The MA-350’s are my first set of earphones from the British manufacturer Reid and Heath but they’re unlikely to be the last. For the last 5 years most of my earphone duties have been fulfilled by Shure, firstly a pair of EC2’s, which to this day are still unrivalled in their price bracket in my opinion, and then, when the cable eventually gave way, a pair of SE115’s. The SE115’s are a quantum leap above what you get bundled with MP3 players but lack clarity and volume compared to the EC2’s. Just as well I only paid £18 for them (given the RRP at the time of £99).
Recently the shell on my SE115’s cracked so I began the arduous process of looking for a replacement. Shures current line up tempted me, the SE315’s particularly, since the cable is replaceable but at £130, they were more than I was prepared to spend, especially given the relative disappointment of the SE115’s.
I’ve toyed with cheaper Sennheiser’s before and been unimpressed. I also get the impression brands like Skullcandy are a little too focused on fashion and bass heavy dance music to suit my tastes (which are fairly eclectic).
Fortunately the Register came to my rescue with a round up of in ear phones that ranged from the tens of pounds up to the hundreds. I was surprised to see a pair of Ultimate Ears in there, I’d passed mine on to my wife for her iPod as I was that unimpressed with them (another special offer pair). Looking around at the price I was willing to spend, the Reid and Heath pair stood out, so after a bit of ‘umming and ‘arring, I took the plunge.
Although they’re noted as a £29.99 pair of earphones, the Reid and Heath Acoustics MA-350’s are supplied directly by Reid and Heath via Amazon, so you have to pay postage. This takes them up to a shade under £34. You can get a pair of Sennheiser CX 870 for this price but I don’t think there’s much comparison.
I’m struggling to think of a pair of lighter and more comfortable in ear earphones I’ve ever rammed into my lugholes. Yesterday I had them in for over two hours and could have almost forgotten they were there. the MA-350’s only come with a couple of changes/different size of tips but you shouldn’t have much trouble getting a decent fit. The single piece aluminium body is both light and durable. The cable is threaded, and although the box proclaims the cable is fabric braided for a tangle free cable, that’s certainly not my experience, it tangled itself to death overnight. Still, despite the lack of weight and thin cable, the MA-350’s do feel pretty durable. Just as well, as they only come in a little drawstring pouch.
The sound quality is very good, the clarity is good, without being cold and they go very loud without distortion. They are noticeably louder than the SE115’s at the same volume setting on my Sansa Clip+. I may even be able to ditch my Fiio E5 headphone amplifier with my netbook, which will save some extra cable tangle.
Overall, I can’t fault the Reid and Heath Acoustics MA-350’s, they compare favourably to other earphones at the price and indeed in the £50-£100 bracket. They are currently available from Amazon for £29.99+P&P.