Glasgow - Scotland , cold, dark and inhospitable. Populated with pasty faced ginger haired men wearing tracksuits, eating battered batter and listening to techno , sung by smurfs *.
Not the backdrop you would expect for a high tech headphone company to reside in.
I am a Scotsman (via Italy) and I was very surprised to find out that we had such an endeavour on our shores, not because they are Scottish (we have several excellent Hi-Fi brands, Linn being the most famous) , no I was surprised because they are British.
GB isn’t really a big player in headphones, Hi-Fi yes but only recently have we really started to make a small dent in the market with companies like B&W releasing models.
I first became aware of RHA last year when a colleague at work brought in a pair of in-ear's , I remember thinking the design was unusual but the sound was excellent.
They were the MA-350s and whilst I don’t use my in ears much these days I do think for the money the 350s are very good value.
I contacted RHA recently, mainly to get more info on the company, technology etc.
RHA are familiar with Headfi and were interested in getting feedback, I have been sent their newest flagship model the SA-950i to review (Thanks Lyndsey).
The 950i bears a strong resemblance to Skullcandy’s Navigators (or should I say Navigators resemble the 950i’s). Size? , think Vmoda M80.
I think these are a love hate design, personally I am not too keen , I think they look a little ‘blingy’ , however this is coming from a 40 year old man who thinks Mrs Elliott has some ‘wack’ beats.
Amongst my colleagues they were very popular design wise and the sound was also complimented by most.
The detachable cable was popular, the fabric sleeve brought plenty of positive comments, the remote is handy and the mic's sound quality was good.
Comfortwise these are going to be great for some (me and my wife loved these) but a no go for others (Big Jason's massive melon was too big for these).
My only suggestion's would be to make the pads softer and maybe add a horizontal pivot to the cups, that about it.
The 950i is a portable headphone, I used it mainly with my Archos 43it , Cowon D3 and some cell phones but I also plugged it into my home headphone amp to see how it scaled , it improved a bit , mainly in the bass region which gets deeper, softer and most importantly tighter.
I tested these mainly against the Sony V55 , 7506 and Philips Downtown.
I don’t review headphones that I don’t like, don’t really see the point.
The 950i is worth reviewing.
Oh , RHA stands for Reid Heath Acoustics , I prefer the full name rather than the acronym , what do you think?.
I Burnt them in for 24 hrs.
Girls – Vomit
This song is amazing, its an unashamed Pink Floyd rip-off but a great one.
On the RHA the guitar at the opening is warm and detailed, the vocal comes in softly allowing you to just hear the distorted bass line that moves along in the background.
This track shows the RHA to be good with rock but also able to slow down and deal with genres requiring a more sensitive touch.
Beck – Tropicalia
This track is great at exposing Cans that cannot deal with multi layered and “busy” tracks.
The RHA provides excellent detail here, I also like the tone of the instruments.
Bass is excellent but could be a little easier to follow.
Trumpets don’t sound digital as they sometimes can. The track flows nicely and the RHA passes this test well.
The Coral – Another way.
Again excellent tones to the guitar, vocals are airy and the track has a magical quality to it.
No real point to choosing the one , just like it!
Beastie Boys – Make some noise.
Bass, Bass, Bass!
This track can make your cans fart, it is also a good test of the range and depth of bass your cans have.
Result with RHA is good , great impact and they go low.
Suuns – Red Song
Another bass test track for me. The RHA passes this one with no issues, I have heard the synth line played with more detail and depth but you need to add at least another £100 to get it!
Rolling Stones – Midnight Rambler.
Let It Bleed is a great test of imaging, I am spinning the recent remaster.
Harmonica is in the right place , guitars and vocals are all exactly where I would expect based on my speakers rendition.
This track does however highlight something, its a very slight smearing in the vocal that happens when there is a lot going on, I think the culprit is the bass, it invades into the mid band on occasion as is the case here.
Diana Krall – A case of you
Live in Paris, I know boring choice but I love this album and its my review .
Piano sounds good in comparison to the HD600 but great at the price , Diana’s vocal is perfect on this one , no smearing as noted on the stones track.
I tried this track on the 950i on my amp and it really sounded excellent.
I was clapping along with the crowd at the end for more here !
Primal Scream - Shine Like Stars.
OK onto a tricky one, sibilance can rear its ugly head on this one, try it on the Philips downtown for an example.
No sibilance, no harshness , good job.
The RHA is excellent at electronic music, Suuns, Primal , LCD Sound system etc really shine on the 950i.
Dont Fight It , Feel It.
Loved the 950i with this as well, I ended up listening to the whole album , a good sign.
First Aid Kit – New Years Eve.
A beautiful vocal on this (as with all First Aid Kit's recordings) , my first thought was that the 950i was adding a little bloom to this track. I AB'd it against my Cranford levelled MDR-7506 and it confirmed that the 950i had a warmer and slightly fatter sound here.
However I liked it, the 7506 is very accurate but also very cold in its presentation and I wager 9 out of 10 would prefer the 950i with this track.
Fiona Apple – Every Single Night
I wanted to try another female vocal to see if the 950i fattens it out.
Same result , warmer , fatter but very enjoyable.
I noticed that the warmer signature brought with it a slightly worse noise floor, the instruments on the 7506 jump out at you from a slightly darker background.
Strange but I didn’t notice this on the Krall track.
Miike Snow – The Wave.
This track is amazing on the 950i , it just makes you want to make some shapes, awesome....
Back now, yep the 950i are total toe tappers that can follow bass lines with ease , Miike Snow's brand of electronica is perfect for these.
So in Conclusion the 950i is a fantastic set of cans for electronic genre or folksy stripped down acoustic music but just a 'good' choice for rock.
The reason for just a good for the rock genre is the slight smearing that the bass can bring into the mid/vocal band.
I prefer the Sony 7506 for rock, the V55 performs similary with rock to the 950i , the downtown is horrible with rock.
If you have £50 to spend on portable cans the RHA 950i is a great choice and the three year warranty that they offer as standard is the icing on this delicious sounding cake.
*Other opinions of Scotland are available.
Edited by astroid - 1/18/13 at 9:23am