Thursday, 14 August 2014

Review: Superlux HD685

Firstly I would like to thank Superlux for sending me this sample for review, I will write as honest a review possible and these received over 50hrs of burn-in before reviewing, no major differences were noted.

Gear Used:
iPod Classic 7G > HD685
iPod Classic 7G > Silver LOD > JDS Labs C5D > HD685


Tech Specs:
Acoustic Design: Dynamic, circumaural, closed-back
Driver: ø40 mm, neodymium
Sensitivity: 102 dB SPL (1mW) at 1KHz
Frequency Response: 10 – 20,000 Hz
Maximum Input Power: 200 mW
Rated Impedance: 68 Ω@ 1KHz
Earpad: Leatherette
Head Band Pressure: Approx. 4.5 N
Cable:
Cable 1: 1.2-meter (3.94’) cable with in-line control and mic
Cable 2: 1.2-meter(3.94') standard headphone cable
Connector:
Cable 1: 3.5 mm low profile angled plug
Cable 2: 3.5 mm straight plug
Net Weight: 285 g (10oz)
MSRP: Around $90

Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality:
Packaging is a simple black box, it has a nice silhouette photo on the front with good font stating HD685 High-Definition stereo headphones. Accessories are listed on one side of the box, a few extra details on the other side, and a small description is included on the back of the box. This is an outer sleeve that slips off, underneath is a matte black card box which opens to present you with the HD685 neatly packaged with a small corner covered, which houses the accessories. It is basic but well packaged and protects them well during shipping.


Accessories are fine, you get 2 cables, on with a mic and volume buttons which work with iPhone's and the likes, you also get a normal non mic version of the cable, both are 1.2m in length. Also included is a pleather carry pouch and a cable clip to secure the detachable cable in place. Overall not a bad amount of accessories, and I cannot complain at this price.


Build quality feels a bit cheap, the metal looking plastic really doesn't feel of good quality, the rubber coated cups however are fine. The headband is metal reinforced and has good padding. The cable is detachable from a small section of cable that stick out of the left cup (pictures show this better). Overall the build isn't too bad, but could be better.


Comfort and Isolation:
Comfort is good, the pads are a little too stiff and they also clamp quite hard. Fine for normal shot commutes, but for prolonged periods of use I would stretch the headband out a little and maybe replace the pads with Shure SRH840 Pads.

Isolation is very good because of the relatively hard clamping, and the closed back design of these headphones, fine for most usage.


Sound:
Split in to the usual categories, with a conclusion at the end.

Lows:
Big and slightly boomy lows, they grab your attention and are an instantly fun listen that really bring out the beat in your music. This makes them great for noisy outdoor listening as you can still easily hear the lows, but for critical listening the lows do overpower the whole spectrum a little too much. Kick drums have real weight and they are very full sounding, but there is some resonance and distortion due to the rather heavy lows. They also sound a little hollow at certain frequencies. On the whole the lows are good fun at first, but become a little tiring and do overpower a little.

Mids:
Luckily the mids are not sucked out by the lows, the mids still have good presence and tone. Male vocals are slightly warmed up by the lows and sound a little further back in the mix than female vocals, but both come through with detail and the mids are engaging. Female vocals do stand out nicely and there is never any harshness to the upper mids/lower treble. I don't have any problems with the mids, and this is the area these do best.

Highs:
The highs are somewhat subdued, and this leads to quite a congested and dark overall sound. This is a shame, the highs really lack extension and therefore just sound like they are missing from the mix. The initial crash from cymbals can be heard, but then it is usually drowned out by the lows. This also means these don't have great perceived detail retrieval due to the lack of highs.

Soundstage is not huge, vocals are intimate and the instruments come in around them, but you don't get the out of head soundstage some headphones have, usually a closed back design doesn't help here either.

Instrument separation is good, not great as the sound can get a little congested, but you can still hear most instruments clearly and separately.


Conclusion:
Well Superlux has made a very consumer friendly design and sound, I can see these being popular among the novice headphone enthusiasts. But for the listener who wants hi-fidelity playback these are not it. I am going to try and modify these to tame the lows and maybe it will bring out the highs a little, we will see.

These are not bad headphones, and are perfect for a daily commute, but don't have the control, detail or comfort for long listening sessions. These would be a great started headphone for someone starting out in the headphone world, and I see modding capabilities.

Sound Perfection Rating: 5/10

Headphone Stand courtesy of Oscar's Audio: http://www.oscarsaudio.co.uk/