Tagged: iPhone Earphones

Review: RHA MA450i iPhone-Compatible Earphones (with Video Review)

RHA MA450i eartips of iPhone friendly earphones

Review Summary

Price: $50

Art of the iPhone’s Rating: ★★☆☆☆
(2 stars out of 5)

Review Summary: The iPhone-compatible RHA MA450i are packaged like premium earphones with 7 different sized sets of eartips, a gold-plated jack, and an extra-long, fabric-covered, reinforced copper cord. Too bad sound quality doesn’t match up with the rest, with weak performance across the sound spectrum, and excessive cord noise ruining the listening experience.

When Apple introduced their excellent new earphones, the $29 EarPods, in 2012, they changed the dynamics of the iPhone earphone market. The EarPods sound so good for their price point, affordable earphone makers must find another way to compete. Premium build quality, comfort, and lots of accessories could be one way, and the RHA MA450i ($49.95) seem to follow that strategy, with seven(!) sizes of eartips to help find the perfect fit, an extra-long fabric-wrapped, reinforced copper cables, and gold-plated plugs—all at an affordable price point. The premium build quality and accessories of the MA450i’s seems like an incredible value…until you get to the sound quality, which disappointedly doesn’t match up with the rest.

As with all earphones, everything starts and ends with sound quality, and here the MA450i are severely lacking. They earphones produce a weak, thin sound across the sound spectrum, and the quality becomes harsh and unpleasantly sharp when the volume is cranked to compensate—there is nothing warm about the sound of these earphones. The MA450i’s advertise themselves as delivering “full bass,” but in fact, the bass performance is quite poor. In multiple hip hop songs I tested, there was almost no “thump” to the bass drums, and the overall bass wasn’t rounded. For songs in the rock music genre, power chords had no chunkiness. With Apple’s $29 EarPods, you’ll feel bass in your ear as well as hear it, with the MA450’s, you’ll barely even register it. This is less true when the iPhone’s equalization is changed to a bass heavy setting (which can be done in the iPhone Settings under the Music app), but even then, the bass performance is barely adequate, and the rest of the sound spectrum suffers for it.

The MA450i’s also lack the ability to deliver decent mid to high-range detail. With acoustic music, the intricate details that make the genre so human and pleasant sounding (the click of pressed piano keys, the chunk and reverberation of a plucked acoustic guitar string, etc) are completely lost with the MA450i’s. In describing the sound quality, I don’t want to go too far into the negative here, as the MA450i’s aren’t the worst sounding earphones I’ve heard—they are adequate enough for podcasts, audiobooks, and other audio, but you will not receive fully rounded sound quality, and it’s most noticeable with music, where performance is poorest.

RHA MA450i eartips

The MA450i’s go out of their way to make sure you get the right size eartip, as 7 different sizes of silicone eartips are included, including one double-flanged set, which I found to be the most comfortable and best performing. The eartips come in a small plastic box, with each eartip getting its own slot, which makes it easy to pick out just the right size. Also included is a small cloth pouch for storing your earphones in.

The construction of the earphones is good and has a general feel of quality. Most impressive to me was the fabric-wrapped cord, which I found to be durable (the copper inside is reinforced) and good looking. The cord is extra long, being 59 inches (5 feet) in length (for comparison, Apple’s EarPods are about 3 feet in length). However, I did notice a lot of “cord noise,” meaning when the cord rubs against my shirt or jacket, I can hear it directly in my ear. It’s actually quite loud and can ruin a listening experience, especially when you’re doing an activity. I’ve experienced this in cheaper earphones as well, and it’s disappointing to find in the MA450i’s.

The earphones do come with an iPhone-compatible, three-button dongle, with volume controls, play/pause, call answer/decline, etc, functionality—basically, everything the default Apple earphones can do. While I like the smooth feel and slick looks of the MA450i’s dongle, I found it a little harder to press than Apple’s default earphones.

RHA MA450i dongle buttons

RHA also says the earphones are machined out of aluminum. To me, the earbuds feel and look like plastic. Still, I found the MA450i’s to be good-looking but definitely not in the realm of high fashion—just simple and tasteful, not flashy. The earphones are also available in white, too, if you want to maintain the Apple aesthetic.


The RHA MA450i ($50) are packaged like premium earphones, coming with 7 different-sized eartips, a carrying pouch, and a fabric-wrapped reinforced copper cable. But poor sound reproduction spoils the party—the earphones sound weak and tinny, and lack the ability to deliver thumping bass. Apple’s $30 EarPods easily outdo them in every aspect except perhaps fit, cord length, and looks.


  • Driver Size: 10 mm
  • Drivers: 2
  • Frequency Response: 16 Hz – 22,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 16 ohms
  • Driver Type: Diaphragm
  • Cable Length: 150 cm

Apple’s New EarPods Set to Upend Premium Earphone Market

Eclipsed by the iPhone 5 intro yesterday was another huge announcement, Apple’s new, radically shaped Earpods ($29). Apple says the new design of the EarPods is “engineered to minimize sound loss and maximize sound output.” Not only will they sound better, the new shape of the earphones will also fit more people comfortably.

These new EarPods will be Apple’s default earphones moving forward, and because they ship with all its mobile products, they will be the most-used earphones on the planet. It will have a huge impact on the industry.

This, of course, should make premium-earphone manufacturers sweat. These companies use Apple’s default earphones as a baseline to design and sell their products around. As long as your earphones sound and/or fit better than Apple’s cheapos, you can make money.

Apple EarPods

Initial anecdotal evidence suggests that Apple has indeed raised the bar. Some members of the media got their hands on EarPods a little early, and their initial reports so far are positive. The Chicago Sun Times’ Andy Ihnatko on Twitter yesterday had this to say about the new EarPods:

David Pogue, from the New York Times, who finds it difficult to find a good-fitting pair of earphones, had this to say on Twitter:

And Jason Snell from Macworld got to listen to the earphones as well:

Apple’s own official description says the EarPods’ “audio quality is so superior, they rival high-end headphones that cost hundreds of dollars more.” If true, we could see Apple lay waste to another industry, one long ripe for the plucking. Apple even says the EarPods offer “greater protection from sweat and water,” which means, combined with their improved fit, they chould even challenge companies who make athlethic sweat-resistant earphones.

If you were looking for a disruptive revolutionary product yesterday, it may have slipped beneath your notice. It’s the EarPods.

You can watch Apple’s Jony Ives describe the new EarPods in the video below.

New Rugged Version of Klipsch Image S4i Earphones Now Shipping

If you read this site, then you’ll know I’m a huge fan of the Klipsch Image S4i earphones. I consider them to be the best value in iPhone earphones out there. The only major downside of the S4i’s is lack of durability. Klipsch is looking to address that issue that with the new Klipsch Image S4i Rugged.

This new rugged version adds water and weather resistance, and “tough rubber moldings” to increase durability. I have to say though, looking at the photos, the flimsy, thin-spaghetti cords of the previous version look exactly the same. The major difference seems to come with the rugged-looking rubber material covering the three-button dongle and the earbuds (which used to be a slick glossy white).

The best news about the S4i Rugged is that they keep the same award-winning 8.5-mm dual-magnet micro speakers inside, so even if this “Rugged” thing is just a marketing gimmick, you’re still getting an awesome-sounding pair of earphones at a good price. The Klipsch Image S4i are $99 and come with a nice carrying case and 4 different sized pairs of ear tips.

Image Gallery:

Review: Klipsch Image S4i Headphones for iPhone

The Klipsch Image S4i ($99) are stylish, bass-heavy headphones that have an Apple-friendly three-button control/microphone dongle and which deliver excellent sound reduction. Packaged with a nice set of accessories, the S4is are a step up from Apple’s default headphones as well as similarly priced rivals.

For a pair of mid-tier priced headphones, the Klipsch S4i deliver the audio goods, besting even some more expensive headphones. The S4i’s strongest audio characteristic is an impressive level of bass that can be felt as well as heard. Lovers of hip hop and bass-driven music will be more than satisfied with the S4i’s.
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