Stuff

MA450i:
Nice build, comfortable fit, an iPhone-friendly three-button remote and a very full-bodied delivery - and all for just £40.

MA450i:

Hailing from the not-all-that-sunny-climes of Glasgow, RHA has hit upon a winning formula here. Nice build, comfortable fit, an iPhone-friendly three-button remote and a very full-bodied delivery - and all for just £40. The bass can get just a smidge overbearing when pushed, but the RHAs still have the overall quality to push the E10s right to the wire.

5/5

Find out more about the MA450i.

Gadgeteer

MA450i:
If you need a mic and a remote, get the MA450i. If you don’t, then the MA350 is what you want. If you want a great commuting pair of earphones, the decision couldn’t be any simpler.

MA450i:

Recently, when I reviewed RHA’s MA350 earphones, I concluded that they were a perfect second pair of earphones that were great for commuting. I considered their $40 price a bargain. However, one major (for some) drawback was a lack of a mic for making and receiving phone calls – especially for any commuting. RHA has an answer for that with the RHA MA450i earphone with remote and microphone.

You might think that there would be an audible difference between the RHA MA350 and the MA450i. After all, the MA450i is 100 more something than the 350, right? If you think that, you would be wrong. There is no difference in construction or sound between the MA350 and MA450i. If you don’t need a mic, you can stop right here. I’m not going to bother with a review of the audio quality of the MA450i, because I would just be repeating myself. You can go here to read my complete review of the sonically-identical MA350.

But I will talk about the included remote mic. Boy, did RHA get this one right.

Many earphones I have reviewed include a mic option. Most of them work just fine, but I always ask the person I am talking with if they can tell whether it’s me using the mic or my iPhone directly. I always get the same answer in varying degrees: From “Yes I can tell, but it’s not too bad” all the way to “Yes, I can tell and you sound like you’re in a tunnel.” I get this responses no matter how expensive or cheap the earphones are.

Until now, that is. Everyone I talked with could not tell that I wasn’t speaking into my iPhone, but instead was using a mic. Not one. I don’t know what RHA did or how they did it, but it works. This is one of those things you take for granted until you experience a lesser mic. The tapered remote works well with the usual Pause, Forward and Skip functions, but it’s hard to get excited about that. The middle pause button is easy to feel, but the + and – buttons can easily be confused.

The MA450i’s construction is another match to the MA350. The same aluminum shell with its aerophonic-designed shape plus their fabric-covered cables. You do get a much more varied choice of tips, however. Both the MA450i as well as the MA350 come with a 3-year no-hassle guarantee.

It all comes down to this: If you need a mic and a remote, get the MA450i. If you don’t, then the MA350 is what you want. If you want a great commuting pair of earphones, the decision couldn’t be any simpler.

Read the full article at Gadgeteer

Find out more about the MA450i.

New York Times

MA450i:
What really sets them apart from others in their price range is the sound quality. Testing the MA450i earphones, the high and low frequencies were nicely balanced without sounding flabby. There was plenty of dimension and detail, making it sound as though instruments were in distinct positions around the listener, and it was easy to pick out specific sounds like fingers plucking a guitar string.

MA450i:

They don’t carry a musician’s name, they don’t come in a dozen sparkly colors, and you won’t find them in many stores, so it’s easy to overlook RHA earphones — which is a pity.

These relatively inexpensive earphones offer an awful lot for the money — the money being $40 to $50.

Developed in sunny Glasgow by a division of Reid Heath Acoustics, the in-ear earphones come in two models only, the $40 MA350 and the $50 MA450i, which is available in either black or white. The “I” denotes it’s made for use with the iPhone and has a microphone built in.

Quality for the price is fantastic. The earpieces are made of aluminum, have fabric-covered cables that transfer much less noise than most, and come with seven sets of dual-density silicon ear tips.

A sure tipoff that these are well built is that they come with a three-year guarantee.

What really sets them apart from others in their price range is the sound quality. Testing the MA450i earphones, the high and low frequencies were nicely balanced without sounding flabby. There was plenty of dimension and detail, making it sound as though instruments were in distinct positions around the listener, and it was easy to pick out specific sounds like fingers plucking a guitar string.

While pleasingly lively, they do not have the kind of exaggerated sound that can be tiring over time. These are easy to use for hours at a clip. But they are not the best choice if you treasure hammering bass and screeching guitars.

The other pair in the line is the MA350, which lacks a microphone but is suitable for any device with a 3.5-millimeter phone jack. They should sound nearly identical to the 450s.

The 450s are available through Apple online and in stores, and the 350s through Amazon.

Read the full article at New York Times

Find out more about the MA450i.

MA450i:
The MA450s' sound immediately makes a strong impression. It's big, highly detailed, and the bass goes a lot deeper than most competing models

MA450i:
I haven't covered too many inexpensive earphones in this blog, mostly because I prioritize sound quality, and precious few under-$50 models cut it. The RHA MA450 really stands out in this crowded market, not just because it actually sounds pretty decent; the look and feel are outstanding and RHA sells the MA450 with a three-year warranty. Reid and Heath Acoustics products are designed at its research and development center in Glasgow, Scotland.

Build quality and features are exceptional for a $50 pair of in-ear headphones; the MA450 has machined aluminum earpieces, 10mm drivers, seven pairs of silicone eartips, an Apple-compatible mic and remote, fabric-covered wire, a small, black soft carry case, and a three-year warranty! Few headphones, including most high-end ones, come with three-year warranties, and RHA might be the only company providing that level of protection for affordable headphones (if you know of any others, please share that information in the Comments section). Warranty claims will be made through RHA's U.S. warehouse in Michigan. Following inspection, RHA will repair or replace the earphones, and proof of purchase or a sales invoice will be required.

The MA450s' sound immediately makes a strong impression. It's big, highly detailed, and the bass goes a lot deeper than most competing models. The sound is actually too bright, so if you listen to a steady diet of acoustic jazz or classical music, the MA450s probably won't make you happy. Subtlety isn't a strong suit, but rock, pop, and hip-hop fans will like what they hear.

I compared the MA450 with the Klipsch Image S3 in-ear headphones ($49.99). The red plastic S3s look and feel a little cheap next to the MA450s, and the S3s have a softer, more laid-back tonal balance. The treble is sweeter and less brilliant than the MA450s'. Listening on the street and NYC subway, the MA450s' brighter sound and punchier bass cut through the background noise better. Noise isolation capabilities are about the same from both earphones, but at home and in quiet surroundings, I preferred the S3s' more accurate, less hyped sound. There, the MA450s sounded too bright and overly detailed, and with older analog recordings the MA450 emphasized tape hiss. There's a lot of bass, but it can be a bit loose and fat for my tastes. Then again, if you crave bass impact, you'll love the MA450s' low-end. To finish up I compared the MA450s with the Velodyne vPulse in-ears ($89). The vPulses are sweeter and their bass output is just as potent as the MA450s', but the vPulses have much better definition, so it's easier to distinguish between bass guitar and bass drums. If you can afford the difference, the vPulses are superior-sounding headphones, but I still really like the MA450s; they're a lot of fun.

The RHA MA450s are available on Amazon for $49.95.

Read the full article at www.news.cnet.com

Find out more about the MA450i.

S&V

MA450i: 
Sound quality is pretty impressive. Bass is tight and unexaggerated; midrange is what headphone aficionados would likely call "recessed," but it's refreshingly uncolored for an in-ear in this price range.

MA450i:

Scottish headphone manufacturer RHA hasn't had much of a stateside presence, but this week marks their arrival in Apple stores, with the MA450i in-ear ($49.95) and SA950i on-ear ($59.95) set to appeal to budget-minded consumers looking to accessorize their iDevices. And appeal they may.

The in-ear MA450i, available in (of course) black and white, is very comfortable; the aluminum housings are quite tiny, and reassuringly solid in construction to boot, with beefy strain relief conveniently marked with L and R channel indicators. I'd have liked to see a right-angle plug in place of the straight one used here, and the fabric-wrapped cables seem overly prone to tangles.

But any way you look at it, for 50 bucks, with 7 pairs of ear tips included and an iOS-compatible mic/remote pod, the MA450i is really a fine deal — the question at this price point is always whether or not you're actually getting a significant improvement over the freebie earbuds (EarPods, nowadays) that shipped with your iDevice, and in this case you certainly are.

Sound quality is pretty impressive. Bass is tight and unexaggerated; midrange is what headphone aficionados would likely call "recessed," but it's refreshingly uncolored for an in-ear in this price range. The top end is a tad strident for my taste, but those looking for an affordable in-ear that offers a good amount of detail without sounding thin will want to investigate.

The little RHA offered solid performance on a wide range of tracks. The stereo effects on Peter Hammill's "The Institute of Mental Health, Burning" (from Nadir's Big Chance), with its mix of heavy guitars, processing, voices, and winds, was presented quite well here, the upper-register percussive guitar and electronics perhaps a bit forward, but a big step up from an earbud. The tone of the fretless bass on Bohannon's "Run it On Down, Mr. DJ" (from Stop & Go) was clear, and though the female vocals and snare had a bit too much of an edge, everything else sounded very nice; the organ and wah-wah-guitars sitting in the mix as they should.

Still, for the money RHA have done a solid job with these two phones, particularly so with the MA450i. You could do worse than give 'em a listen if you're in the accessory market after picking up your iPhone 5.

 Read the full article at Sound & Vision Mag

Find out more about the MA450i.

iSource

MA450i:
The sound from the all-aluminum MA450i is downright phenomenal. Bass thumping in my ear, clear highs and mid-ranges, all without full volume.

MA450i:
Let me begin by saying that there is at least one Apple product I cannot stand. Despite their initial cool look, the original stock earphones were a literal pain in my ear. Even adding the mic and remote on the cord of the second generation couldn’t convince me to use them for any length of time, so they are a back-up pair for those times I need earbuds – say while traveling (or having your earbuds yanked from your ear by a lawn mower… don’t ask). While I don’t have the newest version of Apple’s Earpods, the first and second generation of earphones didn’t give me much confidence in trying them out.

Depending on your needs, the best earphones/earbuds I’ve recently been using had the ability to sequester external noise so the sounds from the ear-embedded micro-speakers are more effective. Britain’s RHA entrance into this field are exceptional with their strangely-named MA450i.

The MA450i, so named for “Micro Aural” 450i (for Apple’s iDevices), is the next in line for RHA, and upgrades their MA350 version, a well-liked item at Amazon.com. Since the MA450i is for idevices, it places a familiar, yet an ergonomically curved, mic/remote on the right-eared cord.

By comparison to most other earphones, the sound from the all-aluminum MA450i is downright phenomenal. Bass thumping in my ear, clear highs and mid-ranges, all without full volume. Oh yes, these quickly have become my default earphones – for running and exercising, for podcasts, and even for drifting to sleep – because of the diminutive size and comfort in my ears. I suppose that was my biggest gripe of Apple’s earphones: they were just too honking big for my ear canal. On the other hand, I can wear the MA450i earphones for hours without adjustment or major discomfort.

Besides the earphones themselves, RHA sends many different size silicon tips (for noise isolating in different size ear canals) and even a superfluous velvet bag. RHA clearly is sending a strong belief in their product as well since they advertise a 3-year parts and labor warranty.

The MA450i’s come with a harder-than-usual-to-tangle fabric covered 1.5 meter cord. Now, I’m 6’3″, and 1.5 meters is over 4 feet of cord! That means I can put an iPhone below my knee before the cord length is used up. Most of the time when I need earphones, the furthest away my device is in my pocket, so there is a lot of cord left to drape, dangle, and get in the way. When I move my iPhone to an armband while running, I have to put over 3 feet of cord in my shirt to keep it from flopping around.

While the microphone is acceptable for both indoor and outdoor use, the curved remote buttons don’t always function so well with my iPhone, iPad, and iTunes on my MacBook Pro. Fidgeting with the remote while running and exercising is a distraction I’d rather not have.

Compared to $29 for Apple’s version of earphones/earpods, these high quality earphones earn high marks for their relatively inexpensive $50 price tag. Heck the comfort alone is worth $20, and getting heavy duty bass without distortion in one’s ear is this audiophile’s joy.

Read the full article at iSource

Find out more about MA450i.

New York Post

MA450i:
The key to the MA450i's is balance. And richness within that balance. Bass will thrum and treble will sing, but these RHAs also allow you to hear all of the layers in a song.

MA450i:

RHA has had no shortage of praise from reviewers. Their products are wonderful. And, more importantly, affordable ... Since I'm pretty sure we're all broke.

From a design standpoint, the MA450i's are pleasantly minimalist. A soft black fabric-coated wire (which doesn't transfer much if any noise) splits into left and right wires and black aluminum earbuds with a silver trim. The wire leading to the right earbud includes a slim in-line volume control module/microphone. The earbuds themselves are remarkably light.

And, yes, the 'i' in the 450i means they're specifically tailored to Apple's i-devices.

From an acoustic standpoint, they're fantastic. Especially for the price: $49.95.

The key to the MA450i's is balance. And richness within that balance. Bass will thrum and treble will sing, but these RHAs also allow you to hear all of the layers in a song. These are not, I should point out, necessarily the earbuds to own if you want to drown yourself in brain-shaking bass or eye-melting high notes all the time. Again: They're balanced very well.

That's not to say I blew them out. They performed admirably during even my loudest death metal and soundtrack sessions (I've been using them, actually, to enjoy the Dredd 3D soundtrack -- which is a sort of industrial score). But they're not going to give you the kick you're looking for is you're all about bass. (See that pun? Good.)

The most important aspect of the MA450i's, for me, was the fact that I could wear them for more than an hour and not feel any discomfort. From my apartment, to my mile-walk, to the subway, to work. Their aforementioned lightness is a comfy blessing.

What we're talking about here is remarkable quality for not a lot of money. Which is, itself, a terrible sentence. But the thought is there. The MA450i's are superb and you're getting a lot at a low price.

I highly recommend them.

Read the full article at New York Post

Find out more about MA450i.

Canada.com

MA450i:
But it’s the sound that really hits it out of the ballpark for RHA. The earbuds, which are based on the design of a trumpet, produce a mellow and richly-balanced sound. There’s not a hint of tinniness. The sound quality is made even better as a result of the effective noise-isolating nature of these ear buds. There’s nothing between you and excellent sound quality.

MA450i:

There are headphones that you tolerate – like the ear buds they give you on airplanes or the ones that come with your cellphone. They work okay but they don’t fit inside your ear particularly well, bouncing out when you go for a jog. And the sound, well, the sound is nothing great.

Then there are RHA’s MA450i aluminum, noise-isolating headphones. Every irritation that you may have ever had with run-of-the-mill ear buds has been lovingly addressed by RHA.

Apparently all ears are not created equal. It’s with that thought in mind that RHA provides seven interchangeable tips for a comfortable fit and enhanced noise isolation. The tips come in a handy carrying case which helps ensure you don’t misplace them.

Another bugaboo that RHA seems to have reduced is the tangled cord. Replacing the usual wire that tends to get hopelessly tangled when bouncing around your bag or pockets is a fabric-braided, reinforced 1.5-metre cable.

The headphones also come with a remote and microphone which allow them to be use with most iPod/iPhone models. The attention to quality continues with gold-plated connections.

But it’s the sound that really hits it out of the ballpark for RHA. The earbuds, which are based on the design of a trumpet, produce a mellow and richly-balanced sound. There’s not a hint of tinniness. The sound quality is made even better as a result of the effective noise-isolating nature of these ear buds. There’s nothing between you and excellent sound quality.

The bottom line is that RHA’s earphone and headphones would make a great gift for everyone from the the frequent traveller to the iPod-addicted teen on your holiday gift list.

Read the full article at Canada.com

Find out more about the MA450i.

TiP

MA450i:
The sound produced from these tiny speakers is stunningly clear. I’ve heard sounds in song backing tracks that I never knew were there before. It produces all the little subtle sound effects added in that you’d never notice without a great audio system.

MA450i:

When it comes to personal audio, looking for the perfect earphones is a seemingly impossible task. If you haven’t got more than $50 to spend, the choice is difficult. Do you go for something that looks really cool, but sounds awful, or do you go for Apple’s earPods? If you make the latter choice on purpose, there’s something wrong with you. Let me start off this review by making a confession: I really hate in-ear headphones. It’s not that I can’t appreciate their quality, it’s just that I don’t like having all the outside world completely blocked off like I’m in my own little bubble. I always sense that there’s no air movement and a lot of pressure inside my ears, making them quite uncomfortable to use. But, I will ignore my personal preference for the sake of this review, because this headset deserves to be praised for many reasons.

RHA’s ma450i set has impressed me immensely. A lot of work has gone in to the design, and 3 years of research in to the acoustics and sound. The earphones themselves have been designed to replicate the bell of a trumpet. They’re made from aircraft-grade aluminum, making them incredibly sturdy and resonant (also not likely to rust). The cable is lined with a weaved fabric to make them less tangle-prone. To top it all off, they ship with 8 different sized earbuds, so they’re bound to fit anyone’s ears, and the mini-jack is gold plated to increase connection quality. The only negative on the hardware side is that the plastic casings around the 3.5mm jack, inline mic and controls seem a tiny bit cheap. But, to create earphones this good for such a low cost was bound to have a few trade-offs, and this is one I’ll happily accept.

The most important thing about earphones is sound quality, and these have it in bucket loads. Without spending over $100 on a set of Beats/Bose/Sennheiser etc headphones, you’d struggle to find a better in-ear pair than the ma450i’s. The sound produced from these tiny speakers is stunningly clear. I’ve heard sounds in song backing tracks that I never knew were there before. It produces all the little subtle sound effects added in that you’d never notice without a great audio system. When considering sound quality, it’s not necessarily volume that should be used to judge (although these do pack a punch if cranked up to 11), it’s the breadth, and depth of sounds you can hear that’s surprising about this tiny set of earphones.

The earbuds also keep pretty much any exterior noise out: positively or negatively. I had them in my ears walking up my road (which has no pavement/sidewalk) and didn’t notice a huge truck driving past me until it had already gone. An unnerving experience – I’m sure you’ll agree – but, it did fill me with a huge sense of awe for the RHA earphones I was using.

On the sound side, the only disappointing thing is the same that comes with any in-ear earphones. I don’t feel like I’m immersed in sound, and bass/treble balance is swung a tiny bit more towards the bright/treble side, and with the aluminum earphones, it obviously tends to sound a little too clean and metallic at times. Not enough to put me off using them in favor of anything else. I’ve had plenty of in-ear sets before now at similar prices that concentrate far too much on bass, and drown everything out with a horrible indistinct drone. These pick up and isolate all the sounds within a track and produce them back with such clarity. If they’ve had to tone down the bass a tad to achieve that, again, I’m happy with that trade-off. What you’re left with in the end is a sound that baffles. How the heck could they achieve this for less than $50? Simply stunning.

 Read the full article at Today's iPhone

Find out more about the MA450i.

MF

MA450i:
Overall, these are very credible set of earbuds at any price and a bargain at £40.

MA450i:

RHA has a reputation for releasing high-quality audio products at very affordable prices, and the MA450i earbuds are no exception. Vocals are brilliantly realised, with crystal clarity and very good detail. Treble is well defined and lively too, though the bass could be a little crisper. They’re also very comfortable, have inline controls for iOS devices and an anti-tangle cord that does its job well. They come supplied with a carry bag and an excellent range of tips. Overall, these are very credible set of earbuds at any price and a bargain at £40.

If you’re still using the earbuds you got with your iPod or iOS device, we recommend you treat yourself to these.

Find out more about MA450i.

ZDNet

MA450i:
They are a great choice at a very affordable price.

MA450i:

 After checking out the Logitech UE 900 earphones a few weeks ago, I don't think too many other earphones can match their performance. Then again, they are priced at $399 so it isn't likely many readers are will to fork over that kind of cash when I hear people complaining about paying $50 more for a smartphone. There are some great alternatives and the folks at RHA, a British audio company, reached out and asked if I wanted to try a pair of their new MA450i earphones that they recently launched here in the US and Canada. It is MUCH easier to pay $49.95 for a pair of earphones and after testing these out with various phones over the past week I have to say they are a great choice at a very affordable price.

 I'm not sure if the folks at RHA knew it or not, but orange is one of my favorite colors (brown and yellow too) and thus I was pleased to see the dark gray retail package with orange highlights. The package is long and rectangular with the earphones shown in a clear window while the replaceable ear cushions are shown in the left side of the package. You will find the following inside:

RHA M450i earphones 
7 pairs of silicone ear cushions (2 each of S, M, L with one double flange)
Carrying pouch
User documentation

The large size seemed to fit my ear the best and it is always great to have a spare of the size that fits you. I like that the orange highlight is part of the color on the piece that fits over the aluminum on the earbud itself.

My ear opening is too big to use the double flange pair (they look to match up well with the medium size). The standard soft ear cushions are very comfortable and do a good job of blocking out surrounding sounds while also helping to hold the earphones in place. This model of earphones includes a mic and media controls on the right cable. BTW, the cables are fabric coated which helps keep them nearly tangle free with the total length from your ear being 1.5 meters.

There are three buttons on the mic control unit. The upper is for increasing volume and the lower is for decreasing volume. The center button controls several things through a series of pushes and this is easily used thanks to the indented design so you don't have to look down and can manipulate it by feel. A single press answers or hangs up a call while also acting to play or pause media. Double press skips forward and a triple press goes back. A long press and hold launches Siri on my iPhone 5. Unfortunately, the mic is not supported on other devices and while the press and hold launches Google Now on my Note II, the mic is not picked up so it is worthless there. The retail package clearly states these earphones are made for iPod, iPhone, and iPad. They do work for enjoying audio on Android or Windows Phone, but there are some limitations.

I enjoyed using these earphones and found that I could wear them for hours on end without ever feeling any discomfort. They also stayed in my ears, much better than the earpods included with my iPhone 5 by Apple. The RHA MA-450i are also much easier to put in my ears than the high end Logitech UE 900 that I have to take my glasses off to wrap around my ear and secure. The volume really CRANKS and gets way too loud to actually be comfortable. I did find that there is too much treble at the upper volume levels so I changed my iPhone 5 equalizer to bass boost mode to try to reduce that.

The controller worked very well and thanks to the improved version of Siri in iOS 6 I found the overall package to be quite useful. BTW, you can also find the MA-350 without the mic and controller for $39.95. One of the rather unique features of these earphones is the three year warranty so RHA is standing by the product they created. If you are looking for a pair of earphones that are better than the ones from Apple, then I recommend you consider the RHA MA-450i.

 Read the full article at ZDNet

Find out more about MA450i.

TUAW

MA450i:
 They're the first earphones I've found that sound good, stay in my ears and are reasonably priced.

MA450i: To be sure, I'm not an audiophile, but I am discerning enough to know what headphones sound better than the ones I'm used to. I'm not a big fan of the new EarPods Apple released last month. While they are an improvement over the old earbuds, I've recently found a pair of earphones I like a lot better: RHA's MA450i noise isolating earphones.

I've been trying out the RHA MA450i earphones for a few weeks now and I'm happy to say they're the first earphones I've found that sound good, stay in my ears and are reasonably priced. The earphones are machined from aircraft-grade aluminum and come in black or white. Each pair also comes with a set of seven silicon ear-tips so you can choose the size that is right for your ear. And as is a must for any earphones used with the iPhone, the RHA MA450i has an in-line remote and mic so you can operate your iPhone without taking it our of your pocket. But what I really like about these earphones is that they have a fabric-braided cable -- meaning it's not cheap plastic -- so it doesn't get all tangled and it lasts a lot longer than normal earphone cables.

RHA is relatively new to the audio scene. It's a Glasgow, UK, company that was founded in 2008, but spent three years in research and development before launching its first products. Based on my usage, I think we'll see plenty of great audio products from RHA in the future. The RHA MA450i earphones are available in Apple stores and online at RHA's website for US$49.95.

Read the full article at Tuaw.com

Find out more about the MA450i.

INNER

MA450i:
The MA450i opens up a spacious sonic landscape that is quite advanced and sophisticated.

MA450i:There's no question that, as we climb higher up in the price ladder, reasonably decent headphones provide - with one or two expensive exceptions perhaps - a listening experience unavailable with earphones. But the thing is that for many who satisfy their music hunger with an iPod or iPhone or iSomething, headphones are not an option. Ask my daughter. Earphones are.

Earphones are handy, sort of, and visually less intrusive. iPods/iPhones are often used outdoor, in the street, in the company, and there matters of style do matter. Ask my daughter. The more invisible the headphone is the better; hence, earphones. To me, however, the hot question was to what extent earphones can provide a similar listening experience than comparable headphones do?

RHA MA450i is a 50 euro, noise isolating dynamic earphones with a remote and a microphone. It's designed iDevice users in mind. It's machined from solid aluminium - not plastic - and houses a 10mm driver. What caught my attention initially was RHA’s signature aerophonic design, which was said to provide "an impressively detailed, well-balanced sound experience".

Aerophonic design

The term "aerophonics" refers to noise-generating action of wind instruments. The shape, volume of space and build quality all contribute to the aerophonic function (the production and amplification of sound in a volume of air) of an instrument, or in the case of RHA, an earphone.

The traditional earphone shape pushes sound out of the driver into a compact chamber, forcing the sound through a narrow channel and, according to RHA, making it be harsh and muddled. To avoid this - and to realize a sound that is as clear and natural across the audio spectrum - the RHA R&D team decided to follow the model of the aerophonic properties of the bell of a trumpet, the shape which they thought is perfectly designed to channel air and sound efficiently.

In the RHA MA450i, the normal airflow system used in trumpets is inverted, and the air is directed from the widest part of the bell shape to the narrowest. According to RHA, this concentrates sound naturally and allows air to progress unobstructed and unforced from the speaker into the ear. This RHA's signature aerophonic design is hoped to produce clearer and more natural sound than traditional earphones, as well as allowing full and deep bass response.

The Sound

Well, full and deep bass it was, surprisingly deep and full. For listening experiments I used iPod and a variety of more and less compressed audio files in several formats. From a track to another, the low bass came out in a way it didn't come out from ordinary button earphones nor from my daughter's less than 50 euro headphones: with force and power, sometimes but not too often slightly out of proportion.

More importantly, the overall tonal balance was quite healthy. As compared to standard earphones, the balance of the MA4501 is of the kind that hifi hobbyists are reaching for, meaning that the MA450i didn't do any cheap sonic tricks to attract a quick superficial listener. It didn't, for instance, push the midrange artificially forward to emphasize the compressed nature of compressed music. That might have been fun for kids but not for sound lovers. In fact, I found the midrange a tad laid back in relation both to the low bass and the presence of high treble. That's kind of daring given that most iDevice listeners probably listen to compressed music.

All in all, after having tried standard button earphones and headphones from the same price category as the MA450i, I'd say that the MA450i opens up a spacious sonic landscape that is quite advanced and sophisticated. I fully enjoyed the MA450i's well-balanced reproduction of Beethoven's Fifth, for example. With the cheap button earphones and lesser headphones, the same track sounded dull and two-dimensional. This is not to say that there were no other similarly priced earphones that would perform equally well, it's just that I'm not sufficiently familiar with the supply.

Using the RHA MA450i was mostly trouble-free. They were easy to insert in the ear, and stayed there too. Fit is unlikely to be a problem since seven pairs of soft silicone ear-tip come along. Also, the remote functioned as promised.

Finally, I took a walk close to a heavily trafficked road to check the efficiency of the MA450i's noise isolation system realized with the dual density ear-tips. Soft silicone on the outside is designed to keep external noise out, while firmer silicone on the inside produces a tighter seal to prevent sound leakage. I was quite happy with the way in which the MA450i ignored hundreds of cars passing by. More disturbing was rubbing noise coming from the fabric braided cable: to avoid it completely one needs to stop walking altogether.

The RHA MA450i didn't make me a headphone listener but they proved that fairly good sound is nowadays available also from less expensive earphones. That was a good lesson. My daughter was more indifferent but that's because sound is not on her priority list.

 

Read the full article at Innerworld Audio

Find out more about the MA450i.

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