It’s no secret that RHA has been busy. This Scottish company seemed to come from nowhere a couple of years ago and now offer five different models (4 with or without mics) of in-ear headphones. I’ve been consistently impressed with the sound and build quality of their models, but the most impressive part is the cost. Few earphone makers have achieved this level of quality at a price most people can afford. Their excellent MA350 is only $40. For those with a desire for something better that still won’t empty their bank account, RHA offers the MA600i.
The MA600i and the less expensive MA450i may look alike on the outside, but that’s where the similarity ends. The 600i has improved dynamic driver speakers. Compared with the 450i, the 600i sounds a bit more detailed with a slightly smother bass. Notice I said a bit more.The difference was subtle at best. I dare say that there will be some who either couldn’t tell the difference or even care. The audio quality is close enough that I would advise anyone to opt for the 450i if budget was an issue. But this is a review of the MA600i, so enough comparison talk.
Like other RHA in-ear headphones, the MA600i mixes aircraft-grade aluminum with plastic to create what RHA calls “aerophonic design.” The earphone shell has a shape similar to the business end of a horn. It flairs out from the earpiece to the shell that houses the dynamic speaker. The larger end of the shell allows for increased air-movement within.
The MA600i comes with a big selection of ear tips mounted on a metal card. I actually found a pair of tips that fit my ears—something that hasn’t happened before with RHA—or maybe my ears are changing. These tips provide the right amount of resistance when removing, which is a good indicator that a proper seal has been achieved. As I’ve said before, no seal means no bass. It’s that important.
A hard carrying case keeps the MA600i earphones safe for commuting. It’s an improvement over the soft bag that comes with the 450i. There is a 3 year warranty on them that I may need to use—I’ll explain later in the review.
The gold-plated mini plug is a right-angle design—much better than a straight plug. It takes up less room and decreases the chance of breaking or bending. Also, the plug fits my iPhone 6 while using a case. Nice. The cord is cloth like the 450i, but it’s now covered in a soft plastic that eliminates the creasing issues I had with RHA’s other cords.
The “i” in 600i simply means that a 3-button and mic are included for iPhone users. RHA must really like Apple, because there is no Android version available.The mic allows clear calls and the remote lets you increase/decrease the volume as well as pause/skip tracks.
One potentially serious issue I have with the remote is that the plastic plug that connects the wire to the mic housing came loose, exposing the electronics inside. While I’m handy and can just super-glue it back, some may be intimidated with these kinds of issues. This is where the RHA 3-year warranty helps. This has never happened with other RHA earphones I’ve had, and while I suspect it’s an isolated incident, it should be mentioned. This issue has not affected the audio in any way.
Speaking of audio, the MA600i in-ear headphones sound as well and sometimes better than other $90 earphones. If I sound a little less than impressed, it simply because they sound marginally better than the 450i (which cost $50) and not nearly as good as the higher-end RHA MA750i—admittedly costing much more at $130. It’s an awkward position for the 600i to be in.
Having said that, there are reasons to like the MA600i earphones. Let’s start with the bass. It’s warm, forgiving and not bloated. Led Zeppelin songs come across well using them, even though some Zep songs were never audiophile-grade recordings despite the recent remasters. The 600i earphones let you enjoy what Led Zeppelin were so good at, kick-butt rock and blues licks. Their recording’s rough edges are smoothed out, but not so much that is erases the drama.
A song like Still Corners’ “All I Know” holds on to its proper bass thump as well as the shimmer of cymbals. Their whispery vocals have the right mount of breathiness without descending into a muddy mix of voice and bass. There is a clarity in the song that’s portrayed accurately from the 600i earphones.
The 600i earphones do get tripped up by uber bass-heavy music, such as Brian Eno’s later work. With this kind of music, you’re better off with a more accurate earphone like the MA750i. It’s just too much for the 600i without some serious equalization tweaking—something I don’t like to do.
Despite the awkward marketing position of the 600i in-ear headphones in RHA’s lineup, it’s a relatively cheaper alternative to more expensive dynamic-based earphones. This can be something to consider especially in the wear-and-tear world of commuting.
Source: The sample for this review was provided by RHA. Please visit www.rha-audio.com/us/ for more info.