Few companies have gained my respect and attention like Glasgow-based RHA. So far I’ve had the utter joy of reviewing both the MA450i in-ear headphones and the SA950i on-ear set. Both sets do a remarkable job of offering incredible sound quality for a fantastic price. With those two on the market, the company had a tough challenge of meeting the same promise of great value for money with the budget MA150i. At $19, they’re virtually loose change. And for that price, the performance – yet again – is surprisingly good, but they’re not without their issues.
Similar to the more expensive in-ear set, the MA150 earbuds have a trumpet bell design. Specifically made that way for acoustic performance. The biggest difference between this set and the MA450 is the materials used, RHA has clearly had to cut corners to get the price so low, and the plastics being used over metal is clear indication of that compromise. All in all, it doesn’t affect the comfort of the ear buds. The build quality of the buds is still remarkably sturdy. But, unlike the canvas weave covered cable on the other two sets, this one has the bog-standard plastic insulation. You’ll be pleased to know that the 3.5mm jack is still gold plated. Sadly there’s no inline microphone, so you’re restricted to just listening to music.
On to sound quality, and there are plusses and minuses. On the positive side, you can pump the music up plenty loud enough and there’s little to no distortion. And, generally, sound quality is good when you put the price of the earphones in to the equation. It’s even better if you’re particularly keen on bass, the MA150 is certainly a little bass heavy. On the “cons” list, sadly I found the set very lacking in balance. Imagine if you will an equalizer with the treble knob turned all the way down, and it sums up the sound you get. Bass is fantastic, middle is okay, but treble is virtually non-existent. The sound lacks any real bite, and really misses the top end frequencies. It’s the polar opposite of the MA450, which offered a ton of balance, a healthy helping of treble and not enough bass.
Comfort is something you should always consider when purchasing any headphones, after all you’re going to be wearing them for fairly extended periods of time. I have to say, I don’t really do in-ear headphones. I find them uncomfortable usually, but RHA’s silicone earbuds were flexible and soft enough to wear comfortably to listen to an album or two. Noise cancellation works well too, blocking out any outside noise allowing you to become immersed in the soundtrack and ignore everything else around you. They were light enough too that I didn’t ever feel like they would make friends with gravity and conspire to fall out of my ears. And, in case you’re worried about it not fitting your huge/tiny (delete as appropriate) earholes, RHA kindly supplies two extra pairs of tips of different sizes in the packaging.
Overall, these certainly aren’t the perfect set of earphones for the snobby audiophile. However, if you have little money to spend and need to get the most out of your twenty bucks, you won’t get better than these. To check out the earphones in more detail, head on over to RHA’s site. You can purchase them from Amazon.com too.