The RBH EP3 earphones came into the studio with great expectation about just what the quality, build and overall music facility would be like. The reason being is we were mostly impressed with the previous RBH EP2 release - but they failed to grab a full five star rating. So the big question is, will these be awarded with a higher accolade when contrasted with their $180 asking price? Especially now there is such intense competition to compare that ratio of quality against value.
Straight away RBH started on the right footing. The build and overall design is definitely their best yet, boasting resilient ceramic housings that are supposed to produce better acoustics in the sound department. Obvious modern refinement can be spotted, such as the silver trimming, deliciously glossy rounded design and sculpted edgy effects on the ends. Additionally the latter design aspect aids us to distinguish which ear to pop the respective earphone into.
We must also give the cable a mention as it too is altered. Weaved with cloth and jacketed with TPE, this is a uniquely attractive cable design. Additionally it apparently also acts as serious strain relief and is supposed to reduce noise interference when touched or rubbed against something. If we tap it, the ubiquitous earthquake sounds still occur - but when playing music it’s quiet. Additionally the cable untangles really easily!
Comfort & Noise Isolation
Always an essential part of design, RBH, like most earphone designers, have equipped the EP3 earphones with a plethora of different sized tips and styles straight within the supplied leather carry pouch. The comply tips (medium & large sizes in the box) are nowadays our go to if supplied - solely because they boast improved noise isolation over silicone tips (S, M, L all supplied) as they mould to your ear canal. This allows a more natural fitting, making these light and embedded earphones a comfortable listening experience for hours on end. What’s more, the exactness of the fit stops noise from escaping the ear canal and is tremendous at isolating noise generally. Busy urban life and speaker background noise is obsolete when playing music above mid volume level. We all agreed that the RBH EP3 earphones present the best noise isolation we've yet witnessed from earphones.
Controls & Microphone
Nothing angers an on-the-go audiophile more than a great sounding pair of earphones with no mechanism to control playback from your chosen device via them. Thankfully RBH have included a control - yes singular. We were disappointed to see that they haven't improved on the single button design featured on their predecessors. But RBH - why leave a volume control out? This has to be added on the next version. Nevertheless the microphone remains clear for phone calls outdoors.
The RBH EP2 earphones achieved our high praise on the basis of big sound with plenty of definition amongst the ranges, but we did criticise them for the mid-range sometimes sounding washed out. It would appear that RBH thought so too and have subsequently chosen a ceramic housing for the 8mm drivers to live in, instead of aluminium. So with the RBH EP3s we have a mid-range that better behaves across all genres of music. In fact, the general acoustics are noticeably more sparky and fair well against similarly priced headphones like the SACKit WOOFit Bluetooth headphones. ‘Rather Be’ by Clean Bandit has a near constant thumping bass line, along with violinists, raucous female vocals and a xylophone. It was a good demonstration of a real headphone-like sound, containing highly dissected individual audio components and giving a natural stereo listening experience. This is something that we know only too well, from reviewing so many other earphones, is tricky to crack.
After playing an eclectic mix of songs like the poppy ‘I Don’t Like It, I Love It’ by Flo Rida ‘Hello’ by Adele and ‘Jingle Bells’ by Michael Bublé - we can declare that these have a more heavy bass response with a balance of fairly neutral highs and mids. The bass isn't leant on enough for dance music enthusiasts to be satisfied, but for the general listener who enjoys a bit of everything they’re exceptionally good. Generally music is clear and strong, and these earphones meet the $180 request with no feeling of unreasonableness as the sound is so full. Definition stays relentless when the volume is maxed and yes, it does exceed a volume your ears would be happy with. The high range was always quite impressive with the EP2 earphones, so we were pleased to hear that RBH have only improved upon this notion. Our ears were amazed when hearing in ‘Crystal Sky’ by Lena the height the range can summit. Nevertheless, the high range does sometimes spoil songs, with a good example being ‘(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People’ by Joss Stone. This hectic track sounded a bit pitchy throughout; it would appear that these drivers don’t like high cymbal sounds that are married with tightly projected vocals.
The RBH EP3 earphones present a new attractive design, with a ceramic construction included within them. This seems the key to the generally richly improved output and level of sound. These deliver one of the most distinctive music playing experiences from earphones we’ve yet to hear, with better acoustics being the standout for us.