I often wonder why $30 for Apple EarPods is perfectly acceptable as a purchase, but that anything more is absurd. Maybe it’s because Apple gives them away with their iPhone, or something, so the only people who actually buy those hard, uncomfortable and altogether crappy-sounding $.05 pieces of trash are those that actually lost the freebies they were given in the first place. Knowing no better, they replace, and the Circle of Audio Crap continues.
The sad fact is that the iPhone isn’t cheap. It isn’t even in the neighborhood of cheap. Try replacing one when you’re off-warranty. If you’re lucky, you just cracked the screen — the 14-year-old Apple Genius with black plastic glasses and too much hair gel will “fix” it for you (that is, replace the phone entirely) for $200. Do more, however and you may be looking at several hundred bucks.
On a side note, given that the prices of iPhones are pretty much subsidized by the vendors you then contract your wireless usage from, most of us never see (much less pay) the full MSRP of $750. But it’s useful to remember that someone values that widget at that level. Taken as a phone — or, heaven forbid, a mobile entertainment device — you do have to wonder if there isn’t some wild mismatch between the that as a source component and the shitty little disasters that come with it that you’re supposed to actually use it. Okay, maybe that’s just me.
The fact is, and you may well have missed this, the newest iPhones (at this writing, the iPhone 6+ is the top of the line — shown here in the photos), is a spectacularly competent digital audio player. If you’ve been keeping track, this is anomalous — prior generations of iPods and iPhones have been mediocre at playback, and that’s being generous. Not so with the 6 and 6+ — they sound damn good. I mean, not as good as a Pono, but still, for an all-in-one pocketable supercomputer, it’s the best Apple has managed (to bother with) to date.
Which means it’s time. Time to treat it with some respek.
Which brings me to RHA.
Lyndsey Gibson, Formula-1 enthusiast, sky-diving instructor, professional stunt woman and head of Business Development at RHA, suggested I try out their newest, the injection-molded stainless-steel T10i. Priced at $199, the T10i is a gorgeously crafted in-ear monitor and as an alternative to the EarPod (yes, it does in fact include a mic and volume switch compatible with your iDevice), it’s absurdly awesome.
Sonically, there’s some very interesting stuff to talk about. You see, the T10i are user-adjustable through a series of add-on widgets, and yes, they do alter the sound. The so-called “Reference Filter” is the most neutral of the three options on offer — and the one I’d recommend. By contrast, the “Treble Filter” shifts the tonal balance up in the sense that there is more “up there” and a bit less “down there”. I’m not really sure who this tuning would appeal to, but at least it’s an option. Anyway, there is more air and more detail, but it seems bright to my ear. The “Bass Filter” is, not surprisingly, just the opposite. Interestingly, this filter has a bit more bass texture, but there is a attendant and unfortunate loss of detail. Of the three, I find the Reference to have a healthy dose of the deep bass and the top-end air that the specialty tunings do, and it’s really quite enough. Color me content!
You an iDevice fan? You have to check these out. Skadoosh.