It’s Christmas Eve at the MajorHiFi Review Offices here in Manahattan. And with most of our review staff soused on Gilbert’s eggnog or playing “Pin the Cable on the Hifiman,” there are few reviews on the roster. Yet, I find myself at my review desk anyway, with a pair of the RHA TrueConnect true wireless earphones and a pair of the Apple AirPods. With only a $10 difference between these two models, which should you choose?
Apple AirPods vs RHA TrueConnect Comparison Review
Unlike most folks I talk to, I have no issue fitting the AirPods in my ears or having them stay there. In fact, my giant dumbo ears seem to swallow them up, but the rigid plastic earpiece ain’t doing my ultra-sensitive ears any favors, either.
In contrast, the RHA offers interchangeable eartips for a more tailored fit. And fit remains key here. With a poor fit, the RHA TrueConnect can sound a bit tinny, but with a proper seal inside my ear, the sound is far more robust and very engaging.
Both the AirPods and RHA TrueConnect offer a similar profile, with stalks or stems that extend below the earpiece itself. This design positions the microphone closer to your mouth, allowing for better call quality.
In terms of battery life, the RHA TrueConnect and the Apple Airpods appear neck-and neck, with both offering 5 hours on the earpieces themselves, plus an additional 20 hours with their included charging cases.
Specifications-wise, it’s difficult to draw any comparisons as Apple doesn’t offer any real numbers regarding the AirPods – no frequency range, sensitivity, or impedance…or even driver sound.
Overall, the Apple AirPod seems relatively fine at first, and more than a match for the RHA TrueConnect. However, once I start listening for certain things in my test tracks, it becomes clear the AirPods pack a two dimensional sound that appeals to people who simply don’t have access to better alternatives.
In the low end, the Airpods sport a relatively lively bass. However, this low end requires more power and volume to sound sufficiently detailed, and even then, the audio seems compressed and flat.
Contrasting with this, the RHA TrueConnect sounds more natural, with the kind of bass you would actually expect to hear (or slightly feel). That being said, the low end remains more detailed, too, with a cleaner sound and less bleed.
Here the bass on the AirPods tends to steal focus from the mids, and the bleed in the low end seems to extend into the low mids. There’s some detail here, but it’s a shadow of what it could be, leaving me with the impression of a recessed midrange that sounds lacking, especially for vocals.
Fuller and more present, the TrueConnect’s mids seem a bit more forward, too. A better sound by all measure, this sound works well with instrumentation and vocal work, but offers enough contrast and articulation to stand out against surrounding notes.
Some female vocals on the AirPods appear smoothed out – not terribly so, but enough that a loss in detail is noticeable. That being said, the high end remains okay for vocal work, but suffers where instrumentation is concerned.
While the AirPods sport more compression, the TrueConnect features a greater level of detail without sounding piercing or uncomfortable. Although this high end sports sparkling detail on instrumentation, vocals still sound relatively smooth and relaxed.
Both of these earphones suffer from an in-ear design that never bodes well for soundstage. That being said, the RHA still wins out for overall depth, but the sense of placement and spacing between instruments sucks on either earphone. Suffice to say, neither of these earphones can do soundstage well.
All in all, the RHA TrueConnect True Wireless earphones come out on top in every area except soundstage. Folks will still continue to buy Apple AirPods due to branding, but if you have a pair of working ears and want a good sound for the money, our recommendation goes to the RHA TrueConnect.