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09' M50.. Reincarnated..The Kicker HP541??!!!... A headfi first Duo take...

post #1 of 150
Thread Starter 

                                                                 A Duo take...Dsnuts n Gn3ral Karl..



Let us start by saying a hearty hello to the community.. On behalf of one G3nral Karl and myself, we humbly ask the community to enter this review with a clean slate..I know each and every one of you will have an opinion on what you will read on this look. So we humbly ask that you refrain from 1) Flaming and 2) Enjoy the review 3)Consider the information 3) Try one out and see for yourself. If you end up being curious about these after this read. We do whole heartedly believe everyone at headfi should try one. No we are not associated with Kicker. We are both however passionate about our sounds...


Background...Enter the Kicker HP541


107db sensitivity
40 ohm
126bd max output (LOUD)
50mm diaphram.


I remember the first time I heard the kicker Hp541, when the urge hit me to get some new cheaper but good phones. I am sure every one of us knows what I am talking about. I didn't have much cash at the time so what the heck these were getting good if not outstanding reviews from owners saying they sound better than phones that cost up to 4X as much. Pssst right. whatever!.

SO I ordered one.. It came to me in a nice blue box..2 cables a short 3ft portable and a longer thicker 11.5ft, Pro 1/4th adapter, Nice Kicker bag to carry it around with..I threw on my go to test for bassy music. Timbalands 808. At first it was kinda not so clear a bit thin and harsh, and on the same tune it opened up to a sound that I could not believe!.. What?? This from a Budget can??!!

It wasn't a smile moment or a stupid smile moment..It was beyond that I just couldn't believe what I was hearing..Good, no great clarity right off the bat. The bass was on point. It wasn't shy to let your ears know it has been punched correct.. The sound was intoxicating, invigorating, unbelievable. The full on mids and then the highs. Crystal, dynamic and clean. I was more than impressed. I was floored.  I kept on thinking. These can't be the same phones I just ordered for $50?




Make..7/10. The exterior of the kicker Hp541 is decidedly low key with very little flash..I wouldn't call it hip, but it does have a good strong almost utilitarian look to em. A kin to those closed muffs airplane maintenance workers use..Plushy cushion like pleather oval shape cups and is fully circumaural, initially there is a clamp but quickly adjust to your head. The headband is a thick plastic material that is more sturdy than most and has a center piece on top that is connected to two arm pieces that end up holding the oval cups of the kicker Hp541.


This extra plastic straight piece makes the kicker look squarish on the head. So while this adds to the comfort level it is not the best looking if you are concerned about looks with your headgear on. Isolation is great for when you want to get your hip hop/dub/trance/rock/ metal on with minimal to no leakage. Looks of the kicker is not it's strong suit by any means but who cares what they look like when they are this comfy, this bold..This kick ass.. Read on!!


This next part will require 2 things.. 1st one of these.



Aha the legendary Audio Technica M50.. That is if you have one.. And this



No you dont need to go to your local music store and grab one of these but I want you to follow me with some imagination..Ya you read right .. The same imagination you used in kinegarden!!. You are laughing about now. Maybe thinking no wonder you have the name, Dsnuts.......Ya keep reading Poindexter!!


Sounds..8/10  Thats right!  So this will surprise many of you.. I will start by having everyone that has an M50 to now go ahead and put them on. Ya get out your set put your grados your sennies your beyers your other sets away..This is gonna be interactive..Ya you hear right..DO IT!!!  For those that don't have or had em at one point but don't have em Just know the M50 represents a headfi standard and they do sound very good..


Now back to the imagination part...Go grab em and throw on your nearest musical source..The M50 sounds
Clear, smooth, fairly wide sound for closed cup, very musical and detailed for monitor type phone.
Crystaline for highs that tintilate your outter hearing buds. With decent punch and full dynamics in the Bass department. sounds good. Right. SO.. Let your imagenation follow what I am saying. YES FOLLOW IT !!. This is our review so you get to do what we say!!


The kicker sounds eerily like the M50.. More similar than different believe it or not. Imagen if the M50 sounds are represented by this pic here.


The Accordion.. Fully extended, this would represent the sounds of the M50.. How does the Kicker Hp541 differ?? So if you start to close the accordion the sounds would become,  More bold. More forward. More mids and More bass with that similar highs sizzle you know you love. All while having similar clarity and authority..


Better mids as the M50 does have a bit of recessed mids making them sound a bit warm and laid back. If you have any other phone on hand and do a head to head against the M50 you will see what I mean by this.. They indeed have more emphasis on the highs and lows. The mids almost seem a bit streched out. Then those lovely highs. Dynamic and lush with a bit o metalic resonance at the same time. Easy listening. The Kicker HP541 has a very similar sound to the M50 but with a more forward bolder sound signature.. Tremendous mids and bigger, punchier,  bass while the highs remain similar to the M50s. The M50 does have better extension on both ends and a bit more clarity overall however this does not take away from the less analytical but bold sounding Kicker HD541..This My friends,  are the sounds of the kicker HP541!!


Ya right about now you are thinking.. I want some of what these guys are smokin!..Believe me if you was near me I would let you hit it up and listen to my well worn kickers vs my m50 and you can tell me I am wrong.."This is Blastphemy!! Just stupidity on a retarded level!!" You say!!." You mean to tell me the budget Kicker HP541 sounds better than my 9/10 sounding rank #6 over all headphones Audio Technica m50?!". No. The M50 is and will be somewhat of a litmus test for other headphones. With that being said. The Kicker Hp541  has a more forward full sound that makes them a fun bold and intimate sounding experience that actually does many a  music genres better than the M50. You want your tunes with one of the best mids and need the bass on the same level in your cans?... Try these.


Don't believe me?
Well if you acutually owned them and had a M50 to compare back and forth to, you would understand what the Accordion imagery was all about. If this claim sounds just too good to be true..We challenge anyone here at headfi to try one.. Ya don't tell me you dont have $50 on hand to get one of the best hidden treasures of all time. Just get one and try em..If you don't own one but claim they are this or that and are set in your mind that this is all a heap of dung. Then please move on and consider this just another overblown review. You guys can just hear it from others that do take the challenge on this read...We are not in any way glorifing or hyping the Kicker hp541.. We are just telling it like it is....




With that I now will leave it in the very capable hands of one GN3RAL KARL.....



For a long time now, I've regretted selling my first, early edition M50. Why? Because that version had liquid mids, crisp, clean highs, and absolutely mind-blowin' bass. I sold it due to comfort, but now foolishly realized that mods could have been done to increase the comfort. Oh well, back to the future.


I had recently repurchased the current edition M50's which come in a more modern blue and white box. Unraveling what I thought would be my new audio puppy coming back to me, I was dissappointed with the bass response from this pair. Audio Technica had downsized the bass to make it more “balanced”, probably for more accurate monitor applications. Screw balance. I wanted my bass back.


I also sold that one to a co-worker – he was happy as a clam. I was not. Left without a closed-back, one Head-Fi member named Dsnuts, who graciously allowed me to input my experience with a new-kid-on-the-block, suggested the Kicker HP541. He explained to me in detail how the Kickers sounded extremely similar to the M50's, especially the early edition versions that I missed like a long-gone friend.


He mentioned the price – 50 bones. Is this a joke? I wondered, for 50 bucks, I didn't have much to lose. Besides, if they were garbage, they were getting sent back like a stepchild. I ended up taking his advice because he owns/heard many closed-back cans, even having both the Kicker and the M50 on tap for side-by-side comparisons. He said they were basically like twins – with the M50 having the slight edge on the high notes, while the 541's had that full bottom. Well, just like in real life, I need a full bottom to slap. Something to grab, if you know what I mean.


So I patiently waited for the Kickers. Ripped them suckers right out the package, and for some reason, was expecting that classic Walmart sound that nauseates me. I didn't get that. I was greeted immediately with a dose of adrenaline. The sound was heavenly. I actually took them off and admired the cans themselves, in full disbelief that this headphone set me back so little and gave me what I believe is a audiophile worthy experience. No more jokes, Kicker is serious son.


I have no idea how they did it. I booted up my pc and shot Dsnuts (love that name) thanking him for such an incredible set. The Kickers have crystalline highs that'll make you smile. Liquid, lush and full midrange that easily transmits pure audio to the delicate eardrum. And bass. Fat and thick, yet tight in dem jeans. Just what the GN3RAL ordered. The low-notes have as much Kick in them like two angry babies nesting in a mothers belly. It goes low and deep, however not as low as the M five O's. They also don't hit the highs like the M50's, but are so close in both respects that it doesn't even matter. Once again, for 50 clams, the sound is 95% of the M50, the O.G. Version of course.


Head-Fiers and budding audiophiles alike, should welcome this bargain-monster with both arms, and seriously consider the Kicker HP541's added to their headphone stable. Look at Amazon reviews, 5 stars currently, and for good reason. It is a tremendous headphone that can even run circles around those that are far more expensive. Namely the Sony XB series or the lower line Denon's. Kicker is here to stay with this cheap, yet she puts out, full-bottomed behemoth. Get some, crap, get two, just for Kicks.


Kicker HP541 = Bully a middle-schooled kid for his lunch money, then buy the Kicker HP541.






Conclusion.... We would like to thank those of you that read this with an open/imagenative mind and became intrigued if not entertained by this look..We would like to treat every single one of you at headfi like you were our friends and in doing so a good friend would always advice another on a truly good find. We know the reviews on these here at headfi are spotty at best with some that hate and some that rave..


We are here to be informative and set the record straight with this info. What you do with this information is left best up to you..Remember it is the actual owners of these that rave about em..But somehow the guys that sampled or heard about em that say they are not in any way worthy..These are more than worthy my friends..
These will surprise you..They might just become one of your favorites.. Remember it is not how much a phone cost. It is how it sounds that truly matter..


Thanks for reading the first ever DUO take on a product deserving of the praise from one Dsnuts n Gn3rl Karl..
Last but not least. We would like to pose one question to the community..Instead of flaming or just saying,
"You guys are totaly wrong!." The question is..What if we are right!?.
As always, Happy listening..


Edited by Dsnuts - 9/11/11 at 6:04pm
post #2 of 150

I'll add a little impression while this is early:


I got them at a local store because I was curious and returns were easy.


Tried them and thought that they were nice for the price but was let down by the 40ohm that needs a little amping.


The pads were kinda lacked and the wide headband and three pads at the top made sure that I felt those pads. Sweaty pads, but expected at the price.


I did like the more around ear and diagonal shape of the pads.


Biggest let down was the build (if your comparing them to M50's). I'm still looking for a can that can match the M50's build, so when the HP541's build came up, I was kinda let down.


Sound was close as in more bassy but not too much bass as the M50's. The only problem I see is that clarity and separation (if your comparing to M50). There just, wasn't enough to match up. Still good for price.




But then, for everything you get and the price, it was a pretty decent can for a budget minded early HiFi-er


btw: did return them, on build quality fault not sound. And I'm cheap.



Thanks for the reviews guys.

post #3 of 150

<sarcasm>Oh great another FOTM.<sarcasm/>

post #4 of 150

Dsnuts are you going to get that new Monoprice headphone to compare them?

Maybe it's a lower model that's almost as good. Can't hurt to try.


I tried the HP541 and hated it. I won't bother to comment because I don't want to ruin anyone's fun here. Sound clarity was my pairs weakness, but I'm willing to try them again sometime.

I bet modding them would help.


post #5 of 150
Originally Posted by Nagasaki_Kid View Post

<sarcasm>Oh great another FOTM.<sarcasm/>

Yet, $50 will earn you a quality phone.  What seems to be the problem?


post #6 of 150
Thread Starter 


Originally Posted by tdockweiler View Post

Dsnuts are you going to get that new Monoprice headphone to compare them?

Maybe it's a lower model that's almost as good. Can't hurt to try.


I tried the HP541 and hated it. I won't bother to comment because I don't want to ruin anyone's fun here. Sound clarity was my pairs weakness, but I'm willing to try them again sometime.

I bet modding them would help.


Thanks man.. I appreciate it..I don't think those monoprice are for real.. The specs are off too much to think they are the same... The kicker is one of the loudest phones I own. Those just don't have the power.. I say just get a kicker and be done with.. Though it will be interesting to see what the word is on those. I might have to get em to compare. Will see..


post #7 of 150

good and interesting read, you guys know how to write up a tale! ;)


any chance of a pic of the bag? =)


and in regards to the squarish look, how flexible do you think the headband is?

any chance to bend it a little to make it less squarish/destroying them?



Originally Posted by Dsnuts View Post


Nice Kicker bag to carry it around with..


This extra plastic straight piece makes the kicker look squarish on the head. So while this adds to the comfort level it is not the best looking if you are concerned about looks with your headgear on. Isolation is great for when you want to get your hip hop/dub/trance/rock/ metal on with minimal to no leakage.

post #8 of 150
Thread Starter 

Shure!081911162249.jpgWell I can't speak for the Gn3ral but I have a medium sized noggin and it fits comfy for me.. .You can walk around for hours lost in your tunes with em.. Some might find the sound a bit fatiguing as it is a bit bolder than your average balanced can. But to me that is what kicks ass about this can..  But you all just read our review on em so you already should know this. !

Edited by Dsnuts - 8/19/11 at 3:46pm
post #9 of 150

First and foremost, G.Karl and Dsnuts,

Good review, that's all there is to it.


For anyone else out there who's reading and has/ve read this review, take it at face value; it is what it is and that's all she wrote. 

I don't own the M50's so naturally I can't really compare head to head to the Kickers. However, I did own the Shure SRH240's, the Sony MDRXB500's and currently have the Shure SRH440's, one month and ongoing. 


I can't do much referencing for online purchasing or 'street value' since I simply don't order online for personal reasons (which I can elaborate if one would wonder.) But I will say this much, the Kicker here in Canada is sold for $99.00 retail while the Shure SRH440' is sold for $109 - $129 range (since they're being discontinued, or so I've heard) And just in case someone wonders, yes I did own the Kicker HP541 for a short while. In fact, I noticed them while surfing the Bestbuy site for deals and came upon those, represented by the Site's trademark little icon on the side (could be enlarged of course.)  So I hit up on some reviews and I was quite shocked to see what I anyone would if you'd look em up on Amazon; over 30 reviews and mostly 5's and 4's, no 3's or even 2's and no 1's. Could these be that good? Now again, mind you, I am comparing retail to retail price. So before anyone comes and yelps that for $100 you could get these AKGs and these Denons or Beyerdynamics and Ultrasons, Sennheisers and Grados, let me tell you that this is a hard pair to beat that $99.00 retail.  To get that clean and ballsy sound (which doesn't need an amp to get fairly loud on portable devices) Sennheiser's sub $100.00 cans can't match play, not even the HD428 (other than maybe looks and comfort wise). I've heard what Beyerdynamics have to offer for under $100 and I wasn't impressed. And as for Grados... well, you know that you'd be getting a deal (if it happens at all) if you can get the SR60i for less than $130 retail.


Now before I do a small comparo' between the SRH440's (which I know Mr Nuts purchased and is not disappointed with), I will discuss briefly on the construction of the Kickers. Unfortunately, I am a picky guy.... in fact, very picky.. I'm the guy who'll return and exchange a pair of headphones if the pads are slightly uneven; may that be for pure aesthetics of for sound and imaging concerns.. I am the guy that will exchange a pair of headphones within the return policy period if I snag of the wire too harshly for concerns of internal damage... and I am also the guy who will exchange and return a pair of cans if the adjustable arms are not evenly adjusting in the same way, one to another (which is actually a normal thing, especially with SHURE headphones, which I hate).


That said, I did order the Kickers about a month and a half ago, and got them within a week (full retail price). Now, before the sound comparo' (which I will do), the design, well, more-so the faulty design in MY PAIR, and MY PAIR ONLY so-far (from searching the issue), is what eventually threw me away from them. Unfortunately, either by shipment or by some strange coincidence, one of the arms simply required much more power to pull out and in... And I'm not talking a slightly stronger nudge.. but literally, a jam that actually hurts your fingers every time you have to open and close them.. (and I am one who tends to do this A-LOT).. So I (pardon for using Karl discourse here) shot Dsnuts and asked him about this and he assured me that his pair is easily adjustable as butter... So.. what's the deal with mine... Now, aesthetically I wasn't too pleased with them, honestly speaking... But then again.. While I reckon' that even the Phaitons look sexy, I still don't like that look, neither Bose's and neither Studios by Beats and neither grados... I don't know, I'm somehow drawn to the bulkier looking cans like SRH440's and 840's by shure, which were my second option in case the Kicker wouldn't work out... So perhaps this defect was fate... take it for what it is...  They were comfortable, I will tell you this much.. even with the initial clamp... after 1-2 or two, the headband does adjust properly, the 3-part arc padding somehow becomes 'cool to the feel' and everything is simply 'jelling'; I kid you not.  I will say this much though, Dsnuts is not kidding about the Square-head side-effect these generate... so if you're worried about how you look in these outside... well then... Well, you know...  Further, one can tell that the Kickers are not about looks per se', as they carry the DJ style look (as opposed to Purpose) of collapsible and swivel-action.. But looking at them straight up, they don't look anything special in particular... but who cares.. really... If they sound good and fairly comfortable... then.. looks are secondary to non.. One thing that was not mentioned in this review (or maybe I've missed it) is that you can actually customize the logos and artwork on the side of the earcups.. and there are outlets out there that sell these stickers.. (much like skins for iphones and Ipads.. but of course, less of a market..)  Also... unless you have had a headphone with detachable cable system, and then went back to the Y-split cable system... having it back again, with a secondary cable to boot, is something more than one can ask for.. and of course, an adapter and a carrying case..  So like em or not, the packaging and extras are catered very well with the consumer in mind... Kudos to Kicker on that one, hands down.


Other than the above pluses and minuses, those are all the gripes I have about them. However, since I returned them, I went for my second option, the Shure SRH440's... and since they're within the same retail price range (+/- $10) I think it's reasonable to compare..   


Construction wise, it's really hard to compare, other than the defect in mine, I really saw no wrong with the kickers (other than the square head).. They seem very solid and a hell of a lot lighter than the 440's.. Now, the 440's are a solid piece of work... almost like a tank with contrast... but... here it comes.. BUT... OUTSIDE FREAKIN' EXPOSED WIRES!!!  What in crap is the deal with that construction? And this is not only the 440's, but also the 840's... (yet the 240's don't sport that...) I've seen this on Audio technica M35 series, Sony MDRV6 and even on those Pioneers Dsnuts himself owns (as I saw from the picture... unless I'm incorrect here...)  So, whatever this is, apparently it's some sort of a standard in construction.. I wish someone could elaborate why this is necessary... As someone once stated, it does look like an accident waiting to happen.  Comfort level, I'd give the Kickers the upper hand here. The 440's are heavy, and well, for some with larger-medium ears, the pads are simply too thin and the cavities are too shallow (and Dsnuts, you know this, and anyone who has 440's knows this), so within 40 mins to 2 hours of wear... the grills are pressing against your ears... and it's not the pressure pain.. but like some burning pain that itches you to remove them... And so I've noticed this... when you monitor music in them (440's) and mix beats... you're so focused on the sound that the comfort issue simply melts away... but.. take them as general listening.. and you have to face the music (pun intended).. they will hurt a little..., again, for some.. As for the kickers, I really can't say that... so with that in mind, they're better for general and portable use...


Further, detachable cables, and if I remember correctly, non proprietary for the Kickers (short and long) while a distinctive swivel and lock for the Shure... So here again, I'll give it for the Kickers.. They simply had the general listening consumer in mind. Less to say that I'm being unfair to the 440's as to the intended design... but still, it would be nice if the mechanism wasn't proprietary and non-swivel and lock.. I understand (much like with some Bose and Monster) one is for pure distinctiveness and secondly since with Shure and Monsters (pros) the cable is coiled and thus heavy and weighs down the headphones to a tilt if left dangling.. (another minus...) So the lock is to prevent detachments... But I really don't see the logic in the Break-away here... while in the Kicker and even in the old SennHD490.. the cable is detachable by stress point... too harsh of a snag.. and bam! Unplug... No fuss and no mess.. But.. consider this snag on the Shures.., I really can't see how the internal earcup mechanism isn't getting damaged...   So again, portability... Kickers... 


Now, the most important, sound...   The Kickers, again, and mind you, this is pre-Break-in and out of the box impression, are ballsy.. when Dsnuts told me that they have balz.. he wasn't kidding.. they have it, full-on and very much in your face.. Good bass, punchy, precise and very fast.. Obviously it's not as deep as oh.. let's say XB700's or 500's by Sony... but then again... with a 3-4Hz to 24-27Khz FR... who would be dumb enough to compare... (wait... But I just compa... Ohhhh... I see what's going on here..blink.gif)  The mids are there as-well, they're present... I wouldn't say stellar, and I wouldn't dare to compare them to the SRH440's stance on mids... since they have that department nailed... But.. they're somewhere between Shure 440's and Laid back..  And far FAR FAAAARRR from being muffled or muddy...  And unless you're someone who's been listening to nothing but Grado PS1000 for the last year, it's really hard to imagine somebody who actually listened to the Kickers to claim this.  The Hi's are good as-well. Not pitchy, not too harsh, not too sibilant... I'd say.. just right... and believe me.. for what I heard in the $100 retail department... There really isn't much better out there... They are slightly warmer sounding.. and perhaps a bit forward.. The soundstage isn't too wide... but then again, I don't think it was intended in this particular can.. I really think that for general listening, for $90 - $100 retail (can't discuss online prices) you really can't get any better.. They're portable, they're not too heavy, nor too light (so you know you're wearing them), and very well sounding for the price.. not too laid back.. (ala Bose) but also not overly aggressive to be fatiguing (ala Studios by monster) In fact, I actually thought they were more balanced than the previous two..., which of course is moot reference since both are overpriced as hell... but still just to throw it out there...  I really liked them, I really did, but unfortunately... I can only afford and own to buy one pair, and it had to be the SRH440's... My next trial would be the XB700's since I am really interested to hear how they measure over the 500's....  But the Kickers would be the 3rd headphones to stay next to the 440's..    Now, keeping the SRH440's in mind... the comparo itself is not overly fair since different beasts for different intended purposes... so bare in mind for what I am going to say... On mids and His department... SRH440's are quite adamant about their mids and Hi.. so anyone who'd listen to those side by side would know that there is no competition... Though the Kickers hold up very nicely.  Same goes for sound-stage.. 440's are wider and somehow feel fuller (definitely if amped.., but easily driven on portables as-well) Sound and instrument separation (and this includes electro music mostly Full-On Psytrance tested) is top notch on the 440's (again for $109 retail.. so please, no 840's comments) Bass is good on the 440's. Again, it's not as punchy as the Kicker's bass signature, but I actually think (my opinion only) that it is pronounced better on the 440's, but neutrally done so.. on heavier bass tracks you'll know that they're heavier in bass... and the same vise versa...  So in precision, accuracy and fidelity, I'd say the Shures are with the edge... but... only on the Analytical sense... They are monitoring headphones and it shows (well heard)...


And final note on the comparison, let's just imagine one coming from earbuds (apple) and going into the MDRXB500's... initially... 'wow... BASSS... Orgasm...I think my head just 'had one' and my ears are ejaculating...' but then after a few weeks.... 'mids.. hello, where are you...? I can hear you.. but... you're far away... And why is this Bass sneaking up on you and shoving you away... ?

Hi's ... Hi there... I can hear you... you're there... but why so shy, why so laid back... and ... HEY!! BASS.... what are you doing here again..?? '  And so... all hiphop and dance music... 'Yay...' even the lower quality tracks... you can tell, but not so well... then comes the Shure 240's.... 'Yay mids and soft Hi's... Ah... wait a second... Hey, BASS!!! Get over here... no... No... why are you running..?'  Then SRH240 to Kickers... 'Uhmm... a little tinny....', and then 15 minutes later, REALLY, 'OH... there you are sound... Good one... Now.. Stay there and don't futz around... Good good...' Then 2 -10 hours later... 'I see, Bass... Boom Boom KaPow! as opposed to Thuamp, Thuamp... PLoouSh... Mids.. cool, be there.. Hi's.... Yep, you're cool too... Yeah, you guys all can stay and be my friends forever.. I like you'....  You can tell what tracks are low in quality and which are higher... Amped and Non-amped makes a good difference... Now, Kickers to SRH440's.... 'Holy.... MIDS!!!! Ohh, my mid-section.... ****.. where have you been... So this is the undertone of the Hi's...? Is it supposed to sound like this, this bold.. this pronounced...?  Hi's, Ouch... Girl, your voice... it's so... bright and vibrant... I can understand what you're singing about...  Wait hold on... Let me test "who says" by Selina Gomez... I know I shouldn't but what the hell...  Hey wait a second... Whuah.. What's going on here... Wh... Why is this song sounds so well defined and smooth all of sudden... And why is Selina Whispering in my ears...? I'm just glad I didn't test Bieber... OK, back to Psytrance... Melodies... Melodies... Melodies... you're all back... please don't leave me ever again... ' Then 20 - 40 hours later... 'Ahh.. Bass my friend... there you are... Are you settled... are you good... Ready to take you place in this kingdom... Good let's rock'.... And then the next day... 'Wait a second, why is this track sounds so screetchy, distorted and well, BleaccCH...' Checks the track.. What the F', 128bits...??!!!  Ah Screw this... shuffles to a 320bits.. track... 'Ah... much.. better... and this is on my iphone....? Hang on, let me plug these to my PC with the soundcard and try some beatmixing with Traktor Pro...' Turns gain to 50%... 3/4 high on Traktor gain.. 1/4 on the channel gain..... Full Bass, full treble, 3/4 up on mids... Putting on some PsyTrance FLAC by Electric Universe... 'Holly.... What the hell.... Is this how those are supposed to sound... all this time....??? I need a portable amp... and some 840's earpads... and a shorter cable...



Anyways, long story short... 440's will tell you, no, they will scream at you if your track is of low quality... They will let you know.. Very very analytical... So.... if that's not your game... Leave em' be.



So in my case, if I would own a pair for the next 6-12 months, I chose a pair that would let me hear every detail and nuance of the track I am listening to.. and it pays off... In fact, I think that both the Kickers at $100 retail and the Shures 440's at $109 are very underrated here and definitely underpriced... I would easily pay up $180 retail for the Shure (but would persist that they include extra pads and shorter portable cable) and I would pay $150 blindly for the Kickers...


In fact... I think that the name "KickerHP-541" undermines the headphones... 


They should've gone with 'A$$Kicker', because that's what they do.. 


Trust the review above (not mine, the duo one) it calls it right down the middle, no questions asked. 









Edited by Shotor102 - 8/19/11 at 4:18pm
post #10 of 150
Thread Starter 

I appreciate your input there Shotor 102. And your take on the kickers.  I fully agree that the shure SRH440s are underrated. It depends on what signature your looking for but just because a model is lower than the high end doesn't mean they suffer in quality.. I find qualities on the Shures to be more my liking over the M50s and even my kickers. The smoothness of the SRH440 are second to none. And Because the detail of em are on point.. It is neck n neck with my Samson SR850 for gaming cans.. Unreal how good games and movies sound on the SRH440. .Music don't suck either...


I think one of the best advice I can give others is..Don't believe everything you read about phones.. Even our reviews.. You have to experience it for yourselves to figure if you like it or not.. I read all the time how phones are this and that and to my ears the info would be completely wrong... .If you are curious.. Buy it so you can return it if deemed not worthy. Simple as that.

post #11 of 150
Thread Starter 

Guys check out my newest update.. I did plan on her being in a shot..atsmile.gif

post #12 of 150

I posted up on the thread requesting a headphone that would give me better mids than the M50... Dsnuts PM'd me the Kicker HP541 a $50 headphone. Needless to say I had my skeptics. But hell, I can afford em, and return em quick, so I pulled the trigger.

Wow. These are kickin. Forward mids as promised, slammin bass to compliment. But what does this mean for my M50? do I toss em aside? Not necessarily...


Here is my write up about the M50:


I use these cans mostly for Hip-Hop, DnB, some Alternative. What I'm getting from the M50 is fuller, bright and warm sound signature which makes them very pleasant and fun to listen to. The highs are sparkly but also very clean and accurate. The midrange is definitely distant and sort of neutral but very smooth and warm. The lows have a thick impact that kinda takes over along with the treble for intense instrumentals, but the vocals lacked an identical intensity. They sound great, detailed, clean and vibrant, but they are setback which is pretty apparent when listening to my tunes.


So then the Kickers 541 came... here's what I had to say.


Compared to the M50, these do indeed have a very forward, more powerful midrange. The vocals from my artists are just right in my ear and are the highlight of the headphone. Instead of lows/bass weakening the vocals, vocals run alongside the lows in terms of amplitude; I get as much midrange as I do bass impact. They do start off a tad cold with vocals but after just 30 minutes of listening they warm up a bit and so does the bass. However the signature intensity of the midrange remains intact. I can't stress what a night and day mids' difference i noticed. There were some offputting differences though...


Firstly, one complaint I would give them it that...there is a feeling of treble shortage. There is a slight lack of sparkle in the highs, and while they aren't sharp and piercing, they seem recessed which makes me miss those sparkly little notes and details.They are THERE, just slightly muffled.

Also, the Kickers don't seperate as well. What I'm hearing is essentially a straightforward energetic sound, but don't interpret this as me saying its bloated or muddied. While they pump out similar M50 detail, it's just not as full as the M50s, and not as clean.


Overall, the Kickers are just different, rather than an improvement IMO. They focus less on highs and focus on vocals much more. The M50 sets vocals back and provides intense treble and bass, making them more fun than the Kickers. You hear more of the instrumental with the M50, more vocals with the HP541. Plus, while the M50s are pretty warm, the Kickers are a tad cold. But for about a third of the price ($50 compared to $150), the Kickers make a excellent choice for value, for metal, Dub, Hip-Hop, Dub and the like.


So really I enjoy both of them, but I have to give the M50 the hands down edge, out of personal preference. I just feel like I'm losing the full range of sound with the Kickers, I miss my sparkly highs. Even though vocals are setback a bit in the M50, it's worth getting a strong, refined, bangin beat in return. But the idea of a $50 headphone with such great performance:price ratio lead me to keep em to unlock potential benefits.

post #13 of 150

how do the kickers compare to the rx700s and creative aurvana live's?  I'm returning the m50's because I actually kind of dislike the sparkling treble and overly forward bass and treble. Its just too aggressive, which others interpret as "fun". I just created a thread on this. It seems kickers should be similar to the rx700 with the more forward midrange. It would be nice if they are better in bass though (rx700s aren't bad, I'm just looking for better bass right now).


Edited by mak2675 - 8/26/11 at 4:32pm
post #14 of 150
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by mak2675 View Post

how do the kickers compare to the rx700s and creative aurvana live's?  I'm returning the m50's because I actually kind of dislike the sparkling treble and overly forward bass and treble. Its just too aggressive, which others interpret as "fun". I just created a thread on this. It seems kickers should be similar to the rx700 with the more forward midrange. It would be nice if they are better in bass though (rx700s aren't bad, I'm just looking for better bass right now).


I have both of those. I prefer the kickers over both..The aurvanas have that softer highs you might be looking for and is more balanced but the bass is kinda not as punchy as I would like it to be. More balanced that anything..The CALs are a decent deal at $60 if you can get them...


The kickers adjust to eq really well and you can try some variations on your sound preference on em. . Oh and they definitely have better bass than the HARX700s.. More authority..Where the kickers lack in dynamics they provide a full frontal sound that I would just like to call bold....It is not what alot of guys consider neutral but I actually dig the Mids being as forward as they are in the kickers.. The Bass stays Right there and you can even do a bass end EQ and they don't lack at all..


Sure there are many that do this or that better than the kickers but you know what.. Not for $50.. Nothing beats this gem of a phone at that price...I say it is worth it especially if you like your vocals with the Bass.... I think these do bass heavy music justice and they drive extremely well on any musical device..


Hottie latinas not included however.. atsmile.gif


post #15 of 150
Originally Posted by Dsnuts View Post

Hottie latinas not included however.. atsmile.gif


I'm down with cutie Asians. wink_face.gif


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