Testing | Sound, Comfort, and Style.
The RHA MA450is sound great, are very comfortable, have modest and professional styling, and are very affordable. The drivers themselves have the same specifications as the MA350, which we also reviewed. So, thats the review in a nutshell. Lets crack into the details for those that want a little more.
The sound is on par with significantly more expensive earphones that I have tested. Now, that's not to say that these are necessary equal to the top-tier, multi-driver models, but the RHA MA450i definitely stands out in its class (at a mere $50) for sound. The frequency response is excellent, with what seems to be a little bias in the upper midrange. The advertised response takes the MA450i down to 16Hz, and that is the only arguable (albiet not very significant) sticking point in the specs. I'm uncertain what magnitude must be achieved in the response in order to include it in the advertised range, but I think 20Hz would probably be a better stat that isn't necessarily going to steer anybody away. The balance is excellent. The best earphones will have you forget that the sound is being piped into the sides of your heads and feel more or less like the sound originates in the center of your head, and the MA450i certainly has the effect.
In that same vein, the sound isolation is above average for the price range as well. The aforementioned bias in the upper-midrange becomes more apparent at higher volumes, and can get a little rough if you're the type to max out the volume level on your music player ( I certainly am when working out). This was easily countered with an EQ. For nominal volumes I found that no EQ was necessary, as the default colorization lends itself nicely to many different genres and styles. The port design seems to also bring out a nice, crisp low end (and not thumpy / burpy bass) which I particularly enjoyed and was pleasantly surprised by.
The iDevice functionality worked responsively and as-advertised. The inline controls are great for workouts and no fuss, no look control of your devices. Android was mixed, with some devices responding to the Play / Pause as well as the volume controls and others only responding to play / pause. These features are really up to user preference, so if you're just after the sound, the MA 350s sound the same. Really want the convenience of the crisp, well-executed inline controls? These are for you. The center of the button is sculpted out which makes it great for "feeling out" and you'll know exactly where you should press to get the function you're looking for. No fuss here.
Comfort and Styling
The collective comfort and style of these earphones is perfect for me. I tested them in a multitude of settings, from sitting at my desk, to lifting weights/running. The RHA MA450is keep a relatively low profile when sitting in my ears, so they aren't negatively affected much by bouncing/stepping. I especially like the simplistic, professional design of the housing. It's a functional, no frills design that allows RHA to put more of their money into the drivers and the housing than fancy aesthetics, although the aluminum housing lends a premium feel.
If you're the type that enjoys the social statement involved with a pair of hot pink, skull branded earphones, these may not be for you. But, if you buy headphones strictly on the basis of appearance, you probably aren't reading this article. As with the sound, the comfort and style are above average. I found that the housing allowed them to sit neatly in my outer ear which held them in place nicely. That, coupled with a generous range of sizes of silicone tips, and you can really dial in your fit.