The Perfect Earphones: RHA-MA450i (Khakis for your Ears)

RHA MA450i

Many of you may recall us mentioning British brand RHA in the OTC 2012 Holiday Wish List. We highlighted the MA-350 earphones, which are the perfect running companion when you want to keep your tunes close at hand and comfortably crisp.

After several inquires about whether or not RHA carried a version with microphone and volume control, we wound up testing out the MA450i (and before you ask, no, we don’t know what all those letters and numbers mean).  Clearly, OTC is not a technology or audiophile site, but we do live in the real world and apply our outlook of classic style and functionality to all of life’s accessories.  So, we will not attempt to tout the brand’s technical prowess and dynamic audio capabilities.  You can check out their website for all that information and you can order them directly from Apple (which in and of itself is a darn good endorsement).

Simply put, we love these things.  Why do we love them? First, thanks to their aluminum construction they are incredibly light and fit exceptionally well in the ear.  These earphones themselves are not over-engineered with all sorts of gimmicky add-ons and technical features that really don’t mean much to most people.

Importantly, they do a great job of letting you clearly and crisply hear your music, NPR podcast (Planet Money and Marketplace are our favorites), or phone call.  As RHA puts it, “the signature aerophonic design delivers an impressively detailed, well-balanced sound experience.” Well, there you go.

Second, RHA’s unique fabric-braided cables seriously reduces the tangling which typically afflicts users of earphones and ear buds.  The fabric-wrapped cable also produces less friction than a rubber cable which helps prolong the product’s life.

The overall look and design of the earphones are equally pleasing in a minimalist kind of way.  They don’t stand out and scream “look at me.”  Instead, they have a functional, sleek, and timeless appeal; at least as timeless as an electronics accessory can be.

Lastly, at less than US$50, you can’t really beat the price.  These headphones quickly, and likely permanently, replaced another red-cabled bass-heavy pair without much argument.  So, in a way, they fulfill a certain New England sensibility: classic looking, functional, well-made, and affordable.

Kind of like a good pair of khakis.

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