LAS VEGAS — Audiofly has been busy since we last visited them at CES two years ago. This year they’re finally ready to ship their long-promised AF140, albeit with a radical redesign, and are introducing the quad-driver AF180. The Aussie crew also showed us the over-the-ear set of cans they’ve been working on.
Audio-Technica has far, far too many models of in-ear earphones to count. I mean, literally — I tried counting them and gave up due to exhaustion and severe dehydration (I stopped at about 20, which makes me a wimp and means I should probably drink more water).
So why are they adding six more models (which the company is calling their “SonicFuel” series) to the mix? And why do they bear an uncanny resemblance to Monster’s iSport earphones, right down to the swiveling ports and massive flange? Whatever the answers to these questions might be, the new sets, at $50-$100, are in just about the right price-range for holiday gifts; and if the fit really is identical to what we experienced with the iSPorts, they’re probably really comfy.
There aren’t many in-ear monitors made of steel. Aluminum? Yes. Plastic? Wads. But steel-bodied IEMs — now that’s a rare find. There’s good reason for this: Though the material is solid, hard-wearing and, according to some, produces a cleaner sound, it’s heavy — which can make steel-housed IEMs often uncomfortable and annoyingly ill-fitting.
But forget all that. Scottish-based RHA have managed to make the stainless steel-bodied MA750i supremely comfortable and well-fitted, even under heavy action. In fact, RHA absolutely nailed it perfectly with these ‘phones in every single category that matters, with only two or three minor trade-offs.
The British Isles aren’t generally known for exporting headphones; mega boy bands and cycling superstars, yes, and perhaps Marmite. But headphones? All that’s changing though, with the impact RHA has made over the past year or so. The outfit has thus far produced a series of home run hits (or batted sixes, if you’re a cricket fan) with inexpensive headphones with sound way above their price.
If their past successes are anything to go by, these new ‘phones from RHA should sound amazing—because they’re the company’s most expensive yet.
It’s strange to think that, till now, as big a high-end audio player as Shure has had no answer to the extravagant, big-gun, flagship in-ear monitor models of its rivals — models like the Ultimate Ears 18 Pro Custom, or the JH Audio JH16 Pro.
But now they do — big time. The new SE846 extends Shure’s highly regarded SE line well beyond the SE535, previously their top, most expensive IEM.