UK-based headphones firm, RHA doesn't quite have the clout that other big names in the personal audio business have, but that hasn't stopped it coming up with some neat concepts such as the RHA TrueConnect and RHA TrueConnect 2. Both sets of wireless earbuds came with their own flaws alongside some very strong pros, and it’s the same story with the RHA TrueControl ANC.
A little expensive for what they offer, you'll be disappointed by merely okay battery life, while also feeling joyous at the wealth of differently-sized eartips bundled in. Similarly, audio quality is strong but ANC is a little weak at times, and heavily dependent on finding the right eartips for your ears.
At $299.95 / £249.99 (around AU$380) and exclusively available through RHA, you'll need to give serious consideration about whether these are the earphones for you. Especially given the competition at this price point from the likes of Apple and Sony. Still, there's certainly a fair amount to like about the RHA TrueControl ANC, and if you've never been able to find earbuds that fit you, these could well be the exception.
The key to that is experimentation. The RHA TrueControl ANC come with 10 different eartips. It's almost overwhelming to know where to begin. While we found that initially the default ones worked well enough, it was soon apparent that a different fit was needed for perfect ANC (or near enough). These aren't the sort of earphones to simply slot in and leave. It's worth putting the time in to figure out what works best for your ears.
While we're thinking of design, the RHA TrueControl ANC will feel weird at first. Unlike other true wireless earbuds that twist into your ears, these are contoured and can only be inserted directly into the ear. At first, it feels bulky and a little uncomfortable but you get used to it surprisingly quickly. They're very unlikely to fall out too thanks to this design choice. Curiously though, the earbuds only have an IPX4 rating for water resistance. That's on a par with the Apple AirPods Pro, but we do wish they were a bit more potent at this price.
Each earbud has a capacitive touch surface instead of a motion sensor. It's still possible to mistap, especially when removing an earbud, but it's far easier to use the controls than with many other wireless earbuds on the market, and we truly appreciated that.
Audio performance is pretty strong although it's improved massively by finding the right eartips for your ears. That goes even more so for getting the right seal to ensure ANC is effective, as otherwise, it can seem pretty weak. Again, stick with it and find the right fit for you. It's worth it. Once you do find it, music feels sharp and detailed during all the right moments. Bass is powerful and exciting but never overwhelmingly so which is perfect for the latest Foo Fighters album. Switch up to something like David Bowie's Under Pressure and you can hear every tiny detail to the track.
Active noise cancellation works at its best once you've figured out the ear tip options, with an ambient mode that can be tweaked accordingly via the RHA app, depending on how much external noise you want blocked out. A tap and hold of the left earbud soon takes you back to the real world when needed.
Battery life is fine but solely fine. Five hours worth of charge is possible on the earbuds with up to 20 hours in total once you include the wireless charging case. A choice of wireless charging or USB-C is welcomed but a longer battery life at this price point would have been even more appreciated.
Still, despite those minor issues, the RHA TrueControl ANC are pretty competent. They feel a little expensive until you realise what a difference a wealth of ear tip options can provide. For once, these are earphones you'll need to spend a bit of time getting just right but it's worth it. Extra features like touch controls that aren't a nuisance and ANC are sure to encourage you even further into a purchase.
RHA TrueControl ANC price and availability
- Available now
- Priced at $299.95 / £249.99
- Australian pricing and availability TBC
The RHA TrueControl ANC available in the UK and USA now. Priced at $299.95 / £249.99, they're exclusively available through the RHA store at the moment, so don't expect to find any discounts for a while.
Given that other RHA earphones are available through third-party retailers such as Amazon, we'd expect this to change at some point in the future. The earbuds are solely available in black.
It doesn’t look like the RHA TrueControl ANC are available in Australia at the moment, though a selection of RHA products are available to purchase via Amazon in the region – and you could expect to pay around AU$380, based on current conversion rates.
- Chunky design
- Plenty of tip options
- Effective touch-sensitive controls
The RHA TrueControl ANC are a chunky fit for anyone's ears. That's because they're contoured to fit directly into your ear, as opposed to models like the Apple AirPods, which hang down with protruding stems. Crucially, it means a far firmer fit which means more effective noise cancellation, along with a more secure design if you're running while wearing them.
The key to finding the best fit for the RHA TrueControl ANC is to experiment with the wealth of eartips that come bundled with them. There's sure to be one size that works for you and it's worth spending the time to figure it out. In particular, the quality of noise cancellation is massively affected by how snug a fit you find – but more on that later.
The carrying case that comes with the RHA TrueControl ANC is chunky – much like the earbuds themselves. It's the same one that RHA has used for other earbuds, with a rotating barrel and a black aluminum frame that looks rather classy and business-like. Wireless charging is included, and the case contains LED lights to indicate how much charge the case has remaining.
It is bulky though – a little heavier than other charging cases and surprisingly large in small hands too. Both the case and earbuds are fingerprint magnets, so enjoy the spotless look while it lasts. (It truly won't last). Also, bear in mind that initially the case can be a little confusing to open up and get the earbuds on the correct side. In some ways, it feels like it was designed more for style than for practicality.
Continuing the theme of being a little different from the rest, the controls on the RHA TrueControl ANC are certainly special. They use a capacitive touch surface instead of a motion sensor and it shows.
It makes individual taps far easier than with other touch-sensitive control systems and you can also swipe fairly effectively. Occasionally, you'll find yourself touching a control by mistake, such as when adjusting the earbud or removing it, but for the most part, it works very well. Best of all, you can use the RHA app to customize controls including choosing to use swipes or tap gestures.
Also, the RHA TrueControl ANC offers a wear detection sensor so playback is paused automatically when you remove the earbuds, and it resumes once you place them back in your ear. It works very well and we didn't have any issues here.
Audio performance and noise cancellation
- Good sound quality
- Solid ANC once you find the right tips
- aptX Bluetooth codec support
The RHA TrueControl ANC sound great once you find the right ear tips for you. Usually, the standard tips work just fine for our ears, but these took a little bit of figuring out. At first, with imperfect tips, everything sounded decent enough. Find the right fit though, and the RHA TrueControl ANC are a revelation. We started out with the latest Foo Fighters' album Medicine at Midnight and all sounded suitably powerful and bassy – though not too bassy.
Switching over to something we know far better like David Bowie's Under Pressure and The Beatles' Michelle, it was obvious that the RHA TrueControl ANC are good at picking up the nuances of a song that lesser earphones don't always notice. Mids are suitably detailed whether you're listening to Under Pressure or Childish Gambino's Feels Like Summer.
We switched over to something a little calmer like John Legend's All Of Me and felt suitably captivated. That's before you start adjusting the EQ via the RHA app which offers a series of four presets although no way of creating your own settings. Hopefully that'll come in a later app update.
Active noise cancellation is where things get a bit more complicated for the RHA TrueControl ANC. You need to find the right eartips. We know we keep saying it but it makes a difference. With the wrong ones in, you'll be confused to see on the RHA app that ANC is switched on as it won't feel that way.
It's a night and day difference when you find the right tips, although some high frequencies will still push their way in depending on what you're listening to.
Being able to switch to ambient mode at the tap of an earbud is useful and being able to tweak it further still via the app is even better.
Battery life and connectivity
- 20 hours from the charging case
- Up to 5 hours playtime
- Wireless charging
It's a game of two halves when it comes to the RHA TrueControl ANC's battery life. On the one hand, wireless charging options and USB-C is essential for earbuds of this price and these have both options. On the other, an overall battery life of 20 hours from the charging case, and up to 5 hours from the earbuds alone, is a little average really. It's far from terrible but it's also far from exceptional. This definitely isn't where the RHA TrueControl ANC are at their strongest.
Once connected, we never had an issue with the earbuds dropping out. We did have some minor problems pairing the earphones initially, but we couldn't replicate the issue so we'll put this down to a momentary fluke.
Should I buy the RHA TrueControl ANC?
Buy them if...
You have awkward ears
No one's ears are the same yet often, you're restricted to limited choices for eartips. These are the perfect earphones for those with ears that don't fit into the status quo.
You want solid quality
Solidly dependable with good sound quality and ANC that works, the RHA TrueControl ANC are a decent match for general all-round use.
You want effective controls
Touch-sensitive controls are frequently awkward but the RHA TrueControl ANC demonstrate that this doesn't have to be the case. If you prefer to go nowhere near your phone when running, these will suit you a treat.
Don't buy them if...
You want great battery life
It's not so much that the battery life is poor here – it's just nothing special either. If you need more, steer clear.
You want perfect ANC
Perfect ANC is hard to find, granted, but the RHA TrueControl ANC will let slip some sounds, especially if you don't get the right fit for your ears.
You have sensitive ears
The RHA TrueControl ANC's fit is wonderfully snug but that might be off-putting if you feel a bit uncomfortable about having things in your ears. While looser earphones certainly have their disadvantages, you might need to weigh up the pros and cons here for your body.
First reviewed: February 2021
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