RHA MA750 In-Ear Headphones Ergonomics, Use, Comfort
The RHA MA750s are a strange mix of features that on one hand excite me and the other confuse me. First, they have the top of the line driver from RHA. The 560.1 (the number sounds like they are leaving some room for improvements in the future) is handmade and reserved solely for this headphone. But it is paired with an ear loop and a reinforced connection at the tip which are features we usually see in headphones designed with active use in mind. The ear loops in particular are associated with active use. The "spring" at the plug end are often found on headphones for use in a studio or DJ'ing where there might be a chance that the headphone would be pulled free or at least tugged on during use.
These two things seems sort of mutually exclusive.
Ergonomically, however, the earloops seem to be more about keeping the earphones in place during regular rather than active use.The active use earloops are generally pretty rigid and pinch behind the ear. These are much softer. Many people, regardless of headphone design, wrap the cord around their ears when using in-ear monitors. It seems like RHA has recognized this practice with the MA750 line and accommodated with a soft earloop.
Earloops generally receive little love from people that wear glasses. The MA750 earloop is no different. I don't wear glasses but I have a vampire-like aversion to the sun. I don't care if it is raining in sheets: if the sun is out, I'm wearing sunglasses. If you wear the Oakley-type straight arm glasses the 1990's called and they want their glasses back. But if you do, you may have fewer problems. The earloops are more a gentle guide for the cable around the ear and easily pushes out of the way. The same is true with glasses that hook behind your ear but the effect is more dramatic. Often I would find the loop completely on the outside of my ear.
They stayed in place, mind you, but the loop was no longer in the correct place.
Using the RHA MA750 Headphones
Since I didn't have the MA750i headphones with the in-line controls, the "use" was plugging them in and pressing play. My experiences with previous models of RHA headphones with in-line controls, however, suggest that they'll work just fine. One thing that RHA touts is the noise isolation. Just about any in-ear monitor will give you a semblance of noise isolation. Heck, just about any headphone will. But RHA has included the memory foam tips for additional isolation. These are the same as the safety ear plugs they give out on job sites.
Frankly, I didn't use those.
They are such a pain to use. You have to squish them and shove them in your ear as quickly as you can. If you have a wife or, God forbid, children, inserting headphones is some sort of subsonic call to ask dad a question. My kids could have avoided me all day but the minute I put in my headphones, suddenly they want to talk about why the sky is blue or why squirrels have long tails or why I call my subwoofer Janice.
Because I do. That's why. Shut up and do your homework.
The standard silicone tips have very good noise isolation. While it really depends on fit more than anything else, when I got the RHA MA750 tips properly sized, I really found that outside noise was kept at bay. This meant I didn't have to pretend to ignore my children, I actually couldn't hear them! Which is way better.
I've used in-ear headphones that are ported. It is an interesting design choice and works out well if you are looking for a bit more bass. The problem that crops up is when you go outside. Any wind will whistle past the port. The RHA MA750s are sealed so I experienced none of this.
There were a few nice aesthetic touches to the MA750s that need to be pointed out. The tip and the point where the cable splits has a cylindrical case that feels and looks very sturdy and hi-end. The tip is etched with the logo (just the RHA initials) and letting you know it is constructed of stainless steel. The cylinder at the cable split has "designed by Les Heath". It was written in cursive and very faint so I had to contact RHA about the name. This is Lewis Heath and he's their head of design. Oddly, I couldn't find that name anywhere on their website. In fact, if you spend some time there, you'll see that it seems very sterile and impersonal. They aren't trying to sell you headphones based on personality - they are selling them on the strength of their performance.
The spring protector at the end is just the right stiffness to keep the cable from bending to much and damaging the end. The cable itself is very thick and shield. It is coated in rubber which I tend to prefer. For those that exercise, RHA has included a clip. It isn't attached to the cable but can be slid on with a little dedication. It almost feels too hard to get on though you can, with a fair bit of pressure, slide the clip up and down the cable. I'm referring to the cable that leads to a single headphone. I didn't think it would fit on the wider, central cable. There is a slider that you can pull up the split cable. I used this to cinch it behind my head. I then used the clip to attach the cable to the back of my shirt with a bit of slack between my head and the clip. This allowed for movement. If not, the weight of the cylinder on the cable paired with the rubber-wrapped cable grabbing onto your skin will pull the headphones loose.
I took the RHA MA750s into the climbing gym and, for the first time, I experienced an in-ear monitor that stayed in place. The clip was a big part of this. Second, I took the MA750s to an even more demanding environment - my kitchen. You know what irritates me? No, not everything though it often seems that way. What irritates me is using in-ear headphones while cooking and having them start to slowly pull out while my hands are covered in goo. I've very active in the kitchen. I have shelves near the floor, those I have to stand on chairs to reach, and everything in between. I rarely use a mixer preferring to kneed my dough by hand (which always works up a sweat) and whisk my sauces. Sure, I'll cut corners occasionally but with three young boys, I'm always practically running in the kitchen. Again, the MA750s were the only headphones I could wear for long periods of time without having to adjust them.
There seem to be two types of people in the world: Those that don't mind having things shoved in their ears and those that apparently have nerve endings. I'm of the second type. I've had earphones that are injection molded to my ear. I've had tips of every type (many of them proprietary for the headphone brand and claiming to be the "most comfortable"). In the end, the best I can hope for is that they don't bother me too much. Generally, I'll forget they are in though it doesn't take much to remind me. When I remove them, of course, I'm always relieved.
The RHA MA750s were little different. If anything, they were slightly more uncomfortable. But I'm guessing that it is because they actually fit properly. Other headphones were constantly sliding out indicating a looser and likely more comfortable fit. With the MA750s they stayed in. They didn't hurt but there was always a pressure there. But this is par for the course with in-ear monitors.
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