SO today is time to make a little review of a not so well keeped secret chinese monitor headphone Gem.
I heard about the Superlux headphones here on headfi and was rather sceptical of the sound they can produce, I was like yeah they are dirt cheap and could be great value, but how good at this price the sound can be? It can't be a serious sounding monitor, can it?
Well, when I finally see them at Gearbest store in sale for a more than ridiculous price I decided I have nothing to loose and who know as i'm a music producer perhaps I will really use them to mix some tracks...
And I finally put them on my head and begin to listen to a violin quartet and was like:
Okay, this headphones are not a legend for nothing, they deserve their most-buy reputation, this is serious cans with a serious sound, extremely neutral and detailed, light to wear and comfortable and I can really make great mix with them even if they cost third time less than my now gone Sony MDR-7609.
CONSTRUCTION, PACKAGE & DESIGN:
Package look like a dollar store joke and I was laughing first time I see it, thinking: their you go for your 20 boxes dumb head, what were you hoping for? A Miracle? Yes the package is a joke, it is not serious, it is a price cutter so you can buy a miracle! Just throw this in trash can and concentrate on headphones instead.The construction isn't bad at all for the price and make me think of AKG K240 on all aspect, HD681 just try less harder to look fancy with plastic piece but both are about the same construction taking apart the fact that the AKG have a detachable cable. So construction is all plastic but well assembled and extremely light tp wear wich make them very comfortable for long listening sessions. It do not use the kind of glossy plastic that is easy to break and I think durability isn't that bad because I do not instinctively fear to drop it on like with other plastic headphones I have. This type of construction, even if a little cheap, is incredible for the price. Clamping force is light and earcups are movable and take the form of your head.
Headphones TypeHeadphones - binaural
Headphones Form FactorOn-ear
Sound Output Modestereo
Frequency Response10 - 30000 Hz
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)0.25% %
So, it is write 2X 32OHM on the headphones cups wich make them 64Ohm and a little hard to drive with average music players. For this review I use my Ibasso DX80 as well as my SANSUI amp with Ibasso DX90 line out. The Superlux HD681 can't be drive properly with Xduoo X3 and even less with ONN X5 or Ruizu X02. You don't know what this headphones are capable off if you do not have an amp or powerfull mixer. The HD681 are more easy to drive than the 128 Ohm Superlux HD681B but to get full sound, bass and air between instruments you don't need to crank the volume, just to give them the right power so they can breathe properly. When use with a powerfull amp the real deal begin, we are now blessed with a magificent and detailed sound with very wide soundstage and fowards texture and treble. There lot of air between instrumentation and separation of them are great because of this. The Sansui AU-D5 amp give some welcome warm to this rather bright earphones too, when listening to classical this is really a great headphone, we heard every details of violin player including breathe and bow microdetails scrubbing texture, the acoustic guitar chord is full of sparkle and we feel the fingers pulling every rope. The HD681 really hit higher than their price range and sound exceptionnaly good for this very reason.
The Superlux HD681 aren't basshead headphones at all and have the typical sound that we want from a monitor headphones wich mean detailed, neutral with a good instruments separation. Bass isn't very round and heavy, even if it dig deep and low it isn't the type of bass we feel, tough with a powerfull amp it come to life and have more weight, this headphones will not be appropriate for IDM or rap because of the airyness presentation of the soundspectrum. Still, right now as I listen to Jamie Saft New Standard jazz album, Steve Swallow bass is very well rendered and every note clearly audible, when the drum take more place it is less clearly presented tough because the toms decay can interfer with bass decay. Anyway, the HD681 love (piano!) jazz and play it with great precision and energy, some albums can sincerly sound memorable with them.
Now I listen to the excellent Aventine album by Agnes Obel, her voice float around me and have great warm, texture and autority. Instrumentation is more foward than her voice but in an immersive way and has the voice is in the center of it we don't feel it is veiled or too dark. Another time texture is a little agressive even if it isn't harsh for the ears. Microdetails are foward too and the overall sound presentation lack a little roundness or softness to be truely mesmerizing-this is were the ridiculous price tag show his greatness limit. Anyway, the HD681 medium frequencies are very realistic and far from being in the backseat and the texture is welcome for extra resolution that can give more dynamic to some music. Violin, piano and vocals sound very good with the HD681 and acoustic music is a real joy because of the analytical presentation showing everything that is going on in a track, for the better and the worst. Because of this extra texture some signers voice can hiss (Beth Gibbons does this).
This headphones have LOT of treble to share and are on the bright side even if a relaxed version of it. We have plenty of texture, microdetails and treble sparkle here, sometime it can even be too much of it. For exemple, if you listening to an old vinyl recording the background hiss will be too fowards and perhaps spoil the clarity of instrumentation. But if the recording is perfectly clear this extra treble will give extra details and texture to instruments, you will eaisly pick everything you want from a track as the neutral presentation with foward treble will give as much importance to cymbals than bass and guitar. I guess with very complexe and dense tracks it can became overwhelming for a proper musicality as every sound will be be pickable by the ears. I consider this as a must for monitor headphones tough, wich are use exactly to be able to calibrate every sounds and instruments in your mix.
The Superlux HD681 are incredible headphones that can be use by serious musician as well as audiophile on budget that want a realistic and analytical headphones. They outperform way pricier headphones and are extremely comfortable for long listening. If you want a little more bass you can try the HD681B wich have a little more but are even more hard to drive. Superlux really impress me with their budget friendly headphones and earphones that have a real hifi sound and really deserve the admiration they already have.
You can find them here for an ultimately absurb 20$:
LONG LIVE TO SUPERLUX!!!!