Pros: Single-handedly matches top-shelf performance
Cons: Non-spiffy looks, subpar build quality and comfort
Pros: Single-handedly matches top-shelf performance
Cons: Non-spiffy looks, subpar build quality and comfort
Pros: Cheap, good basic sound, cheap, decent build quality, cheap, includes carrying bag, cheap, self-adjusting headband and did I mention it's cheap ?
Cons: Harsh highs (solved by the filter mod), a bit tight clamping, all plastic (but makes it light) and not solid feeling.
I'm member on a forum for bassguitar players and since a few years the Superlux HD681 are the most spoken of headphones on there. Because of the price vs basic sound quality. After I bought the DT770 pro it seemed funny ordering this one on top, for comparisment and good for recording too.
Because I really dislike the one with the red rings I bought the one with silver rings, not realizing that it has a different sound. But it looked cooler, that's a lot to be said here...
Let's roll !
Okay, so what does one expect from €19,95 headphones ? They're made entirely out of plastic, but don't look too cheap. They have some thight clamping force and the self-adjusting system seemed to work fine, only not really smooth. But overall decent build headphones with easily removable earpads and even service friendly. The cord is thicker than the one on my AKG K271 so even there I don 't see any problem. It's a AKG clone, but Superlux gave it some own style-elements.
A self-adjusting system is always nice, but it does have a thight clamping force. I solved this by pulling it over a box and leave it like that for a day. Now the clamping force is normal for my head. With the AKG velours pads comfort didn't aprove, I acually prefer the stock pads, they have more clearance around my ears. Got no problem with them being sweaty too, allthough it has been extremely hot around here the last few weeks. The Superlux HD681 is quite light, which adds on comfort. Overall suitable for long term usage.
Sound quality (before filter mod) :
So, dare one speak of sound quality on €19,95 headphones ? At first I was disapointed... a lot ! Couldn't understand why all these guys were bragging about it on the bassguitar forum. I'll try to paint the picture:
Bass: The bass was very decent, nice punchy drumkick, bassguitar present in the mix. Not really deep bass, but well noticeable. It's more like a low-mid bass, somewhere around 80hz or so. But in metal (what I'm working on at the moment) the 80 hz region is very important. So I would call the bass sound "sufficient".
Mids: Mids where very clear from the beginning. The guitars really slammed me in the mixes I'd allready did with the DT770. But seems the Superlux puches mid foreward a bit. Cause when I lowered the volume of the guitars they became recessed in the mix. So I would call the mids a bit "over the top".
Highs: Here was where I could really hear this thing had only cost me €19,95 ! Too much highs ! Harsh highs ! Non-musical highs... really not good in this department. It sound like it has its own treble boost build in. So I definetly cal the highs "harsh".
Of course, since I have the B version, that's voiced like a K240, I have the "Balanced" version. Nothing balanced about the highs though...
But then I read on this forum and on Rock Grotto that these Superlux headphones started to sound better if they had some playtime. And I found the mod with the filters to take away the treble boost feel. I have been playing these headphones for days now and I really hear the highs getting a better sound. Still too much, but better sounding. A friend of mine, who's into electronics, is looking into the filter mod and I will get them in there for sure. If the highs soften this headphones simply have a very usable sound. So I will comment further on sound after the filters have been added.
EDIT 21st September 2013: a few days ago I've done the mod with the filter that softens the harsh highs. The Superlux are different headphones now ! Now they're really "balanced", even very close to my AKG K271. Incredible how $8 of components can chance cheap (sounding) headphones into expensive (sounding) ones.
Sound quality (after filter mod):
Bass: They are not bass-heavy headphones, but the bass is okay. It's not deep, more like a 80hz and up bassrespons. But it's compareable with the 7 times more expensive AKG. So don't expect punch in the basrespons, but it is very useable.
Mids: The installed filter takes care of the highs and in some amount the mids are also tempered. They're real sweet mids now, just as I like them on my AKG K271. Before the filter the mids were a bit over the top, puching vocals and guitars foreward. This has been solved beautifully by these filters. Now the mids are nicely balanced and dependable.
Highs: Allright ! Here we are... the difference in unbelieveable ! Gone are the harch highs, welcome to the new sweet, musical highs that suddely make these $25 headphones sound scary close to the 7 times as expensive AKG K271.
As far as I understand it, soundstage is all about stereo imaging and instrument placement. Well, that's not one of the strong points of these headphone. The sound sits a lot "inside the head" making it difficult to place the instruments. The stereo image is a bit rough, could be because of the forwarded mids and the harsh highs. But hey, what do you expect from €19,95 headphones that says "studio monitor". I cannot image one will use these for mixing, but I believe it would be a decent phone for guitar or bass recordings.
At this point it's hard to say because I 'm planning on the filter mod. But out of the box I think these headphones can satisfy many music-lovers. It's fairly neutral sounding, besides the overexaggerated highs, and many won 't even mind the highs. I read a lot of reviews where people say the HD681 can, with some mods, sound like $150 headphones, but I seriously doubt that. It is no match for the DT770 pro or the K271 studio. Not by a long run.
Conclusion after the filter mod:
These headphones were $25 and the filters have cost me about $8. This makes it a $33 headphone. After the filter mod the sound is truely balanced and really does have a "studio monitor" feel over it. It is definitly useable in the studio for recordings, allthough the open build will cause problems. Now I have to agree with all those who claim this Superlux HD sounds like a $150 HP after the filters are in place. At this moment it even is a match for my $200 AKG K271. Or it's at least surprisingly close.
After these filters I had to upgrade "Rating" from 3 stars to 4 and half stars and "Audio Quality" till max.
Here are some pictures of the B version with the AKG velours pads:
Pros: light weight, good clarity and high bass
Cons: stiff and sweaty ear pads, wire length option and portability
When the package reached, my first impression is... honestly cheap. Simply a plastic wrapped with a hard cupboard holding the HD681 which i understand because of considering the budget. The headphone comes along with a 6.3 mm plug adapter and carrying bag. Then I hold the headphone, surprisingly light weight and it fits my head quite well (my head is quite small). Unfortunately I realise the ear pads are quite hard and if used a long time it will become sweaty (tropical country :D).
For musics, so far all genre is good to go, and with amp and tuning equalizer the result will be more impressive. I'm just a normal home user who enjoy music but not in professional way so it is consider extra good for me except the wire is a bit too long for me (which i dont need too long). So i coil it and I think it is not a very big deal with it. In terms of portability, HD681 is not very suitable for mobility use as it looks too much adopted in studio monitor (the design is cool wearing in indoor) and big size.
Overall, considering the price and output quality, it is still the best bang for bucks (in my country ;P) like other Superlux headphones and earbuds.
Recommend for users love enjoy any genre musics indoor with simple way (not DJ style) and replace its ear pads (velour pads or others).
Pros: Sound quality, accurate reproduction, comfortable, price
Cons: Not portable, fugly
Reading reviews is one thing, as we all have our own subjective opinions, but when something receives a majority of praise, I think it's worth a try.
When the 681's arrived, I wasn't impressed with the packaging, but they looked as I expected them to look. They feel pretty durable and the look is retro, I can't see myself taking these outside since they don't fold up and they are kind of fugly.
Looks aside, the sound from these is nothing short of amazing.
I'm running them out of my Dell Inspiron 530 desktop (Core 2 Quad) with a Behringer UCA222 in the signal path. The files are all WAV or FLAC.
The 681's are very easy to drive, I don't feel the need to hook up my Fiio E05 or my Fiio E11. I'm getting plenty of volume, with room to spare, from the desktop.
I've been listening to a very wide variety of music and the 681's are working very well with everything. Acoustic, Folk, Jazz, Blues, Rock, Progressive Metal, Industrial, Hip Hop, Rap, they all sound really amazing on these Headphones.
I'm really glad I took a chance on these.
Compared to other Headphones that are in the same bracket, like the Panasonic RP-HTF600-S Stereo Headphones and the Monoprice 8323, I believe they aren't in the same league, as far as performance. I realize the 681's are a semi-open design, but so are the HTF600's. I'm not putting the 8323's or the HTF600's down, as they are very good headphones in their own right, but I overwhelmingly prefer the sound of the 681's.
The 8323 and the HTF600's are more portable but the Panasonic's don't really fold either but the cups rotate a little, whereas the 8323's fold up in the smallest portable package of the three.
So, the details the 681's produce are spot on, to me. I don't have a higher end set up to compare them to, as the only other headphones I own are Sennheiser PX100's, PX200's, and Audio-Technica ATH-M50's.
Out of all those sets, I really prefer the 681's. I don't find they are lacking in any aspect. The bass is deep, fast, and tight. The midrange is fabulous, the vocals and instruments sound SO good. I don't feel the treble is too bright or forward or harsh. These headphones seem to reproduce exactly what you feed them, and that is no small feat.
Since they are "semi-open" the sound isn't contained, so others can hear what you are listening to and the sound from the surrounding environment creeps in without much resistance. This is another reason I don't see the 681's as ideal for use on a commute or in an office environment, unless you need to be aware of your surroundings. I don't think you have to crank the volume up much to get a really decent level of sound with these either.
I do appreciate the reviews on equipment submitted by everyone else on head-fi. This is a great resource and it was very helpful in my search for some decent setups.
As with anything else, this is just my opinion of the 681's. Your mileage may vary.
Pros: Soundstage, clarity, balanced sig with good bass, price
Cons: They aren't perfect... The ear pads are not the best. Not for the huge-headed, but what cans are?
People are dissing these for their looks?!? If you are buying any full-sized cans because of their sexy factor, you need to reexamine your priorities. If you haven't heard these, I'd bet you take them home when you do. For the tiny bit of $$ you'll pay, these are absolutely the best sounding cans you can purchase. College students, people on fixed-incomes and the thrifty audiophile will especially love these. Replace the pads with velour ones, if you want. The cans will still sound good and they may be more comfortable. As good as they sound and as cheap as they are, who cares how they look? If that's an issue, turn off the light when you listen to them. Lets face it, some Grados look like radio operator headphones from the 1920s, but they are graded on their sound first. These should be, too.
Pros: Deep sounding bass and lots of detail.
Cons: Comfort issues, resonance
The bass goes nice and low with adequate impact. Not too much to say about the mids. These things have too much in the high-end. They can be pretty shrill at times though a bit though an EQ helped a lot.
Comfort is definitely the worst thing about these. They clamp a lot and the earpads are made of a cheap, sticky, hard, pleather that peel off of your skin. BTW, Any earpads that fit the AKG 240 will fit these and I highly recommend replacing them; it's worth it. The AKG styled self adjusting headband is actually quite comfortable and I like it though it's also a pretty cheap pleather.
Build quality is sub-par but for this price it's decent. I definitely wouldn't throw these around but they will last quite awhile if you take half decent are of them. If you plan to do one of the many mods to them be VERY CAREFUL opening them up, the internal wires are very delicate. The two wires on the headband are made of metal and if you happen to bump them they will ring and you an hear the resonance in the headphones. This is fixable with a piece of foam.
NOTE: There are two released editions of this headphone. The first has brightly colored red accents. The second released one has darker maroon accents and the highs have been subdued quite a bit and are more tolerable now but sound the same otherwise. I don't believe they sell the original anymore.
Overall, don't hesitate to buy them, just make sure you have some money extra saved up to replace those awful earpads.
Pros: Cheap. Gigantic soundstage. Excellent mids. Punchy bass. Easy to drive. Do well with EQ. Comfortable. Has dozens of modifications.
Cons: Piercing highs. Will not satisfy bassheads without EQ. Look kind of stupid. Semi-open design makes for a good deal of leakage.
Setup: Windows Media Player (Variable Bit-Rate WMAs at approximately 300kbps) -> PreSonus AudioBox USB ->Superlux HD681
Barton Hollow (The Civil Wars): Simply put, these cans make this song sound HUGE! Right from the get-go, the HD 681s impressive soundstage makes evident intricate panning on guitars, drums, strings and vocals. The kick drum is refined and tamed but present, and the male and female vocals sound superb.
Black Horse and the Cherry Tree (K.T. Tunstall): The HD 681s brilliantly emphasize the hard panning of this song's drums, making this much more obvious than my Audio-Technica ATH-M50s (yeah, sure, open vs. closed headphone. The fact that this is even a comparison is a testament to the value of the HD 681s.) The guitar and vocals are clear and sound great, if a tiny bit congested.
Air Force Ones (Nelly): This song shows off the HD 681's remarkable bass. Quantity-wise, the HD 681s have less bass than mainstream headphones like Skullcandies or even audiophile endorsed headphones like the previously mentioned Audio-Technica ATH-M50s. However, the bass that is present is punchy and serves as a background to some AWFUL lyricism.
Everything I Am (Kanye West): After listening on my ATH-M50s, this song sounds deflated. There just isn't enough low end here to keep me satisfied. Fortunately, these headphones do fairly well with EQ, so getting things to a level I could appreciate. Kanye's voice on this track sounds a bit piercing, but the strings and piano sound wonderful.
Set Fire to the Rain (Adele): Vocals sound rich, full and breathy (and Melodyned, but don't blame Superlux for that one.) Strings sound clear across the board. The HD 681s really shine here.
Don't Let Me Get Me (P!nk): The hi-hats/cymbals are fatiguingly harsh. The kick drum is murky as all get-out. The song in general sounds congested. However, the vocals and guitar sound clear controlled. This was still painful to listen to.
Ain't No Rest for the Wicked (Cage the Elephant): The bass in this sounds JUICY. It's something to behold. Vocals sound transparent, and the HD 681s reveals layering techniques that are being used. The drums sound punchy, and the hard-panned guitar serves as an excellent example of the HD 681's abundant depth.
I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend (The Ramones): Vocals sound clear. Drums sound clear. Bass sounds clear. Guitar sounds clear. Nothing to complain about here.
Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (Skrillex): The high-pitched beginning synth is downright painful due to its harshness. The drums sound wonderful, and unsurprisingly, the bass drop is detailed and transparent. Some of the high-pitched parts of the drop are a bit fatiguing. Vocals sound a bit crisp, but are clear and pleasant.
Face to Face (Daft Punk): The kick drum and bass on this sound warm in all the right ways. Vocals sound clear, if a bit sibilant. The guitars are extremely detailed and sit beautifully in the mix. Daft Punk on the HD 681s is a real treat.
The HD 681s are a steal at their retail price of $36. For people wondering if audiophilia is worth the money (BELIEVE ME, IT'S NOT! GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN! ) this is a wonderful set of cans. And heck, even for people with top-of-the-line set-ups, this is a worthwhile purchase. I favor these to my ATH-M50s in certain genres, and the ATH-M50s are some of the most loved headphones on Head-Fi. As a hobbyist producer, these are positively vital to my mixing/mastering process, as they are extremely analytical while managing to sound enjoyable. Simply put, these cans sound good, and if you can put up with some sibilant highs and a slightly weak (if incredibly clear) bass, you owe it to yourself to buy a pair.
Pros: bass response, design, value
Cons: K240 "knockoffs", plasticy
Here's a bargain bin favorite that has withstood the tests of time. It may remind you of value headphone (the AKG k240) but before you label it some cheap knockoff, take some time to give it a listen. No, the Superlux does not outdo its AKG brethren, but instead offers a bassier, "fun" sound that is perfect for the $37 asking price. (Also, I cannot speak about packaging I tried the headphones off a friend)
In terms of originality, this is a complete failure. But that aside, these headphones will look polarizing to any non-dedicated audiophile. That being said, let's face it: the K240 is probably one of the better looking studio headphones out there, and imitation is the sincerest form of flaterry. As for the build itself, I'm kinda stuck somewhere in the middle; the headphones are mostly plastic and seem to be on the cheap side, but they really feel like they could take a hit, and they lasted a day in my school backpack.
These are semi-open headphones which is basically a fancy way for saying the isolation sucks. Open headphones have holes behind the drivers which are intended to create a more free sound -- this benefits natural balance and soundstage, but it sacrifices the isolation. That being said, the isolation is better then my 535's which I compared them to. And to be honest, these have really good isolation for an open headphone, but at the end of the day they're still open.
This is where in my mind, the Superlux start to redeem themselves. Though marketed as "Studio Monitors" the Superlux are slightly colored. That being said they hold up were a majority of open headphones struggle: the bass has enough presence to make itself felt. On the flipside, unlike some closed headphones (cough, Skullcandy, cough) the Suerplux keep the bass on control, though they do lack some of the extension of closed headphones (the open design prevents this).
In regards to the rest of the spectrum, sorry for not paying more attention to those details. The mids are full in quality and rich; the highs are vibrant and I experienced no fatigue. I just really wanted to point out the bass here because it's amazing... at least for an open headphone.
I don't think open headphones get any better than this in the price range. Maybe Superlux's own HD668B can outdo the 681's, but these are still impressive... period. For $40, they're an absolute steal.
Pros: Nicely tight bass, excellent articulation for the price, better than expected isolation
Cons: Piercingly bright. Red accents are not my thing. Does not resolve sound as well as much more expensive headphones.
For a while, I was going out and buying all of the little Flavor of the Month headphones, searching for that actual "giant killer." Some of them I found to be pretty solid, others I was a little disappointed that there was so much hype for them. The one FotM trend that I found the most interesting, though, were the East Asian headphones that copied the designs of other companies and then put out a sound beyond their price -- companies like Superlux and Takstar. What attracted me to the Superlux HD 681s were the measurements that Tyll had on them from Inner Fidelity -- flat response, low price, high value sound. I bought them and they didn't disappoint.
The design felt solid, although terrible for portability. I found the auto-size adjusting band to work perfectly. The pleather earpads were big and, although not the most comfortable things ever, I could wear them for hours without hurting my ears, unlike the Grados.
The first thing I noticed was that they didn't sound like $30-40 headphones. Even the better $30-40 headphones sounded like the HTF600 or the HARX-700 -- good, but you could tell there didn't articulate detail as well as $80-100 headphones, as to be expected. I felt like they were able to resolve details as well as, or maybe even slightly better than my Koss DJ100s. They didn't have a super slow sound like my HTF600s. There was a definite brightness in the upper treble, but besides that they were excellent.
The bass was big, relatively tight, and full sounding with good impact. It was quick enough to keep up with songs like the Dark Psytrance song Zabava's bass line without muddying it up. The bass felt like it leaked very slightly into the mids, but a small EQ down at 100hz cleared it up nicely. I loved the quantity of the bass and I felt like it was slightly emphasized but not so much so that it was overpowering. The bass extension was above average for the price, but certainly not up to spec with higher end monitor headphones that have great bass extension.
The mids came out astoundingly clear for the price. Vocals are well done and crisp. Not too much I can say about this -- I found the mids to be very pleasing.
The treble is the only area I took found an issue with when it came to sound. The treble definitely had some kind of bright spike to it. It brought up some unusual high frequency artifacts in some songs. Still, with a little EQ work, the piercing brightness faded.
Overall I found these headphones to be astounding for the price and are some that I would suggest to anyone who is fine with a semi-open design at the price point. Superlux really delivered a winner that was able to punch out of its price bracket in terms of sound quality. I'm intending to borrow a friend's Audio-Technica M50 to do some A/B testing later, because I legitimately think the Superluxes can compete against them. Are they "giant killers?" Probably not, but they certainly destroy other $30-40 FotM cans in terms of sound quality.
Pros: Extremely clear sound, excellent soundstaging, comfortable
Cons: Big... prepare for the tang of guilt when you realise how much you paid for it
|Product Type Name||CONSUMER_ELECTRONICS|
|Title||Superlux HD 681|