There’s truth in the old saying your parents always told you: “Beauty is only skin deep.” With humans, it’s a comment on judging an individual’s character instead of outward appearances, but in the tech world, the idiom applies to judging the actual technology inside a device instead of its meticulously designed surface. With headphones, it’s easy to appraise this: Do they sound good?
Applying this wisdom to the RHA MA750 Wireless reveals a pair of Bluetooth headphones that look and feel great, but beneath the stellar build quality is disappointingly middling sound.
Out of the box
The MA750 Wireless come packaged in a small, densely packed box, sealed behind a plastic panel that is a bit of a chore to open. The perforation in the seal wasn’t readily noticeable, and the panel itself doesn’t slide open easily. However, once you get in there, the rest of the unpacking is a cinch.
The headphones sit in a dense piece of foam, beneath which is a user manual and other literature, and boxes containing a mesh carrying case, a USB type C charging cable, and a metal plate holding replacement silicone eartips in various sizes.
The MA750 feel great. They’re well-built and comfortable. The materials used for these headphones are of impeccable quality, and the entire design seems optimized for a comfortable fit – rubberized finish on the neck strap, comfortable shape that contours to neck/shoulders, and molded plastic wire for wrapping around ears. The earpieces themselves are made of high-quality metal, with magnetic backing for snapping together around the neck when not in use.
The MA750 wireless are well-built, look great, and feel comfortable.
We enjoyed wearing the MA750 earphones. The light, comfortable over-ear strap design is virtually unnoticeable while keeping the earpieces in place. They never fell out or were accidentally removed while testing. When in your ear, the seal is almost perfect, making for excellent passive sound isolation.
We feel it’s important to note here that everyone’s ears are shaped differently, so this may not be everyone’s experience.
On top of the excellent look and feel, the MA750 Wireless are also incredibly easy to use and set up. A simple in-line remote controls volume and answers calls. To connect the headphones to a device, just press and hold the power button on the inner right side of the neck strap and the headphones will power on in pairing mode. A pleasant voice will chime in when you turn on the headphones to indicate connection and battery level, and will also provide helpful notifications when the battery level drops below certain levels (40 percent, 20 percent, and lower) while listening.
As we indicated in our intro, once you dig past the MA750’s exterior and get into the meat of the issue – their performance – things are less impressive. In short, the sound is middling, and that’s a disappointment because we’re used to RHA producing excellent products.
Unfortunately, our experience with the MA750 Wireless revealed a frequently muddy mix, with bass that often gets obscured by intense treble and upper midrange. The better news is that it’s not all bad — certain aspects of the MA750’s performance sound good.
For example, the swelling symphonic movements in the soundtrack to Studio Ghibli’s film Nausicaä and the Valley of the Wind, which has subtle moments of woodwind and erhu melodies under anthemic choirs and swelling strings, resulting in a textured and animated sound. Some of this texture is washed out with the MA750s during more intense moments, but the melodies and quieter moments sounded great, with clear upper frequency response.
On Kendrick Lamar’s Damn., everything feels a bit flat due to that overabundance of highs. The bass just isn’t well defined on these songs, especially a track like DNA, which leads with a rumbling bass line and stinging percussion that feels distorted and robbed of their timbre by the MA750.
Vocals and treble-heavy instruments enjoy prominence in the mix, with excellent clarity, but at a cost.
Take things a bit heavier with Mastodon’s 2004 album Leviathan, and that midrange washout becomes more prevalent. Cymbal and snare hits are especially mushy here. This has a knock-on effect with the bass, which is little better than a dull thud most of the time, and the few moments when bass does take noticeable presence in the mix, it’s once again accompanied by distortion.
Outside the music realm, podcasts sound just fine, and phone calls are clear – we never experienced any distortion and voices were full-bodied. But when it comes to using the headphones for what most people will use them for – listening to music – they leave something to be desired, especially at this price point. While the headphones support aptX and AAC, the middling sound design means you won’t reap the full benefits. It seems that, in this specific case, RHA put more care into the build quality than the sound quality.
To be fair, the performance isn’t terrible – again, it’s entirely passable – but at this price level — $170 MSRP — there are plenty of other options with better sound. Listening to the above example of Mastodon’s Leviathan on the similarly priced Shure SE215 wireless reveals a snappy snare and textured midrange that is obfuscated in the MA750 Wireless’ mix.
Outside of the disappointing playback performance, we also have some complaints with the MA750’s connectivity. There were only a couple moments of connection interference, and while dropouts weren’t an issue in general, the MA750 Wireless seemed to not like the YouTube Red app’s ability to play videos in the background, often disconnecting a few moments after locking the phone’s screen. There was also an inconsistent, yet nonetheless annoying, metallic “ping” in the headphones that couldn’t be reliably replicated, so we’re not entirely sure what caused it. While this wasn’t deafening, it still happened enough to warrant being a factor in our review, and was startling (and annoying) when it did.
RHA MA750 Wireless Compared To
Finally, battery life is good. RHA rates the MA750 Wireless’ battery life at 12 hours of continuous playback, but between an auto shutoff feature and quick charge time via USB-C, we never needed to test their full capacity.
RHA provides a three-year warranty on their products, including the MA750 Wireless.
There’s no denying the MA750 Wireless’ excellent build quality, making for a pair of Bluetooth headphones that are equally durable as they are comfortable. We wish those first visual impressions extended to the sound quality, though. As it stands, the MA750’s middling performance misses the mark, and keeps them from being a great pair of headphones.
Is there a better alternative?
For the price, the Shure SE215 wireless are the best alternative. If you want to spend a little more money, however, the V-Moda Forza wireless sound downright incredible.
How long will it last?
The high quality of the materials gives the MA750 a durable feel, and being sweatproof and IPX4 water-resistant offers peace of mind when wearing them during workouts or while outside in nasty weather.
Should you buy it?
If you’re among the few who are buying Bluetooth headphones simply for looks or comfort, these are great. If you care about having the best possible sound, though, there are better options to consider.
Published at Wed, 15 Nov 2017 21:27:39 +0000