Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our
review process here.
We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Excellent sound quality
Great earpiece customization options
Robust build quality
Ear hoops can be difficult to mold correctly to your ear.
Cable is heavy
Bulky for earbuds
Unresponsive in-line controls
The RHA T20i in-Ear Monitors (Gen. 2) provide excellent sound quality, robust build quality, and a wide range of options with which to customize your listening experience—for a steep price.
There are a lot of options out there for the audiophile on the go, and the RHA T20i In-Ear Monitors (Gen. 2) might be one of the best wired, in-ear options available. They offer excellent sound quality, a wide array of customization options, excellent build quality, and are comfortable enough for hours of pleasant listening. However, this quality doesn’t come cheap, and puts them in the awkward position of having to compete with wireless earbuds. Can the T20i compete with its cordless cousins?
Everything about the T20i Gen. 2 screams quality engineering and design. Great attention to detail has been put into ensuring that these earbuds will stand up to the test of time and heavy use. The ear pieces are constructed of injection molded stainless steel. This not only ensures that the ear pieces are extremely durable, but that they fit exceptionally well in the ear.
This durable construction extends to the moldable over ear hooks, extraordinarily thick and tough feeling cords, and to every joint in the cords. The 3.5mm jack is similarly rugged, composed of metal, and features a spring mechanism designed to prevent the inevitable degradation that wired connections typically suffer. These earbuds are obviously designed to last for years and stand up to all manner of abuse.
The premium stainless steel construction of the ear pieces feels pleasant and reassuring against the skin in a way plastic just can’t emulate.
One downside to this sturdy design is the attendant weight. For earbuds, these things are heavy, and the sheer mass of the cable has an annoying tendency to drag the earbuds from your ears. Of course, this can be ameliorated by fixing the cable to your clothing with the included clip, but the bulk and weight are not a desirable quality in earbuds, the point of which is compactness. You’ll definitely want to carry them in the included pouch as they don’t tuck easily into a pocket.
The inline control dongle is very basic and typical—volume controls, play/pause, and virtual assistant activation can all be triggered with it, though we found that it was often strangely unreliable and unresponsive. This is partly due to how difficult it is to locate and operate the controls by touch alone, as the buttons are not clearly differentiated.
One of the biggest selling points of the T20i Gen. 2 is the inclusion of so many customization options. Whatever the shape and size of your ears there should be an option to suit them, and the inclusion of several different styles helps to optimize your listening experience. The inclusion of bass, reference, and treble filters is also a welcome touch.
The premium stainless steel construction of the ear pieces feels pleasant and reassuring against the skin in a way plastic just can’t emulate. The injection molded metal fits snugly inside your ears, and the T20i Gen. 2 possesses a number of other features to enhance comfort and fit; moldable, over-ear hooks and a wide array of included ear pieces ensure maximum compatibility with a variety of ears. We were able to listen for hours on end without stressing our ears.
We were surprised by just how great the T20i Gen. 2 actually sounds. These earbuds reproduce audio with near flawless accuracy and deliver an excellent listening experience. They don’t quite approach the audio quality provided by over-ear headphones, but as far as earbuds go you’d be hard pressed to do better than these. Tones are clear and crisp, from the punchy, satisfying bass range to ringing high notes. We appreciated the sense of depth and space that the T20i Gen. 2 provided compared to other earbuds.
These earbuds reproduce audio with near flawless accuracy and deliver an excellent listening experience.
As with their fit, the sound of the T20i Gen. 2 is also customizable. The included extra audio filters and ear pieces can be used to alter your listening experience to suit your personal taste. The effect is subtle but noticeable, though we preferred the middle-of-the-road reference style filters to the bass or treble options.
Audio quality for hands-free communication using the built-in mic was very good. Conversations were crisp and clear, making the T20i a good option for commuters and anyone who needs to have both hands free while talking.
With an MSRP of $190 the T20i Gen. 2 isn’t cheap, even given that it can be regularly found for roughly 25% off that price. However, the high build quality, customization options, and excellent sound quality justify the cost. You could buy cheaper earbuds and not have a terrible experience, but seeing as the T20i Gen. 2 will outlast cheap, flimsy earbuds you might very well end up spending similar amounts in the long run.
However, these are not a trivial spur-of-the-moment purchase, and if you’re prone to losing your earbuds then these may induce some anxiety. They’re also wired, which is a significant drawback given how many excellent wireless options are now available. That said, the T20i Gen. 2 deliver almost unrivaled sound quality for earbuds and, if audio fidelity is a priority, they’re worth the investment.
As good as the T20i earbuds are, they’re not for everyone. Cheaper options can like the Pansonic ErgoFit offer acceptable audio quality at the cost of inferior build quality and comfort for a tiny fraction of the price. You can grab a pair of ErgoFit earbuds for $10 or less, and while they won’t deliver the sterling audio or build quality of the RHAs, they do perform reasonably well. If you’re not a hardcore audiophile and don’t require a portable listening experience that approaches studio fidelity, save yourself a hundred and eighty bucks and grab a pair of ErgoFits.
Top Notch Earbuds.
The T20i Gen. 2 earbuds are an easy recommend for the discerning listener on the go. Their only real downside is their price, and their relative bulk and weight compared to typical earbuds, but that’s easy to forgive considering their excellent build quality, audio fidelity, and customizable comfort. These are the new highwater mark for wired earbuds.