RHA S500 Earphone Review
RHA has a nice little thing going with its stainless steel capsules and fabric cables; it’s a good look. And as with fashion design, the models tend to get smaller all the time. However, the lightweight RHA S500 will never develop a cocaine habit, or punch a paparazzo.
- Decent build
- Decent accessories
- Bass has a nice velvety quality
- Tiny capsules
- Midrange may be too present for dance fans
Design and Appearance
You might expect a low-cost model to skimp on certain features and items, and compared to other RHA offerings this is certainly the case. However, RHA is always generous with its accessories no matter what you’re spending; included is a nice little drawstring pouch, a cable clip and seven pairs of eartips. Not bad.
The driver capsules are certainly a departure from designs such as the MA350, with teeny microdrivers keeping the capsule size to that of a balanced armature earphone. These earphones can be worn with the cable down, or with the cable over the ear; the small capsule size may offer an improvement for those who have found it difficult to get a good fit with larger designs.
Durability and Build Quality
Build quality is much what we’ve come to expect from RHA; stainless steel is used for the driver capsules and jack housing, and the ‘joiner’ on the cable is made from durable plastic.
Strain reliefs are present on the cable where it meets jack and capsules, and the cable is braided between the jack and the joiner. Above the joiner, it’s rubber coated.
There’s a good chance that you’ll forget these are in – the tiny capsules allow for a bit manoeuvring so the perfect fit can be achieved.
With the supplied silicone tips, the RHA S500 can cut down those pesky outside sounds very well, but aftermarket foam tips such as the Blackbird S20 will improve this.
The RHA S500 has a relatively smooth sound. If you want treble crunchiness, then the S500 is not for you. The action lies in the bass and the midrange with this model.
- Bass (e.g. punch, low extension):
With a good fit, the bass is big, wide, deep and low. It’s fairly tight and works well with the midrange; there is no sense of missing anything there. The bass quality has a mellow edge to it which this reviewer really likes; it’s similar to the bass on the Sennheiser IE800 so roll up if you want a taste of that high-end bass!
- Mids (e.g. vocals, acoustic instruments):
Midrange is emphasised relative to RHA’s similarly-priced offerings; rather than the bass and treble receiving a lift, the S500 has a full and present midrange. It can appear a little hard-edged at first but after a couple of minutes’ getting used to it, it sits very nicely with the rest of the presentation.
- Treble (e.g. high hats):
Treble is there of course, but serves only to extend the midrange if that makes sense. It sits low enough in the mix to give support and fill in those little details, but will never give a particularly bright and shimmery quality to proceedings.
Soundstage and Separation
Soundstage is very nice; the sensation of width feels as if it’s down to the bass and midrange frequencies, making it feel as if things are jumping out of line and back again and keeping the ears on their er.. toes. Separation does less well as it relies more on high frequency information, but the S500 does a good job of keeping things from getting confused.
Music genres good for and why
The midrange presence makes the S500 most suitable for acoustic or live performances, or vocals. Dance music and R&B, etc. tends to have a bit of a hard edge which may not suit some, although the bass quality of the earphones makes up for this.
A very able earphone for the asking price; the RHA S500 is not typical of models in this price range with its present midrange so will be a good option for those who prefer acoustic or vocal recordings.