Sunday, 3 November 2013

RHA MA-600i Review

RHA MA-600i Review

Thanks to RHA for the sample.

First Impressions:  Box looks nice. Just like the MA-750 one with its magnetic flap.  Opening them up though is a bit of a mixed bag.  The case inside I rather like, more so than the 750 one but the lovely metal tip holder lacks something.  It doesn’t have those foamie tips that I rather like with the 750.  that’s a shame as they were going to be my tip of choice.  Hmm, the 750 came with 2 pairs so maybe I’ll steal the other set!  The buds are rather visually more like those of the MA-350, the same inverse trumpet shape.  The jack though is a 90 degree one and I rather prefer those to the straight one on the 750.

Having a listen and immediately I’m reminded of the acoustic signature of the 350 than that of the 750.  It’s got a rather pronounced V shaped, bombastic sound.  The bass especially seems plenty powerful.  God it’s got a real kick to it.  Overall though I’m really liking the timbre here, it was very good on the 750 too.  Could it be due to the super tough and non resonant machined metal enclosures?

Source:  Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., FireyeDA, Galaxy Nexus.

Lows:  What I said before about the bass, that.  These are really rather V shaped acoustically and the bass is of epic proportions.   Its visceral bass.  Now if you like that sort of thing yey for you but for me it pushing right up there at the limits of what I can stand.  This is a bit of bass monster.  acoustically its very reminiscent of the MA-350 I tried some time ago.  The quality as you would expect has jumped up a fair level and that extra quality translates as being so much more capable when it come to agility and punch.  These will punch you upside the head with their low end response.  There is some serious power here!  For me when you get to this quantity I’d much rather the bass was a little softer and more relaxed, let the bass bloom and envelop you.  Here the bass is vast and feels at times like its beating the sides of your skull in if you really let it go wild with some very bassy tracks.  Subtle and reserved it is not.

The quality is good for its size and cost but its epic and brutal power is too much for me.  Its depth likewise I’d be happier to see it trail away but no, it keeps on battering and roaring right on down to the extend I’m turning the volume ever lower.  If you’re desirous of a savage bass monster to blast and thrill you this could be one for you.

Mids:  Timbrally they are very nice.  They have a beautiful tone going on and are reasonably clear.  They are however in a bit a bass / treble valley.  Acoustically they do especially well with more breathy and airy vocals from the like of Imbruglia.  They did a fine job really with everything I threw at it.  Still this isn’t the IEM you’re picking for mid fans. 

Highs:  For me they are for too abundant but for the price they are rather good.  They and their machined metal enclosures allow them to really have a crisp and metallic twang up top.  Highs impact with that metallic edge they ought to and have a bitingly crisp decay and shimmer.  It’s really quite skilful and really lends itself to letting you hear everything that’s going on.  Every note and every impact is presented in the clearest and crispest possible manner.  For some that will be a grand boon but I found it tired my ears if I used for too long.  The highs here really stand out very very clearly and while they do poses a certain amount of talent, I’m rather treble sensitive.  This is huge V shaped wow you on first impressions, scintillating and attention grabbing treble.

Talented it is though, just a little too much of it perhaps.

Soundstage:  As a dynamic it’s pretty big.  They have a very good sense of space and have clearly oodles of power to scale with.  They worked interesting with orchestral things too, lots of space and reasonable instrument placement.

Fit:  Great, slapped in ears and that was that really.  Fit me fine worn up or down.

Comfort:  I mostly wore up and they were fine.  Down they pulled a bit on the ear as they aren’t the lightest and the mic as with most mic’s would catch on a collar and that irritates.  Worn up was great though.

Cable:  Not anything like as pretty or as tactile as its sibling, the MA750, but this cable works very well in practical terms.  It would appear to be a woven like that on the 350 but with a plastic sheath over it.  It’s attractive but more importantly it lacks the ridges of a woven and it should last a good long while.  The Y splitter and jack too look quality.

Build:  Excellent.  The buds are machined metal, the cable looks good, the jack looks sturdy too etc etc.  In addition you get a 3 year warranty so that a clear commitment to these being able to hold up well to life.

Microphonics:  While they weren’t terrible worn down I’d still suggest wear them up.

Phone Use:  Okay, a bit of a surprise here as the mic worked.  I have no idea why the 600i worked with the Nexus 4 and the 570 didn’t as I would have assumed they have the exact same jack configuration.  I do not know why, maybe I didn’t have them plugged in right?  I don’t know as it just makes no sense.  The play / pause button worked fine, the volume controls did not.  I’m sure they would with an Iphone as that’s what they are made in mind of.

Amped/Unamped:  Arguably the worst amp I ever use in that in the Nexus 4, it’s the weakest probably yet with the 600 that played as a strength in my ears.  The 600 is a blatant beast of an IEM and the phone just couldn’t eak out all that’s there in the highs or the lows.  The result of course is both boing rather tamed to more favourable levels.  It does occur to me that the 600 may very well be made with such things in mind, most buyers in the real word won’t be using more powerful DAP’s.  Throwing more power though resulted in much harder bass and more dazzling treble.

Isolation:  Pretty good.  Like their siblings they are relatively sealed it seems and so isolated well for a dynamic.  More than sufficient for on a bus or out and about but not really up to long flight or daily Tube use.  As always its quite sufficient to get you run over too.

Accessories:  8 pairs of tips that very sadly doesn’t include any of the foamies RHA supply with the 750.  Still it’s a good selection and they all seem of quality construction as does the sheet of metal that acts as a tip holder.  Of course the best bit of the accessories is the case, it seems as nicely constructed as everything else and it’s a great size.  Oh and a shirt clip in there somewhere.

Value:  Hmm, well the 600 is £50 and the 600i is £60.  Normally I’d say yeah go for them if you want this sort of sound signature, its massively, massively V shaped so probably a “mainstream” winning sound and they have a huge warranty and they are really solidly built.  But…given how awesome the 750 is I’d personally sooner save a bit more and get them but hey I realise I’m not the average consumer who wants massive thumping bass.  For that segment the build and huge warranty have got to appeal to those who are hard on things. 

Conclusion:  I don’t think it’s a huge secret that these I have not loved.  The bass here is cracking, skull cracking in fact.  The treble too is wildly exuberant and voracious in its willingness to explode all over the place.  The combination makes for a bombastic thrill machine that likes to slap you in the face with the highs then punch you in the guts with that bass.  I don’t doubt my sister would love this or a few friends too but it’s not a sound that fits me so much.  I like things a bit more sedate, I like sumptuous and flowing mids, the mids here are credible if a tad dry but engulfed by the bass and treble.  The quality of everything here is good but the quantities are what make it not for me.

Speaking of quality, the build on RHA stuff is rather excellent.  The metal construction of the buds and the backup of that warranty, is there anyone else still offering 3 year warranties out there?  Even Shure, Westone and the former kings of warranty, Etymotic only offer 2 years.  I can see that being a big appeal to those who churn through a pair of cheap IEM’s every 6 months.

Acoustically the M600 wants to party all day long.  It’s all about massive potent bass pounding out a bass line and highs crashing and exploding through it all.  I don’t doubt there are many out there who will love it in spades.  And why not?  The quality of each component is actually very good, for the price and when well driven the bass given its vast size is tremendously punchy and agile.  Likewise the treble is of great quality for the money and quantity.  You just primarily need to be sure you want the quantities involved.  It’s not one for the timid or faint hearted.

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