Glasgow-based RHA’s knack for sleek designs and solid audio performance has helped the company make a name for itself since its debut in 2011. The company’s first true wireless earphones, the $169.95 TrueConnect, is a new standout product in a category that sorely needed it. The cool simplicity of the charging case and earphones, the secure fit and sweat-resistant design, the generous inclusion of several eartips (and foam tips), and, above all, the excellent audio performance, make it hard to find a real flaw here. The on-ear controls take some time to master, but once you do, you have full reign over playback, call management, voice assistance, and track navigation. Bass lovers will appreciate the accurate-but-deep sound signature, and the lows are well-balanced with crisp, detailed highs. These perks paired with its fair price earn the TrueConnect our Editors’ Choice.
Like most RHA products, the TrueConnect has a sleek, minimal design, with matte black rubber surfaces gracing the earpieces and most of the charging case. The stems of each earpiece jut out from the body, adding a layer of stability, and a single tiny red dot marks the right unit. The in-ear fit is comfortable and secure, which is further aided by the plethora of eartips that ship with the TrueConnect. In all, there are seven pairs of silicone and three pairs of Comply foam eartips in small, medium, and large sizes. The in-ear fit also manages to block out plenty of ambient room noise.
The TrueConnect has an IPX5 rating—that’s respectable, but keep in mind the X stands for some undetermined level of dust ingress protection and the 5 means the earpieces are protected against water jets from any direction, but are not fully waterproof. So, think of these as sweat-proof and rinsable, but not protected from more intense exposure to water.
Each earpiece employs a 6mm dynamic driver to deliver a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz.
The single multi-purpose button on each earpiece’s outer panel can be a tad tricky to memorize at first, as each earpiece has different controls. It’s certainly better than the limited on-ear controls on the Apple AirPods, though. Tapping either ear once plays or pauses music, but a double-tap on the left skips forward, while a double tap on the right raises the volume. A triple tap on the left skips backward, while a triple tap on the right lowers the volume. Press and hold either side for 1.5 seconds to summon the voice assistant for your mobile device, and 5 seconds to go into pairing mode. When you have an incoming call, tap either ear once to answer and twice to reject. While on a call, tap once to hang up, twice to raise the volume, or three times to lower volume. Is it intuitive? Not really. But we’ve seen messier control allocations, or some controls simply left out altogether.
The 1.8-by-2.9-by-1.1-inch charging case has a brushed metallic base and a black matte cover—its status LEDs show charging progress and battery life. The included USB-C-to-USB cable is of generous length, compared with what often ships with Bluetooth in-ears, and it connects to a USB-C port on the case’s side panel. Note: The port is not covered, meaning the case is not sweat-proof (that IPX5 rating applies to the earpieces only).
The case flips open at an angle, providing clear marks for which earpiece docks in which spot. The aforementioned stems also slide into a recessed area that further secures the connection between the charging contacts. (Other true wireless models we’ve seen over the past couple years don’t dock, and thus charge, as securely.) When the earpieces are securely docked, a small white LED lights up on each. Overall, the design of the case and the earpieces is seamless, ergonomic, and handsome. The case also feels like one of the more compact options we’ve tested.
The mic offers solid intelligibility. Using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 6s, I could understand every word I recorded clearly, though there were some slight audio artifacts and the mic sounded far away, as it often does on Bluetooth in-ears.
Pairing is a simple and easy process. RHA rates the TrueConnect’s battery life to be about 5 hours per full charge, but your results will vary with your volume levels. The case holds 20 extra hours of charge, but of course that number will also vary with your usage. These numbers are decent, believe it or not, for the true wireless realm—battery life continues to be the Achilles’ Heel of these products.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the TrueConnect delivers powerful bass depth, but nothing that’s too exaggerated. At top, unwise listening levels, the bass doesn’t distort, and at lower, safer levels, the bass is clear, full, and rich, but not insanely boosted. Here, the highs are crisp, clear, and balanced well with the lows.
Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the TrueConnect’s general sound signature. The drums on this track can sound overly thunderous on bass-forward in-ears, but here they sound full, round, and heavy without veering into unnatural territory. Callahan’s baritone vocals receive a pleasant low-mid richness to them, balanced nicely with some high-mid edge. The guitar strums and higher-register percussive hits on this track are delivered brightly and clearly—this is a sculpted sound signature, but to a subtle degree that allows the bass depth to be heard without overwhelming the mix or sacrificing clarity.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives a solid high-mid presence, allowing its attack to retain its punchy edge. The vinyl crackle that is often relegated to background status sounds a bit more front-and-center here, which likely means some high-mid and high frequency sculpting and boosting is in play. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with serious depth, and yet they don’t sound insanely boosted. It’s hard to nail that ideal sub-bass response, but RHA comes pretty close here.
On orchestral tracks, like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, the lower register instrumentation is pushed forward in the mix somewhat, but the focus remains on the higher register brass, strings, and vocals in the mix. This is a bright, dynamic sound signature with rich bass depth to anchor it.
The RHA TrueConnect has a bit of everything going for it—a somewhat sporty, sweat-resistant design, a stylish look, and excellent audio performance. There are few real negatives here—once or twice I accidentally paused music when pressing a button inadvertently, but that’s a common issue (along with mediocre battery life) in the true wireless realm. In the sub-$200 cable-free in-ear department, the TrueConnect is a winner and earns our Editors’ Choice. We’re also fans of the the Jabra Elite Active 65t, the JLab Epic Air Elite, and the Editors’ Choice Bose SoundSport Free, and for far less money, the Altec Lansing True Evo.