Cons - Not comfortable for long hearing sessions, hard ear-pads
This is my fourth review here on head-fi and unlike my previous reviews I've decided to put a lot more effort into this one, which may sound odd considering that these are the cheapest headphones I currently own but I found that my previous reviews hardly gave any information that I'd consider useful to other head-fiers or just any consumers. With that said, during this review I plan to test songs that most community members be able to access more easily in order to gauge my opinions.
What this means in practical terms is that I won't be testing these headphones with the highest-bitrate tracks, instead I will use normal-quality Spotify streams as a reference (160 kbps files in Org Vorbis format). I will also try to focus on testing these headphones with gear that a beginner or budget-oriented audiophile should, or can, have and compare them with the headphones I currently have available to me.
For the sake of this review I will be testing these headphones with a Fiio E7 portable DAC/AMP at it's default setting (which delivers a rather flat response and I feel is ideal for reviewing purposes compared to my other DAC/AMP which is slightly more colorful-sounding).
At the time I purchased these phones I was looking for a portable closed on-ear headphone that would be less-jarring to transition to than what I felt going from the Fischer Audio FA-003 (aka Brainwavz HM5) to my then go-to portable headphones, the AKG K450. I was looking for something around the same price as the AKG (which at the time cost me roughly twice as much as the JVC) and these headphones showed up on my radar when browsing head-fi and proved to be priced more affordably and had a better form-factor for my needs than the other alternatives at the time.
I'd like to apologise beforehand if I get any of the technical terms for what I'm describing wrong. Since my last reviews I've gotten a better understanding on how to describe sound and sound qualities but I'm still not at a level where I'm able to discern them as some of the more experienced reviewers. If you find any such mistakes in the following paragraphs please do let me know.
At the start of the song the piano seems to be a bit recessed specially when compared to the high notes that are sprinkled as the singer begins her chant. At the chorus once again the drums, or lows, seem to be more distant than the mids and highs compared to what the higher-end FA-003 sound like (it's not a jarring difference, but it is noticeable). After the first chorus and the song fills up with more instruments the recessed lows are less noticeable. The important thing to note however is that despite my observation all parts of the sound are clear-sounding and only the lows feel slightly distant, but in terms of clarity I find these headphones rather good.
Compared to the AKG K450: From the offset the AKG K450's seem to have an airiness to them. The lows don't seem to be as recessed but the singer's voice doesn't sound as good either. The differences between these two headphones become more clear on the first chorus when the drums appear, and in the second chorus when there are many more instruments involved the drums feel completely buried as does the singer's voice. It's clear that the AKG doesn't have as much clarity and doesn't perform particularly well with this track.
First of all, let me just say that this track is meant to be heard continuously after the introductory track of the album which is called Aeropause.
The guitar riffs and accompanying piano sound very clear but I can only distinguish the piano when it reaches the high notes. The singer's voice steals nothing from the clarity of the other instruments even when the drums kick in. The chorus of this song is the point that makes or breaks most headphones I own. Out of all the headphones I own only three of them I feel can feel pleasant during the thunderous chorus that inundates your ears, the JVCs are one of them, and the other two cost me at the very least upwards of thrice their price. Around halfway through the track there is a violin/drums part accompanied by an airy guitar and I find it hard to find any faults in the sound during that part. Even the FA-003 don't sound significantly better during that part.
Compared to the AKG K450: The loud sound at the start of the track does not feel as present as it did on the JVC but the guitar riff that follows it feels pleasant. Once the singer joins her voice feels more distant and muddled, while the high notes sound pleasant enough, the lows are muddled underneath the recessed singer's voice and the chorus just feels like a mess, all the sounds feel like they were bound together and spat out. The male singer's vocals feel distinctly better sounding than the female ones. The same part I mentioned in the last phrase of the previous paragraph feels pleasant when the violin is playing, though it feels a bit more distanced. Once the drums kick in the snares and cymbals sound adequately distinct, overall the AKG perform reasonably in this part but overall feel more distant across the entire song and just fall apart during the chorus.
When the guitars kick in there's an immediate distinction between the left and right channels with low/high sounds and the singer's vocals feel very present above them as if there's almost a semblance of dimension. When the chorus kicks in almost everything feels distinguished. The hardest sounds to discern from others are what seems to be highly distorted electric guitar but the claps and the bass guitar, drums and cymbals and vocals are very clear. I'm struggling to find faults or further interesting things to say about how this track on the JVCs, nothing feels missing and this track feels like it was very well produced for headphones.
Compared to the AKG K450: The snare immediately feels present than the JVCs. The guitar riffs feel more or less the same, but that sense of dimension the JVCs gave off is simply not there. The track feels flat in comparison in the start. The vocals sound great but outside of the drum and guitar the rest of the sounds feel more distant. When the chorus kicks the cymbals are barely audible, the distorted guitar is of a hiss and the accompanying vocals feel distorted. It's hard to appreciate this song without the strong beat in the lows, while the vocals are clear enough everything else feels either distant or muffled.
I wanted to get an impression on how the two headphones would compare on a mostly-accoustic track and this particular one is one I found most headphones can handle rather well and provide an enjoyable experience so I'm curious to see if the AKG suffer considerably in comparison, as they did on the other tracks.
The bass feels very detailed and raw with even the slight distortion at the end of some of its strings being very audible. When the brass kicks in and a metal-ringing instrument accompanies them they are perfectly distinguishable from each other and no detail seems to be lost from the other instruments with the bass and that wooden-sounding beat still very evident. When the vocal chorus begins it is are overpowered by the highs, though to be fair, the vocals are meant to sound a bit recessed. At around the 3 minute mark, a bass solo/keyboard (organ?) solo begins with a percussion sound in the background and the track gains a new dimension and feels very involving during this part with these headphones, overall very pleasant with noticeable flaws to point out. At around the 6 minute mark the percussion and a guitar solo begins which is then accompanied by a second one that feels very distinct and balanced with emphasis on the opposing ear channel which helps give a sense of spacial awareness. The organ which joins at around the 7 minute mark is honestly is the only instrument which feels slightly recessed compared to the Grado SR125 which I quickly switched to just to make sure if what I was feeling was accurate, though I have to say I felt like the JVC presented a better sense of separation and dimension which is odd for a closed headphone, when compared to an open one.
Compared to the AKG K450: At the start of the track the wooden percussion feels as present as it did on the JVC but the bass and cymbals feel recessed in comparison. The strings feel slightly more airy and the vocals feel slightly colder overall. At the 3 minute mark, as I kind of guessed, the AKG doesn't seem to have the same type of separation but was still enjoyable over all. Surprisingly the organ at the 7 minute mark does not sound recessed though the bass and percussions do suffer a bit in comparison to the JVG. Overall though, the AKG performed better than I expected.
To finish things off on audio comparison I figured it would be good to use the music track I've listened to the most to for many years with many devices and many different headphones.
The bass beat at the start feels a bit recessed and that recessed feeling seems to continue once the other instruments join. The percussion feels pleasant and not-strident which is very important as headphones that perform highs or mid-highs poorly can make it harder to appreciate this track. Shara Nelson's vocals are as smooth as a baby's bottom and feel very present but not overwhelming. Every single string instrument is rendered beautifully and nothing feels like its ever subtracted either from them or the other instruments as they play. I may be wrong but I think these are currently my best headphones for listening to this particular track.
Compared to the Grado SR125 (with coin mod): The highs feel harsher which makes it harder to appreciate this particular track and overall the lows and strings are in comparison recessed. While the vocals still feel very pleasant the high percussions feel more aggressive and don't have the warmness of the lows to sooth it.
Compared to the AKG k450: While the lows are much more present and the overall sound signature is more similar to the JVC it overall feels more airy and less present. The vocals seem to lack the extra dimension that they seemed to gain on the JVC and the string instruments, while distinguishable, feel more recessed. If I was grading how the three headphones compare in how pleasant this track sounds on them though, the AKG would be my second choice.
Alas most headphones have an Achilles heel and comfort is the JVC's. When I first received these headphones, roughly three years ago, their clamping force was so great that using them for upwards of 15 minutes was uncomfortable. To try to resolve this issue, I left them over-night around a group of stacked books and this diminished the problem somewhat, however, given the fact that the ear pieces only swivel in one direction you might find these headphones uncomfortable unless you have ears that sit very flush against your head, unfortunately mine don't.
While I feel that how comfortable a headphone feels is part of it's design since comfort is a category that the headphones here are specifically rated-on I will focus more on the aesthetic, function and build-quality of the device on the following paragraphs.
Ease of drive
These headphones are among the most efficient I own. Compared to the Grado SR125, the AKG K450 and the Fischer Audio FA-003 they are the easiest to drive and one of the best sounding. While they do benefit significantly from headphone amps it is not required to have one in order to appreciate it's sound quality.
Aesthetic and build
The HA-S500 are an almost-entirely plastic set of headphones. Outside of some painted screws and a metal hinge that sits in the middle-portion of the headband there are no other visible metal parts. The headband, along with most of the headphone have a matte-black finish. The ear-cups are an exception as they are a glossy and shinny metal in the case of my unit:
(I apologise for the mediocre image quality as I didn't feel like getting my mirrorless camera and also wanted to test out the image quality and editing capabilities of my new phone)
These headphones are also available in a few other finishes as you can see in the following image:
You will have difficulty finding these headphones in all of the finishes above. At the time I purchased them I was unable to find the finish I wanted at a reasonable price so I settled for the ones I got but your mileage may vary. Do note that on the version I have with the glossy plastic ear-cups, they are finger-print magnets as you'll be able to see on a picture further on.
Regardless of which finish or model you end up getting I find them attractive headphones, mostly due to the ear-cup aesthetic which is simple but elegant.
There is a split cable for each driver (there had to be due to the way the middle of the headband folds) but a nice design detail is that on the headband there is braille for "L" and "R" respectively along with embossed "left" "right" below them. If you have any friends or acquaintances that are non-sighted, this is a small characteristic which they would appreciate.
Ear-cups, Ear-pads and comfort
The ear-cups can swivel 360 degrees vertically, but they can only do so in one direction: inwards, which does nothing to alleviate the pressure that you may start to feel at the top part of your ear after a period of use. They can also fall flat however, they only fold slightly less than 90 degrees. While this improves their portability they do not feel comfortable if you are wearing them around your neck. I find it more comfortable to not fold the earcups if I want to have them around my neck. Like the vertical swivel, these headphones only fold in one direction which also puts pressure on the top part of your ears. The AKG K450, which share similar portability and form-factor allow the ear-cups to be slightly diagonal but the JVC can only be worn with the ear-cups completely perpendicular to each other, at least horizontally.
In terms of comfort the ear-pads are also far from being the most comfortable I've used. Although I think that on their own they are of decent quality and haven't shown significant signs of tear or use after three years, they are quite harder than the AKG and aren't particular thick. If they were slightly softer in terms of cushioning and perhaps a bit thicker I think the headphone would be a lot more significant. Although the ear-pads are replaceable I'm not certain which others would fit these and if they would alleviate the comfort issues significantly.
The cable is a non-removable 1.2meter cable that ends in an angled mini-plug. The plastic surrounding the plug is rather thin so they should fit most devices with any type of protective casing.
One of the better aspects of this phone's design is its portability. Thanks to its swivelling mechanisms it is able to fold itself into a flat and relatively compact form that is able to fit on any kind of carrying case effortlessly, even my thin laptop bag that only has a thin sleeve at the front.
Here is a size comparison between them folded and an iPhone 5 (also note the fingerprints on one of the ear cups):
None. Not even a small paper tissue to wipe your tears of joy when you hear how nice these sound.
Value and overall conclusion
At the time of writing this, these headphones cost roughly half of what I paid for them three years ago on Amazon, even less on some Chinese exporting websites. They cost me, when I purchased them, roughly half of what I paid for the AKG K450 and about a third of the Fischer Audio FA-003. While they don't reach the level of quality of the Fischer Audio, they are significantly better, in audio quality, than the AKG K450 and many other headphones I've tried over the years around the $100 price point.
I feel that if these headphones had better construction quality and their comfort issues solved, with better ear-cup swivelling and softer pads, that they could easily compete in the $100/$150 price range in terms of sound-quality. I have compared these to various other headphones at differing price points and just like the Fischer Audio FA-003 (aka Brainwavz HM5) I strongly feel that the JVC HA-S500 definitely punch above their selling price.
If you are looking for a headphone for long comfortable hearing sessions there are better options on the market, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a $32 headphone with better sound than this one.
Pros - Sound, lows, DYNAMICS!!! Amazing value for money ratio.
Cons - No in-line controls, no carry case, doesn´t feel sturdy.
I bought this product via eBay, paid a ridiculous 33 dollars for it, from Japan, shipping included. They are almost free, but only available in Japan. Here are my brief expressions. I opened the really simple package, plugged them in my Fiio, switched on... And I´ve been blown away. Seriously, after reading lots of very positive reviews, and despite the low price, my expectations were pretty high. And these cans could live up to them, quite easily. They are simply amazing, Very dynamic, lively, full-bodied sound. Of course, they aren´t perfect. The highs are a bit coloured, the mids aren´t neutral too, on really high level the sound gets slightly distorted, but we´re talking about a set of 30 dollar cans. If someone is looking for a more than affordable set of cans with great sound, don´t even look further. Just order, and enjoy. Seriously, i´ve got a nice collection of headphones from cheap to pretty expensive, but i´ve heard some 150$ phones which weren´t as enjoyable as these ones. Especially, if you have a cheaper DAP, with highly compressed MP3´s or so, you will love these cans as they can add certain dynamics to flat sounding recordings too. I love this product, was probably my greatest buy ever. Well, about the cons, As i said, the sound isn´t really neutral, sound is not for everyone (not totally linear), no in-line controls, and it doesn´t seem too sturdy, the plastic hinges won´t last long i guess, but maybe i´m wrong. But for 33 bucks... So, order it, and enjoy it. You will.
Pros - Perfect combination of highs, mids, lows with very good clarity.
Cons - For an on-ear it's almost flawless. Could probably use more soundstage but it's pretty good for an on-ear.
These have been my main headphones for a long time. Their simplicity combined with their excellent sonic character and relatively cheap price make them legendary headphones. There's a reason they have a cult following.
Cons - build quality not equal to this f/p rate.Not comfortable because of PADS.
Sounds quality is really god i have to say this. This headphone is undisputed wonderfull I wish i can say these words to comfort. But i cant say this. Because pads are killing me and my ears. I dont want to change it but i must i guess.
What is my advise/advice?
You must buy it if you have enought money and you cant give more than this for a headphone
Pros - fun sounding, very detailed, portable, folds up, smooth treble (non-fatiguing), easy to drive.
Cons - uncomfortable for long periods of use, some may find them too bassy (i don't), a carrying case would've been nice.
If you're looking for a good portable with excellent sound, go buy these now. I said now. Why are you still reading this? I said go buy it!
I would like to start by saying that those can usually be found between $30-$70.
I got mine for $40 and payed $15 for shipping. And trust me when i say, this is one of the best $55 i have spent on audio equipment.
Ever since i got these, i never left the house without them. Ever. They are very convenient and portable. I take them with me to the gym or occasionally for jogging, and they do a perfect job of staying on my head without falling off.
Just some headphone photography before i begin
Outstanding for the price. If you held it in your hands you wouldn't say its a $50 headphone. Even though they are mostly made of plastic, I am sure they can take a beating. As i said previously, they fold up and are easy to store anywhere. They can sometimes even fit my pocket.
If they can fit in my hands, they can probably fit in yours too because my hands are not that big anyway.
The first couple of hours i tried the S500's, they were very uncomfortable to the point that i had to take them off every 20-30 minutes. That being said, they do get more comfortable the more you wear them. They have been with me for a 2 weeks now and they only get uncomfortable after say 1-2 hours of use. My ears are probably small/average size, and they are fairly comfortable to me. Clamping pressure is also not that bad. I actually wish they could clamp a little more so that i can move my head up and forth with more freedom.
Those are only 32ohms and have a sensitivity of 106/1mW. Straight out of my phone and tablet, the volume is usually between %40-%50. On my laptop, its approximately on %20. Yes, %20 is loud enough for me. Even %40 on my laptop would deafen me. To conclude, I'd say amping is very unnecessary, unless you want to go REALLY loud. Personally, I still use my FiiO E11 with them simply because i can boost the bass for that extra oomph whenever i want.
Don't let the low price tag fool you. I consider the sound quality of these on par with my ATH-M50's if not better. Overall these have a fun sound signature with emphasis on the bass. Some will say the treble is recessed but i say its just smooth and non-fatiguing.
Astonishing. The detail on these is on-par with my M50's, sometimes even better! All that without being assaulted by harsh/strident treble. Micro-details are easily heard and you wouldn't believe this is from a $50 headphone.
For all you bass lovers out there like me, this can is perfect for you. The bass extends really deep and sub-bass capabilities are excellent. Out of the box, you will notice that the bass is boomy and uncontrolled. Give it some time. After a week or so, the bass gets much more controlled and becomes more well-defined. Is it enough bass for a basshead? No. I am a mini-basshead myself and at times i usually use the bass boost on my E11. I don't get the talk about the crazy amounts of bass these have. The bass is definitely not overbearing to the point of giving you a headache and its not lacking either. I find it perfect for the genres i listen to (drum and bass, vocal trance, hardstyle).
Simply put, the midrange is very nice. A little recessed if you are coming from a midrange-forward can. But for $50, can't complain.
Here is where things get messy for some. This can has been accused of being an overly dark, congested sounding headphone. I strongly disagree. I think the treble is wonderful and extends all the way up there without being fatiguing nor harsh. Not a hint of sibilance here. The treble is very smooth and unfatiguing. I can listen to this can all day without my ears getting tired.
Pros - PRICE, awesome sound, is very capable for all songs, dont look half bad
Cons - Comfort may be an issue for some (not for me), wish cords were detachable but can't complain for this price
These are my first pair of cans and straight out of the package they look pretty amazing. When I first put them on I thoroughly enjoyed what i heard. Works well for bluesy songs and there is an emphasis on bass but not incredibly bass heavy by any means. After a few hours of use, they are just getting better and better!
Pros - Price! They are basically free! Portability, they fold up really nicely. Bang for buck! Fun sound with slight emphasis on bass!
Cons - The black version has been know to chip (wear). Can be uncomfortable during prolonged use.
I got these straight from Japan via Tenso right as Dsnuts got the hype train rolling last fall. Bought 3 pairs, of which I gave one to a colleague (yes,they are so inexpensive you can just give them away!) and one to my brother in law, and luckily, I kept a pair myself! I have an ongoing love-affair with these headphones! Higher end portables (Sennheiser HD 25-1 II, ATH ES700 etc.) has come into the picture since I first go these, and while the ES700's are my go-to portables today, I still tend to get drawn back to the HA-s500's from time to time. There is just something so engaging and fun about these headphones that I can't seem to let go of. Luckily, I don't have to
These are built with portability in mind! They fold up to a really nicely and will easily fit in my coat pocket. The body is all plastic, which is understandable considering the price (did I mention these are cheap?). They do however not feel cheap! I've read that someone had issues with the black version chipping and wearing. My gunmetal versions (-Z) don't have that issue however, and if I polish them a bit, they still look like new. The cable is semi-flat and feels solid. My units do however have one tiny issue (might be design issue) and that is the cable exits on the earcups. These are a tad loose and that can result in some cable crackling when walking. Will be probably try to resolve this with a mod later on, but as I said, it's a tiny issue.
I personally find these quite comfortable, but as with any supra-aural headphone, they do sit on your ear, and this may or may not work for you. When I first started using on ear headphones I was quite sensitive to the constant pressure on the ears. But as time has passed, my ears seem to have adapted to this pressure and I no longer have a problem with wearing on ears even for hours on end at work etc. I personally find that the s500's nowadays just disappear on my head and after an hour or so I'll be checking if I'm actually wearing them or my DT700's (I know this is a bold comparison as the DT770 are extremely comfortable, but it has happened a few times so I figured I'd mention it). They are also really light weight so that should not be an issue for anyone. But when it comes to comfort, I'd advise readers to get a few second opinions from the The JVC HA-S500.. Appreciation, fan thread.
Appearance and style
I really like the way the HA-s500's look when worn. I have no problem wearing them in public, on my way to work etc. The don't have the shallowest of cups, so they do stick out on the sides of your head a bit. The gunmetal version look awesome in profile.
This will pretty much be to most bang for buck you will ever get from a headphone, EVER! I can't emphasize enough how much you are getting for less than 50$! If possible I'd give them a 6/5 for value! Everyone should own at least 1 pair of HA-s500's, just because they are so insanely inexpensive (I'll have to stop using the word cheap when describing these!).
The most important aspect of any headphone, and this is why the HA-s500's have a 6000+ post appreciation thread. I've said it before and I'll say it again, they are one of the most fun sounding headphones I've ever tried. You won't get the sparkling highs and the forward mids of the ES700's. But you will get a smooth laid back sound that is not dark nor bright, but warm and above all, engaging and non-fatiguing. The bass is emphasized and the extension is astonishing for a pair of headphones in this price range. I just tested them with onlinetonegenerator.com and got a clean tone out of them all the way down to 19Hz. They are easily driven by any DAP, but if you are a basshead, I'd recommend you try amping them with an amp that sports a bass boost function. When I play them through my Fiio E17 and boost the bass all the way up to +10 the headphones will literally rattle. The CNT driver seem to handle just about any amount of bass without clipping! I'm 100% sure that my ears will start clipping long before these headphones do. I do however hope that no one tries to prove me wrong! Listen at moderate and safe levels! You don't want to damage you hearing just because the HA-s500's are capable of doing it! For EDM these are actually still my go to headhones! I think Datsik and Excision were using these headphones in the studio when they made their music
Get a pair! There really is no reason not to! If you don't like them (and I dubt you won't) just give them to a friend!
Cons - Uncomfortable for some, Fork swivels can creak at the end of travel, Carying case or bag would have been nice.
Straight out of Japan, not available in North America, why do the Japanese get all the good toys?
I have had these for just over 2 months now and these are my go to portable headphone.
The S500's are light, compact and I personally do not find them uncomfortable. A very soft headband cushion and your run of the mill pleather ear pads that are firm but not uncomfortably so.
The headband is hinged at the top, extenders stay where they are put, cups are rotatable in a 90 degree arc and the forks fold in half at the swivel. They fold up very nicely and it would have been a great addition if JVC could have included a bag or pouch to carry them in.
I run these through a Colorfly C3, you do not need an amplifier for these as they are very easy to drive. The C3 only has 12mW of output power and I can not turn up the C3 past 30/40 it is just too loud for my ears.
S500's & C3
The tracks for this review were: Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
(Whole Album many times over...)
The whole album sounds great on the S500's, lots of quality bass, which is perfect for this style of music. Vocals are nicely presented, and the treble is not sharp or piercing like some other headphones in my collection.
At the end of the track "Giorgio by Moroder" when DA Sints-sa-ziezer beat slowly decays to nothing, the S500 follows every note right to the end.
Dream Theater - Train of Thought
(Whole album again)
The first track "As I Am" The vocals are right there in front of you with LaBrie sounding like an imitation Hetfield.
I sat with a coffee on the deck and really enjoyed the rest of the album.
I didn't take the S500's off throughout the whole listening session, and never felt any discomfort afterward.
The balance on these between Bass and Mids is great, I am not a fan of sharp or piercing Treble, luckily these do not have any of that.
These are a good all rounder for many types of music from Progressive Metal to the new Daft Punk Funk.
Infected Mushroom sounds great on these as well.
If you are looking for a great set of Supra-aural headphones then you owe it to yourself to check them out, you will be surprised.
Pros - They sound amazing, especially for the price
Cons - Not comfortable enough for a long listening session
Well, when I first used these, I used them in the same place I'd expect myself to continue using these, on the go from place to place, and while at places outside the home. When I first plugged them in, I was planning on letting them burn in for 10, 15 minutes, but I couldn't resist and decided to listen less then 5 seconds after starting that process. I pressed random on my music player, and I was greeted with an 8 bit chiptune track. The first thing I noticed was the slightly recessed treble. Not recessed to the point of disappointment, but it was recessed. The treble contains a very smooth quality overall, making any higher pitched instruments sound laid back and calming. I liked it! So I moved on to the next song. Levels by Avicii. Might I say, the bass on these is glorious. Very powerful. the synths are pretty strong a well.
Next was Small Two of Pieces. Sadly, I wasn't as entertained by this song as I am on the HD 280s. After going through some more songs, it turns out that these things don't play female voices as well as I hoped. Male voices are amazing, though. The next song was Baba Yetu. It was at this point I realized that these just don't have enough treble and upper mids for orchestral music, and female vocals. I've designed an EQ for those songs, but I'll more often then not be turning to my 280s for that. It makes me sad, because orchestral is my favorite genre. Baba Yetu does have male vocals, and they are very well textured and detailed. Male vocals work better here then on my 280s. At times, the male vocalists can get slightly muddy, but that could easily be the mastering of the music more then the headphones.
Next up was a few Queen songs. Many songs are handled very well here. I like it. First up was "Is this the World we created". I loved the acoustic guitar on this track on these. Very nice and laid back when called for it to be. Freddie Mercury's voice is well presented here. Next up was "Somebody to Love." YES! This is amazing. Better then my 280s. Lovely. No others words could describe my feelings when this song came on. Its just exactly what I want when I listen to this song. I was there. I MELTED INTO THIS SONG! I don't know if this is what is meant when people say transparency, but jeez, man, I jumped up and started singing, no, belting the lyrics along with the song. At this point in the session, I felt that if I could only have one song to listen to on these headphones, it would be this.
After about 30 minutes of music there is when I realized a huge problem. These things are painful to the ears. They are so uncomfortable. I thought I'd be fine, I own the HD 280s, and those things clamp down hard on your head. These things don't clamp, but man, the earpads feel like bricks on your ears. It's actually helpful to wear these backwards, which I find strange. Its caused by the fact the headphones can't swivel so that they'll angle themselves to follow the ears. If you wear them backwards, the angle can conform to the ear. It only helps a little. EDIT: Later I found out that these are very position oriented. Depending on how you rest them on your ears will change how they feel to you, so they can be much more comfortable later on.
So I've now used these for 3 hours in total. They don't seem to have a burn in like people keep saying. I am getting more used to the sound signature, which is making them sound better and better, but the drivers themselves aren't physically changing from what I can tell. Maybe the burn is is really that slow, but I'm doubting it'll change much past this. I like it anyways, so it doesn't mean much to me.
I ended up listened to a hard rock song. These things pull you in there, too. such strong and powerful drums. I just listened
to "Welcome to the Black Parade". That also sounds great on these. These kind of made me want to jump up and dance. I don't like dancing when I listen to headphones, I like to sit calmly and think. Kind of backwards from my normal listening style. I guess that is why these are called" fun" over my normal "analytical" headphones.
Later on, I finally decided to listen to the genre I had bought these for, dubstep. When I say these things have bass. I mean they have BASS! So much bass it is unfathomable to me. I have to turn the bass down after 5 minutes because it is so strong here. Wow. But it sounds GREAT! These things are designed for techno. When I said I would only listen to "Somebody to Love", I didn't realize how well these handles dubstep! I'm loving it! Once again, these have incredibly strong drums. I will definitely be using these to make sure the tracks I make have strong enough drums. I love that these things aren't lacking in all the detail I wanted, like I was expecting them to. The instruments are really well done on here, with the midbass and the lower mids making them sound really full. I'm not used to that, the 280s have really weak lower mids and midbass. Tons of subbass, though.
I decided to get goofy and listen to some country music. It actually sounds really good. I then tried some gospel music. Also great. These things can handle almost anything that you throw at them... Unless you want orchestral. Now, these can be EQed to handle orchestral pretty well, but not as well as I was hoping.
If you like rock music, whether that be acoustic ballads or metal, these are great. If you like electronic music, especially dubstep, get these. If you like orchestral music, and female vocals, these might not be the best in the price range. You'll want something with strong upper mids. and stronger treble. Closer to neutral then these. These things aren't overly comfortable. Without good positioning, you will start to feel fatigue minutes into wearing them. Once positioned well, they can be worn for 2 to 3 hours at a time. Also, I'm kind of concerned about the build quality. I don't know if I'm going to be able to throw these haphazardly into a backpack like I was hoping I could.
I give it 2.5/5 for comfort, 2.5/5 for build quality, and 8/10 for sound. Man, do I love this sound. If you can (magically) stand the comfort, or get a pad mod, please go get these!
Pros - Sound quality, easy to mod, memory foam headband
Cons - Treble is a little recessed, pads are a little hard.
These babies were great right out of the box, and for the price, I definitely suggest them for anyone on a budget, or just anyone in general! Sound The sound on these is great, good bass, smooth mids, but slightly recessed treble. I did a few mods on these: put felt in the cups to tighten the bass and reduce sound leak (which was definitely present), and then I covered two of the bass vents to increase bass. I also used the treble booster on my iPod to fix the treble problem and they sound great now. Also, the sound is super-crisp.
Comfort These are pretty comfortable, but the pads are a little hard. For less than $5 you can buy replacement pleather pads on eBay, the cans get a little hot after a while with the pleathers but they are more comfortable. And the memory foam headband pad is great.
Notes 32 Ohms Easy to mod Great purchase! I bought these for $45, I selected express shipping (total $70) and I had a $25 gift card. Arrived 5 days after ordering. Shipped from Aoyama & CO. Price drop soon after arrival