The HD681 headphones feature a semi-open design intended for use in professional monitoring...

Superlux HD 681

Average User Rating:
4.5/5,
  • The HD681 headphones feature a semi-open design intended for use in professional monitoring applications. These headphones feature premium quality audio components paired with an ergonomic design. The self-adjusting headband provides the listener with a great fit and these durable headphones can even be twisted for use in single ear monitoring. The HD681 professional headphones are an excellent choice for a wide range of audio listening tasks, including recording studio monitors, headphones for MP3 players or video games, computer/digital audio or any pro audio application.

Recent User Reviews

  1. kiler
    4.5/5,
    "Budget DT990 : Same studio experience, V-Shaped Sound, killer treble"
    Pros - Good build quality / bass that extends down low / good soundstage / absolute killer for the price
    Cons - Treble can be too sharp / Questionable Aesthetics
     
    Hello! This time I have a completely different review from the ones I’ve been bringing you lately because I’m going to review a full sized headphone! This time we have the Superlux HD681 a full sized circumaural headphone from Taiwan, which reaches on to us with a little help from George from Gearbest! Thank you very much for the chance to review this product and check www.gearbest.com for somewhere to buy this product.
    As for a little introduction to the Superlux brand, lets just say that they are a brand with a known reputation for having full size headphones that mimic some popular designs from other brands such as BeyerDynamic or AKG in a much cheaper price. But the catch is the following: they always punch above their weight in terms of sound quality, so this HD681 which can be had for just 20$ will surely surprise a lot of you.
     

    Video Review

    [​IMG]

    Technical Data

     
    Talking about technical data and specifications, nothing like using the specifications provided by Superlux themselves:
     
     Specifications:
    GENERAL
    Type headphones
    Packaged Quantity 1
    Weight 7.8 oz
    Additional Features gold-plated plug
    ManufacturerAvlex Corporation
     
    HEADPHONES
    Headphones Type Headphones - binaural
    Headphones Form Factor On-ear
    Headphones Technology dynamic
    Sound Output Mode stereo
    Frequency Response 10 - 30000 Hz
    Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) 0.25% %
    Sensitivity 98 dB
    Impedance 32 Ohm
    Diaphragm 2 in
    Magnet Material neodymium
     
    MISCELLANEOUS
    Included Accessories headphones pouch
    Color Category black
     
     

    Packaging

     


     
     
     
     The packaging of the HD681 could be defined as Spartan and it is one that could be used to be in exhibition inside a music store. Its design makes it sit nicely in a stand , and we just have some plastic covering the cardboard where the HD681 sits. On the backside we can read some of the more important specifications of these headphones, but overall we can see that this is where Superlux decided to cut costs. Which should be fine if sound quality doesn’t take a hit.
     
     
     
     

    Accessories

     

     
     
    For a 20$ set of headphones we see that the included accessories aren’t bad: we get a carrying pouch and a 3.5mm to 6.3 mm adapter, which guarantees that the Superlux HD681 fit pretty much any audio systems. Other than that, we don’t have anything else apart from the headphones themselves, so its time to get a better look at the Superlux HD681.
     
     
     

    Build Quality and overall look

     
     

     
    These are the Superlux HD681. They sport a black and red color scheme and have a semi open design. As you can tell, they have a circumaural design with big ear cups made out of plastic, as is most of their build.
     
     

     
     
     
     
    On the right side you can find the Superlux logo, alongside 8 small vents that allow a bit of sound to leak from the cups. You can also read on the black on black letters “professional monitor” which would let us know that these are good for studio monitoring.
     

     
     
     
    As we go towards the left side, we can find the name HD681 (this model name), alongside an indication of 2x32 ohm, which tells us that each one of the drivers has 32 ohm of impedance.
     

     
     
    The cable is pretty well made and it is terminated with a 3.5mm gold plated plug, but here we see it with the 6.35mm screw on adapter. The rubber coating of it makes it feel really decent and that they will last.
     

     
     
    Going for the headband we can find the Superlux name on it, being made of some kind of leather, which is comfortable enough for long term use.
     

     
     
    The earpads are made out of cheap pleather, which would easily be my main concern with these headphones. While they are comfortable, they will get warm with long term use. But don’t be afraid since there are lots of aftermarket pads that will fit these headphones, such as the velour replacements sold by the manufacturer.
    All in all, the Superlux HD681 present a pretty solid build quality for the price and, since they are studio monitors, I’m sure they will be able to take a beating and don’t break a sweat, since the plastic used is of good quality. But what is a studio monitor without the sound? So we should progress onto the next section which is how good these headphones sound.
     
     
     
     
     

    Comfort/Isolation

     
     
    Like I’ve said before, these are circumaural headphones, which mean that they will completely go around your ears. These kind of headphones are usually more comfortable than headphones which just sit on top of your ears, and, since these are studio headphones, they need to be comfortable for somewhat long periods of time. The earpads are also really important in terms of comfort, and these are not the best. After two hours they really start to get warm which might make you want to take a break. They also won’t be suitable for people in warmer climates to use during long periods of time, since the pleather isn’t breathable. Other than the fact of warming up, they are super comfortable since they are light and easily adjustable to your head.
    As for the isolation, these have a semi-open design, which is a lot more open than some of the open headphones I’ve previously tested , making them have a pretty nice soundstage for the price. There is also a downside to this tho which is that they leak a good amount of sound, so they might not be suitable for public quiet places such as libraries, but they won’t bother someone sitting in the same room as you (in opposite sides). Without music playing you are able to tell what is going on in the room and even with music, if you have a television playing in the same room, you will be able to hear it all. But these are made to be worn in the studio so I’m sure that the semi open design choice was a good one.
     
     

    Sound

     
    Source – HifimeDIY Sabre Dac amped with Objective 2 DIY, Lumia 625, Sandisk Sansa Clip+
     
    Files Used –  256 to 320 kbps and FLAC
     
     
     
    As always, before using starting to review these, I let them play a variety of music for about 50 hours (having tried them when they first arrived). There wasn’t too much improvement from the burn-in, perhaps the piercing high end was a bit tamed.
     
    We are going to start by describing the HD681 overall sound signature. These are a studio headphone and if I had to compare them to any other headphone it would be the german made Beyerdynamic DT990. Both have heavy V-shaped sound signatures with the Superlux managing to have their treble peak in a place that might bother a lot of people more than the DT990 Pro. So I should start by saying that if you don’t like the DT990 cause you find them too bright, you might have to pass (or equalize) the HD681.
     
    The HD681 possesses a V Shaped sound with some emphasis on the lower and mid bass, alongside a high-end that might be too sharp for some. This kind of sound makes the HD681 perfect for music that might be bass heavy such as electronic music and rap, falling short on more vocal tracks.
     
    Starting with the lower end of the spectrum, I’m really impressed that the sub-bass is present at this extent, which I suppose is due to the big 50mm drivers that really help bring out the rumble. Even though the sub-bass is good, the quantity of bass is mostly centered around 50-100Hz range with some punch in the mid bass as well. The quantity of bass overall is pretty good and spot on with what is needed for a Studio headphone (enough punch and extension).
     
    The mids aren’t really where the Superlux headphones shine, mostly because they are the shadow of some really sparkly treble, but they are able to reproduce vocals decently well. Female vocals sound a bit raspy and you can notice it on tracks from artists like Adele. They are missing a bit of range, so to speak, and sound a bit flat.
     
    The treble is what really stands out in these headphones, because it is so prominent. It’s even harder to go unnoticed than the so claimed “killer treble” DT990 Pro. I think this is because even though the DT990 has lots of treble, it is a crystalline, pure treble, while the HD681 doesn’t achieve the same level of detail. Even then, the treble is pretty good, even more so if you are able to reduce it in an equalizer in order to bring forward the rest of the sound signature. I say this because while these headphones have a pretty good sound signature, it is hidden under the excessive treble. The excessive treble might also make some bad recordings show all of their flaws, such as noise on old records or low quality (bit-rate wise) ones.
     
    Like I said on the isolation part of the review, the fact that they are semi open and leak a bit of sound definitively helps on the soundstage of the HD681, which while detailed and easy to distinguish left and right, is a bit two dimensional. Even then, they are pretty good even to use while gaming.
     
    As for improvements while amping, I found out that the bass becomes more pronounced while amped, but even unamped these are pretty solid headphones and the amplifier certainly isn’t a must have.
    As for songs that I really enjoyed with these headphones:
    Run The Jewels – Legend Has it – El-P is an excellent producer and the sub bass that these put out while amped is really interesting.
    Deadmau5 – 4ware – The progressions sound good even with the big amounts of treble and with a good lower end.
     
     

    Conclusion

     
    Build Quality: 4/5
     
    Accessories: 4/5
     
    Comfort: 4/5
     
    Isolation: 4/5
     
    Sound Quality (bang for buck): 5/5
     
    The most important thing about the Superlux is that I managed to point out all the flaws as it were a more expensive headphone. And once you put into perspective how much it costs you really wake up to the enormous value of this offering, even though it isn’t the most beautiful or comfortable headphone you can buy. There isn’t anything near the price range (about 20$ in Gearbest) that can offer such a great sound quality and bring joy to your music sessions (barring in ear monitors or earphones). The build quality will also last, which means that the 20$ will most certainly be a wise investment and for the price, even if you hate treble, you should try these out. Worst case scenario you equalize the treble out of them or pass them onto a family member which will surely love your offering. Why get the HD201 if you can get these?
     
     
    References
    Price: RRP (21.00€) on http://www.gearbest.com/headsets/pp_270782.html?wid=21&lkid=10620793 (this is my affiliate code, if you want to you can buy them without supporting me).
     
    I would like to thank Gearbest for the opportunity to review and publish my unbiased opinion about these Headphones, it has been a fantastic experience working with you.
  2. IkuMiku96
    4.0/5,
    "The underdog of audiophile semi-open headphone (from my perspective)"
    Pros - Great low to mid frequency, deep yet tight bass (punchy), HD sound, semi-open, Extremely affordable for sound, Mod-able
    Cons - High pitch sharp, Cheap-feel, Looks unattractive for nowadays, Comfort is questionable
    *review this right after i have this headphone. burn in test not yet available
    **I will add more info after i receive velour pads ordered online. any changes in sound or improvement, will be added
    Lost my AKG K403, my very first HD headphone (to me). Very low on budget, found this, bought it, waited for a near month, worth the wait. (was aiming for portability but... this price is so really pushes me to this)
     
    This is my first over-ear audiophile headphone (well, not my first but for mainly music, this is my first) ever to buy and i didnt actually expected that if i didnt lost my AKG...

    *I would guess that this is the 2nd badge of the HD681. differentiable by the position of "2x32ohm" print*

    1. First Impression (well, i use Galaxy SIII camera, set ISO-800 just for less blurry. so, lots of noises)

    Well, the packaging is what i would say, an item from a junkyard store. I dont know if the rugged packaging is due to the shipping or is been like this, but for sure, the package is really cheap. and is exactly a piece of plastic bag wrapping a piece of cardboard (slice)
     
     

    Looks horrible
     

    Well, i didnt pay attentioned to the colour (just like my first phone...) when i bought this but truthly, this really doesnt look attracting. but personally, i kinda like the steampunk kinda style of the styling.
     

    This also provided with a carrying pouch to protect the headphone. Though i would say that the pouch is like a cloth bag for carrying wet clothes.
     

    By close up though, this headphone gives a fine detail to most of those pattern (though some imperfection of build is shown)

    2. Comfort
    Well, is not the worst but feels not too comfy. The pad is the worst feeling ever. My ear gets sweaty and hot (maybe because im not used to wear PU pads). Most says to change to other pads that fits to the AKG K240, preferably velour one. so i think i will. (will DT880 pad fits?)
    Definitely do not wear this on your neck as you may be choked (lol). is just that the headphone just 'closes'.

    Tight fit but not in the assumption of having your head sandwiched hard. But that tightness boosts the hotty and sweaty feel... Will try to loose it.

    3. Sound
    I would say, the sound is superb.
    The bass is kinda just a bit stronger than my preferred but can be tuned down just a bit. But for sure, entire bass frequency area is really amazing~ Is tight too~
    i tuned down to 62kHz@-2dB, 125@-1dB

    [edit]The mid part is great. For the first time, i dont have to eq up a bit for the mid.
    I can hear much more detail than before~

    Well, actually, after a bit more hours, i just realised, the mid part is just, well, "audiable". is just a bit more than enough but not in a way of satisfying mids.
    So, up a bit for 1dB or 2dB at 250Hz, 500Hz and 1kHz sounds more better. BUT that is just my preference. (the clicky navigation sound of the Windows when browsing is sounds more satisfying when eq-ed the mids up)
     
     
    The controversial part, Treble.
    Kinda sharp, but actually, not that much. maybe the 2nd badge did just a bit improve this. i eq this down, 2kHz@-2dB, 4kHz@-1dB, 8kHz@-2or3dB. after tuned, gives out some detail but also wash out some detail as well...

    [update] Well, what i just did, i kinda use a tissue paper and that really reduces the sharpness of the treble. Well, mainly because i just want my ears to be less sweaty when wearing but that really improve the treble.

    Yeah, looks messy for now. But i planned to change the pad to velour one anyways (almost one click away ordering dt880 velour pad, just a cheap one from Misodiko)
     

    How the tissue covers the whole pad, absorbing those bad treble
     

    Well, the tissues do their job well enough

    This sounds really great if you have retro songs from the 60-80's. Tried Pink Floyd - Money, omg soo warm and retro feeling~
    But, metal songs are to be avoided as the sharp treble will spoils the moment.

    4. Overall
    I dont know if this is actually an audiophile headphone (or even monitor) as this one has a bit coloured signature. but great to have though and pretty sounds natural to me

    The best for the price. Highly recommended for another collection. Later i will try to compare this to my local available headphones like Beyerdynamic DTX910, DT880, T1, Sennheiser HD598, AudioTechnica ATH-M30x, M40x, M50x, Sony MDR-100AAP, 1A if i have time.

    [update] is it just me, or DTX710 has more bass? also, HD 681 somewhat lacking of mids. i thought the bass of HD 681 is kinda more and stronger but, i didnt sense that once i tried DTX710, MDR-A1, MDR-100AAP. is like, well, the HD681 has deep bass but lacking compared to A1 and 100AAP. even DTX710 is somewhat a bit more stronger bass...
    is this kinda.. true...? or is my ears playing my mind... or did my HD 681 just gone burn-in so soon? (well, i enjoyed too much of Sony MDR-Z1R, with DSD as well, so mindblowing)
    [update2] i guess my mistake. yesterday i made my headphone loose enough that i just realised i've made some gaps between my head and the pad (back ear area), resulting less deep and underpowering bass. though, i really like this kind. will tighten once i receive my velour pads

    *I was thinking of buying Beyerdynamic DTX710 before but, even with great price, i cant afford it. so i buy this. but.... waited for so long to ship here... and, the wait worth it
    LazyListener likes this.
  3. Nymphonomaniac
    4.5/5,
    "Incredible value and details for the price. A very impressive monitor headphones that challenge higher priced ones."
    SO today is time to make a little review of a not so well keeped secret chinese monitor headphone Gem.
     

     
     
    I heard about the Superlux headphones here on headfi and was rather sceptical of the sound they can produce, I was like yeah they are dirt cheap and could be great value, but how good at this price the sound can be? It can't be a serious sounding monitor, can it?
    Well, when I finally see them at Gearbest store in sale for a more than ridiculous price I decided I have nothing to loose and who know as i'm a music producer perhaps I will really use them to mix some tracks...
    And I finally put them on my head and begin to listen to a violin quartet and was like:[​IMG]
    Okay, this headphones are not a legend for nothing, they deserve their most-buy reputation, this is serious cans with a serious sound, extremely neutral and detailed, light to wear and comfortable and I can really make great mix with them even if they cost third time less than my now gone Sony MDR-7609.
     
     
    CONSTRUCTION, PACKAGE & DESIGN:
     

     
     
    Package look like a dollar store joke and I was laughing first time I see it, thinking: their you go for your 20 boxes dumb head, what were you hoping for? A Miracle? Yes the package is a joke, it is not serious, it is a price cutter so you can buy a miracle! Just throw this in trash can and concentrate on headphones instead.The construction isn't bad at all for the price and make me think of AKG K240 on all aspect, HD681 just try less harder to look fancy with plastic piece but both are about the same construction taking apart the fact that the AKG have a detachable cable. So construction is all plastic but well assembled and extremely light tp wear wich make them very comfortable for long listening sessions. It do not use the kind of glossy plastic that is easy to break and I think durability isn't that bad because I do not instinctively fear to drop it on like with other plastic headphones I have. This type of construction, even if a little cheap, is incredible for the price. Clamping force is light and earcups are movable and take the form of your head.
     
    SPECS:
    1. Headphones Type
      Headphones - binaural
    2. Headphones Form Factor
      On-ear
    3. Headphones Technology
      dynamic
    4. Sound Output Mode
      stereo
    5. Frequency Response
      10 - 30000 Hz
    6. Total Harmonic Distortion (THD)
      0.25% %
    7. Sensitivity
      98 dB
    8. Impedance
      32 Ohm
    9. Diaphragm
      2 in
    10. Magnet Material
      neodymium

     

     
    SOUND IMPRESSIONS:
     
    So, it is write 2X 32OHM on the headphones cups wich make them 64Ohm and a little hard to drive with average music players. For this review I use my Ibasso DX80 as well as my SANSUI amp with Ibasso DX90 line out. The Superlux HD681 can't be drive properly with Xduoo X3 and even less with ONN X5 or Ruizu X02. You don't know what this headphones are capable off if you do not have an amp or powerfull mixer. The HD681 are more easy to drive than the 128 Ohm Superlux HD681B but to get full sound, bass and air between instruments you don't need to crank the volume, just to give them the right power so they can breathe properly. When use with a powerfull amp the real deal begin, we are now blessed with a magificent and detailed sound with very wide soundstage and fowards texture and treble. There lot of air between instrumentation and separation of them are great because of this. The Sansui AU-D5 amp give some welcome warm to this rather bright earphones too, when listening to classical this is really a great headphone, we heard every details of violin player including breathe and bow microdetails scrubbing texture, the acoustic guitar chord is full of sparkle and we feel the fingers pulling every rope. The HD681 really hit higher than their price range and sound exceptionnaly good for this very reason.
     
    LOWS:
    The Superlux HD681 aren't basshead headphones at all and have the typical sound that we want from  a monitor headphones wich mean detailed, neutral with a good instruments separation. Bass isn't very round and heavy, even if it dig deep and low it isn't the type of bass we feel, tough with a powerfull amp it come to life and have more weight, this headphones will not be appropriate for IDM or rap because of the airyness presentation of the soundspectrum. Still, right now as I listen to Jamie Saft New Standard jazz album, Steve Swallow bass is very well rendered and every note clearly audible, when the drum take more place it is less clearly presented tough because the toms decay can interfer with bass decay. Anyway, the HD681 love (piano!) jazz and play it with great precision and energy, some albums can sincerly sound memorable with them.
     
    MIDS:
    Now I listen to the excellent Aventine album by Agnes Obel, her voice float around me and have great warm, texture and autority. Instrumentation is more foward than her voice but in an immersive way and has the voice is in the center of it we don't feel it is veiled or too dark. Another time texture is a little agressive even if it isn't harsh for the ears. Microdetails are foward too and the overall sound presentation lack a little roundness or softness to be truely mesmerizing-this is were the ridiculous price tag show his greatness limit. Anyway, the HD681 medium frequencies are very realistic and far from being in the backseat and the texture is welcome for extra resolution that can give more dynamic to some music. Violin, piano and vocals sound very good with the HD681 and acoustic music is a real joy because of the analytical presentation showing everything that is going on in a track, for the better and the worst. Because of this extra texture some signers voice can hiss (Beth Gibbons does this).
     
    HIGHS:
    This headphones have LOT of treble to share and are on the bright side even if a relaxed version of it. We have plenty of texture, microdetails and treble sparkle here, sometime it can even be too much of it. For exemple, if you listening to an old vinyl recording the background hiss will be too fowards and perhaps spoil the clarity of instrumentation. But if the recording is perfectly clear this extra treble will give extra details and texture to instruments, you will eaisly pick everything you want from a track as the neutral presentation with foward treble will give as much importance to cymbals than bass and guitar. I guess with very complexe and dense tracks it can became overwhelming for a proper musicality as every sound will be be pickable by the ears. I consider this as a must for monitor headphones tough, wich are use exactly to be able to calibrate every sounds and instruments in your mix.
     
    CONCLUSION:
    The Superlux HD681 are incredible headphones that can be use by serious musician as well as audiophile on budget that want a realistic and analytical headphones. They outperform way pricier headphones and are extremely comfortable for long listening. If you want a little more bass you can try the HD681B wich have a little more but are even more hard to drive. Superlux really impress me with their budget friendly headphones and earphones that have a real hifi sound and really deserve the admiration they already have.
    You can find them here for an ultimately absurb 20$:
    http://www.gearbest.com/headsets/pp_270782.html
     
    LONG LIVE TO SUPERLUX!!!!
    bhazard likes this.

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