Having used ear pieces from established brands (since the very late 1980's) up to today's "non-brand" brands, this is my first time to use one of RHA's headphones, the MA200. Considered to be RHA's budget ear monitors, the MA200 puts quality sound within reach of everyone.
The MA200 box contains the stereo earphones and two extra pairs of ear tips: one pair each of small and large. The medium ear tips are the ones already assembled onto the phones. It has no other documentation other than the one already on the box, which includes the essential specifications and the tell-tale sign of Chinese manufacturing hegemony: "Designed in UK, assembled in China."
There are certain features that I really like about the MA200. The plug is of J-type (angled 45 degrees) configuration; between the compactness of a L-type preferred by avid runners and unwary pedestrians, and the flexibility and reach of a straight-type preferred by couch potatoes. The stereo plug itself is gold-plated, making it resistant to corrosion. Though not really intended for active outdoor sports use, it gives me enough flexibility, reach and comfort even on a training run. You may have to bunch or coil the cable and adjust the anti-tangle slider to keep it from flailing with each running stride. The Y-type cable is 1.2 meters long. From the splitter to each phone, the cables are exceptionally thin compared to other earphones I used before, which can make them susceptible to pulling stress caused by vibrations while running or frequent head-turning.
While sound performance is great, the cable insulation might melt under the heat of our tropical country. I have so far only used it for two weeks, hardly leaving my office except for one training run on a cold January night.
Comfort and isolation
I'm not one to stab earphones deep into my ears. I prefer to wear them lightly snug, enough to contain the audio like Megadeth's Dave Mustaine inside my head, but still hear some ambient sounds--just in case my cooking catches fire. But every once in a while, and whenever it's safe to do so, I do put the phones in a little deeper. It felt much better thanks to the pair of small ear tips (very easy to replace). It felt so good that I forgot that Celine Dion is giving me that sinking feeling, 16 years after Titanic's movie release.
Comfort and isolation can be too good it makes you feel like the "king of the world." Out on the streets, though, make sure to strike a balance between your music and the world around you--or you'll be king of the roadkill.
From Sting's soothing ballads, to Rush's instrumental diversity to Linkin Park's raunchy bass and turntables, the MA200 is truly "Sound. Engineered."--for less than PhP1500. I've tried old established brands with sounds that pretend to be your ears' personal woofer speakers. Cheaper brands are often trebly--like cans only better (but still can-like). The MA200 is different: for sound performance alone, I wouldn't mind spending a low four digits.
- Driver: 130.1
- Frequency range: 16Hz - 22KHz
- Impedance: 16ohms
- Rated power: 3mW
- Maximum power: 10mW
- Sensitivity: 103dB
- Cable length: 1.2m
Pros and Cons
Given the emphasis on their motto "Sound. Engineered", I don't think this is a ruggedly built pair of earphones for outdoor use, especially in a tropical country. Indoors, it's great, especially if you really intend to isolate yourself from the rest of the world. And for anyone who at any given time listens to classical music, rock music, anything in between and even podcasts in a library, the MA200 is a great buy! Handling a diverse range of sounds for its price is where the MA200 really excels in. It beats the hell out of having two different kinds of ear phones (one for mostly bass and one for mostly treble)--as well as having to tinker with your equalizer's frequency ranges.Verdict
I can definitely say this is a cheapskate's keeper. I have never spent anything more than PhP500 for earphones or headsets, but at thrice that price, the MA200 really sweeps the lower-priced competitors off the floor. Students can readily afford it for both self-learning (podcasts, instructional videos, etc.) and entertainment that doesn't disturb anyone. I wouldn't recommend it while I'm conducting classes though; in such cases, I'll confiscate your ear phones and return it at the end of the term.