Review: RHA T20 – It Just Keeps Getting Better

Sound

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.

Sources

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.

Conclusion

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.

Also:Don’t forget to join our ALO Audio Continental Dual Mono Giveaway!

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

19 Comments

  • Reply October 22, 2015

    warrenpchi

    Cool review Lieven! 🙂 Have you tried the S500i yet? When you get a chance, would love to compare notes about it – especially from a neutrality standpoint.

    • Reply October 22, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      Thank you Warren. I have not had the chance to listen to the S500i yet and RHA didn’t really seem interested in a review

    • Reply October 22, 2015

      Rasmus Horn

      Hi Warren. I listened to the S500i at the CanJam in Germany. For its price I would say it sounds great and looks great. Very lightweight and easy to use. Clearly a V-shaped characteristics with a punchy and weighty bass and from what I heard treble that got a little too much forward compared to the mids. Perfect for rock and electronica. All in all a nice little product wich will probably be appealing to most people as a cheap in-ear for the daily commute.

  • Reply October 23, 2015

    Punit Shetty

    how does it compare to se846 ?

    • Reply October 23, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      One wouldn’t expect to compare these two. I don’t have the SE846

  • Reply October 23, 2015

    historywitness

    “T10s were always on the bass heavier side” or “the T10 –to me– was the best IEM in their line-up even if bass was always a bit on the leaner side”

    So which is it?????????????? Can’t be bass heavy and on the leaner side too .

  • Reply October 24, 2015

    dalethorn

    I’ve had only the MH350 and 750, and they’ve been great values. I don’t know if I’ll ever get close to a T20, but I wouldn’t hesitate ordering without a demo. And *only* from a reliable authorized dealer – IEMs like this are cloned more than wristwatches.

    • Reply October 30, 2015

      Eber Hwang

      After years of buying all kinds of IEM’s Shure, Emyotic, Kilpisch, Monster, Beats and either getting these things chewed up by my cat or washing/drying all these expensive listening devices I got tired of investing $200+ for just “good sounding” IEM’s > I bit the bullet sometime last year on the RHA 750i’s and was blown away by the build quality and “good” sound for a tad over $100. Well I ended up pulling the cord with the jack still plugged in in a freak accident and there went my 750’s. Mind you the pull was ridiculously hard that no IEM could withstand that kind of stress. Anyways…I bit the bullet and decided to go for the T20i’s (black ones)…same RHA quality and even better sound…and to go even further, my favorite IEM’s ever…hands down. They sound really good. So if you ever decide to upgrade…its a world apart from the 750’s 😉

  • Reply November 1, 2015

    dalethorn

    I got this one yesterday (Saturday), and using the ‘Reference’ filters, seems clear and detailed with no significant colorations. But the ear “hooks” or whatever they’re called are terrible – they don’t want to stay behind my ears.

    • Reply November 1, 2015

      Headfonia_L.

      Really. Didn’t bother me at all, I guess it depends on your ears

      • Reply November 1, 2015

        dalethorn

        See how B&O does their ear-hooks – they have a hinge that allows the user to adjust the height of the hook for a secure fit. The T20 looks and feels cheap in that respect.

        • Reply November 1, 2015

          Headfonia_L.

          I don’t like that system

          • Reply November 1, 2015

            dalethorn

            I don’t like it either, because it’s not perfect. However, the simple lesson is, give the user the ability to adjust the fit – like headphones. Having a choice is always better.

  • Reply November 1, 2015

    Ilias K

    do you have any experience with Westone W40? if so, how does the mid-bass and stereo imaging compare to the T20?..

    i own the W40 and while they have the best detail and stereo image from the iems i have owned so far, they have this overly warm and enhanced mid-bass that annoys me..

    • Reply November 1, 2015

      dalethorn

      That’s interesting. I always thought Westone was like Etymotic – classic neutral to analytic. The T20 is a better neutral sound I think, with a proper mix of bass and treble for most music. Like a Sennheiser 600/800 with less treble emphasis. Then again, you get the extra filters.

  • Reply November 2, 2015

    dalethorn

    Tonight I was finally able to configure the T20 for a good ear canal seal, using the default/neutral filters. When I reduced the sound about 10 db at 4.5 khz, tapering off to -5 db at 3.5 and 6.3 khz, that’s when I got a reasonably neutral treble. So the T20 (using the neutral filters) follows the RHA pattern I experienced with the MA750, which is bright. Based on this, I’d say it’s fairly close to the Grado SR325e sound in headphones. I don’t know if I’ll bother with the bass-centric filter, but with the simple treble adjustment I just described, the deep bass has decent impact and weight, so no real need…

  • Reply November 27, 2016

    shame on you

    you get this for free so almost all review of yours sing praise of the product.

    no mention of the harsh treble?

    • Reply November 27, 2016

      dale thorn

      It’s not free. For a couple thousand dollars worth of work, the product (which can be sold used) nets less than a tenth of the work cost. The remainder has to be paid from advertising and other fees. Now if manufacturers would give away $2000 USD amps or headphones, that would attract a lot more people to the review business. And it ain’t gonna happen.

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