Pros: These headphones are a good value for the money.
Cons: They were not perfectly flat sounding.
ROLAND RH 50 PROFESSIONAL HEADPHONES
Roland has been in the business of making professional and home audio electronics for since 1972. I have owned a number of Roland products over the years, and Roland is a brand that I trust. Today I shall be reviewing the Roland RH-50 Professional Headphones. Read on and see if these headphones sound like a set of headphones that you would consider auditioning the next time you are visiting your local musical instrument store or better electronics store.
The Roland RH-50 Professional Headphones have a list price of $79.50, but they can be relatively easily found selling for a discounted price of $47.95. The Roland RH-50 Professional Headphones are advertized as being best suited to "studio use," and the word "professional" is clearly in the name of these headphones. Quite honestly, I must admit that I have never been in a professional studio where these headphones were being used, and I feel that the word "professional" is also a bit misleading when it is used to describe these headphones. I will agree that some of the specifications are actually within the range of what I would like to see in a set of headphones that can be used for studio or professional purposes, but quite honestly, these headphones do not seem to be perfectly flat sounding, and as such I would not trust them to make a reference mix with. I shall get into greater detail regarding the pros and cons of these headphones a bit later on as the review progresses.
The Roland RH-50 Professional Headphones are closed-back headphones with a circumaural design. This design has both advantages and disadvantages. The term circumaural is a descriptor that indicates that the ear pads of the headphones completely encircle your ears, and form a seal. Fully closed-back headphones provide the best isolation from hearing unwanted sounds from outside sources, and they also are very effective at preventing leakage of sound from the headphones from getting out. In general, this makes headphones with a fully closed-back design very good for studio live recording situations. Personally, for recording applications, I always prefer a set of headphones with a closed-back design when I am in the vicinity of a live microphone and doing overdubs, as I do not want any leakage of sound from the headphones getting into the microphone, but then again everyone is entitled to their own opinion as to what is best for their purposes or personal preferences. However in the case of the Roland RH-50 Professional Headphones, they only seemed to do an adequate job in this regard. I was able to hear the sound of other musicians around me as I was listening to what I was playing. But in a quiet environment, such as in listening back to a recording, this did not seem to be a factor, and very little sound leaked out of the headphones at normal playback volumes.
When one is going to be using a set of headphones for a prolonged period of listening, it is vitally important that the headphones feel comfortable. This is especially true in a creative setting, such as during a recording session. Although the Roland RH-50 Professional Headphones are circumaural in design, and enclose the listener's entire ears, they feel comfortable to wear, and they do so without feeling too snug or too tight. The headset and earpieces feel comfortable to wear, and the overall weight of the headphones are a mere 13.8 ounces.
The Roland RH-50 Professional Headphones have a frequency response of 10 Hz. to 22,000 Hz. The listed frequency response of a set of headphones delineates the range of sounds or frequencies that can be reproduced by the headphones without distortion under normal listening conditions. I am sure that a number of readers may be asking themselves why would any one need a set of headphones that has a frequency response that goes both above and below the range of hearing for a normal healthy human being. The answer is that headphones with a wider frequency response will lessen the likelihood of distortion under normal listening conditions. Thus, when listening to musical sounds that usually will range from about 20 Hz. to 20,000 Hz., or less, there is a significantly decreased likelihood of distortion being heard at normal listening volumes. One does not have to be a professional sound engineer to understand or know that distortion free listening conditions are always desirable, especially in a studio or professional situation. That is one of the reasons I though that these headphones were worthy of reviewing. There are many headphones on the market that do not have an extended frequency response, and for studio or professional use, I feel that this is a very important feature for a set of headphones to have.
The Roland RH-50 Professional Headphones have a sensitivity rating of 106dB and an impedance of 32 Ohms. That is actually about average for a set of headphones in this price range, and with this impedance. In general headphone sensitivity is measured by supplying 1 milliwatt of power to a set of phones and then measuring the number of dB in sound pressure level (SPL) that is delivered at the ear piece. The higher the sensitivity rating a set of headphones has, the better they will perform at different power levels, and the louder they are apt to be. These headphones are about average in their sensitivity rating for this level of impedance. The Roland RH-50 Professional Headphones have an Impedance rating of 32 Ohms, and as such this clearly makes them low impedance headphones. Why is the impedance rating of a set of headphones important to mention and discuss? All else being equal, the lower the impedance, the louder the sound will be in the headphones, because they are able to draw more power. Many headphones that are considered appropriate for use with portable listening devices, such as MP3 Players, will have a rather low impedance rating, such as 16 Ohms, as this can make the sound of the music louder for the listener. However the impedance rating of 32 Ohms that the Roland RH-50 Professional Headphones have is certainly still low enough for them to be used effectively with an MP3 Player or other portable listening device. This impedance rating would certainly not usually be a problem in a studio setting, as many studios have headphone amplifiers. It would also not be a problem for home music listening, if one is going to be using their stereo receiver, as one could just crank up the volume to achieve the desired level.
One of the features that I find attractive about the Roland RH-50 Professional Headphones is that they come with a stereo mini-plug which adapts to a ¼ inch stereo phone plug. This makes the Roland RH-50 Professional Headphones compatible with and able to be used in just about any venue or listening device. Regarding the length of the cable, it is 10 feet long. Clearly people who are thinking of using the Roland RH-50 Professional Headphones exclusively with a portable listening device, like an MP3 Player are going to find this potentially annoying because these is so much extra cable to deal with. On the other hand, those of you who may be considering using these headphones for studio reference purposes or who plan to be plugging these phones into their home stereo, will welcome the few extra feet of cable, as it will afford some mobility for the listener as well as allowing the listener to not have to be seated immediately next to their stereo tuner or amplifier.
Well how do the Roland RH-50 Professional Headphones sound, and who are they best suited for? Well I had the opportunity to try these headphones out when my nephew asked me to lay down some keyboard overdubs to sweeten the sound on some of his original tracks that he made in his small home studio. When I was through laying down the overdubs, my nephew asked me to help him with the mix. He was using Cubase 5, which is a music production software program that I also use to record with. He was using a pair of Yamaha HS 50M studio reference monitors for mix down purposes, which are a smaller version of the Yamaha HS 80M studio monitors that I use.
O.K., so why do I mention these Yamaha speakers in a review on headphones you might ask? The reason is that these speakers are very accurate reference monitors and a flat and unsweetened. Thus, they are a good choide to use when comparing the accuracy of the sound that one is hearing in a set of headphones. Simply put, the Roland RH-50 Professional Headphones seemed to be somewhat colored in sound. The high end was a bit bright and the very low end appeared to be a bit accentuated. Now I want to be clear that I am not saying that these headphones sounded bad. In actuality I was impressed by how good they sounded for the price that they sell for. However, if one is going to be using a set of headphones for studio reference purposes, and is planning to really dissect a mix and put all the tracks together perfectly, I must say these headphones would not be my first choice.
I know that everyone's hearing is a bit different, and everyone's musical tastes are different. Do not let my opinion be the deciding factor. It is however my opinion that these headphones are an excellent value for the money, but to use the term "professional" to describe them, and to bill them as being "good for studio use," is in my opinion misleading. These headphones are a good value for the money, and they sound adequately good for most listening purposes, but I would not feel comfortable in saying that they are studio or professional headphones. I would however feel comfortable in recommending them for other casual listening purposes and for gaming, especially because of their extended frequency response.
Well I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my review, but now if you will excuse me, I must get back to my practicing. Good luck and good listening.