Superlux HD 668B and HD 681 Headphones
A goodly amount of forum chatter has been focussed on these two very inexpensive Superlux headphones. (Superlux is a Taiwanese maker of professional audio gear, and is distributed in the U.S. by Avlex.) I thought it would be fun to have a listen and see if the headphone enthusiast community has stumble upon some giant killers.
(C'mon, how much can $30 really get you?)
The Superlux HD 668B and HD 681
Looking rather like an unwanted love child of an AKG and Audio Technica drunken trist, the Superlux HD 668B (~$30-$40) is about as unstylish as a headphone can get. The HD 681 (~$30-$40) is a bit spiffier looking with its red accents, but remains a utilitarian AKG look-alike headphone.
Build Quality and Accessories
I'm quite surprised at how durable these cans appear to be. Everything is cheap plastic, of course, but the implementation and use of materials seems quite well executed. The pleather pads are nicely stitched, and main parts are screwed together --- for the price, these are nicely built cans.
The HD 668B cord is replaceable, and uses a scheme I've not seen before: a very short (1") stub of a cable with 1/8" stereo plug on it comes out of the left earpiece. You then attach one of two included 1/8" stereo headphone extension cables --- the four foot cable for use with portable gear, and a ten foot cable for home and studio use. The HD 681 has a permanently attached eight foot cable terminated in an 1/8" plug. Both headphones come with a 1/8" to 1/4" adapter and fabric carry pouch.
Ergonomics, Comfort, and Isolation
Both headphones are full-size, circumaural (around the ear) type headphones. The earpads are thick, but a little stiffer than I like. Nonetheless, the earcup is quite large and my ears easily fit inside the cup without feeling cramped. Long listening sessions should be possible with little physical discomfort.
I typically feel the Audio Technica "wing" type headband pads are a bit insecure on my head. I didn't find this to be the case with the HD688B --- probably because they are quite light and the earpieces have a bit more range of motion than the AT headphones. Both headphones felt secure on my head.
Both headphones are touted as Semi-open designs and provided only modest attenuation. I found this a little odd as they are intended for studio use; typically I would expect cans of this type to be sealed. These have enough isolation for uses around the home, office, and dorm room, but will not isolate well enough for travel, commuting, and audio professional applications.
On to sound quality ...