Pros: Lightweight, great sound, amazing value, comfortable
Cons: less than stellar build quality; update as of 12/28/2010 they break alot.
After reading a thread on these cans a few weeks ago, I decided I'd take the plunge and try them out. I needed a portable anyway, and I thought "what the hell, couldn't be that bad."
Well, I'm glad I was right.
I've had them less than a day so far, so not much burn in. So far I'm impressed, They seem to be everything I was hoping for (and a bit more).
So, I think my largest concern was the build quality of these phones prior to receiving them. The reivews on Amazon were quite negative primarily for their build quality(breaking, etc). However, Olimoronio tried to still my fears that they would fall apart in my hands after unboxing them. After finally receiving them I have to say I'm impressed. At the pricepoint of $31 these headphones are decently built. The plastic feels a little bit flimsy, and if you swivel the cans at the same time (holding one in each hand) You may get the feeling that they are about to break in half, but after excising this thoroughly, I can say with 99% certainty that they wont. Otherwise, they seem pretty standard... glossy plastic shell on the outside of the can with matte plastic elsewhere. inside of the plastic headband and connecting arms is some metal. The included cords are sheathed in a fine cloth mesh, and terminate in a initially malable plastic case that then terminates into a larger hard plastic case, I like the cords. It also included a similarly clothed extension/1/4th adapter cable that is about 3 feet long and ends with a 1/4th inch plug. I would have rather these cans have a modular connector on the headphone itself. Overall I'm impressed considering the price, they don't hold a flame to something like the HD-25 (in terms of build quality anyway) but then again what does?
The first thing I noticed as I picked them up was how light they are. I don't know exactly how much they weigh but I can say they are certainly the lightest portables I've ever held, lighter than the HD-25 II, and MDR-V150 (which were the only portables I could compare them to currently). The next thing I noticed as I slipped them on was the lack of clamping force, Perhaps this is why they are so light? Lacking all of the metals and springs or what ever causes headphones to clam your head like a vice. I actually enjoy this as it makes them considerably more comfortable. The ear pads are pretty standard pleathery cushion material stuff. With the lack of clamping force they provide a comfortable cushion and have enough depth to keep the drivers from resting on my ears. They also fit my ears almost perfectly, with my dangly earlobes the only thing not encircled by the cans. The headband has a decent cushion on both the under and overside (for some reason, I wouldn't think a cushion would be necessary on the top). Overall these cans are very non-fatiguing in the comfort department. No ear sweating, no abrasive driver ear bleeding, no ear hematomas due to clamp.
This one will be short. They don't isolate well. On my Sansa Fuze with the volume at about 30% I can't hear myself typing this. However, turn the music off and I can hear the clickity clack quite well. However considering the 30% volume of the music and that I imagine myself listening to music when these are infact over my ears, I doubt this will present much of a problem. Unless your working in a construction yard, I doubt you will get much disturbance from your environment when actually listening to music. That said, they do not isolate well, due to the lack of clamp (which is a good trade, In my mind).
So, On to the good stuff eh? Out of the box these headphones impressed me. I don't have a massive array of headphones to compare them to or even a bunch, just a few. Literally. With that said though they impressed me. Moreso than my recently purchased Superlux HD-668b another hi-fi budget buy. With little to no burning they were outshining my fullsized HD-668b's as well (in overall performance) my recently departed SR325IS and my old battle standard Senn HD485's. They're fairly neutral though not overly so. The bass is impressive, punchy, wide and reaching but not bloated or over extended. They're clear, though not fatiguing in anyway. highs were pretty much on par with the mids and bass, though something about the bass is better than both... but it doesn't step on any toes, if you catch my drift.
Soundstage, What does it mean? Who coined this phrase? Why does it have to be said? These portables don't have a very wide soundstage which is not surprising because they are portables. Listening to Jonsi's Go was a pleasure with the Maxell DHP-II. The winds were not lost in the overwhelming bass and electric noise in this song towards the end. I could still clearly hear them. Which is a good sign as they lose definition with the HD485s, the HD668bs produce them quite well also but the bass loses focus with them, I wont compare them to the Grados as that wouldn't be fair because it's not part of the Grado sound. Oh wait yes I will, the SR325is bled my ears figuratively with this song.Onward, Sleigh Bells - Run the Heart is equally pleasurable with these phones. Everything is nice and clear, bass isn't overbearing but feels good. Vocals aren't muddied amongst the ridiculous bass, random guitar riffs and blasty hiphop beats. Radiohead - Exit Music (For a film) sounds great. the acoustic guitar isn't lost in the boosted vocals, you can hear the mistakes and the fingers moving along the strings. It's exciting, to say the least. Frontier Ruckus's - Rosemount sounds great, the bass is very well represented, all the instruments (jar, saw, guitar, banjo, bass, drums, vocals) are clear. Can even make out the ghostly female backups breathing, in between their creepy ooohing. The breakdown felt good, the bass being the most important part in the song. It makes an impact. The Marked Men - I Must Be Dead, from their newest album Ghost (I heartily recommend this album to anyone who enjoys good rock and roll.) doesn't lose any of its Garage recording sound, these phones don't make anything seem more focused or clear than it should (as the HD668bs do, which kind of messes up the sound of this band). It's pure, fun, punchy, punk rock. Thank you Maxell DHP-II, for providing this service to my ears.
Overall I'd say these headphones offer surprisingly good sound, comparable if not better than my other headphones, The bass rivals my HD485s but does so without getting drunk and vomiting all over the mids and highs as my poor 485s do.
All listening was done through my Sansa Fuze and or my computer, with no noticeable difference in sound quality between either source. I doubt there would be much of a noticeable difference if ran through an amplifier, but this is just speculation as I don't have one in my possession to test this theory. All music was either lossless or 320KBS save for my radiohead tracks which are 192kbs.
This is an important category, as It's kind of like a conclusion. Value determining the intangible value that is perhaps worth more than the cost to purchase which is what budget Hi-fi is all about.
I'd like to say that these phones perform better than most I have heard in the sub $160 price range, full-size or not. Only being beaten by the HD25-II and the Shure 840, which isn't quite as fun sounding as these are, in my opinion. Offered at as cheaply as $31 measly dollars (shipped even!) on amazon, these headphones are incredible at this price tag. The only thing keeping me from saying I would purchase them if they were 160 dollars (besides that I couldn't afford them) is the build quality, which would perhaps be lackluster at that price point.
Overall these phones are incredibly worth buying and I implore anyone looking for a new portable or if you just want some new cans to listen to, to drop by amazon and pick up a pair of these. I don't think you will be disappointed.
go forth and purchase http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000VSBPEG/ref=oss_product , they're cheapest from seller Common Star. Which offered them at $31 shipped, I received them in 8 days from the purchase date (with Independence day weekend in the middle of it all, so I assume it'd be faster if it were on a monday perhaps).
Signed, with love
update 12/28/2010: I've gone through 2 pairs so far, each breaking in the same spot (arm band just above the speaker swivel/joint). They are still great phones but perhaps not for everyday use. If you were able to somehow reinforce the headbands with like, sheetmetal strips to flank each arm, they would be great(and that would be a relatively cheap and easy mod, I suppose) and I believe fix this breaking issue I've had.
anyway, 31 dollars whatever!