Softears RSV Review: Lovely Midrange, Exceptional Vocals!!
Reference Sound V, commonly known as RSV is a five-BA premium set of in-ear monitors from Softears. Softears, for all those who don’t have any idea about them, is a close brand to Moondrop. They mainly deal in premium stuff with “Volume” being their most affordable pair at 285$. RSV is a younger sibling to one of their flagship the RS10. It is designed as an all-BA set and marketed as a reference-tuned set(by its name). It actually came out last year and grabbed a lot of attention in the HiFi audio community for its sound tuning and performance.
RSV got my attention ever since its release, I was just waiting for a sweet deal to come my way. It took a while, but I grabbed the Softears RSV at a discounted price from HiFiGo last month. After spending a good month with the set, today I am here to share my opinion and impressions on the same. Without wasting any more time, let’s begin.
A Short Disclaimer:-
RSV is my personal bought unit here. I grabbed it at a discount in exchange for my review for the same. I might be biased in this review based on my own listening preferences, apart from that nothing affects the impressions or opinions stated by me in this review. My personal preference is a smooth, lively sound with good bass, rich vocals, and a good amount of detail. At the time of this write-up, RSV retails at 729$. I won’t bore you with any technical details, you can check them out at the HiFiGo website from the link below or by clicking here.
In order to save some amount on customs, I avoided the retail package(as my package had a few different pairs of IEMs). I will be skipping over the unboxing part, and start directly on the Design & Build Quality of the RSV.
Contents I Received:-
>Bunch of silicone ear tips.
>Stock cable with 3.5mm termination.
Design & Build Quality:-
In 2022, we have seen multiple IEMs with heavy driver counts with a compact shell structure. With Five BA drivers per side, one might expect the RSV to also have a compact shell design. But that’s not the case here. The shells of Softears RSV are big, I won’t call them huge because I have tried even bigger shells(Z1r, Solaris, etc), But yeah the shell are bigger than usual. They have pretty amazing Carbon Fiber styled face covers with gold flakes spread in between them.
The entire shell is made using resin material, so despite being big, they are not lightweight. If you look closely at the pair, you will notice Softears has designed the pair with an ergonomic design. That actually contributes to getting a good fit with the set. The pair looks pretty amazing, the carbon fiber face covers work in their favor giving the ear shells a rich and premium look. The included stock cable feels good as well. It’s a four-core cable with PVC outer covering. It’s soft and doesn’t tangle that easily. I got a 3.5mm terminated cable.
Fit & Isolation:-
Fit is a hit or miss with the RSV. While the lightweight design works in its favor, the big size might give trouble for people with small ears. I also got some issues in getting a good fit initially even though I have medium-sized ears. Not a good fit with Final Audio Type E tips. Personally found it best with Azla Sednaearfit Light and SpinFit W1 ear tips, good isolation, and comfortable fit. Although it creates a vacuum-like feeling every now and then. Once you achieve a comfortable fit, it provides great isolation from the surrounding noises as well.
Driving The Softears RSV:-
Fairly easy to power. You don’t need to give a lot of amping to get the best out of Softears RSV. Just treat it with a decent Portable DAC/AMP or a portable digital audio player and you are good to go. I used it mainly with HiBy RS2 and Shanling M7 for most of my critical listening sessions. I have also tried it with Questyle M15 USB DAC/AMP. Easily powered by all three of these sources. Here are my favorite combinations.
HiBy RS2+Softears RSV:-
RSV takes benefit of the Organic tone of the RS2 and delivers class-leading vocals with the RS2. The tonality, and timbre of this combination are simply amazing at the cost of a little bit of resolution here or there. RSV+RS2 brings some of the best vocals I have heard to date.
Softears RSV+Shanling M7:-
Excellent synergy with the M7 from Shanling. The resolution here is better than what we had with the RS2 and also shows a wider sound field. M7 also tightens the bass on the RSV, it feels punchier and better controlled.
TBH, I was super excited about the RSV. I have heard so many good things about it around the community that I was just losing control when the pair was in shipment haha. When I received it, I literally got goosebumps hearing it for myself as the pair delivers an amazing sound with a great musical factor to it. More than reference as its name suggests, the RSV sounds musical and engaging.
RSV can easily be regarded as a mid-range focused set with a lovely midrange. It packs a wonderful midrange with rich vocals. I find it to have a pretty solid bass response for an all-BA set. It produces good rumble in the sub-bass region with a decently slamming mid-bass region. Overall, I would say, RSV delivers a sound that one will enjoy for hours and hours without losing interest or without getting fatigued even once. Pretty amazing ain’t it!!
The bass response with the Softears RSV is pretty satisfying. The pair packs a good punch to it with rumbling sub-bass and a pretty good mid-bass response. Although, it shows its BA character(DD one’s are punchier and more deep hitting), but it delivers enough to complement the other regions well. I would say, the mid-bass takes a front-row presentation compared to the sub-bass. Bass response with the RSV is mostly tight, it is controlled well within its region. Even with bass-heavy tracks such as Bad Guy by Billie Eilish, RSV maintains its clarity and doesn’t lose its control on the lower end.
Lower-end transients smoothly into a lovely midrange response. RSV showcases its magic and charm with its mesmerizing midrange presentation. I find the vocals to be the center point of attraction with the RSV. Both male and female vocals are pretty with the RSV, they showcase a beautiful tone and a rich texture to them. While writing my notes for the RSV, I played one of my favorite tracks for vocals, “The Blower’s Daughter” by Damien Rice, and man, oh man, I am out of words. The pair showcased every last bit of emotion in the song with great presence. IMO RSV is something that vocal lovers should definitely give a try to. Coming towards instruments such as acoustic guitars, pianos, etc, they maintain the rich presentation of the RSV in the midrange segment. The pair never loses its tone, showcasing everything so smoothly and brilliantly I would say.
RSV delivers a smooth, non-fatiguing treble response. The pair might feel overly smoothened for some users that love energetic highs. The upper treble region rolls off and takes away some details as well from the pair. Overall, I would say the smooth treble contributes to providing a relaxing, musical experience with the set at the cost of some details.
Dynamics, Staging, Resolution, Imaging, and Instrument Separation:-
Softears RSV has an immersive soundstage with good depth. The resolution and imaging with the set are above average. The instruments are very well separated and are presented nicely.
Some Amazing Tracks with Softears RSV:-
Hotel California by Eagles(Hell Freezes Over):-
I personally love the amazing intro of this track. RSV showcases the entire intro beautifully, right from the guitars to the bongo and then the vocals, absolutely brilliant to listen to with the RSV.
Songs From Different Times by Jack Savoretti:-
This is a beautiful acoustic track with a lovely guitar and absolutely brilliant vocals. RSV’s midrange brings the best out of this track and presents a lovely listening experience throughout the track.
Son of a Preacher Man by Dusty Springfield:-
This track is a beautiful combination of multiple instruments, and lovely female vocals, RSV handles it well and presents you with a musical presentation. Vocals are always a star of the show with drums complementing from the right side and chorus vocals from the left side. Great track.
In my experience with the Softears RSV, the pair is an ideal match for acoustic and vocal-centric genres. Well, that’s about the sound part from my side for the Softears RSV. Now let’s compare it against the CA Andromeda, another multi-BA set with a similar 5 BA driver per side configuration.
CA Andromeda Vs Softears RSV:-
I had the pleasure to own CA Andromeda 2019 earlier this year. This photograph is from my archives. I won’t be able to do an in-depth comparison between the two as the Andromeda sound is from my memories of it.
>Tonally RSV feels more natural and accurate.
>RSV has a better note definition for instruments. CA Andromeda sounds leaner in this department.
>Andromeda is much more detailed.
>Andromeda has better resolution than RSV.
>RSV sounds immersive and intimate, and Andromeda has a grand soundstage.
>RSV is smoother musical sounding, while Andromeda is more towards the analytical side.
A Short Suggestion:-
If you are a user of RSV and find it a bit dull or less energetic to your liking, treat your pair with the new Effect Audio Eros S cable and experience the change for yourself. I just loved the pairing, Eros S brings a better, livelier treble response. It also improves the staging a bit.
Final Words for Softears RSV:-
Personally, I liked the RSV. Its musical presentation is captivating and holds you with its super sweet vocals and smooth treble response. Not to mention, the pretty solid bass response that complements its lovely midrange as well. Till now, I have only heard the praises about the RSV, After listening to it, I am also adding myself to the list of its lovers!! If you want something with lovely vocals, and smooth instruments, RSV will surely be a good companion for your musical journey!!