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Product: Superlux HD661
Type: Closed Circumaural Headphones
Preferred Use: Portable / DJ / Studio
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon.com
Warranty: 1 Year Warranty
Superlux HD661, Product Overview
The Superlux HD661 is a portable closed over-ear headphone that honestly blew me away the first time I put it on. Superlux is a company that is known for making good sounding headphones for a relatively small budget, but I didn’t expect the HD661 to be THAT good.
Let me tell you how I came to order these…
An Unexpected Buy
Two weeks ago I was browsing Youtube when I saw a video clip of a cover made from Adele’s song “Hello“. Honestly, I don’t like this song, because I grew tiresome from hearing it 5 times a day on the radio at work 🙂 This cover was made by a group called The Piano Guys and surprisingly I really liked their cover. So I checked their website and noticed they covered a lot of well-known songs.
I went over to Tidal and started listening to the album The Piano Guys – Wonders. I listened with my Sennheiser HD650 and although their covers were great, they sounded a little bit too closed in and congested. When a lot of instruments were playing at the same time, the music drowned a bit and I couldn’t separate the instruments very well. So I looked up the dynamic range of the album and to my surprise, most songs DR value was around 5 and 6. There was even a song with a DR value of 4. That is very compressed! Especially for instrumental songs.
So I pretty much gave up on the album, but then I noticed they were selling a headphone in their webshop. Yep, you guessed it, the Superlux HD661. This is what they have to say about the HD661:
The above statement got me intrigued and I ordered a pair on Amazon. A week later they arrived in the mail.
A Word on Dynamic Range (DR)
To explain it simply and understandable, the DR value gives an indication of how much compression has been done on a particular song. Not to confuse with compression as with mp3 files or other lossy formats.
Music with a low DR value (1-6) sounds like all instruments are coming from the same space. It’s like they crammed a music band in a very small room and let them play. This gives no breathing space for the music and therefore, the music sounds congested.
Music with a high DR value (+10) gives breathing room to all the instruments and voices and is more enjoyable to listen to.
Design and Comfort
Although Superlux makes great sounding headphones, there build quality was never their forté. I’m glad to say they did a great job with the HD661. It’s completely built out of plastic, but it’s very rugged. I did not notice any squeaks or cracks. The paint job is completely glossy which gives it a nice look, but this makes it prone to fingerprints!
I’m not a big fan of the wing system because this meant I couldn’t adjust the headband size. And the headphones are frankly too big to fit on my head. Not by much, though, but it’s enough so that the earcups are hanging on the top of my ears. Not very comfortable. I don’t wanna make a big issue out of this since I got a rather narrow head. So I’m confident that most adults will have no issue with the fit whatsoever. Just don’t buy these for younger kids 🙂
The earcups are made out of pleather. They’re not very thick, but the size is pretty big for a portable headphone. I did not feel any discomfort and my ears – contrary to my head – are average in size. The cups fitted perfect. Do keep in mind that over longer listening periods they can build up a little heat. This is because of the closed design and the fact that these pleather pads don’t breath.
Superlux includes a 1.2m and a 3m straight cable, which can be plugged in the 3.5mm plug that’s on the left earcup. The cable itself is nicely thick and doesn’t get coiled up over time.
The HD661 is also pretty light weighing only 190gr.
The sound coming out of these cans is simply amazing for a headphone in this price range! I can’t really explain it but the HD661 does not sound like a closed headphone at all. Instead, it sounds very open.
Remember when I said that The Piano Guys – Wonders sounded a bit congested on my Sennheiser HD650? Well, this was not the case with the Superlux HD661! Instead, the music sounded perfectly open and spacious. I don’t know how they did it, but it’s like these headphones doubled the dynamic range value of this album… Not in the literal sense of course 🙂
So I tried several songs in different genres with low DR values and I could clearly notice an improvement in dynamics compared to all other headphones I’ve tried to date. A lot of congested songs now sounded very alive!
Despite an impedance of 68 Ohms, these cans do not need a dedicated amp. Your portable device should be sufficient enough to drive these to high volumes without missing out on any details.
The bass on the HD661 is excellent and is clean and tight, although a bit elevated. Mid and upper bass is very good. However, Sub bass is a bit lacking in my opinion. While listening to James Horner – Up is Down from the Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End soundtrack, I noticed myself wanting a bit more rumble. Just a little bit. But it wasn’t there completely.
Still, I can’t really complain here because on pretty most all music the bass is amazing and a slightly less sub bass is not going to ruin the party!
Mids and Highs
The HD661 has clear and present mids, but – depending on the recording – can sound a bit bright and harsh in the upper mids. It provides great detail and instrument separation, though. Furthermore, the highs can be a bit too much for some people since they are slightly aggressive. But thanks to the excellent bass it still gives most music the necessary body without sounding too thin.
Listening to Counting Crows – Colorblind is a real joy! The piano has just the right amount of body while Adam Duritz voice sounds crisp and crystal clear. The harpsichord which comes in at 1m43 gives a bit of a bright touch to the song, together with the celesta.
On the other hand, listening to Pearl Jam – Alive is less than enjoyable. While the bass still has body, it cannot compensate for the overall bright and thin sound while listening to this song.
All by all, I found the HD661 a very revealing headphone without becoming too much of a so-called treble can. It has a fun way of presenting the music without becoming unrealistic.
Don’t expect too many extras for this price, but I like the fact that Superlux provides two excellent cables. Also, in the box is a 6.3mm jack if you want to plug your HD661 into your AV receiver. Lastly, there’s a nice red bag included for putting your headphones in. It will not provide much protection, though!
The Superlux HD661 is THE best sounding headphone I’ve heard so far for under $40. Available in different colors there’s something for everyone’s style and they can handle quite the abuse. It’s perfect for modern compressed music as in most cases it makes them sound alive and spacious. I feel that this is what Superlux tried to achieve and boy they did!
As of today, the Superlux HD661 is my recommendation numero uno for people looking for an inexpensive but great sounding pair of headphones. The rich and spacious sound you get for under $40 really makes these cans a no brainer.
If only the sound isolation/leakage was a little bit better. If you’re gonna use these a lot around other people, you might first want to test these…
So that’s it guys for my personal opinion on the HD661. As always, if you liked this review or you think I’ve missed something or anything else, let me know in the comments below.
Great sound for a small price! My recommendation for the budget conscience music lover.