Gadling Gear Review: RHA Earphones

Still looking for a last minute gift for the music lover on your holiday list? Look no further than the incredible sounding earphones from RHA Audio. The British company, which is relatively new to the U.S. market, makes some very high-quality earbuds that pack impressive sound without inflicting a lot of damage on your wallet. Here are two of their products that I’ve recently had the opportunity to test, coming away very impressed.

RHA MA450i Earphones ($49.95)

The MA450i is RHA’s flagship in-ear model that is available through Apple Stores – both online and brick and mortar – as well as Amazon. These earphones are built from aircraft grade aluminum, which gives them a very solid and durable feel that you don’t always find in similar headsets. They also feature a three-button inline remote that allows users to skip tracks, adjust volume or pause their music on an iPhone, iPod or iPad. The remote even has a built-in mic, which makes it easy to both place and receive calls that sound crisp and clear on the tiny speakers. RHA has also included seven sizes of interchangeable soft tips for the earphones allowing users to find just the right fit for isolating outside noise.

If you’ve ever gone in search of good earphones for your portable devices, the above description probably doesn’t seem very out of the ordinary. After all, there are literally hundreds of options for earbuds on the market from dozens of different companies that offer a similar set of features. But where RHA’s products stand out from the crowd is in their performance for the price. Simply put, these are easily the best sounding earbuds I’ve ever used in this price range and they equal or exceed the quality of many higher priced offerings as well.As I tested these earphones I was continually impressed with how clear the audio was across the entire range of sound, including the lower bass levels, which are not easy to reproduce on an earbud at any price point. Highs and mid-ranges came across very cleanly too, making these a great choice for music lovers who prefer a full audio experience. Listening to my favorite music on the MA450i’s was a rich, personal experience, highlighting subtle notes that aren’t always noticeable on other earbuds.

I found these earphones to be super comfortable to wear as well, once I found the proper size tips to use. True to form, my ears always require different sizes to fit properly, but with all of the options that RHA includes, it was easy to adjust as needed. Once I had the right sizes dialed in, the MA450i’s did an excellent job of isolating outside noise, which can be particularly distracting at times. These earphones were also comfortable to wear for hours on end, something that comes in very handy on long flights.

Available in both black and white, the MA450i’s come with a nice little soft case for use while traveling. Throw in a long, durable cable and a full three-year warranty, all for a price of just $49.95, and you really have a set of headphones that are incredibly tough to beat. This kind of sound quality just doesn’t show up very often at this price point, which makes them a bargain that is tough to pass up.

RHA MA350 Earphones ($39.95)

Looking for a similar level of sound quality to the MA450i at an even lower price point? That’s why RHA has the MA350 earphones in their lineup. These smaller, lighter headphones offer a no-frills approach to design without compromising on sound quality in any way. These earbuds feature the same aluminum housing, high-quality fabric braided cable and interchangeable silicon soft tips, although this time you only get three sizes to choose from. They even include the nice travel pouch and three-year warranty. But best of all, the MA350’s provide the same high level of audio performance as the MA450i’s, which is to say, exceptional sound at a great price.

So, what exactly are you missing with these slightly less expensive earphones? For the most part, the main difference is that they lack an inline remote control and mic for answering calls. Considering that functionality is specifically built for Apple’s i-devices, if you use an Android phone or some other audio player, these earphones are probably the better choice. But if you are an iPhone or iPod owner, spend the extra $10 to get the MA450i’s instead. You’ll be glad you have the ability to use the remote.

Other than that, the audio quality on the MA350s is still outstanding and better than anything at this price. That is even more true when you consider that these earbuds come in under $40, which is considered the bargain basement in terms of most earphones. I’ve paid more than twice that for competing products that don’t sound nearly this good.

The bottom line is that if you’re looking for outstanding audio performance at an affordable price, it really is tough to beat these options from RHA. Try them for yourself, and I think you’ll find they provide amazing sound at an amazing price.

They also make great last minute stocking stuffers for your favorite audiophile.

[Photo credit: RHA Audio]