Headphones (or “Cans”)
I’m not a headphone guy really. I avoid using cans whenever possible as I was never comfortable with them. Over the years I have had some 16 pairs of headphones, most were “on-ear”, which are the most uncomfortable things I know. (I’d rather be water-boarded than wear “on-ear” headphones). I prefer listening with full range speakers. That said though in my current situation sometimes headphones are required. So I set about finding a pair that will give me the sound I want.
In that process I learned there is much to consider in looking for headphones. That’s ok, the problem is that now days auditioning headphones is next to impossible. We can thank the internet for that in part. It used to be that one could walk into a stereo shop and try out at least 9 or 10 different headphones (or “cans” as they were called back then). Today, your lucky to find a shop with one. So now days the only way to do it is to purchase and return and there are limits to this method in how many returns one can have at any particular place. There is also a cost factor even if you are not paying shipping to return headphones you don’t want, you are likely paying restocking fees. If you’re trying say 6 pair of headphones and paying 15% to 20% restock fees you could be throwing away $40 to $400 depending on cost just in returning 5 pairs. The best thing to do now is read, read and read and study graphs on headphones to narrow your choices down to maybe three at most and less is better.
As with speakers, there is no such thing as perfect in headphones, it really boils down to what flavor do you like? Warm, bright, wide or narrow sound stage and application to name a few. Then there is comfort, that is one very good reason to bring headphones back into the shops for one. Do you want on ear or over ear, leatherette or velour, closed or open, etc.
Here are the headphones I now have on hand:
Monoprice 8323 Premium Headphones
Takstar Pro 80
I’ve done a casual review on each.
Everything is my opinion and subjective. Your mileage will vary.
I’ll start with this one:
The Monoprice 8323 Premium headphones
Frequency range: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Ear cups: Circumaural (over-the-ear)
These are closed back headphones. I got these about 3 years ago because they were $23 for over-ear cans. (They are now $18) For the price point, they are decent cans sound wise, but that’s where it stops.
Build quality on these is not very good. They are 100% plastic and not high quality plastic either.
Comfort: This is where these headphones fail dramatically. The clamping force is too tight even for average size heads (I’m thinking of using them as holding clamps for glued items…ok, maybe not quite that bad, but bad enough). Ear pads are soft and covered in polyurethane, but are on the shallow side. For me, I find that the driver assemblies press against my ear lobes and is irritating in short order. They also barely fit over my ears and I don’t have huge ears. There are three padded bumps on the headband which are memory foam, but compress down to the plastic easily and will get uncomfortable for some folks.
On the plus side, the cable is about 10 feet and detachable and halfway decent quality. The one unique thing to these cans is the that the ear cups can pivot for one ear listening as applicable for Deejay duties and such. The ear pads are replaceable, but proprietary, so you can’t get say, velour ear pads, you have to stick with the same thing.
Sound signature: Now as for sound, these are not bad cans in my opinion. The claimed frequency range is 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Impedance is 40 Ohms.
Bass/Lows: The Bass reaches low and is not muddy and fairly accurate, but somewhat light of impact, so bass-heads may not find these cans to their liking.
Mids: Mids have nice presence and are clear, but I find they get ever so slightly lost the more complex the music is. Mid/lows are good. Female vocals seem slightly laid back while male vocals seem slightly more forward.
Highs: The highs are accurate, clear and not fatiguing or harsh at all. I detected no distortion or excessive and errant sibilance. There do not seem to be any dramatic peaks or drops.
Overall: Staging is somewhat narrow, but that is expected for closed back cans. There is decent detail and separation of instruments.
However, due to the extreme discomfort of these cans (to me) I can only wear them for about 10 minutes max, if that. It’s really too bad too because they sound decent in my opinion.
Pros: Sound quality, replaceable ear pads, detachable cable.
Cons: Build quality, comfort or lack thereof (too tight clamping force, shallow ear pads and very little headband padding).