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