As promised, after a short break, we return to the story about extremely interesting in-ear monitors from the Softears brand.
Earlier we have already fruitfully discussed the "big brother", a 10-driver, rather expensive and flagship IEM model - RS10. Now the time has come to prove himself to his younger relative: a more accessible fellow with a beautiful mesmerizing voice, graceful RSV. "V" is not a letter, but the Roman "five", indicating the number of drivers on board each of the IEMs.
However, the reduction in the number of drivers, in comparison with the "big brother", in this case, did not affect the sound quality in any way. Yes, manners have changed, there is more "warmth" and musicality, but the concept of an honest and genuine sound has remained unchanged.
I will allow myself to make a small excursion into the history of Softears, in case one of our readers is not familiar with it yet. The company was founded in 2017 in China 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: 1DD + 4BA + 2EST (electrostatic). Then, quite recently, the TURII model built on 1DD followed, and now, as they say, in the heat of the heat, their novelty has seen the light, the hero of today's review - absolutely incomparable five-driver (5BA) - RSV.
Due to its focus exclusively on the domestic market of the Celestial Empire, the company until recently was little known in the international market. 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, let's finish with the introductory word and go directly to the review.
Peer into the night sky and listen, today we are witnessing the sacred dance of the five planets. On stage - Reference Sound Five!
Text by Alexey Kashirskey aka Hans Barbarossa
Driver Configuration: 5 Balanced Armatures
Shell: 3D Printed from Imported Medical Resin
Technology: flat impedance / linear phase
Sensitivity: 125db/1VRMS @1kHz
Impedance: 8Ω @1kHz (±15%)
Frequency Range: 5Hz - 40kHz (1/4’ Free Field, -3dB)
Effective Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz (IEC-60318-4)
THD+IMD @94dB: <1% @1kHz
Cable Connection: 2-Pin 0.78mm
Appearance kit and ergonomics
The IEM are packed in a neat cardboard box in the form of a black "book". On its cover, in the very center, a "V" is inscribed, meaning, as we have already figured out, not a vendetta at all (hello Guy Fawkes), but a peaceful number five, on top of which the model name "RSV" is applied in a silvery font with a clarifying decoding "Reference Sound Five ". On the edge of the package, there is a nice Softears logo and a protective sticker seal.
We open our "tome" and extract all the contents from it: a black case-washer with an embossed brand logo on the lid, a silver metal business card, a warranty card, an instruction booklet, two sets of silicone and foam tips of different sizes (S / M / L) and a brush for cleaning the sound pipes.
Inside the round case (wow, that heady smell of genuine leather again) neatly fit the RSVs themselves, carefully placed in two soft pouches, as well as a detachable cable and a branded microfiber cloth.
As we can see, the kit contains everything you need that you might ever need to use these IEMs. So let's take care of them.
RSV looks just awesome! On the faceplate, through transparent varnish, we see a mesmerizing picture: as if Gustav Klimt sent sparkling gold leaf petals to waltz with his brush into the black rebellious sky, painted by Van Gogh. Before us is not just beautiful IEMs, but in fact a small work of art!
On the right IEM, at the bottom of the panel, there is the Softears logo embossed in silver, on the left, in the same place, - the name of the model "RSV".
IEM black cast glossy shell made using 3D printing, material - premium medical resin. With all its appearance and convenience, it resembles an acrylic shell of CIEM monitors, made from an individual ear cast.
On the inside of the case, there is a sound tube with three outlets, in one of which you can see an acoustic filter-damper. In the upper part, in the recess, there are connectors for a cable plug with 2pin (0.78 mm).
Convenient shell shape allows you to wear RSV, provided the tips are correctly selected, for as long as you like without discomfort. Wearing is expected behind the ear.
In addition to the five BA drivers, one 3-way crossover is placed inside each of the headphones. RSV also employs “Flat impedance” technology, which allows these IEMs to maintain their frequency response regardless of the output impedance of the amplifier / sound source.
The black cable is braided, cute and elastic, with soft silicone earhooks. Its length is 1.2 meters, connectors are 2pin / jack 3.5 mm. If you wish, you can replace the cable with any other with the appropriate connectors, although personally I find it very attractive and suitable.
Well, according to the results of the first part of the review, RSV confidently get five points. Excellent design, rich package and pleasant appearance are all worthy of praise. Well done Softears!
However, the most important thing, as you know, is still ahead of us: we are moving on to the analysis of sound.
And this is the most exciting part of our review.
Listening (audio testing) was conducted on: MyST DAC 1866OCU V.2, QLS DA9.1 Melokin, Lotoo paw Gold, iBasso 220 MAX, QLS QA-361, iFi HIP DAC, xDSD & iFI iDSD Diablo.
With all of the audio devices the RSV performed well enough, their "voice" varied slightly depending on the sound source.
I will not tire of repeating this mantra over and over again: I strongly recommend that you take a responsible approach to the process of selecting tips, as they make a noticeable contribution to the creation of a sound picture.
It should be noted that Softears, as in the case of the older model - RS10, once again demonstrated a responsible and thoughtful way of setting up their IEMs.
From the very first minutes of listening, RSVs demonstrate an extremely serious approach to “making music”.
I would describe the sound of Softears RSV as well-balanced, comfortable, with excellent working out of micro- and macro-nuances (a slight bias towards macro contrast), a slightly forced section in the low-frequency register, a charming round, "tube" bass, smooth, rich and detailed mids, and also a clean, crisp and slightly shy high-frequency range.
In principle, the relationship with the older 10-driver model is guessed here, but the "habits" are still different. If the RS10 is knocked down, unleashing sound rushes on the listener and resolutely injecting musical adrenaline right into the heart, then the RSV, on the contrary, enchants us with a warm evening breeze that envelops from head to toe and whirls in a dance, filling the body with universal harmony. But this is not at all lifeless dead calm. Where power and thrust are required, RSVs can throw a powerful hook that will twitch your head. For all its charm, it is a very powerful, smooth, beautiful, spacious and at the same time well-balanced manner of sound.
In addition, the hero of our today's review is more gentle with the recording quality than his older brother RS10, presenting audio material in a more balanced, voluminous and melodic manner.
However, the philosophy of honest, truthful and "immaculate" sound - Hear the Truth - is present in both models.
RSVs have a well balanced, noble and extremely melodic sound. This is a smooth manner with a bodily filling of sound images, a slightly warm background, moderately expressive, with a good rhythmic base.
The compositions are presented smoothly, balanced, in a neutral manner, with a slight "color" in the lower register. This is similar to the character of a good studio monitor, interspersed with charm in the form of light expression, smooth as velvet, moderately emotional and melodic sound processing.
The low-frequency range delivers a tight and precise punch, the charming, rounded bass fills the smooth, flowing, detailed mids with depth and warm bodily substance. The high frequencies, in turn, rising steadily from the middle, precisely, consistently and unmistakably complete the overall audio band. As a result, everything sounds right, smooth and beautiful.
The imaginary space is larger than average, it is harmoniously and proportionally lined up both in width and in depth. RSV works especially well in working out the depth of the "soundstage".
A separate topic is RSV's ability to squeeze the maximum out of any genre. Headphones do an excellent job with everything: classical music, instrumental, jazz, new wave, rock and various brutal genres.
Also worth noting is the amazing smoothness, information content and lack of joints in the sound of RSV.
The blow is quite powerful, going to the very bottom. The bass is thick, tight, measured and well controlled. Here there is precise massive cotton, and relief, and "tasty" warm color, and good speed characteristics. The lower register harmoniously cooperate with the mid-frequency range, without overlapping it in any way, but only competently filling it with depth and living weighty substance. They beautifully and unobtrusively create a light velvety background and add mass to the overall sound.
This manner resembles the work of a dynamic radiator, with a dense, embossed and rounded sound: thus, a "warm tube".
Mids are smooth, natural, rich in timbre and texture. Here, any musical image is clearly tangible. The manner in which the midrange is presented is both thick and delicate. It is extremely detailed and naturalistic. Every timbre, every vibration of a voice or string is transmitted accurately and deeply. It is organic, well balanced, smooth and comfortable. Vocal parts and strings sound natural, rich, pure and melodious, and musical images are drawn large and multifaceted. It perfectly combines power, multiplied by emotions, and dry monitoring, drive and academic manners.
The high frequencies are clear and concise. Their quantity, as well as the quality of working off, do not cause any complaints to me personally. The register is transmitted quite cleanly and clearly, without sharpness and distortion.
It is unobtrusive, precise and as correct as possible, with good articulation, delivered in a light, graceful and comfortable manner. There is no abundance of "air" or refined after-sounds, but there is a correct working out of small nuances, without excessive aggression and annoying moments. Highs harmoniously contribute to the common cause of the entire frequency range, without whims and arbitrariness.
Softears RSV is a model that can charm and, in some places, beat on the spot. She, like the best representatives of the aristocracy, is modest, but not simple-minded, has a sense of tact and a delicate innate taste. And the ability to combine in oneself both the monitor and the "musical" manner is simply mesmerizing.
These IEMs have amazing looks, good build quality, good ergonomics, rich package and great sound. Once again I would like to praise the Softears engineers for the work done and sincerely wish the company a speedy and widespread recognition in the Audifile world. And directly RSV, in my opinion, deserve the closest attention from lovers of high-quality sound.
And about the material. The RSV has a suggested retail price of $ 729. Considering all the indisputable advantages of Softears RSV: sound, rich package, build quality, design and ergonomics - I find this price quite adequate. Well, on my own behalf, in the end, I will add that these IEMs will definitely not disappoint you.
Sound, ergonomics, design, workmanship, kit, price.
And as an afterword, I will allow myself my lyrical summary about Softears headphones, they deserve it, believe me.
RS10 is an intellectual musician with a conservatory education, a daring careerist and a womanizer, in search of the perfect sound, straightforward, honest and ambitious. Very cool and expensive model - not for everyone.
RSV is an experienced musician or sound engineer, bohemian, self-confident, sedate, well-versed in his business, who knows the "taste of wine". A professional who has found his own sound and knows how to recognize and enjoy all its nuances. An affordable model that will appeal to many - from demanding audiophiles to gourmet music lovers.