Spider PowerForce - A Full Review...also...BASS!
May 8, 2012 at 10:33 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

GigaFi

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[size=14.0pt]Spider PowerForce Review[/size]
 
[size=12.0pt]Intro[/size]

[size=10.0pt]The PowerForce is Spider’s entry into the full sized headphone world. Their target demographic seems to be the general consumers, a segment where headphones usually emphasize form over function. In a market where the bar has been set so low, does the PowerForce come out on top?[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]Note that my copy is a prerelease sample and may or may not be indicative of the final release.[/size]
 
[size=12.0pt]Design[/size]

[size=10.0pt]The Spider PowerForce has a somewhat polarizing look. Spider claims these headphones are “Designed for audiophiles by audiophiles” but with looks like this, I find that doubtful. Their intended competition is probably the likes of Beats and Skullcandys where style is the name of the game. If you don’t mind the flashiness of said brands, it’s easy to find appeal in the PowerForce. For those that prefer a more understated look or wooden headphones or god forbid, the AKG K1000, then these may not be your cup of tea. They are made of glossy plastic, have big reflective logos on the cups, and are generally loud in style. The black version is still somewhat conservative but the white and GOLD version definitely commands attention. Me personally, I sit somewhere between “ewwww” and “cool”.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]The PowerForce has many features you would not expect in this price range. On them you can find cups that swivel, folds up for portable storage, and a removable cable. The two closest (intended) competitors I can think of would be the Beats Solo and the Skullcandy Aviators, and neither of them are as feature packed as the Spider. Both are priced higher too![/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]As for my actual opinion on the design…well, I can’t say that I am a fan. Again, keep in mind that my copy may not be the final version, BUT based on what I have, I can say the build quality is on the cheap side. The adjustment band is the only part that is metal while everything else is plastic. The plastic doesn’t scream durability and creaks quite a bit when moved. The headband does not have enough padding on the top in my opinion and the cups do clamp a bit tight. Lastly, while the whole being able to fold up and swivel thing is nice, it is also very finicky. I find myself frequently having to readjust the cups when taking them on and off because they often would fold up by themselves or the headband would just readjust to a different length. Lastly lastly, for a portable-ish headphone, the cups are a bit bulky and sticks out more than I would like. Another minor quibble I have with them is that the cups do not swivel 180 ala the ATH-M50, only 90 degrees towards you, so listening to them with one ear DJ-style would be difficult.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]They are expected to come with a carrying pouch as well as both a short 4 feet and a long 9 feet cable and a 1/4in adapter. Mine came with a 3 feet coiled cable which I hope won’t be the final short cable they decide to include because coiled cables aren’t exactly portable friendly. Cable is on the thin side but still seems durable. The cable that I got did not actually twist and lock into place like it was supposed to but I’m sure that will be remedied in the final version.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]Overall, the design and build of the PowerForce is a mixed bag for me. They do offer a tremendous amount of features but, sadly, neither of them are particularly well executed.[/size]
 
[size=12.0pt]Sound[/size]

[size=10.0pt]One would expect these to be bass heavy and they would be right. The PowerForce has an incredibly large amount of low bias, right up there with the Beats Studios and Pros in terms of bass quantity. These should satisfy bass lovers for all but the EXTREME bassheads.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]Bass quality is quite good as well. They have a tremendous amount of impact, and while slightly loose, clarity was excellent. Deep bass at around 20hz is audible though mid bass was definitely more noticeable in its presentation.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]The midrange is surprisingly forward considering how boosted the low range was. Clarity was good but I felt that when a large amount of bass kicks in they seem to overshadow everything. Okay for genres where vocals aren’t the highlight but I’ve had a few tracks that were mainly vocals plus one repetitive bass line in the background and…it just didn’t work.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]Treble on the PowerForce was pretty good. There’s a good amount of it and is extended, which adds life to the midrange. It was smooth throughout with no harsh spots.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]So far so good, right? Unfortunately, I should point out that there are some bad news! There is the soundstaging on the Spider PowerForce, which is just adequate, as in, it’s there, it’s okay, and that’s about it. Second, imaging and overall coherency is also just adequate. While each individual note sounds great when you listen for it, it’s when listen to everything at once that it gets a tad muddy. Obviously the main culprit here is the massive amounts of low end which seems to dominate anything and everything. This may just be the inherent characteristic of the frequency response but I have never had a chance to listen to a truly high end headphone with this much bass so I can’t say for certain.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]Minimal difference was noted on the PowerForce between amped and unamped with a laptop to Fiio E7. When powered, everything tightens up a little which is about you would expect but the difference is not day and night.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]Isolation is pretty good and sound leakage isn’t a problem, even at high volumes.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]Overall I can say the sound is quite good. I have not heard the Beats Solo or the more expensive Skullcandys but these sound very close to what I remember from the Beats Studio and even the Pros. Maybe not better, but certainly not worst. The kicker? These are less than half the price.[/size]
 
[size=12.0pt]Comparison[/size]

[size=10.0pt]vs ZX700 : [/size]
[size=10.0pt]The Sonys are a lot more comfortable being circumaural and despite that, they are also less bulky with slimmer earcups. The Sonys also offer better build with higher quality matte plastic. They do not fold nor is the cable removable however. Sound wise, ZX700 has immensely less bass. The midrange is forward instead of neutral and the highs were about equal. Soundstaging, imaging, and clarity overall goes to the ZX700. Notes are more precise and instruments are more coherently separated. From a technical standpoint, it the Sonys are superior though they do have completely different sound signatures. For any genre that involves bass, the Spider is more “fun” but you can’t top the ZX700 for vocals and orchestral music. The PowerForce is slightly easier to drive but both are fine without an amp. Both provide an equal amount of isolation and both have little to no sound leakage. As for looks…well, one is flashy and one is not,  so whatever floats your boat.[/size]
 

[size=10pt]vs ATH-M50 :[/size]
[size=10.0pt]Circumaurals in general are more comfortable than supraaural and it is no different here. Build quality is heavily in favor of the M50 which many claim to be built like tanks. Aside from the removable cable, the M50s feel much more solid to the hand but it is bigger and less portable. The PowerForce sounds louder when fed the same amount of power but from what I can tell, they benefit more when amped.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]For some reason, many say the Audio Technicas are bassy (which I disagree), but wait until you hear the Spiders! The M50s are bass anemic in comparison. The PowerForce is more impactful on every note even though it sound a little bit messy in comparison. Midrange wise, the M50 sounds withdrawn while the PowerForce still manages to leave them right where they should be. Highs were less abundant on the M50 yet they more harsh…and more clear. The M50 offers more detail and clarity as well as separation but with much less boom boom boom. Isolation is neck and neck.[/size]
 

[size=10.0pt]vs Beats Studio :[/size]
[size=10.0pt]The Studios are incredibly comfortable on the head with its circumaural design, ample padding, and light clamp, all of which are completely different from the PowerForce. Build quality on both are similar, in that they are “meh”. They both have glossy creaky plastic, collapsible earcups, and a removable cable. The Beats have active noise cancelation over the PowerForce which is decently effective (still better than the Spider’s passive) but adds an annoying hiss to the sound while the Spider have swiveling cups that unfortunately doesn’t swivel outwards leaving the feature to be useless.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]Both these headphones sound have a similar sound signature. Not surprisingly, they both are incredibly bass heavy. What IS surprising however, is that the Spider PowerForce is actually bassier! Very slightly so but either way, both offer more than enough to blow your eardrums. Quality of the low end on both is decent; it’s on the boomy side and generally creeps into areas it shouldn’t but still ultimately satisfying and fun.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]Midrange on the Studio is more forward than the PowerForce by quite a bit yet clarity seems to trail behind. I’m not sure if it’s the ANC that’s built in or what but the Beats seems to have a layer over the whole sound that makes it sound cloudy if very very smooth.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]On the top end, the Beats sounds more darker than the Spider. Notes on the Spider PowerForce are both sharper and more sparkly but not incredibly so. Both manages to be buttery smooth throughout with little to no piercing spikes.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]Soundstage on the Beats Studio is a magnitude bigger in size and seems to be the main advantage it has over the Spider. Relative to the Spider, it has a very large spacious sound while the PowerForce sounds much more “in your head”.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]Overall, both these cans sound very similar and is clearly tuned for energetic and bassy music. Both have what I would consider a fun sound that most can enjoy. On sound alone it would be hard to declare a winner as each have their pros and cons. To decide between the two would likely come down to looks, need for noise cancelation, circumaural vs supraaural, and whether or not if price is an issue. The main thing to take away from this comparison however, is that the PowerForce holds its own to a headphone more than twice its price; well done Spider![/size]
 
[size=12.0pt]Conclusion[/size]

[size=10.0pt]The Spider PowerForce was more or less exactly what I thought it was going to be. If its goal was to be better than the headphones all our friends buy (you know what I’m talking about), then in that regard, it succeeds. It’s not quite on par with audiophile headphones but hey, to others, more bass = better headphone right? RIGHT?! Kidding aside, it manages to marry good style and good sound together at a very competitive price. With some decent marketing by Spider, these will become a hit.[/size]
 
[size=10.0pt]Expected release is the end of May for $129.99[/size]
 
May 8, 2012 at 10:55 PM Post #3 of 13

Dsnuts

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Entertaining review GigaFi..It kinda doesn't surprise me much that they are going for a bassy headphone. Everyone knows more bass= more sales. It is interesting that the cup design look like woofers.
 
May 8, 2012 at 11:52 PM Post #4 of 13

dweaver

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I have the chance to pick these for half price to review but based on your review and my leaning towards bass neutral these days I will probably take a pass as I won't do Spider any favors since my signature preference will cause some bias, plus I want to focus my money towards products that more suit my tastes. Interesting review though and year or 2 ago these would have been in my wheelhouse.
 
May 9, 2012 at 12:04 AM Post #5 of 13

nick n

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You may be interested in their Moonlight full-sized for a review then.
 
May 9, 2012 at 12:46 AM Post #6 of 13

dweaver

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HECK YAH! that looks mighty interesting! I will be watching that one as it develops. I will contact Spder in regards to it! Thanks for the heads up.
 
May 16, 2012 at 1:59 AM Post #9 of 13

GigaFi

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Comparison between the PowerForce and Beats Studio added to the original post. Unsurprisingly, they sound comparable to the costly Beats at a fraction of the price.
 
Quote:
I like the headband ... is it detatchable ?

 
No from what I can do. I don't think I've ever seen a detachable headband though.
 
Quote:
You may be interested in their Moonlight full-sized for a review then.

 
Just saw the Innerfidelity video of from CES and those look very interesting, both sound AND look wise. Hopefully they will have review samples.
 
Aug 30, 2012 at 11:28 PM Post #12 of 13

GigaFi

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Quote:
I love bass heavy headphones for gym. The vmoda m80s were my favorite. But offers poor isolation because they are ported. How's the isolation on these? Would you recommend them for working out?

 
Isolation on the Powerforce is quite good. I just compared them with the M80s and they are definitely better since it has a completely closed back after all.
 

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