TWS true wireless earphones - under $200
THREE STARS - 'Better than average.' 'Great sounding Apple AirPods competitors.' The RHA TrueConnect got some pretty rave reviews when it was released in 2018. How do these true wireless earphones just under $150 stack up a year later?
RHA TrueConnect specs:
Design, charging and comfort
The RHA TrueConnect is a pair of truly wireless earphones with stems on the earpieces, sticking out a centimeter of the round earpieces. On the outside, the earpieces have a centered round button which you have to press to control them.
The earpieces offer 5 hours of playtime, a battery life that was pretty good when the RHA was released. Now it's surpassed by models that are much cheaper - such as the Creative Outlier Air and Gold, Mifo O5 and even the $35 Edifier TWS1. Quick charging is excellent though - 15 minutes of charging delivers you 2,5 hours of playtime.
While the earpieces have a fairly neutral design, with a matte black colour and without shouty logos, the charging case has an original shape. You hold the lid covering the entire case and then push out the complete side of the case to open it. In there, you'll have to pick up the earpieces on their upside - which isn't very convenient. You'll be likely to mix the left and right bud up a couple of times.
The case carries three LED lights indicating the current charge. The box recharges the earpieces fully four times and keeps its battery quite a long time, handy when you don't use them for a while.
When it comes to fit, this pair has its challenges. The RHA TrueConnect is the only one of 40+ pairs of true wireless earphones I've tested, that may not survive a severe shaking of the head. It comes with ten (!) sets of ear tips delivered, and only the foam tips - that fill once put inside your ear - keep the earpieces in place steadily. With the standard rubber tips, the TrueConnect is capable of falling out of your ears. Even when they don't, moving heavily with them still causes them to shove a little out of your ear. It's inconvenient and a little tricky.
Connectivity and controls
So comfort leaves a little to be desired. What doesn't work in its advantage is that the buttons on the earpieces are physical. They require you to press multiple times to control them, each time pushing the earpieces a bit in your ear. It isn't painful, but the pieces are capable of bouncing back a bit - loosening your fit again.
The button scheme is well-thought-out but also requires you to push the earpieces multiple times. You increase the volume by double-pressing the right side and decrease it by pressing it thrice. Two presses on the left side, makes you skip a song. Three taps return a song. You may be returning a song sometimes when you want to advance one - and the other way around.
Connectivity, unfortunately, is a bit of an issue on the RHA TrueConnect. The Bluetooth 5.0 connection fares well when sitting, standing still, or while biking. Walking with them while you carry your phone in your jeans pocket, makes the connection stutter fiercely, however. It's vulnerable to environments full of wireless signals as well, with sudden sound drops.
Calling and watching movies
The RHA TrueConnect is one of the very few true wireless earphones where audio synchronizes with video on the YouTube-app on the iPhone isn't a total mess. Synchronization fares even better on apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime. If you have an Android smartphone with Bluetooth 5.0 support, you shouldn't encounter noticeable delays either.
Call quality should be one of the RHA's best features, advertised everywhere on the box and commercial texts. Unfortunately, you will sound quite metallic to the other end of the line - as if you're talking within a tin can. It gets worse with surrounding noises, which seem to emphasize the effect. It is possible to have a phone call with these wireless earbuds, but it's more convenient with your phone.
Sound of the RHA TrueConnect: Mushy
The best way to describe the sound quality of the RHA TrueConnect? Mushy.
The RHA has a very present bass, without becoming too much or overpowering. It can deliver a nice thump, but it lacks a bit in punch and tightness. It even sounds muddy in bass-heavy tracks, like genres such as hip-hop and dance. The bass also bleeds into the lower-mids somewhat, dragging down instruments such as bass guitars in the mix, and creating a sometimes messy lower end overall.
The highs of the RHA TrueConnect extend pretty well, with female and higher-pitched male vocals enjoying a central position in the total picture.
The same doesn't apply to the mids, where vocals and instruments lack a bit of texture. It's hard to position them around you and their amount of detail is so-so. The tonality of the RHA is somewhat questionable too, with especially drums and cymbals sounding incredibly artificial.
Not all is mediocre, mind you. The soundstage of the TrueConnect scores above average. Music feels around you, rather than just up close to your ears. Along with the present bass, the TrueConnect actually delivers a pretty entertaining listen. It regularly sounds a bit floaty and artificial, however.
RHA TrueConnect vs Jabra Elite 65t
The well-known, comparable priced Jabra Elite 65t comes with an app that provides them with a Heartrough-mode and various sound presets. It gives a more luxury feeling than the RHA. The Jabra offers more detail in the upper mids and highs; the TrueConnect has more weight in the lower mids. The bass on both can be a littly muddy.
RHA TrueConnect vs Samsung Galaxy Buds
Considering you have an Android smartphone, you can run the Galaxy Wear-app on the Samsung Galaxy Buds. It gives you an excellent Dynamics-preset next to the mid-balanced out-of-the-box setting. In both settings, the comparable priced Galaxy Buds, offers way better instrument tonality, although vocals can sound a little restricted as well. The soundstage on the TrueConnect is better; detail retrieval and placement are better on the Samsung.
RHA TrueConnect vs CREATIVE OUTLIER AIR/ GOLD
The battery beats that are the Creative Outlier Air ($79, 8-10 hours battery) and the Outlier Gold ($99, 11-14 hours), offer a punchier, tighter bass than the RHA TrueConnect. The Creatives sound fuller, with thicker mids and offer better instrument placement. Drums and vocals sound more true-to-life on them as well.
RHA TrueConnect vs Mpow T5/ M5
Putting up the RHA TrueConnect against the most entertaining sounding TWS under $50 to date, the Mpow T5/ M5 beats the RHA especially in the lower ends. Its bass is fuller and goes deeper. It offers more texture in the lower-mids and has better instrument placement. Highs are more forward. The RHA sounds smoother, yet muddier in comparison.
The RHA TrueConnect shows just how fast the market of true wireless earphones is developing. A little year after its release, its sound is a bit muddy and artificial compared to newer offerings. With comfort and connectivity challenges as well, it's mostly video quality the RHA has still going for it.
Three STARS - worth considering
Buy RHA TrueConnect/ check current price:
Buy RHA TrueConnect on Amazon Europe (Germany)
Consider buying this earphone? I'd really appreciate it if you use the links in this article. It won't cost you extra, yet it will financially support me a bit in my ongoing quest for great affordable audio. <3
Leaderboard: All wireless earphones reviewed