After two years reviewing many of the top models on the market, I’ve noticed three major factors that differentiate the vast majority of true wireless earbuds: Connectivity, battery life, and water/sweat-proofing. Sound, while important, is often pretty similar across models, though there are a few brands that make particularly great-sounding true wireless headphones — usually for significant price bump.
The TrueConnect rank among our favorite true wireless headphones, period.
Apple’s AirPods were among the first to achieve great connectivity and battery life, but they offer no water resistance. Frankly, that’s a shame, because one of the biggest reasons to get a pair of true wireless earbuds is to use them outdoors or in the gym, where bulky (if better-sounding) over-ear headphones are ill-suited.
Enter the RHA TrueConnect, which marry the AirPods’ “golf tee” design and 5-hour runtime with a matte black finish, an IPX5 waterproof rating, and the latest Bluetooth connection. It’s a winning combination that’s worth the slight premium you’ll pay over Apple’s ‘phones, placing the TrueConnect among my favorite true wireless headphones, just behind the Jabra Elite Active 65t.
Out of the box
Like many true wireless earbuds, the TrueConnect come with very little apart from a u-shaped charging case, USB-C charging cable, and eartips.
The charging case is among the most solidly built and unique we’ve spent time with, bearing a hinged-metal cover that slides over the case’s flat portion to reveal the headphones inside. It’s such a cool mechanism, we found ourselves feeling oddly satisfied every time we reached for the headphones.
Features and design
Once you slide open the top of the case, you’ll see two earbuds with bright LEDs on top. There’s also a small red dot on the inside of the case and on the inner section of the right earbud to denote which is which — a clean design cue that does its job very well.
The headphones fit snugly into their magnetic charge ports like swords in a sheath, slowly emerging from the case to reveal that “golf tee” design made chic by the AirPods and copied by several others. It may have befuddled us all at first, but this design has a purpose, allowing companies to hide functional bits in a small area outside your ears to make the earphones less bulky inside.
The TrueConnect’s matte-black coating makes the earphones look like Darth Vader’s AirPods, with soft silicone tips that seat them snugly in your ears and provide a surprising amount of passive noise isolation. If you need a bit more isolation, the headphones also come with comply foam eartips, which work wonders in noisy environments like busses or planes.
They look like AirPods that Darth Vader would use.
The fit is remarkably comfortable, especially with the foam tips which mold to the shape of your ears for great long-term comfort. I did sometimes feel a bit of an ache coming on after long listening sessions (read: many hours), but that tends to happen with virtually all in-ears.
When you first get them into your ears and paired with your phone (the headphones are in pairing mode right out of the gate), two large circular buttons on the outside of each earphone allow for control.
This brings me to my only real gripe with the TrueConnect: Unless you want to simply play or pause music (accomplished by a single press on the left or right earbud), you may find yourself referring to the user manual for the first few days. Two or three pushes on the right earbud raises or lowers music, respectively, with the same presses on the left earbud skipping songs forwards and back.
The controls aren’t unusable by any stretch once you get the hang of them, but it would have been easier had the company employed a split-button system like the Jabra Elite Active 65t. After all, pressing a button three times to lower volume is somewhat annoying.
Some of the most stable connectivity we’ve encountered.
Still, it’s easy to understand why the company bailed on AirPod-like touch controls. As an aspiring marathoner, I’ve seen firsthand what happens to touch controls when you break a sweat: They go haywire, especially if you need to adjust the headphones during a vigorous workout.
Battery life is around the current (and soon-to-be rising) high-end standard of five hours per charge, with 20 hours of reserve juice in the case. Even better, the TrueConnect feature a USB-C charging port and a quick charging feature that allows for 50 percent battery life in just fifteen minutes. That quick charging feature is actually quite remarkable, allowing you to listen to them all morning, then quickly power them up for the rest of the workday by simply putting them back in the case.
In terms of sound, RHA’s TrueConnect consistently impressed me with their bass response. The TrueConnect have bold, authoritative bass that complements their crisp and enjoyable highs, never overtaking music with an annoying boom.
Overall, the TrueConnect are very fun to listen to. I particularly loved their bass response when listening to modern classics like Alicia Keys’ If I Ain’t Got You, where hip-hop style kick drum is joined by bright grand piano. When listening to guitar music like Ryan Adams’ latest record, I found myself impressed by the warm midrange, where Adams’ vocals and electric guitar worked together without becoming dense and muddy.
The TrueConnect don’t offer the same gleaming clarity of headphones like Sennheiser’s $300 Momentum (and also lack aptX connectivity for higher streaming quality), but as an everyday pair of in-ears, I didn’t find the TrueConnect to be lackluster by any stretch. They played my favorite music with gusto, and easily kept me entertained during boring bouts on the treadmill.
Plus, the Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity means they’re incredibly stable and offer very long range: I was able to walk the 30+ feet from my desk to the Digital Trends kitchen without so much as a brief connectivity glitch — something I can’t say about many other true wireless buds.
The RHA TrueConnect come with a 36-month warranty that covers defects in materials or manufacturing.Our Take
The RHA TrueConnect are a well-sorted AirPod alternative that offer a more comfortable fit, solid connection, and better performance at the gym.
Is there a better alternative?
In the $150-200 price range, there are very few true wireless headphones that perform nearly as well as the RHA TrueConnect. That said, we do still prefer the Jabra Elite Active 65t’s sleeker design, which also have slightly better sound and better microphones for calls. Still, both pairs offer 5 hours of battery life, great connectivity, and sweat-proofing. If you’re looking at AirPods, the only reason to not buy the RHA TrueConnect is their lack of instant iPhone integration.
How long will it last?
The headphones feel extremely solidly built and we had no performance or recharge issues during our testing period. We expect them to last for several years of use before they need replacement.
Should you buy it?
That depends: If you like the “golf tee” looks of AirPods but want higher overall performance (and an even nicer charging case), then the RHA TrueConnect are just the ticket. We still slightly prefer the Jabra Elite Active 65t overall, but we wouldn’t point our noses up at anyone who chooses to spring for the TrueConnect instead. As it stands, they are easily our second favorite pair of true wireless earbuds.