Sunday, 9 March 2014

ATH-S300 review - budget winner? Not quite

     The ATH-S300 is a budget "street monitoring" headphone from Audio Technica. Audio Technica is one of the world's most foremost audio brands, so can they please with this paitpair of budget headphones for the daily commuter?

Pros: Good sound for money, folds flat, one side cable

Cons: quite bloated midbass, recessed mids, slightly recesd treble, looks like an inverted satellite dish on my d fatigueing presentation of sound.

The ATH-S300 come in 5 different colours

The packaging looks really good

     The ATH-S300 is very light weight and comfortable on my ears, with hardly    any clamping on my head. Now, you may suspect this leads to bad sound isolation, but the fine fit earpads provide extremely good noise isolation with really good comfort. However, if there was just a thin pad on the headband, comfort would be even better. The little surface area of the headband on top of your head creates a hot pressure point after a while.

     The design of these pair of headphones look really cool and may look bulky but they are actually quite compact and the earcups also swivel to fold flat for compact storage. I found a random drawstring pouch at home so I wastogether,  use it to sis, re my headphones in my bag.

     The sound quality did not sound really good when first out of the box, but they improved a little over just the next few minutes of usage. The mids and highs were brought and the bass also improved. However, the sound quality is still not impressive for the price, S$58,  as there are other competitiors such as  the Sony MDR-ZX300 which is retailing at S$55, which is better with a more neutral and even sound, better and crisper vocals and a less fatigueing and hard sound. The ATH-S300 has very recessed mids which is coupled with quite a bit of mid-bass bloat. While listening to classical music, the mids were so recessed it was quite terrible, especially during piano sonatas or orchestral pieces. Instrumental separation also was quite bad. Treble is also slightly metallic, listening to higher strings such as violins. These pair of headphones are meant more for listening to modern, bass-heavy songs. Slightly aggressive treble does lead to a fatigueing listen after a while. The treble is also, surprisingly, a bit recessed so some songs have a dull, dark sound. I am not too sure how aggresive treble and recessed treble can be produced. The 2 just do not seem to go together, yet here it is. For budget  cans with better, smoother overall sound and sweeter bass, you should go for cans from Sennheiser or Sony.

     Overall, I would say that these are the go to headphones if you are on a budget and want extreme bassy sound, comfort and noise isolation. These pair of headphones did well in all these aspects and even managed to surpass expectations of headphones at this price range, though they do lose to almost all the Sennheiser and Sony budget range.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

MDR-ZX300 review - Budget Goodness!

     I am here today with an MDR-ZX300 review. These are a pair of budget cans costing S$55 from Sony. They are basically the more expensive sibling to the MDR-ZX100. The styling of both headphones are the same except that the earcups of the MDR-ZX300 are shiny while those of the MDR-ZX100 are not. So how are they, let us find out.

Pros: Nice design, slim, easily identifiable right side due to red piece of plastic, balanced sound with good vocals, rather sweet sounding for the price.

Cons: Nothing of note.
They come in 5 colours all with shiny earcups

The shiny earcups look good, don't they?
The box looks good too

     These headphones look really good, with handsome stylish looks. They are extremely light and do not clamp too much on your head, so they feel really good. The earpads are soft and comfortable. They have a thick 1.2m cable which terminates in an L-shaped gold plated stereo mini plug. The cable is tangle free, so the many times I pulled it out of my bag after putting it inside the cable is most of the time never tangled.

     The sound quality is superb, with even balanced sound and great bass. Bass is nicely textured and defined, and is quite good without being overpowering in the slightest. Mids and highs are profoundly smooth for the price. Of course they will not sound as good as more expensive offerings from Audio Technica, Sennheiser and even Sony itself, but they sound really good for the price and sound even better than cans from other companies such as beats or skullcandy that cost many times more.

     Overall, I say these pair of cans are awesome for the price, so if you are looking for a pair of headphones to replace your standard set of earphones that came with your phone and have a budget of S$55 and want a stylish pair of cans as well, look no further. Get these immdiately!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Razer Hooligan review

Pros: Circumaural earcups, velour earpads  

Cons: very bad and unrefined sound, especially bass which lacks refinement and depth. Looks like a satellite dish on my head.

     Recently, I had the opportunity to review the Razer Hooligan headphones. Razer is generally known as a "fashion bling-bling" brand which produces headphones of good design but bad sound quality. Can they overcome this with the limited edition Razer Hooligan? Let's find out.

     In one word, they look good, feel good and have good portablility and foldability, and the velour earpads help in relieving heat during really hot days. Now onto sound quality.

     The sound quality is really lousy. The mids and treble is lacking in overall clarity, and the treble is also very grainy. soundstaging and neutrality are totally absent, and the bass lacks depth and definition. Individual bass notes are barely hinted at. They do not sound much better than an MDR-ZX300, or an even cheaper MDR-ZX100, for that matter. These cost nearly 4 times the price of an MDR-ZX100.

     The cans, although being circumaural, are uncomfortable as the earpads are hard, despite having velour earpads, and the headphone clamps to your ear quite a bit, creating a very tight pressure point. Also, the velour pads are very small in thickness, so the pressure point is even smaller and thus the listener will experience fatigue around the ears where the earcups clamp over long periods of time. Some supraaural headphones are more comfortable in my opinion. I wonder why my friend bought these pair of cans when previously he was using a fantastic Audio Technica ATH-SJ55.

     For the price, go and get a Sennheiser HD 229. They sound and look much better.

MDR-ZX600 review

     The MDR-ZX600 is a budget offering by Sony. Sporting stylish good looks with a brushed metal plating on the earcups, good sound quality and the price to match, at S$89.90. However, is it truly worth it? Let's find out.

     Firstly, the comfort. These earphones are extremely comfortable (They are more comfortable then some circumaural pairs I know) with little clamping effect and supersoft earpads. Of course, this leads to super poor noise isolation, but you know you cannot always have both comfort and isolation.The headphones themselves asound, tremely stylish with a sielsewhere.  colour plus suitably placed accents. The cord is tan and it terminates in a L-shaped 3.5mm gold plated stereo plug. 

     Now, on to the sound quality. The sound quality is really nice, with really balanced sound. The bass does not get overwhelmed by other sounds but is not strong enough to be overpowering itself. The headphones feel extremely light and almost non-existent on my ears and the balanced sound from the 40mm neodymium magnet drivers are extremely enjoyable. However, there is an extreme put-off: Sound quality is extremely grainy and unrefined. The sound quality would be really enjoyable, especially for the daily budget commuters, if not for the grain. 

     Of course, these may not be the headphone of the century, or the best sounding headphones for its price, but the sound quality combined with its stylish looks and rugged goodness with an extremely tangle free cord (chuck it in my bag, take it out 3 hours later, cord is barely tangled. Just pull it straight!), makes this one very good buy. If you are a commuter seeking a good pair of headphones for the daily commute and for daily listening without eating a hole in your wallet then this is the one for you. However, if you prefer a less grainy sound, you probably should look elsewhere.