DISCLAIMER: My colleague flinkenick loaned me his Eden review unit for the purposes of this article. You can check out his thorough review of the Eden – complete with notes on build as well as comprehensive comparisons – here. My review is as follows.
Rhapsodio is a custom in-ear and aftermarket cable manufacturer world-renowned for unending experimentation and equal ambition. From 9-driver hybrids to 20-driver customs, Rhapsodio founder Sammy has never been known as a business type – rather, a mad professor of sorts living off of the fireworks display he calls a product line. Limited runs, refreshes and one-offs are commonplace for the Hong Kong firm, but in my eyes, that only makes their mainstays all the more special. Enter: Eden. The Eden is Rhapsodio’s new flagship comprised of a single dynamic driver – Sammy’s clear weapon of choice. Tuned for a crystalline and pure signature, this is a TOTL that sells on performance and personality.
- Driver count: One 10mm dynamic driver
- Impedance: N/A
- Sensitivity: N/A
- Key feature(s) (if any): N/A
- Available form factor(s): Custom and universal platinum-plated silver in-ear monitor
- Price: $2000
- Website: www.rhapsodiostore.com, www.facebook.com/rhapsodiohk
The Eden carries a strikingly clear tone, though with zero hallmarks of a crisp, clean, clarity-focused signature. This is because its crystalline nature comes from bass attenuation, rather than treble accentuation. In fact, the Eden’s top-end is kept relatively linear, because there’s minimal warmth for it to combat. On the other hand, instruments never come across lean. There’s a roundedness and body to its timbre – especially in the midrange – that maintains density and coherence. Although notes don’t hold the most weight, they’re always physically convincing. Expectedly then, the Eden builds a clean, open, proportionally-even stage with a natural sense of air – neither brightly harmonic nor richly warm.
In expansion, I’d call the stage average, but left-right separation is especially strong – and imaging is moderately precise as well – because of the attenuated low-end. Tonally, the Eden precariously rides the line of neutral, whilst borrowing elements from either end of the spectrum. Heavier instruments like upright basses or male baritones sometimes lack the authority and resonance that lend them their gravitas – sounding too light and airy. On the other hand, pianos and violins excel because of the Eden’s bell-like clarity. Tone is a give-and-take with these sorts of instruments, but ultimately, all of them share a unifying quality that I can simply call pure – crystal clear, yet wholesome and even across the board.
But, as neutral as it is, the Eden’s low-end is quality. Despite its quantity (and the absence of warmth), the bass is full – probably so because of the diaphragm’s dynamic nature. It may border on unmoving, but solidity is high and coherency is excellent as well. Clearly, the entire low-end had been calmed rather than select parts. So, the Eden still pumps like a singular piston – however shy that piston may be. Energy is mildly concentrated around the mid- and upper-bass for a neutral tone. This lends itself well to the clarity of kick drums, where you can visualise the skin as the beater strikes. Swift decay further adds to this, solidifying the bass as a light cherry on top, rather than the spongy foundation below.
The Eden’s midrange is smooth, engaging and surprisingly wholesome. A rise across 2-4kHz gives instruments a rich, almost saturated presence. Higher-pitched pianos and female vocals are particularly engrossing. The Eden balances the fullness and clarity of these two extremely effectively. There’s neither the thinness from the pursuit of detail, nor the bloat of mid-bass warmth. Again, a sense of purity runs through these elements to enchanting effect. However, not all instruments were treated equal in tone. Heavier strings or horns may lack warmth and weight. But, the wholesomeness of the midrange does prevent any notion of leanness. In transparency and resolution, the Eden fares fine for a flagship. Rather than technical performance, the midrange impacts by engagement – a full-bodied, musical and clear display.
The Eden’s treble is unique in that its contributions toward clarity are rather minor. Its lower-treble is articulate indeed, but its defining hallmarks are linearity and cleanliness – rather than any real attempt at emphasising crispness or air. On the plus side, the top-end comes across smooth and effortless. The region as a whole is inoffensive, rounded and ever-so-slightly warm. Extension is relatively average – and so is its transparency, concurrently – but calmness down low renders the treble crystalline nonetheless. Notes are on the thicker side, but sufficient articulation and swift, refined decay preserve that sense of attack. Cymbals and hi-hats won’t necessarily sound all that exciting, but violins and chimes exude elegance. Again, an out-and-out technical performer it is not, but it concludes the Eden’s signature with aplomb.
The Eden’s pure, crystalline signature yields a unique listening experience that hybridises thick engagement and cleanliness. If the following traits pique your interest, the Eden will prove an excellent flagship for you to consider:
A balance of rich saturation and crystalline clarity: Because of the Eden’s unique approach towards transparency, it’s able to maintain both cleanliness and body in the midrange. This is ideal when listening to instruments like acoustic pianos, flutes and violins, where both bell-like clarity and note weight are important in accurately producing the instrument.
Minimal low-end quantity: The Eden is as neutral as it gets. It truly goes to great lengths to let the midrange and treble shine. If you listen mostly to classical or acoustic music with little regard for bass quantity, the Eden will serve you well.
A smooth, superbly linear treble: But, that doesn’t mean the Eden’s shrill or thin either. Its clean, unobtrusive low-end allows the treble to assume a smooth and linear profile as well. There are truly no noticeably peaks on the Eden’s top-end, neither are there any apparent dips. It’s a smooth, forgiving yet crystalline treble that’ll serve detail with little effort.
But, the Eden’s decidedly bass-less signature does leave the following caveats to be considered. If the three traits below are criteria of high priority when considering your next flagship in-ear monitor, the Eden may not be your cup of tea:
Any amount of low-end warmth or visceral impact: This is the Eden’s greatest Achilles’ heel. In an effort to maintain both clarity and midrange density, it’s had to compromise heavily on bass response. Even audiophiles adverse to low-end energy will most probably have to adapt to the Eden’s presentation. I’d like to think it’s an acquired taste – and it does have situational benefits as far as realism is concerned – but anyone with an inkling for impact would not enjoy Eden.
Stage fullness or saturation: A side-effect to the Eden’s neutral low-end is the fullness of the stage. Without bass warmth occupying its designated portion of the track, the stage may feel empty and nonchalant. With more acoustic music – where emotion is delivered through lyricism and micro-dynamics – this isn’t much of an issue. But, it can be; elsewhere.
Top-of-the-line stage definition and transparency: Despite its clarity, the Eden’s transparency is inhibited by top-end extension. For a flagship, stage definition and openness are rather average. So, if you’re after transparency driven by detail, nuance and stage expansion – rather than tone or timbre – the Eden would probably not be your cup of tea.