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RBH EP3 Noise Isolating Earphones Review

by October 12, 2015
RBH EP3 Noise Isolating Earphones

RBH EP3 Noise Isolating Earphones

  • Product Name: EP3 Noise Isolating Earphones
  • Manufacturer: RBH
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: October 12, 2015 08:00
  • MSRP: $ 179 ($99 special promo ends 10/20/15)
  • Drive Size: 8mm Dynamic Dome
  • Rated Power: 3mW
  • Max Power: 10mW
  • Impedance: 16 Ohms
  • Frequency Range:  10Hz~20KHz
  • Sensitivity: 95dB/1mW (S.P.L. @ 1kHz)
  • Noise Isolation: 16dB w/Comply™ Foam Tips
  • Input Connection:  3.5mm Mini-jack
  • Cable Length:  1.2m (±0.03m)
  • Color: Ceramic/Gloss Black
  • Warranty:  2 Years


  • Clean sound reproduction
  • Powerful low frequency response
  • Comfortable Comply eartips do an excellent job of isolating noise
  • Sturdy fit and finish with tangle-resistant cable


  • Slightly accentuated lows and highs may be a matter of taste
  • Basic carrying case


RBH EP3 First Impressions

RBH has introduced the mid-range EP3 Noise Isolating Earphones that showcase just how good affordable, portable audio can be.  In an age where headphones can be purchased for a little as the price of a happy meal, or as much as the cost of a used car, RBH’s EP3 earphones clearly hit the sweet spot in value for high-performing headphones at a low price. 

 RBH EP3 Noise Isolating Earphones YouTube Video Review

RBH has made a number of changes that they say improves their new EP3 earphones over their previous models.  To begin with, the EP3 features an 8mm driver in a tuned ceramic casing.  The driver offers extended frequency response and more detailed sound over previous models.  The frequency response is listed at 10Hz-20kHz with no tolerance given.  You can see a manufacturer-provided frequency response graph in the listening section.

RBH has included traditional silicone tips, but for both comfort and noise isolation, RBH has turned to Comply, a company whose name has become synonymous with high-quality foam earphone tips.  These foam tips come pre-installed with two options for fitting that can be used to tailor the sound.  You can read more about this in the listening section.

I found the fit and finish of the earphones to be excellent.  The ceramic casing gave the earphones a little heft (but not so much that they feel heavy in the ear) and conveyed a real sense of quality.  That quality finish carried over to the cable, which is a unique combination of fabric covered in thermoplastic.  Fabric cables offer durability and rigidity but tends to create a lot of cable noise.  By covering this fabric cable in plastic, cable noise is reduced, durability further enhanced, and the cord is made more tangle-resistant.  Strain relief is minimal but sufficient at all connection points, and the plug, one-button mic/smartphone controller, and connectors are all aluminum, not plastic.  RBH has taken measures to address each possible point of failure, yielding a seemingly rugged set of earphones.

RBH EP3 Cord and Strain Relief

RBH EP3 Cord and Strain Relief

I wanted to see if these earphones lived up to their tangle-resistant claims.  To determine how tangle-prone a set of earphones is, I place them in the Tangletron 1000, aka my backpack.  I give them a vigorous shaking for 10 seconds and then time how long it takes for me to untangle them completely.  After doing this three times, the average time to detangling becomes the “T-Score” for those headphones.  For instance, the positively tangle-crazy Monoprice 9927 earphones have a T-Score of 35.  The RBH EP3 resisted tangling very well being untangled in an average of 13 seconds.  This put them on par with my flat-cable phones, though the RBH cable construction seems more rugged.

The Tangletron-1000 At Work

The Tangletron-1000 At Work

In addition to the spare Comply and Silicone tips, the only other included accessory is a basic carrying case.  It’s basically a small, pleather pouch with a spring loaded opening.  The case isn’t terribly fancy, but it gets the job done.  Though I may end up buying a more substantial case, I’m personally fine with RBH focusing resources on the earphones instead of the case.  RBH will also include rubber "Stabilizing Spacers" to address a design flaw in Apple iPhone 6 and 6s models where a little movement of the headphone plus in the socket can inadvertently stop music playback or trigger Siri voice commands.  It great to see RBH being responsive to their customers needs, even when malfunctions are cause by another manufacturers product.

The RBH EP3 Included Accessories

The RBH EP3 Included Accessories

RBH EP3 Earphone Listening Tests

Listening was done with a variety of equipment.  I played FLAC files from a PC through two different Line 6 DACs via VLC software.  I also plugged them directly into my Moto G (1st gen) smartphone and streamed a variety of files through the fantastic Plex app.

RBH sent me frequency response characteristics for two different fittings with the Comply foam eartips.  Note, these measurements were taken using a 2cm coupler to approximate the ear canal impedance.  We hear sound differently when it is produced directly in the ear canal as opposed to in an open room interacting with walls, large airspace, and the outer ear.  An earphone that sounds neutral will not exhibit a "flat" frequency response like a speaker would.

RBH EP3 Frequency Response

RBH EP3 Frequency Response, Stock (Blue) and With the Comply Tip Snapped On Fully (Red)

The earphones ship with the tips snapped onto the end of the barrel (blue trace).  You can push the earphones further until they snap all the way next to the body of the earphone (red trace).  Using this fitting, with the Comply tip pushed all the way next to the body of the earphone, there was a bit more low-end bass response offering a fuller, more even low-end, and the high-frequency response shifted slightly which sounded a little more natural and pleasant in the treble range.  You should experiment with all the fitting options, but I much preferred, and all of my listening notes are based on, the use of the Comply tips pushed all the way in.

Installation Tip: Push the tips all the way in before first listen for best bass response.

RBH EP3 Close Up

RBH EP3 Close Up

The sound of the RBH is not subtle.  A good seal is virtually guaranteed with the Comply tips, and the very present and clean bass grabbed my attention immediately.  I’m not a bass-head, so I can’t imagine anyone wanting more bass than what the RBH provides.  Critical listening revealed that the RBH EP3 excelled not only in quantity of bass, but also quality.

Audiophiles who say that listening to frequency sweeps is meaningless because it’s not relevant to real music have never listened to Aphex Twin.  “Milk Man” off the Richard D. James album regularly exceeds the low-end reproduction capabilities of otherwise capable equipment.  However, the RBH EP3 earphones produced loud, controlled, and clean bass that equalled the in-room performance I get with my SVS subwoofer.  To have portable sound that rivals a full at-home setup, is truly a treat.

Aphex Twin - Richard D. James

Aphex Twin - Richard D. James

That same sonic precision extended to the midrange.  There were no accentuated frequencies that can give audio a “boxy” or “honky” quality and destroy a sense of spaciousness.  With Feist’s “1234”, the strummed acoustic guitar that opens the track sounds natural with an appropriate amount of body and woodiness.  As the piano dances around the stereo channels later in the track, the sound is big and rich, with a very open, spacious presentation as far as earphones go.

Feist - The Reminder

Feist - The Reminder

I went through a stretch where I was trying out a lot of cheap ($5-30) headphones.  Consistently, with these cheap headphones, there was a raggedness between 3-6kHz that obscured detail and became fatiguing in a short period of time.  This is one of the biggest areas of improvement that I’ve found in moving up to higher-end ‘phones like the RBH EP3.  With the EP3, there is an absence of treble harshness, and in its place, is just clean, detailed high-end.  On Bjork’s “Hyperballad”, when she hits the apex of the chorus singing “so I can be happier” with her trademark powerful and cutting delivery, the EP3 matched her power while staying composed.

Bjork - Post

Bjork - Post

Overall, the sound of the RBH EP3 is clean and clear with a tonal balance that is slightly “hyped” with an emphasis in the low and high frequencies.  This makes them perfect for lower-volume listening where loudness curves illustrate that our ear are less sensitive in the bass and treble frequencies.  Sometimes, when listening at more casual levels, elements in these sensitive bands tend to disappear.  This is not so with the RBH EP3; at lower volume levels, all your music is still there.

At higher volumes levels, the EP3 become more exciting, though at times, I thought the balance was skewed a little too heavy towards treble frequencies for loud listening.  Trebleheads won’t mind as the high frequencies are precise and even, not grating.  I found myself just keeping the volume a little lower, which is probably better for my hearing anyway, and is made possible thanks to the Comply tips reducing ambient noise and effectively dropping the noise floor of the environment around me.


RBH EP3 Earphones Conclusion


 RBH EP3 Noise Isolating Earphones YouTube Video Review

Headphones are more relevant now than they’ve ever been before, especially portable In Ear Monitors (IEM's).  Though fashion factors in hugely with seemingly countless athletes and celebrities sporting their sponsored cans wherever the cameras are pointed, audiophiles should take note as well.  For $179, you could buy an OK pair of speakers and get good sound at home in a few seats, or, you could buy the new RBH EP3 and get excellent sound, all the time, everywhere.  In fact, for a limited time (sale ends 10/20/15), you can get the fantastic RBH EP3 for an introductory price of only $99.  At that price, the value proposition is HUGE, and I liked the earphones a lot.  The RBH EP3 sound great, are ruggedly constructed, tangle-resistant, comfortable, and do a great job of blocking outside noise.  I can’t think of a better way to get great sound at this price.  Highly recommended!

Also check out a second opinion from Audioholics' own Theodore Nicolakis: RBH EP3 First Listen

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
About the author:
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Marshall is an Educator by trade, and currently lives in Oregon. He was lucky enough to grow up in a musical household, and though the AV equipment wasn't the greatest, it was always on. His dad introduced him to Queen, Paul Simon, and Sgt. Pepper's, and his mom played Lionel Richie and Disney Soundtracks. When Marshall was 14, his uncle passed down a pair of JBL towers and Marshall finally had his own system. Having enjoyed podcasting and video production over the past 10 years, Marshall is happy to be contributing at Audioholics.

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