I love music and I love good sound and that is why this is my hobby. I prefer to find the best portable setups available. I do not want to be tethered to a desk with an amp. I enjoy finding the best possible pairings I can, something I can enjoy anytime, anywhere. I don’t read graphs or charts, when I listen to music my ears tell me what I like, not my eyes. If this hobby becomes work as opposed to my getaway I will find another hobby. I have had many iem’s at all levels of price with a variety of driver types and number of drivers. One thing I have learned is price, or the number of drivers is not indicative of a pleasing sound signature.
Enter Rhapsodio Solar…http://www.rhapsodio.com/
-MRSP (Universal): $1450
-10 balanced armature drivers (2 bass, 4 mid, 2 high and 2 tweeters)
My quest started by reaching out to Sammy and discussing options. I will say that Sammy is a quick communicator. There are many design options and ultimately I gave the reigns to Sammy and told him to design the face plate & base combination that he liked, and he did. I must say it was a sexy choice.
Sammy responded to my questions via mails quickly and then we switched to Hangouts so communication went smooth all the way… I love this guy Sammy!
I have never seen such shipping speed from Hong Kong. I received my Solar two days after it was shipped. WOW!
When the Solar arrived, it was in a postal envelope and inside was a plastic, latched, branded Rhapsodio box. I also ordered an additional cable which was included in a blue Rhapsodio drawstring bag. Six pair of eartips was included, three pair of Wind tips and three pair of Spinfit tips. The Wind tips have a wide bore and the Spinfit tips have a more narrow opening. There is an included leather strap to help keep the cable wound. Nice touches, but I still felt there was no choirs of angels singing once I saw the opened the package. I am not sure I could offer any suggestions but these are TOTL iems and packaging and accessories could create more of a wow factor.
WIND TIPS(WIDE BORE) & SPINFITS
Design & Build Quality:
Sammy chose a Wood faceplate with smoke transparent bases for my universal fit Solars. I think it a classy and sexy design. Actually it is the same design I have in another iem, the Heir 8.0 universal.
SOLAR WITH STOCK PANDORA SPC CABLE
The build quality is great. I examined the Solar for any flaws and I could not find any, which is impressive coming from a small custom iem boutique in Hong Kong. The cables as well are built to last with quality in mind, you could almost rock climb with these cables. The nozzles have waxguards installed.
RSD SILVER LITZ 4-BRAID CABLE
The Solars are slightly bigger than my Heir 8.0 universals. I would say the Heir is the most comfortable of the two, however the Solar is not uncomfortable. The Solar is larger but I do not fight with comfort issues as I have with the JH Angie or Layla. The Wind tips are comfortable as well as the Spinfit. I also use the JVC Spiral Dot tips(Wide Bore).The JVC seal well but provide the least comfortable fit. The isolation is good and when music is playing it covers up for many external noises.
I used a Nexus 6p streaming Tidal and an AK120ii for testing and review purposes. The Solar are driven easily by both of these sources.
For review purpose, I used the largest Wind tips and large JVC Spiral Dot tips. The JVC sealed the best and the Wind tips are the most comfortable, so you can choose your poison, however I will say that it is very important to use a wide bore tip to achieve the soundstage that the Solar is capable of achieving. I tried a deep insertion and shallow, I found a deep insertion offered the best sound quality.
Upon first listen I was like meh, okay these sound a bit thin. I experimented with tips and listened to what provided the best seal. After about an hour the smile started to wash over my face and the smile hasn’t left yet, in fact it has become Cheshire cat like after around 25 hours of listening time. These iem’s have really started to open up. I am not going to start a debate about burn-in. Believe it or not, these are improving and Sammy said they will be at their peak in 200 hours.
I look for a balanced sound with an emphasis on details and tone of instruments. I actually prefer an IEM that is slightly colored, a fun, lively, detailed sound is my favorite signature, something very musical. That said, the Solar confidently checks all of those boxes. The level of detail and clarity combined with the sub bass and mid bass layering, a balanced mid range with sparkly, lively treble and no bleed over into the various ranges from any other range. HOLY SMOKES this is one balanced TOTL iem. Balance, balance, balance.
The bass on Solar is deep in the sub levels and detailed and layered in the mid bass range. One of the finest blends I have heard. The iem has a sound signature that is colored but again, never bleeds into the other ranges. The tone of the bass in the mid bass range is awesome, clear and detailed. As a comparison the Angie could have the same level of bass if you cranked the inline bass control above 1:00. The Solar has more detail in the bass as compared to the Angie. The Heir 8.0 has more of a bass presence throughout the signature, however the quality is not on par with the Solar. Is this a basshead iem? I would say it would please the basshead. As I have said I prefer a slightly colored signature and the bass in the Solar is very satisfying, although I don’t consider myself a true basshead.
The mids of Solar are crisp, clear and incredibly detailed. The tone of female vocals shine and male vocal sound strong. The mids are not in the least veiled and could be considered some of the most blended and balanced I have ever heard in an iem. The soundstage is wide and when listening to some Radiohead the imaging was providing me with a spatial eargasm. There was some 3D stuff going on there.
The treble of the Solar is ever present. At no time is it strident or sibilant. It is sparkly and this helps to create the incredible soundstage that the Solar proudly shows. Overall the treble produces a sparkly life to these iem’s in contrast to the opposite bass spectrum that thumps when called upon the balance between all ranges continues to impress.
The Solar presents itself in an airiness with nice resolution. It would be considered a slight V shape, however the mids do not sound distant. The entire frequency spectrum is represented and the speed is never thick of lagging throughout the entire signature providing a fine iem. The tuning is superb and the it is well engineered.
I have around 25 hours already of listening time already. After the initial hour the Solar really started to open up. They have a very balanced sound, very musical and fun. That is not to say that they are not true to representing the sound and tone of instruments, believe me the sound is quite realistic. The sub bass rumbles as well the bass is clear and defined in the lower mids. There is no bleed over in the mids to muddy the sound. The mids offer a great deal of clarity and are very detailed while the treble is a little forward but not harsh.
I have listened to many genres of music with them. From jazz, blues, classic rock, alternative, classical and finally some edm. Radiohead, which generally to me don’t represent well in headphones, and the spatial feel was terrific. The imaging was providing me a wild ride. I did receive a 3d sense to this.
Wide bore tips create a bigger soundstage and the soundstage can be quite wide at times. With some high quality Jazz FLAC files, ie… Jazz at the Pawnshop the details and crispness made me feel I was in the audience, front and center.
Crunching guitar sounds from AC/DC are awesome. Female vocals, such as Sade or Norah Jones sound great as well, and this surprised me a little.
Overall a very balanced, detailed presentation. The little “enhancements” and peaks in parts of the spectrum are all in the correct spots.
On a final note…I have only dedicated my review time to the stock SPC cable. For me switching from iem to different iem confuses my thoughts and I never truly get to appreciate or loathe a specific iem. Upon completion of this review I will listen to the SIlver Litz and include my thoughts. The pairing of the SPC cable has never made me want for more.
These are TOTL iem’s period. Once you reach this level it is not a matter of “better”, it is a matter of finding a sound signature which satisfies and agrees with you.This iem checks all of the boxes with a balanced confidence not heard in many other iem’s.
A must have!!!!