Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Superlux HD662 EVO Review by mark2410

Superlux HD662 EVO Review by mark2410

Thanks to GearBest for the sample.

First Impression:  So you may be thinking didn’t I review these a couple of months back?  Well no I didn’t, I reviewed the HD681 EVO’s which are their close siblings.  The difference though, the 681 was open backed and these 682’s are closed, also a little bit more expensive.  Visually, looking I can’t help but get a sense of deja vu.  The box, opening it up, the snugly bound triangular thingy, these feel exactly the same.  Gosh they come with the exact same bundle, same box, lol even the same spare ear pads.  Then after finally wrestling them out of the box, my word don’t they look the same too?  Though this time I think I’ll leave the pleather pads on.  Being closed the better seal they will give should help in terms of isolation which is basically the reason you by a closed headphone.  Still I can’t help but be impressed by the fact you actually get both option’s in something so staggeringly cheap.

On the ears and given their siblings I have high expectations.  Bugger me, for thirty quid, right off the bat these are damn good.  Hmm maybe a little over enthusiastic in the uppers but bugger me, for thirty quid!!!!  Janky looks aside oh my god these are amazing.  That upper though is a little too hard and abundant, maybe a slightly warmer source I’m thinking but never the less, for the money, whoa these are cracking stuff.

Source: FiiO E7/E9 combo, Hisoundaudio Studio V 3rd Anv., HiFiMAN HM-650, 1G Ipod Shuffle, Lumia 735, Nexus 5 and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear.

Lows:  Well given they are closed you would think that they should have bigger, harder hitting bass that their open siblings right?  However they don’t.  Maybe it’s my own prejudices but in my head I don’t see Superlux as an audiophile brand like in the way I look at HiFiMAN.  I just somehow expected them to be a bit chavy, over bassy, V shaped party cannons, not proper grown up real headphones.  I mean they are thirty quid, they must be poptastic rubbish right?  They aren’t, good god these behave so well it’s disturbing, what’s more is that there is so little out there about them confirming my observations that I’m half wondering if I’m having a stroke.  Reviewing these is proving to be a right sod as time and again I’m getting lost in the music rather than listening to the headphones.  Now that’s just what you want but it’s not helpful for reviewing.  The articulation level, its polite and controlled nature for a closed headphone is exemplary.  It is a little bitty monotone, the bass all wants to exist in one hump and should the bass of a song hit that hump it raises up in scale.  My go to “Your Father And I” the bass thunders out at you, grandly vast and solid.  It is exactly how it’s supposed to be, so while it’s no bass monster you can make it roar when needs be. 

Still tis is tuned in quantity much more along the lines of audiophile levels for a closed can.  These aren’t the bass monsters that you may want and or expect at their price.  They are capable though for closed, they don’t quite manage the depth they feel like they should have given the upper and middle bass range capability.  The bottom, rather than flab up declines pretty noticeably.  Though I take a glance at its price tag and I realise the problem isn’t them, it’s my unreasonable expectation.  Still if you want bassy, these do it but they won’t give you bass mountain.

Mids:  Good, pretty great actually if I remember that price tag.  These are a little bitty V shaped and the upperish bass ranges like to take up a lot of that stage.  Then the treble like’s lots of it so we’re left with the mids being a little reticent in comparison.  The quality is rather excellent, what with its price, its V shape and that these are closed the mids run the risk of being suffocated.  They manage to survive well, they for closed cans do their best to try and retain an airy composition, they really try and almost get it.  They have an underlying breadth that quickly comes to a point and focus where the vocals are forced towards.  When playing back breathy and expressive vocals like Susan Wong they try so hard, oooooh so hard.  Then I change over to the open HD681 EVO’s and the fact is the open 681’s thrash them.  However these are closed cans, not just closed but stupid cheap and yet they on a completely level playing field, cost ignored, sound good.  Seriously, they sound good, not just good but pleasing to the ear, even the likes of Norah and the Krall woman, they both sound, actually really good.  For a dirt cheap closed can, aside from my wanting more vocals and that they really ought to have a bit more scale, I’m super impressed.

Highs:  The highs are had to get perfect and if there is anywhere these fall down a touch it’s here.  Not so much for their lack of competence but that these seem to have been deliberately bumped up, quite a bit.  Now with their being closed the natural inclination is for the bass to start to dominate and it would appear that to counter this, Superlux have tamed the bass and bumped the treble.  Maybe the aim was to give them a more airy nature which is always diminished in closed items?  I don’t know but I feel that they have bumped the treble just a little too far.  It’s a bit over eager, and it’s a little bit edgy.  The quality is outstanding for the price and for being closed but……. there is that but.  Slap on something with ebullient treble like Owl City’s “Tidal Wave” and that treble, even from the warm E9, it’s too much.  It’s crisp and has a hard initial impact and while those aren’t per say “bad” with its inclination towards abundance…….. my little ears start yearning for it to stop before I’ve gotten 30 seconds in.   Its clarity is outstanding for the price, I really must commend it for that, for closed can’s too it’s crazy good but……. again my little ears like treble that’s is softer on the first strike and then decays into a long and gentle shimmer.  The treble here is fast, hard and then goes into a swift decay.

If you love treble, these are astoundingly good for the price and no less for their being closed.  Seriously wow good in their technical skill.  It’s just not me however, these are going for the fans of the DBA-02.  Dazzlingly snappy, fast and exciting treble that explodes and demands your attention.

Soundstage:  Once more, for a closed can, they do pretty well.  They have all that treble going on up top and thus despite them not being as airy as the siblings these go a cracking job.  The mids lack a certain air but still they try so hard to capture a breathy quality.  The bass though that’s mostly where they close in somewhat.  They behave like a closed can will, the bass is a bit mid bass humpy and the bass impacts are like that of an enclosed space.  The bass is up and close, powerful where the mids take a bit of space back in front of you.  Then the treble comes exploding along either side of you again as with the bass it’s somewhat close in.  Instrument separation and interpretation though are both a bit middling.  Still, for their closed nature they are nothing like as enclosed as you would expect from an el cheapo.

Comfort:  So again I have to compare to the HD681 these may look almost identical but these are closed did you know.  Thus I kept on the pleather pads and they are never quite so easy on the ear, well to me, as the velvet ones.  However you swap to the velvet and you lose isolation.  However that doesn’t really matter.  The big difference here is that the clamping force is waaaaaaaaaaaay different.  The open HD681 didn’t need to clamp as they don’t isolate and so they are going to be indoor only can’s right?  These however have the potential to be used outside and for that you need more grip.  They clamp waaaaaaaaaaay more.  It’s not bothersome though it does impinge the ears with their round pads.  So I could get maybe 90 min of solid use before my ears wanted a breather.  You know the drill, not sore but that feeling of relief on their removal.

Cable:  Nothing terribly special one way or the other.  It is nice that it’s modular though a little unusual that it’s a male rather than female termination on the headphone itself.  Oh and you get a 1m cable and a 3m one, plus a 6.25mm to 3.5mm adapter and a strange little clip to hold things together.

Isolation:  They isolate pretty well.  It’ll depend greatly on the level of seal your ears and the pads can make happen but for me, it was alright.  They would be okay for out and about, maybe, just maybe enough to use on a bus if you were so inclined.  Actually I’m sure you could just fine so long as you don’t be “that guy” with the volume blasting out and making everyone want to kill you.  Not Tube or flight worthy unless you’ve nothing else, they just don’t make a good enough seal with those round pads.  Still easily enough to make you road kill if you don’t watch where you’re going though.

Build Quality:  Just like their siblings, these are okay.  Though make no mistake these up close are cheap and plasticky, that head band rest bit especially feels distinctly unpremium.  However seeing as they are cheap as chips I have no problem.  Their actual construction seems all fine but fancy and premium looking it is not.  Still, you can swap the pads and the cable is modular so it all should stand up well to life.

Aesthetics:  Yeah, these may look fancy in a pic but up close, not so much.  On the plus side you’re not likely to get mugged for them.  Their looks are, err, fine.  Nothing ugly per say but they don’t exactly have me swooning.

Amped/Unamped:  So these being priced as they are, are not super likely to meet the likes of my Solo Ultra in the wild.  Nor really are they likely to meet the E7/E9 either.  So they are maybe not really what I should have been spending most of my time with them with but…… well I did.  Whipping out the phones though, they ran just fine.  Actually you know, their acoustic balance was if anything better out of my rubbish Nexus 5.  The phone hasn’t the power to drive that treble back and forth with the furry that a big amp can power.  They were not exactly refined but their bight was tamed.  Their abundance too was dialled down a bitty and thus were more gentle on my ears.  They are highly impressive and their tonal balance shifts much more in my favour.  I really can’t quite capture how well and pleasing these are running out of a meh phone.  The bass takes a little bit of a dive too and the mids sacrifice a touch of breath but given the treble taming my ears are still in favour.  So, basically if you want these to run harder, with more lower end and upper end impact amp it.  Otherwise don’t feel you have to just because they are big cans, they are super easy to drive and they work great too.

Accessories:  For the price, again you get a pretty great bundle.  You get the two cables, a baggy the adapter and that curious cable clip thingy.  Then they toss in the spare ear pads so you have the option of the pleather or velvet.  For the price that you get both pad types is just awesome.  Aside from getting a hard case rather than the baggy what else could you possibly want, though at their price the baggy is perfectly justifiable.

Value:  Super-duper great value.  They are a bit more than the HD681 EVO’s so I guess that makes those better value but…… it’s easier to do an open can.  When you close a headphone you cause acoustic issues that need to be compensated for and Superlux have done a stupendously good job of it for the dirt cheap price tag they’ve attached.  For the grand sum of £30 or US$40 they’re creepy good.  I had to go back several times and check I was looking at the right product, that they really were that price, that I had been sent the right thing.  They are so good I kept thinking na, I’ve made a mistake somewhere.  While they are proportionally rather more than the open 681 but even still, if you don’t care about looks the acoustic capability per currency unit is of the very highest order.

Conclusion:  You know these are an irritating headphone to review, I don’t like that something such as this comes in and I end up gushing all over it.  Sure for something vastly more expensive it feels more natural but these being so priced, well they still aren’t competing with the likes of the Senn HD600 so in absolutist terms they aren’t super amazing.  However they are so cheap, it’s that price that makes these, make you go wow!!!  In technical terms they are competent, capable, reasonably well balance and reasonably detailed.  Then you factor in the price tag, and wow again.  It’s not that these are some wonder headphone because acoustically they aren’t super special but their price tag is what changes everything

These are good.  In absolute terms, acoustically their ability firmly places them into the realms of good.  In the land of crazy audiophile headphones these can hold their own.  I would love to see what people would say about these in a blind test at a CanJam.  For what in audiophile land is throwaway money that they can offer you something than isn’t just listenable but actually decently good and enjoyable to listen to.  That offers up enough detail to be pleasing and with tonal competence to boot.  Truly the wonders of mass Chinese manufacturing has blessed us all.

So should you / would I buy one?  Yes and maybe, they are a little happy in the treble for me and with round pads, that clamping force, these couldn’t be my only headphone bit if you want an outside beater headphone?  Hells yeah!  So long as you’re not a looks snob because well, they aren’t the prettiest things ever yet they so much more than make up for it in audio quality.  It has me wondering what the rest of the Superlux range are like, I mean I confess I had assumed they were some el cheapo brand from china that made so so stuff, naff and plasticky but sold because it was cheap and looks alright in a photo.  The 681, well maybe that was a fluke but this a second one that has left me a little bitty blown away as to how good they are.  If their other products keep this sort of value for money then it’s a brand that deserves to be making a great big splash in the headphone market.

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