The RHA S500i are impressively classy-looking budget headphones
Headphones subtype: In-ear headset, Plug type: 3.5mm headset jack plug, Weight: 14g, Cable length: 1.35m
At around £40, the S500i is a surprisingly premium-feeling pair of in-ear headphones. I wouldn’t expect aluminium alloy for this little money, but lo and behold: that’s exactly what you get. Put next to a similarly-priced pair of headphones, such as Sennheiser’s CX3.00, it becomes evident just how impressive build quality is. The design itself looks incredibly classy as well.
Rather than sitting over the top of your ears, as is the case with many of RHA’s other headphones including the T10i, the S500is are designed to be worn straight in. It’s fortunate that their length is restrained, as not to protrude too far out of your ear canal. They’re actually relatively low-profile once inserted, and the angled back of each earphone’s casing also helps create the illusion of a smaller size. The use of aluminium has helped make the earphones lightweight. You won’t feel like these are pulling out of your ears. The silver finish is simple, clean and not at all ostentatious.
The Y-shaped cable consists of two materials. The main cable is fabric braided, which doesn’t tangle easily nor does it magnify microphonics (the sound of the cable rubbing against your clothing). The two cables leading to the earphones are a thinner rubbery material that doesn’t feel quite as robust, but I was never worried about them becoming frayed or damaged. The headphones terminate in a straight 3.5mm headphone jack, which, like the rest of the headphones, is very well constructed.
With the S500i, the right earphone cable has a three-button inline remote for iOS devices. I found the remote a little fiddly, however. The buttons don’t have much travel to them and are very flush, meaning it’s difficult to tell if you’re pressing them or not. Double and triple-clicks of the play/pause button to skip tracks, therefore, became rather hit and miss. Used hands-free, the microphone was perfectly capable of picking up my voice with good clarity. An S500 model sans the remote is also available for around £30 if you don’t need the microphone and remote, which is an incredible bargain.
You get plenty of accessories, with a travel pouch and clip and six pairs of dual density and double-flange silicone tips. It’s therefore easy to find a pair of tips that fit your ears. As with all in-ear headphones, the fit and a good seal are critical for maintaining any real bass presence.
Sound quality for a pair of headphones at this price was very acceptable. There’s good clarity in the mids and treble, for the most part, with only occasional muddiness as the bass encroaches slightly into the higher frequencies. The headphones do have a generally warm signature if that’s your preference. At higher volumes, the treble becomes a bit bright and mildly uncomfortable, however. Again, you have to make certain allowances considering the price and these certainly sounded very respectable for the money.
If you’re looking for a stylish, inexpensive pair of headphones you’ll be well served by the RHA S500i, and even for this low price you get RHA’s great three year warranty. For around the same money I just about preferred the sound quality from the Rock Jaw Alfa Genus, but they don’t look anywhere near as nice. You can also have a read of our Best Headphones Guide for other options.
|Headphones subtype||In-ear headset|
|Headphones impedence||16 ohms|
|Plug type||3.5mm headset jack plug|
|Accessories||Silicone tips, soft carry pouch, clip|
|Warranty||Three year RTB|