Thursday, July 9, 2020

RHA TrueConnect 2

When RHA introduced the TrueConnect in 2018, it was a breath of fresh air. The truly wireless headphone market was still in its infancy and there were a lot of mediocre products on the market. But, the RHA True Connect blew us away with the best build quality we experienced to date and great sound quality. 

Fast forward to 2020 and the true wireless headphone market has exploded and matured. You can now get great truly wireless headphones for under $100 or shell out $200 to get market-leading buds like the Sony WF-1000XM3

This increase in competition means the RHA TrueConnect 2 has to be excellent to justify its $150 (£130, €160) price. And it is... sort of. 

Here’s what’s been changed for RHA’s sophomore attempt at truly wireless headphones: massively better battery life (9 hours from the headphones and an additional 35 from the charging case), a “refined” sound signature, IP55 dust/sweat/splash proof rating, and touch controls. 

Long story short, RHA has refined the RHA TrueConnect, keeping everything that made it great, but it hasn’t added any features. 

Price and availability 

The RHA TrueConnect 2 costs $150 (£130, €160) and will be available online and in stores on July 9, 2020. This puts the RHA TrueConnect 2 up against the excellent Jabra Elite 75t and the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus.  

Up against the competition, the excellent Jabra Elite 75t can be had for $30 more and will get you many more features, smaller buds and case, and physical controls. While we disliked the bloated bass on the Jabra, the customizable EQ can tame the low-end. Plus, the Jabra supports multipoint pairing, which we sorely missed when switching to the RHA TrueConnect. 

Then there’s the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1, which features excellent sound quality and costs $129.99 / £119.95, making them a better value for the budget-conscious buyer.

(Image credit: Lewis Leong)

Design

Side by side, the TrueConnect and TrueConnect 2 look nearly identical. Both are still one of the best-built true wireless headphones on the market. The soft-touch finish and matte black aluminium finish for the charging case are still here and yes, it’s still a fingerprint magnet. The earbuds themselves are made of plastic and coated in the same soft-touch finish as the charging case, making them easy to grip but also pick up oils like a sponge. You’ll want to carry around a cleaning cloth if you don’t want your headphones to look like you dropped them in a bag of chips. 

The most significant design change is the removal of the physical buttons. 

In their place are capacitive touch buttons, which work fine but exhibit a slight delay from press to action compared to the physical buttons of the original TrueConnect. This also means users in colder climates will need capacitive touch gloves to use the earbud controls. One improvement is the IP55 rating, which means you can workout with the TrueConnect 2 without worry. 

The charging case is still a stand-out on the market because of its unique lid and aluminum build quality. Although bulky to accommodate the massive 35-hour battery, the charging case feels like it can withstand a beating. Plus, it has USB-C charging and a battery level indicator on the front. 

(Image credit: Lewis Leong)

Features

The RHA TrueConnect 2 is bit light when it comes to features - there’s Siri/Google Assistant/ Bixby support but that’s about it. There’s no active noise cancellation nor an app to tailor the listening experience. The bright side is that the headphones just work and don’t need tinkering to sound great out of the box, unlike the Jabra Elite 75t

In terms of controls, users will have to learn what each earbud does as you can’t access all the controls with just one bud. The left button controls play/pause, track select, voice assistant, and pairing while the right button controls play/pause, volume up/down, voice assistant, and pairing. This means you can use either bud in single-bud mode, which isn’t always the case with true wireless headphones. 

One glaring feature we miss is multipoint pairing, which allows headphones to pair with two devices simultaneously. This means you’ll have to turn off Bluetooth on one device, activate pairing mode with a 5-second press, and then re-enable Bluetooth on your original device. Doing this every time you want to switch between your phone and laptop is maddening. In 2020, multipoint pairing should be mandatory. 

Performance

RHA claims to have “refined” the sound quality of the TrueConnect but it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what changed. Both headphones feature a slightly warm presentation, making them easy to listen to for hours at a time. Mids stand out in the tonal presentation, bringing out vocals in tracks. Highs have good extension but lack the sparkle and detail of more expensive headphones like the Sennheiser True Wireless 2. Bass is excellent, with tons of body without being overbearing. 

However, the biggest disappointment with sound quality is the audible hiss when no music is playing or playing at a low volume. This hiss was not present in the original TrueConnect so it’s disappointing to hear it with the latest generation headphone. While most users will not notice the hiss while music is playing, more discerning listeners will be frustrated. 

(Image credit: Lewis Leong)

The good news is that the original RHA TrueConnect had excellent call quality and that’s no different for the TrueConnect 2. Friends and family reported excellent call quality. Just as important, the wireless strength is also superb - we could leave our phone in another room and audio still played flawlessly without dropping out. 

Final verdict

The original RHA TrueConnect was an easy recommendation in 2018 thanks to its excellent build and sound quality, the sophomore TrueConnect 2 are harder to recommend. The competition has improved massively and there are a few disappointments from the TrueConnect 2, like the audible hiss and lack of multipoint pairing. 

However, the RHA TrueConnect 2 remains one of the best built truly wireless headphones at any price and the massive improvement in battery life is incredible. They're not perfect, but if you want easy-to-understand true wireless earbuds without a ton of features and a warm, pleasant sound, these are the ones to go for.

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