For its latest pair of in-ear headphones, design-conscious audio brand RHA traded in the hulky steel used in its T10i and T20i models for ultra-light aluminum casings. Dubbed the S500i, the new headphones boast one another major change-up from their predecessors: An enticingly affordable price point of just $50 — less than half of the next model in the lineup.
To look at them, you’d never know the S500i are a budget set of buds, though. The micro-drivers inside each sleek casing allows for a strikingly small profile, and the design boasts features normally reserved for the $100 price point and above, brushing the same chic chrome across a three-button iOS mic piece and 3.5mm cable termination.
Other impressive features include braiding along the cable for tangle-resistance, a small mesh carrying case, and, as we’ve come to expect from RHA, a veritable vegas-style buffet of silicone eartips to help ensure a secure fit. The S500i do fit well — even after a couple of hours of wear, we never experienced any comfort issues. Our only real gripe with the headphones’ design is the cable, which gets pretty noisy when it rubs on your face or clothing.
As for performance, the S500i are a definite step up from the earbuds that likely came with your smartphone, and they outperform plenty of other offerings in their price range. Treble and upper mids are detailed, though the sparkly attack might be just a tad too sharp for some. On the other end, bass is full and firm for most tracks. Power cuts off a little early in the upper bass, running into a midrange that lacks much presence or excitement, but at this price point, the S500i impress, offering clarity and balance along with impressive stereo imaging.
The S500i are available now through the Apple store for $50. If you’re looking for something sharp and formidable that doesn’t break the bank, we recommend giving them a try.