Price (RRP): $59.95; Available from Encel Stereo
Earbuds and earphones don’t always have the best reputation. They’re often tinny or overly bassy, and almost always uncomfortable, so it’s a nice surprise when we encounter a pair of earphones that aren’t expensive and are, well, good. Really good.
Produced by the Scottish brand RHA, the MA450i earphones are small in-ear buds that are inserted in the ear, though not as deep as some of the more expensive earphones and canalphones you find out there.
The 450s come in two colours – black and white – with the main earphone housing machined from solid aluminium and connected with a 1.5 metre cable that’s coated in fabric.
RHA has provided seven different silicone eartips, essentially catering for all sizes of earcanals, and they follow the pretty generic design, making them fit most earphones and canalphones we’ve come across thus far.
A small remote sits on the cord for the right earpiece and offers volume up, volume down, playback control, as well as a microphone on the reverse side. Depending on how many times you press the main playback control button, the audio could pause or play (one press), skip forward one track (two presses), or go back a track (three presses).
The 3.5mm connection is gold-plated, much the norm these days, and a carrying case is included, made of a velvety material.
Earbuds and earphones don’t generally have the best reputation for quality sound, and we’re never sure what to expect when we throw a new pair in our ears and switch on some tunes.
It’s nice to know, however, that we can be pleasantly surprised.
With RHA’s M450i, you’ll find a pair of lightweight metal in-earphones that sit just ever so slighlty inside the ear, and don’t go in all the way like some high grade premium canal phones do.
This sort of ear placement makes the earpiece comfortable, even if a light tug on the cord can cause them to fall out without a problem. Thankfully, there’s a cable tightener on the cord, which can keep the left and right ear cords close together, so they don’t go tumbling to the dirty ground.
The braided fabric on the cord is interesting, too, becauce it elicits a feeling that the cables will last longer than other rubbery or plastic ones, though it can still tangle easily enough, unlikes the flat cables from other earphones.
A choice of seven silicone tips is a first for us, especially on a pair of earphones that have a price tag of under a hundred dollars, and the inclusion of bi-flange tips is nice, especially since we only expected the rounded silicone tips that generally fit most of these earphones.
Most people buy headphones to listen to music, so we plugged these straight into our iPad to check out what our regular set of music sounds like through them.