RBH are a brand that has so far managed already to wow us with their EP2 earphones. Today we have a review of their new wireless Bluetooth EP-SB earphones, promising an unmatched level of quality for Bluetooth earphones, staring off wired competitors for $179.
The RBH EP-SB earphones are presented in a rather plush box and we particularly chuckled over the quote-styled joke revealed upon opening it.
The silky black earphones embossed with the RBH logo on the back are familiarly bullet shaped. The tips, as well as the cable, are offset and even though the cable hasn't been entirely removed, as it’s used to sensibly join the earphones, these are far more pocket and travel friendly than their traditional tangled wired siblings. What was surprising is how compact and absurdly light the EP-SBs are, weighing a mere 13g; we wonder where on earth RBH have tucked away the battery, drivers and wireless chips? Throughout our lengthy and constant usage, we can conclude that these earphones can cope with a great deal of stress. In fact, we unintentionally left them in our back pocket and they survived an entire day of being sat on, and they have also fared well with general day to day usage. Added to their resilient casing they’re water resistant too, thanks to being coated in Liquipel with an IPX4 rating, so you can continue to listen to your favourite tracks when caught out in the rain or be reassured that the sweat produced when running doesn't hurt these earphones. We gave this discipline a quick test by nervously splashing them with water from a tap and they did indeed continue to play music.
Bluetooth, NFC Pairing & Remote
Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC are the two connectivity options the RBH EP-SB earphones support and both collaborate with Apt-X if you have a device with the ability. We primary used Bluetooth 4.0 with our devices and were really impressed with the speed of paring. Within two seconds of turning these earphones on, in the proximity of a previously used device, they’re ready to play music. The connection never dropped, hissed or made any attempt to showcase that it was wireless at all. It was always consistent, and the range was too, achieving a respectable 10 metres indoors. The three button remote, with microphone equipped, is instant in response as well. The buttons left and right allow you to skip music when held down and the middle button functions as the on/off mechanism when held down and if double-clicked it dials the last called number on a smartphone. It can too pause/play songs with one click and also adjust the volume level.
Comfort & Noise Isolation
Included in the box is a tidy little zipped pouch, with room to store both the earphones, charging cable and all accompanying tips. RBH have gone out of their way to provide a wide selection of different types and sizes of interchangeable tips so that everyone can enjoy these earphones and we applaud them for doing so.
Small, medium and large silicone tips are included, with the addition of medium and large Comply foam tips. There is also another set of medium sized Comply foam tips specifically designed for the purpose of noise isolation; however we couldn’t hear any difference when testing these over the other Comply tips; although they did reduce the amount of external sound heard by others within quite close proximity. Noise isolation with the correct tip fit for your ears won’t be an issue though; when having them in our ears with no audio playing our surrounding environment of sound is muffled, and when the audio is playing (around 30%+ volume) we couldn’t hear anything at all. The cable can either be rested over your neck, which we opted to do, or can be swung in front of the face nearer to the neck. We chose to have it behind our neck, as we felt that this increased stability. We found both the Comply and silicone tips comfortable, and for activities with lots of movement, stabiliser cushions which clip onto the earphones and tuck into the ears' perimeter were comfortable.
Battery Life & Charging
With many products we often don’t read manuals or internal literature initially, other than scanning the outside of the box. But as savvy as we think we are, the puzzle of finding the micro-USB charging port (1A max input) on these earphones, did make us go to the manual for the answer. It’s discretely tucked behind a flap on the right earphone. Battery life is claimed at 5 hours at full charge by RBH. Interestingly we superseded this number and got a respectable 6 hours of playback time out of them. We tended to have the volume at half way, so keep in mind that RBH have probably come to their claim with volume increasing and decreasing in usage, to form a relative average. Also worth noting is that whenever not listening to these earphones for more than around twenty seconds, they go into standby mode to preserve battery life.
We can’t deny that we had concerns over the performance these would provide, solely because they’re housed in plastic and not aluminium, like the tremendous RBH EP2 earphones. But RBH have managed to pull it off and to prove that plastic is a truly premium housing for an intense sound signature. RBH have squeezed into these tiny earphones some of the most staggering pure audio performance we’ve ever heard from earphones - and we’ve reviewed a lot! We didn’t need to fiddle around with EQ settings or anything else; with just default settings enabled on our notebooks, smartphones, tablets, etc., the RBH EP-SB earphones continually blew us away!
The bass, mid and high ranges are neutrally balanced, but all attributes were individually excellent and the volume can be fully cranked without a glimmer of distortion. The highs flew in definite well mannered control, without any reverb, really exemplified with a song like ‘In The Long Run’ by ‘The Staves’. Bass is also responsive, accurately deep and never overwhelmingly stealing the limelight from the other frequencies. A mid range can often be lost in translation on earphones but RBH have illustrated how it should be done here, with the range given lots of room to be a fluid part of what it was intended to be within the audio playing.
Acoustic renditions from the RBH EP-SB earphones also really impressed us, for instance in the cover version of ‘Seven Nation Army’ by ‘Zoella Day’, the atmosphere of the song is captured charmingly. The delicate high depth of her voice with a mild echo was perfectly preserved, along with a powerful acoustic guitar performance. When we contrasted these earphones against others we rated highly in the past, like the Spider RealVoice earphones and Brainwavz R1 earphones, stereo separation was notably spanned, really encroaching on the kind of standards we expect with headphones. Likewise the sound stage had area to it; we could easily distinguish and hear instruments and vocals separated with space between. We don’t know how RBH achieve such an astonishing performance, but whatever they’ve been up to, it’s working!
We have no hesitance in awarding these with the accolade of being premium bluetooth earphones. They’ve shaken off the stigma that Bluetooth can’t sound as good as wired audio products, allowing us to enjoy the convenience of the cordless world in the process. And with the RBH EP-SBs having a faithfully rich and accurate sound signature, any audiophile will happily sit them in their ears.