Compared to the earlier models the T10 is the clearest and most linear sounding IEM of all three. It has the most detail, clarity and best sound stage. I find the clarity and sound stage quite good but the sound do is more inside of your head. Balance and Imaging or not bad at all. The Beyerdynamic DX160’s sound was more outside your head. I do find the T10i to slightly have the edge over the iDX160iE for what clarity and detail retrieval is concerned. The big advantage here is the bass that you can tune where it in the DX160 is always firmly present.
Even with the reference filter installed bass presence is high. Bass isn’t the tightest but it isn’t loose either, it’s right on the edge of acceptable. In other words, I wouldn’t really call this reference bass. To me reference bass is lighter and especially tighter, but ok. I do really like the mids and treble with this filter most but depending on the music you’re listening to, bass can be a bit overpowering. I especially use IEMs on the go and in that case the extra bit of bass is always welcome. That’s why the Reference filter is my fav one. You still get good clarity and detail and the extra tad of bass makes it an IEM delivering a quality sound but with a good toe tapping factor.
There always are people who like even more bass and that’s exactly what this filter delivers. For me it’s too much bass however. Bass overpowers the mids and is pretty bloated to my ears. I can’t enjoy this filter for too long but I’m sure those techno and dubstep beats loving listeners get goosebumps from it. Most listeners however will find the sound quality to go down with this filter and everything just sounds messy. The difference in sound isn’t minimal either as I have read on the www. I’m using the T10i out of the Cypherlabs CLAS Solo & Duet Combo and it’s a night and day difference
With the treble filter installed the bass almost disappears compared to the Bass filter. Bass now has lighter body and sounds a lot tighter but it isn’t in line anymore with the mids. On top of that you get more focus on the T10i’s treble. To me that results in a more V shaped sound curve. But here’s the weird thing, it sounds quite good when listening at home or at the office where you don’t have other sounds or noise. To me this is more the reference sound. Unfortunately when listening on the go in a noisier environment, the Reference filter performs better.
In the end you have 3 options you can choose from and that’s great. Is my ideal sound signature in there? No, not really. It’s not up to the level I prefer. That would be a mix of the Reference and the Treble filter with added detail, clarity and dynamics. I however can completely understand why RHA chose these sound settings, I’m pretty sure most of the people buying these IEMs in the Apple store would go for the Bass and Reference filter. In fact they remind me how B&W is tuning their headphones, which, yes you guessed it, are also available in the Apple stores.
Recent competitors that have been released around the same time are the Beyerdynamic DX160 we only just reviewed, the Brainwavz S5 and the Momentum Inear. And probably dozens of others, the IEM market just is impossible to keep up with, especially in the around $100 price range.
The S5 had a way darker and warmer presentation with more in the back mids. The Beyerdynamic was quite alright and it scores better on detail, dynamics and musicality compared to the T10i. The Inear Momentum I only got to listen to for 5 minutes so far and I’d like to come back to that at a later time. The other very interesting competitor I mentioned in the beginning of this review is the RockJaw Alfa Genus we will be reviewing in a few weeks. Rockjaw uses the same filter system and the filters actually fit the RHA T10i and vice versa. I’ve only had like 10 minutes with the Rockjaw but it doesn’t seem to come anywhere near the T10i quality.
While the T10i is extremely easy to drive I mostly used an external amplifier with it at home and on the go. Of course the amplification helps its performance but you can easily do without. The RHA T10i is a gorgeous looking universal IEM that is extremely comfortable and it gives you the opportunity to tune the sound to your liking. Will everyone like this IEM? Probably not but I don’t think RHA is aiming for that either. With the filter changeability it will please a lot more people than any other headphone that doesn’t offer this option.
Is the sound worth the price? Yes and no. They cost $199.95, £149.95 UK or €179.95 EUR and that’s quite a lot just looking at the sound. Of course you’re not just buying the sound, you’re buying the design too and looking at it that way it’s up to each and every one to decide for themselves if the T10i is worth paying a premium for. I’m convinced a lot of people will spend a little extra for a nice design, good comfort and tuneability. Sound wise you won’t be disappointed but don’t be expecting a high end audiophile sound either. If you really don’t care about comfort, looks and just look at the sound, you might find a cheaper IEM that suits you better.
I for one like the T10i as a casual IEM and I’m sure I’ll be using it again, not that it has become my fav IEM but I like it a whole lot better than I like most universal IEMs, especially comfort wise. You can buy them directly from RHA or via the dealer network. I notice our friends from Headsound.de are now official RHA resellers too.