Studio headphones are mostly seen as expensive and used only by professionals due to their nature of having a flat and balanced sound signature. While it is true that studio headphones such as the Audio-Technica ATH-M50, Grado SR325e, and Sony MDR-1R to name a few are expensive, there are cheaper, budget-friendly alternatives.
Here we have the Superlux HD681 Evo studio headphones. Superlux is a well known brand that produces high-quality audio products, and the HD681 Evo isn’t far from the stage.
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With a price of only $50, the Superlux HD681 Evo has some very neat accesories as well as a very simplistic, yet easy to unbox, packaging.
The headphones features an extra pair of earcups – a foam type and a lush pleather cup. The ones that I’m currently using are the foam cups but the standard earcups of the headphones are the pleather ones.
The headphones also come with a soft carrying bag to keep your headphones safe while travelling. Despite it not being a hardcase, the effort that Superlux placed was very comforting especially with it’s initial price of $50.
The headphone features 2 cables, one 1-meter cable which is its standard and one 3-meter cable which is intended for studio/home use. The cables aren’t your typical 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable that we usually see on detachable headphones, but they are a pair of 3.5mm male to 3.5mm female cables that connects to the male end of the headphone.
Asides from the cable, they also included a 6.3mm converter that is very useful for studios and recorders alike.
Design and Build Quality
The HD681 Evo stands out as one large headphone that is slightly larger than the MDR-1R and significantly larger than the Sennheiser Momentum. Supporting the headphone are two headbands which is similar with the Siberia series headsets of Steelseries.
On top of the headphone is the Superlux logo printed, and the overall plastic used was durable and didn’t feel cheap at all. It is lightweight as well and the overall feel of the headphone was very good and durable.
The HD681 Evo includes two different earcups – foam, and pleather. Both of them, however, is similar in sound quality and the major difference between them was overall comfort and isolation.
Overall the comfort of the HD681 Evo is superb. It is lightweight and the headband’s force is distributed evenly to your head and throughout the numerous hours of recording and average listening, I had no trouble having them on.
The HD681 Evo, just like it’s predecessor, are a pair of Semi-Closed/Open headphones, which means it isn’t entirely closed back as well as it being open back. This allows for a wider, diversified and detailed soundstage than most closed headphones, but lacks the wide soundstage of an open back headphone.
An advantage of a semi-open back headphone over a closed back is better sound quality with the cost of some isolation, while the advantage of a semi-open over an opened back is that semi-open/closed back headphones projects less onto its surroundings which means the person sitting next to you will be less likely to hear what you’re playing than an open back headphone, but with the cost of overall sound quality.
With that in mind, the overall noise isolation of the HD681 Evo are actually good, but not suitable for commuting. For average listening on home, you can’t get wrong with these headphones.
The Superlux HD681 Evo’s overall sound quality is superb. Thanks to its semi-open back design, the HD681 Evo’s sound signature has a spacious sound stage that is paired with an almost flat frequency range.
There is an emphasis on mids and bass, however, as compared to other open back headphones such as the Grado SR80e, the HD681 has a noticeable advantage, but doesn’t empower the rest of the spectrum.
On bass heavy genres such as Dubstep and EDM, the HD681 Evo is capable of bringing the genre to life as the bass is powering and at the same time, empower the rest of the sound spectrum.
Songs of indie bands such as the Paper Kites, The Shins, and the Narratives felt heart warming and the sound stage that the HD681 Evo was able to create complimentary as well.
Studio Headphones are a necessity for every DJ and every recording studio, but since most decent monitoring headphones are above the $100 price range, choices are far from the catch. The HD681 Evo, however, is a solid exception as it encases everything that a studio headphone should sound, and have.
For Php2,000, the Superlux HD681 Evo is a premier choice especially for those who are looking for a cheap but decent pair of high quality studio monitoring headphones. But if you prefer only the best studio headphones in 2019, make sure you set the bar higher and choose only the most worthy one to maximize your experience.
Where to buy:
The Superlux HD681 Evo is becoming rare nowadays, but selected stores such as Odyssey, AstroVision, and AstroPlus have them.