PHONON SMB-02 - HOLY GRAIL
Nov 23, 2020 at 4:43 PM Post #136 of 143

Zehn

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Anyone getting the SMB-01L? They just shipped and would like to hear anyone's thoughts on those. Think they got the same Fostex Drivers as the TH610s, cuz they both rave about their bio-cellulose drivers (idk for sure tho). I know the SMB-02s are pretty good cans (with the luxury pads). For non-kickstarters, they have it now on their JP website (the SMB-01L).

Link: https://phonon-inc.com/shop/i-hp-en/smb-01l-professional-monitoring-headphones/?lang=en

And as I was typing this, I noticed there is the SMB-03s. And bois, it has detachable cables
https://phonon-inc.com/shop/i-hp-en/smb-03/?lang=en
 
Nov 24, 2020 at 8:42 AM Post #137 of 143

HickorySwitch

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I missed out on its Kickstarter but would like to grab one after its US/Europe release next month. The SMB-01L's current Japanese listing's ¥77,000 is too much for me at the moment. Fortunately its official release in Japan is the 28th and "Early December" in the US and Europe so the aforementioned price might just be a placeholder. That would make sense, since its retail price should land at ¥59,900 if the Kickstarter's tier descriptions were correct.

It's also a shame I like the SMB-03's detachable cables' location more than the 01L's but would like to just get their highest end option.
 
Nov 24, 2020 at 3:16 PM Post #138 of 143

Zehn

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I missed out on its Kickstarter but would like to grab one after its US/Europe release next month. The SMB-01L's current Japanese listing's ¥77,000 is too much for me at the moment. Fortunately its official release in Japan is the 28th and "Early December" in the US and Europe so the aforementioned price might just be a placeholder. That would make sense, since its retail price should land at ¥59,900 if the Kickstarter's tier descriptions were correct.

It's also a shame I like the SMB-03's detachable cables' location more than the 01L's but would like to just get their highest end option.
True that, I jumped the gun and got it through a Japan shopping proxy. I just couldn't wait! Hopefully you're right that it's just a placeholder price, will be bummed if it isn't. Also, think they also have the SMB-02s with a balanced cable now (for 42,000 JPY...and not detachable...). Man, thought Phonon would get more hype because of the Kickstarter thing, but I guess not. Hope someone will make an SMB-01L thread someday.
 
Jan 24, 2021 at 2:13 AM Post #139 of 143

HickorySwitch

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True that, I jumped the gun and got it through a Japan shopping proxy. I just couldn't wait! Hopefully you're right that it's just a placeholder price, will be bummed if it isn't. Also, think they also have the SMB-02s with a balanced cable now (for 42,000 JPY...and not detachable...). Man, thought Phonon would get more hype because of the Kickstarter thing, but I guess not. Hope someone will make an SMB-01L thread someday.
Did you receive yours? If so, what do you think? Is it a keeper? It's limited to 300 units so I guess that explains the unexpected price hike. I hope no one, including yourself, feels buyer's remorse.
 
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Mar 16, 2021 at 6:40 AM Post #140 of 143

Zehn

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Did you receive yours? If so, what do you think? Is it a keeper? It's limited to 300 units so I guess that explains the unexpected price hike. I hope no one, including yourself, feels buyer's remorse.
It's been months since I've been here, but yea I managed to and I've got pictures to show.

IMG_20210316_190651.jpg
IMG_20210316_191119.jpg
IMG_20210316_190744.jpg
IMG_20210316_191008.jpg
IMG_20210316_191114.jpg
IMG_20210316_191936.jpg


IMG_20210316_190602.jpg

IMG_20210316_190325.jpg


Honestly a looker of a product, though the sound is not what I expected, but in a good way. Another thing to note is that I never reviewed anything before, let alone headphones, where everyone has preferences and different ideas how good headphones supposed to sound, so I can't offer much in regards to that cuz what I'm about to say is just purely subjective. This is also my first review, or the half-baked attempt of it. Yikes.

Build quality and accessories wise, the headphones itself is not too bad. Kind of disappointed with the plastic, it really is the same with the SMB-02, but it has definitely improved in terms of the pads and the adjustment band. The pads are very deep and plush, wore it for 10hrs without any problems. The band makes a nice click to it and goes pretty far. They also put nice details on the stuff that comes with it, like the screw for the interchangeable plate to make it open-back comes engraved with 'phonon'; kind of a nice touch. Comes with a sticker pack too, but nothing to rave at. Oh, and the box that comes with it is really nice, especially if you actually need to bring it around for travel, and is massive. Now, this thing only comes with one long rubber cable with the SMB-02 style 3.5 to 6.35mm jack, so there's no variety. However, the cable itself is pretty good for a rubber, like, it has weight to it, so it doesn't tangle easily and the jacks themselves are aluminium. Honestly, looking like my money is spent decently.

Though I had nightmare experience afterwards. One day, I was listening to '1st 44' - Aphex Twin, just to hear the bass response on this, but for the first few seconds, there was this rattling on the left channel, like, I can hear a loose part inside the headphones (this is day 1, out of the box btw). So I opened the left casing up after undoing three screws to find a metal hinge, which has a screw on it (I don't know what it was, and I didn't try to tinker with it further). Lo and behold, it was not secure, which I proceeded to secure it, closed it up, and the problem was fixed. By now, I was worried I emptied my pockets on a subpar product, which is possible considering the small size of the company and all. Though, a few minutes passed with company of a few songs, and I got my confidence back.

Sound is where things get interesting though. So for context, I had the SMB-02 for a long time now and was daily-ing it for 2 years after my Audio Technica r70x. The SMB-02 was great, even went as far as getting Yaxi pads on them, and the luxury pads that you could've got from the Europe store phonon website. I really like them, especially with the yaxis because of the laid back tuning; I could really play any song with it and have no complaints when paired with the Fostex HP-3A DAC/AMP combo. Now because of this, I really thought that SMB-01 is gonna be somewhat an improved version of the tuning I mentioned, but it's more different that I thought. While I thought the SMB-02 is neutral with some warmth to it (somewhat like the MDR CD900st), the SMB-01L is more of a v-shaped, for a lack of a better term. Though after some research on the Fostex drivers they were using (think it was the 50mm bio diaphragm used in the TH-600 series, Massdrop's THX-00 series, or EMU Teaks), people did tend to say they are like that (Crinacle, the IEM reviewer, did mention that the emu teaks were v-shaped). However, do take this with a grain of salt because I never had any of those headphones mentioned or ever got to listen to em. Anyways, I listened to a few types of music with an Atom amp and DAC setup, while AB testing with my Focal Clears. Honestly, the one thing I can say for sure that the SMB-01L shines is the low end bass response. At this point, think I found my based bass monsters; it really goes deep, hits hard, and still doesn't overpower other parts of the frequency range. You can use the track I mention before as reference, those low end hits are too real. In terms of the highs, I found it to be quite bright, but I still can discern the source of the sounds clearly. I was listening 'Musician' - Porter Robinson for reference, and I do find 2:45< to be a bit fatiguing, especially the female vocals. So far, I've only been referring to electronic songs, but it's only because so far, the SMB-01 are my go-to when it comes to that genre. This is not to say that it's not good at other genres, but it's just where I would switch from my Focal Clears (a headphone that I use daily now) to this. So, overall, this is not a souped up SMB-02, but these are good headphones, maybe worth the 1200 AUD. Personally, no buyers remorse here, even when compared to the Focal Clears I got for the same price.

But... I haven't even changed the plates yet. It might be worth the price just being able to experiment with it.

That's why I'm really considering sending them to a reviewer, give these headphones proper justice. Apologies if the writing is a bit garbage since I haven't got a clue on how to describe how headphones sound and English isn't my first language.
 
Mar 17, 2021 at 12:08 AM Post #141 of 143

Sp12er3

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yeah man, if you want a product to have traction, make the thread yourself, contact interested reviewers, the one most prominent is obviously Zeos, but you should be prepared to not have it back in months if it's him.
 
Mar 29, 2021 at 6:01 PM Post #142 of 143

HickorySwitch

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It's been months since I've been here, but yea I managed to and I've got pictures to show.






Honestly a looker of a product, though the sound is not what I expected, but in a good way. Another thing to note is that I never reviewed anything before, let alone headphones, where everyone has preferences and different ideas how good headphones supposed to sound, so I can't offer much in regards to that cuz what I'm about to say is just purely subjective. This is also my first review, or the half-baked attempt of it. Yikes.

Build quality and accessories wise, the headphones itself is not too bad. Kind of disappointed with the plastic, it really is the same with the SMB-02, but it has definitely improved in terms of the pads and the adjustment band. The pads are very deep and plush, wore it for 10hrs without any problems. The band makes a nice click to it and goes pretty far. They also put nice details on the stuff that comes with it, like the screw for the interchangeable plate to make it open-back comes engraved with 'phonon'; kind of a nice touch. Comes with a sticker pack too, but nothing to rave at. Oh, and the box that comes with it is really nice, especially if you actually need to bring it around for travel, and is massive. Now, this thing only comes with one long rubber cable with the SMB-02 style 3.5 to 6.35mm jack, so there's no variety. However, the cable itself is pretty good for a rubber, like, it has weight to it, so it doesn't tangle easily and the jacks themselves are aluminium. Honestly, looking like my money is spent decently.

Though I had nightmare experience afterwards. One day, I was listening to '1st 44' - Aphex Twin, just to hear the bass response on this, but for the first few seconds, there was this rattling on the left channel, like, I can hear a loose part inside the headphones (this is day 1, out of the box btw). So I opened the left casing up after undoing three screws to find a metal hinge, which has a screw on it (I don't know what it was, and I didn't try to tinker with it further). Lo and behold, it was not secure, which I proceeded to secure it, closed it up, and the problem was fixed. By now, I was worried I emptied my pockets on a subpar product, which is possible considering the small size of the company and all. Though, a few minutes passed with company of a few songs, and I got my confidence back.

Sound is where things get interesting though. So for context, I had the SMB-02 for a long time now and was daily-ing it for 2 years after my Audio Technica r70x. The SMB-02 was great, even went as far as getting Yaxi pads on them, and the luxury pads that you could've got from the Europe store phonon website. I really like them, especially with the yaxis because of the laid back tuning; I could really play any song with it and have no complaints when paired with the Fostex HP-3A DAC/AMP combo. Now because of this, I really thought that SMB-01 is gonna be somewhat an improved version of the tuning I mentioned, but it's more different that I thought. While I thought the SMB-02 is neutral with some warmth to it (somewhat like the MDR CD900st), the SMB-01L is more of a v-shaped, for a lack of a better term. Though after some research on the Fostex drivers they were using (think it was the 50mm bio diaphragm used in the TH-600 series, Massdrop's THX-00 series, or EMU Teaks), people did tend to say they are like that (Crinacle, the IEM reviewer, did mention that the emu teaks were v-shaped). However, do take this with a grain of salt because I never had any of those headphones mentioned or ever got to listen to em. Anyways, I listened to a few types of music with an Atom amp and DAC setup, while AB testing with my Focal Clears. Honestly, the one thing I can say for sure that the SMB-01L shines is the low end bass response. At this point, think I found my based bass monsters; it really goes deep, hits hard, and still doesn't overpower other parts of the frequency range. You can use the track I mention before as reference, those low end hits are too real. In terms of the highs, I found it to be quite bright, but I still can discern the source of the sounds clearly. I was listening 'Musician' - Porter Robinson for reference, and I do find 2:45< to be a bit fatiguing, especially the female vocals. So far, I've only been referring to electronic songs, but it's only because so far, the SMB-01 are my go-to when it comes to that genre. This is not to say that it's not good at other genres, but it's just where I would switch from my Focal Clears (a headphone that I use daily now) to this. So, overall, this is not a souped up SMB-02, but these are good headphones, maybe worth the 1200 AUD. Personally, no buyers remorse here, even when compared to the Focal Clears I got for the same price.

But... I haven't even changed the plates yet. It might be worth the price just being able to experiment with it.

That's why I'm really considering sending them to a reviewer, give these headphones proper justice. Apologies if the writing is a bit garbage since I haven't got a clue on how to describe how headphones sound and English isn't my first language.
Do the pads get warm? If so, is it too warm? I've found that pads like ZMF Protein get way too warm, whereas Penrose X's default pads feel fine. A little warm but I don't sweat with them on or anything.
 
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Nov 11, 2021 at 2:26 PM Post #143 of 143

mgunin

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I wonder if anyone can write some impressions on SMB-03? Did really like 02, just were not very comfy for my large head. Curious how these two compare.
 

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