Pros: Good quality bass (esp. the subbass); small, funnel shape ensures comfort for longer commutes; midrange and treble are still high quality
Cons: Cable can get tangle if not stored in the cloth pouch; tips could be a bit stiff and tight the first time around; forward bass might not be for some
A huge thank you to Reid Heath Audio and warrenpchi for making this review possible, and moreso the person in charge of contacting me. Without them, I wouldn’t have heard this marvelous IEM: the MA350
Accessories and build quality
You can check out here for more meandering on the package, but it has the usual package of IEMs: two more pairs of tips at small and large size, and a cloth pouch. Build quality is actually good: aluminium shells and ample strain relief on the speaker end, cloth-sheathed cable that’s not memory-prone, but sometimes can tangle if you’re not using the pouch, and ending with a gold-plated straight jack; although I find that the strain relief on the jack to be too soft to my liking.
The IEM tips are very good actually but err on the side of caution when you’re taking them off, lest you’ll end up like me with a torn tip. I’ve mentioned this to them and it is by design. Thankfully they sent me another set of tips and also this picture on how they recommend to put in the tips back.
And as can be seen there, it also has a narrow nozzle and circular shell, making it possible either to wear it cable down or cable up, where you wound the cable up above your ear before putting it in. I recommend wearing it cable up since the microphonics is not too forgiving when you’re moving. More on the cable here.
Generally though, after fiddling for a seal and such, I find it quite comfortable to last me at least 2 hours before feeling the need to take it off. Quite the ways you can go in that time, I feel.
Technically, this is a very capable IEM for the price; heck, sometimes I favor this more than my FXT90.
Soundstage is quite good; can go head-to-head with my FXT90 on most occasion. On fast and complex songs though, it can get a bit congested, the soundstage collapsed a little bit, the imaging becoming a bit smeared. This is where my FXT90 rise up. Otherwise, imaging and soundstage is superb.
Isolation is above good at the best of times, mediocre at the worst. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being crap isolation and 10 is total silence, I’d place it on 7 for normal noise (conversations), and 4 for loud BG noise (subways, trains, etc.) with music running at approximately 80 dB.
To my taste, the MA350 works best with songs that employ double bass, bass guitars, kick drums, etc. but not really with artificial bass. The strength of this IEM lies at its subbass without sacrificing other frequency range. The other thing that I like is the generally warm sound. For example it can make a biting, sizzling metal song into a flurry of fast-paced punches of the snare drums, slightly stealing the spotlight from the electric guitar but .
Getting a bit more in-depth, this IEM is bass-focused with polite treble and clear mids. Mind you though the above paragraphs work better at conveying how it would be like out and about; the following paragraphs are when the environment is quieter.
The bass impact is strong; it’s a tiny bit flabby but not to the point of terribleness. The texture of it is also another plus point for the bass that works quite well with jazz and some classical like I alluded earlier. Not to forget is the depth and quality of the bass too. If you’re like me and listen to a variety of genre and there’s that one dubstep song that you like (with real subbass), then rest assured the lowest bass can still be felt. The subbass is quite strong and detailed; amazing bass on most songs I’ve listened to. In some instance there can be a slight change to the focus on some songs, I find it amusing and not for the worst. As a result of this bass focus though, the overall sound will be warm. Mind you though that I’m not a basshead in anyway, but this is easily what I love about the MA350.
Despite all of that, there’s no bleeding into the mids that I can detech. The mids are still clear-sounding and mellow due to the warmth; nothing shouty nor grating at all. Vocals all sound exceptional, esp. for female vocals, and the male vocals are still no slouch. Upper mids seem to be where the midrange shines; snare drums sounds fast and clear, and I can hear almost each beat on fast passages. Surprisingly, they are not recessed in any way, which is amazing I might add.
And then comes the polite treble. I’d say that it’s not as forward/focused as the bass and I assume it’s on the same level as the mids. Not to say that you will not be able to hear anything in the range though. The treble is still quite detailed and able to deliver a sense of air and soundstage, without losing the brightness of bright songs. No sibilance at all, but this is expected when the treble is polite.
Overall, it is a bass-focused IEM, but not in any way offensively excessive, with clear mids, detailed yet polite treble with a good enough soundstage and imaging for less complex and busy songs. Good genre width, works absolutely well straight out of my phone without going high on the volume with good isolation to block out the hubbub of a commuter’s life and comfortable to boot. All of that for $40 MSRP with 3 years warranty, I reckon that this is a great buy for anyone that’s looking to get better sound but not wanting to drop lots of cash.