Archive for August, 2015


Reid Heath Acoustics (RHA) from Glasgow, Scotland announced its arrival in the busy earphone market with a range of reasonably priced in-ear monitors two years ago. Till recently, the T10 was its top-of-the-line IEM (but at the time of writing this, it has been taken over by the T20).

The T10i, provided for review by Headphone Zone, is the version with an in-line three-button remote control and a microphone for use with Apple products (which basically means almost all its controls – except the button used to pause, advance or rewind tracks – won’t work with Android or Windows smartphones). t10

Everything about the T10 exudes class, from the injection moulded stainless steel earpieces to the heavy duty oxygen-free copper cable to the 3.5 mm jack that looks like it belongs in a cable to connect full size audio components such as an amplifier.

The booklet that comes with the IEM says the earpieces are made using a 10-hour metal injection moulding process that involves heating stainless steel to more than 1,300 °C while forming the unique shape that houses a handmade dynamic driver with a Mylar diaphragm.

The T10 comes with three interchangeable filters that fit on the nozzle and can be used to fine-tune the sound for reference (or flat), enhanced treble and enhanced bass. This can be a little tricky as one has to remove the silicone tip, unscrew the filter that’s fitted and replace it with another one – not easy if you have big fingers.

Also included in the package are 10 pairs of ear tips, including six pairs of standard silicone tips in different sizes, two double flange tips and two memory foam tips.  T101

There are other features that show this IEM is aimed at the discerning listener, such as the red and blue bands to indicated the right and left earpieces (taking a cue from the red and blue markings on RCA jacks in full size audio components). The earpieces come with mouldable hooks that go over the ears to ensure that they remain snugly in place.

The T10’s earpieces are a little larger and heavier (almost 40 g) than those of most IEMs and folks with small ears could have some problems with them. I got used to them after a few days, and they were great at noise isolation even out on the streets or in Delhi’s Metro.

The T10’s sound is all about finesse and nuance. It’s merciless with low bit-rate MP3s but shines with MP3s encoded at 320 kbps or high-resolution files.

This IEM is great at digging out every little detail, even on tracks with complex and layered sounds such as Tears For Fears’ “Woman In Chains”. Listening to the track with the T10, I was suddenly aware of bits that never registered with lesser earphones.

But the T10 isn’t easily driven with most smartphones – I constantly had to push the volume up to almost 4 o’clock to get decent listening levels. The T10 was much happier paired with an external headphone amplifier or with my home rig, the extra power giving it a better grip on the music.

The T10 excels with vocals, every little nuance coming through clearly in a wide soundstage. Not that it’s a slouch in other aspects. With a wide range of music, from hip hop to rock to jazz, the treble was nice and airy while the bass was nicely defined and tight, not the globs of rubbish that obscures the soundscape with so many earphones these days.

The sound through the reference (or flat) filter was good but I preferred the filter for enhanced bass – it gave the music an extra little kick.  T102

Quibbles? Fairly minor. The cable can get tangled if you roll up these earphones and tuck them into your pocket. And at this price point (the T10 retails for Rs. 13,999), I’d have been happier if this IEM had user replaceable cables.

The T10 doesn’t come cheap, but if a natural and balanced sound is a priority for you, this is the IEM for you.

Frequency range: 16-40,000Hz
Impedance: 16 Ohm
Sensitivity: 100db
Rated/max power: 1/5mW

(This review originally appeared at hindustantimes.com here)

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – Reid Heath Acoustics (RHA) from Glasgow, Scotland set aside that axiom when they decided to upgrade their top-of-the-line T10 in-ear monitor.

The T10 (reviewed here) is one of the most natural sounding IEMs I’ve ever heard and one would have thought RHA would be hard pressed to improve on it.

But the T20, which has just been launched round the world, is even better. And all thanks to a brand new DualCoil dynamic driver developed by RHA. What RHA has done is put in two voice coils within an annular magnet, with each operating independently – the outer coil produces upper mid and treble frequencies while the inner one generates bass and lower mid tones.

Pic1In all other respects, the T20, provided for review by Headphone Zone, is very similar to the T10 – from the injection moulded stainless steel earpieces to the heavy duty oxygen-free copper cable to the 3.5 mm gold-plated jack that looks like it belongs in a cable to connect full size audio components such as an amplifier. The T20 comes with three interchangeable filters that fit on the nozzle and can fine-tune the sound for reference (or flat), enhanced treble and enhanced bass. This can be a little tricky as one has to remove the silicone tip, unscrew the filter that’s fitted and replace it with another one – not easy if you have big fingers.

Included in the package are 10 pairs of ear tips, including six pairs of standard silicone tips in different sizes, two double flange tips and two memory foam tips and a classy carry case.  Pic3

Other features show this IEM is aimed at the discerning listener, including the red and blue bands to indicate the right and left earpieces (taking a cue from the red and blue markings on RCA jacks in full size audio components) and the mouldable over-ear hooks that hold the earphones in position with the cable running over and behind the ears.

The T20’s earpieces are larger and heavier than those of most IEMs and may not be a great fit for folks with small ears. For some strange reason, I couldn’t get a proper fit with any of the tips provided with the T20 and had use a pair of tips from another IEM.

But once the T20 was up and running, almost everything was perfect. The isolation was so good that I couldn’t hear announcements within the Delhi Metro even when the music was playing at moderate volume levels.

The T20 sounds a touch warmer than the T10, with the new DualCoil driver bumping up the bass just a little bit. The T20 retains the T10’s terrific ability to dig out every little detail but takes things up a notch or two.

Listening to a 320 kbps MP3 of Cream’s “Tales Of Brave Ulysses”, Jack Bruce’s bass lines sounded just like they would coming through a great pair of speakers. The new driver produces a wide soundstage and zero distortion even at high volume levels. Pic4

The T20 sounded, no matter what was thrown at it, from John Lee Hooker’s bluesy stomp on “I’m In The Mood” to Daft Punk’s retro disco. And like its predecessor, the T20 was merciless with low-quality audio files or YouTube videos with low-res sound.

The T20 conforms to the Hi-Res Audio standards of the Japan Audio Society, and paired with my Geek Pulse DAC/headphone amplifier and fed with high-resolution FLAC files, everything that was good about the T20 became better. The soundstage was wider and the bottom end had more bite while vocals and the highs came through crystal clear.

The T20 is easier to drive with smartphones than the T10, though the volume had to be pushed to 2 o’clock to get decent levels in a quiet environment. Using the treble filter made the focus of the sound shift to the highs and the vocals while the bass filter added a tad too much bottom end for my liking.

For an IEM priced at Rs 18,999, the T20 comes without two features that I feel should have been included at this price point – user replaceable cables (yes, IEMs have them too nowadays) and an inline remote control for both iOS and Android because most folks use IEMs with their smartphones.

Bottom line – it’s hard not to recommend the T20 if good sound is a priority for you.

Frequency range: 16-40,000Hz
Impedance: 16 Ohm
Sensitivity: 90db
Rated/max power: 2/5mW

(This review originally appeared at hindustantimes.com here)

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