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The Battle of the Budget RHA In-Ears

by Abheer Monga October 24, 2017 6 min read

The Battle of the Budget RHA In-Ears

RHA has released two new models of earphones, replacing the previous budget options. While one of them is an upgraded product, the other is the same but with the new feature. Today we take a look at these new models and compare the outgoing model with its replacement.



RHA has some been known for some amazing build quality throughout the range and the same is true even for their cheapest products. The MA350 is shaped like a horn tapering in towards your ear canal. The tapered housing also makes it pretty comfortable to wear for long hours and with the good fit, you also get some great isolation, further enhancing the listening experience. The earphone housings are made of machined aluminium with the outer half of the housing being anodized black, with the RHA logo on the face. The cable is 1.2 meters long with an L-shaped jack and is coated with fabric, which reduces microphonics as well as tangling a tad bit.

The build is super premium and almost unexpected at this price. You can also loop it from behind your ear, which further secures the fit and makes it sit stable even when partaking in vigorous activities.

Also included in the box are additional sets of tips for different sizes and a carry pouch.



The MA390U is the successor to the MA350 and even though it retains most of the design elements, it is clearly an evolution of the original. The new housing is considerably smaller in diameter and a tad bit deeper in terms of length. It thus further reduces any contact with the outer ear, making it feel pretty flush and comfortable. It does not feel any heavier than the original and also retains the excellent isolation. Another aesthetic change is that RHA ditched the black anodization on the face of the housing, going for a full silver look. Also, the face is slightly recessed, making it appear slightly dimpled, as opposed to the previous flat design.

The cable also sees some changes, the biggest being the introduction of an inline microphone, finally allowing users to be able to make/take phone calls without having to hold their phone. The other changes with the cable are that above the Y-Split, the cable does not have a fabric coating whereas the MA350 did. Also, the headphone jack is straight now as opposed to being right angled on the MA350.

Also included in the box are additional sets of tips for different sizes, a carry pouch and a shirt clip.



The S500U sits just above the MA390U in the RHA Lineup, replacing the S500 and the S500i. The design is pretty much exactly the same as the previous models, the only change being the new Universal microphone that works with all kinds of smartphones. Personally, I am happy they did not make any major changes as I prefer the design as it is. The cylindrical housing made of machined aluminium is small enough to be light and comfortable, without being too small which would have made it feel intrusive. The cable is still fabric coated below the Y-Split, reducing the microphonics drastically and the jack still has an aluminium housing.

Included in the box are, 7 pairs of tips (6 dual density, 1 double flanged), a tip holder and a carry pouch.





The MA350 is an excellent sounding earphone for its price, with a really well balanced and smooth sound signature, not overwhelming or underwhelming in any particular aspect.

Starting with the bass, there is really good extension here. Even though it’s rather smooth and well bodied, it lacks some of the impact like other dynamic-driver earphones which makes it feel not as energetic. It, however, does reduce fatigue.

The mids, unlike the bass frequencies, seem to be highly dynamic and energetic, while maintaining an overall smooth signature. They feel slightly elevated in the upper mid region which can cause some fatigue and also at times take the shine away from the vocals.

With the slight upper mid spike, one would expect this to continue into the treble region, but it does not. Like the bass region, it is again rather smooth and well-bodied. It has the right amount of roll off without completely disappearing, providing the right amount of sparkle. It is definitely not hyper-detailed with pinpoint imaging, but there is enough headspace and it can image well enough to give a general idea of where the sounds are coming from.

This is a highly enjoyable earphone, suitable for almost any genre you throw at it.



We’ve only had the MA390U for a limited time now, but I think I have heard enough to be able to give you a quick impression of what they sound like and what’s changed. Off the bat, the biggest change with the newer drivers is the decrease in sensitivity. The new drivers have a sensitivity of 89dB whereas the older drivers were 103dB. This means that the MA390U needs a good bit more power than the MA350. Though most phones with a good headphone output will have no trouble powering these, some of the older Galaxy devices and a bunch of others that really suffer with a poor headphone output section won’t be able to drive these well.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about how these actually sound. The bass, on the first listen sounded identical to the MA350, but after listening to a couple tracks and A/B’ing both of them simultaneously, you can notice that the MA390U has a slightly better extension, separation and energy. Though it does sacrifice the smoothness by the tiniest margin, it does so to be able to achieve a more enjoyable impact.

The mids retain the same dynamics as the MA350, but instead of the upper mid-elevation, it is evened out across the mid-range. However, instead of taming the upper mids, they have elevated the mid-range entirely, making it feel shouty on some tracks. This can still cause some fatigue, but for the most part, it is still highly enjoyable.

The highs have the tiniest bit improvement in detail, leading to an improvement in the stage and imaging. They have managed to improve the detail reproduction without making it sibilant and that’s a quality generally found in more expensive sets of earphones.

This new iteration from RHA still retains the basic traits of the 350, with some minor improvements. It is still a highly versatile set of earphones and still really enjoyable while causing some fatigue with mid-heavy music.



The only difference between the S500U and the previous gen S500s is the addition of the universal microphone. That is it.

The sonic signature remains the same. I personally would have preferred a change, with maybe better tuning or different drivers, but it has stayed the same. So this is not a pair of earphones I would go for, but for people who might enjoy the sound signature, it is a great pair.

The sound signature is still like a “tick mark” going from the left to right. By that I mean, it is a clear V-Shaped signature, but with extra emphasis on the treble and a clearly noticeable recession in the mids.

The bass is clear and extends well, with great energy. The mids are audible but highly recessed and with no distinguishing qualities while still maintaining clarity. Then there is a sharp incline towards the treble, which grabs all the attention.

Now what has to be said is that the treble is hyper-detailed, with some great imaging and good staging. The clarity is excellent and it somehow manages to be sharp but without much sibilance. It is super clean and amazing for genres like Metal and Piano-Heavy Classical music.

I would have preferred a more emphasized mid-range, but it is clearly not made for my preferences. Those who enjoy such kind of earphones will absolutely love these.

While the MA390U is quite a jump for the MA350, there is barely any difference between the S500U and the previous S500 generations.


So, which ones do you prefer, the newer generation of earphones or the ones they replaced? Share with us in the comments.

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Abheer Monga
Abheer Monga

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