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Superlux HD381 Series - Mini Review & Comparisons - Page 2

post #16 of 109

are they realy that good?

 

it seems like they belong in the same "bang for the buck" group as the RE0 and Fischer eterna or mybe even higher

post #17 of 109
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Juiced View Post

are they realy that good?

 

it seems like they belong in the same "bang for the buck" group as the RE0 and Fischer eterna or mybe even higher


Well, I keep coming back to them, and use HD381F most often, that's the fact.  From all the IEMs models in this review, I like HD381F, TF10, and UM3X.

 

But your ears must be the judge for you :)  We all have some differences in preferences :D

post #18 of 109

I picked up a pair of 381F today in Taipei for ~$19... I agree with you, they sound darn good, and i haven't even really burned them in

 

they're not exactly lookers, the build quality is below average at best, and the cord is a little microphonic (doesn't really matter in unquiet environments), but the sound is on par with earphones much pricier than it -- definitely belongs in the 'bang for the buck' group

post #19 of 109

Are there any online shops that sell these?

post #20 of 109

So I've had them for a couple weeks now, and just wanted to share some new thoughts.

 

Firstly, I want to say that the HD381 line is a 'clone' of the Sony MDR-EX90LP; I put the word "clone" in quotes because I actually believe that Superlux is the OEM/ODM for the big companies (Beyerdynamic, AKG, Audio-Technica, Sony, etc.) that it supposedly 'rips off' of.

 

I have little basis for this statement other than the fact that Superlux, on the Traditional Chinese version of its website, proclaims itself as a longtime major OEM/ODM company, but otherwise, these big companies surely would've put the hurt on Superlux by now with lawsuits and the like. Mind you, Superlux is not a Chinese company immune from IP infrigement because of loopy communist laws, but a Taiwanese company merely with operations in China; Taiwanese companies are much more susceptible to issues of infrigement.

 

In the interest of preventing this from turning into a discussion about cross-strait relations, I'll just return to the fact that all three models of the HD381 line look remarkably similar to the MDR-EX90LP. Both also use the same size 13.5mm drivers, and Superlux even mentions that the HD381F's frequency curve is similar to the MDR-EX90LP (differentially, the HD381 is modeled after the Sennheiser CX400, while the HD381B is modeled after the ADDIEMs; one can assume that these two models are merely tuned variances from the 381F version).

 

As a disclaimer, I want to say that I have not listened to the Sony MDR-EX90LP, but I suspect it and the HD381F will sound very similar to each other. With that being said, then sonically, the HD381Fs are worth every penny at less than $20 in its domestic Taiwan market.

 

For the most part, I agree with earfonia's assessments. The sonic presentation feels great, and the bass extension is surprisingly good. I did encounter some problems, however, and here's where I differ from earfonia's largely positive review:

 

On certain songs, and it probably depends on the source material, there is this strange vocal distortion that is extremely annoying, like the driver diaphragm has been ripped or something. However, it doesn't happen for most material, so I'm willing to forgive it. The other thing, and this one's not so great, is the vocal sibilance. I bought these as a stand-in for my Klipsch S4s (currently in the repair shop), and one of the biggest complaints about the S4 is the sibilance. At first, I thought the sibilance on the HD381F was less pronounced, but at higher volumes, they turn into these unbearable cracks that just make me want to take the earphones off, even more than I did with my S4s. At least the sibilance in the S4 was more of a Harry Potter parseltongue-type sound, rather than a full on spit-in-your-ear sound. So is this problem forgivable? Well, I'm a forgiving person, so yes. The overall sound is still very nice. Those of you with quick tempers, though, may want to look elsewhere.

 

At the end of the day, I'm going to be returning to my S4s despite the HD381F's vastly superior midrange and treble. Why? Comfort. The 13.5mm drivers provide the detail and clarity, but to my relatively small ears, they get tiring. I also can't sleep in the HD381F because of its Frankenstein's Monster-type plugs that stick out from the side.

post #21 of 109
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomscy2000 View Post
...

Firstly, I want to say that the HD381 line is a 'clone' of the Sony MDR-EX90LP; I put the word "clone" in quotes because I actually believe that Superlux is the OEM/ODM for the big companies (Beyerdynamic, AKG, Audio-Technica, Sony, etc.) that it supposedly 'rips off' of.

...

 

For the most part, I agree with earfonia's assessments. The sonic presentation feels great, and the bass extension is surprisingly good. I did encounter some problems, however, and here's where I differ from earfonia's largely positive review:

 

On certain songs, and it probably depends on the source material, there is this strange vocal distortion that is extremely annoying, like the driver diaphragm has been ripped or something. However, it doesn't happen for most material, so I'm willing to forgive it. The other thing, and this one's not so great, is the vocal sibilance. I bought these as a stand-in for my Klipsch S4s (currently in the repair shop), and one of the biggest complaints about the S4 is the sibilance. At first, I thought the sibilance on the HD381F was less pronounced, but at higher volumes, they turn into these unbearable cracks that just make me want to take the earphones off, even more than I did with my S4s. At least the sibilance in the S4 was more of a Harry Potter parseltongue-type sound, rather than a full on spit-in-your-ear sound. So is this problem forgivable? Well, I'm a forgiving person, so yes. The overall sound is still very nice. Those of you with quick tempers, though, may want to look elsewhere.

 

At the end of the day, I'm going to be returning to my S4s despite the HD381F's vastly superior midrange and treble. Why? Comfort. The 13.5mm drivers provide the detail and clarity, but to my relatively small ears, they get tiring. I also can't sleep in the HD381F because of its Frankenstein's Monster-type plugs that stick out from the side.


Thank you for your assessment!  You are right, they look similar :)

I have also bought a very similar IEM, branded Kannen, looks very similar with the HD381 series, only about half the price, but when I tried it, they sound horrible, nowhere close to HD381F :(  That's make me curious to try MDR-90LP :)

 

May I know what album or song that caused the strange vocal distortion?  I'm interested to try it :)

 

I also found those anomaly with other headphones, like Ultrasone Pro 900, I found a song, only one song, that sounds strange on Pro 900.  Other songs were ok, only that particular song.  While that particular song sounds normal on other headphone and IEM.

 

This anomaly is not easy to find, rare case, maybe worth investigation :)

post #22 of 109
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by takoyaki7 View Post

Are there any online shops that sell these?


You may try this site:

http://www.dontblameyourears.com/detail_product.php?pid=98

 

They are located in Indonesia (currency in Rupiah), I know the owner, Michael Maryo, nice trustworthy guy. He might be able to send it to you.

But like tomscy2000 mentioned, maybe if you can find Taiwan online shop, they might sell it much cheaper.

post #23 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by earfonia View Post


 


Thank you for your assessment!  You are right, they look similar :)

I have also bought a very similar IEM, branded Kannen, looks very similar with the HD381 series, only about half the price, but when I tried it, they sound horrible, nowhere close to HD381F :(  That's make me curious to try MDR-90LP :)

 

May I know what album or song that caused the strange vocal distortion?  I'm interested to try it :)

 

I also found those anomaly with other headphones, like Ultrasone Pro 900, I found a song, only one song, that sounds strange on Pro 900.  Other songs were ok, only that particular song.  While that particular song sounds normal on other headphone and IEM.

 

This anomaly is not easy to find, rare case, maybe worth investigation :)


i don't remember the source exactly; i can go back and find it for you, although the problem is indeed fairly rare. im guessing it has to do with the mastering process (or lack thereof) of certain songs and their subsequent incompatibility with certain driver tunings..

post #24 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by takoyaki7 View Post

Are there any online shops that sell these?


have you tried ebay? there are probably a few sellers on there... google returns a few hits of online stores selling them, although i have no idea what their reputations are..

 

FYI, I may have misquoted the price... I got them for 600 NT, but that was after some simple bargaining. they originally wanted  690 for them, and that's the price that I've seen quoted throughout online sites in Taiwan (Yahoo, etc.)... you could try Taiwanese stores, but I'd have no idea if you'd have to pay for shipping.. if im not mistaken, and you live in japan, taiwan's very japanese friendly, so i see no reason why it wouldn't be affordable shipping to there

post #25 of 109

Are you serious about this review my friend?

post #26 of 109

Well, I can't speak for earfonia, but i for one absolutely love these earphones. while i haven't listened to nearly every different iems under the sun like some head-fiers out there, i've listened to enough different tiered earphones that have endeared me to these things. i bought these things as an emergency replacement for my S4s, but i ended up loving them. they make the S4s sound recessed and boomy. i recently picked up the philips she9850 and they sounded very colored compared to these.

 

the bottom line is that, for the price, i cannot think of anything that can top it. i got mine for around 20 US dollars; i suspect the price elsewhere is around 30-35 dollars, and it's still a good deal. the sound, at least for the 381F, is just incredibly balanced. it strives to be neutral across the spectrum, but, probably because of its semi-open nature, doesn't ever sound boring, at least not to my ears.

 

people who want to hear a flat response in their earphones but don't necessarily want to pay the price premium for RE0 (okay, not a huge price premium by head-fi standards, but a premium nevertheless for most consumers), RE252, ER4P/S, UM3x, etc should defnitely consider these.

 

the sound is brighter than most in this budget range, but isn't overly mid-centric. it's not too laid back, but not too forward. the one thing that it may lack is that it may come across as slightly thin in the midrange compared to say, entry-level shures, but feel more natural. the bass extends impressively low, carries a decent, tight punch, and never gets in the way of the midrange. the bass speed and speed overall can't really compete with BA offerings, though. there is a wee bit of mid-range and treble coloration, but that's when i compare them to big-sized, analytical cans like the beyer dt990. since it's semi-open, the soundstage is wider than most, but i'd say its ability to image is average. and, since it does strive to be very neutral, it sounds more transparent than other IEMs. it's not mind-blowing, but pretty darn good.

 

so what are its drawbacks? well, the build quality is like that of earphones you find in the bargain bin of your CVS pharmacy. it's simply not very good. but then again, who's expecting tank-like quality at $20? secondly, it's a semi-open design, so you're not going to get any appreciable isolation. if you want to appreciate their sound quality, you need to be in a quiet room.

 

i actually really wish someone with experience and reputation in head-fi like clieOS or joker can take a look at these guys. i haven't had the opportunity to listen to any of the budget <$50 gems that they've come across, so i can't really do a direct comparison, but against earphones and headphones that i've personally owned or auditioned extensively, the 381Fs truly stand out. They might not be the absolute best, but they are an absolute pleasure to listen to.

post #27 of 109

FOTM or a keeper?

post #28 of 109

Well, you can hardly say it's a FOTM because hardly anyone has listened to these earphones (this thread was started months ago). All I can say at this point is that these IEMs have a sound quality that is well beyond its price range. Superlux seems to be a specialist in this respect. Its full-sized headphones, the HD668B, got a rave review from Mike at Headfonia and were very well received here on Head-Fi as well, comparing well against full-size mainstays like the K240, AD700, and MS1.

 

Well, instead of going the other way around, the HD381Fs were the reason why I bought the HD668B. That's how much I like the sound. Is it a true keeper? It's hard to tell, because the build quality leaves a lot to be desired, and the isolation is poor. It probably depends on individual taste.

 

In terms of sound quality, however, I'm convinced that it is a keeper, at any price range. It won't give you the most minute micro-details, and won't give you in-your-face vocals, but it is one of the flattest earphones I've ever come across that doesn't come across as boring.

 

I don't really have time to do a systematic review as of right now (I'm a med student in the middle of an anatomy segment), but when I get the time, I'll definitely post something up.

post #29 of 109

I'm using Brainwavz M1. Is it better than M1?

post #30 of 109

Sorry, no idea. I've never listened to the M1.

 

I've only been able to compare them to the following: Westone UM1, UM3x; Shure SE102, SE420; Klipsch S4; Etymotic MC5; Denon AHC360; Audio-Technica CKM55, CKS70; Philips SHE9850; Full-Sized: Beyerdynamic DT990, Superlux HD668B

 

The only ones that I'd consider definitely better than the HD381F in terms of detail retrieval and overall music rendition are the UM3x, SE420 (marginally, I hate its rolled off highs/lows), MC5 (barely; it's slightly more refined on the top end, but the 381F bass and lower midrange is better, making the sound signature much more enjoyable, despite the fact that these are the "funnest" etymotics around; I may have to have a second listen though; I don't think I equalized the ear pressure correctly while listening to the MC5, so it didn't do too well) and the big cans.

 

The CKM55 actually sound a bit similar to the HD381F in terms of airiness and balance, but it's not nearly as detailed and has worse bass rendition.

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