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RBH EP3 Earphone Listening Tests

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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.

 

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

Ponzio posts on December 06, 2015 06:33
I purchased these ear buds based on Marshall’s review and he is spot on about the fantastic bass, neutral mid’s & high’s, the foam bud covers making long conversations or extended music listening a real pleasure, above average microphone function(s) and no more muttering under your breath untangling the cord. A decent carrying case would have been nice too as Marshall noted, since the one that comes with them is useless but at $99 this is fantastic buy; at $179 … not so much. I highly recommend them at the sale price.
gene posts on October 12, 2015 12:47
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gene posts on October 12, 2015 12:44
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.

At the introductory price of $99/pair (sale ends 10/20/15) these simply can't be beat. Check them out!


Read: RBH EP3 Noise Isolating Earphones Review
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