RBH EP2 Earphones

RBH EP2 Earphones

HomeTheaterReview.com writer Brian Kahn tackles the RBH EP2. The EP2 is part of RBH's first foray into headphones. Find out if this new offering from the company is worth your time.

RBH-EP2-headphone-review-small.jpgRBH has been a manufacturer of speakers for both residential and commercial uses since 1976. RBH is well known for its utilization of aluminum cone drivers in reasonably-priced speakers with good results. RBH introduced its first earphones, the EP1 and EP2, at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. The EP2, reviewed here, offers the same sound performance as the EP1, but adds a microphone/button module for smartphone functionality. The retail price is $179, which includes large and medium Comply ear tips, as well as large, medium and small silicone ear tips. A cord clip and a storage case are also included.

Additional Resources
• Read more headphone reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com’s writers.
• See a review of Astell & Kern’s audiophile portable player.

The EP2’s reproduction of bass and midrange was balanced and accurate. Male vocals sounded much as they did on my reference audiophile system. The RBH earpieces, their fit in particular, have a lot to do with obtaining good performance at low frequencies. They have to be in the ear correctly for maximum sound quality. Proper placement of the EP2s within the ear canal, including the compression of the Comply earpieces, makes for a good fit. In some situations, the EP2’s upper-frequency reproduction could be a bit harsh at very loud volumes, revealing a brassy, smearing sound to cymbals and an edge to female vocals. Some of this has to do with the type of music and quality of the recording. I noticed the smearing of cymbals in particular when listening to Seal’s self-titled album from 1991 (Sire).

Comfort is another important consideration that one should not overlook, and the EP2 did not disappoint. Many in-ear products in this category irritate my ears. I found the EP2 to be among the most comfortable earphones I have used with the Comply earpieces attached. During extended listening auditions, I experienced no ear pain or fatigue whatsoever. I could absolutely live with these.

Sound isolation was effective and in large part a function of the Comply earpieces. I was listening while watching children swim in my backyard, and I could see the kids’ mouths moving but could not hear them talk. At first I thought they were gaming me, but then my dog started doing the same thing. For a moment I thought, “How did they get the dog to do that?” Then I realized the sound isolation was, in fact, working.

The smartphone functionality was decent, except I could not get the mic/button to go back to a previous track; only pause and track-forward worked when connected to an iPhone. The RBH instructions indicate that previous-track functionality exists, but left this open with the statement that overall functionality will vary depending on smartphone. The microphone offered good clarity with phone calls, and I was able to easily answer and end calls with the microphone button.

Read about the high points and low points of the RBH EP2 on Page 2.RBH-EP2-headphone-review-small.jpgHigh Points
The EP2 is manufactured with superior-quality
construction, consisting of an aluminum microphone module, speaker
housing, and connector housing, plus a fabric cord and a gold connector
jack.
The Comply ear tips are used for sound isolation while creating a comfortable fit – and it worked wonderfully.
The sound quality was detailed, dynamic and three-dimensional.
The microphone and hands-free functionality is convenient.

Low Points
I noticed some smearing and brassy sound of cymbals, as well as some
edginess in higher octaves (particularly vocals) when the volume is
pushed to the upper limits.
The microphone button, which can control the smartphone, did not allow me to skip to a previous song.

Comparison and Competition
Competition
is stiff, as there are many headphone products in the $200 price range,
and the EP2 performed with the best of them. One characteristic that
jumped out was that the EP2 exhibited no audible distortion or varying
degrees of definition depending on the portion of the frequency range,
which is often found in similar products. RBH’s EP2 edged out the
Monster Gratitude
in
resolution and dimensionality and had better integration of the midbass
range than the Paradigm Shift E3m (a revised version has since been released). Other products worth
looking into are the Polk Ultra Focus 6000i and, if you have a
large budget, the Ultimate Ears UE11 Pro
or perhaps the Westone 4Rs. Visit our Headphones category page to read more reviews.

Conclusion
The
quality of construction, overall sound, functionality and comfort of
the EP2 was very good, putting them in a small group of the best
earphones I have heard. The construction aspect I most appreciated was
the use of fabric-covered wire, which seems to prevent tangles. Also,
the use of aluminum for the microphone/button module and housings exudes
quality. Given RBH’s history with fabricating aluminum drivers, I am
not at all surprised by the level of build quality.

The sound
quality also left an impression that was so enjoyable and emotional, I
won’t forget it. Even at the highest sound levels, the EP2 did not
exhibit the distortion that is often common in this price range. I
thought the clarity, detail, balance and imaging were very good at low
to moderate volumes. Additionally, due to the Comply earpieces, the
comfort is the best I have experienced so far, and sound isolation is
effective. I think the EP2 is a fantastic product.

Additional Resources
Read more headphone reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com’s writers.
See a review of Astell & Kern’s audiophile portable player.

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