For those that have already read our First Contact in detail, you click on page 2 at the bottom for sound impressions and comparisons. For newcomers to the RHA CL2 then please, read on!
Ardent RHA fans will have probably read the original CL1 review we did back in March 2017 and in many respects, the CL2 at least from the outside draws a lot of inspiration from its predecessor.
However, the proposition on the inside and the subsequent user experience is entirely different. This is a planar magnetic universal monitor, the first such offering from RHA and more than that, it comes in wired and Bluetooth wireless format which may well be a first for planar magnetic in this form factor.
Of course, the price point is also quite different. At $899 it is a jump up on the older CL1 price point and it does make the CL2 their flagship monitor by some distance. However, there is really a lot going on here with the RHA CL2 that would merit this being the flagship of their current range.
The planar driver inside the CL2 has apparently been 4 years in the making and by all accounts, it does seem fairly unique, even for an IEM planar. First, the driver is perhaps one of the smallest planar builds in the monitor market today at just the 10mm driver.
Second, it consists of a planar coil and a 16-micrometer diaphragm perfectly suspended above two matched magnetic fields. So literally, the diaphragm is suspended in mid-air inside a super tough Zirconium dioxide housing.
The RHA CL2 is rated at just 89dB SPL also. That means it needs a lot of current to drive it and much like the legacy of the CL1, (also 89dB SPL), this monitor might be best suited out of a quality amplification setup. No weak sauce amps considered!
If you are coming from the CL1 the design of the CL2 is remarkably similar in terms of finishing, materials, and dimensions. The weight does seem marginally lighter by 4g but very hard to tell side by side. They only physical differences I can spot is the little venting port on the CL1 faceplate for the driver to breathe and the stronger looking raised MMCX connectors.
The materials are a super tough Zirconium dioxide injection molding shell with plenty of shine to the gunmetal or shimmering black finish. This is a 3-piece ensemble with 2 for the body and silver-finished short nozzle for the 3rd. They look gorgeous, to be honest, and certainly nothing DIY or boutique about the build quality.
Cables & Connectors
The RHA CL2 is MMCX terminated with a fairly tight stem that’s actually part of the shell itself. It is not quite the easiest to work with for an MMCX connection because of the lack of body grip. However, I can just about nip and pull the cable connectors out so it is not giving me huge problems thus far.
Stock Wired Cables
The two supplied cables look very much like the original CL1 cables only the silver version is a 2.5mm TRRS connection and not the old mini-XLR designed to work with the L1 portable amp. The 3.5mm TRS terminated option 1 is a braided oxygen-free copper (OFC) cable and the silver 2.5mm balanced option 2 is an Ag4x silver coated cable.
Both of these cables coated in a TPE and are incredibly soft, pliant and easy to work with. They have zero memory retention and microphonics. This cable is also finished with RHA’s coiled memory wire for hooking around the ear with supreme ease/ The cables are finished with a very attractive metal tube y-split and a plastic chin strap.
The RHA CL2 comes with one more cable and it is their aptX cable wireless BT detachable design and I suspect the one you tend to see on their wireless models such as the MA750 Wireless edition.
These are the type of designs that drape around the back of your neck and whilst not the lightest I do find them quite stable and comfortable during use. The feel is quite rubbery also but there is not enough free length for it to ever be an issue.
There is an internal battery on this cable so expect around 10-12 hours playback time before you need to charge it. Pairing is very straight forward with your usual BT pairing process with a smartphone or BT capable source. You can also use NFC touch capability with the cable for pairing which is a nice bonus.
There is an inline playback control and mic module on the right side and all the charging, (USB-C) and controls are also on the same side on the main termination barrel. RHA has provided a USB-C to USB-A cable to allow you to charge the BT cable for the CL2.
This is a super comfortable monitor to slip into your ear. The tips will do most of the sealing work but given the small size of the RHA CL2 that is not an issue as you can get this real close to your canal without any undue pressure on your outer ear.
I did find the girth of the memory wire system at times put a little outward pressure on the ear. Often it would inadvertently pull out the CL2 from my ear if not shaped fairly tight. The CL2’s are quite small so sometimes the balance of the weight transferred more to the cable. Just make sure the cable is tightly shaped and you should be fine.
There are a ton of tips to choose from but I really stuck with the Comply tips for the review as the best balance between seal and comfort. I can get a little deeper insert with the dual flange and the single bore silicone tips are slightly comfier but neither seal quite as well or deliver as much body to the CL2 sound as the foams.
Accessories & Packaging
Wow, just wow! This has got to be one of the most feature-packed unboxings I have done in living memory. RHA always had a penchant for stuffing tons of accessories into their audiophile offerings. The CL1 was pretty darn good but the CL2 takes it to another level. The retail box is big for a monitor but it needs to be because of the layers and layers of accessories inside.
Overall, there are 3 layers of accessories with the top holding two excellent cables in both balanced and unbalanced as well as the RHA silver metal finished tips tray. The left side of this layer also includes the story and technical details of the RHA CL2.
The second layer includes the RHA CL2 drivers as well as the Bluetooth receiver cable as well as the manual in a neat pocket on the right side. All cables are MMCX terminated and the BT cable is aptX compatible with playback and volume controls. The cable is pretty much the same as one they supply now with their wireless offerings such as the MA750 though with a slightly different or darker external finish.
The final layer as the rest of the accessories which includes a flight case to hold most every cable, a soft carry pouch, a USB-C charger cable, and a flight adapter. All nicely branded with the RHA logo. Again, I cannot overstate just how yummy this all looks. Sometimes when you pay good money you expect a quality physical offering and plenty of accessories to go with the cash being laid out and the CL2 more than matches that expectation.
Just for the record here is the complete accessory listing including a wide range of tips that include single bore silicone, double flange and Comply Foam Tsx400 tips. For the record, I am using the Comply tips for the majority of my initial impressions.