The sound stage of the RS10 is like in a studio environment. It’s not narrow or very close, but it’s not immensely wide or deep either. It has a holographic staging performance with a studio feel to it. I would say the staging dimensions are very ideal for a reference signature. Both the width and the depth are equally impressive but it’s not quite the widest IEM I’ve heard.
The strongest attribute of the RS10 is its resolution though. It’s one of the most resolving IEMs you can listen to, and it’s almost boringly so. The RS10 does not apologize as I remarked above, and there’s no compromise here for the sake of joy or musicality. The sound feels fully naked and this is the blatantly obvious factor of the RS10 and the first striking impression from the get-go. The transparency is the same story. There’s no veil or darkness whatsoever.
The instrument separation is very good as well, and that is also the case for the separation of the spectrum. The bass for example doesn’t get in the way of things in any way. When you look at the things from a micro-perspective, the instruments separate nicely in the mids too. So separation is not a problem at all for the RS10.
The RS10 is also very coherent in its own reference presentation and it’s also very well balanced. The whole music just lies down on a wide scale and you can focus on anything you wish. That’s because no particular part of the spectrum is lifted or recessed. Everything has the same amount of definition. That’s some very impressive control and balance right there.
Sound Quality – Cerberus
The Cerberus has a different approach to sound. And I’m honestly very surprised by its performance overall. The RS10’s performance didn’t shock me because of its very name; “Reference Sound 10”, but I didn’t know what to expect from Cerberus. It’s not a bass-heavy IEM at all, and yet, it’s not treble-focused either. It has dynamic drivers for bass and EST for treble, but the presentation has really caught me by surprise. Because I think the most impressive feat of the Cerberus is definitely in its mid-range. This is definitely unexpected.
Cerberus is my favorite Softears IEM for many reasons. One of the reasons is its unexpected coherency and balance despite being a tribrid IEM. Another reason for me its great musicality and fantastic timbre. Although not being that much strong technically, I would prefer it over the RS10 myself.
Perhaps that has something to with my listening preferences. I listen to a lot of Jazz and I think Cerberus is one of the best high-end IEMs for Jazz listening, simply because of its incredible timbre quality, soft and smooth nature, and very controlled bass. Whilst the RS10 represents “neutrality and transparency”, the Cerberus represents “naturalness, and musicality” to me.
I often find myself reaching out for the Cerberus when I came home from work. The RS10 is my choice at the office. That should tell you something. The Cerberus is for relaxing, listening to some instrument timbre, the piano, the violin, the sax, the guitar.
As I mentioned, the Cerberus actually has less bass quantity than the RS10, which has been the biggest surprise for me ever since I received them. It has a dynamic driver but this driver is tuned incredibly well to be very balanced, controlled, and realistic overall.
Lows come from a wider area, and it feels like the bass overall has more space and layering with the Cerberus. The RS10’s bass is tighter a little bit, but it has more quantity and sometimes the midbass becomes just a bit overpowering for Jazz recordings. The Cerberus on the other hand feels much more natural with Jazz and Classical to my ears.
The bass has more air with the Cerberus, so it feels a bit more natural in lows, understandably. I really like when companies tune these dynamic drivers this well. Usually, dynamic drivers give too much sub-bass with an imbalanced bass presentation. That’s not the case with the Cerberus, as the bass is perfectly under control and it has just the right amount to be flexible, and it feels very very natural.
And here we are, at the best part about the Cerberus. There is only a handful of high-end IEMs that impressed me tonality-wise, and Cerberus is one of them for sure. Does anyone remember the old Fitear ToGo 334? It’s almost in the history books of audiophiles now. Well, that was a hell of an IEM for vocals and instruments, because it had fantastic tonal quality. The timbre on that IEM was simply fantastic and unparalleled at the time. I’m sure many would still be impressed.
The Cerberus reminded me of the 334, and honestly, I never expected that. That certain mid-range quality is very very important in my book. I find that people sometimes gloss over that factor and only look for the overall frequency responses, charts and etc. It’s not easy to find better mids with better tonality and naturality in my opinion. And that is crucial for my own listening experience and that’s why liked this IEM so much.
Moving on from timbre, the mid-range is not thick but not too thin either. The mid-bass amount is just right and I found it to be more suitable for Jazz in particular, compared to the RS10. Overall a fantastic mid-range performance. If you like mid-centric gear or simply love to focus on the instruments and vocals, Cerberus is your high-end IEM.
The Cerberus has EST drivers for the treble but actually, it doesn’t have a dominating treble response. In fact, the treble is a bit back of the stage, which I usually find quite realistic but that depends on your taste of course. There’s no doubt less quantity than the RS10 here, but oddly enough, the treble feels a bit more relaxed and airy.
There’s a bit more shimmer here, but still, the treble takes a step back in the Cerberus. So if you like your treble more definitive, the RS10 is simply better. In Cerberus, the treble has a certain “distance” and shyness in it. This is good for my listening taste since I’m not a treble-head at all, but you might need a different approach.
However, I don’t think Cerberus lacks any treble response. Micro details and resolution here are excellent. What’s different here is the overall approach. Cerberus tends to be more conservative in its treble performance, but it still has good extension and clarity. That also depends on the ear tips you choose. Tip rolling definitely changes the experience. You can try different diameters and sizes of ear tips.