The first thing that can be noticed is the musicality. There is a focus on the mids, with the odd peak in the mids, which was removed after a burn-in. The 7 drivers are arranged in the following arrangement
-1 deep bass
The bass thickness stands out, giving a strong presence. The sub-bass rumbles with decent decay speed while the mid-bass comes through clear and full-bodied. While the bass does not have a heavy slam, it has a great rounded texture.
The low-end extends effortlessly without losing details, with transits being smooth. Yet while it is thick and prominent, bleeding into mids does not occur due to great separation.
The only issue is a slightly weak impact, but this may lead to a bloated bass given how thick it already is.
The mids grabbed my attention quickly. It was slightly more forward, making the music feel alive. Pretty much all genres worked flawlessly, from EDM to jazz. The instrumental separation is just right, allowing for placement without sounding hollow.
Vocals sound slightly bright towards the higher end, but is helped with a treble roll-off that prevents harshness. I did not miss out on vocals or instruments even in bass-heavy songs. The mid simply always shines through.
I believe it isn’t really an understatement to say that the mids are nothing short of magical. Engaging, full-bodied and well-positioned, it has a tonality that blends so well I have a hard time thinking of another totl that can best this.
There was initially an odd peak at the higher mids, but it got smoothed out after some burn-in.
The highs sound airy and extend admirably, but the roll-off prevents it from feeling truly effortless. This makes it sound darker as a whole, especially since it doesn’t have a large amount of treble energy to start with.
There isn’t much to say about the highs, as they essentially sound good but lack a “wow” factor.
The Rhines Stage 7 feels like an odd-ball. It is able to pick up details quickly but is not what one will label as one of the fastest. The soundstage is sufficient but not what will be considered wide. The great instrumental separation and vocals end up placing the mids as the focal point, while the bass clearly acts as support.
While it isn’t a zero fatigue iem (e.g. Moondrop Blessing), it is relatively minimal and only starts becoming an issue after hours.
The Stage 7 is supposedly tuned to reference, but the thickness, warmth, and timbre honestly make it feel more like a live tuning. The only gripe is that while it sounds elegant as a whole, it may be slightly too relaxed and fail to maximise its potential (in technicalities).
It is far too easy to plug this pair in and just doze off without care; daydreaming. The thick bass, clear mids and dark overall sound pull one into the music gently. It isn’t going to be a star performer in technicalities among totls and isn’t for everyone, but if the sound signature suits you, it is really hard to beat.
Note: I ran the Rhines Custom Monitors Stage 7 out of an ak300 and ifi micro idsd black label, so there will be slight coloration and warmth added respectively which will be absent in cleaner sources.
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