With the Rival, the Austrian manufacturer Ready2Music want to cater to every taste. Their flagship wireless headphones come in eight gaudy designs and can even be personalised for an extra charge. But they also offer comfortable listening pleasure in other ways, with a slightly pronounced bass that is warm and melodious overall.
From the off, the Rival have an impressive appearance. In addition, this model is available in numerous colours (blue, gold, neon green, pink, silver, white, black). For a personal touch, these over-ear headphones can also be ordered with your own logos, lettering and other embellishments. The model we tested was presented in a very pleasing matte black with eye-catching silver details, such as the etched manufacturer’s logo, a band around the earcup, and the bolted on sleeves inside the earpiece, which border the soft, black imitation leather padding. Underneath are silver hinges that allow both earcups to be folded away for safe transportation. On top of that, the Ready2Music logo is emblazoned on the earcup in matching grey. The earcup flows smoothly into the extension, with the metal struts only interrupting the flow when they are pulled out to one of eight levels. The oval circumaural closed capsules are padded with soft but non-replaceable ear pads. These are presumably mounted on a ball-and-socket joint that allows full rotation, but there is little play for tilt adjustment. Beyond the Bluetooth functionality, the Rival can be used passively with the included cable with a 3.5 mm jack.
The right earcup is home to all the functions for wireless operation: the micro-USB socket for charging the battery, a microphone, a status LED and three inconspicuous but very easy-to-use buttons for controlling the music and making phone calls.
In addition to the aforementioned cable and a detailed instruction manual, a padded softshell bag is included in the package, in which the folded Rival are protected when you’re travelling.
At around 290 grams, the sturdy-looking Rival is not very light, but they still feel comfortable to wear. This is where the exceptionally soft padding on the headband and earcups pays off. The rather large oval capsules actually seem relatively small when you put them on. After all, the driver opening is quite small in relation to the size of the capsules. Nevertheless, there was enough space for my medium-sized ears, with the pads slightly touching them. Therefore, if you have larger ears, you should test in advance to see whether the earcups rest on them rather than covering them. With the headband extended, these headphones fit both small and larger heads. When adjusting to the appropriate size, the metal rails slip quite easily over the notched increments, but they reliably hold their position when worn. And the cups also adapt impressively to your ear position despite the low clearance of the joints – and here is where the flexibility of the headband pays off.
With these features, I rate these headphones as very comfortable – even when worn for longer periods, whether at home or on the move. However, the cups and thus the headphones swing back and forth around the body axis during more vigorous head movements, which detracts from the stable positioning, especially during sporting activities.
The Austrian manufacturer claims a frequency response of 20 to 20,000 hertz for the built-in 40-millimetre drivers, plus an impedance of 32 ohms. The sound pressure level is 106 decibels. The integrated microphone is supposed to pick up frequencies from 30 to 16,000 hertz. The talk time is around 15 hours, the playtime 16 hours. In standby mode, it can even last 250 hours, according to the manufacturer. Charging the earpieces takes about three hours.
The Rival works with the older Bluetooth 4.1 protocol and covers a wireless range of up to ten metres. Although the manufacturer does not name any codecs, the built-in Qualcomm CRS8635 chip provides SBC and high-resolution AAC.
As soon as you switch on the headphones, they go into pairing mode with flashing status LEDs. Afterwards, you just need to confirm them in the list of Bluetooth devices found. The Rival also allows another device to be paired.
The buttons on the right earcup surface can be used to control the volume, pause and start playback and jump between tracks. Calls can also be accepted, rejected, terminated, redialled and made; here, the voice signal audibly hisses at both the listener and receiver ends of the call, and the voice sounds mid-pitched and sibilant. These headphones are therefore not recommended for chatting binges. The built-in microphone can also be set to silent and replaced by your smartphone. Support for voice assistants is not provided.
Just as the Rival’s visual set up packs a punch, acoustically, they are similar: powerful! Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” shows off the large, dynamic drivers to their best advantage with their impressive bass foundation. The bass drum sets the pace with a lot of assertiveness, followed by the precise and homogeneous midrange and lead sound. The same applies to the crystal clear vocals. The balancing act between the individual frequency ranges is even more apparent in Moderat’s “A New Error”, which it handles brilliantly. The groove with its prominent bass sequence booms without breaking up the transients. But these headphones also know how to deal with rock sounds and distorted guitars, such as in Limp Bizkit’s “Take A Look Around” – the sound is authentic and precise. In short: The sound image is characterised by a well-proportioned bass, which does not negatively influence the general homogeneity and transparency of the sound image. In the treble range, too, the Rival places accents accurately without sounding exaggerated or washed out. This listening experience applies regardless of the source, whether used via Bluetooth or with a cable. The level reserves, when used with a Smartphone, are completely sufficient. At the same time, the drivers can reproduce signal peaks largely undistorted even at full volume in Bluetooth mode.
The Rival headphones, designed for mobile use, need not fear any rivals in their price class (RRP 119.00 Euros). In practice, they turn out to be extremely comfortable, delivering 16 hours of playtime and scoring points with comfortable listening pleasure that comes across as generally warm and melodious with slightly pronounced bass as well as impressive transparency – music control and phone handling included. The disadvantages: The voice quality leaves a lot to be desired, no voice assistants are supported, and the cosy ear pads are not replaceable. Nevertheless, the Rival impressed us as a reliable, colourful and decorative pair of headphones that, on top of all this, can be personalised.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)20 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance32 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)106 dB
- Weight without cable290 g
What's in the box
- Mini jack cable
- Micro USB charging cable
- available in various colours & designs - also own designs (to manufacturer's website) possible
- BT codecs: SBC, AAC
- BT version: 4.1