The UK has been catching my attention lately with a lot of fantastic new headphone companies making some great ear buds. From the lower price point models from Trinity Audio to the insane high end from Flare Audio. If it's coming from the UK, you've got my attention.
I recently received the RHA (Read Heath Acoustics) T20i's and have been wearing them non-stop for about a month. The headphones themselves are packaged beautifully and come with the accessories you would expect from a headphone priced at $249.95.
- Nice zip up, padded carrying case with net enclosure + cord clip
- Three Sets of acoustic filters
- Ten sets of ear tips (various sizes/shapes)
The tech highlights A DualCoil driver system, interchangeable tuning filters, and an injection-molded stainless steel build. I've recently been seeing RHA all over the place, from airport electronics stores to Apple stores, which is usually an excellent sign. RHA also put out a T20 model which is essentially the same as the T20i sans mic and ten dollars cheaper. There is no reason to buy the T20s, just get the T20i model as we all need to take a call on our earbuds once in a while
What does a DualCoil driver do? The T20i has a special driver and magnetic configuration on the inside of each bud. What on most buds is a single solid disc, the T20i's have a ring magnet with two voice coils around it. Each of these coils handles a different family of frequencies instead of putting it all on one coil; the inner coil handles the bass/low-end and the outer handling the highs. The split coils make a difference that you can hear, solid lows, clear mids and perfectly punchy treble all balanced to perfection.
The T20i's are a little tough to put on, but once you figure out the proper configuration, it becomes easier. The buds themselves are not shaped like anything I've ever tried, so it took a couple of tries to get it right. The cord right by the bud has a stiffer section that holds it's shape so that it can wrap around your ear (see picture).
Once you have a nice seal formed the T20i's come to life, with an incredibly clean and balanced sound. I primarily used the flat filters as that's what I prefer, but the other high and low-end filters worked well too.
The quality of the bass was something that I noticed right away, just the perfect amount of punch where many other models are just overcompensating.
The sound stage is also really nice for a headphone on this price point, it's not the best I've ever heard, but it's very solid. If the track is mastered well, you can actually hear the positioning of the instruments quite well. I really heard the details, things that I hadn't noticed before in tracks that I've listened to hundreds of times.
I primarily listened to Jazz, EDM, Hip Hop and Rock while I was testing these headphones and all the genres shined. I always test with both MP3's and WAV files, and while the WAV files did sound better, the MP3's didn't fall too far behind. The T20i's are also High-Res Audio Certified (see below from company website)
High-Res Audio certified
The T20i in-ear headphone conforms to Hi-Res Audio standards as defined by Japan Audio Society. This logo is used under license from Japan Audio Society.
• The sound of these headphones is worth putting up with any minor struggle getting them in your ears.
• The T20i's are just premium through and through from the construction to the accessories, they justify the higher price tag easily.
• You can customize the fit with the abundance of ear tip choices as well as dialing in your sound with the acoustic filters.
• The mic is fine, but the remote is just not great. The buttons are hard to distinguish, and the remote is too high up on the headphone when it should be more central on the cord.
• These are just too cumbersome and clunky to use for workouts, so if you are a workout nut that needs your music, these are not for you.
If you are adamant about great sound and are ok with some minor funkiness and customization, then you should strongly consider the T20i. I've tested a lot of headphones in this category and for the price, it's hard to beat the sound quality and top notch features. The RHA T20i is a fantastic IEM for those who spend a lot of time on planes, trains or behind desks and just want to get lost in their music with pristine sound.