Our Verdict 
We like the build and features of the S500i, but the coarse, bright sound is hard to ignore
For 
Crisp and lively sound
Lightweight build
Good features
Against 
Hard and bright edge to sound
Not very detailed or expressive
Reviewed on

The RHA S500i may be an entry-level pair of headphones, but that doesn’t mean RHA has taken a budget approach to these in-ears.

You get a generous collection of ear tips (seven pairs in various sizes), an in-line mic and three-button remote, and the lower half of the cable is fabric-braided to prevent tangling.

Performance

The initial favourable impression is let down once you start listening to them. It’s a crisp sound, but a slightly coarse edge runs throughout.

The introductory guitar riff to David Bowie’s Moonage Daydream is precise, but has a harshness to it, and the subsequent strums have little body and warmth. Even after a lengthy period of running in, that brightness doesn’t go away.

MORE: Best in-ear headphones 2015

More after the break

The Cat Empire’s Fishies bounces along merrily, but we want more authority from the instruments. The saxophone lacks its rich and dynamic character, sounding thin and uninterested, drum hits are limp instead of attacking, and although basslines are lively, they’re not deep or taut enough to take the edge off that forward sound.

Voices are clear, but aren’t truly engaging. Turning up the volume gives a bit more focus, but only accentuates the hard edge of the S500is.

Add in a small amount of cable noise, and the RHA S500is makes our “have a listen, but do try others” list.

Verdict

They’re crisp and zippy, but not the most easy going pair to listen to. The rival SoundMagic E10Ss (also £40) offer greater agility, subtlety and weight, with no harsh edges in sight.

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RHA S500i
£44.90
Here at Audible Fidelity our passion and focus lies in offering the very best in quality home audio, backed by our renowned customer service and all for the best price.
£39.95
£34.61
The Competition 

SoundMagic E50S

Our Rating 
0%

Klipsch Reference R6i

Our Rating 
100%
Price from £52.29

Sennheiser Momentum M2 IEi

Our Rating 
75%
Price from £76.99
Breakdown 
Sound
Build
Comfort
Features