RHA MA-750i Review
Thanks to RHA for the sample.
First Impressions: The box, well it’s rather nice with its magnetic flap on the front. Inside though when you actually get to the IEM's is where you begin to get impressed. The 750 positively screams fancy and premium at you once you behold them. Everything is metal; my god even the credit card shaped tip holder is metal! The jack, on them is metal and extending out from it is a coiled spring to, I presume, prevent the end of the jack becoming a point of the cable being set to a sharp right angle and pulled. It’s not something I’ve seen before outside a more normal rubber cable strain relief. The mic is all metal too, makes it rather weighty, that weight doesn’t matter as you have to wear these over your ears. Attached to the metal buds are a rubbery ear guide so you don’t get a choice in the matter. That’s fine with me as I wear everything up anyway. The cable too feels super premium to the touch.
Acoustically, these are rather detailed sounding. What hits me most prominently is the treble, gosh there is plenty of it and it’s rather sprightly and enthusiastic. Oooh this could be a one for the treble junkies out there. Slapping of a little Strauss though and these seem much more calmly behaved. Still they strike me as lightning fast for a big old dynamic, super duper fast. I wonder what a little burn in shall do for them; see if it relaxes that treble a touch.
Source: Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., FiiO E7/E9 combo, HiFiMAN HM-601, Galaxy Nexus.
Lows: This is real departure for RHA, the 750 sound very, very different from their other IEM’s and this is most noticeable in the lows. They have shifted from a quantity priority to one of quality. It’s like a breath of fresh air too. These are not what I’d say light on the bass but compared with what you may expect it is. The depth is rather excellent and it does seem to like to rise in power as it descends in frequency. It really holds on there with a fair amount of tenacity. Otherwise the bass seems very linear and ordered. It’s very polite too, it’s neither a bastion of power and punch no overly soft and inflated. Very, very in the middle stylistically. It’s fairly good at doing either if you ask it to but it remains polite about it. Even in tracks that are rather aggressive the bass here takes on a very accurate rendition but always feels like its soul just isn’t in it the way other RHA IEM’s do. It’s very technically proficient and accurate.
Quantity wise its just about spot on what it should be. Big when you want big, small when you want small. Its all so very unflavoured. Very talented for a big dynamic and the extension is first rate.
Mids: What is most noticeable here is the tonality and timbre of the mids is excellent. Things such as strings and woodwinds are utterly outstanding. Every tiny little inflection is in there and I don’t know if it’s due to their Steel and utterly non resonant enclosures that’s at work here, but it’s awesome. If you slap on some high quality, very high quality tracks the clean crispness to a guitar being plucked is faultless. Acoustic instruments are truly where the 750 shines bright. It’s timbrally bang on and the detail levels are sufficient to be very convincing. RHA isn’t a company whose products I’d normally think of as being so well suited to acoustic and symphonic listening but the 750 really is. This is going for true audiophile timbrel perfection. Vocals too are superb, they are full of breathy detail and sound so very natural. Again its tone and timbre is just outstanding.
Quantity wise they are really rather balanced. With the foam tips anyway. Perhaps are a tiny fraction behind the lows and highs but nothing to really worry about. None of the huge V shaped signature from other RHA IEM’s.
Highs: I’m really in two minds here. My initial impressions were that the 750 is fantastically energetic up top and it is, if you don’t use the foam tips. With the silicon tips I found it so wildly energetic up top. Oh god it was so enthusiastic up there it was blinding me with its brightness. The foam tips though, I don’t know if by design or happy coincidence but where they otherwise peek the foam tips neutralise it. It’s well known that foam based tips often tame the highs and enhance the lows. In my opinion they pair up stunningly well with the 750 (note, these seem to only come with the 750 too.) With the foam tips in place, the highs became much more balanced and linear. The quantity is much more tolerable if still a bit more than is customary my personal preference. The quality is as with the mids, utterly excellent. Once more the same timbrel and tonal flair comes to the fore and just shines. Its just excellent. Cymbals crash and impact with an absolutely spot on degree of edge and metallic sharpness. The roll off and decay is superbly natural and the extension displayed while its doing all this has the height and flair that only a great dynamic driver can muster.
The negative though is I found with the silicon tips, with a bright source, with badly mastered or bad bit rates the 750’s are not inclined to take prisoners. These are not subtle when it comes to the highs and while detail levels are very good they are not delicate shimmering masters like the RE-272. They are clear, clean, crisp but when fed carp will descend towards the brutally harsh rather than soft and fuzzy.
Soundstage: Being a dynamic it’s pretty good. The scale is good and it projects a grand sense of power availability. Acoustically its very well integrated and coherent rather than offering much in way of clear instrument placement. Things are more about distance than actually placing it anywhere in particular.
Fit: Fine for me, still they have built in ear guides so you don’t get the option not to use them. Not something I’m a fan of. Also the buds are rather sizeable so that could be an issue for some. Still for me they were absolutely fine. There was a little driver flex with the silicon tips I noticed, didn’t get with the foams.
Comfort: Good, they are really heavy but since you wear over the ears the weight is meaningless. If you pair it badly or have tip issues I could see it being uncomfortably bright. For me no problems though.
Cable: First impressions of the cable are WOW! The thing visually is super premium, it’s huge and its texture in your hand is amazing. However I found in use its weight and rubberyness dragged on my clothes and annoyed me. Otherwise though the thing looks amazing the jack is just unbelievable, just unbelievable. Have you ever seen a jack like it?!?! The Y splitter and the mic too are just as insanely outstanding.
Build: The buds are machined stainless steel. Only time can really tell how things will stand up to use but these look and feel like they will outlive you! Oh and they come with a 3 year warranty so your guaranteed they will at the very least get you 3 years of use. I wouldn’t expect RHA will have to replace many of these.
Microphonics: Not the best but not enough to be bothersome. These do have a chin slider but if you wanted to use the mic would get in the way. Obviously that’s only an issue for the mic’d version.
Phone Use: Sadly the focus in Iphone type devices and the inclusion of a volume control means that my Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 did not work. Well, they were fine for listening but neither the volume control worked no more importantly did the mic. Sad face. Of course there is always the non-mic’d version available for a slightly cheaper.
Amped/Unamped: Actually these didn’t seem to mind much. They didn’t need lots of power to be good but as I mentioned before, these don’t appreciate being fed rubbish. I can see the warmer and softer sound of an Iphone pairing up nicely with these (they are mic’d after all so I’d assume that’s not a coincidence.) My Galaxy Nexus drove them well enough too. Adding impedance took a bit of the edge off the highs so that might be a good idea if your source is a bit edgy. In general amping tightened up the bass and refined the highs as it rather frequently does. Its worth doing if you’ve got but not sure it would be worth running out and buying an amp for them. Still, adding impedance and amping did give them a rather nice boost especially in hardening up the bass.
Isolation: For a dynamic it’s at the rather better end of the scale. These I found to be fine to use on a bus and for normal day to day travels. They are fairly closed. Not Tub commuting levels of isolation but more than enough to make you road kill if you aren’t looking where you’re going.
Accessories: 10 pairs of tips, two of which are these foam tips I mentioned before. They all come in a steel tip holder which looks quite wonderful. Not that I think any will ever use it once they have selected the tip that works best for them. You also get a “premium” carry case. Personally I don’t really like it, it’s like those big Bose ones and is in my opinion oversized.
Value: These are sitting at £90, the non mic’d version is about the £80 mark. These on seeing I’d assumed would have been way more than that and listening to them only confirmed that thought. While I’d argue these may not be the finest audio quality your money can get you, their wonderfully accurate timbre and the construction sway things hugely in their favour. Oh and massive warranty period of 3 years.
Conclusion: I’ve spend a fair amount of time with the MA-750i and im still a bit unsure as to what to make of them. As my grandparents might have said, it’s a bit of a queer duck. Its not really like any of the other RHA IEM’s I’ve heard. Actually it’s not like anything that springs to mind. Its cost directs me towards the RE-400 and at push the GR07 and given I just compared these two to thu DN-1000 logic would insist it too. There is the rub, these are nothing like the DN-1000 in any way (well they are both metal and shiney) and these are not actually anything like the 400 or 7 either.
Head to head with the 7 these have a more pronounced bass response that’s thicker and heavier. Vocals too feel more enclosed and less nuanced but given time the tonality shines through and feels so natural. Highs, the 7 sounds so airy but gritty and the 750 with foam tips comparatively dark yet with a striking treble flair that scintillates and dances. Without the foam tips rather too much if you ask me.
Comparing to the 400 the lows on the 750 seem so vastly scaled up and more powerful. The mids, well the 400 has rather amazing mids and the 750 seems dulled in comparison. The highs, the 400 suffers the same problem and the 7 in that it’s not as refined as I’d like. Then of course it’s less eager than that of the 750.
When I head to head the 750 doesn’t come of besting them but when put together it has something. That je ne sais quoi that puts everything together very nicely. It all comes together and it works. The tonality and the fabulously metallic twang up top, the edge and timbre of plucked strings too are just superb. I really think it’s that steel enclosure at work there. Then of course that build quality. I can’t help feeling these should cost much more than they do. The build on these is just insane, just look at the jack on them.
So, physically these are amazing. Acoustically, their timbre is outstanding and their acoustic balance very interesting. The detail levels are very nice too with the highs being particularly talented. This is a really impressive stab at a much more audiophile acoustic balance from RHA that manages, despite the spectacular build quality, come in at a price that undercuts its prime competition, that of the GR07. I’m really not sure how they have accomplished it, for it to be built like it as, sound as good and be this cheap.