Apologies to start on a bit of a downer but in the description of the T20 “This unique configuration ensures ultra-efficient performance and true-to-life sound reproduction across all genres of music. The tuning filter system allows users to customise the headphone’s sound signature by increasing emphasis on bass or treble frequencies.” I have a fundamental issue with this, you either design a product to sound ‘true-to-life’ OR you design an earphone that performs well with elevated frequencies, to do both at the same time is impossible. Also to suggest that this driver technology is the reason for a real life sound contradicts the fact that it can obviously be altered by a filter… Design an earphone for a purpose and stick to it whether that is a fun, bouncy, warmer signature or a very critical transparency king, or anywhere in between! I have time for most in their own right. I just think it is a little misleading that’s all. But hey, this isn’t RHA; this is the industry I guess. RHA make great products they don’t need to get sucked into using marketing mumbo-jumbo.
Positively, they haven’t tried to create three completely different earphones with the filters, each of them retain most of the same general characteristics. The T20 are smooth, warmer earphones that are actually really nice to listen to. The lean towards the lower end of the frequency spectrum means they are good for music, TV and films alike making them a pretty solid all-rounder whether you are on the go with your daily commute or sitting at a desk with your chilled playlist on.
To keep things closer to neutral I would advise using the reference or treble filters, even the treble tuning has all the warmth I could want! As I have said, there isn’t an enormous difference between the filters as you will see in the measurements but it is obviously audible, more so than the measurements suggest. What I mean is, you always know it’s your T20 whichever filter you have on.
Assume reference filter from now on.
Bass is elevated more in the mid bass than sub bass but extension is not bad. The great news is that bass isn’t overly bloated or messy, it is just a softer, more musical part of the earphone. Texturally it does a fair job in layering the bottom end but nowhere near as well as the Lear AE1D. Bass is one of the better areas of this product; it isn’t messy, monotonous or unnatural. It adds depth and feeling to the sound that has to be admired, it is the foundation for this earphone. With a little better definition and a touch tighter punches, there would be not a lot more to ask for at this price range!
In the transition between bass and mids there is a little weakness to the sound. It seems there is less decay and impact at a very specific frequency right at the top of the bass that just occasionally drew attention to itself.
The mid band is clear and unaffected by the bottom end; it carries the same warmth and depth up from the lows which is a good thing! I would love it if the lower mid-range was a bit further forward and more open sounding as to me it is just a little ‘restrained’.
In the upper mid-range, edges are well defined and there is certainly more energy to the sound which prevents the earphone from being a really warm focussed earphone, it brings the balance back up a little. Things really open up in the top of the mid-range and into the low treble.
It is easy to forget sonically you have to treat them as a £180 earphone because of the build quality and aesthetically apparent ‘premium’ of the product. They are certainly not sounding like a £500+ IEM, and rightly so. The bass and up through the mid band is a good show for an earphone in this price range no question about it.
Treble is the weakest area for me as with even the treble filter in place it’s more the upper mids or bottom of the treble that get a little boost. The top end doesn’t have the extension I would love to see and just sounds a little veiled. Positively there isn’t any sign of the sound becoming fatiguing and the softness means you can listen for hours. They are also more forgiving because of this trait, something worth bearing in mind if streaming on the go from your phone is your thing.
The thorn in the side of the T20 is the Lear AE1D; it is bloody marvellous and cheaper than the RHA flagship. The T20 looks better and fits better and of course that 3 year warranty is nothing to smirk at. The truth is though, the AE1D sounds like an earphone in another class, Sonny agrees here. There will be a lot of people who buy the T20 because its British and for all the reasons I have listed and I think it would be a good purchase, BUT my money would head to Lear. That being said you need a powerful amp and great source for the Lear’s to really shine which you don’t with the T20 by the way, they will sound good off a phone as well as your reference portable rig (another reason to buy the RHA’s). It’s all preference, for the whole package it is the T20, for pure sound it is the Lear’s quite simply.
I really like the T20. Design, fit, build, warranty, drivability, versatility and desirability are all areas I think the T20 is leading the class of sub £200 earphones. Total sonic competitiveness is far from poor believe me, I think the price is a little steep based on sound quality independently, but with the rest of the ‘pick me’ aspects of the product it becomes a far more attractive proposition. I just wish the sound was a little bit more exciting so I could really rave about this product. I genuinely hope RHA bring out a new flagship in the near future to really show what they can do with such a beautifully designed and engineered product!!
Lets Turn the Page for Measurements