March 27, 2017

Priced almost identically at just under Rs. 3000, the RHA S500 and SONY MDR-XB70AP directly compete against each other to vie for your attention. Each has its own set of trump cards to play the game.

The offerings come from names which have earned a legendary reputation in the recent past. The first one is the S500 from the Scottish Headphone Manufacturers RHA, known worldwide as the ' Aston Martin of Headphones', for their tremendous attention to detail and use of premium materials.The other one being, MDR-XB70AP from SONY which has stayed around us for so long with their audio and other equipment that it is easy to trust them easily. 


"The RHA S500 makes for the coolest best quality headphones that can be used every day. A great budget offering from the well renowned Scottish brand.

But, If you want a pair of earphones that have tremendous bass response at this price-point then SONY MDR-XB70AP should be your pick."

-Raghav Somani

RHA S500

RHA sound signature with ample of accessories

Headphone Zonesony-mdr-xb70ap

Extra bass IEMs from SONY




Hands down, the RHA S500 are the most elegant, classy and sophisticated looking pair of earphones in this price bracket. The design is not a classic RHA aerophonic one, but still has a clean and neat presentation which looks just as good. There’s only one finish, which is in brushed aluminum. It's elegantly styled with a brushed aluminum finish. This all metal construction feels really sturdy, even more so than any other earphone in the price.

The cable is a quality one with part of it in clothed fabric and the remaining in high-quality TPE polymer to keep the cable noise down while having a long lasting unit at the same time. In all honesty, this is the finest cable in this price segment.

The overall presentation and the packaging is striking, and this hardly feels like an 3000 rupee product.

In case of accessories, RHA has always managed to take our swing vote, which comes with 6 pairs of dual density eartips, 1 pair of double flange eartips, Eartip holder, shirt clip and a carry pouch which is much better than that of SONY.

Unlike the RHA S500 which outstands itself with their display of premium quality accessories and boxing, the SONY MDR-XB70AP seems to be taking a rather cheaper look. The packaging of the MDR-XB70AP doesn't encourage a lot of users to even try and open it. A plastic shell holds together a matte white box, which holds the earphones and other accessories together. The cover itself boasts the earphones to be "Extra Bass"  in large fonts and is quite off-putting.  

Build wise the  MDR XB70AP seems pretty strong and sturdy.
Half of the earphone is aluminium, and the rest is plastic.  SONY claims to have an aluminium housing but experts question that as the two most vital components (bass duct and driver) are actually housed in plastic. 

The earphones also comes along with 4 sets of eartips, but none of them are dual flange or dual density as in case of RHA S500 and therefore, you may want to consider buying it with comply to achieve a much secure fit. There is also a pouch which is made palpable with the help of a neat mechanism, but not something that is designed with very long-term durability in mind.  In addition, the pouch is too small, and is better suited for storing coins than the large MDR-XB70AP.  



RHA which comes in an aluminium body doesn't make the earphones heavy. It has an ultra-lightweight structure and can be the earphones you want to use when jamming for hours, pain and strain free. The fit is excellenttoo, and feels like RHA scanned your ear canals to design an earphones that just slide in.

The inclusion of various pairs of ear tips further helps you to achieve your perfect fit and good noise isolation. Although, there is no mic or in-line remote in this version and thus you will be needing to snap them off every time you want to answer the call or change tracks during your runs. You might want to consider its mic version, theRHA-S500i if the convenience of calls is your priority.


Comfort wise, the MDR-XB70AP are not as comfortable as the RHA S500, but you can achieve a fairly secure fit if you use the right pair of comply with it. The noise isolation is also a problem and does not isolate you completely.  

The XB70AP comes along with a one-button remote and mic which is compatible with iOS and Android equally. This being the only plus point as compared to the S500.

When talked about warranty, the RHA S500 comes with a whopping 3 years warranty whereas the MDR-XB70AP comes with 1.


Headphone-Zone-JAYS-a-JAYS ONE

Unlike the Sony MDR-XB70AP, the S500's sound signature can be described as very fun and bright sounding.

The bass is robust and forward, being prominent even at  very high volumes. Despite the bass being powerful, it doesn't overwhelm the other frequencies. Mostly because the highs are another shining aspect of the S500. The S500 sculpts the higher frequencies quite a bit, so there's a decent sense of balance between the lows and highs.

However, the mids aren't as refined and detailed but are much better than the MDR-XB70AP. Overall, it is more accurate and precise in sound than the latter. The sound signature is a bit warm and slightly tilted towards pop, but is well suited to rock and melodic tracks nonetheless.

To sum things up, these are probably the best in their class for casual listeners and music enthusiasts.
What can you tell about the sound quality of an earphone whose packaging itself says EXTRA BASS? Sony is determined to do just that. The bass quantity is pretty good for a pair of earbuds. Infact, there's simply a lot of it. The XB70AP demonstrates its impressive ability to produce sub-bass. Although, the long decay times can actually be felt, and the effect is quite enveloping.  

Moving into mid and upper bass, the XB70AP demonstrates its lack of punch.  It doesn't quite move fast enough to ensure that good clarity is kept throughout the general bass line.  The weakness is especially evident when various types of bass come together.  

Trebles are okay.  They offer a bit of sparkle, but this observation is biased in the sense that most anything will sparkle in light of XB70AP's bass.  The clarity at the higher-end is good, and really helps to open up the otherwise narrow soundstage. However, the headphone's weakness comes to light with the mids. 


RHA S500

  • Best in Class All-Metal Built
  • 3 Years Warranty
  • No Mic+Remote
  • Best Accessories Offering
  • Sculpted & Bright Highs

  • Minimalist Design with 115 cm Flat Chord
  • 2 Year Warranty
  • No Remote & Mic
  • Not as Good Accessories as the S500
  • Best Flat Sounding Earphones at this Price-Point


Well the RHA S500 is the brand which has displayed its vast range of accesories and premium offerings in a budget, whereas the SONY-MDR-XB70AP could have done a lot better than just making the earphones bass heavy.

We are inclined towards S500 in this comparison, but if you are someone who loves bass and are ready to give it up over everything else and maybe also wants an inline remote and mic to be used with then you may go with the MDR-XB70AP should be your choice. 

What might also impress you is the 3 year warranty of the RHA.

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What is going to be your pick? Let us know in the comments section below.


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