With a fabric-coated cable and a lovely, ergonomic remote control unit, these RHA MA450i in-ear headphones feel like a premium product. That impression is only reinforced by the strong build and comfortable fit.
Sonically, however, the experience is disappointing. RHA has put an emphasis on the treble, perhaps in an attempt to achieve a higher level of detail. And, in this way the MA450is are a success: there is a plenty of fine detail at the top end.
But it is coupled to a persistent sharpness which makes for uncomfortable listening with much commercial music. The experience is acceptable with good recordings and a limit on the volume, but poorer quality tracks are hard work.
RHA MA450i: Sound quality
Things don’t improve even with extensive running-in. This is a shame, because otherwise the MA450is are accomplished earphones.
Treble apart, the sound is full-bodied, with great energy and precise instrument placement. There’s a good degree of insight, and vocals are expressive. Bass is strong, supple but very tidy, which creates a controlled sense of power. The spectrum is nicely separated, and there is a solid grip on rhythm and dynamics.
The RHA MA450is score highly in most areas of sound, and their build quality is very high. But we can’t get over that harsh, occasionally piercing high end, which represents a significant flaw. Three stars it is, then.