an air tight seal. The filters are also color-coded for easy identification along the threads and stem: copper for treble, black for bass and plain stainless steel for reference. Attention to detail is apparent almost everywhere, from the matching spring covered strain relief on the plug, to the rotary blade like covering of the filters. Anyone who sees the T10i in person will certainly reassess their expectations for what a sub-$200 offering should be.

Accessories

The accessories are plentifully appointed — double sets of single flange silicone tips and two sets of bi-flange tips, all of which are of very high quality. Also included are two sets of foam tips. So many in-ear monitors today come with cheap or otherwise low quality tips, but RHA’s offerings are up there with some of the best like the VSONIC, Ortofon, and Aurisonics Sure-Seal tips. The tips are mounted in a stainless steel plate, similar to the filters.

The case, tips holder, and filter set all package elegantly together.
The case, tips holder, and filter set all package elegantly together.

Also included is an over-sized, leather-like case that could hold the ear tips plate, the filters plate, and/or possibly a DAP, such as an iPod Classic or a Sansa Fuze. While I feel the case is ultimately too big for my personal tastes and uses, I appreciate RHA‘s stepping out of the box and offering something a little different.

Ramblings

Everything outward about the T10i screams durability, robustness and high tech engineering. However, I do have a couple of quibbles with some of the design choices.

First, the microphone and volume control placement is questionable — it is low enough that you can only push the neck slider so far up, which is still somewhat too low (perhaps mid-breastbone, before it runs into the microphone). I would have preferred to the see the microphone module pushed another few inches closer to the driver housings.

The Y-split is also oddly placed; it’s very, very low on the cable. I’m average height and the Y-split sits around mid-stomach.

The odd placement of the Y-split is a strange choice.
The odd placement of the Y-split is a strange choice.

My last quibble is with the cable itself — while it’s thick and seems very robust and durable, its texture is very rubbery and frankly of lower class next to the beautiful, accented stainless steel shells. I would have liked to have seen a wire with a more premium look and feel to match the rest of the overall premium design.

Yet, regardless of my quibbles with their design choices, RHA seems to have exceeded all expectations for design, engineering and accessory appointments in the T10i’s particular price bracket. The presentation is professional and elegant, with high quality accessories. All manufacturers hoping to get slice of the hard earned head-fi wallet would be wise to study this RHA offering and up their own game accordingly.

Specifications

  • Custom made in-house dynamic driver model 770.1
  • Frequency range 16-22000hz
  • Impedance 16 ohm
  • Sensitivity 100db
  • Cable 1.35m, multicore OFC

Sound

The T10i possesses a decidedly bassy, consumer-oriented sound, regardless of the chosen filter.

Overall, it is warm, thick, and rich — with evident sparkle. Bass is very powerful and reaches the extreme depths, still pumping air well beyond the limits of hearing. And while mid-bass is also plentiful, providing great impact, the majority of bass presence is centered in deep bass and refrains from muddying up the midrange, leaving it without a feeling of a veil, if albeit somewhat recessed.

Staging is enveloping and reverberant, and somewhat reminds me a little of the JVC woodies I’ve owned in the past. While the reverberation adds to the sense of sound field size, the lack of air in the upper midrange and lower treble take away from overall clarity and transparency.

Overall it’s a very fun sounding phone that’s engaging, spacious, powerful, and impeccably built.

Warmth and very powerful bass define the RHA T10i; with Reference filters, the treble is smooth and refined.
Warmth and very powerful bass define the RHA T10i; with Reference filters, the treble is smooth and refined, though the bass presence remains significantly stronger than those of earphones with more neutral signatures.

The filters, like all interchangeable filters, are subtractive — each takes away a bit more treble from the top, adding to the added perception of bass. I do prefer the treble smoothness of the reference filter, but its sheer bass presence is just too much for me. As a lover of neutral signatures, I ended up mostly using the treble filter, as I find the treble filter provides more high end sparkle to help balance out the bassy nature of the T10i. Unfortunately, the trade-off is occasional sibilance that just isn’t present in the reference filter.

The T10i becomes darker and warmer with the bass filter. Bone jarring comes to mind! Bass remains clean yet somehow seems more powerful and louder — only bassheads need apply.

Due to the design choice of stainless steel and the inclusion of interchangeable filters, the T10i at first blush might draw some comparisons to the AKG K3003i.  While build quality of the shells and filters may come fairly close to that of the AKG (a $1000+ product), the sound signature differences are quite wide.  The K3003i is much brighter and airier; one might even say much more analytical in nature.  The AKG bass quantity is also less in presence, with a somewhat U-shaped response, and greater left-to-right staging. It’s also worth noting that the AKG approach to the tuning filters brought a larger difference between the three choices, going from an analytical, treble focused sound, to a much more balanced reference sound, and then to a darker, bass heavy sound. In contrast, the RHA filters present much more subtle differences between all three, maintaining the same overall signature with only slight changes to the treble.

I don’t currently have another IEM in my arsenal that is quite as bass-present as the T10i.  Probably the closest is the Brainwavz S5, but even that has less bass impact and rumble than the RHA. The S5 is much more V-shaped in signature when compared to the T10i, which has closer vocals due to a thicker and warmer lower midrange. The S5 is also a lot brighter and colder sounding than the T10i, even with treble filters installed — the RHA treble is smoother and more refined in direct comparison. While the Brainwavz S5 gives off the perception of a bit more clarity, the T10i’s more refined nature presents details a little more readily. Whereas the S5 comes off as distant and a little aloof, the T10i manages to feel closer, fuller, and more enveloping.

Conclusion

In a world of ever increasing prices for top-of-the-line earphones, it’s refreshing to see a mid-tier product offer such superb engineering and design, elegant packaging and high quality accessories that rival and often best products many times over more expensive. In fact, it seems RHA has been doing this for quite some time and the quality of their products is reflected in every model down the line. The T10i offers all that quality and comfort, in a consumer friendly, bass-oriented sound, topped off by a robust 3-year warranty. Personally I would hope for a more balanced and neutral signature in future RHA offerings, particularly as they go forward in designs with their metal injection molding engineering process and reach for greater heights in the portable audio food chain.

At an MSRP of $199, the only real question becomes, is the RHA house sound right for you?

For more information on the RHA T10i, please visit:
http://www.rha-audio.com/intl/headphones/t10i.html

About shotgunshane
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53 comments

  1. I was seriously considering getting one of these – I really loved the industrial design and the thought that RHA has put into it. However, it seems apparent from the review that RHA has gone for a decidedly bassy tuning that may not be preferable for many, even with the tuning filters. I would wish that they came with something that could alter the sound signature to appeal to non-bassheads.

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  2. My vsonic gr07s have a loose wire into the left bud and as much as I love them, I’ve been trying to decide if a re-wire is worth the cost or should I apply that money towards something along these lines. As always I trust Shane’s opinion explicitly; he’s the reason I bought the gro7s in the first place!

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  3. I love the fact that it is well built and seems exceptionally durable, way better than most IEMs in its price point. However, I agree with the initial review that the filters should result in a slightly more significant change in the sound, so I would just need these for all my music needs (various genres).

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  4. Love the review and definitely want a pair of my own. I’ve been meaning to take the plunge and get a pair, but if I can MAYBE win a set, then why not give it a try, right? Love the organization of the review. Was easy to find the things that mattered most to me, i.e., cable durability and SQ/description. Only thing that I wish they would change is the inline remote. I don’t want it or need it.. But I think they fixed that, so… yeah. Thanks for the awesome opportunity CYMBACAVUM!

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  5. I love the attention to build quality. I feel like this aspect is not seen enough in the audiophile market. As for the sound, I’m a bass head, so I’d probably like the sound.

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  6. I love the attention to build quality. I feel like this aspect is not seen enough in the audiophile market. As for the sound, I’m a bass head, so I’d probably like the sound.

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  7. i love the filter set options in tweaking the sound that soothes your ear as well as the spring-covered ‘mouldable’ design for comfortable fit. While the elegantly-designed stainless steel housing of this iem makes it looks well built and aesthetically beautiful.

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  8. These look fantastic…if there’s one thing I’d change, it would be to add detachable cables, which I always prefer. Of course the argument can be made that they’re built like tanks!!

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  9. thanks! reading this review makes me think about “finally” considering IEMs.

    wish it had replaceable cables and the bass is really not too “bassy” for my taste. but $199 looks to be a steal

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  10. I am a huge fan of the build quality. The use of the flexible cable for putting it around your ear is better than ear guides in my opinion. The thing I would change is how bassy it is even if you change the filters.

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  11. sounds like a great pair of earphones. However, I would want to make the filters less bassy (especailly the reference) because of all the things that i’ve heard so far about it.

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  12. Gotta just love that build quality man !
    One of the best build quality out there.
    And nice review @shotgunshane
    Always loving that dark sound of RHAs

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  13. For their price, they surely look very well-made. I use Shure E2C and I’m quite pleased with their sound, but I had to change the cable since it simply cracked in time. I would be surprised if these T10i would present such issues, they would be a long-term acquisition.
    Maybe more colors/color scheme available would make them perfect (like titanium/red, black, copper/turquoise).

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  14. A very nice headphone!
    I have the RHA MA750i and I absolutely love this headphone!

    I really wish they had a detachable cable. Although they are built like a tank, I think the place most prone to break is the cable! It would be a great feature, in my opinion!

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  15. Heh! Heard this is a local shop. I’ve got to say that for the price it’s goes toe to toe with 300-400 IEMs. Treble filters are my choice for daily listening, much like a bassier GR10 but less air, I think.

    The only thing I’d change is the cable. The part where it contacts ears should be soft touch like them gaming mouse textures. I don’t like memory wire anything, where I felt that the wire inside itself should mold to your ears naturally through the weight of the cable.

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  16. Well written review. 2 things I’d like to see in an upcoming model from RHA.

    1. Exchangeable cable. Not only as a way of changing sound signature, but also to be able to replace cable in case of damages or failing cable. I travel all over the world for my work and that means packing/unpacking/untangling cables and iems several times a day. Sooner or later, the cable will break is my experience. I keep a spare one and leave the more expensive ones at home.
    Not all of us like the memoryshape cable, and to have the option of changing attract the head-Fi community.

    2. L-shaped 3.5mm connector as option when ordering. Do 2 versions. Some of us prefer L-shape. But again, if the cable is exchangeable, the problem goes away.

    Otherwise I think it looks like a nice pair of iems.

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  17. Great review! I had a few days with the T10i and I agree with a lot of what was written in this review. However, I do wish RHA would have made it’s sound a little more accessible especially with the different filters. It’s still the very bassy “house sound” for RHA and it doesn’t change as dramatically with the filters as they said it would. Of all the things that need to be changed it’s the sound – make it a little more genre friendly RHA! I do like the build, the design, and comfort but there’s still a little room for improvement. Great headphone though, if it suits your taste! 🙂

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  18. I already heard the RHA MA750 and found them to be near perfect for listening while sitting in Trains, which i do several hours daily. I don’t like to natural sounding in ears for listening on the move, so i think These should be perfect. However… i hated the Memory Foam earpieces, they should replace them with Shure black foamies type of earpieces. In Terms of bang for buck, i couldnt imagine better ones (both for T10 and MA750).

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  19. They look so gorgeous! If only I could afford them 😦 Very expensive here in Singapore… I would prefer if it has a detachable cable and a more neutral sound for the reference filter so that the other filter would actually make a difference 😀

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  20. Thoroughly impressed by the build. Not something that can be found in earphones in the same price range.

    Unfortunately the lack of detachable cables might be a (minor) issue.

    Would love to win the giveaway!

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  21. First time seeing new model I thought this headphones made for travellers. The heaphones looked like crushproof , and the cable looks very robust, especially the non-mainstream spring-like memory wire and headphone jack.
    I loved RHA-like sound signature (tried my friend’s though). The deep bass, treble, and especially 3 kinds of filters really works for me, especially the treble filter.
    I think this headphones will be perfect if they tried to change the cable for replaceable ones like shure’s mmxc and maybe change the memory foam to spinfits.

    Like

  22. First time seeing new model I thought this headphones made for travellers. The heaphones looked like crushproof , and the cable looks very robust, especially the non-mainstream spring-like memory wire and headphone jack.
    I loved RHA-like sound signature (tried my friend’s though). The deep bass, treble, and especially 3 kinds of filters really works for me, especially the treble filter.
    I think this headphones will be perfect if they tried to change the cable for replaceable ones like shure’s mmxc and maybe change the memory foam to spinfits.

    Like

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