Reid and Heath Acoustics MA750 In-Ear Monitor
Scotland-based RHA has been around for a couple of years, releasing several sub-$100 earphones and headphones to generally positive feedback on Head-Fi. We've measured a few of their in-ears, which have always been decidedly bass-heavy. The new MA750the company's flagship earphone as of late last yearalso doesn't suffer for lack of bass but clearly deserves a closer look. I've already recommended it in our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide back in November as an option with a consumer-friendly sound signature, picking it over dozens of other in-ears including the Onkyo IE-HF300 I reviewed last month and the Shure SE215 from our Wall of Fame. I prefer the MA750 for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the bass-heavy but very competent sound of these little buds.
As it turns out, I'm a sucker for stainless steelI instantly fell in love with the aesthetic of AKG's $1300 K3003 earphones two years ago, and while the RHA MA750 may not be handmade in Austria, it is machined out of stainless steel. The fit and finish of the MA750 are highly reminiscent of AKG's ultra-pricy flagship, helped along by the excellent attention to detail such as the designer's signature engraved on the y-split of the earphones.
The MA750 is designed for over-the-ear wear, as evidenced by the four-inch earhooks molded into the wire near the earpieces. These earhooks are a good alternative to the moldable "memory wire" commonly used by manufacturers like Shure and Ultimate Ears. The RHA earhooks are soft but always return to their pre-formed shape, and are much more comfortable than the hard plastic or rubber earhooks found on less expensive earphones. If necessary, it is also possible to permanently re-shape the earhooks by first heating them with a hair dryer or heat gun.
The cable of the MA750 is thick, but not unwieldy, and boasts good tangle resistance. It is not detachable like those of the competing Shure and Onkyo units but the overall build quality is outstanding, and backed with a lengthy 3-year warranty.
The design of the earphones is impressive for more than just durabilitythey are also quite comfortable. The housings have a flared shape similar to RHA's lower-end models. The stainless steel earpieces are heavier than average but the small diameter at the front affords a surprisingly comfortable fit, for me at least. They won't beat an ergonomically-designed stage monitor from Westone, but they are far more comfortable than I had anticipated and can be worn for several hours at a time.
To assist with obtaining a comfortable fit, RHA includes 10 sets of eartips in addition to a roomy zippered carrying case, shirt clip, and stainless steel eartip holder. A headset version, the MA750i, is also available at a small premium and features a 3-button "made for iPhone" remote and microphone.
The MA750 looks good in the ear, tooneither flashy nor understated. The cable carries some noise but mandatory over-the-ear fitment and the fact that the cord is thick and heavy, and doesn't move around much, greatly reduces microphonics. Isolation is surprisingly good as wellon-par with pretty much any other dynamic-driver earphone I've tried.
In fact, the MA750 is on the whole one of the more user-friendly earphones I've tried recently, offering outstanding build quality, good noise isolation, low cable noise, and an ample selection of eartips. What sets it apart from much of the rest of the crowded in-ear market, however, is that it does all this while still sounding pretty darn good.