I was excited to listen to RHA’s new on-ear SA950i headphones. I’ve been using one of their earphones (MA-350’s) quite religiously since reviewing them last year and have really grown to love the “RHA sound.” These new headphones did not disappoint and have a lot going for them.
An extraordinary value at $60, these headphones are among the lightest I have ever worn and offer great comfort, fantastic style and great sound. What is most impressive is the ability to provide relatively deep bass and high volumes without distortion given the 3.5 oz. weight. Typically, smaller, lighter headphones just can’t offer the overall sound quality and “oomph” that can compete with larger headphones. These do a great job stacking up against the sound quality of much costlier and larger headphones. But, are the SA950i’s right for you? Read on to find out.
Overview and Specs RHA is a Scottish audio company that has been offering professional quality audio products at consumer prices. One of their recent offerings are the SA950i on-ear headphones which are extremely light and offer incredible sound at just $60. Normally, light headphones, good sound quality and distortion free high volumes are incompatible with each other. However, at only 3.5 oz., RHA has figured out the weight/quality issue by coating the 40mm mylar drivers with titanium. This titanium plating allows the speakers to be both sturdy & strong and also lightweight at the same time. On top of the great sound, these offer tremendous style and comfort.
Comfort, Design, and Build Quality There’s lots to like about these. The headband has generous padding and the earcups are also very comfortable. The headphones are on chrome sliders and are easily adjustable to any sized head and offer just the right amount of clamping force to keep comfortably on your ears. These are most certainly headphones that you can wear for hours on end without any discomfort. The only drawback in comfort is that the earcups don’t articulate four-ways. I really like headphones that can swivel not only up-and-down but also left-to-right. While I was still able to get a nice fit, others may not with this limitation.
The build quality is extremely high and they seem sturdy and well built despite the light weight. They are small and can certainly be packed for travel with but they do not fold-up all the way like other travel headphones nor do they come with a hard carry case. Like the MA-350’s I previously reviewed, the cable is fabric braided and is tangle resistant and has a gold plated tip. There’s integrated controls and a mic designed specifically for iOS devices.
[SA950i’s with Apple inline remote and Mic]
Sound These are very enjoyable headphones that can be used for hours at a time. I find that closed headphones can often be fatiguing with extended listening. However, these on-ear headphones (supra-aural) have extremely well balanced sound with open, wide sound that is relaxing and “easy listening”. Nothing is over emphasized and the sound seems very natural. There’s plenty of bass but it is certainly not “boomy” or artificial sounding. Sound is crisp and they perform quite well across many different types of music. Perhaps they are not nuanced or detailed enough to listen to classical or other demanding types of listening. However, I loved listening to most everything I threw at them. I listened to Page McConnell’s new album, Trey Anastasio’s new EP, and Mike Gordon’s recent release from the Egg in Albany. Keys, bass, guitar and symphonic components all sounded great. I pushed the volume quite high on each and was able to get great sound without any distortion. Pink Floyd, Sun Ra and Steve Reich also all sounded fantastic. I was especially impressed with some of the Reich material I listened to. Piano notes sounded like I was in the room with dueling grand pianos to each side of me.
Koss Porta Pro have been one of the gold standards for a long time in the value category for on-ear, portable headphones. I find the sound on the SA950i’s much more impressive and well beyond what you’d expect of anything in this price category. Likewise, the materials, build-quality and style most certainly make the Porta Pro’s look like an ‘also ran’.
Bottom Line Great sound quality in an extremely light and portable design complemented by great style. The build quality is high (three year warranty to boot) and they are quite comfortable. For $60, these offer quite a lot and should please most music listeners.
Want a pair? I have one just for a lucky Hidden Track reader. Simply leave a comment below that you want to be entered and we’ll pick a random winner next week. As always, Tweeting, “Liking”, or Google+’ing isn’t necessary to win but certainly appreciated!
RHA SA950i Supra-Aural Headphones $59.95 Amazon
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