Hands-on review: RHA TrueConnect 2 wireless earbuds
Image credit: RHA
It takes 2 to make a thing go right.
'Made for more' is RHA's tagline for the second iteration of its TrueConnect fully wireless Bluetooth earbuds (called, naturally, TrueConnect 2). The first iteration was highly regarded by early adopters – and were multi-award-winning, no less – so what's new with 2?
The improvements come in the key areas where you're going to need and notice them the most. Battery life is up dramatically to approximately 44 hours, with the sleek flip-top metal charging case holding multiple boosts when you're out and about. Placing the earbuds in the case for only 10 minutes will give you another hour of playback, so you never have to wait too long to keep the music flowing.
The earbuds now have capacitive touch controls, rather than the previous generation's mechanical buttons, so more can be done to control playback and commands directly and elegantly on either bud. The TrueConnect 2 is also good friends with your virtual assistant of choice, whether that's Apple's Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon's Alexa or Samsung's Bixby. You just hold your finger on either bud for around two seconds to activate.
TrueConnect 2 are also that bit more hardy, gaining an IP55 rating for rain, dust and sweat protection, so they're happier to accompany you wherever you go in this world, whatever you're doing, in almost any climatic conditions.
They also sound better, subjectively speaking: the sound has been "refined", according to the company. This was a tricky tightrope for RHA to walk, as the sound quality of the first generation was already very good. If it ain't broke, don't break it. Luckily, the technical gamble appears to have paid off and, by many accounts, the sound of TrueConnect 2 is an improvement on an already impressive design. Whether or not you've ever tried the original TrueConnect earbuds, it's safe to assume that with TrueConnect 2 you'll be getting excellent sound quality. The sound is solid and powerful, detailed and with a good balance across the frequency spectrum.
This audio quality extends to voice calls, with crisp clarity for both parties in a telephone or video call. Dual-microphones focus on your voice and help to eliminate unwanted ambient noise around you when making calls. TrueConnect 2 also has Bluetooth 5 and an upgraded chipset for optimal connection, allowing greater distance between you and your device. You can also use only one bud, if necessary in certain situations, with essential controls available to you on either bud.
The box delivery includes the metal-hinged charging case (reassuringly solid, if a trifle heavy at 79g), a USB-A to USB-C charging cable and a broad selection of 'dual density silicone ear tips' to suit all ear sizes.
RHA retained the same physical design for these v2 buds, with their established and pleasing form and shape acting as an effective noise-isolating barrier to block out distractions. There's no active noise-cancelling (ANC) functionality here: the snug fit and bud materials act as a passive noise barrier.
RHA designed the original TrueConnect earbuds to isolate as much ambient noise as possible by blocking the area surrounding your ear canal. The design of the buds also allows RHA to use the stem to house the Bluetooth antenna, moving it closer to the connected device and freeing up room for a bigger audio driver (6mm) in the bud itself. Win-win.
We have found that in many cases a good pair of in-ear buds – and the better-quality over-ear headphones – intrinsically provide a perfectly acceptable level of ambient noise-reduction. Having ANC onboard is always a nice bonus, if done well – and it's definitely become a fashionable feature in 2020 – but it's not necessarily essential. We didn't really miss ANC when wearing the TrueConnect 2 buds out and about in a busy urban street.
There's no companion app for configuration or sonic tweaking, which some people seem to enjoy, but honestly we prefer a Bluetooth device that simply works and never flakes out on us. The TrueConnect 2 certainly delivered in this respect. Initial pairing was as simple as powering them up (e.g. opening the charging case) turning them on and waiting a few seconds for our iPhone to pick up their signal. Boom, done, moving on.
The TrueConnect 2s don't offer multipoint pairing, though, so they can only be paired to one device at a time, e.g. your phone. If you want to use them across multiple gadgets – phone, tablet, computer, Bluetooth record player etc – then you'll have to get used to routinely unpairing from one and re-pairing to another. It's a few seconds' work each time, so hardly cause for an existential crisis, but multipoint support would have been welcome coming in a v2 product in 2020.
There's also no support for the AptX codec, which hi-res audio fans might miss, although as Apple also ignores AptX in its iPhones it's likely that a lot of users won't notice this or even mind all that much if they do. Nice to have, of course, and if it's a dealbreaker for you then these are not the buds you're looking for, but it's no serious knock on the TrueConnect 2 given their other ample charms. Rating products on paper from the tech spec alone is a short-sighted process. In real-world daily use, we found very little to complain about.
Finally, the TrueConnect 2 earbuds are available in matte finish Carbon Black or Navy Blue (the colour we had on test, a classy almost-but-not-quite-black midnight blue in some lights) and come with RHA's international three-year guarantee. The Scottish company stands by the quality and reliability of its products.
That three-year warranty might well hold the key to the TrueConnect 2's success and longevity (literally). To get that level of peace of mind that a high-precision gadget you invest in is guaranteed to last that long – almost to the next US election, for example, and years after the UK will have finally Brexited out of the EU – is almost unheard of. Long after many of its competitors will have headed to the great e-waste graveyard in the sky, RHA will still be backing your TrueConnect 2 earbuds.
It's certainly true that in the space of a few years since RHA debuted the original TrueConnects, the true wireless earbuds space has exploded. The savvy consumer now has a smorgasbord of in-ear options to choose from, each boasting this or that bundle of special features, with prices ranging from chump change to eye-wateringly expensive accordingly.
This might have put RHA in a bit of a tight spot, had the company not double-downed on the core features that a true wireless earbud must have and focused on making those features the best they can be for a reasonable price. A MKII product doesn't have to reinvent the wheel if said wheel was already pretty darn good. The TrueConnect 2 earbuds exhibit the design DNA of their venerable forefathers, but have intelligently evolved in the key areas to hopefully ensure their survival in a tough marketplace.
Longer battery life. Smarter technology. A stronger connection. Better sound quality. #MadeForMore indeed.
RHA is offering E&T readers a 30 per cent discount on any current product in the RHA range. This offer runs until the end of November 2020. Use code IET30 at checkout.
Visit the RHA website to browse available products.
Please note: RHA supplied these TrueConnect 2 earbuds to E&T for review without prejudice or expectation. In the spirit of transparency, we would like to make it clear that E&T will receive an affiliate commission relating to any uptake of RHA's discount offer.
[This page was updated 4 November 2020 to reflect the nature of the affiliate commission]
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