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I had a pair of Sennheisers CX300 II's that I managed to purchase at a significant discount. These lasted me for years. Sadly our relationship finally fell apart when they were one day stolen in a bar, along with my driving licence, and a satchel that I had been using for nearly a decade. So nothing of worth, but plenty of value!
So I set about replacing them in the only way I know; via compulsive research! Some weeks later, having learnt and forgotten more than a lifetimes worth of information about headphones, I had excluded the idea of purchasing some more Sennheisers, as I had been shocked to discover that huge amounts of the quantities sold via Amazon and other online retailers were in fact fakes, and this was the reason for the regular over generous discounts.
Please note: This problem may well have been resolved some time ago, as a quick search yesterday showed the prices had risen substantially (to the point, in my opinion, whereby they represent very poor value for money).
I also thought that I might like to try something of a higher quality. So, I weedled my search down to two sets of earphones, either the RHA MA350's, or the Soundmagic E10's. Both were around £30, and both had similar reviews on Amazon.
For me, the deciding factor in the end, was the fact that the RHA's were made in England. Although I don't want to tie my flag to nationalism, I do consider myself a patriot of sorts, and the idea of supporting my "local" economy is attractive to me.
So I picked up a pair, and waited for them to arrive. Delivery was swift, and upon arrival the earphones seemed to be exceptionally well made. They were aluminium, and seemed like they could withstand quite a significant weight or impact. I loved the corded cable and, as advertised, this really does significantly diminish the amount of cable tangle, making your life easier. They also have a refined and dignified style. If you have to wear earbuds with a suit, these are probably your only chance of pulling it off with any dignity!
Upon first use, I found the headphones a little flat sounding, but further investigation demonstrated that this was largely to do with the angle of headphone insertion. It is necessary to acquire a good seal in your ear, but for me the design of RHA's earbuds seemed to make this difficult. I'm not entirely certain why, as they appear to be - at least roughly - the same design as other earbuds, although they did seem to have a different kind of flex to them . Perhaps this was an issue specific to my physiology, and it may have been curable with the purchase of alternate buds, from Ebay or the like. Either way, I did get used to them, but some slight discomfort may have slightly coloured my initial impressions. Also, for some reason, possibly related to my wiggling the earphones around, the earbuds came off in my ear more than once, which panicked me the first time it happened, but was a mild irritation on every other occasion. The ease at which the buds fall off may make it easy to lose them however, in the wrong circumstances.
Over long periods of listening, I found that the sound balance of these headphones came to irritate me, but I couldn't pinpoint why. I think that the treble may have been a little too present and piercing, and perhaps that a little bit of the warmth that I like may have been missing from the balance. I use an Alpha Arcam 8 at home, through some 3ft x 6ft handmade antique oak B&W speaker cabinets (heirlooms), and I consider this sound PERFECT. So, perhaps my tastes are prejudiced, by sentimentality, towards a sound that is a little warmer and deeper than real audiophiles might prefer.
My first pair fell apart during normal use. I was understandably annoyed, but this set-back gave me an opportunity to sample RHA's excellent customer service. An e-mail that I sent to their customer service department was answered within hours, and new earphones were in the post to me, via first class delivery, by the end of the day. The lady that I communicated with was also exceptionally apologetic, and polite. It was singlehandedly the best customer service I have ever experienced.
My second pair of headphones suffered no issues, but were eventually broken as a result of my clumsiness. I'm not overtly cack handed... all the time... but in this case - trapping the headphones in a door, and continuing to walk onwards - I did manage to be exceptionally destructive, and I'm not sure any earphones could have survived.
I'm tempted to replace my RHA's. The customer service and the cabling alone is enough for me to recommend them to any interested parties, but still, personally I never quite got on with the fit, and the sound dynamic wasn't quite where I wanted it. I think I'll try a pair of Soundmagics next, another pair of Sennheisers, or a newcomer to the market. If you are considering the RHA's however, I'd encourage you to give them a go, and see if their sound palette suits you better than it suits me.