Superlux HD 681 EVO Professional Monitor Headphones Review

Picking good quality headphones within a budget is a difficult task. Thankfully, the Superlux HD 681 EVO Pro Monitor Headphones is one pair we can buy that sounds good without breaking the bank.

Design and Build

The HD 681 EVO is huge. But it’s not huge for the sake of being huge. The large cans allow our ears to be fully enclosed to help eliminate ambient sound. The semi-open design is also clearly seen from the sides. Some chroming on the headphones make it a bit flashier than it already is.

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We’ve got some brail nibs to help us tell which one is left and which one is right without having to look for the L and R marks. The headband itself is made from two separate bent tubes. It is not very clear what the material is but it is durable. I flexed the headband outward to an unreasonable width with confidence and it didn’t break nor did it feel like it was going to.

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A leatherette headband is present that adjusts to fit a head size by pushing it down on the head while wearing the HD 681 EVO. The HD 681 EVO feels snug and balanced when worn which helps make it feel lighter than expected on the head despite the size and heft of the headphones. Leatherette or synthetic leather is also used on the ear pads. As the headphones cover the ears well, the leatherette ear pads made it a much warmer experience than I’d like.

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The cans have an all plastic body and Superlux combines matte and glossy surfaces in the design. The glossy parts do attract scratches quite easily while the matte surfaces feel like it will get dirty over time. The headphones feel durable even though it is made of plastic and it does feel like it can withstand the daily wear and tear that one might encounter working as a professional sound tech.

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Another nice touch from Superlux is making the audio cable detachable so that we can pick the cable length that we want or need to use. The box contains 2 gold tipped 3.5mm audio cables; one is 1 meter long and the other is 3 meters long. And if these cables fray over time, we can easily replace is with other 3.5mm cables. The package also includes a gold plated all metal 6.35mm plug adapter that will allow us to hook these cans up to sound boards or amps without any fuss.

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We also get a pouch for the headphones, but the pouch feels too small for the HD 681 EVO. I literally had to cram it into the pouch. Also note that the pouch is made from nylon and easily left scratches on the HD 681 EVO’s glossy bits. These babies come in two colors, black and white. The all black looks better for me as it helps make it look smaller. Moving on to the sound quality.

Sound quality

Initially, I thought for a pro monitor headphones, these are actually bad. Turns out it just needs a few hours of burn in to reveal its true colors. I was actually surprised to hear how well these things performed. The HD 681 EVO delivered a very nice balance of bass, midrange, and treble. The trebles are crisp but aren’t painfully sharp to the ear. The midrange was very balanced. The bass was present but did not overwhelm the other ranges. This might be important to professionals who need to hear things as they should be because the nice balance allows for some pretty accurate sound reproduction if you ask me. For folks who just love music, it all adds up to a great listening experience.

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Noise cancelation isn’t really a feature of these cans, so I really did not expect anything in that department. The only way to cancel out ambient noise would be to overwhelm it by cranking up the volume. If you’re a pro and need to listen to something while recording audio, be wary of some leaking when you crank up the volume at high levels.

Specifications

  • HD681 EVO: Dynamic, semi-open
  • Drive unit: Ø50 mm, neodymium iron
  • Sensitivity: 98 dB SPL (1mW) at 1KHz
  • Frequency response: 10 – 30,000 Hz
  • Maximum input power: 300 mW
  • Nominal impedance: 32 Ω @ 1KHz
  • Ear: Artificial Leather
  • Ear Pressure: HD681 EVO: about 3.5 Newtons
  • Cable: Detachable 1 m and 3 m straight, unilateral outlet; 3.5 Li
  • Access headphone connector body
  • Connector: 3.5mm stereo gold-plated connectors

Comparison

We did not have another pro monitor headphone on hand so we’re comparing this to a Sony MDR XB400. These are different headphone classes so this section might be helpful for folks that are contemplating on buying monitor headphones or extra bass headphones.

Bass reproduction is thumpier with the MDR XB400 but it doesn’t mean that the HD 681 EVO is lacking in this department. What I noticed is that the HD 681 EVO allows the trebles to be heard more vs the MDR XB400.

The HD 681 EVO is also built tougher than the Sony MDR XB400. Honestly, I could not flex the headbands of the MDR XB400 as much as I did with the HD 681 EVO because it felt like it was going to snap. The plastics on the MDR XB400 also felt thinner VS the plastics used on the HD 681 EVO.

The MDR XB400 feels colder to the ear while wearing it overtime, unlike the much warmer HD 681 EVO. Moreover, noise reduction is better on the MDR XB400. A closed earpiece design and a softer ear pad contribute to the MDR XB400’s advantage in this area.

Overall, for more bass the MDR XB400 wins while for toughness and accuracy of sound representation the Superlux HD 681 EVO wins…and the Superlux HD 681 EVO is cheaper too.

Conclusion

After listening to my favorite tracks with the Superlux HD 681 EVO, I really couldn’t believe how nice of a sound it can reproduce. It’s not just nice, it’s also quite accurate. Now, we’d expect a hefty price for a premium-sounding headphone, but that is absolutely not the case here. For PHP1,990 the HD 681 EVO is quite a bargain for a professional monitor headphone and it comes with a 1 year replacement warranty!

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If you’re hunting for a great pair of headphones without breaking the bank and do not mind the size, check out the Superlux HD 681 EVO. The Superlux HD 681 EVO professional monitor headphone is worth it. Audition one out in Egghead at Robinson’s Galleria.


13 Comments

  1. These are pretty sweet for the money :)

  2. sw33t littl3 monst3r!! :D

  3. So I guess there is no need for battery on this right? I got a question though. Compared to a beats studio or a marshall headphones how big is it?

    • wert303b /

      These are a lot bigger than the Marshall Major. I think about 50% bigger…

      the Marshall Major is a on-ear headphone right? this one will could possibly fit your entire ear easily :)

    • wert303b /

      oh yeah, no batts required…I think the batts are usually there for noise cancelling or for wireless headphones…this headphone don’t do any of that haha

      • Awesome..thanks man..I got an oem beats studio but I don’t bring it outside. I’m wondering if this headphone is travel friendly or should I just content myself with earphones. Haha

        • wert303b /

          hmmm…if you just hang your headphones around your neck while traveling, then this should be OK if you don’t mind the size.

          As far as stowing this in your bag…note that it doesn’t have any hinges that make it more compact.

          For me, I’d go with earphones :)

  4. Have it. Awesome after burn in, the only thing is that it’s heavy :D

  5. d4ryl3 /

    I tried these once @ Egghead. I’ve only used IEMs, so what I noticed is that the output on the EVOs is low. I was advised [on the head-fi boards] to get an amp. Is this normal, the low output, on these cans or is it true to most headphones?

    Thanks.

    • these particular cans have that low output issue compared to other ones. amp would be good, but isn’t that necessary since the only problem for 681 is the volume.

      • Skee, if his source is unable to provide enough power to drive the HD681 (manifesting as low volume levels), then he obviously needs an amplifier. Stop spreading misinformation.

  6. Bryan, you do not know what you are talking about. The HD681 is a great value headphone, and I own one myself, but it IS NOT A PROFESSIONAL MONITOR HEADPHONE. It is far from neutral, and is only for personal use. You do not even know what noise cancellation is. The correct term to use is passive isolation. Those are two different things. Noise cancellation is an active technology that does not have anything to do with the HD681.

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