We recently reviewed the SA-500 headphones from RHA - a division of the Reid and Health Group - a British audio company based in Glasgow, with the can's performance impressing us, so we were very interested to see how the brand's MA-350 noise isolating earbuds would fare. While the manufacturer offers three different headphone models, the MA-350 are the only in-ear option it has.
The slightly unusual shape of the MA-350 is inspired by the aerophonic design of a trumpet's bell - with the idea being that the sound is transferred naturally from the speaker to your ear. The earphones are crafted from "solid aircraft grade aluminium, sandblasted and partially anodised in matte black", says RHA and they certainly have the look of a premium product, largely thanks to the matte silver finish on the inner earbud, and the discrete white logo on the outside.
The earphones are provided with three different sized soft silicone tips so that you can find the best fit for you. As well as making the MA-350 nice and comfy, the tips also offer noise isolation to reduce any pesky background noise from drowning out your tunes. We found that that mid-sized tips provided the best fit and meant that we didn't have any problems with them falling out of our lugholes mid tune.
Like the brand's SA-500 headphones, the earphones sport a fabric braided cable, complete with 3.5mm gold plated connections. Unlike the headphones, obviously this cable isn't detachable. As well as preventing your earphones from emerging from your bag as a tangled mess, the fabric covering should also reduce the effects of wear and tear, compared to a conventional plastic-covered cable. The cord is 1.2m long, which we found gave sufficient slack to allow us to move about freely withouth having to worry too much about snagging the lead and accidentally pulling the earphones out. The earphones sport a Y-cable design with a sliding ring that can be adjusted to make the Y bigger or smaller.
As with the SA-500, there's no 6.3mm adaptor for rigging up your headphones to AV gear at home, so you'll need to shell out for one separately if you want to have that option. What RHA does provide is a small, faux velvet drawstring carry case which should give the earphones a little extra protection when they're plunged into the cavernous pits of your manbag or handbag.
Naturally, the most important aspect when it comes to earphones is the sound. The MA-350 pack quite a punch when it comes to the sonics, offering a warm sound with very little distortion, along with some mighty fine bass response. The earphones really show some class when it comes to listening to tracks featuring acoustic instruments being plucked, where every nuance of each instrument is captured for a really natural sound. As well as serving up a slice of tasty audio, the MA-350 also do a grand job of blocking out noise from the outside world, while also not leaking any noise that might annoy fellow passengers on the tube.
At £29.95, the RHA MA-350 earphones aren't the cheapest we've seen, but they're not too pricey either. The minimalist, understated aesthetics are sure to appeal to the design-conscious among you, while the thoroughly decent audio performance is there to back them up with some substance. Aside from the quality sonics on board and the premium look of the product, the fact that they're comforatble to wear and sport a non-tangle cable make the MA-350 a very good choice if you're in the market for some punchy earphones for your daily commute.