One question thrown our way every now and then is: What are the best Bluetooth earphones for audiophiles? The wireless in-ear world is dominated by exercise-focused, bass-boosted models and higher-priced, luxury designs, neither of which necessarily offer audiophile-grade performance. In 2015, the wired THA T20 earphones won our Editors’ Choice for delivering high-quality, accurate, audiophile-grade sonics. Now the T20 Wireless has arrived, a $249.95 Bluetooth version geared toward listeners who want accuracy and clarity above all else. This pair is equally impressive, filling the accurate audio niche in the Bluetooth earphone realm and earning our Editors’ Choice.
Visually speaking, the T20’s design is simple and refined—black matte rubber covers the neckband, with black cabling extending up to the earpiece. The earpieces are bulky and shaped almost like custom-molded earphones. Beneath the black matte stainless steel surface of the housing, dual drivers deliver the audio for each ear.
The flexible neckband has a power/pairing button on the right side, as well as a USB-C port for charging. An inline remote control and mic compartment is located along the right side cabling that extends up to the earpiece. The remote has a central multifunction button that controls playback, call management, track navigation, and voice assistance (depending on how many times you tap it or for how long you hold it), and volume up/down buttons.
One thing that immediately sets the T20 Wireless apart from just about all other Bluetooth in-ears we review is its detachability. Not only do the earpieces themselves come off of the neckband, but there’s also a wired cable included—which is common with wireless headphones, but rare among Bluetooth earphones. This means you can use the T20 in Bluetooth mode, with the neckband, or you can use them as standard wired earphones. That alone is an impressive, unique feature. The wired cable lacks an inline remote control or mic, so you can’t use the earphones to control playback or take calls, but since so few wireless in-ears even ship with a wired option, we’ll let it go.
The earphones have a modest IPX4 rating, which means they can withstand light splashing, but not submersion—they should be fine for the gym, but wearing them in heavy rain or otherwise getting them very wet is not advised. The neckband’s USB-C port (for the included charging cable) is exposed, and charging the earphones while wet will likely result in problems.
RHA includes three tuning filters: one for treble, one for bass, and one for neutral audio. We’ll discuss how they impact the audio performance in the next section. The color-coded filters screw into place and are easy to swap out, and come with their own holder that also has a key to the color coding so you know which pair is which. The earphones ship with the neutral filters in place.
The in-ear fit is exceptionally secure, primarily because there’s almost no way not to find the ideal eartip—you get a total of six pairs of silicone eartips in various sizes, two pairs of Comply foam eartips (these offer a superior fit, block out ambient noise passively, and can enhance bass depth to a degree because of the stronger in-canal seal), and two pairs of flange-style eartips in two sizes. That’s ten total pairs of eartips!
The accessories don’t stop there. The earphones also ship with a padded neoprene zip-up protective pouch to house and protect all of the included accessories, as well as a shirt clip and cable cinch.
RHA estimates a battery life of roughly 12 hours, but your results will vary with your mix of wired and wireless playback, and with your volume levels.
We tested the T20 Wireless with all three filters, but the test results below will first discuss how the drivers sound with the neutral, default filters in-place. After that, we’ll briefly detail what the bass and treble filters sound like.
On tracks with intense sub-bass content, like The Knife’s “Silent Shout,” the earphones dutifully deliver the super-low frequencies without distorting. At moderate listening levels, the bass depth still feels strong here, but it isn’t dialed up the way it is on many in-ears we test. This is less about a bass-forward sound signature and far more about accuracy. We’re not at Etymotic levels here, but the earphones begin to approach a flat response and then tweak aspects of the frequency range subtly.
Bill Callahan’s “Drover,” a track with far less deep bass in the mix, gives us a better sense of the T20’s general sound signature. The drums on this track get an ideal bass presence—we hear the thump of the kick, but it sounds full and round rather than thunderous. The natural low-end also benefits Callahan’s baritone vocals, which are delivered with a rich low-mid presence that is matched with crisp treble edge in the highs. The overall sound signature is bright, detailed, and pleasantly anchored in the lows with accurate, full bass.
On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” the kick drum loop receives plenty of added thump, and enough high-mid presence to retain its punchy attack. The high frequencies are a bit brighter than we normally hear—this pushes some of the vinyl crackle and hiss somewhat forward and out of its typical wallpaper status in the mix. But for the most part, it sounds accurate. The sub-bass synth hits that punctuate the beat are delivered with strong depth, but it’s nothing like you might hear on clearly bass-boosted in-ears. Nor is the sound weak or thin—it’s balanced, with brightness that allows for a strong focus on vocals and clarity. Bass happens when it is present in the mix, and not heavily boosted to overtake it.
Orchestral tracks, like the opening scene from John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary, get a crisp, bright, detailed sound, with a lovely richness to the lower register instrumentation. The higher register brass, strings, and vocals get some nice anchoring from the lows, but it’s subtle and accurate.
Swapping out the neutral filter for the bass filter definitely beefs up the lows and low-mids a bit, but the boosting is subtle—it’s not like turning the bass up all the way. The drums on the Callahan track get a little more heaviness to them, and the sub-bass synths and beats on the Knife and the Jay-Z/Kanye tracks sound more pumped up, without either becoming overly intense.
The treble filters don’t really tamp down the bass much, but arguably add more brightness than anyone needs. It’s a super-clear sound signature, but a bit too bright for my tastes. In other words, as is often the case, we favor the neutral filters—but bass lovers who want some modest boosting to the otherwise accurate lows will enjoy the bass filter.
The inline mic offers better than average intelligibility. Using the Voice Memos app on an iPhone 8, we could understand every word we recorded cleanly and clearly. There was some typical Bluetooth mic fuzz around the edges, but it’s a crisp signal for the most part, and the mic doesn’t sound distant like many Bluetooth in-ear mics often do.
Inasmuch as there is a true audiophile choice in the Bluetooth in-ear realm (a notion that is up for debate) the RHA T20 Wireless earphones satisfy most of the essential criteria. The fit options are excellent, the filters allow you to tweak the sound signature to taste, and most importantly, the audio performance is very close to an accurate, flat response. There’s some slightly boosted bass and tweaked highs, but the adjustments are subtle, and the drivers deliver excellent clarity. For those seeking accurate Bluetooth audio in this price range, we highly recommend the T20 Wireless earphones, which earn our Editors’ Choice.
For less money, however, there are still plenty of solid Bluetooth in-ears. The JBL UA Sport Wireless Pivot, Jaybird X4 , and Jabra Elite 65e all deliver powerful audio—but these pairs are more bass-boosted, and more gym-focused. RHA’s TrueConnect true wireless earbuds, the less expensive sibling of the T20 Wireless, are also worth consideration if you want to completely eliminate wires.