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$40 IEM Battle Royale (RHA MA-350 Added 3-1-13)

post #1 of 88
Thread Starter 
Thinking of a christmas gift - for myself of course - which one is the best in the $40 price range. Who's got the Bass punch, tight mids, clear highs (no shrill please) and the widest sound stage. Contenders are:

SoundMagic E10 (have these already)
Sony MH1C
RHA MA-350
Thinksound Rain (Little more $50)
VSonic GR02 Bass

Could throw in the UE-700 since it just dropped to $75 but thats pushing it.

Let the games begin...

Results (I have Ranked them all and will continue to do so as more are added:

OK so it took a bit to get through them but I wanted to review at least the ones I had for this little battle. MH1C, GR02 BE, SoundMagic E10 and I threw in the RE0 just for a little reference. VC02 were added as well as RHA MA-350

1st VSonic GR02 BE - Everytime I would switch back to these, I would get a smile on my face. The bass (Sub, bass and mid bass) is just so rich, powerful and detailed that I just love it. Also the highs on these are more detailed with better separation that the others. Bright does come to mind but I guess I do prefer crisp over warm. Some vocals may have been slightly veiled but everything else makes up for that. The soundstage is the narrowest as everything is right in front of you. If I could get the same crispness of all the instruments but spread them out, that would be ideal.

2nd VC02 (Added 2/15/2013)
Took everyone's advice and added the VC02 to the collection and gave them a run through tonight. The first word to describe them is creamy. Much flatter freq response with a very smooth sound. Much less bass and impact than the GR02 BE. Can make the GR02 BE sound a little hollow in the upper end but I also feel the vocals on the VC02 can sound a touch veiled which is my they are also smooth. Great detail and a wider soundstage. But they just lack that impact that you get from the GR02 BEs. Listening to Volbeat FLAC recording sounds very nice on the VC02, you love the clarity and smoothness but when you switch back to the GR02s, you just get that smile back on your face as you start to feel the music as intended (I was at the concert so I know). VC02 is one of the most comfortable IEMs that I own and is an excellent choice for smooth detailed and clear sound. If you are looking for v shaped with low end, punchy mids and crisp highs then it is the GR02s as they still remain the winner for me here. Next I will try and get to some brainwaves.

3rd MH1C - This took a little bit but I wanted to recable them as the J cord is just, well, awful. Replaced it with a Monprice cable from my 8320 (you can see this in the MH1C thread). Much more bass anbd sub bass than the Soundmagic and just slightly behind the GR02 BE. The mids were much better than the SoundMagic but the highs again just are not that detailed, there but a lot of the high freq start to run together. The Soundstage is definitely the wideeast and foudn some tracks the most enjoyable because of it.

4th (tie) RHA MA-350 (Added 3/1/2013)
This one was very close to the MH1C but the smoother Uppers with that slightly less can sound edged it out. Ran this one through some Rock FLAC Volbeat, Slash, Offspring etc. The first thing that jumps at you with these is the amount of Bass, tons of Bass especially sub bass. If the GR02 BE does not give you enough Bass then grab these babies. The Bass is a touch flabby for my liking and then also lacks the punch/tightness that I like. There are more highs here than the MH1C for a more V shaped sound. Most of the spectrum has this Canned sound to it, makes it a little thin, I get closer to sibilant with these than the GR02BE. I find the Soundstage more closed than most here. some of the highs run together a bit leaving you wanting a little more instrument separation. Overall this is a very good value and if you want that extra Bass - these are the ones. Build is nice, only 3 sets of tips, braided cable has some microphonics (similar cable to the Monoprice), little felt pouch similar to what VSonic is doing now.

4th (tie) SoundMagic E10 - While it is a fun IEM, there is just too much missing in the mids, you get some decent low end punch and some sub bass but the warm mids and powerful drums are just missing. Also the highs, while the are not recessed, just do not have the level of detail that I would expect. Soundstage is not narrow but but it is also not wide. Overall they are a nice IEM for the price but just does not measure up.

Even though the RE0 is $50 (on sale of course) - these are the most detailed of the bunch but there is quite a bit lacking in the low end for me. I will use these for some music types but for the most part of what I listen too, just not enough bass. It also takes a little more to drive these as well. If bass is not your thing and detailed and accurate are what you are looking for then I would suggest getting a set of these.

I am still thinking of buying a couple more in this category but that will be it before moving on the next level. Might give the VC02s (Done), AM90, Dunu DN-12, MA-350 (Done), MG5, M31 and possibly even the TDK MT300 as they are starting to get some love here. Thanks for tuning in.

I did add the TDK MT300 and there was not much to write as I did not find them very good, even for the price since I had to pay close to $25 for them. Even if they were $10, I would go for the SH3580s first but neither contend is this thread.
Edited by zerocoolhifi - 3/1/13 at 9:14pm
post #2 of 88

if you want the bass and can tolerate a flat j-cord, then sony mh1c.

otherwise gr02 bass.

post #3 of 88

I was thinking of getting a pair of V-Moda Bass Freq.

post #4 of 88
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Mheat122134 View Post

I was thinking of getting a pair of V-Moda Bass Freq.

I have not heard enough good things on those to have it qualify for the list. Anytime I have seen info about the listed IEMs, the V-Moda has not been mentioned.

post #5 of 88
Thread Starter 

Anyone else want in on the lost cost fight?

post #6 of 88
Sony mh1c any day if you can find a good fit... otherwise gr02 be.

Sent from my GT-I9100
post #7 of 88

I have the GR02 BE and i'm satisfied with it. Let me preface this by saying I don't have extensive knowledge of headphones. As you can see i'm new to head-fi. 
In terms of sound, the bass is the most prominent feature of the headphones (duh, right?)  I like to feel the bass, not hear explosions and i feel it with the GR02s. I love the bass actually. Sub-bass that stops me from doing whatever i'm doing and just listen to the music. The mids are satisfactory. I don't think they're recessed although sometimes it feels as if the bass overshadows them. Highs are also satisfactory. I don't like bright highs anyways and i can't stand sibilance so these do it for me. Other things about these: annoying driver flex, somewhat microphonic but I wear them over-the-ear anyways so that's remedied, solid build quality. Ultimately i'm more than happy with their price/sound quality and what I use them for which is for work/gym. 
Hope that helped! 
Really curious about the E10 though.

post #8 of 88

My vote goes to the gr02 bass as well. Amazing for just $36 shipped from ebay. I'm actually getting a few pairs for my friends as gifts :D

post #9 of 88
Thread Starter 

Great now I have the MH1C, E10 and GR02 BE coming - caparison after Christmas of course since something has to be wrapped.

post #10 of 88

concidder the vsonic vc02 ( not the gr02 )
i saw it first yesterday at this forum, and i think it looks awsome :D
It isn't really bassy ( it has 3mm drivers smallest in the world they say) but more nutral sound.
it has punchy and good bass (not bass forward, so no basshead iem) mids are clear and highs are very good.
i hear it's sound stage is pretty good, and some say it is the best iem under $100.

NOTE:" I haven't heared them, but just read some impressions on this forum. you should check this link for better info"


price is $ 41 including the shipping.

post #11 of 88

looking forward to the comparison.

especially the mh1c and gr02 BE

post #12 of 88

I too am waiting for a pair of the VC02's from Singapore myself - based on early impressions from the forums - you might want to consider them. Microdrivers and detachable cables for $41 shipped? Carumba!

post #13 of 88
Originally Posted by Ivabign View Post

I too am waiting for a pair of the VC02's from Singapore myself - based on early impressions from the forums - you might want to consider them. Microdrivers and detachable cables for $41 shipped? Carumba!

Wait it has detachable cables!? Oh man time for some research!

post #14 of 88

JVC HA-FX101. It has plenty of bass and nice sound overall. If you want plenty of detail and a very bright sound, get the JVC HA-FX40.


You can get both for under $40.

post #15 of 88
Thread Starter 

FX101 is one of the worst sounding IEMs I have ever tried IMO. Tried burn in for over a week and the highs are just horrible, sibilance everywhere, distortion, no detail sepration but plenty of bass.

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