RHA T10i review: In-ear headphones that are all about the bass
Music has the power to move us emotionally, but bass does so in an entirely literal sense. Anyone who has witnessed Jah Shaka’s sound system in full dub reggae flow or experienced the sheer brutality of Dillinja’s Valve PA armoury can testify to the chest-crushing power of sub-bass frequencies; vibrations that grip eardrums and shake the very foundations of the earth.
If that sounds like your bag (and it certainly is mine), then the RHA T10i in-ear headphones hit all the right notes – they revel in unearthing the very depths in music.
RHA T10i review: Sound quality
Feed the T10is the finest dub reggae, drum and bass, dubstep or electronica, and RHA’s handmade dynamic driver laps it up. Basslines reach down right down deep; the T10is pump out clean, powerful bass right down to around 15Hz. It’s overwhelming at first, and clean by the standards of any other headphones I’ve heard, but the impressive thing is how much detail and excitement the T10is unearth across the rest of the frequency spectrum. A few minutes in the company of these leaves you in no doubt you’re in the presence of a class act.
Compared to the £90 RHA MA750i, the T10i’s are a significant step up in clarity. The bass is far more prominent, and lower too, but voices and instruments spread far wider, seemingly reaching out either side of your head. Where the MA750is place a thin muffling veil over their performance, a trait that leaves classical movements lacking presence and airiness, the T10is pull out details that RHA’s cheaper in-ear headphones simply can’t muster.
RHA T10i review: Tunable filters
It’s not all sub-bass perfection, though. At first, the RHA’s bass-heavy lilt is thrilling, exciting, and it urges you to delve through your music collection to find the most subterranean basslines possible. Unless you’re a real bass fan, however, that feeling may not last – and to my mind the RHA T10is deliver too much of a good thing.
Thankfully, though, they allow you to tailor their sound with three replaceable filters. These are simple to swap and install: simply remove the eartips, unscrew the filters and screw the replacement filters in their place.
Three filters are included in the box: “reference”, “bass” and “treble”. It’s fair to say, though, that the “reference” filters that come preinstalled don’t offer the most even-handed presentation. Swap to the bass filters and it’s like someone has cranked up the subwoofer, perfect for grinding dubstep and reggae, especially if you love an exaggerated low-end – but totally unsuitable for more delicate pieces, where the bass leaps up and takes centre stage, shoving vocals, guitars and drums off to the side.
Fit the “treble” filters, however, and the RHA T10i emerge transformed. Driving bass still underpins everything with ground-shaking solidity, but the extra top-end presence brings out the very best in RHA’s headphones. This ekes out more clarity and space in delicate choral works and large-scale orchestral pieces, and gives a touch more snap and excitement across every corner of the frequency range. Fire up a track such as Massive Attack’s Angel, and everything is as it should be: thick waves of bass crested by Horace Andy’s vocals and a sharp snap of percussion. It’s phenomenally entertaining.
As ever, though, that extra detail comes at a cost. Feed these a low-quality MP3, or a scratchy old hardcore vinyl, and they’re ruthlessly, viciously revealing. The snap in the mid-range often ends up veering into harshness, something that had me reaching for the volume control on occasion.
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