I’ve had a love/hate relationship with in-ear headphones for some time. Even when there were plenty of choices for ear tip sizes, I couldn’t always wear them comfortably (or keep them in place). But something about the over the ear design of the RHA Audio T20i Noise Isolating In-Ear Headphones makes them work for me.
That’s a good thing because the sound the T20i headphones produce is something worth hearing.
Along with all of the ear tips that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing packaged with in-ear headphones (there are a total of six different size tips and three different types of tips), the T20i includes three sets of interchangeable tuning filters along with a practical carrying case for the headphones and all of the extra options.
Included in the package are:
• T20i in-ear headphone
• Tuning Filters with Holder
• 6 pairs, dual density ear tips – S x2 / M x2 / L x2
• 2 pairs, double flange ear tips – S x1 / L x1
• 2 pairs, memory foam ear tips
• Stainless steel ear tip holder
• Premium carry case
• Clothing clip
So let’s start with the T20i in-ear headphones themselves; they’re certainly interesting looking. Made of metal injection molded stainless steel, they are a bit more solid and slightly weightier than some I’ve seen. The black rubber-coated cable isn’t necessarily marketed as tangle-free, but it seems to do good job of being just that.
The left ear bud has a black band around its bottom, and the right has a red band; don’t worry if you can’t remember that because there is also an R or an L stamped on the other side of each earpiece.
Removing the ear tip reveals one of three sets of interchangeable tuning filters.
They screw in or out for easy swapping.
The T20i’s DualCoil™ dynamic driver features an additional voice coil situated within an annular magnet; each coil operates independently to produce part of the frequency range. This unique configuration ensures ultra-efficient performance and true-to-life sound reproduction across all genres of music. The tuning filter system allows users to customise the headphone’s sound signature by increasing emphasis on bass or treble frequencies.
When inserted, the tuning filters allow you to personalize the music to your liking; the black filters adjust the sound frequency to give more bass, the copper filters give more treble, and the silver filters (which come installed) are balanced. RHA suggests using the treble filters with Jazz, Acappella, and Acoustic music. The bass filters give more impact for HipHop, Dubstep, and metal; the reference filters work with everything.
A handy stainless steel keeper holds the tuning filters when you aren’t using them; it has a color code at the top in case you forget which is which.
A few inches down from the right earpiece, there is a 3-button remote with microphone for use with compatible Apple devices. The top button allows you to increase the volume or take a photo, the middle button will play/pause, answer or end a call, and when you double-click it you’ll advance to the next track while a triple click will take you to the previous track. The bottom button decreases the volume.
On each earpiece there is a moldable ear hook that fits over your ear; once you’ve selected the ear tip that best fits inside your ear’s intertragic notch, you run the cable over the top of your ear and press it to fit the curve of your ear.
The fit, between the proper size earpieces and the security of the over-ear hook is comfortable and extremely effective for isolating outside noise. Granted, it does take a little longer to put them on properly, as you have to get the over-ear hook just so, but that’s a minor quibble.
Sound through the T20i in-ear headphones is pretty spectacular. Even using the Reference tuning filter, the bass is strong and clean, and the treble is just right. In other words, even if you never bothered to personalize the tuning filters, these headphones sound fantastic for general listing to a multitude of musical genres. But since you can swap them out, and it’s fun to try new things, if you are going to be listening to bass-heavy music that you really want to pound into your inner ear, you can swap out for the Bass tuning filter and enjoy.
I should mention that the T2oi in-ear headphones use a proprietary DualCoil technology. You can read more about the technology here, but here’s the gist:
The audio signal is separated when it reaches the driver housing, splitting it into two sets of frequencies – bass/lower midtones and upper midtones and treble frequencies. Each signal is directed to one of the voice coils, the upper half of the frequency range to the outer coil and lower half to the inner coil. The coils operate independently, each with their own electromagnetic field reacting to the magnet’s static magnetic field. Due to the additional apex, the voice coils are able to manipulate the different areas of the diaphragm to generate sound waves.
Long story short, the RHA Audio T20i in-ear headphones are solidly built and they sound amazing. They offer enough customization options that they will fit comfortably and securely on just about anyone — even those like me who don’t usually enjoy wearing in-ear headphones. I can even sleep in these, so they are the headphones I’ll be traveling with now.
Obviously, what we want to hear when listening through headphones is personal and subjective; what I want to hear in my ear might be different from what you want to hear in yours, but the personalized sound the T20i in-ear headphones produce is huge, clear, crisp, and completely enjoyable — it is as good or better than the sound produced by some of the best (and more expensive) over-ear headphones I’ve tried. Outside noise is isolated, so all you’ll hear is phenomenal sounding music.
It was a pleasant surprise to learn that these come with a 3-year warranty, but that speaks to their price and RHA’s confidence in their product.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: 3-year warranty; Solidly built; Ear hooks help keep the earpieces in place; Multitude of ear tips for a perfect fit; Three different sound signatures possible with the three sets of included tuning filters; Music played through the T20i in-ear headphones is some of the best I’ve ever heard — even from over-ear headphones
What Needs Improvement: They take a little longer to put on your ears that regular in-ear headphones because of the over-ear hook; They’re an investment, but they sound as good or better than even pricier headphones