At £150, RHA’s TrueConnect true wireless earbuds boast phenomenal sound quality, design and battery life
- Fun sound signature
- Exceptional design
- Fast charging case with USB-C port
- Doesn’t support Bluetooth aptX
- No ambient sound mode
Update: Over nine months on from its release in October 2018, the RHA TrueConnect are now available in two additional colours: Cloud White and Navy Blue. The new colour range doesn’t add an additional cost to the purchase – all colour options can be found for £150 on RHA’s website.
British-born manufacturer RHA is among the flock of companies now offering true wireless earbuds. It’s a challenging time in the market as everyone offers the same features and functionalities. That didn’t stop the company from releasing the TrueConnect, which takes aim at Apple’s AirPods, Samsung’s versatile Gear IconX (2018) and the trendy TicPods Free.
RHA TrueConnect review: What you need to know
The TrueConnect are ultraportable true wireless earbuds designed with audiophiles in mind. Their sonic qualities set them apart from rival brands – they’re leagues above the AirPods – but it’s not only their audio fidelity that makes them stand out. They’re extremely well designed: from the charging case to their snug fit, RHA’s TrueConnect earbuds tick a lot of boxes.
RHA TrueConnect review: Price and competition
The TrueConnects aren’t cheap at £150, and at the time of writing, they’re also sold out on the manufacturer’s website due to stock shortages, although some online retailers, Marisota and Richer Sounds still stock them.
Aside from Apple’s AirPods at £159, there are plenty of alternatives to choose from: the Soul ST-XS at £80, the Mobvoi TicPods Free at £120, Samsung’s Gear IconX (2018) at £129, the Jabra Elite 65t at £150, the B&O Beoplay E8 at £200 and finally the Sony WF-1000X at £125, which also double up as noise-cancelling in-ears.
RHA TrueConnect review: Comfort, connectivity and design
Aesthetically, RHA’s design is subtle yet flawless. Despite being made out of plastic, the all-black matte finish oozes quality and doesn’t attract fingerprints. A small LED light on the inner part of the earbuds’ housing works as a connectivity and low battery indicator, and RHA also makes it easy to distinguish between the left and right channels by adding a red dot indicator on the right earbud.
Both earbuds have a button on the outer part of the housing – it’s not touch-based, which comes as a relief as you won’t mistakenly change the song. A single press on either side pauses music, while double, triple and long-presses have different associations.
On the right, a double and triple press increases and decreases volume, respectively. The slave driver (left), skips backwards and forwards, while a long-press activates your smartphone’s virtual assistant. If you don’t have Siri or Google Assistant setup, the function won’t lead to anything. Unlike the Samsung Gear IconX (2018), ambient mode isn’t featured – you’ll have to physically remove the earbuds if you want to hear your surroundings.
The right earbud acts as the primary driver and can be used independently from the slave driver. However, the same can’t be said for the left earbud; it’s completely reliant on its partner.
Even without ANC, which can be found on the Sony WF-1000X, the TrueConnect isolate surprisingly well with the provided silicone tips. Having the right seal is always the key with earphones, so it’s great to see the company include a large selection of tips, and Comply’s TrueGrip Plus foam tips make an appearance, too. The Comply tips aren’t just brilliant for noise isolation and comfort, but can also be used to smoothen sibilance at the top end (more on this, below).
As for comfort, these fit snuggly, weigh only 13g and with their IPX5 sweat, splash and weather resistance, they’ll survive an intense workout.
When it comes to connectivity, I had no issues pairing them with my smartphone via Bluetooth; the setup process is simple. As for battery life, these will last you around five hours on a single charge, while the charging case provides an additional 20 hours before it, too, needs recharging.
The metal-reinforced charging case itself is extremely handy and well-designed with its flip mechanism. Three LED lights indicate the remaining charge and a USB Type-C input port gives it fast charging capabilities. It takes just 15 minutes to fill the TrueConnects to 50% from empty – an outstanding effort.
Recording quality is impressive. Calls come through clearly and aren’t muffled, and even in a busy environment, I couldn’t fault them.
The RHA TrueConnect aren’t perfect, however. I found them to have intermittent connectivity issues between left and right channels, which means you’ll get a split-second drop. I can’t pinpoint the cause, though, my tests seem to lead towards my Android smartphone connecting to a Wi-Fi or mobile network, while still being paired to the earbuds. The issue promptly rectifies itself and given it’s not the first wireless device to experience this problem, it’s hard to point blame at RHA.
To my disappointment, the TrueConnects don’t support the Bluetooth aptX, aptX HD or LDAC codecs. With a set aimed at audiophiles by a renowned manufacturer in the industry, I’d have expected to see them included. Granted, this might have increased the price, but to me, the benefits of having higher-quality wireless audio fidelity outweigh the costs. The RHA TrueConnect are limited to AAC and SBC.
RHA TrueConnect review: Sound quality
Still, when it comes to audio, RHA has a strong background in the field and here, the British-born company doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. The TrueConnects have a fun sound signature that excites throughout the frequency range, and their ability to reproduce a wide soundstage is impressive – even more so when this is one thing that goes amiss with other true wireless earbuds, such as Apple’s AirPods, the TicPods Free and the Soul ST-XS.
A wide soundstage brings music to life; not only do you get a feeling of space, but it also adds dynamism to tracks. In comparison to the narrow-sounding TicPods Free, the RHA’s 6mm dynamic drivers are flavoursome. Hearing instruments flawlessly separated in Miguel’s ‘How Many Drinks?’ can only be described as a joy to the ears. The TrueConnects triumph when it comes to immersing you in sound.
They’re capable of delivering a punchy, extended low-end response, too. The mid-bass slam hits hard and yet is exquisitely controlled, with no unwanted wobble. The sub-bass extends well too, even if it cuts off in somewhere in the deep nether regions. Don’t worry, you’ll still hear plenty of rumble in ‘MIA’ by Birdman.
You can say much the same for the treble, despite some roll-off at the very top end. There’s plenty of treble energy and to those with sensitive ears, the TrueConnect can sound a touch sibilant. Here, the use of Comply’s foam tips can help smoothen it out, which makes them less fatiguing.
The mids are a tad pushed back, meaning vocals can sound a little subdued. If you’re into vocal-heavy tracks, you might be left a little disappointed. However, the same could be said about pretty much every other true wireless earbud out there; they simply can’t keep up with similarly priced audiophile wired in-ear earphones.
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RHA TrueConnect review: Verdict
For £150, the RHA TrueConnects offer spectacular value for money. They’re well-designed, have all the key ingredients to keep you listening on the move and offer excellent audio and recording qualities. Alongside the Samsung Gear IconX (2018), they’re among the best wireless earbuds you can find right now.
The RHA TrueConnects miss out on Expert Reviews’ Best Buy award for not supporting higher-quality Bluetooth codecs and excluding ambient mode. That still shouldn’t detract from their spectacular successes. We’re still looking at a 5-star product that I’d happily recommend to audiophiles anywhere.