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RHA SA950i review: Lightweight and likable on-ear headphones

While the RHA SA950i may not excel in any one area, it's an all-around solid set of on-ear headphones that won't break the bank at $60.

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David Carnoy
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David Carnoy

Executive Editor / Reviews

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.

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You may have never heard of RHA -- short for Reid and Heath Acoustics products -- but it's a small Scottish headphone company that makes some pretty decent products for affordable prices. We've taken a look at some of its in-ear models, including the $50 MA450, but the SA950i model reviewed here is an on-ear model.

RHA SA950i On-Ear Portable Headphones (with Remote)
7.0

RHA SA950i

The Good

The <b>RHA SA950i</b> on-ear headphones are lightweight, offer a comfortable fit (especially for on-ears), have a detachable cloth-covered cord with a built-in Apple-friendly remote and microphone, and they sound good for the money. You also get a three-year warranty.

The Bad

Earcups' glossy finish may get scratched over time and the headphones don't fold up for storage.

The Bottom Line

While the RHA SA950i may not excel in any one area, it's an all-around solid on-ear headphone that won't break the bank.

What I liked about these headphones is that they're lightweight, offer a comfortable fit (especially for on-ears), have a detachable cloth-covered cord with a built-in Apple-friendly remote and microphone, and they sound good for the money.

The SA950i has a sort of retro design and while I can't rave about it, I will say that it's attractive enough and fairly distinct. If I have a few quibbles it's that there's a bit too much glossy plastic in the mix and I think the earcups will show scratches over time, but that may not be a bad thing for some people. They also don't fold up for storage.

The SA950i is lightweight and fairly compact.

Build quality seems good but not great. However, RHA does offer a three-year warranty on these guys, which is a couple of years longer than what you get with most headphones.

The headphones offer a flexible fit but they don't fold up for storage.

As for their sound, these headphones are more bound to please audiophile types who prefer well-balanced sound that doesn't accentuate the treble or bass. The SA950is offer smooth, clean sound, with good bass, but they're not incredibly detailed nor do they deliver incredibly deep, powerful bass despite their 40mm drivers. Speakerphone performance was fine.

The Apple-friendly inline remote with microphone. Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion
The RHA SA950i is an all-around solid on-ear model that offers decent sound for the money. I can't say they excel in any one area (design, comfort, or performance), but they're lightweight and likable. I'd like to see them come in under $50, especially with all the competition in the $60-$80 price range, but the SA950i certainly holds its own soundwise with other headphones in its price class -- and it comes equipped with an inline remote and microphone.

RHA SA950i On-Ear Portable Headphones (with Remote)
7.0

RHA SA950i

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7
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