After a short off-season, we return with a spring mood and an unquenchable desire to once again tell you about the most interesting devices from the world of portable audio. This time, two very interesting IEM models from the Chinese brand Softears - RS10 and RSV - arrived at our editorial office.
To say that this pair of in-ear monitors surprised me is to tell the truth only partially, and our today's release is devoted only to 100% truth. Seriously, these IEMs are wonderful for everyone, starting with the kit, the chic design, and the main thing that makes them especially impressive is the sound and the competent approach to the implementation of the technical part.
In general, these earphones can compete even with competitors from the A-brands. Do you think I was joking? Not at all. To be honest, I am still impressed by what I heard, and I can't wait to tell about everything in detail, but first, a short excursion into history.
Softears was founded in 2017 and worked exclusively for the domestic market. By 2018, the brand is announcing two very serious IEM models - the RS10 and the Cerberus. These are two flagships: the first is built on 10 BA drivers, the second is a hybrid model: 1DD + 4BA + 2EST. Then, quite recently, the TURII model, built on a dynamic driver, followed, and now, as they say, in the heat of the moment, their novelty has been released - absolutely unmatched five-driver (5BA) - RSV.
Due to its exclusive focus on the domestic market of the Middle Kingdom, the Softears company was little known on the international market until recently. Fortunately, now the brand is confidently gaining momentum and decided to push the boundaries of its presence, and this, believe me, is great news for all lovers of great sound.
Well, today we will take a look at the chic ten-driver model IEM RS10 from Softears, and a little later - its younger brother, no less interesting RSV.
Everything, turn off the lights, sit back, we begin. On stage - Reference Sound 10!
Text by Alexey Kashirskey aka Hans Barbarossa
Shell material: acrylic
Drivers: 10 (BA) + 1 (passive) + 5-way crossover.
Technology: flat impedance / linear phase
Frequency Response Range: 20Hz-40KHz
Sensitivity: 100dB / 100MV
Impedance: 25ohm @ 1KHz
Detachable cable: 1.2 m, 2pin / jack 3.5 mm – straight
Appearance kit and ergonomics
The RS10 is packaged in an eye-catching black cardboard cube with an embossed silver Softears logo on one side and the company's ringing "Hear the Truth" motto on the other. And this is the case when the slogan, despite its some pompousness, characterizes the products in the most correct way: in these IEMs, I really listened only to pure and true, not distorted, sound.
Inside the box we find a stylish cover-washer in black with an embossed brand logo, a metal business card-warranty card (even here you can feel the seriousness of the company's approach to its product), an instruction booklet and a bag with three pairs of silicone tips of different sizes (S / M / L ).
Inside the case, made of genuine leather, the RS10 itself neatly fit, carefully placed in two soft pouches, a detachable cable and a branded microfiber napkin. How I like this scrupulous approach, when all the little things are taken into account and everything is done just flawlessly. Why is there a rich set - I was lost in only one smell of expensive leather, which exudes this very round box, as if you were wearing custom-made Italian shoes delivered straight from Florence. Okay, scusi, let's move on.
So we got to the RS10 itself. The completely transparent shell is made of acrylic. Through it, in the smallest detail, you can see all the internal content: wires, crossover, resistors, capacitors, acoustic tubes and a symmetrical plexus of BA drivers. Beautiful and frozen, like a butterfly in amber, engineering thought is a fascinating sight!
The shape of the IEM is completely reminiscent of custom monitors (CIEM), made from an individual ear impression. Indeed, the ergonomics are at a fairly high level, the main thing is to choose the right tips size.
On the outside of the IEM, there is a faceplate with two diagonal snow-covered lines, and just below their embossed Softears logo. On the inner side of the case, there is a sound tube with three outlets, to which acoustic tubes are connected. In the upper part there are connectors for a 2pin cable plug.
In addition to the aforementioned convenience and a very remarkable appearance, I would like to note that these IEMs are even just pleasant to hold in your hands - there is some kind of special appeal in them.
In general, I made detailed illustrations for you, see for yourself. The RS10 looks awesome in my opinion.
The RS10 is expected to be worn behind the ear. The sound insulation is above average, which allows you to enjoy listening to your favorite songs even in noisy city transport.
Silver-white cable, extremely lightweight and resilient, with soft silicone earhooks. The cable length is 1.2 meters, the connectors are 2pin / jack 3.5mm. If you wish, you can replace this cable with any other with 2pin connectors, although personally to me it seems very attractive and effective.
Inside each of the IEMs, ten BA drivers fit (to be precise, there are 11 of them in total - plus one more passive driver) and a 5-way hybrid crossover of Softears' own design. The RS10 also features “Flat impedance” technology, which allows the headphones to maintain their frequency response regardless of the output impedance of the amplifier / sound source.
This approach is certainly impressive. The developer has wisely applied both all the most modern technologies and his own long-term developments. Even the most eminent manufacturers can envy such bells and whistles.
So, the kit, design, workmanship, technical implementation and ergonomics of the RS10 evoke extremely positive emotions in me. Do not say anything, well done Softears!
But the most important thing is ahead of us: let's move on to sound impressions, let's go listen to a clean, genuine sound - "Hear the Truth!"
Listening (audio testing) was conducted on: MyST DAC 1866OCU V.2, Lotoo paw Gold, iBasso 220 MAX, QLS QA-361, iFI micro iDSD BL, iFi HIP DAC & iFI iDSD Diablo.
With all of the audio devices the RS10 performed well enough, their "voice" varied slightly depending on the sound source.
I would like to point out one important feature of the RS10 right away. The sound of these IEMs is strongly dependent on the power of the sound source. The better the path of the audio device and the more powerful its amplifier, the more worthy the Softears RS10 can show itself in all its glory.
I also strongly recommend that you take a responsible approach to the process of selecting tips, as it makes a noticeable contribution to the creation of a sound picture.
The RS10's sound is well-balanced, clean, smooth and unusually detailed. These IEMs have excellent speed characteristics and a fairly wide dynamic range. The lower and part of the mid-range register, including the upper mids, are elegantly forced, which gives the sound an enviable dynamism, expressiveness and accurate display of all the smallest details of the composition. It is a technical, dry, massive, conscientious and extraordinarily accurate way of delivering sound. RS10, like a surgical scalpel, cut through the audio canvas, revealing the whole essence of the composition, and at the same time, truthfully reflect the quality of recording and mastering.
The powerful subbass response excites the ear with vibrations, the midbass is worked out clearly and accurately in a linear manner, and the competently accented upper mids are delivered smoothly, technically, in detail and moderately emotionally, without excessive brightness and annoying factors. High-frequency response is clean and unobtrusive. High register is served accurately and comfortably, clearly fulfilling its own and smoothly dying out.
It is a dynamic and well-balanced manner where sound images intertwine to form a hyper-realistic soundscape. At the same time, the headphones do not "shrink", on the contrary - the audio images are "weighty" and are filled with corporeality. It is a dense substance, it is a sound, like a gust of a fabulous wind of wanderings, knocking you off your feet with its pressure, taking you to wonderful distances, simultaneously charging you with musical adrenaline, which soon circulates throughout your body.
In fact, the RS10 continues the sound philosophy of the legendary Etymotic ER-4S, but here it is brought to near perfection. The hero of our today's review has done everything more seriously, multifaceted, meaningfully, in an adult way.
It is also worth noting the perfect consistency of the BA drivers and the complete absence of phase distortion.
The Bass is tight, fast and accurate, with good texture and great control. The sub-bass response strikes with vibrations and a powerful blow that goes to the very bottom.
The bass practice in Brian Bromberg's "Freedom jazz dance" just shocked me with the precise reproduction of the kick, the convex relief, the tension, the beat of the strings and the tonal accuracy. The bass is firm and deep enough. He clearly plays out his own, in relief and harmoniously filling the middle with a rich and weighty substance.
The midbass area is served linearly, smoothly and unobtrusively in a neutral manner.
The mids are clean, precise, moderately emotional and incredibly detailed. The register is transmitted dryly, technically and reliably, accurately and in detail displaying all the small nuances of the composition. Despite the forced section in the upper middle area with a peak at 3k, the sound is not perceived as bright or excessively sharp, here this "hump" is made quite competently, as a result of which the register is transmitted smoothly and listens quite comfortably. But if you suddenly have a special excessive sensitivity in this particular part of the frequency range, then perhaps the RS10 may not suit you.
Although, personally, I am one of such "sensitive" persons to the peaks on the upper mids, but for me this setting turned out to be quite favorable and comfortable. But at the same time, I won't be able to listen to RS10 all day long. From such pressure and amount of information, the head gets tired over time and asks for rest. But listening to your favorite music for 2-4 hours with the RS10 delivers incredible pleasure.
Working in tandem with a competently forced low-frequency register, the mid-frequency range is perceived clearly and fully, densely and harmoniously. This is an extremely detailed, refreshing and rather massive, full of information, manner of performance.
High frequencies are reproduced cleanly, clearly and plastically. Their quantity and quality also does not cause any serious complaints. They harmoniously contribute to the overall sound picture, precisely matching the play of the entire frequency range. The register is transmitted smoothly, accurately and clearly, without harshness and distortion. This is an authentic and maximally correct manner, with good articulation, served in a light, graceful and comfortable manner.
In terms of genre preferences, the RS10s confidently show their versatility. They play quite interestingly and unusually reliably as instrumental music, jazz, electronics, rock, and they are especially good at working out brutal genres. These IEMs are designed to play fast, heavy tracks.
Softears RS10 is a terrific model of in-ear monitors that is at the forefront of the latest technology.
These IEMs have a chic design, high-quality assembly, excellent ergonomics, a rich package, outstanding technical implementation and, as a result, a unique sound: genuine, technical and accurate with detailed display of all the smallest details. There is no doubt that Softears engineers are extremely commendable, and their product - the closest attention. I sincerely hope that Softears will gain worldwide recognition in the portable audio market.
Yes, the cost of this pleasure is also impressive. Breathe in deeply and open your eyes - the RS10 has a suggested retail price of $ 2,037.
Naturally, this IEM model is not for everyone, but only for the most notorious and reckless audiophiles, connoisseurs of clean, technical, dry and honest sound, as well as sound engineers. Here I recommend to them without the slightest hesitation to make every effort, but to purchase these headphones. I will not hide, I am just one of those.
Well, we do not say goodbye to Softears, because we still have an acquaintance with a more musical, "digestible" in terms of sound tuning and more flexible in terms of price - the younger brother - Softears RSV. All the Best, see you, friends!
Sound, design, technical implementation, kit.