Roland has an extensive and illustrious reputation as one of the world’s premier electronic musical instrument manufacturers. Due to this reputation, I was eager to see what their foray into the budget studio headphone space had to offer. In this review, we take a look at the RH-5 and pick apart where it succeeds and where it falls short.
The Roland RH-5 offers decent sound quality, reasonable comfort, and an aggressive price. But as with many cheap studio headphones, it has a few issues worth noting.
There is much to like about the Roland RH-5 headphones, but some elements hold them back from getting an instant tick of approval. Let’s dive into the nitty gritty.
The Roland RH-5 is an interesting set of studio headphones. In some regards, it is a perfect pair of headphones; in others, they are well below average.
The sound profile isn’t very neutral and does have a distinct emphasis on bass tonality. This is great for casual listening, especially for bass-heavy genres like EDM. The kick and warmth are palpable and lively. But if you require accuracy for music production, these are not refined enough.
The mid-range is quite good, with ample body and depth to capture the intricacies within this frequency range. The highs are relatively clear but could be more precise. But despite this, they are bright and engaging.
Impressive sound quality for headphones this cheap.
Combined, these headphones offer a reasonable response across the 10Hz-22kHz. But there is a little muddiness and roughness, which becomes increasingly evident in more complex compositions.
However, all is not lost. As a pair of tracking headphones, these perform exceptionally well and handle solitary sources much better. If you have a keyboard or electronic drums, these headphones are a valid budget option that will do an admirable job.
Distortion is a slight issue at higher volume levels, but you do need to push these to their limits to face this issue. The soundstage is average and about as good as I would expect from headphones at this price point.
So the verdict is a mixed bag. For casual listening, these are good. For tracking purposes and monitoring, these are impressive. But for serious studio work, these are not ideal, and you’ll need to look at other options and potentially up your budget.
The comfort level of the Roland RH-5 is suitable for headphones in this price range. The RH-5 features a relaxed clamping force that doesn’t exert much pressure on your head. This makes it an excellent choice for long casual listening sessions.
On the flip side, these are not the most secure headphones due to their relaxed fit. If you happen to move a lot, there is the potential for these to slip and slide a bit.
The padding is soft but prone to flaking.
The padding throughout is decent, providing a relatively plush feel. The padding on the headband ensures no uncomfortable pressure point forms at the tip of your scalp. Likewise, the ear padding does an excellent job of sitting comfortably around your ears.
As with most closed-back headphones, heat build-up is an issue. It’s hard to avoid, but, in this case, more noticeable than in other closed-back cans I’ve tried. It’s a little surprising, considering the relaxed fit, so I assume the coating is contributing.
First impressions matter, and the Roland RH-5 doesn’t disappoint with a clean and unassuming aesthetic. It doesn’t go for any overt flashy design or color accents and keeps things simple. I appreciate the restrained look, ensuring these headphones blend into various settings.
Beyond appearance, there are a few other notable design decisions. First is the attached cable. I always prefer detachable cables. This gives you the freedom to change from one cable to another and also allows you to replace just the cable if it ever gets damaged.
The Roland RH-5 features a slick and restrained aesthetic.
The cable itself is straight and long. At 9.84’ (3 m), you have plenty of length to play with, which can be helpful if your gear sits at a distance. But for on-the-go listening, it is a little unwieldy. This means that the RH-5 is not the best candidate for a pair of travel headphones especially considering they also don’t collapse into a compact form.
The low impedance of 32 ohms makes it easy to connect to various devices. You won’t need a dedicated headphone amp to get the most out of these.
So while the Roland RH-5 does offer a clean, modern look, it lacks some of the premium features some may require. But considering its low price point, it is hard to expect too much.
For a plastic pair of headphones, the Roland RH-5 is relatively robust. Plastic headphones can suffer from excessive creaking and fragility. But the plastic here is solid and dependable. The cable quality is also excellent.
The 40mm drivers feature soft padding, but the coating on these could be better. As with many cheap headphones, this coating is prone to flaking.
The RH-5 features a solid plastic frame.
Combined with the high heat build-up, I foresee swapping the padding sooner rather than later. Thankfully it is easy to swap these out when required.
All things considered, the Roland RH-5 is a solid pair of cans that can go the distance as long as you are willing and prepared to change the ear padding when it inevitably starts to flake.
The most appealing aspect of the Roland RH-5 is the low price point. These are cheap headphones that are a lot better than some other options. There is a good balance between functionality, sound quality, build quality, and price. But it is worth mentioning that these headphones don’t come with a pouch or other accessories beyond an adapter.
If you are looking for a pair of headphones for tracking, monitoring, or causal listening, these are a value buy that is miles ahead of other cheap studio headphones.
For the most part, people are satisfied with the Roland RH-5. Multiple high-scoring reviews highlight the bassy sound and clean treble. The main complaints revolve around the ear padding, but most appreciate that they are a solid choice at this price point.
Freedom Of Movement
The Roland RH-5 headphones are excellent headphones for musicians that play instruments. The distinct sound profile performs exceptionally well with electronic music equipment like keyboards and drums. But one of the other appealing aspects about these cans is the long cable.
As a musician, you want a set of headphones that gives you complete freedom of movement. A long cable ensures you can comfortably tuck it away from your hands, keeping you engaged and free to perform without an encumbrance.
A long cable gives you freedom when playing.
A straight cable is often the best choice in these instances as well. Coiled cables have a habit of tangling within themselves or with other cables. With a straight cable, you won’t encounter these issues.
If you are a musician, a pair of headphones with a long straight cable like the RH-5 will provide you with the freedom of movement you’ll need to perform with confidence and focus.
Searching for quality budget headphones is like finding a needle in a haystack. There are several subpar options out there. But we have trawled through the rubbish to present you with some decent alternatives to the RH-5 that are worth considering.
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Review
If you need headphones that offer more security and still maintain a focus on tracking, the HD 280 is a good choice. With impressive sound quality, these are worth adding to your shortlist.
- A tight and secure fit that provides high isolation.
- Neutral sound profile that is more accurate than the RH-5.
- These are more expensive than the Roland RH-5.
Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
Tascam TH-02 Review
The Tascam TH-02 is an ultra-cheap set of cans. Despite the super low price, they offer a few features that the Roland RH-5 doesn’t provide.
- Lively and clean sound profile that is satisfying to listen to.
- Collapsible design makes these a viable option for traveling.
- The plastic construction is flimsy and less robust than the RH-5.
Audio-Technica ATH-M30x Review
If you are willing to stretch your budget ever so slightly, the ATH-M30x is an ideal option. These tick all the right boxes and are a solid choice for various tasks.
- Well-balanced sound profile that is neutral enough for light studio work.
- Excellent comfort level and dependable plastic framing.
- The exposed wiring has the potential of catching on gear.
Should You Buy?
I’ll admit I am a little disappointed with the Roland RH-5. Roland has an excellent reputation, and these don’t live up to it. But perspective is everything. These are not premium headphones, and I’m sure if Roland were willing to make a more expensive set of cans, they would be amazing.
Looking past my expectation from Roland, the RH-5 is still a capable and robust set of cans. They sound great, especially for instruments, and they offer a relaxed and comfortable fit. Plus, it is hard to be overly critical when considering how cheap these are. These budget headphones are better than many options out there and worth considering for specific applications.