A review of the Superlux HD681 EVO Headphones

Hey, guys! Here’s another personal pick-up of mine. Sorry for the late posting, I just got lazy! I’ll be posting more reviews and looks, and you can definitely check out my YouTube channel here for video reviews on the stuff that’s posted here on the blog. Anyway, I got a new pair of headphones for myself, the Superlux HD681 EVO.

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I’m kind of an audiophile, but in the sense that my ears just want to listen to something good. I’ll know the loss in sound quality when I’m listening to a song with a bit rate lesser than 256KB and when I’m using subpar earphones like the generic Apple iPod earphones. But my ears also aren’t that sensitive that I’ll notice the little nuances in all of the different high fidelity type headphones and music players. But whatever sounds good, sounds good, and these babies definitely sound good!

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Now, I got my headphones from this guy named Peter, who owns an online retail shop based in Cebu called Power Up Audio. He’s selling headphones, in-ear monitors, amplifiers and accessories from different brands, all at good prices! There’s no physical shop (yet!) but you can test his items during meet-ups, and he also does nationwide shipping and gives warranty on all the products from brands such as Fiio, Superlux, Sony, Brainwavz, T-Peos, Soundmagic, Sandisk, Rock-it Sounds, X-1, AKG, MEElectronics, Koss, Sennheiser, V-Moda and many more! My headphones have a temporary replacement period, and 1 year personal warranty. You can check out his page here. He knows his stuff too, so you can ask him on what headphones or earphones would suit your preferences and tastes in music and also with regards to budget. So definitely drop by his page!

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Back to the review. It comes in this huge box that is basically a slip-on cover to a brown cardboard box. Nothing too fancy, just a mixture of glossy and matte print. The front displays the headphones, which are available in black and white, with the Superlux HD681 EVO branding on it. Superlux Philippines also offers 1 year free warranty as shown on the sticker on the right side, and you can check out their offerings on their official page here.

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A great headphone gets even better. The HD681 EVO is an updated version of the original best-selling HD681, with a different look and different sound signature. The back displays all the necessary information, and basically, these are the specs:

  • Dynamic, Semi-open type
  • 50mm, Neodymium driver
  • 98 dB SPL (1mW) sensitivity
  • 10-30,000 Hz frequency response
  • 300mW maximum power
  • 32 ohms (copper-coated aluminum wire) rated impedance
  • Leather Earpad
  • 3.5N caliper pressure
  • 1m & 3m straight, single-sided; plugin cable on headphones
  • Gold plated stereo mini plug connectors
  • 265g Net Weight (without the cable)

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Removing the slip-on cover, we’ve got this plain brown cardboard box with the Superlux kind of etched in. Doesn’t feel very premium at all, but with the price you’re paying, it’s expected that they have to cut corners. At least they didn’t skimp on the sound quality of the headphone!

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It comes with a instruction manual with all the necessary information on the HD681 EVO.

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It also has a gold plated stereo mini plug connector for those other type of connections. The black clip on the plug is actually a clip that secures the wires from the female to male jack when you wear your headphones so it won’t come out.

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We’ve got a handy black carrying pouch with a basic black nylon or canvass material. The Superlux wording is in the middle, with text in a red outline.

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And we’ve got the 1M and 3M cables to connect the headphones to your music player! The 3M cable is handy for when you’re in the house, but when you’re on the go, the 1M cable does just fine.

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All in all, the accessories are very nice. I wish they would have come with some cleaning materials, but then the production cost would go up then! All in all, they have the essentials on what you’d need for your basic listening experience.

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Now, on to the headphone itself! I got it in that white color, and it looks really sleek! The white sections are a plastic, with both matte and glossy finishes. This headphone is huge! My only concern with getting it in white is if it yellows and darkens over time, but only time will tell!

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You can see the HD681 EVO branding, which gives it a nice touch. The workings of the glossy and matte finish give it a good look as well. This is a semi-open type of headphone, as you can see with the vents. This means that the sound will leak out a bit and you can hear the outside surroundings, but also gives more headroom and soundstage and that ‘airy’ feel as opposed to the regular closed headphones.

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That male jack is connected to the female jack of the 1M or 3M cable that comes along with it, and you can use the clip to secure and make sure that it doesn’t come out.

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Now, on the sides of the headphone, we’ve got Braille indicators. My friend who is a med student actually told me that Braille is used for the blind people to feel the dots and make out the information. It adds a nice touch, and looks kind of cool too. You can see the ‘l’ and ‘r’ for the left and right indicators.

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But if you’re a brat about it, on the inside portion of the headphone, there is a ‘R’ indicator in a red circle. But more or less, you’ll know that which side is which after a while.

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We’ve got these leather earpads that are very generous and very large. They cup over your ear completely, as they are huge. They feel nice on the ear.

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There is some slight padding on the plastic strip that will rest on top of your head. These feel different from your regular leather padding on the top, but these will definitely last longer with usage.

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It’s a self adjusting headband, and will fit your head nicely. There are two metal cables that give you that fit, with the Superlux branding on the flip side of the headband.

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Have I mentioned that these headphones are huge? They look stylish and people might mistake you for a DJ (which might be a good or bad thing) but they are best for home usage. Lugging these around the mall look bulky, but they are still portable to some sense.

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You can see that self-adjusting headband with this shot. It might be a concern to those with big heads, but it’ll do for most head shapes and sizes. The clamp force on the headphones are a bit on the tight side, so if you’re not used to it, you better get something else or just get used to it! These will clamp to the point where it is noticeable after a while, but it won’t give you headaches.

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The over-all build quality on these is good. It’s a bit plasticky, and is definitely huge, so it might not feel as premium and form-fitting as the other offerings out there, but it does make up for with its great sound quality and its over-all aesthetic looks.

I burned these in for about 40 hours as the usual practice. I used my LG phone with Dolby Mobile to give it a bit more surround sound. This was un-amped.

Now, on to the sound quality! I’m not an audiophile, like I mentioned before, but I will give you my honest opinion on what my ears perceive. It is a very warm headphone, which means that it’s not as cold and sharp and will not make your ears fatigued, giving you longer listening experiences. It might be a plus and minus to some people, but for me, I prefer it this way.

It offers real good bass and lows. It really puts the emphasis here, as you can feel the hump and thump in the nether regions. It’s not branded as a basshead headphone, but for those who want a headphone that offers some extra thump, this might be a good option. I know I like it. Peter of Power Up Audio also mentioned that these aren’t really good for electronica and dubstep, as the bass is a bit slow to react. But personally, I don’t really listen to those genres, so it doesn’t bother me that much. For the regular pop, rock and alternative genres, the bass is just good and fine!

With regards to the mids and highs, they have good clarity and composition. But with the big hump and thump of the bass, and the warmth of this headphone, they tend to be a bit relaxed, so the voices and guitars might be lost just a tad bit in the background. So that treble is a bit toned down and when you want it to be the emphasis in the song, it might just fall a bit short. But reproduction of all the details and layers are very, very good, and you can hear even the little nuances. But this is what you expect with warmer headphones, so if you do want the voices and guitars to be the true emphasis with mids and highs, you need to check out other headphones with that cold and sharp feeling that take the treble much better.

Note, with some songs, when the treble hits a certain peak, it might crackle just a tiny bit. You can hear the fizz when it reaches that point, so that was something I was a bit disappointed in. But it isn’t often, and you can just barely hear it.

This will benefit from an amplifier to some extent, as I listened to it with a FiiO E6 amp, and giving it just that little bit of extra juice gave it much more clarity in the bass and over-all sound quality. If un-amped, it still sounds good, but it is a bit harder to drive, so the volume might not be there for some songs. I’m planning to purchase an amp soon, still from Power Up Audio, so I can increase the volume and over-all sound quality of this. But, un-amped, it still sounds good for sure.

These are marketed as Professional DJ Headphones, but the reproduction of the details is that it is a bit colored with a bass emphasis. If you want a truly flat experience, you might look somewhere else, as these are fun sounding and very forgiving. All in all, I am very pleased with the purchase I made. It’s my first time to purchase a hi-fi quality type of headphone, and all I’ve had to benchmark before were my earphones, the Sennheiser CX300 and the Audio Technica CKS55. These were warm and basshead IEM’s, and I’m glad that I made the purchase of these Superlux HD681 EVO’s, as they offer a similar sound signature. What I really found good was the increased headroom and soundstage when transitioning from earphones to headphones.  You really do feel a big difference, as it isn’t as confined as it is in an earphone or IEM. This is partially due to it being semi-open, so I was a bit disappointed that sound did leak from the outside, since I was used to the perfect enclosure of the IEM. Those are the trade-offs, I guess.

Now, for those of you who are looking to venture into the world of good audio, and are tired of the crappiness of the regular stock earphones, you should definitely check these out. They’re miles better than your stock headphones or earphones, and they won’t cost an arm and a leg. These headphones cost PHP 1,990.00 and they’ve been worth every penny! No rating or score sheets here, but just my opinion. The sound quality you generate from these, matched with a good player and a decent bit rate with the songs, will make a transitioning first time listener very happy! Good reproduction, with an emphasis on the bass. That’s that. So definitely check it out!

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to message or comment below.

Until next time,

Cheers!

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7 thoughts on “A review of the Superlux HD681 EVO Headphones

  1. Great review, I like how detailed it is. I plan to use these for mixing in a little home studio and reviews have been great. Love the design (the original 681s were downright ugly), how has the whiteness held up? No yellow creeping in? Are the glossy bits scratch-magnets, if they are i’ll stay away from black. Seem to have flat sound with slight bass hump, but thats fine. How is the sound stage of these?

    1. The whiteness has held up just fine, it’s a bit dirty because of the accumulated dirt and sweat, but no yellowing so far. The glossy parts aren’t scratch magnets, although it may differ with how careful you are. I personally put it in the pouch after listening, so there’s bound to be no scratches. Yes, it’s mostly flat with a huge bass hump and low end. Since this is semi-open, the soundstage is fairly wide, you can feel the presence and that open feel. Only downside is that you can hear outside noise quite a bit. But all in all a good purchase that’s worth it!

  2. Ginagamit mo ba to pang portable i.e travelling? Okay kaya siya o pang home use lang talaga magandang gamitin due to size? BTW great and detailed review :)

    1. Kung long flights sa airplane, okay cguro. I wouldn’t advise using this as a portable though due to its sheer size. I’m using it sa office lang. Thanks! :)

  3. Some genuinely great information, Glad I discovered this. Good teaching is onefourth preparation and threefourths theater. by Gail. aeeebkeebefk

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