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New RHA MA150 universals launching today! Will this be a new price/performance ratio champ?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Okay, it's not often that I get excited about a new product launch these days, but here's something that I'm pretty interested in so I just have to share.

 

It looks like RHA is coming out with a new set of entry-level universals - their RHA MA150 - and it's aimed at being an affordable way to experience the RHA sound signature.

 

The reason why I'm kind of stoked about this is because I have both their MA350 and MA450i.  And it's no secret around here that I find both to be extremely competent, throughly engaging, and easily enjoyable.  I haven't heard this new MA150 yet, but if it manages to capture the essense of its bigger bretheren, while being less than $20, it'll be a winner in my book.

Honestly, if this winds up sounding as good as I imagine/expect it to sound, I would easily mention these in the same price vs. performance discussions where the MEP-933, MH1C, and MT-300 are currently talked about it.  

I'll see if I can get my hands on a pair ASAP to let y'all know how it sounds.  In the meantime, here's the official press release info I found.

 

RHA MA150 OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE: (Click to show)

RHA combines affordability and outstanding audio in new entry-level MA150 earphones.

Glasgow, United Kingdom (28th January, 2013) Professional audio brand RHA today announces the launch of the MA150 ($19.95); the company’s latest in-ear headphone featuring their unique aerophonic design and acclaimed sound signature.

Combining outstanding audio, minimalist design and affordability, the MA150 joins RHA’s range of products at an entry level price to offer a new market of listeners exceptional audio quality.

Using a design inspired by a trumpet’s bell which channels sound naturally from the high-performance 10mm driver units into the ear, the MA150 is capable of delivering a wide frequency range including powerful bass, dynamic mid tones and clear treble for authentic sound reproduction.

With a focus on providing an affordable, yet uncompromised listening experience, the MA150 features an understated design; using an ABS casing and a matte-black, 1.2m rubber cable with a 45 degree gold plated connector. The choice of soft silicone tips allows for optimum comfort, a secure fit and effective noise isolation, ensuring a powerful personal sound experience in any environment.

“By stripping back some premium features we are able to offer unrivalled performance at a price that is extremely accessible – there is nothing else like this on the market” commented Lewis Heath, Head of Research and Development. “The MA150 introduces another layer to our established product range and is representative of our commitment to making great sound available to as many headphone users as possible.”

The RHA MA150 in-ear headphones will be on sale from 31st January 2013, and are available to pre-order from today (28th January) via RHA-Audio.com and Amazon.com .

post #2 of 22
Thread Starter 

And... it's here!

 

post #3 of 22

I like that box. The one the higher end models come in is competent and attractive enough (love the minimalist white text on matte black), but this is just cool.

 

Looking at the press release, methinks this is just a plastic MA-350 without the braided cable. The latter should be a big plus in usability, and of course MA-350-level performance at ~$20 would be quite sweet indeed.

 

I like that they're shooting for the very bottom of the price range, but I'd also love to see them try for something in a higher bracket as well. The MA-350 is certainly enjoyable, but it has its flaws, too, which I'd love to see addressed in a higher end model.

 

Hopefully by tomorrow I'll get my MA-350 review together after the fourth attempt (just haven't liked how any of the others have come out) and see if I can get my hands on some of these bad boys to compare.

post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Argyris View Post

I like that box.

 

Yeah right?  It's very smart.  Lowers costs for both the consumer and the planet.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Argyris View Post

 

Looking at the press release, methinks this is just a plastic MA-350 without the braided cable. The latter should be a big plus in usability, and of course MA-350-level performance at ~$20 would be quite sweet indeed.

 

That's exactly what I'm thinking.  I think that, if anything, moving from the aluminum enclosure to a plastic one would result in a slightly warmer texture overall... similar to the differences between an Amperior and an HD 25-1-II.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Argyris View Post

Hopefully by tomorrow I'll get my MA-350 review together after the fourth attempt (just haven't liked how any of the others have come out) and see if I can get my hands on some of these bad boys to compare.

 

Man, you don't even want to know what revision I'm on.  Still, I believe the cat is out of the bag for me.  I haven't exactly made it a secret as to how much I enjoy the MA350 and MA450i.  Now I just need to articulate exactly why that is so.

post #5 of 22

I loved the MA450i's but couldn't get along with them due to the fact that i like to wear them hanging down rather than over the ear. Result - serious microphonics issue!!! I am all for losing the braided cable but a plastic housing? Hmmmm........

post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayp266 View Post

I loved the MA450i's but couldn't get along with them due to the fact that i like to wear them hanging down rather than over the ear. Result - serious microphonics issue!!! I am all for losing the braided cable but a plastic housing? Hmmmm........

 

The move from aluminum to plastic is definitely a step down in durability, especially since the housings on the MA-350/MA-450i are quite sturdy and well-made. But most headphones on the planet are made out of plastic at least to some degree, so as far as sound goes--meh, probably not a huge deal. A well-designed housing should do everything it can to avoid making any noise at all, and if all this aerophonic business is to be believed, that's more or less what RHA were trying to do.

 

I eagerly await your impressions, Warren. I'd like to at least know how close they come to the higher end models. MA-350-level sound for $20 might just spur an ultra-low budget FOTM phase. dt880smile.png

 

EDIT: Also, did you notice ljokerl reviewed the MA-350? Bugger got there before us (said with only the utmost respect and admiration, of course smile.gif), though at least he was suitably impressed, too, so I don't feel like we're nuts to think these things are pretty good.
 


Edited by Argyris - 2/14/13 at 5:33am
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Argyris View Post

 

The move from aluminum to plastic is definitely a step down in durability, especially since the housings on the MA-350/MA-450i are quite sturdy and well-made. But most headphones on the planet are made out of plastic at least to some degree, so as far as sound goes--meh, probably not a huge deal. A well-designed housing should do everything it can to avoid making any noise at all, and if all this aerophonic business is to be believed, that's more or less what RHA were trying to do.

 

I eagerly await your impressions, Warren. I'd like to at least know how close they come to the higher end models. MA-350-level sound for $20 might just spur an ultra-low budget FOTM phase. dt880smile.png

 

EDIT: Also, did you notice ljokerl reviewed the MA-350? Bugger got there before us (said with only the utmost respect and admiration, of course smile.gif), though at least he was suitably impressed, too, so I don't feel like we're nuts to think these things are pretty good.
 

Agreed wrt metal to plastic housing. But the MA450i's felt soooo good with a metal housing. Premium solid feel to them. And yes i own and LIKE the P5's... call me shallow! dt880smile.png

post #8 of 22

Not shallow at all. Aluminum is a lovely material, and I wish more things were made from it. And the housings RHA uses are quite nice, which I don't think I've said quite enough. biggrin.gif I was quite surprised when I realized that the end caps are also aluminum, though anodized black. I had assumed they had to be plastic since, well, everything is plastic these days.

post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Argyris View Post

 

I eagerly await your impressions, Warren. I'd like to at least know how close they come to the higher end models. MA-350-level sound for $20 might just spur an ultra-low budget FOTM phase. dt880smile.png

 

Before I say another word, I'd like it known that these initial impressions were courtesy of the patience and generosity of a saintly woman to whom I owe my every happiness.  regular_smile%20.gif  Okay, so really quick, here's the critical lowdown... the good, the bad, and the ugly (in relation to the MA350):

 

The Good

 

Microphonics have been tamed considerably! 

beerchug.gif 

I don't know if it's the lack of cable braiding, or if they've made specific changes to the PVC.  But either way, the really annoying brushing-of-the-shirt microphonics have been subdued.  Some low-frequency microphonics remain, particularly conduction microphonics, so you might not want to go jogging with these just yet.  Still, I can now stand wearing them straight down.  And I think that - under normal wear conditions - I could probably get by with just wearing them over ear and not using the cable cinch (like I do with the MA350).

 

The Bad

 

These are not the MA350.  frown.gif  The mids have been noticeably recessed - including those glorious upper mids that make the MA350 so alive (and slightly Grado-esque).  For those of you who have the MA350, imagine lowering the midrange levels by about 20%~25%.  As a result, these are now decidedly bassy in comparison.  In addition, the highs roll off a bit sooner than I'd personally like.  I guess I shouldn't label this a bad.  After all, it's unfair (and unrealistic) to expect that these should be MA350s (they're the MA150 which is a completely different model).

 

The Ugly

 

None!  Aside from the lack of aluminum (aluminium for our bretheren in the UK), these don't look bad at all.  One change I particularly like is the angled plug on these.  And before y'all lament the absence of a metallic housing, please consider that the metal always faced inward anyway.

 

So...

 

These are VERY PRELIMINARY impressions, and are nothing close to a final verdict.  But so far, I prefer the MA350 to these in terms of signature.  However, I must say that the decrease in microphonics is a welcome treat with the MA150!  Whatever they did here should be replicated in the MA350 and MA450i.

 

Full review to come at a later date of course.  In the meantime, I'm going to continue listening to these to see if they grow on me.  I'm also thinking that I should spend some time with them in order to reboot my ears.  After all, I have spent the past week with a pair of UE700.  And going from dual BAs to a pair of dynamics is quite a jump.  Stay tuned for my authoritative verdict.

post #10 of 22

Well, that's slightly disappointing. I can see the logic behind that move, though. For all its virtues, the MA-350 isn't tuned quite the way typical consumer class products are (IMO a good thing). I'm continually surprised at how tame the balance of the bass is (despite its obvious ability to step forward when needed). Reading through the Amazon comments on the latter, there were quite a few basically saying they didn't think there was enough bass. I'm reading the MA-150 as a response to those concerns, bringing the signature more in line with consumer expectations in that price range.

 

I wonder how similar the MA-150 is to the lower end MEElec products (M6, M9, etc). That seems to be the obvious competition here, at least in the "actually-decent-gear-at-ultra-low-budget" space.

post #11 of 22

Very environmental box indeed...

post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jayp266 View Post

I loved the MA450i's but couldn't get along with them due to the fact that i like to wear them hanging down rather than over the ear. Result - serious microphonics issue!!! I am all for losing the braided cable but a plastic housing? Hmmmm........

 

Hmm, I wonder if it would be feasible to swap the cables between the MA150 and the MA450i.  I'm not currently using an iDevice anyway, so the remote doesn't matter too for me atm.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Argyris View Post

I wonder how similar the MA-150 is to the lower end MEElec products (M6, M9, etc). That seems to be the obvious competition here, at least in the "actually-decent-gear-at-ultra-low-budget" space.

 

Hmm, good question.  I've been too busy to even break my M6 out of it's box lately.

 

Listening to the MA150 in isolation this morning (i.e. not A/B-ing with the MA350), it's actually not bad at all.  If I had to point out one flaw in the signature, it would simply be that there is excessive low frequency response.  But since that perception is a natural by-product of moving to the MA150 from the aforementioned UE700, this is to be expected.  So for now, definitely take the initial impressions above with a few grains of salt here and there.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by djvkool View Post

Very environmental box indeed...

 

Yeah, if there was an award for being environmentally friendly in packaging, I'd nominate the MA150 for sure!

post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 

UPDATE!

 

Okay, I've had an opportunity to spend a little more time with these in the past couple weeks, and here's what I've learned:

 

OMG, these output an unholy amount of bass... especially sub-bass!

 

And I say that having heard some bass-heavy IEMs in my sordid past (Skullcandy, Monster, etc.).  The LF floor on these is pretty darn addictive.  And in addition, the mid-bass goes through the roof.  It's warm and wooly in the lows to be sure, no doubt about that.  But that also contributes to a hot, gooey, even liquid bass response that washes over you like hot wax.  ABing these against both my XB300 and XB500, these win hands down.  It's not even close.

 

So, to summarize, if someone were to ask me to recommend a basshead IEM for them, these would definitely be the one.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to dig some Thievery Corp.

post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by warrenpchi View Post

 

OMG, these output an unholy amount of bass... especially sub-bass!

 

 hot, gooey, even liquid bass response that washes over you like hot wax. 

 

This is everything you need to know about these. Jesus christ, they really thwomp and boom. Only £15 too, I think these might replace the philips she3580 as my favourite phones (yes I'm a basshead) - they have far more lowend. They're really isolating too, I'm beginning to think the seal is almost too good and that's the reason for them sounding so insane. 

 

I love these, but seriously, these are strictly for bassheads only.

post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 

^^^ Agreed.  After having spent even more time with them, I cannot believe how just how bassy these are.  It's quite impressive, what they've done with these.

 

For anyone out there who considers themselves a basshead, you owe it to yourself to have this in your collection.  If you can handle the bass, you're a true basshead.  If you can't, well then you just learned something interesting about yourself didn't you?

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