Good sound is subjective, yes, but there are things that we can all agree on that make a headphone sound good: Bass should be tight and impactful, highs detailed but not harsh, and mids that are smooth like honey.
Most headphone manufacturers shoot for these specs, but what if you want a little more bass or want to increase the energy of the highs? For most headphones, your only option is to mess with equalization. But RHA has a different idea.
The RHA T20i is an excellent sounding pair of in-ear headphones with a neat party trick: customizable filters. These filters thread into the headphone housings and let you choose from Bass, Treble, and Reference. Each filter makes an audible impact and are easy to swap out on the go.
As a package, the build quality, sound, and customizable filters make the RHA T20i a must-have for audiophiles on the go. In fact, they sound so good, they made us want to give up our wireless headphones.
The RHA T20i feature a black anodized aluminum finish paired with an all black cable and headphone termination. The RHA T20 (which doesn’t have a mic) comes in a nice silver if that’s more your style.
The earphone drivers look and feel bulletproof and feature ear hooks with memory wire. This makes the T20i extremely comfortable as you can mold them to fit around your ears and stay there. The over-ear design generally helps cut down cable noise – but you’ll notice the noise if you’re walking or working out. (To their credit, RHA includes a shirt clip to combat cable noise, but it’s a hassle.)
The headphones feature an in-line mic and remote that works with iOS devices. Android users are out of luck as the T20 doesn’t have a remote. However, if you do have an iPhone, you can control volume, playback, and make calls, which came through loud and clear with our friends and family.
Both the Y-splitter and 3.5mm headphone termination are made out of anodized aluminum as well, which means the headphones can take some serious abuse. To prove they've thought of everything, the 3.5mm headphone jack also features a spring to take the force off the cable to prevent fraying. While it would have been nice to see a replaceable cable, the cable the T20i comes with is so beefy that we doubt listeners will have to replace them short of a catastrophic accident.
Included in the box are a ton of ear tips to help you find the perfect fit. They’re stored in a nice metal frame and the headphones also come with a nice leather case to help you carry around the filters, shirt clip and eartips. We loved the double flange tips but accidentally ripped them taking them on and off repeatedly to switch filters, so be careful.
Listening with the Reference filter, the RHA T20i sound truly phenomenal. Bass hits hard and is always controlled. Highs are sparkly with excellent resolution, but never harsh. Mids sound liquid and balanced. The Reference filter is by far our favorite of the three included filters for its balance and versatility between genres.
Switching over to the Bass filter, we expected the headphone to increase bass emphasis but it didn’t. Instead, the bass filter dulled the highs and brought out more of the mid-bass frequencies. Bass-heads will be disappointed that the headphones don’t make skull-rattling bass, but this is a headphone for serious listening.
The High filter brought more energy to the highs but didn’t take away from the mids or bass, which is nice. We found the High filter slightly too harsh for the highs but it can help with tracks that could use a bit more treble energy.
After spending several weeks with the RHA T20i, we found ourselves going back to the Reference filter and ditching our wireless headphones to enjoy the improved sound during our commute. Sure, wireless headphones are much more convenient, but the RHA’s sound quality is worth the hassle of going wired.
The RHA T20i impresses with excellent sound, build quality, design and accessories. For $200 (£150, about AU$274) the RHA T20i are a good value and you’ll have to spend quite a bit more to do better in terms of sound.
In terms of competitors, the 1MORE Quad Drivers are about the same price and darker sounding. The Quad Drivers are build extremely well, come with a lot of accessories, but their rolled off highs push us toward the T20i. For half the money, the 1MORE Triple Drivers are an excellent value but also exhibit a darker presentation than RHA’s line of in-ear headphones.
The NuForce HEM6 are also a good choice for those who want a warmer tonal balance. However, once you factor in their high price, the T20i is a better value, especially considering you get those customizable filters.
- You can bet these will make their way onto our best in-ear headphones list