Noontec Hammo S Over Ear Headphone Audiophile Sound Stylish Looking Votrik 50mm Driver SCCB technology High Definition Portable Foldable Comfortable ( - Reviews
Pros: Sturdy, solid folding design, light-weight, hard-shell case
Cons: Folding headband can pinch finger, a bit bright-sounding, sub-bass needs more presence and articulation
Introduction
I was invited by Noontec to write a honest review of their Hammo S headphone. 
 
I tend to be very skeptical about lower-priced headphones, since the bottom tier of headphones/speakers tend to sound anywhere from abysmal to just okay, with extremely few examples of actually sounding pretty good. At around $109 USD, the Hammo S isn’t the cheapest pair of circumaural headphones you can buy, but generally speaking, headphones around the $100 mark are relatively low in the hierarchy of headphones. Typically, you’d have to spend closer to a couple hundred dollars to get to the good headphones, few to several hundred dollars to get to the really good headphones, and go over the $1,000 mark if you want to get into the great headphones. And it’s only once you into the range of a few thousand dollars do you reach the best-of-the-best headphones available. 
 
There have been some legendary headphones that sound quite good despite being relatively cheap, and Noontec has officially chosen the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X to compete directly against—to the point of including a comparison sheet in the packaging that lists the specifications of the Hammo S against the M50X, stating that it is both better and cheaper than the M50X (but ironically, the listed specifications have nothing to do with actual audible sound quality). Personally, I’m not a fan of that type of hostile marketing—it feels a bit petty—but I understand the logic behind it. At the same time, when you draw attention to a competitor’s product in such a way, you better bring your best game and make sure you kick your competitor’s ass in every way. Is the Hammo S better than the M50X in every way? Nope. Is it better in some ways? Yes. 
 
(Disclaimer: I have the M50, not M50X, but the two are supposed to sound extremely similar, and Audio-Technica says there shouldn’t be any differences between the sound of the two models, and M50X’s changes don’t affect the sound.)
 
Ergonomics, design, accessories
Physically, I like the Hamm S’s very light weight (significantly lighter than the M50). For such a light weight headphone it also looks and feels quite sturdy. I was sent the blue/orange variant (the orange is actually a more earthy vermillion, unlike the bright orange shown in the marketing photos, unless they’ve changed the color since those photos were taken), and it’s not my first pick (I would have preferred the white/orange or black/red), but it’s not ugly either. In fact, it appears to be directly taken from the M50X’s blue/vermillion variant. 
 
The folding mechanism feels very solid, with a sharp click that locks into place. Be extremely careful when unfolding the headphone though—I accidentally pinched the side of a finger and it hurt like hell. IMO, this can be considered a design flaw, but once you’ve been pinched, you’ll always be a little scared when unfolding the headphone, which means it’s unlikely you’ll get pinched again since you’ll be paying extra attention. The M50X does not have this problem.
 
The headphone fits pretty well and is fairly comfortable, with the earcups just big enough to not touch my ears. It’s not as comfortable as some of the headphones I’ve had/have, where you feel like the headphone is actually caressing your head/face with its snug softness, but it’s certainly more comfortable than some of the bad ones that you just can’t wait to get off of your head. I would say it’s about in the middle. The pleather earpads will get hot and sweaty, but then this is reasonable for the price point (the M50X has the same issue).
 
There are two audio cables provided—one with a push button microphone, and one without. I have no need for the microphone so I use the one without. In comparison, the M50X gives you three cable choices—two regular cables of different lengths (no mic button), and one coiled able. You also get a mini jack to ¼” adapter. Which accessories offering you prefer would depend on what your needs are. 
 
Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50X’s physical design, ergonomics, and accessories have both pros and cons compared to the Hammo S. Other than what I already mentioned, here are a few more comparisons:
 
I prefer the hard-shell case of the Hammo S over the soft pouch of the M50X, since it provides superior protection. But, the soft pouch doesn’t take up as much space when storing the headphone, and if you don’t need to worry about the headphone getting crushed (these headphones are quite sturdy already), the pouch is the better choice. 
 
I prefer folding design of the Hammo S because it’s more straightforward, whereas the M50X’s earcups can rotate so far out of orientation that it takes a moment to get them back into the correct position. If you don’t need to use the headphone with only one earcup at a time like a DJ, then the Hammo S’s folding design is easier to handle (but beware of the finger-pinching problem I mentioned—it really is very painful). 
 
Sound
As for the sound of the Hammo S, it’s actually quite good for its price point. The first impression is that the sound is well-balanced, and don’t exhibit the typical cheap headphone problems like horribly bloated/muddy bass (or totally anemic and lacking any substance in the lower frequencies), shrill upper mids that are sibilant and make the ears hurt, and fake details achieved by boosting the treble to artificial levels of hardness (or so little treble articulation that there’s no air at all). 
 
One noticeable issue with the sound is the slight excessive brightness in the 4 KHz region (not nearly as bad as some of the really bright headphones out there, but it's still brighter than neutral). After just a short period of time there would be a bit of listening fatigue, due to the spike in the sibilance region (particularly with music that's mastered on the brighter side). In comparison, the M50 does not have a problem with excessive brightness (though its treble is slightly hard-etched, but not fatiguing since it’s not in the sibilance region). I can tame the Hammo S’s brightness easily by using a parametric EQ and lowering the 4 KHz region by a few dB’s, but of course, we ideally prefer not to have to EQ our headphones—especially when it’s to tame a problem that causes listening discomfort. My number one rule for audio reproduction is to “do no harm.” If a headphone or speaker has to err on one side, I much prefer it to err on the side of being warmer than being too bright, as warmth does not hurt our ears, while excessive brightness feels like getting pieced in the eardrum with tiny daggers. 
 
The other issue with the Hammo S, is the lack of articulation in the bass region. Listening to songs with the upright bass shows this problem clearly, where the pluck of the strings on the upright bass sounds muffled, lacking the clarity that should be there. In comparison. The M50 produces the attack of the upright bass notes much more clearly, despite it being a headphone known to have slightly boosted bass. Hammo S’s sub-bass extension is good, but doesn’t quite have the authoritative presence needed to create the feeling of solid grounding in the listening experience (again, M50 does this better, even if the sub-bass is slightly more prominent than neutral). Mind you, I’m not saying the sub-bass of the Hammo S needs to be excessive. For example, the Audeze LCD-2 reproduces very neutral and accurate sub-bass frequencies, remaining ruler flat down to 20 Hz, and it sounds authoritative and substantial while being neutral and articulate. But that headphone also costs almost ten times more than the Hammo S. The M50X is very close in price to the Hammo S though, and if sub-bass presence and articulation matters to you, it's the better choice.
 
Conclusion
In conclusion, Noontec Hammo S is a pretty good pair of headphones for $109 USD. It does not beat the Audio-Technical ATH-M50X (its officially chosen competitor) in terms of sound quality, but in some ways, the Hammo S’s ergonomics is better. It’s up to you what you think is more important. For me, sound quality is top priority, so I would spend a little more for the M50X (especially that the street price is a lot lower than the MSRP). 
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takato14
takato14
"But actually listening to the headphones"
 
Listening == subjective. Measurements == objective. I don't doubt for a second that the Hammo is the brighter sounding of the two, but it still measures better overall than the M50X. 
 
The brightness you're talking about is almost definitely the ringing on the impluse response. You could probably get rid of it if you wanted to. Different pads, open-cell foam, felt, and creatology foam surrounding the driver on the baffle plate are all things that could help tame that ringing. You could also try some internal (inside the earcup) tinkering too, provided you're allowed to keep the review sample. Mass loading the back of the baffle with blutak can reduce the amount of enclosure resonation. Surrounding the driver with it where it mounts to the baffle with blutak might help too, if the ringing is driver-borne.
 
Cheers.
takato14
takato14
Also, just read the part about AT saying the M50 and M50X should be identical... what horse****. 
 
This is the original M50: http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AudioTechnicaATHM50.pdf
 
This is the newer (2012 and later) M50: http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AudioTechnicaATHM50B2012.pdf
 
and of course, the M50X: http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AudioTechnicaATHM50x.pdf
 
All different, the M50X being the best of the three by far. The original was obviously quite awful compared to the newer models: poor bass, ringing galore, and a nasty "N" shaped frequency response. The M50x is significantly less bright than the 2012 M50, has less ringing, and has lower distortion. This is far outside of the realm of normal product variance, especially for a monitor.
Lunatique
Lunatique
@tatato14 - Thanks for the suggestion on the physical mods. I prefer to just use parametric EQ, since physical mods can go wrong and you end up ruining a part that would need to be replaced. 
 
As for what Audio-Technica says about the old and new models, if the M50x is significantly better, then that just means for me, it's even better than the Hammo S than the M50 is. 
 
The truth is, I never would have purchased the Hammo S on my own when there are far superior headphones out there. I only agreed to review it as a favor, and now it's just going to sit in its hard-shell case, probably given away as a gift.
 
BTW, it seems your only real beef with my review is focused on a single word I used--"objective." Would it make any difference to you if you changed that word to "subjective"? 
Pros: good clean sound, good isolation, reasonably portable
Cons: small-ish cups
Full review here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/771679/
 
Here are my closing thoughts from my review:
The HammoS markets itself as a competitor with the M50, but I think that's the wrong comparison. The fit and styling is all Beats, not the M50 (nor other “studio” headphones). Soundwise, I actually think the overall shape is reminiscent of open Sennheisers, except closed if that makes sense.
 
I've reviewed quite a few closed-back headphones in the past that all floated around the $200 range. I feel the HammoS competes quite well against all of them for half the price, and even bests them in some regards. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a gamechanger, but Noontec is certainly setting the bar for good quality at budget prices.
 
Pros: excellent build quality with folding design, comfortable fitment, removable cable, nice accessories, smooth warm sound
Cons: sound lacks some details

Before I start my review, I would like to Thank Noontec for providing me with a review sample of your Hammo S headphones.

 
Still fresh in my mind how I almost missed an opportunity to review Noontec Zoro II HD on-ear headphones, so when opportunity knocked again to review their full size Hammo S over-ear headphones – I didn’t hesitate!  Noontec is one of those less known brands with colorful selection of headphones that some might pass by thinking it’s going to be another “Beats” look-a-like with a common folding design.  Instead, these headphones surprise you with a quality build, great selection of materials, comfortable fitment, and their own custom driver design.  I’m not hyping them up because even Tyll at InnerFidelity was impressed with Zoros.  With Hammo S being one of their flagship models featuring an updated 50mm driver and a refreshed design, here is what I found when I got a chance to test them.
 
Arrived in a sturdy packaging box, I was a bit surprised to see a cover with a half dressed guy with his eyes closed in ecstasy while listening to Hammo S.  Perhaps this is Noontec’s marketing technique to attract ladies to the male dominated audiophile world, especially when it comes to full size headphones.  On the back of the box you can see all the available Hammo S colors, and I have been told that initial launch of this model is going to be in blue, while white/black/red are going to be introduced a little bit later.  As a side comment about colors, judging by a blue/orange one I received – this is not a tacky bright color, but rather a nicely toned down shade.  Though most of my headphones come in black, I actually wouldn’t mind wearing these blue ones outside.
 
Unboxing.
 
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With a box open, here comes the first big surprise.  While Noontec website mentions a drawstring storage bag, inside I found a hard shell case!  Not sure if it was a last minute decision or just a typo on their website, but I’m very pleased they decided to include a quality case with an attached carabiner to accommodate their Hammo S model.  Due to a foldable headphone design, the case is very compact and great for both storage and traveling.  The case has a modern 3D carbon fiber look under a scratch resistant plastic-y finish hard shell.  Inside of the case, you will find a folded Hammo S and removable oval-shaped accessories insert with an elastic pocket.  Ironically, this storage insert is flat, just like the included flat removable cables that come bundled with these headphones.
 
Having removable cables is always a plus, and 3.5mm universal connection opens a door to a lot of 3rd party alternatives.  Here, one cable comes with inline remote/mic and universal multi-function button control (no volume) with a single click for Play/Pause/Call and double click to skip to the next track.  Using it for phone calls was not bad at all, though I find it a bit awkward in general making phone calls with full size headphones on.  But with DAPs such as FiiO X1 or X3ii (or upcoming X5ii), inline remote is supported and will come handy for a remote play/pause and track skipping.  Also included was an "audio" flat cable without remote.  Though I'm usually not a big fan of noodle flat cable, I actually liked this cable a lot because of its thicker shielding and sturdier connectors.
 
Accessories.
 
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Thought the look of Hammo S might remind you a bit of Beats, these are actually more durable and feature their own original design elements, especially around earcups.  The exterior plastic shell of headband goes all the way around and blends in with extendable end-pieces.  Noontec mentions it’s made of a combination of ABS, PC, and nylon, and I found it to provide a nice flexible structure with a comfortable clamping force.  Noontec also states that all bendable parts are made out of aluminum and stainless steel material for added reinforcement.  There are not creaks or squeaks as you bend or twist the headband.  While the color theme is blue outside, on the inside it’s orange, making it a cool combo.  At the top arc of the headband you have a soft padding covered with some kind of a breathable vinyl material (sweat resistant and easy to clean/wipe) for a headband to rest comfortably on top of your head.  Right at the folding joint, you also have an aluminum bracket with latching steel mechanism on the inside.
 
Height adjustment of the headband has a nice clicking action.  The earcup is attached to a floating plate which has some degree of movement to self-adjustment along y-axis, and the earcup itself can swivel a little bit along x-axis.  Between this double-joint adjustment and comfortable soft earpads covered with protein cotton (breathable material), you can get a very comfortable fitment and actually a noticeable passive noise isolation.  I definitely found these headphones to be great for extended period of listening without my ears getting too hot.  They were also comfortable when placed around my neck when not in use.
 
Design.
 
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In my opinion, the build and the quality of full size Hammo S is a notch above on-ear Zoro II HD, which is expected from a flagship model.  But the big question is how do they sound?  After about 50+ hours of burn in to give their 50mm dynamic drivers a proper exercise, here is how I hear it.
 
I found Hammo S to have a balanced warm sound with a slightly v-shaped signature.  In more details, bass extends down to a moderate quantity sub-bass with a nicely textured layer underneath of a less aggressive mid-bass punch.  Don’t get me wrong, mid-bass does has a nice punch but the attack is a bit slower.  Mids are slightly recessed with thicker warmer lower mids and smooth clear upper mids.  I wouldn’t consider upper mids to be very detailed, but they do have a good level of clarity.  Vocals presentation was smooth and organic.  Treble has a nice extension, but it's not too bright or harsh, still very smooth and clear.
 
Soundstage is a little above average, being a bit wider than deeper.  Imaging was above average as well, the same with separation and layering of sounds where I felt it being better at higher volume versus a little more congested at lower volume level.  These are clearly not analytical bright headphones, but rather smooth and relaxed listening headphones.  I actually found their tuning to hit the right sweet spot for my taste, and they would be great for everyday listening of any music genre, but pair up better with a neutral/bright source versus a warmer source.
 
Next to some of my other headphones, here is what I found.
 
- vs Hammo S, ATH-M50x sub-bass doesn't extend as deep and mid-bass is snappier with a faster punch, lower mids are a bit thinner in comparison and upper mids are a little more forward (with the same level of clarity), treble is a bit more detailed and has the same level of extension; I found soundstage to be similar.
 
- vs Hammo S, ATH-MSR7 has a lot less sub-bass and mid-bass has a faster punch, lower mids are thinner, upper mids have a lot more clarity and details, treble is brighter and with a better extension; soundstage is wider.
 
- vs Hammo S, Don Scorpio Dolphin has a similar low end extension with even more aggressive sub-bass (boosted) and a similar mid-bass, lower mids are similar while upper mids are a little more forward and brighter, treble has a better extension; also I found soundstage to be a little bit wider.
 
Conclusion.
 
I think it’s another solid release for Noontec.  It’s easy to be deceived by its bi-color look thinking you are dealing with another pair of headphones that trying to imitate Beats in looks while using a generic off-the shelf driver.  They are clearly trying to appeal more to a younger crowd with its colorful easy on your eyes and wallet design, but they are not pushing too far the agenda of L-shaped or deep V-shaped sound tuning with overwhelming exaggerated bass.  The sound tuning is not as aggressive and more relaxed, warmer and smoother sound with mid-bass being not as fast/punchy and upper mids/treble being not as hot.  In my opinion, they stand comfortably being compared to iconic M50, or actually M50x since cables are removable.  Overall, if you are not a basshead but like a nice sub-bass layer, and if you want a clear smooth sound for extended listening without dealing with sibilant or harsh upper frequencies – you will definitely enjoy Hammo S.  They can’t replace my MSR7 in everyday listening.  When watching movies I usually reach out for either M50x or Dolphins, but I think the next time it’s going to be Hammo S

Tom22
Tom22
Nice review @twister6  which did you prefer the zoro II HD or the hammo S? you did mention the hammos are better built, but wondering if you made any comparisons with their little brothers, which i found to be a fantastic value!
twister6
twister6
@Tom22 : I didn't compare Hammo S and Zoro II HD directly because I found them to be in a different class.  Beside on-ear vs full size over-ear and obvious built improvement (doesn't mean Zoro II HD is not build good, I just like a little sturdier construction of Hammo S and latching mechanism metal instead of plastic/clicky on zoro).  In terms of sound, they are tuned differently as well.  Zoro has less sub-bass, faster mid-bass, and more forward upper mids brining more clarity, while Hammo S has more sub-bass, a little slower mid-bass, and a bit recessed mids.  If compared, I would say Zoro II HD is better for a more critical listening while Hammo S for more relaxed listening.  Both are great and a fantastic value around $100.  You should definitely ask them for review sample :wink:
InternPrimas
InternPrimas
I'd perfer a warmer headphone pair. Like warm (extended lows, good mids, relaxed highs). But I might get hammo s.
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