A Headphones Reviews Blog
Rhapsodio is a young company from Hong Kong that makes some of the most exotic IEMs and cables available in the market. It is run by only two people and they operate a physical store in the city of Hong Kong as well as a webstore. During the last few years they’ve released many different products, making their product line quite unstable, with no product being there for more than a few months. But as the time moved on, it seems that they’ve finally chosen their lane, with a few great products which are less DIY-looking than their older products (less, but they still feel somewhat DIY). I’m talking about their RTi-series of IEMs, which currently consists of 2 models, the RTi-1 and the cheaper RTi-3, which both have a single dynamic driver housed inside of titanium shells, in contrast to most of the high-end IEMs on the market, which include multiple drivers (BA or Dynamic). Today I’m going to look at the $800 RTi-1, which the folks at Rhapsodio call a “Detail Monster”.
Accessories- The RTi-1 comes with a Rhapsodio branded metal case, which looks like a little suitcase. There’s more than enough space inside for your IEMs, and maybe even for a small DAP a-la Sansa Clip as well. Its inside is filled with sponge with cutouts in the shape of the RTi-1’s shells in it. Near that you have a small space in which you can put the three pairs of supplied ear-tips in. The ear-tips come in the three standard sizes, and they seem to be of good quality. We also get a weird leather strap to keep the cable nicely wrapped while stored in the case. I didn’t really find it useful and I don’t really use it, to be honest. That’s it for the accessories. I would’ve liked to see a pocketable case included as well, since the included case is too big for me to transport with.
Building Quality & Design – Like I’ve said earlier, the RTI1’s shells are made of titanium, which is CNCd in order to reach a feeling of a more refined, mass produced product (unlike some of Rhapsodio’s older products, which were fully handmade, and you could actually notice some imperfections in the shells quite easily). The shiny shells are beautiful and they leave you with a feeling of luxury. They have a smooth texture and they feel really nice. The faceplates have the company’s logo on them, and the left earpiece also has the model name on its top. The shells feel strong and well built, but on the other hand, they also seem to get easily scratched. The nozzles are quite short and wide, and they’re covered with metal grills in order to protect the drivers from debris. Like most of the IEMs at this price range, the RTi1 utilizes removable cables, with the standard 2-Pin connection. It should be noted that these have a recessed cable connection point, so cables with chunky connectors might fit them well. The stock cable that you get with the RTi1 is a “zebra” colored one, which thankfully doesn’t have the annoying memory-wire that a lot of the cables included with CIEMs & IEMs have. The part of the cable that usually has the memory wire has a soft heat-shrinked plastic tube that creates an upper ear like shape. The cable has a very small Y-Split and also a chin-slider, which doesn’t work so well, since it slides down when using it. The cable ends with a straight gold-plated 3.5mm plug. The cable is a bit stiff and tangles quite a bit, and overall, I feel like its quality isn’t that good. Rhapsodio offers many different upgrade cables (which cost an extra), and I’d suggest checking about getting a one when purchasing the RTi1. Another option would be to get one of Linum’s cables, which are quite cheap and are of high quality, though it they may not fit that optimally with the RTi1, since their connector is a bit short, so it was tough for me to connect them to my pair, but I did succeed.
Comfort, Fit & Isolation – the RTi1 sports universal-custom shaped shells, meaning that they resemble the look of a CIEM, but are universally fitting. These shells will probably sit in a quite flush way in most cases, but with me having small ears, they stick out a little, and that looks a bit awkward. The shells are heavier than your usual universal IEMs, but I didn’t really feel it when they were in my ears, to be honest. I find the RTi1 to have more comfortable shells than the similarly “universal-custom” Aurisonics IEM that I’ve reviewed in the past.
I didn’t like the fit and the bad seal that I had with the supplied “red-core” ear-tips, but luckily, I’ve found a pair of tips in my collection that made the fit and seal a lot better for me. Due to that, tip-rolling is recommended with these IEMs. I also found the supplied cable to be a bit stiff and not the most comfortable, so I’ve decided to use my Linum BAX cable instead, with the results being a more comfortable and secure fit.
The isolation that the RTi1 provides is alright, but there are better IEMs to use in a noisy street, these would probably be better for office or home use.
Sound – my pair of RTi1 was given 100 hours of burn in (with pink, blue and white noise + some of my music as well) before I’ve started my critical listening. I haven’t noticed any major differences after it, maybe just the bass getting a little tighter and more controlled.
For this review I’ve mostly used my iPhone 6, loaded with iTunes Store purchased music and with some 320 KBPS CD rips. I’ve also used the Lotoo PAW Gold as well, and it was loaded with FLACs & WAVs ripped from CDs.
The RTi1’s sound signature is neutral, with the treble being a bit more present than the bass and the mids, or simply U-shaped (but quite slightly from my prescription). I would say that the treble is clearly “the star” of these IEMs, it’s just so good! And no, that doesn’t mean that the bass and the mids aren’t great, it’s just that the treble that we get from the RTi1 is so glorious, that you might sometimes even forget about the other parts of the sound.
Another thing that is amazing is the level of detailing in all of the frequencies that the RTi1 provides you with. Rhapsodio calls it a detail monster, and I can fully stand behind this claim of theirs. I’ve never heard something as detailed as these as far as I can remember. The sound is packed with an unbelievable amount of detail, especially for the RTi1’s price. To unleash their full abilities, the RTi1 has to be combined with a good quality source. I was very impressed by their detail when listening with my iPhone as a source, but when using these with the Lotoo PAW Gold (using the high gain mode, which I’ve noticed that works better with dynamic drivers than the regular mode), I was truly amazed with the result. So yes, the RTi1 does need a good source in order to realize its potential.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’ve used these not only with the stock “zebra” cable, but also with my Linum BAX cable. There were some small differences in the sound when using the BAX instead of the stock cable, including a bit more treble presence, extension and sparkle, as well as a tiny bit of added detailing. In my opinion, the treble might be a bit too present when using the BAX, but I’m not the biggest “treble-head”, so some of you might like this combination of the RTi1 and the BAX better than me.
The bass extends deeply and reaches quite low frequencies, but it also lacked a bit of body for me, and I would’ve liked it to sound a little fuller and more impactful, though it seemed to become better when using the Lotoo PAW Gold instead of the iPhone. The bass is very fast, and clean and clear, as well as tight and well controlled, with a good punch to it, as well as with no leakage into the mids at all.
The mids are clean, clear and transparent. They also have this nice airy feeling to them, and the timbre feels realistic and natural, and this produces very nice vocals. Detailing is great here, and you easily notice many details in the vocals, no vocal nuance is lost in transition. I feel like the mids are smoother than the energetic treble, and they’re given a little bit less presence than the treble. There’s actually a small dip in the midrange’s middle, which creates the slight U-shaped frequency response that I’ve talked about earlier.
I’ve said this earlier in my review, and I’ll say this again now – the treble here is just amazing, clearly one of the best that I’ve heard, possibly even the best, especially when paired with the right, good quality source.
What do I start with when talking about a treble this perfect? Well, probably with the beautiful sparkle, which I was really impressed with. Its amount is just right, and provides us with moderately energetic highs, and it never seems to be too much, I haven’t noticed it causing any fatigue to me. Sibilance is found in tiny quantities, and it’s only really noticeable when listening to quite sibilance-prone tracks, which most of the IEMs I have produce sibilance with as well. The treble has a great level of clarity and cleanness, and it feels quite transparent. The treble is probably the most detailed part of the sound of the RTi1. Details, even the smallest of them, can be found anywhere in this region, no matter if it’s in the lower treble or in the highest frequencies, which reach pretty high here.
I’ve praised the treble a lot here, but the sound-stage is quite amazing as well; it is big, giving me a sense of a huge concert, and the instruments and vocals are very well placed in the space, creating an awesome listening experience. Instruments are also well separated and that sums up the great sound of the RTi1.
Final Conclusions- Rhapsodio have shows a great progress over the years – from unpolished and very DIY feeling products they’ve gone on to produce this magnificent product, which still feels a bit DIY, but is a lot more polished and refined. The RTi1 is a great IEM. Its technical abilities are some of the best that I’ve heard, and they’re a pleasure to listen to, especially if you’re a treble-lover. The only thing that I found lacking a bit was the bass’ body and fullness. I like my lows to feel a bit more fleshy and full and than what they are as produced by the RTi1. I very like this pair of IEMs, and I would very recommend to you if you liked what I described its sound like.
I’m very excited to see what the future brings to us from the great, hard working and very enthusiastic folks at Rhapsodio. They have a bright future ahead of them.