Hands on: RHA CL2 Planar review

The pursuit of perfection

What is a hands on review?
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Our Early Verdict

Compressing planar magnetic technology into these earbuds is technically impressive on RHA's part, though the DIY cabling seems like a fuss – and we're still irked by the price.

For

  • Cutting-edge planar audio
  • Premium materials
  • Plenty of customization, for those who want it

Against

  • Excessive self-assembly
  • Fiddly cabling
  • Astronomical price for earbuds

RHA CL2 Planar are the first wireless earbuds to pack in the kind of cutting-edge planar magnetic drivers usually found in open-backed studio-quality headphones that most of us can only dream of affording. 

While the CL2 Planar earbuds cost hundreds rather than thousands, the £800/$900 (about AU$1,250) price tag is a big ask for such small tech – but if you're the 'perfection-seeking' audience RHA is looking for, the promise of customization and compact quality may be just what you ordered. Here's our first impressions from RHA's planar earphones.

Design

RHA CL2 Planar

It's immediately hard to critique the design of the RHA CL2 Planar, for the mere fact that there are so many possible combinations of eartips, cables, and wired/wireless hardware.

To start, there's a foldable hard case for tying up all your cables and wires, with an additional soft zip pouch depending on your preference.

But the CL2 earbuds ask you pretty quickly to know your preference for everything else. Alongside casing options are nine separate pairs of eartips, including double-tipped covers and some made from a comfy memory foam. 

If you then don't want the fuss of connecting the earbuds to the neck cable and streaming music wirelessly, you can still use one of the included 3.5mm cables to jack straight into your phone, laptop or other device.

You can also choose between a braided copper cable and a silver-coated alternative (which claims to offer a slight enhancement to the audio detail), though the cables themselves need to be moulded to fit around your ear and require a bit of experimentation. Alternatively, you can swap out the included MMCX-standard cables with some of your own.

There's a huge amount of variety for creating your perfect setup, though you may need to spend a few days testing out the different permutations.

Performance

RHA CL2 Planar

The earbuds themselves are made of a 'near-indestructible' ceramic compound, with plenty of air inside the earbuds to minimise interference with the sound.

The planar magnet inside the driver is the main reason behind the high price point, and purports to emit a purer, more lifelike sound that standard audio drivers. 

Its hard to describe the sound quality, other than calling it tuneful. The resonance of the magnet manages to give a sharpness across a range of frequencies, so they never feel like they're competing for prominence, and there's a pleasing depth and detail to the audio.

So we can't fault the audio, though the RHA CL2 Planar's strength in this area may be at the expense of ease of use.

Our early verdict

A spokesperson for RHA referred to the driver's "harmonic depth", which is a phrase that rings true for the CL2s. It's an impressive piece of kit with an attractive premium sound, but there's a lot to navigate and piece together before listening gets underway. If that doesn't put you off, and price is no object, these may be the perfectionist earphones you've been looking for.

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What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.