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The $30 Budget Comparison: Monoprice 8323 vs. Panny RP-HTF600 vs. Incipio F38

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

 

Overview:

Monoprice 8323 (~$28): The 8323 is a rebrand of the Kicker HP541 headphone, which typically retailed at $50. It latched on as a force in the budget market. They have unusual traits which are not typically seen in low-end headphones, such as a removable cable. They are bass heavy with a roll off in the upper mids/lower treble.

 

Panasonic RP-HTF600 (~$30): Dsnuts raved about these headphones back in late 2011 as the musical basshead headphone on a budget. People began taking chances on the budget performer. Even ljokerl of IEM and portable fame posted a very favorable review for the HTF600.

 

Incipio Forte F38 (~$30): I foresee these headphones as the newcomers to the budget block. They are rebrands of the Fischer Audio FA-004 headphones. They are very light-weight and portable, but they do not fold up. They have a "fun" v-shaped frequency response. I compared them against my Brainwavz HM3, another FA-004 rebrand, and determined the other difference was a very slight headband difference and that the pads were slightly softer. The overall sound signature was essentially unchanged.

 

Build Quality:

8323 > F38 > HTF600

The Monoprices win handily in this category because they both feel sturdy and come with a removable cable. The Incipio Forte F38s have a rather light-weight and nice design with plastic and metal that feels weak but reviews have suggested that they're actually rather rugged. The HTF600 has had multiple complaints about the driver needing to be popped back into place and overall just not built to last too well.

 

All of them are light-weight and relatively portable.

 

Comfort:

HTF600 > F38 > 8323

The HTF600 are still an exceptionally comfortable headphone in my book. They're pretty low clamping force with very comfortable pads. The pads do tend to heat up after a while, but that's relatively minor. I used to call my Panasonic HTF600s "my for-when-the-Grados-hurt-my-ears headphones."

 

The Incipio F38 brings an odd angular method of resizing, but also brings a low clamping force. I've used them on the go and felt that they're comfortable enough for relatively long term listening.

 

The Monoprice 8323 has suffered complaints about its comfort. The clamping force is higher than either of the other two budget headphones and the headband is the last comfortable in my opinion. It's not terribly uncomfortable, but certainly the least.

 

Sound Quality (Treble):

F38 > HTF600 > 8323

 

The F38s have a sparkle in the highs that I just don't get from the other two headphones. I also noticed that they seemed less sibilant than the 8323s. I felt the F38 also was able to slightly edge the other two budget headphones in overall definition and clarity in the highs.

 

The HTF600 has a more subdued treble that isn't as sparkly like the F38's. I felt like there was an overall veil over the lower treble and that they were far from detailed. Regardless, they were fun enough to overlook this. I feel like the music is definitely a bit grainy sounding, like someone was rounding the edges of the sound off and approximating.

 

The 8323 had the weakest treble of the bunch. They had more energy in the treble compared to the HTF600, which likely is why they were also more sibilant than the HTF600. I felt like they were perhaps a bit more detailed in the highs than the HTF600s, but the way it was presented didn't jive with me. They also sounded a bit grainy, but smooth.

 

Sound Quality (Mids):

F38 > HTF600 > 8323

 

I felt like, in general, the mids on the F38 were better defined than on the other two. It's less "warm" compared to the other two exceptionally warm headphones, but they're still warm due to their emphasized mid-bass. Still, I'll give the edge to the higher clarity headphones. The mids are slightly forward.

 

The warmth of the HTF600 is what gave it the edge over the 8323. It's a very close competition, though. The HTF600 brings very warm, forward mids, but they felt unrefined and lacking in detail. Regardless, they are enjoyable.

 

The 8323s also came up slightly short in terms of the mids. Like the HTF600, they were rather forward, more forward than the F38. I found them very close to the HTF600s in overall mids quality, but just barely short.

 

Sound Quality (Bass)

HTF600 > F38 > 8323

 

The HTF600 has deep and powerful bass that I can respect. Sub-bass coming from a $30 headphone is very respectable. It has a solid mid-bass hump as well. Bass is what the HTF600s are designed to do and they do it very well for the price point. I did notice that the bass felt "slow" and loose, however. If you play quick paced bass songs like Zabava, the HTF600 almost feels like it falls behind.

 

The Incipio Forte F38s on the other hand roll off the lower sub-bass frequencies. I found their bass overall more punchy, but with less slam compared to the more bass heavy 8323 and HTF600. I found their bass a bit more defined and tighter, but the inability to hit those lower frequencies with authority made them drop behind.

 

The 8323 has more bass impact than the F38s and less than the HTF600s. They definitely have a mid-bass hump, but their sub-bass is more rolled off than the F38. Once again, they're behind in terms of overall sound quality, but not by a huge margin. I actually preferred mid bass on the 8323 compared to the HTF600's, but it was not enough to raise its ranking.

 

Other Sound Notes:

 

The 8323 had the most narrow soundstage. The F38 had a surprisingly decent soundstage for a closed headphone. The HTF600's sound stage is very exceptional for its price range -- I think this is partially because it is semi-open rather than closed.

 

Of the three, the F38 required the most power to reach the same volume.

 

Overall instrument separation seemed to go F38 > HTF600 > 8323. The HTF600 edged out the 8323 partially because of the significantly larger soundstage, despite having more of a bass presence.

 

Isolation was significantly better on the 8323 compared to both the F38 and HTF600. Their low clamping force and the HTF600's semi-open design both hurt them in terms of outside isolation.

 

Aesthetically, the F38 comes in a variety of colors, which can be nice if you're looking for stylistic options.

post #2 of 16

Well done. This is a very nice comparison for those looking for bargain sets.

post #3 of 16

Nice, all 3 were in my watch list, might end up going with the Incipio. Thanks!

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Of the bunch, the Incipio was my personal favorite. The Monoprices certainly have a place due to their build quality, but I do think they're below the other two in terms of overall SQ.
post #5 of 16

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SanjiWatsuki View Post

Of the bunch, the Incipio was my personal favorite. The Monoprices certainly have a place due to their build quality, but I do think they're below the other two in terms of overall SQ.

 

I've been recommending the Incipio's to anyone looking for a sub $50 headphone for a while.  I started with the HM3's and bought the Incipio's to prove to myself what my eyes were telling me.  I've since slightly modded my HM3's to try and get a little more, but even in stock form they're worth every penny and more imo.

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shadow419 View Post

 

 

I've been recommending the Incipio's to anyone looking for a sub $50 headphone for a while.  I started with the HM3's and bought the Incipio's to prove to myself what my eyes were telling me.  I've since slightly modded my HM3's to try and get a little more, but even in stock form they're worth every penny and more imo.

 

I agree. I paid $50 for my HM3s and I felt like I had gotten a pretty decent deal. The potential to get that headphone at $28 is a great deal.

post #7 of 16

I modded the 8323 recently to quite remarkable results. Amazing what some acoustic foam, felt and dynamat will do. Now if only I could make them more comfortable... 

post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Armaegis View Post

I modded the 8323 recently to quite remarkable results. Amazing what some acoustic foam, felt and dynamat will do. Now if only I could make them more comfortable... 

Interesting. I happen to have leftovers from my T20RP modding, now you've got me interested. What did you do to the 8323s?

 

Also, have you considered velour pads to improve comfort?

post #9 of 16

dynamat on the back of the driver and miscellaneous scraps around the baffle

acoustic foam in the cup

velour sandwiched in between

micropore tape over the bass vents (which already have a felt over them)

 

If I were to do it again I'd consider spraying the cup with some liquid rubber to improve the seal with the baffle. 

 

I don't have any velour pads to try out. 

post #10 of 16

is there any chance sennheiser hd202 can stand out, guys? 

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eskimoo View Post

is there any chance sennheiser hd202 can stand out, guys? 

I consider the HD202 to be below the 8323 in basically all sonic regards. I didn't find my HD202s to be very comfortable, either -- they hurt my ears if I had them on too long.  I'd rather have someone buy a KSC75 at the $10-20 price bracket than the HD202s any day of the week.

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by SanjiWatsuki View Post

I consider the HD202 to be below the 8323 in basically all sonic regards. I didn't find my HD202s to be very comfortable, either -- they hurt my ears if I had them on too long.  I'd rather have someone buy a KSC75 at the $10-20 price bracket than the HD202s any day of the week.

 

 

I have KSC75 too, actually. More details but the bass not well extended.  


Edited by eskimoo - 6/11/12 at 5:42am
post #13 of 16

So I have the Panasonic htf600-s and I really like them.  I was wondering about the Monoprice and I had not come across the F38 before.  I use the Panasonic for movies and Tv shows. From this review I would say that they are the best fit if I am looking for a decent bass.  So thanks for the comparison. 

 

Has anyone else tested these three headphones out or have any additional opinions?

post #14 of 16

Wich one of those is better in noice cancelling?

post #15 of 16

great comparison OP, thanks

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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › The $30 Budget Comparison: Monoprice 8323 vs. Panny RP-HTF600 vs. Incipio F38