British headphones for British people…. and anyone else that wants some.
RHA isn’t a brand that I’m particularly familiar with, but they got in touch recently to see if I’d be interested in reviewing their new MA350 earphones.
They’re based in Glasgow, Scotland, and a quick Google search shows that they’re a relatively new company, having only been in the market for around two years.
To be honest, that would make any marketable product pretty impressive, but let’s stay objective and take a closer look at the MA350′s.
Look and feel
RHA get top marks in terms of design on these headphones. Not only do they feel pretty well made, but the choice of materials is almost unheard of at this price point.
The ear-buds themselves are fashioned from aluminium, which should mean that they’ll stand up to being left in the bottom of a backpack better than a plastic alternative.
The cords have their own interesting characteristics, being coated in braided fabric rather than a traditional plastic coating. This might seem like a strange choice, but it actually makes the cords incredibly flexible, which will add to the comfort of the phones. That being said, the cords do feel a little heavier than a traditional plastic or rubber coated version, so some users might find that to be a problem.
The connectors at either end of the cord or a more traditional silicon rubber construction. They feel well made and should stand up to being bent and pulled quite well.
Overall, I like the styling of the MA350′s. The machined aluminium really adds to the quality feel of the product, without adding too much weight to the earpieces.
Comfort and sound
When it comes to raw sound quality, the MA350′s punch slightly above their weight for this price point. Sound isn’t up to audiophile quality, but it’s a whole bunch better than some other phones from established manufacturers whos products will sit alongside the MA350′s on shop shelves. Trust me; I’ve forgotten my headphones on enough occasions to know how products in this price range should sound, and these phones are definitely toward the top of any expectations I might have.
Mids and highs are both represented well, though bass response could be a little crisper, and a little deeper. That being said, crank up your device and you’ll find that the MA350′s cope just as well at higher volumes as they do at lower ones. There’s minimal distortion at the high end, and bass sounds are produced with no less clarity than they are at lower volumes. It’s unusual to find a set of in-ear phones that are as versatile across such a broad volume range, so RHA should at least get credit for that.
In terms of comfort, RHA provide you with three sets of silicone earpieces which should cover the needs of most users. I found that the larger of the sets worked best for me, but the other two sets were just as comfortable, so it purely comes down to personal preference. I trialled the MA350′s over a few days, for varying lengths of time and in various scenarios. I found them to be perfectly comfortable for extended listening, though they did give me a few problems when I chose to wear them while out jogging.
RHA don’t advertise these phones as being suitable for use during exercise, so this is hardly surprising. But those who might buy these with a mind to occasionally wear them while at the gym should maybe consider other options as well.
When it comes to noise isolation, the MA350′s give a reasonable performance for this price point. Background noise is reduced significantly by the tight fit of the silicon ear pieces, though you do get the usual annoying rubbing noise caused by vibration of the cords against other surfaces. This seems to have been made slightly worse by the use of fabric insulation, which causes more friction with clothes and surfaces.
Overall I would say that the MA350′s justify the RRP of £29.95.
The sound and build quality are good for the price point, and the interesting use of materials in the design gets a big thumbs up from me.
RHA are also quick to point out that the MA350′s come with a standard 3-year warranty, though I predict this is limited to failure of the device from general use, and doesn’t cover accidental damage.
If you’re looking for a set of headphones for general use, without too much emphasis on sporting activities, then the MA350′s should definitely make your shortlist. Unfortunately, there’s no microphone or in-line controls built into them, but they more than make up for this in sound quality and general comfort while rested.