Headphones

RHA MA350 Earphones

RHA is a humble audio company based in Glasgow, UK. They recently launched their award-winning earphones in the US, Australia, and Singapore Apple Store. I received a review unit MA350 from them so that I can share with the local folks on my impressions. The one going on sale in Singapore is the MA450i, which according to RHA, is basically MA350 with in-line remote for iOS devices and a longer 1.5m cord.

Product Information: Designed and engineered in the UK, the MA350 are machined from solid, aircraft-grade aluminium, sandblasted and partially anodised in matte black. The earbud’s aerophonic design transfers sound organically from the 10mm driver to the ear canal. The result is a clear, rich tone through the audio spectrum with a deep, full bass response; quite an achievement in an earbud.

  • 1.2m fabric-braided Y-cable (symmetric)
  • 3.5mm gold-plated straight plug
  • Carry case
  • S/M/L ear tips
  • 16-22000 Hz frequency range
  • 16ohms impedance
  • 103dB sensitivity
  • 11g
  • 3-year warranty

First Impressions
The earphones are small, light and well-built. It feels next to nothing when fitted snugly on my ears. The fabric cables minimise tangles, no gimmick. The included case is a premium bonus for an earphone product at the kind of pricing.

Audio Impressions
The MA350 offers outstanding audio quality for its price. It brings out well-mastered music with enough breathing space for audio details across the spectrum to be heard. There is a good balance of full bass, comfortable mid-tones, and crispy treble. I enjoy listening the intimate piano sounds, the heart-thumping pop tracks, the multi-timbre instrumentation tracks. Vocal tracks sound more laid back, trumpet tracks from Chris Botti are heartwarming, but Kenny G’s saxophone might sound too bright. At high volumes, the tweeter loses control and sounds messy.

Noise isolation is good enough to numb out ambient sounds. Sound leaks from the earphones are practically inaudible unless you are in a quiet room, so feel free to pump up the volume without affecting your neighbour.

Although the MA350 can handle most music genres, I feel it works better for music styles that are not tweeter-heavy, for it’s in this frequency range that the MA350 does not handle that well. Moderate volume listening is recommend to enjoy the audio output.

Design Drawbacks
The major issue is the cable rub noise, which affects the clear audio reproduction when you are on the move. Another less critical issue is the labelling of the L and R on the rubber, which is difficult to distinguish visually (the left earphone has an additional bump). Finally, the ear tips are quite hard to fit onto the earphones, though you won’t be doing that very often.

Verdict
I like earphones that have flat frequency response to retain the faithfulness of the audio track, but with sufficient oomph at the sub-bass level and clarity at the treble level without compromising the details of the other frequency range. I feel the MA350 offers just the right balance for my kind of listening preference. It is lightweight and feels next to nothing on my ears, a comfort to listen to when I needed to shut myself out for some private time in the bustle urban environment.

While the MA350 is not available on Singapore shores, the MA450i delivers similar audio characteristics with in-line remote option. Available at the online Apple Store Singapore at S$79 in 2 colours, the MA450i is one of the lowest priced earphones in the store and the most rated for the price point.

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