Pros: so cheap, solid build quality, foldable and portable, thick cables
Cons: utter lack of bass, highs are just ok
I’m an audiophile on a budget, always searching for best value audio gear. As my username suggests, I’m also a big fan of passionate and dedicated audiophiles, especially here in Head-Fi. I’ve owned a few headphones and I love portable gear as I mostly listen in the office and a few times at home while my little toddler sleeps. I rarely listen through my laptop.
Gears I own:
- Fiio X1
- Fiio A3 (formerly E11k Kilimanjaro, stacked with the X1)
- Samsung stock IEMs for Galaxy Mega 5.8 (included here since they sound pretty decent, now broken after almost 3 years of use)
- AKG K511 (sold to a friend, sounded too bass-emphasized for my tastes)
- Awei ES500i (did not last a month due to build quality issues)
- JVC HA-RX700 (my main pair, also wrote a review about this here in Head-Fi)
- Superlux HD572 (my portable pair. I don’t use IEMs anymore due to ear irritation and they slip quite often)
Gears I auditioned:
- Sony MDR-7506
- Audio Technica ATH-M50x
- Marshal Major
- Marshal Major II
- Creative Aurvana Live
- Superlux HD661
- Beyerdynamic DT880 Pro
- Fiio E6
- JVC Riptidz on-ears
- Hifiman HE400i
- Ibasso DX80 DAP
- Chord Mojo
- X1 + A3 (E11k) stacked
- Burn-in time: Approx. 100 hours (did not change much after burn-in)
- My trusty ears, no more no less
- Flac and 320kbps versions of the following songs:
For bass speed and accuracy (opening lines of the song where bass is prominent):
- Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke
- We Are Never Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift
- Blank Space by Taylor Swift
For bass extension (opening lines of the song where bass extension is prominent):
- Royals by Lorde
For mids details (a lot of instruments masterfully blended together):
- After Hours by Spyro Gyra
- Pipo’s Song by Spyro Gyra
- Heliopolis by Spyro Gyra (a lot of percussions masterfully blended together)
For highs (sparkly cymbal hits and crashes are quite prominent throughout the songs):
- Busted Stuff by Dave Matthews Band
- Diggin A Ditch by Dave Matthews Band
For the entire frequency range:
- Funky Lights by Threestyle (a substantial mix of instruments that cover the lows, mids, and highs)
For liveliness and dexterity (these songs can sound boring and dull quite easily with non-capable gear):
- Boom by Payable On Death (P.O.D) (new metal but sounds quite congested and heavy if the headphones are not nimble enough)
- Quietus by Epica (symphonic metal, very hard to enjoy if the headphones don’t sound nimble enough)
- Blank Infinity by Epica (same characteristics as Quietus)
For acoustics and musicality:
- Endless Night (Guitar Instrumental) from the Disney Fairy Tale Weddings album
- Samadhi (Prelude) by Epica (symphonic metal + opening with an orchestra creating that grandiose concert hall effect)
- Higher High by Epica (symphonic metal + opening with an orchestra creating that grandiose concert hall effect)
For female vocals:
- Miss Otis Reqrets by Linda Ronstadt (for easy listening yet Linda’s voice is so soulful)
- A Moment With You by Maggie Jane (a very soulful rendition of a jazz ballad)
For male vocals:
- If I Could by Ray Charles (the frustration and affection is deeply conveyed in Ray’s voice)
- Are You Lonesome Tonight? (Live) by Paul Buchanan (from the Chris Botti Live With Orchestra album) – (Paul’s rendition is very soulful yet melancholic)
BUILD QUALITY AND DESIGN
I would say, pretty decent:
- Hard durable plastic that can take a beating
- Headband click adjustment (I love this type the most since it lets you specify the perfect adjustment for you based on the number of clicks)
- Thick and durable cable
- No ¼ adapter included
- Pleather pads, not the durable type though it may last with normal use
- Not an eye candy but I don’t think it’s trying to be (since it’s intended to be a “Studio Monitor” as engraved on the headband)
Not very comfortable:
- Clamping force is quite strong. It did not really loosen that much after more than a month of use.
- For eye glasses users like me, take your glasses off first then put these on. They will press hard and quite painful if the temples of your eye glasses get caught between the back of your ears.
- Takes getting used to because of these issues. Pleather pads are soft enough though so comfort is just “ok”.
Too weak in my opinion. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be this flat since I don’t have too much experience with studio monitors but still, I’m not a basshead by any stretch and I still find it lacking. That’s how weak it is. It feels like the music is missing something that should give it some fullness, like for tracks that should give you some slam and the thunderous effect within a concert hall. It doesn’t have that at all. Bass is there, but it’s just barely there. It’s hard to put it in words.
I believe this is where it shines. All other mid-centric instruments are really clear and I would say evened out and nothing is too emphasized – guitars (sound very real with good recordings), piano, saxophones, percussions, and minute details are quite clear. One word, clarity. It even manages to sound natural and lifelike for some good recordings. That’s quite a feat for a $17 pair. Both male and female vocals are decent and non-sibilant but lacks soul and emotion as delivered by better sounding headphones.
Just “ok”. I feel that they’re a bit recessed so it doesn’t extend as much as I expected.
Pretty good. Not in-your-head. I would say quite wide for this price point. You know where instruments are located and stereo imaging is ok.
- Sound leaking out – Decent. No one ever complained of sound leakage in my office and when I covered the ear cups to test at decent volumes, I did not notice any glaring leakage.
- Sound leaking in – Poor. One of the poorest I tested. I can hear our window type aircon humming quite clearly with these on and this is in the comfort of our own room where my little boy sleeps so it should be quiet enough. I find this weird considering it doesn’t leak too much sound out.
Overall Sound Signature
Quite fun actually. It’s nimble enough to make you enjoy some rock and jazz here and there but when you start listening to pop (e.g. Grammy Nominees and the likes), you’ll immediately notice the lack of bass I referred to earlier. If Superlux targeted common listeners who love at least a decent amount of bass, they would’ve tuned it differently, but again, I believe it’s intended to be a (home) studio monitor.
For the price, I can’t complain. But I would only recommend these if you’re budget is very limited. For casual listening where you just want music while you’re busy (e.g. in the office), this would suffice. For leisure listening where you want to indulge in your music, it may not. If you can save up for a more decent pair, I’d highly recommend that. But again, listen before you decide. You may “love” what I only came to “like”. In this hobby, we need to…always play it by ear.