Design Notes: MA650i with Lightning

Ahead of the launch of RHA’s first in-ear headphone to use Apple’s Lightning connection, we sat down with Kyle Hutchison, RHA’s Head of Product Design, to explore the story behind the MA650i with Lightning.

Why did you make the MA650i with Lightning? 

We love the MA650 but the market is modernising – and moving away from the 3.5mm standard. Lightning is a really interesting connection; and growing very fast as headphone users gradually move away from 3.5mm. Our customers asked for it; we hear from a lot of people who use the MA650 with a Lightning adapter. So this is for them! 

How did you apply RHA’s design standards to Lightning’s form factor? 

We kept a lot of the design from the MA650 Wireless and added an aluminium-reinforced Lightning connection. The MA650 is such a great design – it started as a refined version of one of our older headphones but it took on its own identity: a really nice aluminium design, improved manufacturing methods, a great driver and durable cables. 

Were there any engineering challenges involved in integrating the Lightning connection to the headphone? 

As you’d expect, Apple have very high certification standards; understandably they want to make sure that the quality of iOS-exclusive headphones pretty much matches the quality of Apple products. But we’re used to that; that’s our own standard; that’s how we design.

Lightning connections use a digital-to-analogue converter; what did we do to ensure that this didn’t affect the sound quality of the MA650i? 

We tested and tested and tested and tested! Because we’re drawing on the MA650 for Android - which is analogue - we needed to be happy that the digital version sounded as good - and it does. 

Anything else you want to tell us about the MA650i? 

I’m a big fan of the MA650i. It’s a headphone that has the best material and build quality at its price. It uses the best build materials; we spent a long time on the driver so it sounds great; the cables are really high-quality; we use Comply tips; and it matches up so well with the quality of Apple’s projects.

Find out more about the MA650i with Lightning here

Check out our Lighting Playlist here: