“Let our rigorous testing and reviews be your guidelines to A/V equipment – not marketing slogans”
Facebook Youtube Twitter instagram pinterest

RHA MA750 In-Ear Headphones Sound Quality Tests

By

I've a bit of history with RHA. I've reviewed their SA950i on-ear headphones and their MA350 in-ear headphones ($60 and $40 respectively). I've liked them both (especially at the price points) but have lamented that they weren't very linear. Mostly, they were bass-heavy. This is not a phenomenon specific to lower-cost headphones. The trend these days, regardless of price, is for a bass bump. This might be because of compressed music but I believe it is because of market research. People who didn't know that subs could exist outside of a movie theater are super impressed when they hear a lot of bass coming from their headphones. In one way this is good because maybe it will lead them down the path where they'll start wanting bass from their own home system. In every other way this is bad because I'm forced to review headphone after headphone with a bass hump so large that it has its own weather pattern.

ma750 pull

When RHA increased the price of their top-tier headphones from $60 to $120, I was prepared to not like what I heard. Frankly, even though I challenged RHA to make a more expensive headphones at the end of the SA950i review, I didn't think they'd actually succeed. Specifically I said, "If this is what RHA can do for $60, I want to see what they can do with a $200 headphone."

RHA in their measurements of the 560.1 driver shows it to be very flat all the way down to 16Hz. Gene has promised that he's going to try to secure me some measurement equipment for my headphone reviews. Yep, one of those manikin heads where you can stick in the earbuds and everything. When that becomes a reality, I'll be testing this 16Hz claim right away. Because these headphones play low!

At first I did a lot of casual listening with the MA750s. This was mostly to find the right tips but also to test long-term comfort (and to have a reason to ignore my children). My first impressions of the MA750s was of bass - there is lots of it with a ton of extension. Using everything from sweeps to the Yello track Junior B, I heard bass not only low but very smooth. No apparent bumps anywhere. The next thing to do is take a hard listen to the midrange. With a bass boost, you'll notice a lack of distinction in the midrange. I heard very little of this though the midrange was not as clear as I thought it could be. The top end was rarely fatiguing while maintaining the kind of clarity I expect from quality headphones. The next step after my initial impressions was to do a few comparisons.

ma750 inbox top

I have a ton of headphones to use for comparison. To start with, I grabbed the SA950i offering from RHA. This was their top-of-the-line when I reviewed them and the new RHA MA750 headphones should be able to crush them considering the price difference. Next, I chose the Audio Technica ATH-M50S over-ear headphones. These are my reference headphones and I use them for everything from critical listening to podcasting. Lastly, I chose the V-MODA Crossfade M-100s. These are the most expensive headphones I've reviewed to date. They sound great (if a bit bass heavy) and fit even better. These are my go-to headphones for "fun" listening, travel (they have a killer case), and I often use them for podcasting as well with their BoomPro mic add-on.

You'll notice that my comparison headphones are either on or over ear models. That's because quickly switching between in-ear models is nearly impossible (tried with the Moshi Audio Vortex Pro but I couldn't switch them fast enough). For my critical listening, I use a combination of the V-MODA splitter cable (comes with the M-100s) and a physical splitter and the Yamaha CX-A5000 processor. I was able to plug in up to three headphones at the same time. I had to manually level match the headphones with the volume control but it was the best I could do.

I used a variety of music for this comparison. Most notably, I used the same disc we used for our 2009 Floorstanding Loudspeaker Shootout. This is a compilation of music that I'm very familiar with. You can follow the link to the shootout for the specific songs if you are interested. It tends toward country and folk with an emphasis on well-recorded vocalists. I augmented this playlist with a few additional recordings from Yello, Morcheeba, Blue Man Group, Diana Krall, and more.

In the end, the RHA MA750s performed very well. The Audio-Technica were the most linear of all the headphones and, as such, seemed to be lacking bass in direct comparisons. But I know from long experience that they have enough bass, it just didn't seem so when quickly switching. While the 560.1 driver measurement provided by RHA looked very flat, in subjective performance, there was an emphasis there. But, unlike the SA950i headphones where I thought they were bass heavy, the MA750 headphones sounded punchy. What really impressed me was the extension. They were playing notes lower even than the V-MODA Crossfade M-100s.

ma750 tip

With the midrange, there seemed to be a slightly recessed quality in relation to the Audio-Technica and V-MODA offerings. It wasn't dramatic or pronounced but with quick switching, I often thought that the lower midrange sounded a bit muddy in comparison. The upper midrange, on the other hand, was perfectly clear and crisp. The high end, however, was where the RHA MA750s had the most problems. When comparing with the Audio-Technica, they sounded much more defined but sometimes harsh. The harshness was even more prevalent when comparing to the M-100s. 

Oh, I guess I should have mentioned price. The Audio-Technica have an MSRP of $200 and the V-MODA cost over $300. To suggest that the $120 RHA are even in the same ballpark is a huge accomplishment on RHA's part.

ma750 tip storage sideIn casual listening, when I was really paying attention, the bass was a little overdone and obscured the lower midrange but I never really found the top end fatiguing. If I had to describe the top end it would be mostly laid back with occasional outbursts of harshness. Sort of like dating a hippy - totally mellow until you say you listen to Rush Limbaugh and then they freak completely out.

Or so I've heard.

I could make the case that the harshness I heard was as much a function of the comparison as it was the particular track because it was by no means universal. Most of the time the top end was very enjoyable and I would generally categorize the high end as "laid back". During the critical listening tests, the very lowest notes were much better represented by the RHA than any of the other headphones. The bass extension with the RHA MA750 headphones was absolutely unreal. When paired with Crazy by Seal, I heard bass notes that were usually reserved for reference subs. The kicker was that they were never flabby or distorted. The notes were always crisp and clean.

I was also impressed with the soundstage and the dynamic range of the MA750 headphones. While it is hard to compare over-ear to in-ear on soundstage as the in-ear tend to have that "coming from inside your head" sound, I was impressed with the stereo separation and the MA750's ability to put sounds not only between my ears but in front and behind my head. The dynamic range was also very good. While you lost detail at lower volumes, that punchy bass was still present. Other headphones had to be turned up considerably louder to hear those same bass notes.

Conclusion

While the RHA MA750 headphones might look like they are designed for use while exercising, I assure you they are not. While they may have had a bit of a bass emphasis, it was completely forgivable considering they had better bass extension than headphones nearly 3x's their price. Once again RHA has exceeded my expectations at their price point. One of these days they will send me a pair of headphones I don't like. Today is not that day.

RHA MA750 In-Ear Headphones

MSRP: $119.95

ma750 box

www.rha-audio.com

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Build QualityStarStarStarStarStar
AppearanceStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStar
ImagingStarStarStarStarStar
SoundstageStarStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStarStarStar
About the author:
author portrait

As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

View full profile

Confused about what AV Gear to buy or how to set it up? Join our Exclusive Audioholics E-Book Membership Program!

Recent Forum Posts:

IEMPatel posts on May 01, 2015 09:19
Great Review and RHA is really making progress so far as an attention-to-detail company with magnificent sound audio production. From humble beginnings in Scotland, they are slowly becoming more and more world renowned!
man4pak04 posts on April 30, 2015 02:08
According to the company, one of the most important aspects of the X2 is the Layered Motion Control (LMC) drivers which feature a multi-layered polymer diaphragm that encases a layer of damping gel. They say that these layers form a flexible boundary and – together with the gel – absorbs and dampens any exaggerated frequencies, resulting in a smooth and flatter frequency response. Check out the following features and specifications for details and don't forget to share your impressions.


_____________________
ANAIM
GrandizerJump posts on March 04, 2015 23:51
Hi, love the review. I recently had a chance to hear these at a store. Looking at these (RHA 750i) or the B&W C5. The C5s are a bit more than I would like to spend but not unreasonable. I mainly use them on the go and at work while listening to hip hop, rock and some dance music. Just wondering if you could point out some of the differences between the two that could help me make up my mind on which set to spend money on. Have a feeling either will work be great but rather make an informed decision.

Thanks.
Post Reply