British audio company RHA have sent me a pair of their MA350 earphones to try out. They’re a nifty looking earphone and a very shiny change to your typical after-market earbuds. From the machined aluminium exterior of the trumpet-shaped driver, to the braided cord and the gold-plated plug the MA350s really feel like a premium product.
The earphones themselves have a 10mm audio driver firing into a cone that, RHA say, was designed like the end of a trumpet. The earphones have an adjustable Y-divider to lessen dangling wires under your chin and a 1.2m braided cord terminating at a 3.5mm TRS gold plated plug. The braided cord design covers the entire length of the wire from earphone to plug and each earphone was labelled L and R, though it was hard to see in some light.
Included in the box are three different sizes of earphone tips, helpfully sized Small, Medium and Large, and a faux-velvet carry bag. The carry bag is probably the weakest offering as it’s a simple drawstring bag which won’t do anything to protect the earphone tips from being squashed out of shape, but it will keep the earphones altogether.
As with all in-earphones, the fit has to be very secure in your ear or you won’t hear any bass. When I tried to remove the installed earphone tips and replace them with the larger size I was sure I was going to pull the earphones apart as the tips were on very tight. Everything held together though and I managed to swap the mediums for the larges and I was away. It’s good to know that the tips won’t pop off in your ear, but I wouldn’t go swapping the tips too often if you don’t have to.
With the largest earphone tips in place I achieved a good seal however they wouldn’t stay in place while walking. Sitting around or moving around the house was fine, but anything more strenuous meant they needed to be pushed back in every five minutes or so. Obviously everyone’s ears are different, but that’s the first time I’ve ever used in-earphones that were too small, or too soft to stay in position. That was a little disappointing but the fit was very comfortable and I happily listened to them continuously for several hours with no discomfort.
The MA350 is touted as a noise isolating earphone and as a torture-test I used them while mowing the lawn. Sure enough the seal was secure enough to keep out noise without resorting to dialing the volume up to 11. Hardly scientific I know, but it shows that the MA350 should easily keep out the snores of the bloke next to you on the bus.
Another feature which made the MA350s lovely to use, was the braided cord. Primarily it helped to lessen the “banging” sound that’s transmitted through plastic cords as they bump on things. The noise still occurs but it’s much softer and the soft cord really makes a difference, the braiding is supposed to stop the cord tangling as well which it did quite well. For all its technology though, you still can’t eat biscuits while you’re wearing the earphones, but I do hear scientists are working on it … or perhaps not.
Sound-wise, and I’m not audiophile, the MA350s are a cut above the other similarly-priced earphones I have heard. They were clearer sounding with a good punch to the sound that tended to emphasize the bass without making it boom, and yet they still kept the vocals nice and clear with the sound and instruments nicely spaced apart. The more I listened with the MA350 the more impressed I was, discovering a few nuances in music I was very familiar with.
Switching over to watching videos in Casino Royale they easily resolved the rumble of engines and the fine scattering of sand in the chase through the construction site; and you could feel every bang as the Aston Martin bounced across the grass. Everything came through in droves with heady clarity. Not a definitive test I know, but they were more than adequate for video work.
Lovely solid finish and quality feel
Braided cord the entire length of the cable and with adjustable divider
Sound is very clear with clear distinction between the bass and higher ups
Sound isolation was very good and earphones were very comfortable
No hard case and choice of only three silicone earplugs
Tips were a little soft to stay in my big ears
I’m a diehard in-earphone fan, and the MA350 earphones are quite something, with their solid build, wonderful tangle-free cord, gorgeous sound and great price. They are very comfortable for long stints of listening and produced a good, sound-isolating seal. If I was buying a pair for myself I would definitely check out the MA450i earphones as well as they have an inline remote control and a larger range of ear tips with a hard case. Still, for £29.95 ($39.95US) the MA350 earphones are a great deal and highly recommended.