Auglamour RT-1: Geometry Wars
Today we’re checking out the Auglamour RT-1, a stylish and respectably priced 1+1 hybrid.
Given I’m someone that enjoys an interesting design nearly as much as good sound, Auglamour is a brand that has always been on my radar. They tend to release great looking products made from durable materials, and yet they manage to keep prices surprisingly reasonable.
The RT-1 continues this tradition with a unique exterior design that seems inspired by stained glass, all crafted from durable ABS plastics and aluminum. At only 55.00 USD, they certainly undercut the cost of my other similarly equipped hybrids and single dynamic earphones, yet they aren’t cutting features like removable cables to do so.
Let’s take a closer look at the RT-1 and see how Auglamour’s first hybrid outing fares.
Everyone’s favorite section! Yes, these were provided free of charge in exchange for a fair and impartial review. The thoughts within this review are my own. They don’t represent anyone but myself, nor was I provided financial incentive to give them a positive review. Thanks to Penon Audio and Auglamour for the opportunity to check these out.
At the time of this review they retailed for 55 USD, and could be picked up here; https://penonaudio.com/auglamour-rt-1.html
For at home use the RT-1 was powered by a TEAC HA-501 desktop amp or straight out of my Asus FX53V laptop. For portable use it was paired with an LG G5, HiFi E.T. MA8, F.Audio S1, or Shanling M1. Despite the relatively high impedance, all of these devices brought it up to listening volume without any struggle.
I listen primarily to various EDM sub-genres (liquid drum and bass, breakbeat, drumstep, etc.), hip hop, and classic rock. While I enjoy a variety of signatures in my headphones I generally lean towards slightly warm with elevated treble and sub-bass, an even and natural mid-range response, with reduced mid-bass. The HiFiMan RE800, MacaW GT600s, and thinksound On2 offer examples of signatures I enjoy.
- Sensitivity: 105dB / mW ± 3DB
- Impedance: 60 ohm
- Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz
Packaging and Accessories:
Call me petty, but the RT-1’s packaging is something I would put up on display. It is clearly designed to show off Auglamour’s artistic chops and for good reason. The RT-1 is a cool looking earphone and it’s on full display through the transparent plastic lid. One of the neatest trinkets included with the RT-1 is also on full display under the earphone; a solid metal cutout of the Auglamour logo. Maybe they’re expecting you to clip it to your keychain? Either way, neat inclusion.
Inside the accessories are separated and stored within three separate cardboard boxes. Also inside you find 6 cue cards which cover a lot of information; instructions, introduction, accessories, fit and the correct way to plug in the cables, an introduction to the TR-1 itself, specifications, safety instructions, exchange and refund info, scannable codes for more info, company mottoes. It seems Auglamour has really taken steps to do things differently and give their buyers a fairly unique experience. In all you get a pretty extensive kit, especially given the price;
- RT-1 earphones
- 2-pin removable cable
- Silicone carrying case
- 4 pairs of single-flange silica eartips (s/m x 2/l)
- 1 pair of yellow foam eartips
- Steel, multifunction tip holder/tool
- 1/4” adapter
- Cleaning tool
- Shirt clip
- Velcro cable tie
The case is quite different, made from the same sort of silicone material used for cellphone cases. It doesn’t fully close so you just kinda stuff the RT-1 in there, but it retains a low profile and is slightly slick. I found it to work quite well, and found it pretty comfortable in the pocket. The multi-tool holding the tips is another first for me. It’s got a bottle opener, small ruler, a dull as heck saw, and of course hold 4 pairs of tips within. There’s a handy little cutout in the top right hand corner to clip it to your keyring or something else, but I can see your spare tips disappearing pretty quickly if used in that manner.
The tips of great quality, the cleaning tool will be useful for clearing out the individual sound ports (!) of wax and other intruders, and the case, while odd at first, works pretty well.The packaging is also darn impressive to look at, and there is some enjoyment to get out of digging through to find everything. This is how you package and accessorize a 55 USD earphone.
Build, Ergonomics, and Isolation:
The ABS plastics used for the RT-1 felt remarkably familiar the first time I picked it up. Pulling out the Havi B3 Pro I, I could see why. Outside of the Havi being darker, they felt nearly the same with a similar metallic shimmer. Unlike the Havi, the RT-1’s shells are glued together so I don’t think users are going to have to worry about them cracking and falling apart, as happened to many of unfortunate B3 Pro I owners, myself included. The aluminum faceplate with the geometric cutout was crafted using metal injection molding techniques, while the colorful, stained glass looking material behind it is ABS silica. Most impressive about the build quality is the dual nozzle ports, one for the dynamic driver (DD), and one for the balanced armature (BA). Even more impressive, unlike every other budget hybrid I’ve seen, the BA has a proper tuning damper over it and doesn’t simply blast sound unimpeded into your ear. Cool! About the only part of the build that feels out of place is the ABS insert in the nozzle which is uncolored and looks unfinished. Outside of that, fit and finish is quite good with no mis-matched sections or sharp edges.
One oversight is a lack of ventilation anywhere in the housing which leads to crippling driver flex. I use the word crippling with purpose. If you insert the RT-1 too quickly, i.e. normally, the drivers flex enough to significantly degrade sound quality. While I got used to this in time and learned to insert them slowly, almost comically so, prior to that it was really annoying having to fiddle around with them until the drivers popped back into position.
The cable is definitely a weird one. According to one of the included cue cards, it uses “tinned silver” which sounds like a good thing. The exterior PVC sheath is where things go awry. It is fairly thick and kinks easily, especially above the y-split where it retains that thickness but loses half the material within. This leaves it hollow and unsupported. Where it enters the y-split and plugs for the pins it kinks slightly leading to possible failure points. The memory wire is seamlessly tucked within the sheath too, meaning those that like to cut off said wire can’t. You’ll need to get a new cable entirely. The only area with any strain relief is the tiny little straight jack, though it’s so flexible it doesn’t really support the cable at all. At least the jack and y-split are metal, and look nice with the Auglamour logo molded into them and a thick coat of black paint covering it all. The cable looks cool and is certainly different from any others I’ve seen, but that doesn’t make it better.
Auglamour apparently put a lot of work into ergonomics, testing 100 engineering models across more than 10,000 subjects. The end result is a fairly standard looking, low-profile, jellybean shaped earphone with a few extra curves that make it one of the more comfortable earphones I’ve worn. It’s too bad the memory wire gets in the way and makes settling them into the right position more difficult than it should be. I really wish manufacturers would move away from memory wire and just go with either nothing, or preformed guides like Brainwavz did with the B100 and B150.
If you’re looking for an in-ear to block out external noise, the RT-1 isolates like a champ. According to the product page over on Penon Audio, the RT-1 isolates anywhere from 35dB to 40dB. I’m sure that variance is due to the use of silicone or memory foam tips. While I can’t test that claim, which admittedly seems exceptionally high, I can verify they isolate nearly as well as some of the ANC earphones I’ve tested recently, such as the OVC H15 and ADVANCED 747, with their ANC features turned on. It’s pretty impressive actually.
Tips: The RT-1 seems pretty sensitive to tip rolling with both treble and bass being affected quite significantly. KZ Starlines make the treble quite harsh, as do the opaque wide bore Audbos/Magaosi K3 tips. The stock shallow HiFiMan bi-flange tips that come on the RE series earphones sound amazing and were my preferred pick, addressing the mid-bass issues I outline below. Upper mids are still recessed, but seem less so. Spitfits wouldn’t stay on and kept getting stuck in my ears, so those were a no go. Sony Hybrids made the mid-bass much too prominent and made the driver flex unbearable so stay away from those. For the purposes of this review, the stock tips were used, though I recommend tip-rolling if you have the option available to you.
Cable: I tried swapping cables to find one that I liked more than the stock option. All but the cables from Rose Electronics (Masya and Mojito models) made the RT-1 sound hollow, so be wary when purchasing a replacement if you choose to do so.
The RT-1 is a solid sounding earphone for Auglamour, though not without some qualms. The RT-1’s treble is well extended and free of any particularly fatiguing peaks. It is controlled with a smooth transition down into the upper mid-range. Clarity and detail are good, though not quite as impressive as TFZ’s single-dynamic Exclusive lineup. I found slight details like the trailing shimmer of a cymbal lost or smoothed over in many instances.
The mid-range is well separated with emphasis on the lower mid-range. This leads to a perceived dip in the upper mids making female vocals a little less prominent and more quiet at times than they should be. This was noticeable with many of the liquid drum and bass tracks I listen to on the regular which prominently feature female vocals. On Zenzman’s “Open Page” featuring Riya, her vocals are set too far back in the mix. She still sounds beautiful, but isn’t nearly as much of a primary focus as she should be. On the other hand, there are no peaks causing strident or shouty vocals. Guitars are well weighted with a nice amount of heft and crunch. Male vocals carry some authority, with lower swinging notes coming across adequately gruff.
Bass has a distinct mid-bass focus which is punchy and energetic with acceptable extension into sub-bass regions as shown through James Blake’s “Limit to Your Love”. Unfortunately, it comes across a touch bloated and overly bloomy on tracks that are already quite mid-bassy. This is especially apparent with heavy rock or metal, such as Skindred’s “Game Over” which ends up sounding quite muddy. In general, speed is good, though not quite as snappy as the TFZ Series 2 or Exclusive models in the same price range.
I didn’t find the RT-1’s presentation particularly open or spacious. It makes up for this with above average layering and separation, handling King Crimson’s “Starless and Bible Black” with ease. That said, dial in the bass and separation takes a bit of a hit. In general, this earphone does a good job of moving sound around accurately and on various levels giving tracks an appropriately layered feel to them.
Overall I enjoyed listening to the RT-1, though the high hopes I had for them as a result of some early hype didn’t quite translate to my listening experiences. Regardless, the RT-1 is a smooth and fairly refined experience, and quite comfortable over long term listening sessions. The mid-bass emphasis is also great for traveling as it helps drown out external noise that happens to get past the already quite good isolation. It’s performance is right in line with, or maybe slightly better than what I would have expected from something that places so much emphasis on style. Good but not great.
TFZ Series 2 (45.00 USD): Overall fit and shape is similar to that of the Series 2, and as a result I find them about equally comfortable, though the Series 2 requires a bit less fiddling to get in place. The RT-1 isolates significantly better as a result of a deeper insertion and ventless design but unlike the Series 2, it suffers from debilitating driver flex. The RT-1 feels like a more expensive product with more dense plastics and aluminum being used on the backplate. The Series 2’s cable is significantly better. It is more flexible, uses preformed guides instead of memory wire, and is properly relieved. Cable noise is less too.
Both use graphene coated diaphragms on their dynamic drivers, though the RT-1’s is smaller at 10mm and is accompanied by a balanced armature to round out the signature. The RT-1’s bass presence is about as prominent as the Series 2’s however it’s mid-range and treble and notable dialed back. As a result the RT-1 comes across much darker and bassier, with it’s mid-bass hump being much more noticeable. The Series 2’s more energetic lively treble and slightly thinner presentation support it’s larger, more airy sound stage. Detail and clarity is similarly good, though less noticeable on the RT-1 until you up the volume to counter the low end. I personally think they perform on a similar level, though I lean towards the Series 2’s presentation which comes across more balanced at lower volumes. You won’t be struggling to pick up micro-details whereas on the RT-1, without sufficient volume the low end is a bit overpowering.
BGVP DM5 (65.00 USD): Like the RT-1, the DM5 is a hybrid, though it uses 2 BAs and 2 DD per side to output sound. The DM5 is colder, brighter, and with better end-to-end extension, especially in the low end. Where the RT-1 puts it’s emphasis in the mid-bass, the DM5 dials that down in favor of some of the best sub-bass I’ve heard from an in-ear. It makes for a much more physical experience. I prefer the RT-1’s thicker, warmer mids though neither is particularly good there. DM5 has recessed mids all-round while the RT-1 has recessed upper mids. The DM5’s treble isn’t quite as tight as the RT-1’s but it is more detailed and I find the extra shimmer a bit more realistic and entertaining. The DM5 also sounds larger and more open, though mine has some odd imaging quirks that seem to be unique to this individual unit.
The RT-1 is to my eyes the looker of the two. The DM5’s housing is shared with a few other products, with only a vented faceplate giving it character. That said, I find it the better built product with metal shells and two quality cables, three if you splurged for the upgraded one. Both I find quite comfortable and ergonomic, though in my ears the DM5 is more tip dependent and takes a touch more effort to get a good fit. Overall both a good products, though not without faults. I appreciate the DM5’s additional detail and clarity, and especially that ridiculous sub-bass, though I feel the RT-1’s warmer sound and less energetic top end would make it the more liked of the two with others.
The RT-1 is unquestionably an interesting product. I love the unique design that is unlike pretty much anything else on the market I’ve come across. It is certainly eye-catching and for someone that values style in their earphones, Auglamour definitely has you covered here. The price is also quite attractive since you’re getting things not really found in this price range, like dual sound chambers and properly damped BAs.
That said, as good as the RT-1 sounds the mid-bass hump is a bit extreme and the recessed uppers hinder some versatility across songs and genres. The driver flex is also way too extreme. I’d be happy sacrificing some isolation if it meant the housing was vented and driver flex eliminated, or at least significantly reduced. It really is that intrusive. Lastly, the cable feels delicate and subject to failure and the memory wire hinders fitment. I’d be replacing the stock cable asap if this were my only earphone.
If you were thinking of getting the RT-1, go for it. It’s a good product that with a couple modifications would be great. As is, it is well worth the cost of entry, just don’t go in expecting a “giant killer”.
Thanks for reading!
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
Some Other Test Tunes:
Aesop Rock – The Impossible Kid (Album)
Hail Mary Mallon – Are You Going to Eat That? (Album)
King Crimson – Lark’s Tongues in Aspic (Album)
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black (Track)
Supertramp – Crime of the Century (Album)
Infected Mushroom – Legend of the Black Shawarma (Album)
Gorillaz – Plastic Beach (Album)
Massive Attack – Mezzanine (Album)
Fleetwood Mac – Rumors (Album)
Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels (Album)
The Prodigy – The Day is My Enemy (Album)
Tobacco – F****d Up Friends (Album)
Felt – Felt 2 (A Tribute to Lisa Bonet) (Album)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Album)
The Crystal Method – Grace (feat. LeAnn Rimes) (Track)
Jidenna – Long Live the Chief (Track)
Skrillex – Ragga Bomb (Track)
Big Grams – Run for Your Life (Track)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (Track)
Aesop Rock – Fishtales (Track)