NuForce HP-800 Mini Review:
So I’ve had my pair of HP-800s for a few weeks now and here are my thoughts regarding these headphones.
Price Point: MSRP $149 USD
Link to company’s website for more details:
Considering the low entry price for these headphones, I think they look quite good and are constructed very well. Comfort wise, I find them good. For someone with an average sized head, I’d reckon that they’d be very good. But with my largish sized head, getting them down over my ears can be cumbersome as I have to re-adjust them down from time to time. The headband (similar to the AKG K/Q701s) can be a bit short for those of us with more “full sized heads”.
The clamping force is actually quite good and doesn’t impinge on one’s head or ears. I wear glasses and find these headphones aren’t bad with them either.
They come with a nice storage bag for travel and the headphone cable is very sturdy. I like the simple dual 1/8” stereo male plugs (one into the headphones and one into your amp). Nice and simple! Throw in the screw in ¼” plug adapter (always a welcomed feature as I’m not a fan of the straight plug in one as it can be cumbersome).
Now, onto how does it sound?
Nuforce markets these headphones as “Studio Monitors”; however, I would classify them as more “fun” sounding headphones that bring the bass! I’ve tried frequency sweeps with these cans and the bass certainly does go down low. Down to 20Hz!
The treble does extend up to 18kHz (right around the limit of my 40 year old ears). So they’ve got good extension down low and up high. Now back to the bass, don’t let my “they bring the bass” comment scare you. Yes, I would classify them as “bass heavy” headphones, the bass is quite good and especially for the price point. I find the bass deeper, better controlled and cleaner than the Monster or Beats headphones. Are they LCD-2/3 good? Nope…but we’re talking $150 headphones vs. ones that can cost several thousands of dollars. That said, the HP-800s do have more bass quantity than either the LCD-2/3s, D5000/7000, or TH-900s. So for you bass heads out there, these cans are for you!
The mids are clean and detailed, though a bit recessed. But I didn’t find it bothersome like some other headphones. The treble didn’t sound etched or strident and came off sounding “smooth”. Imaging was about average for closed headphones (not a strong suit for closed headphones), but their ability to isolate outside sounds and not leak was quite good.
Out of my Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2 and HeadAmp GS-X (with upgraded modules), these headphones sounded remarkably good; especially considering how much they cost. I know, $150 headphones with $4k+ of upstream gear. But that's what I have on hand. Out of my iPad 3 or iPhone 5 directly, they weren’t as good (surprised?), but still sounded good for on the go. I would at least recommend a portable amp with them like the FiiO E5/E6. My (now sold) HeadAmp Pico was actually very good driving them.
Now, if you’re one who’s adverse to bass, then maybe these aren’t for you. I can see how the bass boost on these could be trouble some with some listeners. A little EQ however fixed things in a few clicks of the mouse. But if you really like a pair of headphones that can rumble down low (and still sound clean), don’t have strident treble and don’t cost and arm and a leg, these headphones are a great option.
Other headphones in this price point that I have experience with are the Shure SRH-840s and M-50. Both of these headphones are more “balanced” and neutral in their sound signatures. Comfort-wise they were all about equal. Though if I had a smaller head, I likely would have preferred the HP-800s. The M-50s have treble that sometimes doesn’t agree with me and the SRH-840s lacked deep bass performance. The HP-800s offer a unique sound signature and stand out from these two headphones and are another good option in this price range.
Edited by MacedonianHero - 1/19/13 at 8:04pm