The latest in-ear headphone model, the T10i, from British audio experts RHA catches the eye immediately with unexpected design features. The ergonomic ear pieces are constructed from stainless steel—giving the set a sturdy weight while adding durability—and the ear hooks aren’t the standard rigid plastic curve, but a patent-pending moldable wire that runs unobtrusively behind the ear.
RHA is known for their collection of affordable earphones, starting at $30, that give users noticeably good sound quality for their buck. Priced at $200, the T10i is the brand’s foray into premium higher-end and design-forward consumer products. After two weeks of testing the T10i, we like what we hear (and see).
The in-ear headphones come with three interchangeable filters (similar to the ones in Torque Audio’s Z series) for frequency response customization that are denoted by different colors: silver for reference, black for enhanced bass and copper for enhanced treble (recommended for podcasts, jazz music, etc). They’re easy to swap in and out, without any need for additional tools, but some might find themselves just sticking to their preferred filter. Our go-to, the reference filter—meant for flat listening—hits a sweet spot with its clarity and immersive stereo imaging, but has an undeniable boost in low-end frequencies. The customization doesn’t stop at the drivers—RHA offers nine different pairs of ear tips in different sizes, including two pairs made from memory foam. Along with the headphones, they fit neatly into the small folding leather case.
Marketed as “noise-isolating,” the T10i headphones make a noticeable difference in blocking ambient sound, especially when using tips that fit snugly. You do catch some background noise when in louder environments; this we didn’t mind so much when walking outside on the busy streets of NYC, where a bit of ambient noise (like incoming traffic) is important for personal safety. But if you want nothing but music in your ears on your morning commute, you’ll have to look at either noise-cancelling or customized options, like in-ear monitors from Ultimate Ears.
Overall, the T10i performs impressively, especially when used as on-the-go headphones. But the biggest reason why you’ll find yourself reaching for this pair is the design—ear buds have never looked more refined. The T10i in-ear headphones retail for $200 directly from RHA as well as Amazon and the Apple Store. A version without the microphone and remote, the T10, is also available for $190.
Images by Cool Hunting