RBH Sound EP-SB Bluetooth Earphones Review
Yes, these RBH Sound Bluetooth Earphones cost $179, but you won't find a lighter weight pair, nor any Bluetooth earphones with this level of sound quality or customization. The controls are simple, and the earphones are extremely durable. Almost perfect.
It's hard to beat the sound!
I first got my hands on the RBH Sound EP-SB Bluetooth Stereo Earphones back at the 2014 CEDIA Expo where I had a hard time understanding where exactly RBH put the rechargeable battery and electronics. These earphones are so small, I still don’t understand how they’re possible given the laws of physics. Nevertheless, the folks at RBH Sound were true to their word when the promised RBH wireless earphones arrived in my hands just 5 months later. Almost ready to ship, these earphones should redefine what’s possible in the market for both comfort and performance. That’s a lot to say up-front, so let me back up and give you an overview of these new RBH Bluetooth stereo earphones themselves as well as my personal listening tests and experiences with them.
RBH Sound EP-SB Bluetooth Earphones Features
RBH Sound’s new EP-SB wireless in-ear headphones featuring Bluetooth 4.0 as well as aptX technology—meaning, they pair easily and sound nearly as good as wired headphones. AptX technology has been a boon to the headphone and earphone market, as it allows wireless bluetooth headphones to transmit higher resolution music without compressing it like traditional Bluetooth audio. Instead, aptX uses an advanced algorithm to provide near-lossless high-end audio streaming quality to your music that lets you begin to use wireless earphones and wireless headphones the way you would use their wired counterparts. The new RBH Bluetooth earphones are also very compact and lightweight—almost ridiculously so. When you look at them you’ll wonder where they fit the battery and electronics needed to play back audio and charge them for wireless use. Lest you think RBH Sound cut corners, these earphones also take calls and serve as a full-fledged portable earphones when you’re out and about and need to answer your mobile phone. The call will interrupt the music automatically, and then resume playing when you hang up.
The 3-button controls on the flat rubber band connecting the left and right earphones lets you do multiple things depending on the mode you’re in and how many button presses you give it. We tested the RBH Sound EP-SB Bluetooth earphones with an iPhone 5S and it worked as follows (there’s more, but here are the basics):
- Up button – Raise volume (a tone plays at max volume)
- Down button – Lower volume
- Center button – Pause/Play
- 2X Up button – Skip
- 2X Down button – Last song
RBH EP-SB Earphones in Call Mode
- Center button – Answer call/end call
- Up button – Raise volume (a tone plays at max volume)
- Down button – Lower volume
- Center button (2 sec) – Reject call (while ringing) or Transfer to/from phone
- Up button (2 sec) – Mute/unmute mic
- Up + Center button (simultaneously) – Voice dial
- 2X Center button – Re-dial
You can also do three-way calls, including either hanging up or keeping the current caller on the line, but in order to fully understand those you’ll want to read the manual and practice them when it’s not your boss or someone else who you’d prefer not to hand up on!
RBH also add NFC pairing to its EP-SB Bluetooth earphones, letting you simply hold an NFC-enabled device about a half inch away and the RBH Bluetooth earphones will pair instantly. These earphones are also IPX4-rated, so you can use them without worrying if sweat or rain will damage them. Like many new electronics, the RBH Sound EP-SB earphones implement the new waterproof nano-coating to protect the electronics and bring them to a level where—provided you don’t go swimming with them—it’s unlikely you’ll incur any water damage from natural use.
The EP-SB Earphones come with 6 pairs of ear tips in various sizes, and with carious features. You get:
- Comply active (blue) tips [Large and Medium pairs included]
These are comfortable foam ear tips that conform to your ear. They provide a reasonably good amount of isolation, but also allow for some noise to come in, so as to be safe when jogging or engaging in activities where hearing your surroundings is important. Using these ear foam tips will give you additional bass response as well.
- Comply isolation (black) tips [Medium pair included]
These are equally comfortable foam ear tips, but they provide the maximum amount of isolation possible. These are perfect for plane flights or other situations where you don’t need to worry about hearing anything from your surroundings. These are not recommended for outdoor use when you need to hear emergency vehicles or other warning sounds as you exercise or engage in other activities. When these tips are inserted, an added benefit is that you achieve the maximum amount of bass response thanks to its more robust seal within your ear.
- Silicone ear tips [Small, Medium, and Large pairs included]
These ear tips provide decent isolation and comfort, but will allow more of your environment in as well. One other advantage to these ear tips is that they also provide a greater amount of clarity and high-end detail.
The RBH Sound EP-SB Bluetooth Earphones come in a beautiful retail box that you’ll throw away soon after purchase. You will, however, keep the handy palm-sized storage case that will hold, not only the earphones, but also all of the included ear tips as well as a USB charging cable. One thing to note about charging the RBH Sound EP-SB Bluetooth Earphones is that they are only designed to take a 1A charging source. That means that using a 2.1A charger will likely enable the overload protection and shut them down until you use a charging source with lower current. Charge time from a fully-drained battery is about 2 hours. Our guess is that this was a compromise given the reduced size of the earphones and the resulting decrease in electronics options to stay within the design parameters. Personally, I’ll take a slower charge time over heavier, more bulky headphones any day.
RBH Bluetooth Headphones Listening Tests
Clearly, the way to focus on these earphones properly is to listen to music. I wanted to discern both the high resolution detail as well as the bass response. Both, perhaps as you’d expect, were phenomenal. I first queued up an album I am very familiar with, 6.1 by Out of the Grey. I started with “Truth Breaks Through” which has a lot of synthesized effects as well as a really distinctive doubled lead vocal where Christine Dente’s beautiful voice starts off in both ears simultaneously and then folds back to center by the second verse. The funky percussion and backing vocals by her husband and guitarist extraordinaire (he’s kill me for saying that) Scott, also served to present a huge challenge for the RBH Sound EP-SB wireless earphones…a challenge they ate up and spit out. It was impossible to remember these earphones were streaming audio via Bluetooth—they sounded as good as any wired, pampered earphones I’ve ever used. The next track, “Brave” is one of my favorites from this band, and I particularly love the way the acoustic drums dive right in at the opening of the track. The wide-panned guitars and backing vocals were also well-detailed, with a rich, full sound and tons of detail. The kick in this track hits nice and hard, but with a decent snap that exercises the full top and bottom dynamic range of these RBH Sound Bluetooth earphones.
To have some fun with low-end response, I next turned to my CD copy of Lacrae’s Gravity album. Track #3 “Walk With Me” has some really persistent synth bass lines that are broken up by the powerful chorus led by Novel, a Grammy award-winning hip-hop/soul artist whose voice is something I could listen to all day. The accompanying Hammond B3 sits to the right side of the mix, and the wide-panned synth drums were also wonderfully placed. A lot of this track reminded me of the intimacy you get from a good pair of earphones that is often lacking in a speaker system due to the introduction of the room and potential negative acoustical interference. With the RBH Sound Bluetooth headphones I was treated to a direct transfer of the mix to my ears. “Falling Down” added some reverb in the intro, and throughout the verses, that bound from left to right and demonstrated the excellent soundstage these earphones are capable of creating. With these earphones, I felt a much lesser “in your brain” effect than with many other headphones I’ve listened to. It was almost as if the comfort, fit, and frequency response let them put some of the audio out front where it belongs. In either case, I wasn’t taken out of the experience and was able to close my eyes and really settle into the music.
Finally, I turned to some jazz fusion with Black Diamond, an album from one of my favorite bands, The Rippingtons (featuring Russ Freeman). The opening track with the same name has a well-balanced mix, with a cavalcade of led instruments that rotate from classical electric guitar to stacked keys and back again. The underlying bass was deep and resonant, but not at all boomy as it is with headphones that have too much emphasis in that region for its own sake. Like their speakers, RBH Sound took their Bluetooth earphones and ensured they are well-balanced with a great detail of midrange detail. The rest of this album is equally impressive, with tons of sections that highlight the rich warmth and detail present in these wireless Bluetooth in-ear headphones.
The new RBH Sound EP-SB Bluetooth Earphones retail for $179 and include the aforementioned ear tips, case, and USB charging cable as well as a pair of shortening clips. That may seem expensive, but these are not your average earphones. RBH has done a stellar job of constructing what just may be the very best bluetooth earphones I’ve ever heard. There are a number of reasons you’ll want these to be your primary Bluetooth earphones. First, the RBH Sound Bluetooth earphones have excellent fidelity—music just sounds great, with all of the high end detail and bass response you’d ever want. They’re also durable, water resistant, and lightweight. In a word, they are COMFORTABLE. I wore the RBH EP-SB Bluetooth earphones for hours on end with absolutely zero fatigue. I can’t say that about any other earphones I’ve ever worn. That may be worth the price of admission right there. I can’t recommend these RBH wireless Bluetooth earphones enough—they’re the real deal.