The Eden have quite a unique presentation that has something of a neutral, reference tuning, yet maintains a very musical character. It is an exceptionally clear sound that flows organically and avoids sounding thin. Indeed, notes feel full and natural despite the overall neutral signature. The Eden present an airy and detailed stage that has a decent size, but is certainly not the widest I have heard. It is large enough that it does not feel too confined, but I personally prefer a wider and deeper stage for classical symphonies. Not that there is much to complain about either, as separation is excellent and the image as a whole is very pleasantly built up.
What struck me the most after hearing several other Rhapsodio IEMs is that the bass of the Eden is surprisingly polite and even a bit attenuated, while the treble is baby bottom smooth with none of the excitement that I encountered with the Galaxy V2. It is a clear, uncolored tuning that is achieved through modesty, rather than pitting the two forces that Sammy is so good at (bass and treble) against each other. That makes the tuning incredibly pleasant to listen to and gives the feeling of an almost mid-focused IEM, although not at strongly as with the Vision Ears VE5. The VE5 did come to mind a little bit, as there is something very refined about the Eden that reminded me a little bit of the ‘evening dress’ character of the VE5. The Eden do not have it as strongly, but there is this feeling that the Eden like to do things ‘proper’ rather than indulge in exuberance, something that other Rhapsodio IEMs such as the Zombie do in spades.
I remember some time ago reading a comment where Sammy indicated that many of his customers were asking for “more bass” and indeed the Rhapsodio IEMs I have tried before all had plenty of that. With the Eden that trend has clearly gone in the opposite direction and the bass here feels very restrained, almost attenuated, but not too far. It is an understated bass that lets the entire signature breath the clean air and avoids the need for pushing up the treble to combat its warmth. Indeed, very little warmth comes from the bass and neither is there a lot of impact coming from it, yet especially with classical and acoustic music the balance feels incredibly good.
When listening to typical acoustic bass instruments such as the cello in Bach’s Cello Suites the Eden present a light and airy bass with a lot of texture to it. It might sound a little on the thin side with such solo performances, although it does not come across as unnatural. It is just not in the thick resonant way you get with, for instance, the Galaxy V2 where the sound feels more like it is coming from the body of the instrument, rather than the strings themselves. In larger scale classical pieces such as symphonies this lighter bass results in bass instruments being placed right at the back, their natural place to be, and they give more room for mid-range instruments to come through. Still, the bass is not weak and there is a lot of texture to the sound of, say, a tympani. I guess this is where you can find the ‘reference’ part of the tuning, as you can pick up the texture and hear the playing techniques even though the tympani is not thundering forward within the image.
Of course where the bass shows some of its weakness is in EDM, where I am an unashamed bass-head and much prefer the bass of the Zombie, but I have to admit that it is actually quite relaxing to listen to down-tempo EDM with the textured, tight and quite fast decaying bass of the Eden. There is definitely still something of a typical dynamic driver bass in there, but without it being pushed forward.
The mids are where a lot of the magic of the Eden happens and what makes them so unique. The neutral tuning of the Eden really sets itself apart from the usual neutral/reference tuning by having a very nice note size, nothing anaemic going on here! Notes have a fullness to them that makes them particularly natural and really puts the spotlight on the tonality of the Eden, which is excellent. I feel that in particular because of this, the Eden really perform well for acoustic and classical music. In fact, I would say their performance is stellar. I love natural sounding instruments and up to now I have always found that in a warmer tuning where the bass warms up the midrange to give the natural fullness to instruments. This is not something everyone will agree on, and the Eden have shown me how an accurate and natural tonality can be achieved differently. With classical symphonies, I hear wonderfully sounding midrange instruments that I absolutely adore and they are crystal clear because there is no warmth to veil them.
To my ears the mids do have a slight lift in the upper midrange that benefits female vocals and because of the bass tuning this is a slight disadvantage for male vocals. I was missing some of the weight in Eric Clapton’s voice on his otherwise outstanding sounding Unplugged album. Where everything does come together beautifully is with Agnes Obel. If the Eden do one instrument especially well it is the piano and combined with the beautiful vocals of Agnes, it is a joy to listen to. Vocals are not particularly forward and I feel they are not the strongest I have heard, but still very good and more importantly, everything just balanced really well.
To just highlight the excellence of the piano, I absolutely loved listening to Haydn’s Piano Concerto in F. This piece has a beautifully flowing piano in it that with the Eden feels like it flows and jumps at the same time. Notes are articulate, precise and yet flow organically from one to the other with a great sense of speed. It is an exciting experience that is thoroughly engaging, which I guess is where the Eden depart from the ‘reference’ into the ‘musical’, and this is by no means the exception as the Eden do this all the time.
The treble of the Eden is much like the bass, a restrained treble, especially by Rhapsodio standards. I have had the Galaxy V2 with me for a while now and they must be a real treble-head’s dream. Lively, sparkly, bright, perhaps a touch too bright for my preferences, but fun at the same time. The Eden once again go off in a different direction with a very even treble that has some sparkle to it, but it is understated and incredibly smooth. There are no ugly treble peaks here and it makes the Eden very easy to listen to for long listening sessions.
There is still a quality to the treble that is quite noticeable with strings and I feel is the reason why violins sound almost as good as the piano does with the Eden. There is a texture and bite to violin strings that is very good and makes it a joy to listen to violin solos. Sarah Chang playing Paganini’s Cantabile in D is a joy with tangible emotions flowing from the strings. I think violins work so well because the body of the instrument is not as big as with a cello and the Eden can convey both the texture of the strings and the resonance in the instrument’s body really well. This because the Eden do not have a treble that is too bright, but really nicely balanced with the mid-range.
Rhapsodio Galaxy V2
The first time I listened to the Eden I was immediately reminded of the Galaxy V2, which was very odd because the two have quite striking differences in their signature. My guess is that there is simply something quite unmistakable about their DNA that persists even when the tuning is adjusted.
The stage dimensions of the Galaxy V2 and Eden are quite similar, it is not constricted but does feel intimate. This sense of intimacy is even stronger in the Galaxy V2 because of that bass, that very special bass. It feels the polar opposite of the bass in the Eden, and is very present, resonant and detailed. The double bass in tracks from Caro Emerald’s Acoustic Sessions album is gorgeous and feels properly weighty. With the Eden that double bass gets pushed backwards quite a bit and yet you can still sense that it has similar qualities to the double bass with the Galaxy V2, just toned down a notch.
In the mids there is a world of difference, as the Eden ooze naturalness and have those amazing sounding instruments, the Galaxy V2 just cannot compete in these areas. Pianos sound nowhere near as good with the Galaxy V2 as with the Eden and vocals, although crisp and clear, are a little too crisp and clear. The Galaxy V2 have a noticeable lower treble lift that for me personally just falls shy of my treble sensitivity and makes them very bright despite the weighty bass. Here I think is perhaps where I sense the DNA between the Eden and the Galaxy V2, as it feels like the Eden were tuned to tone down both the bass and the treble to calm down the excitement you get with the Galaxy V2. It is almost like youthful exuberance has given way to maturity, and indeed the Eden are more a role model in their neutral/reference-type of signature. I still love the Galaxy V2’s bass though.
DITA Audio Fealty
The Eden and the Fealty share a very similar signature with a few notable differences. The Fealty offer a wider and deeper stage, especially as the very convenient Awesome Plug can be easily switched to balanced, but from the SE out too the stage of the Fealty is larger and feels less intimate. Personally I love this modular design on the Fealty’s cable and it might be something Rhapsodio could look into developing themselves as well, as I think it would be a great option for their aftermarket cables (especially the high-end ones) if those had that type of flexibility.
The Fealty’s bass is quite dynamic and can add a fair amount of warmth. This is especially noticeable with classical music where certain sections add drama to the piece, such as in Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto 3. Occasionally there are rises in the music with bass instruments coming up and the Fealty really give a sense of authority to these instruments, where with the Eden everything remains restrained and under control. It is the difference between the neutral/natural sounding bass of the Fealty and a more neutral/reference type of bass of the Eden. The mids feel quite similar, but the Eden easily have the edge in terms of clarity. Vocals also sound quite similar, but I find male vocals a hint more natural on the Fealty, while female vocals sound smoother on the Eden. This is because the Fealty have a slight lower treble lift compared to the Eden, making the Eden smoother. The treble of the Fealty is overall a bit more sparkly, while the Eden’s treble stays very linear.
Personally, I prefer the Fealty a little more over the Eden mainly due to the advantages of the Awesome Plug, the stage dimensions compared to the Eden, and slightly more dynamic signature. Still, every time I listen to anything other than the Eden I keep missing that astonishingly nice clarity and smooth character.
Empire Ears Phantom
This was for me the most interesting comparison because I bought the Phantom for their accurate timbre, yet the way the Phantom achieve this is very different from the Eden. The Phantom derive their tonality from the bass and as a result instruments have a wonderful full and natural tone. Indeed, the presentation is a romantic one compared to the Eden. This is especially clear when listening to music such as vocal jazz, which has a romantic warmth and intimacy with the Phantom, but can sound more subdued with the Eden. The Eden are musical enough for sure, just not so much compared to the Phantom. The flipside is that the Phantom sound veiled by comparison to the clarity of the Eden. With the Eden details come through crisp and clear, while with the Phantom it takes some getting used to.
The bass on the Phantom has an excellent quality to it and of course has the naturalness that the Eden are lacking a bit. The Phantom have a warm/natural bass that is a step further away (than the Fealty) from the neutral/reference bass of the Eden. The mids feel similar in terms of timbre, but due to the crisp and clear nature of the Eden, that timbre is much more pronounced and works better for classical music than with the Phantom. The Phantom just have a bit too much warmth. In terms of vocals the Phantom have more forward and stronger (denser) vocals, more natural sounding male vocals and female vocals have a bit of sweetness to them. The more forward vocal position creates a sense of intimacy that is much greater than with the Eden. A bit like Agnes Obel is whispering in your ear. Still, it is missing the outstanding piano that the Eden are able to render. Treble on the Phantom is a lot more sparkly, although sweeter, where the Eden have a more attenuated crystalline sparkle.
The Rhapsodio Eden are unique sounding IEMs with a neutral and uncolored signature that is far from dry or clinical. The Eden offer accurate timbre and excel at acoustic and classical music, with a particular talent for rendering pianos and violins. They come with an excellent quality stock cable and while it might at first be tricky to find the right tips, they can be very comfortable due to the smaller shell size. The Eden are definitely a very interesting option for those who value accurate timbre while retaining a neutral tonality.