Roland RH-300 impressions
Nov 3, 2009 at 11:12 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 57


Headphoneus Supremus
Jan 3, 2007
I went to Long and McQuade today - a pretty large audio store here in Toronto - and came across these Roland cans. They sell these for about $185 CAD I believe and after giving them a brief audition, I came to the conclusion that depending on the application and listener's preferences this may well be the best closed can for $200 and less.

To begin with, these cans look a lot like Audio Techinca ATH-M50. In fact, the cable plug is identical and the cable and earpads are seemingly made of exactly the same material. The housing itself is also very similar, maybe even identical in shape and size. RH-300 uses a different headband though - very similar to that of Sony MDR-V6/75** series and, of course, different logo and colors as well.

Naturally, since these look so much like the M50, I just had to compare the two to see if they may indeed sound similar as well. Luckily, the store also stocks ATH-M50s and I was able to do a brief comparison. After listening to both, I concluded that they appear to use the same drivers, but do not sound alike. The sound character is very similar, but there are also some obvious differences. The most obvious difference in sound between the two, in my opinion, is in the treble. Whereas M50 has a somewhat elevated upper range which can lead to a somewhat harsh and fatiguing sound with certain amps and sources, RH-300's treble is almost perfectly in line with the mids and the bass and should never sound harsh unless these are used with very bright and/or very poor quality sources. The next most significant difference appears to lie in the bass. Once again, the M50 bass is elevated compared to RH-300 and can sound a bit boomy and uncontrolled on songs and sources, where RH-300 sounds quite tight and punchy. Other differences include the midrange which seems to be flatter, fuller and more natural on the RH-300, whereas M50 can sound a bit hollow and lifeless in the mids with some recession in the low and upper midrange. Also, RH-300 seems to be quite a bit easier to drive than M50 (sorry, I haven't compared it's impedance and sensitivity rating to that of M50) while M50 doesn't sound so good without an amp. For example, straight out of my Sony walkman (NWZ-A816), RH-300 sounds significantly more controlled and richer than M50 and seems to get louder. Finally, detail retrieval seems to be better on the RH-300, but I suspect that the details are just more obvious than on M50, because the Roland is more balanced sounding.

The similarities in sound between the two are also numerous - both are very dynamic and have excellent separation. Both have very deep bass and very well extended treble. Both have very good imaging and soundstage size for closed cans that rivals imaging abilities of many quality open headphones. However, both also have a somewhat closed in and clinical sounding treble, but that's just IMO as everyone hears differently. Don't get me wrong though - treble is very good on these cans, especially on the RH-300, but it just sounds a bit unnatural to my ears compared to good open headphones for example. I guess am just nitpicking here though.

So in conclusion, I believe that RH-300 is worth the extra money over M50 if balanced sound is your priority. RH-300 takes all of the strengths of M50 and eliminates most of its weaknesses. In fact, I have yet to hear a closed dynamic driver headphone in this price range that is a better all arounder than the RH-300. Shure SRH840 is pretty close, but compared to RH-300 it sounds a bit too dark and mellow and certainly needs an amp, whereas RH-300 will sound great even out of weak portables and built-in soundcards.

Oh and regarding ergonomics, RH-300 is about as comfortable as M50 (which has good comfort for closed headphones) but it has somewhat smaller and shallower holes in the earpads than M50 and so may not be as comfortable for people with large ears. Isolation is not quite as good as on M50 either and similar to Sony MDR-V6 in this respect. Build quality however seems to be better on the Roland, especially in the headband. Roland just seems to have a sturdier design.

Ok, this is the end of my brief impressions on the Roland RH-300. I highly recommend giving these a try if you need a quality, but reasonably inexpensive closed headphone for all around use.
Nov 3, 2009 at 11:51 PM Post #3 of 57

Originally Posted by Acix /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Good impressions...just need to compare them to the GMP 8.35 with the newer pads, and we'll know what best close can are.

Well, what is best is very subjective. Roland RH-300 sounds very different from GMP 8.35 D, but it's a very balanced can as well, unlike the M50. When comparing M50 to the GMP, it is very obvious how unbalanced the M50 sounds in comparison, but in case of RH-300, things are not so simple. Some people may easily prefer the Roland because it offers both great bass punch and depth and great treble presence and extension along with nice mids in between, whereas GMP can sound a bit to dark with the stock pads, and I suspect, a bit too bass light with the newer pads. Also, Roland has better imaging and sounds more spacious and dynamic than GMP 8.35 D with the stock pads.
Nov 4, 2009 at 12:14 AM Post #4 of 57
The bass light is very subjective...but the punch not. the GMP with the newer pads are very balanced and natural with very revealing highs that expend well, and great sound stage too...

You sold the your GMP to buy the Sure, and now you find out that the Roland sounded better. The crazy hps world.
And yes, the experience it''s the most important.
Nov 5, 2009 at 3:24 AM Post #6 of 57
I am glad that my ears are still in good shape. These frequency response graphs below show exactly what I heard when listening to the RH-300 and ATH-M50:

audio-technica ATH-M50

ƒwƒbƒhƒzƒ“ Roland RH-300

As you can see, RH-300 looks far more balanced than ATH-M50.
Nov 5, 2009 at 4:54 AM Post #7 of 57
The RH-200 is quite a bit cheaper. I wonder how it compares....also the RH-D20, which I've read is a good headphone.
Nov 5, 2009 at 5:09 AM Post #8 of 57
Thanks, Pianist. This is a classic review and will serve as an invaluable resource on an as-yet relatively low-profile headphone. I think epithetless put his ATH-M50 pads on his RH-300, to what effect I am uncertain.
Nov 5, 2009 at 5:12 AM Post #9 of 57
What country are these headphones made in?
The local guitar store here has the Roland RH-A30 Open Air Monitor Headphones.
Spec wise sounds like the same driver but open air.
Nov 6, 2009 at 8:02 PM Post #10 of 57
Ok, so I couldn't resist the temptation and picked up a pair of these Roland cans myself to test them out more extensively. Out of the box, the sound was rather compressed and grainy, but the bass was quite tight. After about an hour or two of burn in, however, the sound improved noticeably - the bass tightened up, and everything cleared up and just became sharper and better defined. Currently, I have ~10 hours of burn in on these cans and they sound quite sweet, especially in the lower mids and bass. They have a very pleasant coloration in the treble region, but in the mids and bass, these are generally neutral, leaning a tad towards the warm side due to some elevation in the bass region.

I tested these using a 30 Hz to 17.5 kHz pure sine tone sweep just now and here are the results: There are some variations in the frequency response between the left and right driver in between about 5 kHz and 8 kHz, but some of that may also be due to me hearing differently in each ear. There is quite a significant roll off in the treble region around 7.5 kHz, and it is much more significant in the right driver - the left rolls off only slightly. In this case, it's certainly not my ears, since with my RE0 I get an even response with both ears in this part of the spectrum. Also, there is a bump in the treble around 11.5 kHz- 12.5 kHz and maybe a bit around 14 kHz as well but it's not bothersome - kinda similar to RE0 in this respect. Other than that, the frequency response of this headphone is quite even like I said, especially in the mids and low treble up until ~ 5kHz. The upper treble rolls off slowly and naturally, starting at around 14.5 kHz, but extends very far and is audible all the way to the upper limits of my hearing, which in my right ear, is ~17.5 kHz and in my left ear ~16.5 kHz.

Now, my biggest and probably the only significant complaint about this headphone as it sounds right now is that it sounds a tad too compressed for my liking - the dynamic range is certainly quite a bit narrower on the RH-300 than on my Shure SRH840 for example. Because of this, RH-300 sounds a bit constrained especially with complex music that has lots of dynamic range. I hope that this limitation will be reduced with further burn in.

BTW: The RH-300 has a very interesting soundstage presentation - the soundstage is very wide, but also very upfront, even more so than ATH-M50, which I already found to be quite upfront. This, combines with the tendency of this headphone to rock (emphasized treble and bass give the sound a very nice bite) plus good detail, clarity, and excellent texture in the bass and midrange can result in a level of involvement that I have never experienced before with a headphone. With certain recordings, I feel like being pulled right into the music - it's a very magical feeling.
Nov 6, 2009 at 9:00 PM Post #11 of 57
How do they perform with classical music?
Your description of the soundstage is (apart from the emphasized treble) very much what I hear with my Audio Technica M40fs. studio headphones.
Very wide and very upfront, but unfortunately with very little depth, for classical they are simply too flat.
Nov 7, 2009 at 12:32 AM Post #13 of 57
Interesting. I'm generally a fan of Roland's products and had been intrigued by the RH-300. Now, what would be interesting is a comparison between the 300s and my waiting-for-patiently SRH750DJs. I prefer the DJs sound sig to the 840s and since you mentioned your quick impression of the 840s, it would seem they - the Rolands - are closer to the DJs. Hmm... I wonder if I can resist picking up a pair of the 300s.
Nov 7, 2009 at 4:45 AM Post #14 of 57
Thanks, Pianist. Please let us know how they sound after another 100 or so hours too.
Nov 10, 2009 at 3:18 AM Post #15 of 57
Well, I am not sure what to make of this. I got a replacement pair of RH-300 a couple of days ago, becuase my previous one had a scratch on one of the earcups out of the box. Well, the replacement sounds quite different to my ears! Lack of dynamics is not a problem with this second pair at all - in fact the sound is almost as dynamic as that of my Shure SRH840, which have great dynamics. I also listened to the demo pair at the store again and that one did not have any problems with dynamic range either, so I suspect that my first pair might have being defective in some way.

I currently have about 10 hours on the second pair. I ran the sine tone sweep on it and while there is still that dip in frequency response around 7.5 kHz, the rest of the spectrum is nearly flat, unlike on the first pair! However, this pair has it's own problems. I find that it's not particularly detailed and is lacking a bit in clarity when compared directly to my Shure SRH840 and Hifiman RE0. Also, I am not sure what to make of the mids on the RH-300. On one hand, they are nearly flat and sounds quite natural, but on the other, vocals and some instruments seem to sound a bit suppressed at times, lacking some air. On the positive note, it sounds VERY balanced and I feel that it's definitely more neutral than my SRH840 and gets close to RE0 in neutrality. Also, the bass is excellent! It's deep, impactful, yet very balanced with no obvious emphasis anywhere in the bass region. I hope extra burn in will clear the sound up though.

BTW, the guy on this page seems to rate the Rolands very high, almost on par with Denon AH-D5000s. Not bad at all. Maybe they just need more juice and/or more burn in.

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