I'm still waiting on mine. I'll post some initial impressions here right away when they come in.
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2013 Head-Fi Winter Gift Guide (In-Ear Headphones)
Last edited: 12/4/13
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New RHA IEMs: The MA750i and MA600i - Page 2
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Just arrived! Happy happy joy joy!
I've got to get ready to step out for the evening, so I'll probably post some impressions tomorrow morning.
I don't want to get into it here, but the build quality and materials are outstanding. There's a lot to go over there, so I'll leave it for the full review.
Yup! I took a little longer because I spent some extra time in photography. I'm probably going to be covering at least one of these for CYMBACAVUM, and they can be rather anal about presenting better photography for their readers.
MA600i Initial Impressions
NOTE: all of the following impressions were taken via a variety of lossy and lossless files representing a wide variety of genres, gathered via either an Astell & Kern AK120, or a Mytek Stereo 192 feeding a Woo Audio WA7.
Okay, there's no way to get around this so I'll just say it... these are Bassy (note the capitalized "B"). I'm hearing some very respectable sub-bass output, but it's clear that the MA600i's mid-bass response is the real star of this show. OMG, these things have quite a bit of impact, and accompanying boom. Kick drums hit with authority. Bass drums slam with full force and take no prisoners. And yes, as one would expect, the bass bleeds into the lower mids unabated.
Having said that, the mids are neither recessed nor distant. They are simply overwhelmed on occasion, depending on what I happen to be listening to. One curious thing here is that the mids remain surprisingly undistorted given the amount of LF response these things are throwing out. Unlike the MA350 and MA450i before it, the mids and upper mids are silky, smooth and without any distracting grainyness. I'm actually having a hard time wrapping my head around how this is possible with a single synamic driver. Upper mids are detailed and coherent without being harsh or strident, which was a commonly held complaint about the previous models.
The highs roll-off very smoothly. There is no sharp precipice for them to drop off of like little sonic lemmings. So while I would not say these are open and airy, they are a far cry from being stifling.
Detail, once you get past the abundance of bass, is quite admirable. Subtle nuances easily rise up out of the fray without too much effort. The soundstage is quite intimate - along all axes - leading to a sense of being closed-in. This probably won't matter much to fans of electronic/pop genres, but it is worth noting.
Overall, the signature leans warm and is very bassy in the low end and lower mids... transitioning into a unexpectedly smooth and refined mid-range and upper-mid-range. Highs are largely without fault, though lacking in the sparkly airyness that trebleheads favor.
If you're straddling that line between basshead and traditional audiophilia, this should be near the top of your audition list.
Now to spend an hour or two with the MA750i...
Hi guys, I'm still putting the MA750i through it's paces right now - which is to say that I'm enjoying it too much to do anything else right now. Quick note though, Team Awesome's remix of The Crystal Method's Play For Real has never sounded better. So if you know that track, and that's the kind of thing you listen to, let this be your cue to go ahead and get it. I'll be back with more soon.
RHA advertises the 600 as having "accurate" sound reproduction. I read this as having SQ closer to a dynamic driver tuned to sound closer to a BA. RHA evidently has a different definition of "accurate" if these in fact are for bassheads.
While their low-end can carry quite a wallop, I've found the LF output to be fairly source-dependent. Some tracks come out as bass-shy representations of themselves, while others punch you in the face.
They straddle the line. I think that bassheads (and closet bassheads) will have a pretty good time with the MA600i, but wouldn't find it the pinnacle of OMG DAT BASS anytime soon. I'll be revisiting the MA600i later on after burn-in.
I would roughly concur with that review, as it's scant enough in the sound quality portion as to be fairly general. Though I would like to add that I seem to be a bit more sensitive to bass than that reviewer.
Before I begin this next set of impressions, I just want to mention something about RHA as a company. For as long as I have known them, they are one of the few manufacturers that take feedback directly from the community and ACT on it. I'm not going to go so far as to say they build specialty products especially for us like CEntrance does, but I know that our opinions are not going to waste with them.
With their previous models (MA150, MA350, MA450i), RHA has a proven track record of making running line changes based on user feedback. In each case, this resulted in incrementally better sonic performance.
I mention all of this because I have been aware of the MA600i and MA750i for quite some time. And it was my hope that - with these latest units - all of the feedback they've received over the course of the past year and a half would be put to very good use... especially in the case of the MA750i.
So here's the moment of truth then. Is the MA750i an embodiment of all that positive feedback and constructive criticism? If it isn't, back to the drawing board then. But if it is, then I'm going to enjoy it. A lot.
Let's find out shall we?
MA750i Initial Impressions
Following in the tradition of their previous units, the MA750i offers a slightly-elevated, but satisfying low-frequency response as part of it's presentation. That is, after all, a component of their house sound. However, the MA750i does depart from that tradition in a very important way: speed.
A quick run through Trentemøller's Remix of Röyksopp's What Else Is There? told me most of what I needed to know. The MA750i articulated the forward/reverse bass drums distinctly, definitively and without confusion. Turning over to Sarah Jarosz's cover of Bob Dylan's Ring Them Bells, I was rewarded with tight and visceral plucks from a double bass that never once droned nor overstayed it's welcome.
The MA750i's bass response is like a prize fighter's punch then. It hits hard, it hits fast, it hits with precision, and you'd be a fool to think you can get away from it. All of these qualities have allowed me to thoroughly enjoy Porter Robinson's Language and Madeon's Icarus, in ways I should not discuss here.
Yet I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the MA750i's sense of gentlemanly discretion as well. It also knows when NOT to hit below the belt. That's right folks! This is one of those units that can bring da bass when a track calls for it AS WELL AS keep it in reserve when a track does not. This was certainly the case with Andras Schiff's rendition of Bach's English Suite No. 3, where there was no hint of boom or bloat to be found.
And so I am thrilled to report that the MA750i's LF response comes closer to fidelity than ever before. In and of itself, this is an incredibly heartening and gratifying finding. It is also a very promising herald of things to come. My hat is off to RHA here, both for what they have done, and for what they have not done with the MA750i's bass charateristics.
Moving on to the mid-range, we discover that Lewis Heath and the rest of the team at RHA have truly taken our collective impressions to heart. In short, the mids are breatakingly enjoyable in their smooth and cohesive presentation. There is detail - presented with both clarity and separation - and an admirable lack of distortion, grain and harshness.
The delight begins in the lower mids, which does not suffer from bass bleed at all. With the Jackson 5's Can You Feel It, we can hear the brothers Jackson vocally stepping forward and back amongst each other while easily retaining their individual character, dancing amidst dat funky guitar and soulful organ. Female vocals are no exception to this buttery smoothness, as is the case with China Forbes's vocal stylings in Pink Martini's The Gardens of Sampson & Beasley.
This love affair grows ever stronger as we seamlessly slide into the upper mids. Upper vocal harmonics carry a materialized weight about them, above and beyond the mere gossamer detail that we seem sense more than hear at times. The effect of Imogen Heap's layered harmonies from Frou Frou's Hear Me Out are nothing short of intoxicating, not unlike swimming in the inebriated breath of a seductive vixen.
String and percussion harmonics are no exception to this as they blend into the soundscape effortlessly. Listening to Superhumanoids's So Strange, I get enough detail as to be consciously aware that I'm listening to a drum machine, but I just don't care. The upper mid-range presentation is just rich enough as to make it enjoyable nonetheless.
And the best part of MA750i's mid-range presentation is a lack of strident harshness or sibilance in the upper boundaries. In all but my most aggressive test tracks, I was largely unable to induce winces of pain due to sibilance, which I happen to be sensitive to. I think that, had they pulled it back any more, I'd probably lose some of the brightness that I'm enjoying right now - and that would have been a bad thing.
While the highs are not groundbreaking in any way, they are noteworthy in their own way. They roll-off gradually in an infinitely smooth taper, like a ghost returning to the ether. The result is just hint of sparkle and shimmer. Nothing distracting, certainly nothing exaggerated, just a nice and clean departure, sans that sudden drop-off that I find irritating to no end. Nicely done.
So what we have here is a weighty low-end that packs a potent but tight punch, Goldilocks mids that are neither too forward nor recessed, and graceful highs with good manners.
With respect to detail retrieval, I'd hate to get all cliche on you BUT I'M GONNA. With at least one track (it was Pet Shop Boys's Liberation), I did hear a percussive element that I had never heard before. This is rather shocking to me given how many times I've listened to this track and NOT heard that. Yes, I listen to the Pet Shop Boys. A lot. What? I'm Asian American, it's required of me.
The MA750i's sound stage is - for lack of a better word - clairvoyant. Tracks that should exhibit a holographic depth do just that. But tracks that should snuggle up to you intimately do that as well. The Trash Can Sinatras's Country Air takes on an almost ethereal or other-worldly quality. The song is set amidst the Scottish Highlands, which the MA750i's expansive staging somehow manages to convey. And George Michael's Kissing A Fool is throughly reminiscent of an empty lounge in a vacant wing of an abandoned space station (where's your proof it WASN'T recorded in one?). Meanwhile, the vocals of Bebel Gilberto and Nina Miranda seem to nip at your earlobes, beckoning you to join them in a faraway rainforest.
So the MA750i's staging is somewhat like Pepto Bismol then - always able to address a wildly varying (and sometimes contradictory) set of conditions in just the right way. How does it know what to do?!?! Who knows? It's witchcraft!
I want to go into further detail, but shant. These are meant to be initial impressions after all, so #aintnobodygottimeforthat with regards to my incessant babble. We've gotten the basics out of the way for now.
In more ways than one, this is what I had wanted my UE900 to sound like. I can still remember reading the various UE900 impressions and reviews while waiting for my pair to arrive. Let's just say that my experience with it - while still positive - didn't meet with my expectations. Had it sounded like the MA750i, I think I would have had a greater sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.
I'll admit it, I'm having a hard time putting these down. Even though I know they're supposed to go into a 120-hour burn-in cycle right now, I'm just enjoying them too damn much. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go back and rediscover much of my music collection.
And coming soon to a screen near you, a full review of these over at CYMBACAVUM.
A note to my friends at RHA: If you ever decide to make a commercial or video that sums up the sound quality of the MA750i nicely, go license Team Awesome's remix of The Crystal Method's Play For Real. When you hear that played through the MA750i, you'll understand why I say so.
* Again, all of the following impressions were taken via a variety of lossy and lossless files representing a wide variety of genres, gathered via either an Astell & Kern AK120, or a Mytek Stereo 192 feeding a Woo Audio WA7. And just in case I wasn't clear about this before, I received both of these two evaluation units above directly from RHA.
- New RHA IEMs: The MA750i and MA600i
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