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Mr. Tophat - Dusk to Dawn Music Album Reviews

The Swedish producer and frequent Robyn collaborator offers an ambitious three-album suite of understated, occasionally disquieting techno nocturnes.
Hardcore Robyn fans already know the work of Swedish producer Rudolf Nordström, aka Mr. Tophat. He co-produced “Baby Forgive Me” and “Beach2k20,” two of the gorgeous, gently filtered house-pop tracks from last year’s Honey; his own 2017 release Trust Me, a three-song, 35-minute EP of throbbing, desaturated grooves, featured Robyn throughout. His latest solo release, Dusk to Dawn, is an ambitious three-album suite of understated, occasionally disquieting techno nocturnes. More melodic than the distortion-warped A Memoir From the Youth, two and a half hours of mostly chill, mid-tempo house conceal interesting moments within slack expanses. At its best, it’s a triple-album endurance listen that rewards partial concentration; at its slowest, it’s an illustration that Tophat’s signature long-format tracks don’t scale.

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RHA MA390 Wireless Review

RHA MA390 Wireless Review
PRICE WHEN REVIEWED
  • £59.99
RHA is a well-known Scottish company that has been producing high-quality headphones and earphones for over seven years, and has steadily risen in the ranks of audio goodness since its inception. Following the launch of a new MA650 colour option in April, RHA has revealed a brand-new set of earphones; the MA390 Wireless earphones.



Are the headphones good enough to be amongst the best cheap headphones of 2018? We’ve spent some time jamming out, and here’s our RHA MA390 review.  

PRICING AND AVAILABILITY
Before we get into the review, let’s first cover the pricing and availability of the RHA MA390 Wireless earphones. Following an announcement on 25 June 2018, the RHA MA390s are now available to buy for £59.99 from both RHA and Amazon, with both vendors offering a three-year guarantee with your purchase.

That’s a whopping £40 cheaper than the likes of the RHA MA650 earphones and Meters M-Ears earphones, and when you take the build and audio quality into consideration, it’s a pretty good deal.

DESIGN AND FEATURES
RHA’s Bluetooth-enabled RHA MA390 earphones are one of a range of neckband-esque earphones to come out in 2018. In fact, even RHA has several sets of earphones that boast the design as it’s the perfect blend between wired and wireless. You don’t have any cables running from your head to your pocket, only from your neck to your ears. That reduces the chance of something getting snagged on the cable, while also being able to take the earbuds out of your ears and let them drop to your chest without losing them. You couldn’t do that with Apple’s AirPods, eh?  
It's not just your bog-standard neckband design though; RHA has really thought about the user experience with the MA390s. Point and case; the MA390s sport a SecureFlex neckband that contours to the shape of your neck, providing a comfortable, secure fit for the earphones. The flexible nature of the neckband means that it can be hidden discreetly beneath a collar, and when not in use, they can be squashed up with no worries about losing its shape.

It's a feature also offered by RHA’s more expensive MA650 earphones, and the two are largely the same, although we’ve found the MA390 neckband to be more rounded. This provides a more comfortable fit with less irritation, but it’s also not as contoured as its bigger brother. It’s not dramatic enough that the earphones will slip from your neck though, even during vigorous workouts!

We mention workouts because the RHA MA390 earphones are IPX4-rated, and should be able to perform even during the sweatiest workouts or unexpected downpours. Though not a feature that many will regularly use, it does provide state of mind that the earphones won’t break when using them at the gym.

The RHA MA390 earphones come with three sets of ear tips to help you find the perfect fit for your ears – everybody’s ears are different, after all! It’s an important step to consider when using earphones too, as a proper seal is required to get adequate amounts of bass. Without it, music will likely sound flat, quiet and generally not great.

While most people will find a fit using one of the three pairs of ear tips provided by RHA, you won’t find the Comply memory foam tips provided with more expensive earphones. We think it’s a bit of a shame, as memory foam is the perfect material for ear tips as it helps create a great seal for an enhanced listening experience.

Like with other earphones on the market, the RHA MA390 earphones feature an in-line three-button remote, providing easy access to volume and media controls for iOS and Android smartphones. The built-in mic also provides access to virtual assistants including Siri, Google and Cortana, making it easy to access your virtual assistant without having to get your phone out of your pocket. Of course, the mic can also be used to take phone calls wirelessly!

RHA’s MA390 earphones are Bluetooth-enabled and boast a range of around 10m. While some wireless earphones occasionally drop-out during playback (especially when via a smartphone in a pocket or bag), it’s not something we’ve experienced once during our time with the earphones. And when you consider it’s something we have experienced with Bose’s £300+ QC35 headphones, it’s an impressive feat. You can also connect to two sources at once, allowing you to change the source of audio without a long, silent gap.

Last but not least, let’s talk about battery life. RHA claims that the MA390 earphones will last around 8 hours on a single charge, but we’ve found that they tend to last around 6 hours before we start to get warnings about low battery life. That’s not the end of the world though, considering they only take around an hour to recharge via USB-C. Don’t worry about forgetting to turn them off either, as they boast an impressive 30-days of battery life on standby.

AUDIO QUALITY
While the MA390 earphones are well designed, it’s in the audio department that they really shine. Let’s first break down the technical features of the earphones; the MA390s boast a fairly standard frequency range of 16-22,000Hz powered by RHA’s own custom dynamic 130.8 drivers, and support Apple’s AAC alongside aptX and SBC, meaning most users will be able to enjoy high-quality wireless music playback.

While it took us a few attempts to find the right ear tips for our ears, it made a world of difference when we did; bass is booming without being too overpowering, there’s a crisp high-end and generally rich vocal performance, though we noticed slight vocal distortion at high volume. The headphones are essentially a jack-of-all-trades and should provide an adequate listening experience no matter your musical taste, whether it be Classical or Dubstep.

And despite not featuring Comply memory foam ear tips, the earphones still manage to provide a decent level of passive noise cancellation without having to turn the earphones up too loud.

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