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[Review] Superlux HD681 EVO

post #1 of 479
Thread Starter 

 

 

Pros: Sleek looks, good clarity, price to quality ratio

Cons: Plastic construction feels cheap, sluggish mid-bass

Tonal Balance: Balanced mids and highs with a lows emphasis, warm.

Preferred Genres: These sound great overall, but do best with warmer genres like Jazz.

Amp: Not necessary.

Listening Set-up: iTunes -> ODAC -> O2

 

Packaging

 

The packaging of the Evo is reminiscent of previous Superlux headphones I’ve reviewed in the past. By that I mean that they carry a certain elegance to them, but at the same time a feeling of cheapness as well. The EVO come packaged in a cardboard box with a colored sleeve that acts as the attraction. The EVO are pictured on the front with technical information on the back. The color palate is built on red, black, grey and white and has a slight eye catching appeal to me. The sleeve comes off to reveal a brown cardboard box with Superlux imprinted on it.

 

Inside are two sets of cables, a one meter and a 3 meter cable, a carrying pouch, a ¼ adaptor and a product manual.

 

Build Quality and Design

 

 

 

On first glance the HD681 EVO are very sleek headphones, very reminiscent of the beautiful AKG K550. Superlux has stuck with the AKG wire top design, but has ditched the painful faux-Audio Technica wings that are found in many Superlux models in favor of the AKG band. This change is a certainly welcome one as the old pads acted as two pressure points on top of the head creating an uncomfortable experience; the band distributes the pressure on top evenly. The HD681 EVO are available in black or white, I received the black pair which, as I said before, it looks sleek. The HD681 EVO are primarily glossy black, but accented by matte black and chrome areas with a logo on each earcup. The headphones are constructed of plastic, they feel a bit flimsy, though I would put the build quality near the Audio Technica AD700. The pads are made of pleather and due to the semi-open nature, as opposed to fully open, they get hot when wearing for extended periods of time. Comfort is decent overall with mild clamping, but the fit is a bit tight at times overall, it’s as if I’m wearing a helmet. Located on the left earcup a 3.5mm male connect serves as the connection for the detachable wire. The overall build quality feels a bit cheap, but since these are desktop headphones the only damage that should occur is due to carelessness.

 

Sound Quality

 

The HD681 EVO have been thoroughly used. Over the time I’ve listened to them I have not noticed any burn-in. Amping has also shown to have little to no effect in my experiences.

 

TL:DR

The HD681 EVO are warm leaning studio monitoring headphones. The clarity and resolution is rather good, though I feel the HD668b I previously reviewed may be a bit better on that front. The EVO aren’t super detailed, but subtle nuances are picked up on without much trouble and enough to expose poor mastering. The bass lingers a bit too long and at times which creates a bloated feel at times. The soundstage has great depth and positioning with great instrument separation, very rarely coming off congested. Overall the HD681 EVO are good headphones for those who enjoy an emphasis on bass without wanting basshead headphones.

 

Lows

The HD681 EVO are warm headphones, the focus is certainly here in the lows region. The Evo are capable of reaching lows and outputting a lot of bass. On my bass heavy test tracks I’ve found that the EVO are capable of providing a satisfying rumble, causing my ears to vibrate slightly. What’s surprising is that while the EVO is putting out a strong sub-bass presence, it’s able to keep up with the speed of the fastly quavering bass in James Blake’s Limit to Your Love. The sub-bass is certainly satisfying, I imagine even most bass heads would be happy with the presence and rumble the EVO are capable of.

 

The mid-bass has good presence as well. Bass tracks in rock music are certainly highlighted, though they aren’t forward enough to interfere with the guitar and vocals, for the most part. Even on tracks such as The Black Keys Tighten Up, which is notorious for having the bass a bit high in the mix, the vocals and guitars aren’t drowned out. The EVO do a good job in that regard, giving enough presence to the mid-bass for it to be prominent, without it being pushy. Even so the mid-bass feels a bit sluggish, as if it’s hanging around a bit too long.

 

Mids/Highs

To simplify things, the mids are clean and engaging with a warm feel to them. I have little to complain about with the mids in-fact, though no headphone is perfect. I previously stated that the bass doesn’t bloat into the mids and this is true to an extent, the bass is certainly controlled nicely on the initial impact. Unfortunately the bass has a tendency to linger around which can take away from the mid presence. This isn’t a huge problem though, I’ve only noticed it in a handful of tracks and none of those were mixed particularly well. Another problem I have with the mids is that they tend to sound a bit too thick at times, much like the bass, it can feel sluggish at times. Putting the problems aside, instruments sound realistic with tracks that have been recorded well. Acoustic guitars, synths, and etc, all sound natural, clean and moderately detailed.

 

The highs are very well done, I can find no flaw in the upper regions at all. Horns sound incredibly clear with no grain and excellent extension. I feel as if the highs have hit their stride, there is no strain here at all. Simply clean and balanced nicely throughout.

 

Presentation

The HD681 EVO output what the music gives it to work with. The soundstage is neither expansive nor cramped. The sound is presented as if it’s coming from a mid-sized indoor concert with speakers surrounding me, intimate but never congested. The impressive thing about the soundstage is the accuracy in which the music is delivered and the sense of space the instruments have. The sound is all around my head, very 3d like in how it’s being presented to me.

 

Conclusion

 

The HD681 EVO are currently listed for $69 on Amazon in which I consider them a good value. What stops me from thinking of them as a great value is that the HD681 are currently less than half the price. My concerns with the HD681 were not with the sound, rather the build quality. The EVO certainly look to be of a higher quality build, but they feel of similar quality. It’s hard to tell how much better the EVO sounds without the HD681 to compare at the moment, but from memory the sound is very similar.

 

The EVO are a great buy at $69 and are worth the premium over the HD681 if looks are important to you, the EVO easily sound as good as $100 headphones. For those who don’t find looks important than I feel that the HD681 are a value that is very hard to beat. No matter what you choose though, you’re going to get a headphone that sounds much better than it costs.

 

More pictures can be seen here. Sorry for the quality, my house is a mess due to renovations and I couldn't find an ideal spot to take photos.


Edited by keanex - 6/27/13 at 5:55pm
post #2 of 479
Great review! Had a white EVO and still burning in. Agree very much on your assessment of the bass department. Not bass head facourites certainly, but the amount EVO can output is satisfying for most I think!

What struck me the first time I heard the sounds was how layered the sounds are! It is even trying to give me some details not heard on my DT990 pro without breaking a sweat! Undriven from any amp, that is pure performance from my point of view.

The clear highs are prominent on the EVO. But noticed I did not say it is clean or transparent. Maybe it will after more burn in, but right now that transparency is not a big deal bugging me.

Vocals lack the warmth to feel intimate. Again, though, the imaging and positioning of the rest of instruments might make one forget about that intimacy. One might forgive the EVO on the mids for that.

Yeah, feels plasticky but looks pretty and sleek. No absolute contest with branded headphones on construction quality. Not even worth mentioning. But when put them on, the sheer closeness in SQ to these branded ones gives all the worth this EVO can give. And one might forgive the EVO yet again on their cheap build.

Definitely IMO a headphone which SQ punches way above their weight for the price. If only the build can be better, but then again that will not command this wallet-friendly price anymore.
post #3 of 479

I got them also yesterday. I agree in the main points of the above review.

 

However I dont agree on the price issue, but i picked up my pair for ~45 USD in Taiwan and not 69 USD in US ;).

 

Further the "lingering around bass" i didnt feel on first glimpse, but the above thread poster might have simply better ears for that or spent more time with them.

 

However i want to add that the automatically adjustable headband does not work due to cheap/lousy build quality on the hinge, it clams the headband and prevents it from easily adjusting to the ehadsize. This will be an issue for big heads.

post #4 of 479
post #5 of 479

I got mine last week for 1,790 Pesos, which is around $45.

 

Unfortunately, I put it back in its box after listening to it for an hour because I found the mid-bass a bit too muddy.

 

Comfort-wise the clamp was a bit on the strong side for me. And as Skar mentioned, the headband doesn't seem to adjust smoothly. I found the headband on my original HD681B much better, it was very elastic, much more "springy". The EVO's on the otherhand, felt very stiff. I actually have to forcefully pull the earcups down to reach my ears.

 

I may give my EVO a chance if I can loosen the clamp. Will leaving them stretched out on a stack of books work with the wires above the headband?

post #6 of 479

I consider to losen the screw holding the headband on both sides. not sure if this will work out though - will update once i tried it.

post #7 of 479

Thanks for the review! It's always nice to see different perspectives on these. I didn't realize the bass was too warm. But then again this is coming from the ath m50 which is legendary for having a midbass hump. The thing I noticed though is that these extend extremely well. it's very nice amount of bass for my tastes(electronic, drum and bass). I've never once heard it drown out details although sometimes maybe it does take charge like "hey! notice me"



I'd also like to point out that these are actually the most bass light headphones I've ever had, short of the hd428.


Edited by wafflezz - 7/5/13 at 11:33pm
post #8 of 479
I am patiently waiting the arrival of a set of these which I purchased online on Wednesday and I have great expectations. Reading up on comparably priced headphones the options in this price range is quite wide. Paid $49USD with free postage for them. How do these compare to offerings from takstar etc in the same price range?
post #9 of 479
Quote:
Originally Posted by muzzle View Post

I am patiently waiting the arrival of a set of these which I purchased online on Wednesday and I have great expectations. Reading up on comparably priced headphones the options in this price range is quite wide. Paid $49USD with free postage for them. How do these compare to offerings from takstar etc in the same price range?

Takstars come with Velour ear pads, guess that's why they cost more.

post #10 of 479

Indeed they come with velour ear pads, however Amazon has Takstar HI2050 for $69.99 vs $69 Superlux HD-681 EVO - on the chinese sites seem to reflect this pricing also so going by price there's nothing between the two. I'd be tempted to buy the HI2050 so I can compare the two, and as we know there's a lot of personal preference and I do like the feel of the velour on my Sennheisers. At this sort of price I would be happy buying a few different varieties to sample and I guess that's the only real way to know which are best for me.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Takstars come with Velour ear pads, guess that's why they cost more.

post #11 of 479
My new headphones arrived in the mail this week, and included in the box was a nice surprise indeed - extra velour pads:

These are very enjoyable headphones indeed.
post #12 of 479
I'm setting my eyes on this one too. Muzzle did you get it from markertek? $49 inc. shipping seems to be a lot better than what I have to pay from the website
Edited by gogeta0111 - 7/21/13 at 9:07am
post #13 of 479
AudioHipster is probably the best deal for these unless you purchase from one of the Chinese websites: http://www.audiohipster.com/AudioHipster/Headphones.html
post #14 of 479
hmm how did you get it from audiohipster for $49? don't they have $44 + $10 shipping? Markertek.com has it for $39.95 + $15 shipping for me.
post #15 of 479
Sorry, I should have mentioned - I bought mine here: http://www.aliexpress.com/item/New-Superlux-hd681evo-Dynamic-Semi-open-Professional-Audio-Monitoring-Headphones-Earphones-Detachable-Audio-Cable/993139228.html. On sale US$51.20 for one more day. It may be worth mentioning that those sellers based in the US are unlikely to have the latest stock (which for me included the velour ear pads).
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