RHA MA750i Headphones Review
Solid, heavy construction that's best for bright sounds
RHA is a British headphone company with an exclusive focus on in-ear models. Among those is the RHA MA750i in–ears (MSRP: $129.99), featuring a contoured cable that rests over your ear and uses RHA’s “aerophonic” design, which lets air travel unforced from the driver to the ear for supposed clearer and more natural sound.
The MA750i in-ears have a solid construction with stainless steel components and a thick, durable cable that should help these last much longer than your standard pair of in-ears. The stainless steel components have a certain level of heft to them that puts in mind deep, powerful music. Surprisingly, there's only a small amount of bass support, which means these headphones would be better suited for bright sounds, such as those found in classical music.
Made with stainless steel and a contoured, over-ear cable
When you’re holding the MA750i in-ears you can feel the weight of the heavy-duty construction, thanks to the stainless steel components and the thick cable. Where other headphones can feel cheap or flimsy, the MA750i in-ears feel ready to take a beating and keep on dishing out respectable audio along the way.
The stainless steel casing of the earbuds aren’t designed with any gimmicky features or designs. Instead, it looks like a solid metal cap with the RHA logo machined into the surface. Stemming from the casing, the cable is contoured to fit and rest on top of your ear.
The way that they rest in your ear feels like there’s a semi-loose fit. It’s not enough that you should worry about them falling out, which you might at first, but it’s definitely loose enough that you’ll feel like you won’t get the full experience of what the MA750i in-ears can do unless they’re pushed deep into your ear canal. Of course, mileage may vary depending on which of three included types (basic silicon, double-flange, or memory foam) of tips you use.
On the cable is an in-line controller that was built specifically to be compatible with an Apple device and features a microphone and three button control—volume up, volume down, and audio/phone call control. Like the earbud casings, the controller is also machined from stainless steel with rubber buttons that are large and have a very satisfying click when pressed. Like a lot of other headphones that have in-line controllers built for Apple devices, if you use these in-ears with an Android product the volume controls will not work. So fans of the green robot beware.
Stainless steel construction won’t do you much good if the connection at the plug and the right and left casing is flimsy and weak. You won’t have to worry about that when it comes to these in-ears, though. The cable is thick and durable, with attachments on either end to decrease the likelihood of breaking. On the end of the earbuds the cable has a plastic divider between the cable proper and the loop that extends over your ear. The opposite end, where the cable connects to the 3.5mm jack, there is a spring protecting the cable. This makes it extremely difficult to bend it anywhere near the point where the cable may eventually break.
Inside the box, RHA included a handful of accessories to accompany the MA750i in-ears. There is a bifold leather carrying case to shuttle your already durable in-ears from place to place, a removable shirt clip, and a stainless steel ear tip holder that houses 18 replacement tips.
With all of these accessories there’s really no reason that the already durable MA750i in-ears shouldn’t last you a very long time, with enough options that you should be able to find a good fit.
Classical music fans take note
At this price there’s a certain level of expectation as to how well a pair of headphones should perform. Unfortunately, while the MA750i in-ears are good, they don’t quite have the performance to justify the $130 price tag.
It was tempting to think that I wasn’t experiencing the full power of the MA750i in-ears because of what felt like a loose fit. I kept trying to fiddle with the in-ears and tried a few different sized silicon tips before I realized that was just how they sat in my ears. The loose fit does mean that these in-ears are far more comfortable than many others of its kind.
Everything became much clearer after we ran our tests. These in-ears don’t have a huge emphasis on bass sounds and instead, the midrange sounds are much more prevalent. This leaves you with music that doesn’t have the power or depth you’d assume when you see these hulking, steel in-ears. These sound the best when paired with bright sounds like what you’d find in classical music from composers such as Beethoven or Mozart.
The MA750i in-ears also suffer from a healthy dose of distortion in the sub bass range. While this is the most difficult area for human ears to pick up distortion, the levels are high enough that audiophiles will pick up some fuzzy, crackling sounds.
When it comes to blocking ambient sounds from the outside world the MA750i in-ears performance will vary based on which of the three types of ear tips you use (basic silicon, double-flange, or memory foam).
The memory foam tips will provide the most isolation, cutting down some sounds to around a quarter of their original volume. That level of isolation does come at a price, namely your comfort. They’re fairly large and if you have small ears they’ll definitely cause some discomfort.
The basic silicon tips have the most size choices so it should be relatively to find a comfortable fit, but they also do a poor job of blocking ambient sound. They’re unable to block any kind of bass sounds that you’ll encounter near a subway or bus on your commute, and only reduce other sounds you’re likely to encounter by about half.
It’s the double-flange tips that will probably strike the right balance of comfort and isolation. They’ll cut down those pesky deep bass sounds by at least half, and the other sounds you’re likely to encounter down to a quarter their original loudness. Plus they come in both medium and small, which should cover the majority of people’s needs.
Might not live up to the hefty price tag
The RHA MA750i in-ear headphones (MSRP: $129.99) do a lot more in the looks department rather than delivering a truly impressive sound experience. For that amount of money you would be right to expect the moon and more with your in-ears.
If you don’t want to spend quite as much money as this on in-ear headphones, we’d recommend taking a look at the AKG K 323XS in-ears (MSRP: $59.95). The AKGs boost bass much higher than the MA750i in-ears, which is perfect for music that benefits from an emphasis on the deep, rumbling sounds. They also come in a variety of colors and block much more ambient sound with only the basic silicon tips.
But, if you don’t mind spending the extra dough for a truly impressive listening experience, you can’t go wrong with our 2014 Best of Year in-ear headphones, the JBL Synchros S200i (MSRP: $129.95). The JBLs cost the same as the MA750i in-ears and they have a more unique, spoke-like design that delivers an impressive range of sound for the best quality tunes.
That doesn’t mean you should rule out the MA750i in-ears completely. The AKGs aren’t the prettiest pair of in-ears and, along with the JBLs, don’t have the same durability expectations that come with a stainless steel construction. The MA750i in-ears sound good enough, especially for fans of classical music and they come with plenty—10 pairs—of options when it comes to finding the most comfortable fit.
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