RHA (Reid Heath Audio), a British audio firm renowned for its remarkable value and performance, and its distinctive machined aluminium driver housings, returns with a wireless version of its popular MA650 wired in-ear earphone. Sporting a yoke in place of a Y-junction and 3.5mm audio jack, the MA650 Wireless is optimised for the wireless generation, since the 3.5mm audio jack is now a rarity – a celebrated feature on flagship smartphones these days.
RHA MA650 Wireless – Design and Impressions
The RHA MA650 Wireless arrived in a neat package, with the headphones displayed neatly on a foam cutout under a clear lid. Underneath, boxes built into the base of the box contained the mesh carry case, USB-C charging cable and the iconic aluminium cutout containing a plethora of ear tips.
Looking more at home around a starched collar than a tank-top, the RHA MA650 premium-looking wireless’s black-and-silver profile combines matte black soft-rubber surfaces with a low-key brushed aluminium surfaces. However, I didn’t feel unfashionable or get weird looks with them on while in shorts and a t-shirt, or when I was in the gym – RHA did a good job ensuring the versatility of the design of this device.
As a yoked earphone, the RHA MA650 took some getting used to. I’ve been more accustomed to Bluetooth earphones having a regular connecting wire between left and right channels like the Jaybird Freedom 2 and the Sudio Tre. Early wireless earphones had rather stiff neckbands with left and right channels coming out from either end. These weren’t the most comfortable, especially against bare skin or for active daily use. Devices like the Samsung Level and LG Tone exemplify this.
The yoke on the RHA MA650, however, was extremely supple and comfortable, even on bare skin. In hot and humid Singapore, the listening experience remained itch-free.
It IPX4 sweat-proofing means these could be used in the gym – meaning technical protection against splashes of water from any direction for 5 minutes or less, and objects 1mm or larger from entering the casing.
RHA MA650 Wireless – Ergonomics
One of the advantages of the MA650 is actually the yoked neckpiece design. The yoke means that turning or tilting movements of the head do not cause any undue wire tug caused by friction between the connecting wire and the neck that otherwise would cause discomfort. This reduced strain does improve overall comfort and thus the listening experience – which is superb, and will be discussed below.
While slightly bulkier than wire-between-the-channel earphones, the MA650 folds down into a very compact package by looping the neckpiece on itself, fitting neatly into a closed palm, or a small pocket.
On right portion of the neckband, you will find the USB-C port for charging, a power on/off and charging indicator LED, and a power button. It ends with an inverted strain relief – a smooth, gently curved exit port for the wires. This is ideal for the constant 90-degree strain on the wire from the clavicle to your ears. On the wire of the right channel, you will find a three-button control panel that works on iOS and Android devices. The top and bottom buttons control volume, and the middle one controls pause/play and accepting and hanging up calls. A double-click on the centre button advances to the next track and a triple click reverts to the previous one.
The left portion of the neckband houses NFC circuitry for fast pairing with compatible devices, though I found that it connected immediately to my smartphone immediately upon powering on.
The five-second long press required to power on and off the earphone is a little on the long side, but I really am nitpicking. The LED power indicator, too, is located a little too close to the power button, so it’s a little hard to see whether or not it had indeed powered on. No issue, though, I had taken to inserting one channel to listen out for the ascending and descending tones that signal power on/off.
“Wearing” the earphone when it is not in use is a pretty neat arrangement. With the earphones and the wires hanging from the ends of the neckband, the magnetic drivers tend to snap together at your sternum like a high-tech pendant. It works, but I observed some wear on the RHA branding laser-etched on the machined aluminium faceplate of the driver housings.
RHA MA650 Wireless – Connectivity and Features
As mentioned above, it was a pleasure getting a connection the instant the RHA MA650 is powered on. NFC is available, but the pairing process wasn’t much slower. Bluetooth isn’t a perfect technology, so I did get the occasional stutter when my phone was placed in my rear pocket, usually when my sling bag was slung behind, posing a barrier between my phone and the earphones. This was by no means a serious issue – almost all Bluetooth earphones, 4.0 or otherwise, face this issue. AptX support means that compatible phones can deliver transparent, true-to-life sound even over Bluetooth.
Battery life is a very decent 12 hours and is recharged via the provided USB-C cable. Vocal prompts inform your remaining battery power upon turning on and whenever you short-press the power button. It lets you know if your battery is at 100%, less than 80%, 60%, 40% and 20%. It isn’t the most accurate but it definitely is sufficient.
Call quality was very good – recipients reported call quality was crystal clear.
RHA MA650 Wireless – Sound Quality
The earphones feature a new driver technology by RHA but remain sonically faithful to RHA’s characteristically great aural signature. While a more expensive offering is available, the RHA MA650 wireless would definitely appeal to anyone who is mainly looking for a comfortable wireless earphone with good sound quality. The MA650 wireless sports 380.1 drivers while the MA750 use 560.1 ones. If numbers go by anything, the MA750 wireless should sound better – they cost more than SGD100 more.
The new 380.1 Drivers RHA MA650 Wireless aren’t shabby at all. With its solid aluminium housings, the sound signature is robust and full-bodied. The bass is adequately defined, though the bass extension leaves a little more to be desired – though even the most expensive in-ear monitors struggle to deliver in that department. I’ve got quite an eclectic listening palette, with most genres except for metal and jazz well represented on my Spotify. However, I usually first run test units through my pretentiously named “Audiophile Reference” playlist. Warmer tones that are quite popular on modern electronic music tracks like Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and most tracks by Disclosure and Gorillaz play well into the sound signature of the MA650 Wireless. Rock, Indie and more noisy tracks do fine: the cacophony of sounds that characterise tunes from Fleetwood Mac, Franz Ferdinand, Kings of Leon and The Vaccines had great life and separation to them.
Sound quality varies with attachments and components used, and RHA’s extensive set of ear tips is a welcome addition to their products that sweetens the deal. Kept in the cut-outs of a neatly-sized aluminium card, it houses five additional pairs of regular silicone ear tips in different sizes, and two double-flange silicone ear tips for added noise isolation. For the ultimate quality, RHA includes two sizes of Comply ear tips that you’d find on expensive IEM offerings by Shure and Westone.
Power is little issue, though I love punishing my eardrums and routinely listen to them a couple of steps under its maximum settings.
RHA MA650 Wireless – Pricing and Availability
With a three-year warranty on all RHA products purchased in Singapore, the wallet-friendly RHA MA650 is an appealing option for new entrants in the market for quality wireless earphones. It is available at Stereo Singapore at an RRP of SGD168 (USD127.70), before discounts and vouchers. Its sister offering, the RHA MA750 wireless, comes in at SGD278 (USD211.30).