Price: $49.99 (manufacturer’s page)
Build Quality (8.5/10): Rock-It Sounds certainly placed durability and functionality (far) above aesthetics here – the R-Shield strongly resembles a set of earmuffs with its deep cups and thick vinyl pads. The structure is metal and seems nicely made but the construction is a little rough around the edges. Some of the metal bits are a sharp and the external cable routing is anything but sleek. The orange cable does contrast the matte black finish nicely but ‘stylish’ is still the last word that comes to mind with the R-Shield.
Comfort (7/10): The vinyl padding of the R-Shield is designed to block out external noise but the foam is soft and conforming all around. There is enough play in the joints of the headphone for a compliant fit. The only two complaints have to do with the headband, which is shorter than average and may not fill larger heads, and the nature of the sound-isolating padding, which is not breathable in the least and induces sweat very quickly when worn.
Isolation (10/10): Isolation was clearly a design goal of the R-Shield and the headphone succeeds in providing some of the best isolation on the market. Wearing the R-Shield provides an eerie sense of isolation from the outside world – a sensation very similar to wearing a set of industrial earmuffs, from which these draw inspiration.
Sound (7/10): The clear, well-defined sound of the R-Shield is just the sort of thing needed for use in noisy environments. Overall, the R-Shield’s sound signature leans slightly towards the bright side of neutral. The bass is punchy and crisp but doesn’t extend all the way down, causing the R-Shield to lack rumble and depth compared to the Monoprice 8323 and many similarly-priced sets. The Monoprice is much warmer, with more bass bleed and poorer clarity. The R-Shield, on the other hand has bass punch slightly above that of the Sennheiser HD428 and no bleed. The midrange is clear and strong. Vocals are prominent but not warmed-up as is often the case with mid-range portables. There is emphasis placed on the upper midrange and lower treble for a brighter sound but the energy is not excessive and the R-Shield is neither harsh nor sibilant. Top-end presence is better than with the darker, rolled-off Monoprice 8323 and comparable to the HD428, only more energetic.
Soundstaging is a little less straightforward – perhaps it is due to the noise-blocking properties of the cups that the R-Shield sounds quite forward and aggressive. There’s not much width or depth to the soundstage – width is poorer than with the Sennheiser HD428 and depth is comparable. Still, the presentation is surprisingly enjoyable. Stereo separation is good and the impressive definition prevents the R-Shield from sounding congested except during the busiest passages. The Monoprice 8323, for example, is a more serious offender in terms of soundstage versatility to my ears.
Value (8/10): The R-Shield is a purpose-built noise assassin, first and foremost providing isolation that is simply unmatched among small circumaural headphones. The build is solid and the sound is crisp and clear, with the only issues being mediocre bass extension and constrained presentation. Comfort is also good aside from the expected heat build-up. That said, while beauty surely is in the eye of the beholder, the R-Shield is just not something I can imagine seeing worn in public. For use in other high-noise environments – a machine shop, for example – it is excellent.
Frequency Response: 20-20,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Sensitivity: 110 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 5.24ft (1.6m), single-sided; Straight Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: N/A