RHA Audio s500i In-ear Headphone Review
RHA offers solid value with bargain in-ears.
The Insides That Count
Any way you slice it, the RHA Audio S500is are decent in-ears. Not amazing, but they fit their price point well. There's a little bit of wonkiness in the frequency response making the highest notes of a piano and piccolo unexpectedly loud, but little distortion, and no tracking errors are good notes to hit.
For the most part, the RHA Audio S500i follows the same sort of response most consumer headphones do: the ISO226:2003 "equal loudness" standard. However, it deviates in that the bass is a little de-emphasized (not a bad thing), and a peak between 2-4kHz makes the highest fundamental notes of an 88-key piano, woodwind, or cymbals unusually shrill in comparison to the rest of your music.
Fans of a more "flat" or studio response will probably not like these buds all that much, but you can always equalize your music to your tastes if you're really seriously bothered by it. This type of response is much better for those of you who are looking to listen out in the wild instead of in an isolated and quiet environment. These are for the real world.
There are a couple peaks here, but really only two ticks above our tolerance curve: One at about 1kHz, and another at 3kHz. You might hear it if your music has a bunch of notes in that range, and it might be annoying, but it's also possible that these ticks could be the result of manufacturing variance.
To be perfectly frank, I'm not terribly worried about these spikes, because listening to the RHA S500is, my music wasn't ruined, and even though I'm no spring chicken, at 29 I didn't really hear a ton of distortion that wasn't meant to be there.
I should point out that what music you listen to will make this minor issue more or less noticeable. Specifically, classical music with piccolos, harps, viola, and piano pieces that use the highest two octaves of an 88-key instrument will highlight this minor flaw more than any other music out there minus trap music.
The RHA Audio S500i isolates very well, but it's a little poor at blocking out low-end noise. Sounds like engines running, airplanes, and the general bustle of a city street will mask your tunes a bit provided your volume is a little low.
Channel balance is functionally perfect, and never ventures outside of our tolerance limits. For all practical purposes, there's really nothing to talk about here. These are headphones without obvious flaws in channel balance.
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