Noon­tec Rio

Fash­ion­able IEMs

HWM (Malaysia) - - LAB TEST - TEXT // BRYAN CHAN

More of­ten than not, in-ear mon­i­tors (IEMs) of­fer great au­dio qual­ity at rea­son­able prices. Not only are they af­ford­able, they also pro­vide much more de­tail as the au­dio driv­ers sit in­side your ear canal. Best known for the pro­duc­tion of the very well re­ceived Zoro head­phones, Noon­tec is once again at it with the Rio.

Tar­geted at in­di­vid­u­als who are of­ten on the move, the Rio is light­weight and sports a look that's eas­ily mis­taken for some­thing from Beats. In terms of per­for­mance though, the Rio sounds en­tirely dif­fer­ent than the bass-heavy com­pe­ti­tion. While the of­fi­cial site sug­gests that the Rio is op­ti­mized for all types of mu­sic, we found that there is slightly more tre­ble, but more on this later.

As with most IEMs to­day, the Rio comes bun­dled with three pairs of sil­i­cone sleeves. Nat­u­rally, th­ese sleeves are of dif­fer­ent sizes to al­low for a per­fect fit re­gard­less of the size of your ear canals. Us­ing the right-sized sleeve is im­por­tant, as they help to in­su­late am­bi­ent noise and en­sure that there is no sound leak­age. Apart from the sil­i­cone sleeves, there's also a semi-hard pouch that's used for stor­ing the Rio when not in use.

Un­for­tu­nately, the Rio does not come with an in-line vol­ume con­troller. There is a sin­gle but­ton on the Rio though, which serves to play/pause mu­sic as well as an­swer/mute calls. Also lo­cated on the but­ton mod­ule of the Rio is an in­te­grated mi­cro­phone that al­lows it to act as a hands-free set if you're driv­ing.

When it comes to the most im­por­tant thing - au­dio per­for­mance - we're ac­tu­ally rather im­pressed by the Rio. Hav­ing let our re­view unit burn in for nearly a day, we gave it a lis­ten and im­me­di­ately found that the bass is punchy and the de­tail in its highs are clearly au­di­ble. In vo­cal tracks like Nina Si­mone's “Feel­ing Good”, her voice takes front stage, which can get a lit­tle loud some­times, but a lit­tle tun­ing around the mid­dle band of the equal­izer, and you're all set. In bass-heavy tracks like those from Daft Punk, the Rio gives gen­er­ous amounts of bass, so there's no prob­lem here at all.

While there's an em­pha­sis on bass and tre­ble, the mids aren't mud­dled at all, which is a good thing. When it comes to the highs though, the Rio can get a lit­tle too en­thu­si­as­tic, giv­ing a lit­tle too much, es­pe­cially when it comes to cym­bals. Again, a lit­tle bit of tun­ing at the higher end of the equal­izer spec­trum is needed to give the Rio an over­all bal­anced sound.

Over­all, we re­ally like the Rio. It looks good and sounds just as good. Some may find its tre­ble to be a lit­tle bit too much, but a quick trip to the equal­izer and you're all set to get great au­dio qual­ity from the Rio. The only thing pre­vent­ing the Rio from get­ting a bet­ter score is its lack of an in-line vol­ume con­troller.

The Rio has a one-but­ton con­troller mod­ule that al­lows you to start/pause mu­sic and an­swer/mute calls

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