With these T20i’s, Reid Heath Acoustics are betting on an earphone design that pleases all ear types. They present their case with a unique tuning filter system and DualCoil dynamic drivers. Is it the definitive answer to please a spectrum of listeners for £189.95? Well, we’ve been wearing them as a team effort to truly uncover the sound facts.
Straight after seizing the T20i’s from their snazzy box we could see an earphone build quality of exemplary craftsmanship to a level we’ve not previously witnessed. The metal injection moulded, stainless steel construction feels rock-like. In fact, the attention to detail exhibited on the actual earphones is carried through the entire design, as witnessed by the 3.5mm aux jack, remote and cable splitter adjustment. Running the affair is a lengthy 1.35m cable with its patent-pending mouldable over-ear hooks. If you stand back, though, and appreciate the design, you realise it’s a charming one-off. The T20i’s from RHA are distinctively shaped and the two colour choices of black and silver do them absolute justice. They look and feel authentically premium!
The weighted design from the steel helps to convey a stable fit in the ears, but this is made even better by the shaping. There’s no way you can pop these in the wrong way, they cleverly conform around the ear canal for a locked-in fit that even runners will appreciate! Whilst they’re styled with the cable feeding behind each ear, mouldable over-ear hooks make whipping them in and out quicker than designs without this facility, such as the FIDUE A73 earphones. Furthermore, to say RHA have been generous with the selection of interchangeable tips for ear sizes and preferences, would be an understatement. In total there are no less than 8 silicone and 2 memory foam pairs, and all can be included, with the tuning filters and earphones, within the generously roomy supplied carry-case. We could listen to the T20i’s all day with little to complain about comfort-wise. The distribution of weight makes them feel ‘floaty’ within the ears and after five minutes of wearing them we completely forget they’re in.
Controls & 360° Mic
So often we put up with earphones that sound and look the part, but the remote is time and again an afterthought, with tinny and clunky to use designs being too commonplace. Here RHA have incorporated a positive to operate 3-button remote which is specifically friendly with Apple products. We’ve been using the RHA T20i earphones with iPhones, iPads and Macs with across-the-board full functionality. Once accustomed, we could operate it blind. The inbuilt 360° microphone sounds clear and has respectful definition for more than just phone calls too.
Tuning Filters: The first and only time we used interchangeable tuning filters was with the Rock Jaw Alfa V2 earphones, which left us disappointed due to their regressive sound performance. Conversely RHA have shown that such a system can, in fact, work. The three filters: with ‘bass', ‘treble’ and balanced ‘reference’ - all add enhancement as they claim to and don’t bog down, to any concerning degree, the other frequencies, which was our previous experience from competitors' attempts. The filters screw in and out of the earphones when the tips are removed and are equally tiny in size as Rock Jaw's; we’d seriously advise interchanging indoors! Starting with the bass filter; it’s not a dramatic alteration in the sound signature, and the shift in darker tones is subtle in general music listening, but when powerful bass elements within tracks are at play; the comparison between these filters and the ‘reference’ ones is blatant. It doesn't necessary improve; it’s literally just a different sound style. Likewise the treble filters are lighter and defuse the bass tones, favouring a warmer and less energetic sound style. These were our least favourites, however, some people out there do prefer music playback with less bass and highlighted treble. For over 80% of all our listening we had the reference filters installed, which don’t try to promote any frequency.
General Listening: As suggested by RHA, we hit play on 'Take Five' by Dave Brubeck. This minimalist yet highly emotive famous instrumental with a saxophone, piano, bass and drums was indeed a good example for the radiance the T20i’s produce. The rawness of the sparky sax and the distilled piano were flowing with rich definition into the ears. Indeed the T20i’s sound clean and natural with this illustration, but in a broader scope of genres they still dazzle us. Importantly the DualCoil dynamic drivers, which are for all intent and purpose a tweeter accompanied by a main driver producing a frequency range between 16-40,000Hz, prove to be capable of staring down competition from similarly priced entries like the RBH EP3 earphones, and this driver setup serves high, medium and low frequencies - with reference filters installed - fairly. When directly compared to the EP3s the bass shimmers in the ears and the general energy is on a larger scale. Furthermore, the degree of isolation, not just from the surrounding environment, which these earphones are masters of, but between track elements, is exaggerated far more than the RBH EP3 earphones. In fact, there’s a soundstage here and it’s not just stereo, there’s scope which is believably spread from directional angles and music from all genres massively benefits from this.
Skipping to more energetic poppy songs: ‘Watch Me Do’ by Meghan Trainer, featuring soaring vocals, dark bass tones and shimmering garnishes of other background instrumental, proved to be a rendition that impressed, with the T20i’s showcasing that they’re broad, dynamic and don’t break stamina when tracks demand all frequencies are paid attention. Drum beats soar, vocals pierce and the treble isn't forgotten, projecting audibly through all the busy sound. Another good demonstration, for acoustic attributes, was ‘Bubble Toes’ by Jack Johnson. This acoustic affair has light background bongo drums, guitars, a main percussion set and, of course, Jack's iconic voice. Notably his voice sounded comparably as rich and life-like as it does on the Marshall Major FX headphones. Against everything we’ve heard from weeks of using the RHA T20i’s, they would appear to be another benchmark setter within their price bracket.
The RHA T20i earphones accomplish astonishingly rich and detailed audio playback that music enthusiasts will relish. We keep saying that earphones are gaining more and more headphone-like qualities; well, the T20i’s are an engineering masterpiece and a pair of earphones that have the genuine impact of proper over-ear headphones!