Pros: Build, Looks, Do Nothing Wrong
Cons: Lower mids Recession, Bass Emphasis
This was an impulse purchase. Not that it was hyped much (trust me, it isn’t), I just wanted to buy an on ear headphone, and these sort of showed up. They’re relatively new so I wondered if they’d be a diamond in the rough among some pretty stiff competition (V-Moda M80, UE6000, Martin Logan Mikros 90, ATH M50, ATH WS99, MDR -1R, and many many more).
Build Quality, Aesthetics, Comfort, Gripes:
First off I’d rate the build quality as very good. I don’t see any structural flaws. The cup themselves I believe are aluminum, and the core of the headband is also a really strong metal. There is some plastic in the construction, but don’t expect that Beats type plastic or that MDR 1r type plastic. It’s is much much much more sturdy, and it yields no structural weaknesses. It also helps lessen the weight of these. Also, the plastic is rubberized, meaning it has a thin layer of rubber as an exoskeleton, giving it a more high quality feel. I’ve tested the build quality by stretching the headband beyond its elastic limit and they didn’t break (the headband was basically a straight line at that point). In addition, factoring in the price ($150 USD) you’ve got a fantastically built headphone.
These headphones look stylish, and even more stylish around the neck. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments if that helps. The stealth black works well, but I could do with a little more contrast. The cable really is the only source of contrast in color.
The comfort is about average. They are more comfortable than the average on ear, but a little less comfortable than it’s over ear competitors. The pads are larger than the Momentums (basically an on ear), but a tiny bit smaller than the WS99. They aren’t uncomfortable for me, but I can see some people experiencing discomfort. The pads aren’t the softest (not memory foam), but to be honest that isn’t much of an issue.
The cable doesn’t have an IOS controller. This means absolutely nothing to be, but be warned. Also, the cables are detachable, but it’s really hard to pull the cables out of the ear cups. I also experience a slight channel imbalance favoring the right ear slightly, but this isn’t a problem since you can easily adjust the channel balance on just about any device. One more gripe: a good seal is easy to maintain (you can talk and do all the backflips you want once the pads adjust to your head), but can take a few seconds to achieve. Good thing is I have worn these in literally 4 degree weather (and while it was snowing like crazy) and maintaining a seal isn’t difficult. I have an average sized head with ears that stick out slightly more than average and I experience no problems. You may experience problems at first but they will most likely go away after good use.
First let me describe the sound signature, starting from the left of the frequency graph: the bass. The bass extends quite low with great weight and authority. Yes the bass is emphasized, but definitely not to bass head levels. They have a tiny bit more low bass impact than the Momentum, and a bit less than the ATH WS99. Anyway, the sub bass extension really is something that makes these headphones stand out. You’ll hear sub bass notes you haven’t heard before if you listen to cans like the Momentum or MDR 1R. Now my only problem with the bass is that it’s a bit above neutral, and I prefer a flatter response since I don’t really listen to much bass heavy music.
That being said, I’m not sure I’d call these warm sounding headphones. I associate warmth less with simply bass than with mids to lower mids presence, accompanied with a mid to upper bass boost. These sound more dynamic, more exciting then something like the Momentum, MDR 1R, UE6000, ATH WS99, or ATH ESW9a that sounds warm and laid back. Moreover, I can sense a dip in the lower mids, but just a small one. It removes a little bit of the warmth from the vocals and replaces it with a more airy, more spacious vocal presence. As a result, compared to mid centric headphones like the MDR 1R, ATH WS99 (kind of mid centric), and Martin Logan Mikros 90, the vocals can sound only a tiny bit hollow. The dip isn’t huge, but it’s noticeable.
Ah the treble. This is something I like about these. The treble is not offensive, neither is it conservative. It isn’t crazy detailed like the Mikros 90 (*******!), but it has presence, lending to a fantastic balance, and beautiful female vocals.As for the soundstage, I’d rate it at slightly above average. It’s a small step behind the class leading M500, or MDR 1R, but a step above the Momentum.
To sum up: I haven’t liked a headphone like I’ve liked this one in a very long time. For instance: I like the M500. It’s got good sound, an awkward but interesting soundstage, and awkward fit (clamp is too light), and only OK isolation. They are also a little creaky, at least for me. I like the Momentum, but I can’t get a good seal, the sound is only OK, and they cost a little too much. The B&W P7 is something I really liked both sound wise and looks wise, but there was nothing that stood out about it, especially at a price of $400. I’m really liking the Martin Logan Mikros 90 right now, but I haven’t had them for long enough. These headphones don’t really do anything wrong in any compartment, whether its build, aesthetics, sound, or comfort, and they actually do some /things that make them stand out, like for instance it’s sub bass, or its female vocals. Look, I’m not saying these aren’t without their flaws, all I’m saying is I haven’t found them yet. You know what, I'll take a pic on my phone:
Used: Sansa Clip Zip, my Home Reciever, Shiitt MAgni, iPod Tough 4g, iPad 2, Samsung Galaxy Player 5, Fiio E6.