Pros: Good fun sound, good build quality, well priced, nice tonality, good detailing in the mids
Cons: lack of strain relief, to much bass if you're not a bass head, bass leeches into lower mids
Many thanks to RHA Audio for providing this free review sample.
The MA600 is tuned as a V shape. For those who don't know what that means, a V shaped tuning means the treble and bass have been tuned to sound more forward and aggressive then the mids. End result, the mids tend to sound more laid back in comparison to the rest of the sound signature. Some good examples of gear, both earphones and headphones that have been tuned in a V would be the Ultimate Ears Tri-Fi 10, JVC FX700, Dunu Trident, Sony XB700 and Fostex TH900. If you've heard any of these ear/headphones then you've heard a V shaped signature. Sometimes, and I must emphasize the word sometimes, when a V signature is done right sound stage can sometimes be quite good due to good extension on the bottom and top end and instrument positioning within the sound stage itself can be very good. If done very good, although the mids may sound recessed in comparison to the highs/lows detail retrieval can range from acceptable to quite good. Something to keep in mind when purchasing a V shaped piece of gear is a V shape isn't tuned for reference monitor purposes but instead is tuned more for a fun sounding big bass and high kind of sound. A V shaped signature seems to especially be popular amongst the bass head crowd as well as being popular amongst the hip hop, dance, trance and drum n bass crowd.
The MA600 is a very nice looking piece of kit. Its lines are very crisp and clean and the IEM housing seems to have been quite well, ergonomically speaking, designed to insure a comfortable fit. Throughout my review time with the MA600 I chose to wear the IEM over ear. When worn down cable noise was very minimal but I'm quite touchy about microphonics and have never been a fan of using a shirt clip. If you're also touchy about microphonics be warned that the MA600's cabling will exhibit some mild microphonics when walking around. The good news, when worn over ear or with the provided shirt clip microphonics is nonexistent. As far as the cables themselves are concerned, I generally like the look and feel of the cabling. When I first saw the IEM's cabling my first thought was the cable looked a bit on the thin side but after a few days of use and handling them I'm quite confident in stating the MA600's cables seem quite sturdy and I'm guessing should provide a good life span for the IEM. The Y splitter and neck slider, as well as the right angle jack, are very well constructed and aid in making the IEM look very aesthetically pleasing. I would have liked to have seen a better implementation of strain relief’s or lack thereof on the housings and plug though. If there's a weak spot in how this IEM was constructed I'm guessing the minimalist approach RHA Audio chose to take by not implementing some beefier strain reliefs would be it. Whether this will be an issue for the end consumer only time will tell of course.
The IEM housing itself is comprised of machined aluminium and hard plastic. The black plastic backing on the housing, with its white RHA logo, gives the IEM a nice low profile, not overly flashy look, when its inserted into the consumers ear. Accessory wise you get a shirt clip, nice sized semi hard carry case and 6 pairs of ear tips , S x2 / M x2 / L x2, along with 2 pairs of double flange ear tips - S x1 / M x1. The extra tips are neatly housed in a thin metal tip holder. Overall, I have to say for the money spent the MA600 delivers above its price point as far as form factor and accessories are concerned.
As mentioned before the MA600 is a V shaped signature meaning the highs and the lows are the star of the show.
The bass hits hard and deep on the MA600 and lives in the realm of bass head territory. Speed is good for the kind of bass that is present although I wouldn't ever say they can keep up in agility to some of the more neutral and linear bass I’ve heard on other gear. Although not the fastest I've ever heard it does have some of the hardest hitting bass punch I've ever heard on par and probably surpassing my Monster Pro Coppers. To my ears the mid bass is where a lot of the low end power is coming from. Because of it the low end can really boom out at the listener and bass drums slam with authority. Because the bass is so powerful there is some noticeable leeching into the lower mids.
I was quite surprised with the MA600 mids. Because the IEM sounded so bass heavy I expected them to be quite thick and warm. They’re far from overly warm though and are quite dry and lean (think neutral with a touch of warmth) for the way the signature was tuned. End result, although nowhere near detail monster levels detailing in the mids, I would have to say, is quite respectable for this tier of IEM. Also, although dry the mids do seem to tie in quite cohesively with the upper and lower end and avoids sounding disjointed. The upper mid, for the most part, sounded quite smooth and transitioned quite well into the lower highs. Upper octaves of the vocals sounded very nice and sibilance was respectable for this tier of IEM. Although I would rate the MA600 mids as acceptable in speed of note decay I did notice some smearing when listening to some Megadeth songs and Decode by Paramore. Mind you, the last 30 seconds of Decode and Megadeth tunes are known for being quite demanding in speed. The major strength going for the MA600 mids, in my opinion, was overall tonality, tonality on the MA600 is excellent, and vocals, guitars, horns etc sounded quite natural.
The highs have generally good extension and air and seem to sound like they have a slow gradual roll off. They sound grain free and have a decent amount of sparkle although I would never say they display the amount of energy that a treble head would crave. Over energetic splashiness is thankfully avoided and although they seem to have some edge here and there, overall, highs seem to sound acceptably smooth. Also, overly metallic tone that some overly aggressive treble happy tuned gear is known for is non existent in the MA600. A little warning, even though I wouldn’t rate the MA600 as overly aggressive for my taste people who are touchy concerning highs and find themselves being easily fatigued might want to look elsewhere.
The RHA Audio MA600 isn’t a giant killer and it isn’t what can be termed an audiophile reference monitor, nor does it try to be. What it is instead is a very well done fun sounding IEM that punches it out quite well with similarly priced IEM’s in its tier. For the price I have no problem recommending it to the budget conscious consumer looking for great bassy sound and build quality at an affordable price. As such, I’ve now added my MA600 to my stable of IEM’s and will be using it exclusively for when working out or for when working around the house. Overall, I’d have to say the MA600 is a good sounding and well priced mainstream consumer piece of gear.