The filter system of course isn’t new and the filters basically are the same as with the T10. After the TOTL AKG it got quiet for a while for what interchangeable filters are concerned but lately a couple of brands like the popular Trinity and Rockjaw brand have also been using these filters. The funny thing is the Rockjaw filters fit the RHA monitors and vice versa. The Trinity filters are a lot bigger and don’t fit.
The T20, technically, is the best sounding RHA IEM of their line-up. It has the most balanced sound and is closest to being linear and neutral. And I absolutely mean that in a good way. Do note that the general impressions below are based on the reference filter (the grey one). The T20’s soundstage is quite good but you will always get a more inside your head sound. The space between the instruments is smaller and maybe that’s giving this perception also. The T20 on all filters sounds fast and very clear and I think it’s one of the strongest points of this monitor. At the same time the T20 is fairly detailed and especially vocals are really good. From bass to mids, I find the whole presentation to be pretty well balanced, even with the bass filter installed.
There do is still room for improvement on what timbre, depth and imaging is concerned. Bass is fairly tight and is perfectly in line with the mids section for my taste. That probably means that some of you might find the bass to be just above neutral. Sub bass can be on the looser side which I experienced with certain rap music but in general I am pretty pleased with the way the T20 is doing bass. Like I said it could have better layering and detail but this is something that is valid for the complete T20 and not just the bass. Using an amplifier with bass boost, like the Fiio Q1 which I am using right now, allows increasing the bass presence to beyond linear and neutral but the T20 does allow it without sounding wrong.
The mids section is very well done with a good level of detail and especially vocals are really nice to listen to. The attention does get drawn a bit to the slightly more forward sounding vocals, but I quite like that kind of presentation. Compared to higher end models it’s again the depth I am missing together with an airier presentation as they can now sound rather closed depending on the song and the recording. I find the treble to be reasonably extended and it always sounded lively and clear without ever giving the impression of sounding harsh or soft for that matter. Lively and energetic is what I would label it.
With the BASS filter installed (black one – of which I have gotten 4) you kind of keep the presentation of the mids and the treble but the bass gets extra weight and becomes a tad looser down below. I don’t find the filter to drastically change the bass presence, Fiio’s Bass Boost has larger impact on the bass than swapping the filters. With the Treble filter, it’s all in the name, treble gets a slight boost making then the overall sound signature a bit thinner. This isn’t my kind of sound. Personally I would say the reference filter is best, followed by the bass filter and lastly the treble filter.
Compared to the T10, the T20 has a more reference kind of tuning or audiophile tuning as you wish to call it, even with the bass filter installed. The T20 is the more linear and technically equipped monitor while the T10 will for sure please the bass heads among us more. Personally I would never call the T10 a bass heads headphone though, that’s something I’d rather say of RHA’s MA-600 IEM or the Fischer audio Eterna Rev. 1.
For most of the time I have been using the T20 straight from the AK120ii and the Luxury & Precision L5Pro, no amplification is needed by any means and the T20 will sound just like I described above. When I did use an amplifier it was the Fiio Q1 while I was at work and then the Q1 served as an AMP/DAC unit. I quite frequently turned off the Bass Boost though. So no, the T20 doesn’t really need an amp but you can (slightly) tune the T20 a little bit hardware wise. When I connected the T20 to Jan Meier’s excellent 9V battery operated Corda Quickstep (portable amplifier), the T20’s layering improved significantly. Lower bass got tighter and treble even got more energetic (sometimes even a bit too much).
I wouldn’t worry too much about synergy with your actual source, the T20 is easy.
In a short time RHA has come a long way. I wouldn’t be surprised if they would suddenly launch a full sized headphone in 2016. Or will they surprise us with an even better version of this IEM, named the T30? Anyway, RHA has become a brand to follow: a varied product line-up, reasonably priced IEMs with a good price/quality ratio, very good build quality and qualitative packaging. And then there’s the excellent comfort, stunning looks and good sound. What’s not to love?
The T20 is a wonderful IEM and to me it is their best one so far. I am convinced the T20 is an earphone that pleases a whole lot of listeners, this is about as good as it gets in this price range without going to custom monitors. You won’t regret buying it. The T20 costs $239,95USD/€229,95 and is available in RHA’s shop depending on where you are, on Amazon and via the dealer network.
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