RHA T20 Review: Redefining Premium

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4.0 out of 5 stars
RHA T20 Review: Redefining Premium
Quite possibly the best-built in-ears we've had the pleasure of reviewing, the RHA T10i headphones defined exactly what premium meant. Coming from a small Scottish company that dabbles exclusively in the in-ear market, the T10i was an innovative product that offered unique features such as interchangeable tuning filters and an immersive sound.

Fast forward to the second half of 2015, and RHA has launched an updated T20 model. The new flagship of the RHA product range, the Rs. 18,999 T20 looks and feels almost the same as its predecessor, thanks to the use of the same injection-moulded stainless steel casings and interchangeable tuning filter system. However, the company has developed new DualCoil dynamic drivers for the T20, which promise a more refined, neutral tonal balance and better performance with high-resolution audio. Does the T20 exceed the standards set by the T10i? Read our review to find out.

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Specifications, design and comfort
The RHA T20 is a dynamic driver headset, featuring the company's new DualCoil technology. It features an additional voice coil situated within the annular magnet, with each coil operating independently to produce part of the frequency range. The inner coil produces bass and lower-mid tones, while the outer one generates upper-mid and treble frequencies. This is somewhat similar to how hybrid-driver earphones operate, but the entire operation still takes place within a single dynamic driver, and thus produces a sound that is different to anything else we've heard.

Apart from this, the RHA T20 has a frequency range of 16-40,000Hz, with a sensitivity of 90dB and an impedance of 16Ohms. The headset comes with three sets of interchangeable tuning filters and ten pairs of ear tips: six silicone pairs, two double-flanged pairs and two memory foam pairs. A carry case and shirt clip are also included in the package. The earphones weigh 39g, and have a 1.35m multicore oxygen-free cable.

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The interchangeable filters included are black (bass), silver (reference) and gold (treble). They can easily be screwed on or off by hand, although some care should be taken when doing this as the filters are small and can easily be misplaced. Each filter offers a slight sensitivity boost within its range, while retaining the overall sonic signature of the earphones.

The earphones themselves are identical to the RHA T10i, with the same injection moulded stainless steel casing. They continue to make a solid thud when they hit a hard surface, and feel just as solid, sturdy and premium as their predecessors. The weight of the earphones means that they cannot stay in your ears without support, and therefore rely on the flexible cable to hook behind your ears. The vast number of ear tips provided means that you'll likely find ones that fit you well. On the whole, we're happy with how comfortably and securely the T20 fits, as well as the level of sound isolation it offers.

The cable is perhaps the only part of the RHA T20 that doesn't live up to expectations. It's rubber-coated with a smooth texture, making it extremely tangle-prone. Although it feels sufficiently sturdy, it doesn't quite have the premium look and feel as the rest of the unit, and untangling the cables all the time can be a little bit frustrating. Like the casings, the 3.5mm plug and Y-splitter are metal as well. The T20 does not have an in-line remote and microphone, but the T20i model (which is yet to be launched in India) does have those features.

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Performance
We used a PC, smartphone and our reference Fiio X1 to drive the RHA T20 during the review. Focus tracks were Passenger's Circles (Samuel Remix) with the black filter, Foster The People's Helena Beat with the silver filter, and Azari & III's Reckless With Your Love (Tensnake Edit) with the gold filter.

Starting with the black bass filters, we played the beautiful Samuel Remix of Circles. The boost to the bass frequencies was marginal, but it could definitely be felt. It was gentle and unobtrusive, giving the sound just a hint of aggression without becoming too overbearing and attacking. The general sonic signature definitely favours the mid-range, with specific variation around the upper-mids. This keeps the sound detailed, gentle and comfortable, with excellent performance in the upper-mid frequency range.

Moving on to the silver reference filters with Helena Beat, we naturally found less bass than before. There was less thump and attack to the sound, instead keeping to a natural sonic signature as much as possible. The sound is revealing and open, with plenty of detail to be found as well as excellent separation of sonic elements. The earphones offer an excellent, wide-open sound stage, highlighting just how capable they are in achieving a true high-resolution sound.

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Finally, we screwed on the gold treble filters and fired up Reckless With Your Love, which gives a faint top-end boost. Once again, the actual boost is marginal, but can certainly be felt. This adds a hint of sparkle and fun to the sound, without becoming too harsh and sharp. It allows for much more open sonic imaging, as well as giving more in terms of top-end detail. Even with a bass-heavy track such as Reckless, the bass and low-end was more or less on par with the reference filter.

As with the T10i, the RHA T20's tuning filters don't have quite as big an effect on the sound as with the tuning filter systems we've seen on the Rock Jaw Kommand and Trinity Audio Delta. The boosts are slight, while retaining the natural sound of the T20 to a large extent. The T20 is also incredibly accurate and loyal to recordings, retaining all the natural characteristics of the tracks themselves. This affinity to neutrality also makes the T20 excellent for use with videos and movies.

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Verdict
Although the RHA T10i is excellent in its own right, the RHA T20 is an impressive step up. It offers a little bit more when it comes to detail, definition and clarity, while fixing some of the issues we had with sharpness and comfort. It retains a mid-centric sound signature that makes for a truly open, revealing sound, while the tuning filter system is subtle and offers only slight boosts, while staying loyal to the overall character of the headphones.

Although the RHA T20 is expensive, it's built fantastically, and offers a sonic signature which will appeal to purists and audiophiles, rather than the bass-heavy, entertaining signature that is common in the premium headphone market. The T20 is available now at headphonezone.in.

Price (MRP): Rs. 18,999

Pros
  • Fantastic, sturdy build
  • Interchangeable tuning filters
  • Neutral, open and revealing sound
  • Immersive and detailed sonics
  • Plenty of ear tips and a good carry case

Cons

  • Cable is extremely tangle-prone
  • Expensive

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Design: 4.5
  • Performance: 4.5
  • Value for money: 3
  • Overall: 4
product The Scottish headphone specialist raises the standards with the RHA T20.
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Ali Pardiwala

Ali has over eight years of experience in the technology space, specialising in writing about all kinds of audio gear and TVs. He’s reviewed all kinds of headphones, speakers, audio gear, and televisions over the years, and is the in-house expert on all gadgets with screens and audio drivers. He is of the firm belief that truly wireless earphones are the future, and will always recommend a 4K TV, but not necessarily a smart TV. In his spare time, Ali likes to watch TV shows and movies ...More

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