Head-fi.org’s showcase events aren’t just about high-end headphones and their ancillaries. More affordable gear had a much stronger presence at CanJam SoCal 2016 than that of your average two-channel show.
To wit, Scotland’s RHA (Reid Heath Acoustics) offer a range of universal IEMs that start at ~US$30 but top out at US$250. How each of us view that kind of spend will vary. For the Apple store browser, even a couple of hundred dollars on in-ears represents a significant investment in portable audio. For those well versed in matters JH Audio or Noble Audio, it’s probably closer to pocket change.
The optional iDevice in-line remote adds an i to the company’s flagship T20 and US$10 to its RRP – US$249 all in. On all-important audiophile credibility, RHA tout a single dynamic driver powered by not one but two voice coils.
From the rather posh Westin South Coast Plaza hotel in Costa Mesa, RHA’s Iain Smith talks us through the T20i’s extensive feature set:
Brits Scots clearly know how to run with the universal theme of the product sub-genre. In the box, a wide range of ear-tips guarantee the neat and tidy fit of their smaller-than-average earshell for almost any listener, especially those with smaller auricles or narrower auditory canals. Without a snug fit these IEMs come on as light and bright.
Elsewhere, the passive EQ of three interchangeable tuning filters gives the end user room to manoeuvre according to musical preference. Think of them as adding salt or pepper to a meal. As one might expect, the bass filter is better suited to glow-stick sad-bangers like Pet Shop Boys’ “Inner Sanctum” whilst the treble filter brings a little more faux intimacy to Beth Orton’s “Stolen Car”.
With the ‘Reference’ filter fitted I find the T20i’s sound signature to be plenty clean and incisive. A lively treble energy not only ensures oodles of micro-dynamic excitement and bite to guitars/cymbals. Pipe and slippers the T20i are not.
Compared to this commentator’s erstwhile budget banger, the Xiaomi Piston 3, the more costly RHA IEMs show a keener nose for detail and better bass articulation. Headstaging from the T20i is wider too. How do I know this? I’ve been using a pair of T20i during my daily gym workouts since CES in January. In this context, they stand up marvellously well.
Each stainless steel earpiece is injection moulded and the OFC cable is reinforced. So too is the 3.5mm jack. One thing’s for sure, the T20/i are very much built to withstand the rough and tumble of in-pocket life and might well be the robust earphone yet to feature within these pages. (To borrow from Audeze’s terminology) the RHA flagship is a ‘mass premium’ earphone to recommend to mates who’ve yet to be bitten by the better-sound bug.
Further information: RHA