Let me begin by saying that there is at least one Apple product I cannot stand. Despite their initial cool look, the original stock earphones were a literal pain in my ear. Even adding the mic and remote on the cord of the second generation couldn’t convince me to use them for any length of time, so they are a back-up pair for those times I need earbuds – say while traveling (or having your earbuds yanked from your ear by a lawn mower… don’t ask). While I don’t have the newest version of Apple’s Earpods, the first and second generation of earphones didn’t give me much confidence in trying them out.
Depending on your needs, the best earphones/earbuds I’ve recently been using had the ability to sequester external noise so the sounds from the ear-embedded micro-speakers are more effective. Britain’s RHA entrance into this field are exceptional with their strangely-named MA450i.
The MA450i, so named for “Micro Aural” 450i (for Apple’s iDevices), is the next in line for RHA, and upgrades their MA350 version, a well-liked item at Amazon.com. Since the MA450i is for idevices, it places a familiar, yet an ergonomically curved, mic/remote on the right-eared cord.
Ahh… The Comfort, the Sound, the Extras
By comparison to most other earphones, the sound from the all-aluminum MA450i is downright phenomenal. Bass thumping in my ear, clear highs and mid-ranges, all without full volume. Oh yes, these quickly have become my default earphones – for running and exercising, for podcasts, and even for drifting to sleep – because of the diminutive size and comfort in my ears. I suppose that was my biggest gripe of Apple’s earphones: they were just too honking big for my ear canal. On the other hand, I can wear the MA450i earphones for hours without adjustment or major discomfort.
Besides the earphones themselves, RHA sends many different size silicon tips (for noise isolating in different size ear canals) and even a superfluous velvet bag. RHA clearly is sending a strong belief in their product as well since they advertise a 3-year parts and labor warranty. The specs for the earphones are as follows:
Drivers – 10mm mylar
Frequency range – 16-22,000Hz
Impedance – 16ohms
Rated/max power – 3010mW
Sensitivity – 103dB
Cable – 1.5m Fabric Braided Y-cable
Connections – 3.5mm Gold Plated
What could be improved?
The MA450i’s come with a harder-than-usual-to-tangle fabric covered 1.5 meter cord. Now, I’m 6’3″, and 1.5 meters is over 4 feet of cord! That means I can put an iPhone below my knee before the cord length is used up. Most of the time when I need earphones, the furthest away my device is in my pocket, so there is a lot of cord left to drape, dangle, and get in the way. When I move my iPhone to an armband while running, I have to put over 3 feet of cord in my shirt to keep it from flopping around.
While the microphone is acceptable for both indoor and outdoor use, the curved remote buttons don’t always function so well with my iPhone, iPad, and iTunes on my MacBook Pro. Fidgeting with the remote while running and exercising is a distraction I’d rather not have.
Compared to $29 for Apple’s version of earphones/earpods, these high quality earphones earn high marks for their relatively inexpensive $50 price tag. Heck the comfort alone is worth $20, and getting heavy duty bass without distortion in one’s ear is this audiophile’s joy.
The MA450i was provided by the RHA for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.