Superlux HD-681 EVO Black Professional Monitor Headphones

  1. boombox589
    Good price, great sound
    Written by boombox589
    Published Dec 9, 2013
    Pros - Durable, Fantastic sound, Large diaphragm, Interchangeable cords, Insanely comfortable
    Cons - Bulky? To be expected with the diaphragm size though
    This will be a short synopsis of my findings after a few weeks with these. 
    What they come with: First of all, they are shipped with a good deal of extras, including a longer studio-aimed cord, and a shorter portable one, a carrying bag, an adapter to 1/4 inch, and velour earpads.
    How they sound: With velour earpads, a bit distant and tinny. With the flatter, normal ones, they sound more open and pleasant. It's a comfort for sound trade-off. I wouldn't say the sound very neutral or natural, because it is markedly V-sounding with hyped bass and treble. Closest sound I can reference is that of the ATH-M50s, except I prefer these - treble, albeit hyped, seems more authentic to me in the Superlux than in the M50s. (Be it said, the M50s I listened to were close to new). Excellent sound stage, very good implementation of the partial open-back design with 50mm drivers. Sound leakage is, as is to be expected, noticeable, more so out than in surprisingly. I use them as a quick reference in mixing, just to see if anything's blatantly wrong with the highs of a track, if I can't use my monitors (usually night work, when I can't really use speakers). They, together with my NVX-XPT100 (Fischer Audio Fa-003 clones), give a decent view of the midrange with the NVX and the bass and treble with the Superlux. So in a nutshell, tastefully hyped. Acoustic music sings on these, as do other genres to a similar extent, with tight bass and clear treble. Also none of the widely dreaded shrill sibilance in highs of the former HD 681s to report, nor are the highs excessively rolled off. Good balance.
    How they're built:
    They are of plastic construction, but none of it seems like it will give way. Flexible but sturdy, they should survive a fair amount of wear. The fit I found to be fantastic, the self-adjusting band at the top worked very well, and they do feel nearly weightless on your head, that is until you really forget that they're there and scrape them against a doorframe - as I said, they are somewhat comically immense. These are definitely for home use, or perhaps in a loud environment only because you wouldn't disturb anyone with sound leakage, but you wouldn't be hearing much either. These are truly best in a quiet room where no one takes issue with your taste in music. The velour earpads are also a great touch, they add a great deal of comfort, at the somewhat noticeable expense of sound. 
    How they look:
    Well, this is debatable. To some, they may seem pretentious, especially in white. Pretentious or not, they certainly do make a statement. Reminiscent in design to the SteelSeries Siberia v2 headset, these draw attention based on their looks and size. I have worn these in public, and they get a fair amount of comments. The most common is an incredulous face, followed by "what could you possibly need those for?". They are rather out of their element on the street, perhaps more because of the lack of sound isolation than of their size.
    Brilliant, but hyped sound, in my opinion similar but possibly superior to that of the ATH M50s. They're worth M50 money as well, but cost a laughable amount. Insane value that I assume isn't yet generating noise because these are still fairly new, with few reviews on Amazon and not that much time on the market. Sound enthusiasts and even some producers can appreciate these. Obligatory disclaimer: yes, I realize that you cannot master with headphones. No one really should. But if you're still working on a mix, and have to keep it down, and need to check your treble for obvious issues, these do the job. Better, again, in my opinion, than ATH M50s (and the ATH M-lineup in general) and Sony MDR-7506, all of which I have had ample time with. Having said that, don't take my word for it, give these and some others a listen if you can and decide for yourself.
      trellus likes this.
    1. lisagorbin
      Really? Until now, this stands true for you? i mean i got a budget well over 50$ but if this is the case then i will get the evo if it is close to m50 and save my money for something else.
      lisagorbin, Jan 11, 2014
    2. boombox589
      For what I do, yes. I could see how some would prefer the M50s for certain types of acoustic music, but honestly from what I remember of the M50s, my (well burnt in) evos sound rather similar. Acoustic rock, pop, and the sort, as expected, sound brilliant. Of course a lot of that would depend on the amp (if any) that you're using, your DAC, etc., etc. 
      boombox589, Jan 12, 2014
  2. golgi
    Amazing for the price!
    Written by golgi
    Published Nov 25, 2013
    Pros - Soundstage, bass, clear, and detailed, amazingly inexpensive
    Cons - out of the box clamping force was high before i modified them
    My old headphones that I used at work were starting to show their age. I started doing some researching online to see what were some recommended low-cost headphones.  I kept seeing the name Superlux come up but I had never heard of this brand before.  After doing some reading about the Superlux lineup, I decided I would try out the 681 Evo's since they address some of the issues the older versions had.  

    When I received the headphones, the packaging looked pretty nice for such inexpensive headphones.  Then I opened the box and was very impressed with the build quality on these.   In my opinion they're not far behind my Sennheiser 580s in build quality!  

    The head clamping force was uncomfortable for me but this is very easy to address.  You just stretch the headphones apart and then rubber bands that give them top headband it's clamping force, come unhooked.  After this, they are very comfortable to wear for hours on end. Even while wearing glasses!  However, my Sennheiser 580s are still more comfortable.
    Initially the sound was very flabbily and boomy.  I broke them in with about 120 hours of non stop music. Then I played pink noise on them for around 32 hours.  The sound after this break in changed drastically for the better!  I use these on a daily basis plugged in directly into a Mac Pro's headphone jack. At home, I did try them with my Little Dot MK3 and found very little benefit to amplifying these headphones. I think they work very well without amplification.  
    I tried these headphones plugged into my Macbook Air, and the sound quality wasn't as good as plugged into my Mac Pro or Little Dot MK3. So actually, these do seem to benefit from some amplification. I just didn't realize that there was such a big difference in sound output between the Mac Pro and Macbook Air. 

    I paid $52 for these including shipping.  I've had them for a couple months and have no regrets.  The only thing is that mine didn't come with the extra velour pads. Eventually I'd like to buy some and try them out.  Right now, I'm very satisfied with these headphones and I'm in no hurry to modify them. 
  3. Dorien
    Amazing value for a small budget
    Written by Dorien
    Published Aug 16, 2013
    Pros - Clear, natural sound, nice bass, wide soundstage, fixed treble
    Cons - Cable issues, bulky design
    These cans need cc. 50-100 hours burn-in time to give you the best performance. Their sound is very good for the price. In some cases I even prefer them to my girlfriend's Sennheiser HD-650 (you can buy ~10 EVOs for its price), because the EVO has a very natural, realistic sound, while the highs of the HD-650 are rolled back and it sounds a bit artificial to me sometimes. Unfortunately there were several reported issues with the cables, Superlux should pay more attention to fix these. My first EVO had a contact failure in the right channel, but my friend could fix it easily. The biggest problem of the earlier models, the piercing, hissing highs are fortunately not present anymore, the treble is clear and not fatiguing in the EVO. It works fine with some portable players, but has volume issues with others. The impedance is only 32 ohm, but the sensitivity is quite low. It is really bulky and looks stupid on the street. But for home use...
      SoFGR, alflying and vinhcomputer like this.
  4. wafflezz
    Best audio experience I've ever had
    Written by wafflezz
    Published May 30, 2013
    Pros - Great soundstage, detailed, neutral, CHEAP
    Cons - none really, comfort could be better, portability
    First off, this is my first review on this site and I'm by no means an audiophile(still a noob with this stuff, so take what I say lightly/offer suggestions)
    I got interested in high quality sound about a year ago.
    My first "real" pair of headphones was the ath m50 so I'm going to be comparing these to those and maybe a few other earbuds and whatnot that I've also picked up

    Build Quality
    Initially, out of the box these looked really good. They are detachable, and come with two cables out of the box. One is like 10ft(previously said 5, it's actually much longer.) and the other is shorter. The headband has bumps on the top like the akg701 but they don't bother me at all. They're very nice and don't drive into your head like the k701s. They have pleather earpads, probably exchangeable with dt770 velours. They don't rattle a lot, and only for a little while did they *creak* a bit when I moved my head around but much less than my m50s.  For 40$, heck for the full retail price...they look legit

    The comfort at first for these was very weird. I wasn't used to any headphone like this so the self adjusting headband was confusing but eventually I got that. Also, they initially clamped down pretty hard. The pleather pads really hurt my ears but when I moved them around and after a lot of use they are very comfy. Overall they have *slightly* less comfort than my m50s but less clamping force and they don't get as hot. I can wear these for hours with no problem.

    annd finally...the sound
    These are paired up with a simple fiiO e7

    My Gosh. I felt like I robbed someone when I bought these for this price. Simply amazing.
    At first, with no burn in out of the box these sounded pretty neutral. They sounded somewhat similar to my sennheiser 428s. However, something was missing, they were....congested.
    The sound was all cluttered together and was "robotic" if that makes sense

    With some burn in, everything changed.
    The bass went DEEP. The instrument separation was amazing. Not only could I hear background sounds that I never heard before, I could hear them throughout the entire frequency response.

    Now for the comparison on how they perform compared to the famous m50
    Despite being semi open, the 681 evo has good bass response. There is no or very little mid bass hump, and the sub bass doesn't die down until about 25hz or so. They extend deep, very deep for what they are.
    The ath m50 has more bass and is more impactful, but the hd681 evo is slightly more controlled. Overall, the winner is the m50 here
    m50-fun, more wild and exciting, better for bassheads
    681 evo-damn accurate. 

    The hd 681 evo doesn't dip during the mids as far as I can tell. The m50 has a slight midbass hump and the upper mids can be veiled. They actually sound quite similar here. No big difference except the 681 evos represents high mids better and you can hear more with them because of the separation. 
    Winner-681 evo

    A lot of people complained about the original 681s about having ear-rape levels of treble. That's not the case here. The 681 evo highs are very present but they never cause fatigue. They roll off  longer than the m50. Not sure what that means but the m50 has "punchier" highs. You hear the hi-hats and cymbal crashes of the evo longer but they don't sound like sibilance nor are they harsh.
    m50 has slightly harsher highs.
    Winner-681 evo

    no contest. The ath m50 holds up pretty well and the soundstage isn't bad at all. But the 681 evo destroys it here. When I was playing Bioshock infinite, at the loading screen it literally sounded like a 50s radio was sitting 2 feet in front of me playing music. I was shocked, I thought my fiiO e7 had unlocked and the sound was coming from my wasn't.

    When I got my little amp/DAC and paired it up with the m50, I was in sound heaven. The detail retrieval was excellent.
    The 681 evos took it a tiny step further.
    With the m50, I could hear tiny details otherwise inaudible
    with the 681 evos, i could hear tiny details otherwise inaudible...throughout the entire song

    overall, I am very impressed with these headphones. I've never heard or tried anything better. So I don't know how these would stack up to higher end setups. But for 40$, even for retail value they are great. The m50 is a better beginner headphone but they cost more. So if there are any beginners out there who can afford a simple amp/DAC(they rely on amping more than the m50), then you really can't go wrong

    inthere-thanks, glad you liked the review. I'm surprised at how long it was in the end lol..0
    Anyways, the 681 evo actually has impedance than the m50 but the decibel level is lower. It should work with the iphone but don't expect it to be fully powered. 

    I'll confirm or deny for sure later. That's my guess in the meantime

    EDIT- I just got the modi/magni stack. These seem even more detailed before which is remarkable. The difference is microscopic, but audible. Soundstage is even more impressive. I will check to see if my m50 improves even more than these did from the switch.
    Oh and inthere...Sorry man but it is physically impossible to go back to the sound of an ipod with these lol. They aren't portable, and they'll look kinda silly if you walk with them outside
    EDIT 2.0- After quite a few hours of listening, these are actually quite bright as a consequence of the amping/DAC. I do think that the magni amp contributes and magnifies the treble(pun intended). If you're using these with an amp, prepare for a treble peak. nothing too bad, but it's definitely elevated by a few decibels.
    2.1-So dissapointing though...Because if I could reduce the top frequencies by literally TWO decibels, they would be absolutely perfect. And I really do mean that. Perfect. 
    1. View previous replies...
    2. CoiL
      Quote: "2.1-So dissapointing though...Because if I could reduce the top frequencies by literally TWO decibels, they would be absolutely perfect. And I really do mean that. Perfect. "

      You should get old HD-681 (with red rings) and do a frans mkII filter mod :wink:
      You can read about it and get schematics from rockgrotto forum.
      Old HD-681 with mkII filter mod sound amazing with Aune T1 amp! ;P
      CoiL, Jul 24, 2013
    3. CoiL
      Btw, they might have same drivers but I haven`t done research. Anyway ppl seem to say that when you remove felt material from front of the elements, they sound same as old HD-681. So, you might actually try this option with frans mkII filter mod. Then they probably will be perfect for you :)
      CoiL, Jul 24, 2013
    4. Dorien
      The EVO sounds strong enough with a cheap MyAudio Pop MP3 player, probably OK with all portable players.
      Dorien, Aug 17, 2013
  5. JoeDoe
    Serious Bang for Your Buck
    Written by JoeDoe
    Published May 6, 2013
    Pros - Great sound, nice stage, relaxed fit
    Cons - Bulky
    This was an impulse buy that turned out well for me! I was very pleasantly suprised by the sound these are able to produce. They have a fairly open soundstage, which provides a nice separation. The bass is abundant but not overpowering, the mids are present and if any frequency is recessed, it is the trebles. This isn't to say they aren't there or sound bad, they're just the least obvious.
    These cans are a little bulky, upon looking in the mirror I look like I'm ready to pilot a fighter from Star Wars. They are pretty comfortable, plush pads and soft head band take care of that. And the detachable cable relieves any build issues I had.
    Overall for less than $100 these guys will not disappoint. If you need a set of cans that will make desktop or home theater listening enjoyable on a budget, give these some serious consideration.
  6. projectcollider
    Superlux delivering another unimaginably awesome pair of headphones; The Best Yet!
    Written by projectcollider
    Published Apr 8, 2013
    Pros - Major Upgrade from the previous HD681's, Deep Bass present and discernible, Bass not over-powering, Treble and mids in check
    Cons - Bulky design, Semi-open bleeds quite a bit at high volumes, Pads make my ears moist
    Being my first review on Head-Fi, I'd first like to introduce myself. I'm known as Project Collider; I play guitar among many other instruments and record often by myself and with my band.
    I'm a previous owner of the HD681, HD668B, and the HD660.
    First things first; what improvements have been made or setbacks felt from the previous HD681?
    At first glance it is clear that Superlux redesigned the shape and feel with the evo's. They look, oh! so much better; they feel good on the head and light weight, but at the same time there is a bulkiness to them, not to mention the pads after about 20 minutes moisten your ears and head. I do reside in the Sonora, so I can't completely blame the moistness from the design.
    Side note: the design looks like the icemat/steelseries siberia v1 headphones.
    I've tried the Evo's on three different rigs since I purchased them. Even on my laptop, containing an okay audio card, these things really sound fantastic and are easy to drive with just the stock driver software. Now on my main rig, I have a top of the line RME sound card; I am seriously considering selling off a couple of my beyerdynamic and sennheiser headphones since I got these.
    I can't find a reason why I would ever spend between $70 - $300 for headphones anymore; the Evo's literally match anything in that price range (with the exception of a couple closed headphones).
    The sound stage is wider than the previous HD681, the sound produced is much more neutral than the HD681; almost if you were to mix the HD668B with the HD681.
    That deep bass is finally felt with the Evo's and pronounced at that, but not overwhelming like you find with a very bass central headphone (Monster Brand among other garbage). 
    I've found that I use these most for my guitar monitoring and am loving the change up. Unfortunately they aren't closed, but there is a closed version; just really hard to find outside of Taiwan.
    I love how perfectly neutral they are; extending from the lowest bass to the highest treble and popping those easily forgotten mids into the full hearing experience.
    In conclusion, there isn't enough positive things I can say about what Superlux has done with the HD681 Evo's, (Original name HD681 MKII, but was abandoned for evolution).
    So, go out and buy these NOW!!! Audiohipster currently has both the black and white in stock.
    1. Sweden
      How do the compare to say the 668B in the highs? Those where somewhat harsh and grainy.
      Sweden, Apr 9, 2013
    2. madmarty
      You write they sound is perfectly neutral.
      I hope they still have the subwoofer bass like the original hd681? I hate neutral or analytical headphones as they are dead-boring but that's just my taste.
      madmarty, Apr 18, 2013
    3. Dorien
      These cans have a very exciting sound, believe me. The bass is deep and abundant and the harsh highs were fixed. You will definitely not miss any of them.
      Dorien, Aug 17, 2013