Ok, this is the post where in I pretend I am seriously reviewing these headphones.
I picked up my order at best buy tonight and lets start with the packaging. Thankfully these were not in a blister pack but a kind of plastic outer box that you open and slide the inner box out of. I found it easy to get at the headphones. You get the box, the headphones, and not much else. No warranty cards or specifications, no headphone adapters or extension cables.
1. Build quality.
I'm actually a little surprised here guys. The leatherette material on the ear pads is thicker and more leather like than most non velour headphones I own. It's a better material than the Sony MDR-V6, MDR-V600, etc. They are amply cushioned and while small they do seal up very nicely to the ear. The kind of ear pad reminds me a little of the high quality Plantronics wireless headset I use at work. The cable itself is about 5 feet or so long, and cladded in the rubbery kind of plastic that Skullcandy uses on their IED's like the Inkd.
The adjustments are steel sliders with a kind of retro feel, and the head band itself seems to contain spring steel inside. The clamping pressure is a little high making these more suitable for jogging or DJ headphones. They also feature a folding construction, another surprise at this price point. The drivers would rotate 180degrees out like a proper DJ headphone if the wires connecting the drivers were just a little longer. The headband material is a soft synthetic cloth that reminds me of a good car seat, or a sports jersey. The cans themselves are a light weight plastic that seems cheap and I'm not sure how it will hold up in the long run.
2. Sound quality.
I laughed when I played these through my iphone and heard them for the first time. My first impression was I needed to turn the volume down, they are very sensitive, too loud for me at 1/2 iphone volume. These are without a doubt the worst headphones I have heard in years. There is not much bass to speak of and almost no upper frequencies at all. What you do have loads of is midrange. However, my laugh soon died off and I found myself not cringing, while it is mid range heavy, it's a very warm mid range with emphasis on the upper bass/lower midrange from 150 to 500. Believe it or not these phones might make harsh metal and hard rock sound pretty good if you can get over the lack of high frequency.
I auditioned them on Queens of the Stoneage "Era Vulgaris" and while heavily colored and definitely cheap sounding, they gave the song a warmth it didn't otherwise possess, and there is absolutely no harshness here even with loud distortion guitar. These cans can take the hardest most cutting tracks, and tame them into soft little marshmellows.
In a very strange way, these headphones can fit a niche in my collection. Let me explain; They are the worst I've heard in years but thinking back to what I could afford and find in the 90's in my highschool years, these would have been a steal. Back in the day I was rocking the $20 walmart Koss headphones with 40mm drivers that I thought were so badass. Compared to most headphones that came with a casette player, they actually were really good. And that was $20 in 1990's money. These Atari headphones were only $6 in 2013 money, and they are better than those Koss were. Better build quality, better sound, better looking, and they will probably last a lot longer too.
Next I put on The Dave Brubeck Quartet song "Take Five" and I was shocked. It took this pristinely preserved high fidelity classic, and turned it into a period jazz piece as heard on my dad's old record player with his 1970's speaker boxes on your ears headphones. It suddenly reminded me of listening like that when I was a kid, looking at a pair of headphones the way a kid today might look at a virtual reality headset.
This jazz classic actually sounds decent on these, in a very retro but cool way. The cymbals are subdued, the bass stronger and the fidelity low, it reminds me of a really good 8 track tape. Remember 8 tracks?
So I decided to see what throwing a little EQ at it might do. With a 4db increase from 10khz-16khz, and 30hz - 80hz, they actually start to sound pretty good considering their price.
Conclusion: Your kid might be fooled but even a non audiophile could tell these are cheap headphones. At $6 they are worth it just for the branding, and who knows, I might even use them from time to time when I want to go lo-fi and make an old song sound different.
I've been listening to the whole Brubeck album of jazz and I'm actually enjoying it. It's a wholly different experience than listening on my good cans like the Q701 and DT880. It's not unpleasant at all and actually their relaxed and incredibly warm sound signature is flattering to this kind of music. I'm a little surprised actually.
Edited by Kodhifi - 1/18/13 at 9:38pm