Freedom and convenience. Two words that jump off the page when reading the press release for RHA’s newly announced duo of Wireless IEMs: the MA650 (€100) and the MA750 (€150):
“The MA650 Wireless pairs RHA’s 380.1 dynamic driver with Bluetooth and aptX™ for immersive wireless listening experiences with 12 hours playback…high grade aluminium housings and a noise isolating design with a flexible, contoured neckband and a universal remote…”
“Combining the handmade 560.1 dynamic driver from the acclaimed MA750 with Bluetooth and aptX™ technology, the MA750 Wireless delivers high quality wireless listening anywhere. Durable stainless steel construction and RHA’s signature Aerophonic™ design ensure distortion-free, immersive audio that can be enjoyed for up to 12 hours. The MA750 Wireless also features a contoured, ergonomic neckband, flexible over-ear hooks and a universal multifunction remote…”
Damn those pesky wires. Damn them all to hell.
The compromise, if you can hear it, is the use of Bluetooth to carry digital audio from smartphone to earphone. However, not all Bluetooth connections are born equal. The compromise varies.
Much noise is made by manufacturers about aptX’s ability to get closer to CD quality audio – possibly because parent company Qualcomm offer a turn-key solution – and RHA are no exception.
Less frequently talked about is the downside of specifying aptX as the only optional codec: smart devices that don’t support aptX – every iOS device and the majority of Androids – see their Bluetooth audio connection fall back to the inferior-sounding SBC.
One codec keeping iPhone/iPad sound quality away from SBC’s ground floor is AAC. And AAC support is what propelled me toward RHA’s booth at Munich High-End 2017. I wasn’t the only one to enquire about AAC support either – according to the Glasgow-based company’s representatives, almost every email response to their MA650/MA750 press release asked about the inclusion of AAC support.
Thankfully, these latest Bluetooth models from RHA support aptX, AAC, MP3 and (the mandatory) SBC:
My point is singular: RHA purchase or not, when considering a Bluetooth headphone, iPhone/iPad users should seek out AAC support instead of aptX. And manufacturers: if you’ve included it in your product, why not make more noise about AAC support in your press announcements? For iOS users, it’s crucial.
Further information: RHA