The recently announced RHA T10i (US$199.95) noise-isolating, in-ear headphones take top-shelf in RHA's lineup of fantastic headphones. According to RHA, the T10i headphones take precedence over the MA750i (read my review here), which have been my everyday headphones over the last year or so. They're also the set I recommend to anyone looking for new headphones with high-quality sound, but with a modest budget. How does the T10i compare as the new top-tier RHA offering?
According to RHA's website, the T10i takes a step forward in almost every aspect compared to the MA750i. The MA750i drivers are made from 303F Stainless Steel. The T10i drivers are made from Injected Molded Steel -- a process where steel is subjected to 1300 degrees Celsius heat for up to ten hours, ensuring the correct shape and density for superior comfort and durability. The result is a cool, brushed metal look and feel, with a sturdy confidence. I would have no problems shoving these into my back pocket or bag.
The MA750i has over-ear cable supports. The T10i has "moulded" over-ear hooks that adjust to the shape of your ear. The MA750i has a steel reinforced, oxygen-free cable with gold plated connections. The T10i has a multicore, reinforced, oxygen-free copper cable with gold plated connections, and it's noticeably thinner, but still strong and hard-wearing. The list goes on. Incrementally different as they are, both headphones look fantastic, are rugged and durable, have a three button remote and mic made for iOS users and, as with all RHA headphones, have a 3-year warranty.
However, the big difference here is between the MA750i 560.1 driver and the T10i 770.1 driver. For starters, the T10i's are noticeably bigger. But there's a lot more to it than just size. Aside from delivering a natural, balanced sound signature aiming to accommodate all genres of music accurately and precisely with high levels of soundstage imaging, the frequency response of the 770.1 driver is customizable with the T10i's interchangeable tuning filter system.
By unscrewing the tip-ends off the drivers and replacing them with either of the two sets of additional filters, users can enhance the bass or treble response of the T10i or remain with the pre-installed, true-to-life reference filters attached.
Check out RHA's details on the differences between all the drivers in their line-up here.
I spent the bulk of my listening time using the reference filters on the T10i. After the lengthy, but recommended burn-in period, I found the T10i's to be immediately familiar in feel and sound -- though offering a weightier, more detailed sound compared with the MA750i's more open sound -- but with a new found focus and determination that bested the MA750i.
Of course, choosing the right ear tip is crucial for both noise isolation and the sound you'll get. I have some universal custom molds for my ears, but found that they didn't work well with the T10i's. Perhaps when fitted, there's a bit more travel between the driver and my ear. Either way, do try the different tips that come with the T10i's to get the best fit.
Damien Rice's The Box (do listen to the album version) demonstrates how the T10i delivers fine detail and presentation as well as range and depth with life and energy. Rice's vocal is front and center, delicate and then soaring over an acoustic guitar. Subtle inflections, intonations and rhythms are beautifully presented and handled. The later piano and strings demonstrate the breadth of the T10i's soundstage, with warmth and clarity. Brass and drums join the mix, filling into the balanced depth and fullness the T10i offers. Everything culminates with a climatic end; piano harmonics linger while Rice's vocal and guitar end the song. It's a great song and a pleasure to hear through the T10i's.
I spent less time with the filters, but appreciated the enhancements that each brought. If you're looking for that extra bit of sonic depth or height in your music, both will deliver subtle, but appreciated enhancements to either end of the spectrum. The filters provide a customization that is not often found in headphones of this price range, if at all.
The T10i sets a new high for RHA, pushing the boundaries of sound quality and delivery. They're a worthy upgrade to the MA750i, with incremental upgrades to an already impressive feature set, but it's those 770.1 drivers that make all the difference. There's also the custom filters for personal taste, which is a premium feature. Hitting the $200 price point starts to push beyond the realms of budget headphones, but I think the T10i offer great value for money when you could easily spend a lot more for a similar, high-quality experience.
The T10i is available directly from RHA's website, Apple's Online Store or Amazon