RHA CL750: Value Monster
*Originally posted to Head-fi*
Earlier this year RHA released three new products; the CL750, the CL1, and the Dacamp L1 portable dac and amplifier. The CL750 is the most wallet-friendly of the three, and the one we’re checking out today.
The CL750 was heavily inspired by the venerable MA750. While it retains the same general Aerophonic, stainless steel shell design, the cable has been updated to a braided, high conductivity oxygen-free copper version. Their drivers have an impedance of 150 ohms and are intended for pairing with an amplifier to get the best performance possible. With a frequency range of 16-45,000Hz giving them Hi-Res certification from the Japan Audio Society, the CL750 is setting itself up to provide quite the auditory experience. Do they meet expectations? Let’s find out.
The CL750 was sent along with the CL1 and Dacamp L1 as part of a review tour set up by RHA through Head-fi.org. Once my time was up up, these three little beasties were send to the next reviewer in line. There is no financial incentive in reviewing these products. The opinions and thoughts within this review re my own and no representative of RHA any any other entity. Thank you RHA for giving me the opportunity to check them out!
When I started writing this review and went to double-check on the price, seeing the MSRP of £99.95 / $139.95, my comments took on new meaning. Keep in mind that the majority of this review was written with a $200 price tag in mind. Spoiler: I think this earphone is an awesome value at their MSRP and would still be a good value even at $200.
Packaging and Accessories:
My only experience with RHA prior to this was reviewing the S500i, their very successful first foray into the world of micro-drivers. Despite being an entry level product you were presented with a quality unboxing experience and provided a solid set of high quality accessories. The CL750 takes things up a notch.
The cardboard box you are presented with initially is fairly large, measuring in at approximately 8″x6″x3″. The front contains a high-gloss image of the CL750’s housing, some logos, and notification that they are intended to be used with amplifiers. The sides highlight the included accessories, that they use flexible earhooks, and also include a very generous 3-year warranty. The rear of the package puts emphasis on some of the more important features and provides a simplified frequency chart. On the bottom you find the specs;
Opening the package and sliding out the inner box reveals the CL750 nestled in a laser-cut foam sheet. Removing this reveals the cable tucked under a small box holding the manual, all neatly wrapped and set within it’s own space. Above sits the carrying case which holds all the spare tips. As with their new flagship the CL1, the CL750’s overall accessory package is excellent. Included is:
– 6 pairs of RHA’s familiar dual density silicone tips
– 2 pairs of bi-flange silicone tips
– 3 pairs of Comply Tsx-200 foam tips
– steel tip holder
– cable clip
– zipper, semi-hard carrying case
Overall the CL750’s unboxing experience is very thorough and the accessory kit quite generous. I’d be shocked if someone has issues finding a tip that fits given the variety of sizes and styles included.
Build and Comfort:
Everything I’ve come across from RHA has been extremely well built, and the CL750 is no exception. The steel housings are well-machined, and fit and finish from the straight jack to the tip of the earpiece nozzles is flawless. My only criticism is the material used for the strain relief at the jack. I know this heat-shrink style of relief is common, especially among more premium earphones and custom cables, but it looks unfinished and a tad cheap.
The cable is a braided OFC piece and is wonderful. It doesn’t hold memory and is very flexible. The molded rubber ear guides also work very well in keeping the weight off your ears and cable secure, unlike the spring-loaded option used on the flagship CL1. The CL750’s ear guide implementation is superior I feel, even if it lacks the premium look and feel.
The CL750 was a very comfortable earphone for me. With the pre-installed medium tips, there was no struggle to get a consistent seal, and once in place the earphone was set and didn’t move about. There were no hotspots caused by sharp edges or odd shapes, simply because there are no odd shapes or sharp edges. The Aerophonic design kept everything but the nozzle away from my ear.
Overall the CL750 is amazing well-built, putting most earphones in it’s price range and above to shame. The cable, materials, and fit and finish are all top notch. That they are very comfortable is icing on the cake.
Amping: With their sensitivity rated at 89dB and impedance at 150 ohms, you would expect the CL750 to be challenging to drive. Well, to no surprise they are. Just as the advertising would lead you to believe, the CL750 needs an amplifier to reach their full potential. From my HTC One M8 they were pretty lifeless, just like the flagship CL1. With an amp, such as the Dacamp L1, they came alive bringing forth an energetic and detailed sound.
Tips: Given the limited time available for listening, I stuck with the stock tips and spent a little bit of time with some Comply foams. The foams softened the treble and sucked a bit of life from the CL750, so I stuck with medium single flange silicone.
When the CL1, Dacamp L1 and CL750 arrived, I immediately took the CL750 for a spin. I spend most of my time listening to budget and mid-fi products and figured it would be more in my wheelhouse. To my pleasant surprise the CL750 came across to my ears as similar to JVC’s once popular FRD/FXD series of carbon-nanotube micro-driver earphones, but with a level of quality and refinement they can’t come close to offering. Performance was more akin to the Echobox Finder X1, but not quite up to that level.
With that said, the CL750 is a fun, v-shaped earphone with a touch of warmth and prominent, lean, and detailed treble. It comes across to my ears as a baby CL1 and gives you a taste of what to expect from RHA’s new flagship.
Like the CL1, the CL750’s treble is quite prominent. Here it is dialed back to a more manageable level. The detail and clarity on offer is outstanding and quite similar to some of the best single dynamic earphones I’ve come across in the price range, the Blue Ever Blue Model 1200EX and Echobox Finder X1. The 1200EX achieves this with a more balanced sound than the others, however. Treble on the CL750 is extremely revealing of recording flaws, so I recommend lossless or high quality files at least.
The CL750’s midrange takes a bit of a backseat, but not to the extent of the CL1. Vocals are clear and smooth with excellent detail. The touch of warmth really helps male vocals stand out. Background vocals are not lost in the mix and guitars retain a strong showing with excellent crunch and grit when required.
The CL750’s low end was less prominent than I was expecting and is tastefully boosted. The mid-/sub-bass balanced is nicely done with equal presence given to both. I would prefer a little more emphasis on that low end rumble, but what’s there should satisfy most. The presentation is fairly quick and punchy overall, with lots of texture.
Soundstage size feels about on par with the CL1 but lacks the laser-like instrument separation accuracy. I felt imaging and separation were behind my price leader, the 1200EX, lacking the openness and movement of that particular earphone, but overall they’re still above average and better than most.
Overall the CL750 brings listeners a well tuned v-shaped sound. If you’re wanting something with a prominent mid-range or prefer a less energetic treble presentation, these might not be for you, but this comes across to me as a fun signature that many would enjoy. It’s too bad an amp is needed since that will limit their audience.
The RHA CL750 are a value leader, without a doubt. The build and material quality, and the quality of construction are not something you generally find at this price. The accessory kit is generous and about as complete as it gets. The quality of sound produced by their single dynamic driver easily stacks up well against other earphones under $200. This is a great example of a v-shaped signature done right.
Taking all this into consideration the CL750 is a very well-rounded product that would make for a smart purchase, especially if you are someone that buys only one earphone at a time. Just make sure you have a decent amp and quality sound files handy, as they’ll be needed to get the most of of the CL750.
Thanks for reading, and thanks again to RHA for including me on the tour!