On Test, RHA Earphones: MA450i

Partial collection of all the headphones I own

Partial headphone collection

Not shown in the photo above are the various earbuds I’ve been handed on planes, the ones lost to a drivetrain while wrenching a bike, or that just died over time. In the days before Hugga (pre-BH), I was much more into audio, even fronting a rock band, releasing a single called, Feel My Love, and later DJ’ing college radio.


RHA MA450is are in on test

Ever since hi-fidelity, there’s been hifi headphones and with the emergence of mp3, earbuds. Convenient, but more lo than hi fidelity, they were compressed like the audio files and about the compact form factor rather than sound quality. I’ve listened to the Wall on ribbon speakers from Magneplanars and wore plenty of Koss headphones, back when they were cool.

Over time, Apple changed the design of the earbuds to isolate better and also fall out of my ears. I then switched to Shure, in-ear buds that were just like what Pro musicians wore in concert. The sponge-tipped plastic tubes fatigued my ear canals quick and I abandoned those for regular over-ear style headphones, including the amazingly-good NWA ones (no, not the hip-hop band, the airline).

Amused by how Beats redefined headphones making them stylish again and how Bose wave-formed them for baby boomers on airplanes, my kids eventually got me a pair of $20.00 noise-canceling Sonys for flying. Those work great and then last week RHA sent us their MA450i to review.

Before that I’d noticed my MBP had remarkably good sound for a laptop. I was playing a video, probably PSY horse dancing for the family, and thought something’s going on with new tech in audio, cause no laptop has ever sounded that good. Mark recently reviewed the Yurbuds with the same sound discovery.

Tiny Big

Call this setup Tiny Big

Considering I change and go through headphones like pairs of shoes, this isn’t a shootout, but a nod towards how good earbuds are now. RHAs are made of aluminum, with silicone tips and a braided cord. The specs are here. The sound is full, rich, and totally isolated. I noticed it first on the plane and then when vacuuming the house. I couldn’t heard the suction of the Dyson just Dubbing it Raw. Sure, they’re extracting that sound from a highly-compressed file, but whatever. I’ve got my old Labtechs and records for when I want to get nostalgic about audio and friends with ribbon speakers, even a Nakamichi tape deck.

A fav record

What you don’t have this record?

Only criticism for the RHAs is when used with the phone, I’ve got to remove one earbud so they don’t echo. I think that’s cause my voice vibrates in the cord, like a string between two cans, probably because of their Aerophonic design.

The RHAs are available online and through the Apple Store for $49.95.

What We’re Listening Too

Between Mark V and me, would could launch a Pirate Radio station that played 24 x 7. For what we’re listening to, usually around noon, I’ll tweet what’s on rotation. This week that includes

Note: I don’t wear headphones when I ride and you will not hear a car approaching with the RHAs, so no need to get into that debate.

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