Well this one has been a long time coming; it was in fact Munich High-End 2015 that I first tried the T20i. This will be the second RHA product I have reviewed, the first being the MA750i which you can find here…
RHA is a British audio outfit who “…stand for true-to-life audio reproduction and lasting quality.” They believe the sound experience they are targeting is an accurate, comfortable and unobtrusive one. Just take a quick look on their website and you will see all their earphones look stunning, this is part of their philosophy too, with high quality materials, solid build and great design all taking high priorities. It’s really nice to have more and more companies taking such pride in the quality of manufacturing and design in their universal earphones with the likes of Campfire Audio, JAYS, and even Lear’s chrome universals really moving the market forward in terms of what to expect from a non-custom monitor. More on the design later though.
The T20 is the current flagship in the RHA range and comes in the ‘i’ version with an inline mic and the standard version which I have, without one. There is also a choice of black or silver depending on your personal preference. Either way they are available in the UK for £179.99 or £189.99 (i) which I would consider high-end high street prices in the UK but obviously mid-tier at most for anyone in the “know”. That is important though, the UK really has a poor portable audio market in the towns and cities but despite this I actually see a fair few people using them when I travel through London or even when working out in the gym. In a way, they have seemed to be a route for people to find out a bit about what’s above and beyond? Don’t misunderstand, they are far from the household name of Sennheiser or Shure but they are more well-known than I first thought in the UK and a regular in a lot of high street stores… Apple and Currys included!
Accessories and Specifications:
Before I tell you a little about the numbers and techy bits of these earphones let me give you an idea of what’s in the box. Obviously you receive the T20 in-ears and in this case 6 pairs of dual density ear tips (S x2 / M x2 / L x2), 2 pairs of double flange ear tips (S x1 / L x1), and 2 pairs of memory foam ear tips.
As with other RHA products you receive a rather stunning stainless steel tip storage tray, it can sometimes be a little fiddly to get things in and out and then sometimes tips will fall out, it is a little odd but hey-ho it looks nice!
Tuning Filters… I hate tuning filters. But alas, here we are with a bass, reference and treble option for how you want your earphones to sound. Interestingly enough there is actually a relatively small difference between the three sound signatures so they aren’t trying to sell you three separate earphones, which is a refreshing take.
There is also a carrying pouch / case included which certainly does the job, I wouldn’t consider it premium though, especially with what is available now. I think Lear’s matte case with the awesome AE1D is lovely and has a far more premium feel than this one. The ‘skeleton’ for this case just feels like a thick card and I just feel like it will deteriorate in quality fairly quickly if used regularly but I could be wrong.
Oh you also get a shirt clip, nothing special here, but handy nonetheless.
Just to end this section on something that isn’t really an accessory but absolutely awesome, it’s the three year warranty on the T20… 3 whole years, if that doesn’t give you confidence in the build quality I don’t know what will! Build and finish will get its own section later. Seriously though, three years on an earphone! Great British engineering!
Spec wise we are once again are given frequency response measurements that are pretty irrelevant and misleading by the manufacturer, the majority are just as guilty so I can’t really blame them. The earphones are 16Ohm impedance and have a sensitivity rating of 90dB. Despite their stainless steel construction they aren’t that weighty (especially with the over ear design), they come in at 39 grams. Unfortunately they aren’t a removable cable design but to be fair I am a big fan of the included cable, it has grown on me a lot, so I wouldn’t let that put you off! An OCC cable would be lovely as would an option for a 2.5mm TRRS connection but I am being picky here.
Moving on to the technological side of things in this earphone…
Something RHA are keen to make people aware of is the DualCoil dynamic driver they use in this earphone which is effectively one single driver with two voice coils that operate independently, an interesting concept. Has it worked? Well we shall find out in the sound section!
One innovative part of this earphone that has definitely worked is the over ear hooks, they are extremely malleable, comfortable and effective in keeping the earphones securely in position. Better than the traditional memory wire I am used to!
They are a little chunky though, so I would imagine if you wear glasses it could be a little annoying. As much as I would love to confirm this everyone I asked to tell me if this was true haven’t worn earphones over the ear before so found that weird enough as it was but did remark that their glasses ‘…didn’t sit right’. I like them a lot actually, and they did effectively reduce microphonic noise.
Build, Finish and Aesthetics:
They are gorgeous. One of my favourite universal earphone designs of all time, I actually prefer the design to Campfire’s. If it was my money I would go with the black, stealthy! The smooth injection moulded shell is seriously nice and honestly the only thing I would change is the red and blue addition to the strain relief. The black version has these in black which I would have loved to see on the bare steel option. There is only one way the earphones will fit and there is an R and L on the inner face of the shell so it wouldn’t really make anyone’s life any more challenging without the colours. The earphone is really ergonomic too; I find them comfortable to wear with the right tips for my small ears. They sit nice and snug and it takes a long time before I get any discomfort at all, not as comfy as well fitting customs obviously but they aren’t bad at all!
The stainless steel construction is obviously sturdy as hell and I would have no worries other than a scratch or dent if I was to drop them onto a stone floor for example, and even that seems pretty unlikely. Where acrylic will crack and maybe even shatter, the steel should soak it all up. It’s a quality construction there is no denying that.
The finish is lovely and smooth all over, I can’t fault that BUT the L on the inside of the left shell hasn’t quite filled the mould. Other than that, finish, build and design are pretty bloody outstanding. Top marks to the guys at RHA!
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