Like a rolling stop in an otherwise flawless driver’s test, the MA650 impeccable design and rock solid wireless signal are marred a goodly amount of line noise. It’s less than Astell & Kern’s XB10, last year to which I gave high honours. It is audible if not annoying. It’s a wake up call: no matter how far some wireless products have come, stragglers still exist. Its hiss is higher in volume than the iPhone 4s’s hiss. Considering the iPhone 4s is my favourite-sounding smartphone from any brand, the comparison is in by no means bad. Still, I’d much rather dead, MUC-M2BT1 silence. Once music gets going at normal Nathan (quiet listening volumes) it’s just barely noticeable. At normal Chase Emory listening volumes, hiss will be inaudible.
The 650’s signature reminds me of the 350, but brighter in the upper mids with a wider sound stage. Both the MA650’s upper mids and sound stage are brilliant. To date, the 350 is the budget earphone that most knocked my socks off. At times, however, it could be a bit too warm. The 650’s stage is wider, deeper, and fades faster at the lateral extremes. Added to the signature, which in my opinion represents the best balance between warmth and frequency balance. There’s a bit of wet reverb in the upper mids that catches and extends the forward sound stage by a few steps. Overall, however, the frequency response is rather flat.
Vocals jump slightly out of the head, splashing only just so in the upper female vocal region. Sometimes, upper midrange splash indicates mild tension above. The MA650 is sibilance free. Its upper mids are bright-ish, though, but gosh, they are placed just right to make the sound stage seem bigger, wider, and extend the highest pressure areas out enough to approximate a meagre two-channel audio setup. The stage isn’t that wide, and like I said before, quickly cuts off quickly, but its height and depth makes up for it. Music goes as far as the shoulders and goes dark pretty soon after that. But how enthusiastically it pushes all the way to the shoulders!
Bass attack is soft-ish but decay fast. It is warm, semi powerful, and expressive. It won’t render in yawning the opening terms in Markus Schulz’s Mainstage, but it reaches low enough to render sub-bass. There’s not a lot of texture detail down low- or anywhere outside of the midrange, for that matter. This has an interesting softening impact on percussion, but one that works especially well in Joy Division, New Order, and the entire British Invasion. It is my strong opinion that out of every earphone that’s tried this signature, the MA650 is the best put together, and the best-sounding.
Had it the bass texture detail of the JVC FW02, it wouldn’t be as listenable for long periods. Had it the upper midrange pressure of an Ocharaku’s Flat4 Sakura Plus, it would would lose the magical bass. Not that the MA650 is better than those phones. It’s just it puts everything together so damn well- in fact it may put things together into the most coherent balance between neutrality and warmth that I’ve heard.
What the hell, eh?
Because it does most of what it does perfectly, it somewhat is a shame that the MA650’s line noise is as high as it is. Sure, it’s not as high as my pick for last year (Astell&Kern’s XB10), but it’s no longer last year. As said, you luckily might not even notice it. And I’ve tried the Flares Pro, which honestly, stymie both the MA750 and MA650 for amplification and DAC quality. Of course, the MA650 goes for around 100$.
Whatever- the MA650’s sound signature is brilliant! And then there’s its amazing ergonomics not to mention utilitarian design.