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.
Apple was on fire in 2012. Along with the incredible iPhone 5, we saw the first retina tablet and the pocketable iPad mini. This was also the year in which Apple let the iPod touch out to play, giving it features on a par with the iPhone 4S instead of using leftover components from Google’s leftover Nexus parts bin.
But not everything from Apple made it into our top ten. The Retina MacBook Pro, despite being an amazing machine, is still a laptop, albeit one with a hi-res screen and no DVD player. And the new iMac’s most interesting contribution to tech is the HDD/SSD Fusion Drive. Sure, it’s skinny, but who really cares about a thin desktop machine? It’s like making the world’s thinnest lawnmower.
Most of the rest of my picks reflect the fact that high-tech consumer electronics are now as utterly mainstream as the iron or the microwave oven. Sure, us nerds still love to play with the latest crap, and there will always be plenty of ill-informed consumers who are suckered into buying cheapo Android tablets, but these days gadgets generally Just Work, and the differences are in the little details.
That’s why we have fitness widgets alongside fancy portable speakers and implausibly good-for-the-price headphones.
So, should you be in the mood to read yet another end-of-year best-of list, carry on.
The short form: If you have $60 to spend on a pair of iPhone-ready headphones, buy the RHA SA950is. They are hands-down the best $60 I have ever heard, and better than a lot of cans at several times the price. Move over Porta Pros — there’s a new boss in town.