RHA CA-200 headphones deliver high quality audio across the whole range and deliver very powerful bass that does not overwhelm the audio experience.
Since its conception Benchmark Reviews' primary focus has been on consumer and enthusiast PC hardware and games, but with the proliferation of mobile computing and gadgets it was only a matter of time before that focus shifted slightly. Today we will be taking a look at a set of RHA CA-200 Black Noise Isolating Headphones from Reid Heath Acoustics. The CA-200's are light weight over ear headphones designed for use at home, in the studio, or on the move.
Available now for a mere $29.95, the CA-200's claim to offer high quality and performance at a low cost. Features include; 40mm mylar drivers, neodymium magnet and CCAW voice coils, 3.5mm gold plated connections, an "ErgoFit system" which allows the ear cup to pivot on multiple axes, and most importantly - a detachable 1.2m fabric braided cable. On paper the CA-200's are an attractive prospect and we aim to see if they can really deliver.
The first thing you may notice here (my favorite feature) is the lack of a cable. The CA-200's from RHA have a detachable cable and this is great for many reasons, I will list a few I can think of just off the top of my head. When you are not using them you can easily detach the cable to keep it from dangling, if the cable becomes damaged in any way you won't need to buy a new set of headphones (just replace the cable) and if you were to snag the cable on something it is less likely to become damaged (it should pull free from the cans).
The 3.5mm stereo cable splits into two mono 3.5mm jacks and connects into the bottom of the cans, the cans are labelled left and right and the cable is color coded. This also means you can wear the headphones backwards depending on which way you find more comfortable.
The CA-200's have a good 2 inches of adjustment to cater for different head sizes. I find with headphones that I tend to be on or around the smallest adjustment position, but the CA-200's small position is very small (think child size). The large adjustment position would easily cater for larger headed masculine adult. There is an nice chrome accent around the cans that give the CA-200's a stylish look.
The glossy plastic head band has a silver stripe printed along its length which is broken on each side by an RHA logo. The main body of the cans are made from this same glossy plastic, and the unit initially has a kind of cheap feel to it, but after listening to the CA-200's this is immediately forgiven. This is where RHA have made savings in production costs, but also by design they are very lightweight and comfortable.
The CA-200's have a nice thick head band that will rest comfortably near the middle of your head top. If you find it more comfortable you can flip them round and wear them backwards and then the head band would sit more towards the back of your head.
The RHA CA-200 Black Headphones were tested in a range of scenarios such as listening to music and watching movies (PC and mobile) and while gaming. Since there are no benchmarks that can produce comparative results I will give my impressions on the performance and function of the CA-200's including important factors relating to comfort and ease of use. Please remember that these are my personal impressions and may not reflect the way you would feel, after all we are all different and what's good for me may not be so for you.
For just under $30 I wasn't expecting much, and after initially handling the CA-200's I honestly felt I was going to be let down, the plastic construction and lightweight design gave an immediate impression that they were just another cheapo set of headphones. To my surprise I was immediately impressed by the level of comfort and quality of audio delivery that is expected from a pair of headphones at twice their price. The detachable cable is an added bonus that you don't tend to see at this price point and instantly boosts their value.
Real world Usage: The RHA CA-200 headphones deliver high quality audio across the whole range and deliver very powerful bass that does not overwhelm the audio experience. With a little tweaking of the EQ settings of my Realtek audio software I was able to get very impressive results from the CA-200's. The level of bass produced by the 40mm drivers without distorting or over powering the rest of the audio experience was able to be not only heard, but also felt. I like my music loud but what I really want is to feel the bass, I have no preferred genre of music but I always prefer a heavy bass line where possible along with intellectual or clever word play.
I generally don't listen to music through headphones on my Blackberry (iPod belongs to my son) as I much prefer a fuller sound that can only be reproduced via a multi speaker setup with a subwoofer - like in my car, or the 7.1 setup at my PC. While I can appreciate what current generation mobile devices are capable of, not all headphones are able to reproduce sound equally. The RHA CA-200's took it in their stride and then some, I was able to listen to most tracks at full volume but I wouldn't want to do so for a long period, 85% volume was more than sufficient for the iPod and full volume on the Blackberry was perfect (before AUDIOBOOST kicks in). The CA-200's are over-ear but the ear cups aren't massive so they sit somewhere between over-ear and on-ear and share the benefits of both, blocking outside noise and reducing sound leakage without completely covering your ears and blocking everything out.
Comfort: The RHA CA-200's are very very light because of their plastic construction and it was quite easy to forget that I was wearing them. The padded headband and ear pads make the headset a pleasure to wear. If there was an option for fabric covered ear pads they would be my preference, but the faux leather coating does reduce heat build up better than fabric.
The RHA CA-200 headphones come with a 3 Year warranty as standard, for a sub $30 pair of headphones this is a great reassurance that you are actually getting a quality product. I am very impressed by the sound quality offered by these headphones, value for money is an understatement! The plastic construction is a necessary evil in regards to keeping production costs down and making the CA-200's light and comfortable. I have a similar pair of Sennheiser HD 407 headphones (slightly cheaper at $26) that I thought were impressive for their price but the RHA CA-200's literally blow them out of the water, and in addition to that the CA-200's have a detachable cable, so it's win win all round.
In this section I am going to write a brief five point summary on the following categories; Performance, Appearance, Construction, Functionality and Value. These views are my own and help me to give the RHA CA-200 Black Headphones a rating out of 10. A high or low score does not necessarily mean that they are better or worse than a similar set of headphones that have been reviewed by another writer here at Benchmark Reviews, which may have got a higher or lower score. It is however a good indicator of whether the CA-200 Black Noise Isolating Headphones are good or not. I would strongly urge you to read the entire review, if you have not already, so that you can make an educated decision for yourself.
Performance and value go hand in hand with the CA-200 headphones, if I were to do a blind test on them I would assume they were more expensive than they are. There is a level of bass than is not only heard but also felt, complemented nicely by the undistorted and well delivered mids and highs. If you want better sounding headphones then be prepared to spend more than double the price of the CA-200's.
The appearance of the CA-200's match its price point perfectly. The silver accents compliment the glossy black plastic construction and ensure that the CA-200's are not just another bland black set of headphones.
Although they are made from plastic, the CA-200's feel quite durable and flexible. The leather effect ear pads and headband cushion along with the lightweight construction ensure a pleasurable wearing experience.
As far as functionality is concerned the RHA CA-200 Black Headphones deliver on their marketing promise. The fabric braided detachable3.5mm stereo cable adds a unique touch that you won't find in many headphones at this price point. The range of adjustment, along with the pivoting ear cups, ensure that these headphones will fit just about any size of head. The ear pads are somewhere between over ear and on ear (RHA call it 'around ear') and provide a satisfactory level of noise isolation while also preventing sound leakage.
As of October 2012 the RHA CA-200 Noise Isolating Headphones are available for $29.95 (Amazon) / £29.99 (Amazon UK). The RHA CA-200 Black headphones represent outstanding value for money, and with a 3 year warranty as standard you can't really go wrong.
If you have the chance to, I would urge you to give the RHA CA-200 Noise Isolating Headphone a try. If not, and you are looking to buy a inexpensive set of headphones, then these deserve a place on your shortlist.
+ Excellent bass response
+ High quality audio for this price point
+ Excellent value for money
+ Sufficient noise isolation and low sound leakage
+ Comfortable and lightweight
+ Detachable fabric braided cable
+ Low price
+ Very loud
- Plastic construction is a necesary evil
- Fabric ear pads would be better than leather effect
- Ear pads don't appear to be replaceable
Final Score: 8.75/10
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