Superlux HD-681 Evo BK
Superlux HD-681 Evo BK Studio Headphones - dynamic, semi-open, 98dB SPL, 50 mm drivers, 32ohms, 10Hz-30kHz, 300mW, 3.5mm stereo mini-jack, weight excluding cable: 276 g, incl. bag, one pair of extra velour earpads, one 1m cable, one 3m cable
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Surprisingly detailed sound for less than 30?
The Superlux HD-681 Evo arrived in a box where the product laid well packed. It includes a 3.5 to 6.3 mm headphone converter as well as two different cables (1 metre and 3 metre). The converter is not of best quality, it actually uses a clip-on in order to stay secured. I didn't like that. The cables are straight, quite thin and the connector seems to be adequate. They also included extra velour pads, which I as a matter of fact immediately replaced the pleather pads with (pleather pads are by default installed on the cans).
For a 28? pair of headphones I must say the build-quality is surprisingly robust. However, at the beginning I felt quite a force pressing around my temples and ears. To alleviate this, I let it stretch for several days (I used the triangle-shaped cardboard package which the headphone was wrapping itself around, plus some books for further stretching). After a few days of stretching the clamping sensation was gone and by now I had already burned them in some (I used various music and a burn-in soundfile found from JBL's website). If I recall correctly, someone recommended at least 100 hours of burn-in for this model.
The sound. Oh the sound... Clear. Wide. That was my first impression. For a headphone to sound this good for such a low price is nothing more than a bargain. The clarity and separation of instruments is something I was greatly pleased with, especially when listening to soft rock or similar music. While playing Toto - Africa from beginning. Kick drum, soft snare, cow bell on drum kit in the left ear, extra handheld cow bell in the right ear, congas in middle, succeeded by the famous synth-riff. Wonderful. However (be warned)! The highs were too high to my ears. I have some sensitivity to sibilance and I feel that these headphones amp those frequencies quite adamantly. The bass is very much present, but it is not presented in a controlled manner as it interferes and sometimes overpowers the mids in other songs.
After using these headphones sporadically (letting them burn in when not wearing them) I always felt the highs were unbearable. They were simply too pronounced and sharp for me to enjoy 90% of whatever music I was listening to. Well luckily there are two ways of fixing this.. Well, actually three, but two of them are very similar just differentiating in methods, so let's stick with 2. EQ (Equalization) and physical modification of the headphone.
After playing around with an EQ, I mostly adjusted the 5k and up, by simple lowering them more and more the higher up I advanced in frequencies. Now this may be placebo, but I felt the presentation and sonical experience turned muddy and veiled. So I tried a second alternative, add cotton pads (those round, white soft pads used for facial-cleansing and make-up removal). I simply added one pad inside each cup, fitted them right through the opening without needing to open the cups up, using my finger to slide the pad under the velour pad edges. To explain my initial reaction: it felt right. The sound was just the way I liked it, similiar sound profile that I was used to from my 595's. The sibilance was gone and I still found the headphones sounding enjoyable. Now, as I said, it may be placebo or it may not be, so it should be up to everyone to try an EQ or cotton pads. The bass is still quite the same. To be honest, I don't recall exactly how it sounded without the cotton installed, but hey, these cost 28?. Some sacrifice is inevitable.
These headphones are so cheap, that... that they don't sound cheap? That didn't make no sense, but neither does the price tag for these. These cans sound to my ears as a pair of 100? (or even more) phones. But because they are inexpensive, these have become my main "fun-phones", that is, I do not really need to worry too much how I'm handling these, whether it's at home or on the move somewhere else. It's carefree. It's fun. The sound is also quite exciting for watching films as the bass is very present when needed. Rock music goes quite well with these, as well as EDM. The only thing I really can't do with these, is enjoy classical music, but I already knew this prior to my purchase. The HD-681 Evo's bass is simply not very controlled, too much interference is going on around the low mids which takes away much of an orchestra's presentation. But remember, 28?, sacrifice is inevitable. I often use these when playing VST pianos in Cubase, it's a pleasure.
Ok just buy them already, have some fun.
Fantastic budget headphones
Really pleased with these, out of the box I love the detachable cable (and it comes with a choice of two lengths) and the change of pads that are also included (the "default" ones are leather, there are velour ones inside the box. If I was complaining I would grumble that there is no guide on how to change the pads but it looks relatively straightforward.
Sound wise, I really like these. Nice, clear bass that is defined but not overpowering. The mids are spot on and the treble is clear but not piercing. They were great out of the box but I'm even more pleased now they've burned in.
My only complaint is that the adjuster band isn't great and personally I'd like a tighter fit. I have quite a big head so I'm not sure how that affects the fit. That said, they're very comfy and easily wearable for a few hours at a time. Size wise, they're pretty big. I doubt I'd wear these out and about!!
These are fantastic sounding headphones. For the price, they're incredible sounding headphones. Definitely recommended.
An Improved HD681
The bass is on about the same level as the HD681 but the treble seems more refined and less edgy.
The sound itself is wrapped on top of a big hearted bass. The bottom end is ramped up, very similar to the HD681 of old. However, the treble is less edgy so the headphone seems warmer and more bass focused. However, there is also a peak in the treble giving the top end a nice 'bite.'
The comfort is ok. I would suggest changing the pads for velour pads. A little more comfortable and less 'hot' for the ears.
I'm not keen on the shiny plastic finish on the sides. They are fingerprint magnets and I will be using a fine wet and dry cloth to rub this finish down to a matt look.
It comes with two cables that are easily attached to the headphone. One is nice and short for using with portable equipment and another to lengthen the lead.
For this kind of money, the HD681 evo is an absolute bargain if you like a bass led sound with good clarity and reasonable sensitivity for portables. It works exceedingly well with an amp and the bass is perhaps a tad more controlled.
Worth every penny.
Everthing they were rumoured to be
Jason J., 05.01.2014
If you read the reviews, you'll see that very few people find fault with the sound : it's revealing, untainted (no apparent bias) and no apparent weakspots. The sound is warmer after several hours use and they are comfortable for long listening sessions.
In the interests of balance, I should point out a couple of tiny points that i like less : they are a bit large (but not heavy) and they look odd anywhere outside the studio. They are also semi-open - so there is noise leak if you're thinking about office use.
For those seeking comparision, or a frame of reference, I've retired my Grado SR 80's because of these. I previously liked Sennheiser PX100s, and Equation Audio RP21 and AKG eth55. These have the better sound, they are the most pleasing overall, and the cheapest by a mile. I havent heard better and for a comparable sound, you'd have to spend around 150 quid for something like Sennheiser HD25s - and I notice other people here rate them even higher !
The fact that Superlux do it for this price makes me very cynical of more establish brands and their pricing. Well done Superlux.
£ price - guideline price only
|sales unit||1 piece|
|available since||April 2013|
|in this category||Rank 12|
|at thomann.de||Rank 1334|