It wasn’t too long ago that professional studio headphones used to cost an arm and a leg to buy. To get anything near decent studio performance, expect to spend at least $100 or more for a pair of premium cans from Sony or Sennheiser. That’s not the case anymore with the emergence of new brands such as Superlux and Knowledge Zenith (KZ) to challenge the status quo in the market for premium audiophile products.
These days, audiophiles with tight budgets can count themselves as lucky. Hi-Fi studio headphones are now no longer the domain of only those with deep pockets as shown by the $37 Superlux HD681 Evo which is the subject of this review. At such a low price tag, one might mistaken the Evo to be one of those cheap gimmicky headphones that you’d typically find at flea markets. That all changes once you put the Evo on and get blown away by its amazing audio quality.
The headphones featured in this review is the second version of the HD681 Evo and features an extra set of velvet pads and two cables in different lengths (1 meter and 3 meter). It also comes with a soft carrying case. The Evo was initially priced at $50 when it was first released three years ago but now you can get it for just $37.53 shipped at GearBest.
- Design: Dynamic, semi-open
- Driver unit: 50mm neodymium
- Frequency response: 10Hz-30000Hz
- Sensitivity: 98 dB SPL (1mW @ 1KHz)
- Maximum input: 300mW
- Pmpedance: 32 ohms
- Cable: 2 detachable cable lengths provided (1 meter and 3 meter)
- Earmuffs: 2 sets (leatherrete and velvet)
- Headband: Self-adjusting design
- Input Jack: Gold-plated 3.5mm stereo (3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter included)
- Weight: 265g (without cable)
Build Quality and Comfort
The Evo is constructed mostly of plastic but nothing on it feels too shabby or cheap. As a studio headphone, it looks and feels the part. Aesthetically, it has a modern, updated look and is available in black or white. The dual headband at the top does a great job in hugging the headphones to your head.
In terms of comfort, the Evo is excellent. I have worn the Evo and watched 3 hour movies with it and have hardly felt any strain or fatique on my head. In fact, they’re so comfortable that you won’t feel like taking them off once you’ve worn them. I reckon most people can go on wearing the Evo for a few hours without any issues.
Some reviews of the Evo have pointed out that the soft headband is somewhat fragile and can get torn after prolonged use. However, I’ve not had any issues with it so far after two months of regular use. Torn headbands could be the result of rough use or handling but this is something that remains to be seen on my headphones.
One weak point of the Evo’s design is the 3.5mm connector jack located on the left side which has a rather thin neck. Considering that most people would attempt to plug in the cable by just pushing it into the jack with one hand, the thin neck of this connector may start showing signs of wear and tear over time. With that said, I normally hold the jack firmly with one hand while pushing in the cable with the other hand to ensure that there is no unnecessary strain put on the thin rubber neck.
The Evo delivers a distinctly v-shaped sound signature which is clearly quite different from its similarly-priced sibling — the HD668B which has a warmer signature. Bass is dramatically punchy and is great if you like listening to music genres such as hip-hop and pop or simply anything that emphasizes on punchy bass and strong lows.
Despite its over-the-top punchiness, bass on the Evo is still quite tight and well-controlled, showing no signs of the sloppiness you’d normally get in cheap headphones. With that said, the Evo is meant for people who like their music or audio with a strong and punchy v-shaped signature. If you prefer a more natural sound signature, go for the HD668B instead.
The highs on the Evos are also worth mentioning here, sounding crisp and lively without sounding too harsh. Listen to tracks like Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean and the Evo will show its true colors.
Whatever your audio preferances are, the Evo will probably come off as impressive considering its $37 price tag. In fact, the sound quality you get on them are comparable to headphones from big brands that cost five times as much!
With its highly affordable price tag, the Superlux HD681 Evo delivers plenty of value and audio goodness in a package that can easily rival any big name headphones that cost five times more. It has a distinctly v-shaped sound signature and should appeal to those who like their bass strong and punchy. Audio quality is impressive across the frequency range and is particularly good on the highs.
Although it does come with a jack that looks somewhat fragile in its design, the Evo is overall an amazing set of cans. Costing just $37 shipped at GearBest, you can’t go wrong with the Evo if you’re looking for professional studio headphones on a shoestring budget.