Bruce Forbes of Equation Audio sent us 3 sets of his awesome headphones for review. In his words…
The RP-22Xs were developed after we had perfected the RP-21s as far as that design topology and material integration would allow. The thing that is selling these headphones is they compete extremely well with many competitive models that are more expensive, yet considered inferior in performance. Subjective? Yes! But the total numbers chosen at blind shoot-outs held around the country don’t lie. RP’s win over 80% when compared to headphones at or above their published MSRP. And well over 50% when compared to competitive models costing as much as 40% more. Granted, there will always be subjective opinions that vary per headphone and are even dependent on the sound source, type of music, etc. But there is often a pleasant surprise to hear such great reproduction in general from a new brand because there have been no serious alternatives to the major brands, only an increasing number of confusing models designed for arbitrarily designated applications.
The majority are purchased by musicians for tracking during sessions, same for engineers and they are very popular when the tracks go through the final mix and mastering process, particularly on the growing home studio front, where many DIY artists and engineers master their own CDs. Our number one application for the RP’s is tracking, with growing use in the HiFi market. The RP-21 is smooth throughout the frequency bandwidth (about 20Hz-22kHz). Although they respond below and above that, the roll-off considerations make listing them useless for most practical applications. We make fun of the ‘hype’ in the industry by listing a fantasy or some other comical response specification, because many companies list response frequencies below 10Hz, even 5Hz (more a feeling), and above 22kHz, in ranges bats and porpoises have yet to verify.
The public response for us taking the ‘let’s get real’ position has been overwhelmingly positive. Overall, the RP-21s produce low aural and physical fatigue, generating pleasing, relatively accurate reproduction of most sources. There’s very little ‘hype’ though some have remarked they felt the bass was augmented a bit. We would agree except during in-house tests with similarly priced and type competitive headphones, the 21s tend to get high marks for bass response sounding closer to a good pair of soffet mounted or larger near-field speakers in a well-treated room.
However, the RP-21s didn’t seem to deliver sufficient ‘ballistic’ responses such as those associated with percussions and bass instruments requested by many extreme users, especially drummers and bass players, so we decided to create a product with those applications in mind. We started with the RP-21 ear cups and added a higher mass diaphragm, coiled to accept more power, and added a dual element ear pad that has a port or ear opening designed to compliment the acoustics and deliver more low-frequency punch. This enhanced low-frequency response along with the added power handling capability provides an increase in percussive ballistics and bass signals of all types, without adding the typical sack of mud that some other competitive models reportedly add to the mix. Bear in mind this added bass and percussive response does not complement mixing multi-track recordings or listening to a well-recorded orchestra.
RP-22X’s are not as flat or smooth as the RP-21, though you can boost the drum (ballistic mixes and bass instrument mixes) and rock on, The X is for extreme. Remember to carefully elevate the volume to prevent accidental dangerous SPL- you rarely recover from nerve damage, and never return to ‘good-as-new’ when you damage the tympanic membrane (ear drum), so I harp on the be responsible theme, even on the packaging. Be kind to your ears and your future – use headphones responsibly!
The only time I prefer the 22x’s is when I want more kick and then I EQ or add the highs and mids I want to compensate for, producing quite an energetic and pleasing mix, though this is for limited use, due to prolonged higher SPL applications.
All things considered, the RP-21 and 22X headphones sell at a street price that literally blows away same-priced headphones and seriously challenges many headphones that are priced higher. That’s our mission and with these two products, we have well achieved our goal.
Dennis’ comment: If you want us to review your stuff, send it to our office address at:
1490 W 121st Ave, Suite 101
Westminster, CO 80234
We don’t guarantee that it will be a positive review, but you will get at least a PR5 link.