RHA MA600i and MA750i: Scottish Lowlanders

About Valentin

Disclaimer: A sample box containing the RHA MA600i and MA750i was sent to both me and Lieven after being contacted by RHA. They have no affiliations to us.

Introduction

Ok. Now that we’ve passed the “they wanted us to review them and we said ok”, I’ve got to start by saying the following… I’m not the guy for reviewing 130 USD in-ears, and definitely not the guy for 90 USD ones. It’s not about audiophile-snobbism, “Oh, he thinks he’s too good to review cheaper stuff”. Nahh… Simply my experience regarding this stuff is limited. Since I haven’t heard the competition you will not find me finishing this review with “these are the best headphones for 100 USD”.  I haven’t heard newer/potentially interesting stuff like HiFiMAN RE-400 or  Fostex’s latest TE-05. So why am I doing it? Well, for starters, I’m always going to be a prime crusader of “bang for the buck”. Expensive is not automatically good, even though the headphone trend seems to be deviating towards exactly that. And secondly, RHA phones, especially the big brother claim to have Hi-Fi-neutrality. Those two words put together, is a bit bold, so if the scotts want to play with the big boys, let them try, game on.

RHA

So you might be wondering. RH-who/what/where? RHA, short for Reid and Heath Acoustics, is a Scottish company founded 2011. The creator of a unique range of high specification audio products driven by passion and pride. Sure, that sounds good. But it doesn’t say too much either. Kind of generic so to speak. One thing that is very impressive is their immense growth spurt. I don’t know how they’ve succeeded to have 1 internet retailer (except for Apple Store) and 34 shops that sell their stuff. And that’s only in Sweden (!)… and in 2 years (!). They offer 4 or 7 (depending on wether an “i”-phone counts as unique or not) in-ear’s. MA350; MA450i and non-i; MA600i and non-i and last but not least MA750i and non-i. All phones are available from the 18th of November in the US and A.

For whom?

As one might guess from the i these are headphones for the i-generation. Designing for Apple-compatibility helps them be a part of Apple Store, which might be a good dealer, especially if you want to reach the 50-150 USD-demography. Let’s face it. The probability is much lower for a devoted review-fanatic making an informed purchase of something cheaper, than something more expensive. Time is money. Although a 140 USD in-ear is a lot for some people, I get a feeling that a lot of people buy them on a whim. It’s not a 2000 USD DAC we’re talking about. Nonetheless, some of you guys maybe are looking for a more budget-minded headphone as a second rig for the gym, travel etc. Then at least the big brother is for you. But before we get ahead of ourselves. Let’s take a look at them.

MA600i-groupshot

Everything but the sound

B-e-a-utiful. Especially 750. Non-tangle silicone-soft cable. Lots of sturdy stainless steel, well-inforced entry in the shell, a beautiful splitter and plug, and last but not least a very sturdy remote. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they cost 299 USD. The smaller brother however… It’s plasticky wannabe-IE800-kevlar-cable, tangly and feels so much cheaper. It’s more like 50 USD. Maximum. So we have the beauty and the beast. What else. Well the supplied accessories are really dead on. 750 has a huge selection. If you don’t find a perfect fit. You’re ears need surgery. The 600 has a steady bunch too. Nice. Both cases are well done. However, I have preference for the 750’s. I can fit the latest gen iPod Touch and the earphones. It makes sense. Plus it feels much more luxurious. The smaller case, sure. A bit more pocket friendly, but not by much since it’s thicker. Ah, did I say the the 750’s are cable-over-the-ear? Yeah, much better for ergonomics.

MA750i-full accessories

So a recap. We have the stunning 750 with lots and lots of tips and a great case, and the 600 with fewer tips and a crappier case. This hasn’t started off that good for the mere difference of 40 USD. Let’s hope the sound difference ain’t as grand.

Mister-mister, boom-boom-boom?

Ok, sorry I couldn’t resist. But you have to love bass to like these headphones. On the other hand, let’s return to my first conclusion… To whom are they targeted? Yeah… The Beats-generation. So, a first introduction to bass for youngsters that have heard music flowing through the built-in speakers in their laptop or white Apple earbuds. Let’s start with the small brother MA600i.

Frequency response

The MA600i starts with a somewhat thin sub-bass that goes into a neutral bass and finishes in a over-whelming midbass. It stays steady a bit into the midrange then we have a peak, a suck-out in “voices” going into another ringing peak and finally finishes off with highly rolled-off highs. Hah. I’m joking with you guys. What I want to say is that it doesn’t make any sense. It’s just up and down and here and there. In plain English it’s the following. 1) Extreme midbass bleeding into the midrange; 2) Double peaks in the upper midrange/lower highs with a suckout inbetween 3) Extreme rolled-off highs. The bigger brother won’t neccise as many words. Very-very good visceral sub-bass. Neutral bass. Still a bit thickness in the midbass and a milder bleed into the midrange. Mids then stay pretty straight but far from cold. Then we have a progressive roll-off in the highs. It is far from neutral, but not a rollercoaster ride like it’s sibling.

Sound stage & imaging

Once again MA600i goes first. Sound stage is 3 blobs/circles. We have a big circle in the middle. Voices and mid-range instruments are blurred together in the middle of it. Below this blur we have a very thick carpet of midbass. And above the blur sometimes there are some extra details. Then we have two smaller “panned” circles. One left and one right. Sometimes we get some weird-sounding cymbals/percussion from these extremes. Sometimes we resemble a producer trying to use the stereo effect. We got some panning, echoes, over-dubbed guitar. Sometimes. Well if the MA600i was 3 blobs. Then MA750i is a butterfly. Imagine one with its wings extended. We got a higher oval in the middle. Inside this oval we got some serious height. Impressive. On the sides we have a clear distinction of left up and left down (and a small suckout in left middle), and equally on the right side. This much more complex sound stage eases imaging. Instead of a blur we got distinct stereo panning. Suddenly you understand  what the whole stereo thing is about. Thinking in the mind of a newly-introduced non-audiophile individual. The instruments have some air between them. It’s thick air, but still air.

Pairings

Discussing pairings for the MA’s feels a bit overkill. Of course you can make them sound better. Especially 750. You can add some width, height and control. But just using them straight on with an iDevice is probably how 99% will use them. And in my opinion, it’s enough.

 

End words

MA600i upright jack

 

MA600i

Positive: Cheap, good case, good selection of tips, good remote

Negative: Rollercoster-frequency. Guitars/bass/voices lack texture, constant bass blob, no air in the sound stage and almost all highs have a recessed saw-tooth-sounding feel.

MA750i Upright2

MA750i

Positive: This could be a 300USD headphone. Packaging, accessories, looks, feel. Awesome. The sound is good. These could be my reserve-headphones. Forgiving due to slow decay/thick sound (if you like it), impressive sub-bass (!). If you listen to modern music (dance, hip-hop, pop etc…) these are fun.

Negative: See above, not the final choice for detail/imaging, still too much midbass. If you’re on the analytical side and listen to acoustic, classical, jazz etc. I would consider something else.

SO… Bassy. Big difference in… well everything, between the siblings. Do not even consider buying the MA600i when you get four times more for just 40 bucks extra. Constructive criticism… RHA, impressive job. You guys/gals are heading in the right direction. Since this is the first endeavor with hi-fi earphones. If you ever make a MA800 or MA950 (which I hope you will), I have high expectations. Just don’t go overboard with the pricing, as so many before you. Pricing, ergonomics/esthetics are your strong suit.

Want to see some more pictures and read what Lieven has to say about these? Read it on the next page!

RHA MA600i and MA750i: Scottish Lowlanders
4.5 (90%) 2 votes

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Valentin is a mid-20’s multi-tasker. Played a lot of instruments from the age of 5-6 and onward. Grew his hair, experimented with 4x12” Mesa Boogies whilst growling in front of a mic. Cut his hair and DJ’d electro beats at clubs. Grew a moustache and people started calling him Dr. Hogea. Has ravaged through all genres you could imagine. A playlist with Warren Zevon, Dissection and Dead Prez is the daily diet. Preferably in a transportable manner. Life is too short for a desk.

    32 Comments

    • Reply November 20, 2013

      Toni Alvarez Fdez

      In this price range, the Hifiman RE-400 are unbeatable!!

      • Reply November 20, 2013

        L.

        Maybe, maybe not. Like Valentin said, we won’t compare it to other iems. We’re just reviewing these units. I hope the comments won’t all be like this or I will be hitting the delete button a lot 😀

        • Reply November 20, 2013

          Toni Alvarez Fdez

          Ok, I hit it for u, no problem! But imho it is impossible to know how good are headphones without comparing them to others in the same price range.

    • Reply November 20, 2013

      George Lai

      Like Lieven, I just can’t use stock tips. Round ones, Klipsch oval ones, single/double/triple flanges, foam ones, Comply tips, Westone ridged ones etc. Time to explore custom IEMs. Right, Lieven?

      • Reply November 20, 2013

        L.

        Exactly!

    • Reply November 24, 2013

      MassiveTurboLag

      Valentin, are you Romanian?

      • Reply November 25, 2013

        Valentin

        MTL, you could say that yes, my parents are romanian. However, I wouldn’t consider myself romanian, other than speaking the language fluently, haven’t lived there for many many years. /V

        • Reply November 25, 2013

          MassiveTurboLag

          Damn my spidey sense is sharp.

        • Reply November 26, 2013

          stan zorin

          A person’s identity comes from his or her ethnic origin and not from a piece of paper that is driver licence or passport. If your parents were Romanian then you are also Romanian. Good for you, you know who you are, you know who your ancestors are. You are not a rootless and confused man like for instance many Americans are; one quarter Irish and one eight both Chinese and Italian and one half ‘chocolate’ colour citizen.

    • Reply November 25, 2013

      James

      How do these compare to the unobtainable in the U.S. CKM55’s?

      • Reply November 25, 2013

        L.

        I have no clue, I doubt Valentin does either

      • Reply November 25, 2013

        Mike

        The CKM55s are a fun bass consumer IEM. The RHA is a more proper audiophile IEM.

      • Reply February 24, 2014

        ohm image

        Mike is right. I can add that even with Ocharaku’s mod, the CKM55 doesn’t really get over its mid-bass hump. The sound is fun, but next to the RHA, it is nothing great. These earphones are excellent.

    • Reply December 5, 2013

      Joël Bühler

      Hey there,
      Are the Phonax audéo PFE 012 similar to these IEM?
      Thanks

      • Reply December 5, 2013

        Mike

        Nah, the Phonak sound is unique to their own brand I think.

    • Reply August 5, 2014

      Marius Lievense

      Today I received the MA750i and I really like the sound straight out of my iPhone 5s. No need for EQ and no quality loss. They sound a bit on the dark side, but I like this sound (at home I play with HD650 + Little Dot MKIII with Mullard M8161 tubes). For 99 euro including Apple mic and remote een great deal. You only need Comply foam tips for a good seal.

      • Reply August 5, 2014

        dalethorn

        I had a very favorable impression of the MA750.

      • Reply August 5, 2014

        L.

        M750 is a nice iem. But to me still mid fi.

    • Reply August 15, 2014

      Ste

      Hi Guys, quick question.. would it be possible to use the rha 750i in the gym? or do you perhaps think the metal shell would be too weighty and fall out? was gonna buy a pair for my workouts.. Thanks

      • Reply August 16, 2014

        L.

        No they wouldn’t be any good for that

        • Reply August 16, 2014

          Ste

          ah well,bought them now anyway..other people told me they are very secure in the ear with the ear hooks..im sure they will be fine

          • Reply August 16, 2014

            L.

            Good luck. they already fell out my ears just sitting down 🙂

            • Reply August 16, 2014

              Ste

              Ha,maybe you have weird ears or are using a poor tip 😛

    • Reply August 30, 2014

      BitHacker

      “If you’re on the analytical side and listen to acoustic, classical, jazz etc. I would consider something else.”
      Can you please recommend something? I’m looking for audiophile IEMs, that can be used with iPhone.

      • Reply August 30, 2014

        Fakeer

        I will also be interested in this answer 🙂

      • Reply August 30, 2014

        L.

        Budget?

        • Reply August 30, 2014

          BitHacker

          $200 to $300 max.

      • Reply August 31, 2014

        dalethorn

        I liked the B&O H3 a lot. People I know say that some of the Final Audio IEM’s are really good, like the Heaven IV. But there are other good brands like some of the Westones, Shure, Senn IE80 etc.

      • Reply August 31, 2014

        ohm image

        You are looking for an analytical or semi-analytical IEM in the 200-300$ range? There are several awesome choices out there, but the two earphones I personally stand by are ones I split between utility/strength, and comfort/ease of insertion.

        1: Audio Technica CK10. I’ve had mine since 2008. It is like an ER4 for people that found the ER4 too harsh and lacking bass. It uses dual small drivers in TWFK format. They kick out great detail from mids to upper mids, while put decent contrast in the bass. Highs are not scratchy, but are accurate and fast. Great for pretty much everything if you don’t mind that bass power isn’t huge.

        extra plusses: Extremely strong (you can step on them), best cable in the business, tiny, and good isolation.

        2: Grado GR8: This earphone looks inexpensive but costs about 200$. It uses a single moving armature, and therefore has lovely, nuanced bass and mids. Bass isn’t too strong though. But detail from mids to bass are very good. Highs are less nuanced but extend well. This is one I’d choose if the CK10 was too analytical. It’s an analytical earphone with training wheels. Great for tapping your feet and still hearing everything.

        Other derivatives of the Grado are ortofon e-Q5 and e-Q7 (great earphones). There are some good dynamic driver earphones out there, but you really need to have the right materials to make dynamics not only put out the same level of ‘detail’ but also to elude the sometimes awful plastic sound that can echo into the ear.

        Good dynamics are often quite expensive – if you are looking for an accurate/articulate sound.

        • Reply October 28, 2014

          Fakeer

          Anything near 750i’s price?

    • Reply November 13, 2014

      NinjaQuick

      dunu dn1000

    • Reply November 13, 2014

      NinjaQuick

      I’ve had these for two months now.

      They have a very big sound. They’re deep, fast. Very deep. They aren’t boomy, especially when you have more sounds, and the dynamic driver is given more work. If all that is going through is bass, then they can be characterized as being overly bassy. I listen to lots of classical music, and it really comes alive with the 750s.

      They have loads of energy, timbre, clarity. That said, they do have an upper limit, they distort a little as you get close to high volumes, but this happens just as you reach the threshold of pain, so really, listening anywhere near their max should be something you never, ever, do.

      Basically, if you got here, to this review, after already becoming curious about these, then I highly recommend you buy them. They are exactly what you are looking for.

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