Welcome to this unboxing of the brand new custom Softears RS10. To our knowledge, this might well be the first custom-fit version of the RS10 in the West. Higher resolution versions of the embedded photos are linked at the end of the article.
Softears is a high-end in-ear manufacturer from Chengdu, China. They are being praised for having excellently tuned IEM, a very low margin for error, and implementing class-leading proprietary drivers. In fact, the other very popular brand from Chengdu, MoonDrop, is licensing some of Softears’ exclusive drivers. It is said the two share some resources – at the very least they share a passion, e.g. giving us incredible sound quality.
The Softears RS10 – aka Reference Sound 10 – is one of the company’s two flagships. The customized version is priced at 2.399,- € compared to 2.099 € of the universal. This arguably high price will get you a neutral monitor with very advanced and innovative technology. Of course, thanks to a perfect fit, you won’ to fiddle around with different ear tips, though we think the universal version is also very comfortable to wear. With the customized version you can choose from a large colour palette and interesting faceplate designs. But because we want to see what’s inside, we went with the clear shell and trademark faceplate. I will cover the complete feature set in the full review, but here are some key features:
- 10 active BA per side
- 5-way sophisticated crossover with 14 components
- 1 passive driver to reduce fatigue and enhance bass
- proprietary and self-developed drivers
- handmade (both, custom and universal)
The Softears RS10, and especially the customized version, ranks at the top of the price scale. At over 2k € it competes directly with 64 Audio A12t or even the tia Trió. At the time of writing, this model is also more expensive than any IEM from Campfire Audio. Admittedly, some competitors are asking you to reach even far deeper into your pocket for their flagship. However, whereas most try to sell their earphones as a luxury product, the RS10 is a straightforward high-end monitor that does not even try to woe you with fancy packaging or an abundance of luxurious accessories. Instead, it justifies its price through advanced technology. Just like with 64 Audio, the unboxing experience is rather a let-down and not the exciting experience you’d expect from unpacking a box worth almost half of the average monthly German salary.
The RS10 is not a luxury item but a pro-audio tool.
This is nothing new to us, we’re already used to it. My 37,5% more expensive 64 Audio A18t were also shipped in a cardboard box and even came in a plastic carrying case. So the price is really not indicative of the product’s performance. For example, also the best monitoring studio speakers have some of the most disappointing packagings. I guess the worth is measured differently for tools.
Anyway, these were relatively many words for little content. I just want to limit your expectations: The RS10 is not a luxury item but a pro-audio tool.
Fit and Comfort
Surprise, surprise, it’s a perfect fit! To be honest, that was not entirely unexpected, though. Softears has a service where they offer to build dummy shells to try out before they commit to building the real deal. I, too, have received this service. You can request such a test build for 60 €, which should definitely be worth it if you are unexperienced with CIEM and are on the fence to decide if it’s for you. Having a custom-fit earphone is definitely a worthy experience, however, going by comfort alone, universal-fit IEM can be more versatile. Let us know in the comments if you want us to share some DIY tips to combine the best of both worlds.
Having a custom-fit earphone is definitely a worthy experience, however, going by comfort alone, universal-fit IEM can be more versatile.
BTW, I had my ear impressions done by the team of In-Ear-Monitoring Berlin. They might be the most experienced CIEM service partner in Germany. A pair of impressions costs around 40 €. I received the physical imprints as well as a digital scan. The RS10 was built based on the scans whereas I sent my physical impressions elsewhere.
Differences between Custom and Universal
There is no difference in packaging between the universal-fit and the custom-fit version of the Softears RS10. However, the CIEM version obviously does not include universal ear tips. The standard RS10 has two sets with 3 sizes each: one bowl-shaped set of foamies and one of a very grippy silicone. After prolonged use, I actually found the default silicone tips to have excellent pairing with the universal RS10. Yet none of that matters here because we are focussing on the customized version.
In regards to sound quality, the custom-fit has more treble, which, ultimately, sounds even more transparent. The tuning is very close to the smaller and also amazing RSV. At least with the ear tips that I preferred, the universal RS10 sounds more forward in the midrange than the two – definitely not as extended as the CIEM. For the final review, I will experiment some more with ear tips to get the two as close together as possible.
I’m going to be honest. Early impressions are far behind me! I already spent 4 weeks with the universal RS10 and now another week with the custom. I have fallen deeply in love. To my mind, this is one of the very best and most transparent IEM available! Audiophiles, producers and mixing engineers take notice. You can expect a detailed comparison with the RSV and also with the 64 Audio A18t along with a thorough review. So if you’re interested in reference-grade performance and linear sound, do come back soon!
To my mind, this is one of the very best and most transparent IEM available!
For a higher resolution of the embedded photos, please check out the separate gallery for this product. Also, feel free to follow me on Instagram.
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