Many of us settle for the earbuds included in the box with our smartphones or buy a cheap pair at our local convenience store. Most of us also now use our smartphones for all of our music and podcast listening so it really is worth considering paying for a better daily listening experience.
I am not a musician by any means and may not be able to distinguish between all the subtleties of music, but when I put on the RHA T10i earphones, I was instantly transformed into a world of audio delight.
My primary listening genre is classic rock so I fired up the Trans Am Rock radio station in Google Play Music and fired up some Eagles, Tom Petty, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, and more. I was now able to clearly distinguish the different instruments and loved what was happening to the clarity of the music I was listening to.
I have tried many earphones over the years and am a huge fan of the noise-canceling earbuds on my Sony Xperia Z3. I also purchased a $100 pair of Ultimate Ears last year. Performing a direct comparison with these RHA T10i earbudsconvinced me the next $100 would have been worth the cost. The Ultimate Ears are louder, but the music did not sound nearly as good as what I hear on the RHA T10i.
The RHA T10i retail package comes with the earphones, six sets of dual density silicone ear tips, two sets of double flange tips, two sets of memory foam tips, three pairs of custom tuning filters, and a zippered carrying case.
I personally like the double flange tips for better noise isolation during my commute so went with the large size double flanges. There are two sets of each size (S, M, L) of the double density tips.
The reference tuners are screwed into the end of the earphones out of the box, but you can swap these out with treble or bass tuning filters. I tried the bass for a while, but since I listen to music and podcasts I went back to the reference design for general usage. If you like more treble or bass, then make sure to swap out the filters.
I was also sent the model with the inline remote and microphone, but understand that this is optimized for iOS devices. I was unable to control the volume with any of my Android smartphones. The iPhone 6 Plus was a joy to use with these earphones though so if you have an iPhone you will get the best experience.
Hardware and design
The RHA T10i starts out at the connection end with a 3.5mm gold-plated jack inside a stainless steel textured holder. A spring is above this to help keep the cable intact as you move your phone around in your pocket. The cable is 1.35 meters long and made of multi-core OFC (oxygen free copper) that is designed for better audio signal transmission. The rubber coated cable doesn't seem to tangle easy either.
Next in line we have the stainless steel Y-adapter where the cable splits off into the left and right earphone cable. There is a plastic slider so you can adjust the width of the opening to your liking.
As you approach the left earphone, you will find a flexible, semi-rigid metal casing just over three inches long that is designed to let you contour the cable over your ear. The earphone has a stainless steel body with the tuning filter screwed onto the opening. Your selected earphone tip slides over the tuning filter.
Prior to reaching the semi-rigid metal covering on the right earphone, you will find the in-line remote and microphone. The three buttons are easy to manipulate by feel, which is important since it is located near your mouth for optimal microphone performance.
The center button is indented and is used for play, pause, answer call, end call, move to next track, and move to previous track. You can also press and hold it to launch Siri, which is something I use all the time with these type of earphones. The lower button decreases volume while the upper button increases volume. Both of these can also be used to activate the camera shutter on your iPhone and help you capture photos while you listen to music.
Experiences and compatibility
The RHA T10i is a very comfortable set of earphones and I enjoyed using them with my phones. These are not designed for working out at the gym, but for your daily commute or time spent with music. Some people may be sensitive to the weight of the stainless steel casing, but they never bothered me at all and I imagine such high end construction will see these headphones lasting for a long time to come.
The cables, connections, and tips are all very well designed and all of the RHA products come with a three year warranty to back up their premium construction.
I used the RHA T10i with my iPhone 6 Plus, an HTC One M9, Sony Xperia Z3, BlackBerry Passport, and Nokia Lumia 830. The earphones worked well with all of these for listening to music, but the experience is best with the iPhone due to the limitations on the volume control. The center control button can be pressed and held to launch Siri, Google Now, BlackBerry Assistant, and Cortana.
Price, availability, and closing thoughts
The RHA T10i can be found online and at local electronics retailers. The MSRP is $199.95, which is shown as the price at the RHA store and at Amazon. The RHA T10, without the microphone, is priced $10 less.
While $200 is a lot of money for a set of earphones, this a reasonable price for high end models. I was impressed by the clarity of the sound and the overall experience where I felt I was hearing some of my music in a way I have never heard it before.
I'm personally not a huge fan of the over-the-ear form factor, but it did help move the cord further back towards my body so the cables weren't hanging out in front of my face like many of my other earphones tend to do. They fit and stayed on very well even with my glasses on and it wasn't a hassle or anything to set the cable down on top and behind my ear.
If you enjoy listening to music on your devices and want a premium experience, then I recommend you consider the RHA T10i. The best earphones I ever heard prior to these were the Logitech UE 900s, but those are priced at double the price of the RHS T10i and I don't think they offer double the sound experience.