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RHA - MA450i [Review] , appreciation, impressions

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hey everybody, got these a little over a week ago:

(disclaimer:  these were sent to me as a sample set from Isabel at RHA for the purpose of review.)

 

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First impressions:

Packaging is nice, but the accessories are even better!  The orange-bore eartips come in six sizes and a bi-flange is included as well.  I have found the small single flange to be the best fit.  What is really nice about the tips is that the orange part of the bore is extra solid and doesn't bend or smash easily.  This means the orange-bore tips can hang on to the iem really well, and I don't seem to have as many problems with the tips getting out of whack inside my ear canal.  They're really nice.  These do come with a fabric cable; the cable will be microphonic unless worn over-the-ear.  The over-the-ear fit is very comfortable and the flexible fabric lies flat.

 

Sound:  At first the sound was V-shaped and seemed to have sloppy treble and bass.  However, after several hours of burn-in the sound is really coming together.  I'm listening to Gungor - When Death Dies right now and the acoustic guitar sounds fantastic, fret noise and all.  Then the kick drum starts to come in and the sub-bass proves to be well represented.  Violins are good, hi hat sounds good.

 

What is interesting is the treble seems to have calmed down by a large margin.  The detail is present with these 'phones, but it is not due to brightness.  The headstage is slightly smaller and more intimate than other iems, the sound is slightly laid back, but all the sounds and tonal information are still present.  On an earlier track, Gungor - Let There Be, I heard the sound of a door opening and closing at the start of the track which I have never heard before.  Still, a warm sound overall.  iPhone controls work very well.

 

EDIT:  Now listening to a track with synthesized bass and the bass sounds wonderful.  There is less of a mid-bass boost than I am used to.


Edited by iPhone IEM - 12/19/12 at 9:32pm
post #2 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks again to RHA for the sample set.

 

History:  RHA is based out of the United Kingdom and is a division of Reid Heath Ltd.  RHA products are born in the research and development laboratories in Glasgow, Scotland.  Due to the fact the U.S. is a new market for RHA, all RHA products are being offered exclusively through the Apple Store at this time.  International customers can order from the RHA website. 

 

Here are some more detailed photos to kick off the review:

 

 

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Build:  As you can see from the photographs, the build quality of the MA450i is quite good.  The dynamic drivers are 10mm mylar.  The housing for each driver consists of a plastic backing and an aluminum bell.  The aluminum bell is purposely designed to be like the bell of a trumpet and is inverted to funnel sound directly into the ear canal.  I know that last part sounds cheezy, but it seems to be working.  The design of the eartips is the best I've seen.  The single flange "orange-bore" tips are wonderful because the orange sound tube is sturdy and seems to be denser and stronger than the outer flange.  Due to this reinforced sound tube, I am able to really push the tips around to get a good fit without mashing the tip into the side of the ear canal and closing the front of the tip.  I like to use the smallest of the orange-bore tips because they just pop-in and fit right.  The package also comes with bi-flanges and five other single flange tips, a carrying case, tip-holder case, and instruction booklet.

 

The cable and iPhone controls are nice and well built.  The cable is fabric and microphonic.  On the other hand, the fabric cable never tangles and always lays flat.  Therefore, I always wear the cable over-the-ear and use the chin slider.  The strain reliefs and Y-split also seem to be very sturdy; but if not, RHA offers a 3-year warranty!  One thing for me:  I really wish these came with a shirt clip.  A shirt clip would be good.

 

Fit:  I really like the fit on these.  The housings are very small.  The tips disappear into my ear canal and the outer housing fits neatly behind and inside the tragus.  Isolation is very good:  when I'm fitting the 'phones the seal becomes obvious when outside noises are suddenly attenuated to almost nothing.  Of course, YMMV, and I have never used custom iems.

 

Bass:  The bass on these earphones is simply fantastic.  The sound has a nice blend of mid-bass and sub-bass.  The dynamic driver and aluminum bell push a decent amount of air; there is more air than a sealed iem like the M6 but better control and depth compared to vented designs like the Apple EarPods.  What I mean by air in this sense is the perceived impact and weight of the bass:  the feeling that the air has weight.  The bass is warm and well extended.  Compared to the EarPods that came with my iPhone 5, the MA450i has almost no mid-bass boost and much better sub-bass.  As I mentioned in an earlier post:  these 'phones really rock with electronic bass.

 

Midrange:  The midrange is smooth, warm, and detailed.  Strings and vocals sound wonderful.  The ability of the driver to push air is very interesting in the midrange.  Guitars have impact and the plucking of the strings can be felt on some tracks.  Due to the warm tuning of the iem, there seems to be more detail in the midrange than in the treble.  It's a very interesting phenomena for my brain because I feel like the laid back sound should just be warm and fluffy sounding, but the detail and resolution are actually very good.  All the sounds are present and accounted for, just more so in the midrange than anywhere else.

 

Treble:  The treble is laid back.  If you want treble brightness this probably isn't the 'phone for you.  I find the treble to be pleasant and I still hear all the cymbals and synthesizers and sounds that I'm supposed to be hearing.  However, the treble is noticeably quieter in relation to the rest of the sound signature.  It seems like there's a nice bump in the upper-mids and then the treble rolls off in a very gradual but continual slope that fades into the distance.  As I said, I find it to be very pleasant.  Combined with the best fit I've found in an iem, the treble makes for long, non-fatiguing listening sessions.

 

Presentation:  The MA450i excels at presenting a warm and well-integrated sound.  The headstage is not as large as I have heard; however, the warmth and detail in the midrange make for a nice engaging experience.  These 'phones also have very good dynamic range and the left-right separation is present, but not huge or wide.

 

Conclusion:  If you like bright treble, or don't like fabric cables, these earphones really aren't for you.  The MA450i really excels at presenting a warm-yet-detailed sound that is engaging and pleasant.  The headstage is average but very integrated.  These earphones should be a great workhorse for anyone looking for solid iPhone controls and a solid, warm sound signature that still has detail.

 

I will be posting updates as time goes on.  I reserve the right to change my opinion.biggrin.gif

 

http://www.rha-audio.com/us/earphones/ma450i-black.html - product info

http://store.apple.com/us/product/H8965ZM/A/rha-ma450i-noise-isolating-in-ear-headphones-with-mic - Apple product page

http://www.rha-audio.com/ - international shopping

Edited by iPhone IEM - 12/19/12 at 11:17pm
post #3 of 21

First of all, +1 to everything that IPhone IEM said above... and lemme throw in a few odds and ends here to tell ya why:

 

These are truly a fantastic surprise IMO.  I'm generally pretty skeptical of new brands, giant killers, FOTMs and the like.  And I've had my share of less-than-promising experiences with start-ups (ahem, Eskuche).  But after two months of gathering evolving impressions of the MA450i, I'd have to tell all you ladies (all 4 of you) and gents, this is the REAL DEAL!  IPhone IEM has already covered a ton above, so I'll just add a few observations.

 

Oh BTW, let's get one thing out of the way right now, these are not hi-fi.  They're $50 dynamic universals for God's sakes, let's not throw reality out the window here.  Having said that...

 

WOW!  The combination of the warm and reverberant low end - paired with the forward and somewhat steely upper mids - is rather interesting.  At first, it seems easy to just chalk it up to a v-shape or u-shape signature right?  Except get this, the mids aren't actually recessed!  They might be just a tad bit more distant staging-wise, but they are not muted or recessed.  Frankly, my mind is having just a little bit of a hard time around this one because of that.

 

Almost every genre - and I mean every genre - takes on a very lively and engaging presentation.  At times, I even get a certain sense of euphoria with these (which I admit is become an increasingly rare occurrence these days).

 

I would have no problem recommending these to anyone looking for a pair of doesn't-break-the-bank universals, and have done so to several Head-Fier buddies already.  I'll have a full review coming out very soon (yes I know I keep saying that) so I'll cut it short for now.  BTW, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank RHA for being extraordinarily patient while I craft my review.  But in the meantime, I echo IPhone IEM's sentiments above.  smile.gif

post #4 of 21

Before I forget, I do want to mention that the cable is pretty darn microphonic.  If you get these, just know that you ARE going to be wearing them over-ear - no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by warrenpchi View Post

Before I forget, I do want to mention that the cable is pretty darn microphonic.  If you get these, just know that you ARE going to be wearing them over-ear - no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Yes indeed, very fun earphone, but the package should say, "Must wear over-the ear!"
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by iPhone IEM View Post

Yes indeed, very fun earphone, but the package should say, "Must wear over-the ear!"

 

For best results, please wear these over ear.  Or alternatively, stay very, very still.  biggrin.gif  But assuming either of those conditions are met, they just make me want to melt into the music.  etysmile.gif

post #7 of 21

I agree with the sound quality descriptions. I dont think the build quality is all that good however. Possibly, I'm being harsh considering the price but the cable gets very easily permanently kinked and the cloth cable jacket is starting to come off my pair after 5 months.

 

 

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post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by pablobell View Post

I agree with the sound quality descriptions. I dont think the build quality is all that good however. Possibly, I'm being harsh considering the price but the cable gets very easily permanently kinked and the cloth cable jacket is starting to come off my pair after 5 months.

 

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LOL, thanks for reminding us about that!  Like IPhone said above, RHA also has a ridonkulous 3-year warranty on their products.  I've never had anything happen to mine so I haven't needed to put it to the test.  You should try giving them a call about it.  If you end up getting a replacement, then hey awesome for you, and we'll know that they make good on their word.  smile.gif

post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by warrenpchi View Post

LOL, thanks for reminding us about that!  Like IPhone said above, RHA also has a ridonkulous 3-year warranty on their products.  I've never had anything happen to mine so I haven't needed to put it to the test.  You should try giving them a call about it.  If you end up getting a replacement, then hey awesome for you, and we'll know that they make good on their word.  smile.gif

+1, seriously, please try out the warranty, we want to know what it's all about!
post #10 of 21

I purchased them in London. RHA don't have a presence in Japan.

 

However, I am moving to Auckland in 2 weeks, so I will give the warranty a shot, after I arrive.

post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by pablobell View Post

I purchased them in London. RHA don't have a presence in Japan.

 

However, I am moving to Auckland in 2 weeks, so I will give the warranty a shot, after I arrive.

 

Well that'll be interesting.  I'm sure that's not a situation they planned for when they wrote up their warranty.  biggrin.gif  Should be a pretty good test of their customer service!

post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quick update: so far these sound better than my new jvc has-400 and akg K99. Mostly it's better sub bass.
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by iPhone IEM View Post

Quick update: so far these sound better than my new jvc has-400

 

Ha!  I was actually considering a JVC 400 recently!  It was so darn cheap and alluring, that I almost got one.  Thanks for waving me off.  smile.gif

post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by warrenpchi View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by pablobell View Post

I purchased them in London. RHA don't have a presence in Japan.

 

However, I am moving to Auckland in 2 weeks, so I will give the warranty a shot, after I arrive.

 

Well that'll be interesting.  I'm sure that's not a situation they planned for when they wrote up their warranty.  biggrin.gif  Should be a pretty good test of their customer service!

 

Hey pablobell, just checking in to see:  (a) how things are in Auckland; and (b) any luck with that warranty replacement?

post #15 of 21
Got these last week. Just like to say they are the most comfortable iem's I have, the sub bass is awesome without any detrimental affect on what is a pretty detailed and balanced sq. Build quality may be a future problem as cables are a Little thin, strain relief is good though. Never had an other in-ear that is so forgiving of fit/sq. micro phonics are a little above plastic cable items, but over ear is comfortable and removes this problem it also brings the mic/remote to a more favourable position.
Overall would recommend to anyone (rare).
Purchased for £40 Belfast apple store.
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