Entry Level Portable: Superlux HD661

superlux_hd661_03

Superlux’s attempt to create a rival to the popular Sony MDR-7506 has given us a headphone that does a lot of things well, though not perfect, at a price that’s roughly half of what the Sony sells for.

Versus the Sony MDR-7506

During my first few weeks with the HD661, I wasn’t quite sure of what to say about it. I was mostly comparing it to the Sony MDR-7506 and it was a plus-minus scenario when I tried to compare the two. The Sony was more comfortable overall, due to the softer pads and headband and the hinges placed at strategic points that allowed the Sony to fit my head better. The Sony was seriously missing low end weight, which gives it a weightless floating feel to the sound. And despite the Sony’s smoother overall sound, I really can never get over the weightless lows. The Superlux on the other hand slightly lacks the refinement of the Sony, but makes up for that shortcoming in many different areas. One, obviously, is a more proper low body. The next most noticeable thing is the larger soundstage, better imaging, and a better sense of ambiance. Lastly is a more proper treble presence (yes the Sony does have that mid-centric emphasis with both top and lows feeling incomplete). While I felt the bass area of the Superlux to be a little loose, the Superlux clearly comes out being an overall better headphone of the two, while the Sony may appeal to people who listens to strictly midrange and wants it to be as smooth as possible.

I didn’t really have anything spectacular to write about the HD661. After all the Sony MDR-7506 that it’s supposed to go against is just another mid-entry level monitoring headphone from Sony. It has some fanbase, but certainly there are other better headphones.

Side by side with the MDR-7506. The Superlux has a glossy finish that’s easy to scratch and get dirty, unlike the matte-finished Sony.

 

Real Life Impressions

In the few weeks that follow, however, I begin to be able to appreciate the HD661 more. I noticed that I used the HD661 very frequently during the last few reviews that I was working on. The HD661 has a relatively proper tonal balance that makes it easy to enjoy with the different gear and music that I was listening to (it certainly has quite a wide genre bandwith, from anything Pop to Classical), and it was also resolving enough to tell me whatever I needed to know about an amplifier or a DAC I was evaluating. It was easy to drive, lightweight, and though I had complains about the fit initially, I sort of adjusted to it and now I have no complains wearing it. It worked okay out of an Ipod, and in that sense it’s not that hard to drive. However it improves considerably when I plug it to an amplifier, waking up the sound and improving the bass impact.

The HD661 played really well with the amplifiers and so it quickly become my new favorite when evaluating the last few amplifiers I reviewed (the Fiio E10, the Hifiman HM-101, the iBasso D-Zero, the HeadRoom amplifiers, among others). I even took it to a few local headphone meets and I get a lot of positive reactions to the HD661. Everyone seemed to agree that while the HD661 is far from a reference class, yet it does a lot of things right and is easy to like. The DIY guys even started talking about the possibility of taking the HD661 and performing damping and cable mods on it to improve the sound further.

More Comparisons

The HD661 is a portable and so it doesn’t belong in the same line as the bigger HD660 (or HD440, HD330, HD668B as well as the other big Superluxes). Technicalities wise the HD660 is still superior throughout the frequencies (most notable is the tighter bass on the HD660) as well as the better soundstage and imaging performance.

As a portable, however, the HD661 is indeed very good. It gives you a bigger sound than say the likes of the Sennheiser HD25-1 or the Beyerdynamic DT1350 mainly due to the bigger housing on the HD661 (the imaging is also more accurate on the Superlux, though I’m not saying that the Superlux is overall the better headphone). Compared to the Audio Tehnica SJ-series, the HD661 also maintains a bigger sound and soundstage, though the bass is noticeably looser than say the SJ-55. A similar comparison can also be made to the Marshall Major headphone, Superlux HD651, or the popular AKG K518DJ/LE headphones.

End Words

I don’t know when the HD661 will be available in your local or online suppliers, but do keep an eye for it because for the price that it’s selling for, it’s certainly not going to disappoint. The Superlux HD661 joins the growing list of great sounding, economically priced equipments and should it become available to buy in your area, I definitely recommend you to give it a try. Don’t expect to be blown away, but I think you’ll find it to be fun and enjoyable.

 

  • Fabio Rocks

    Big brands are in REAL trouble that’s Superlux. They offer similar headphone at half the price or 1/3 the price. They got a good reputation too thanks to the many positive reviews on Headfonia and HeadFi. Sennheiser, Audio Technica, Akg, Sony, maybe you have to lower something your prices:D

    • Anonymous

      True, but a big part of manufacturing cost is actually on the build quality (average headphone drivers shouldn’t cost too much to make) and in that sense the Superluxes are still a big way off from the major brands. Not saying that the Superluxes are flimsy or anything but they don’t give you the same luxury treatment as the big brands. In a way that’s good though since then you can have this great sound as long as you’re willing to trade off a little luxury on the pads, materials, etc.

      • Donunus

        The cheap plastic impact the sound though. My HD662F which are supposedly the same measurements as the shure srh440s are not nearly as good as the shures for about double the price.

    • guest123

      Meh, not anytime soon. Common, these are just really good fakes, with a common brand name. That seems to be the trend in audio, with the Vsonic, Meelec, Duno, etc…

  • Duna21

    How fun compare to senn hd202?

    • Anonymous

      Roughly comparable in terms of fun factor. The HD661 is less laid back than the HD202.

  • http://twitter.com/DodgersKings323 DodgersKings323

    Where would isolation stack up against the HD-25?

    • Anonymous

      More or less the same actually. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QWFHFLFHFAGYVFETP2YPCWUCEM Lukman

    got mine last Friday…and been wearing them all weekend….got to say i’m very impressed and put a big smile on my head

    • Anonymous

      Yes, it’s very nice indeed.

  • Almuts

    Are the Superlux pads compatible with DT250? I heard that DT250 pads can be used with 7506. I wonder if Superlux pads can be used with DT250s. I need cheaper alternative to replace my worn DT250 pads

    • Anonymous

      That’s a good question and I haven’t tested it yet. However changing the pads will alter the sound as the pads are a part of the acoustic space.

  • http://twitter.com/CarlosTaco Carlos Taco

    How does this compare to the Superlux HD440? Is it a better all-rounder?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Carlos, 
      Taken straight from the review: 

      “The HD661 is a portable and so it doesn’t belong in the same line as the bigger HD660 (or HD440, HD330, HD668B as well as the other big Superluxes). Technicalities wise the HD660 is still superior throughout the frequencies (most notable is the tighter bass on the HD660) as well as the better soundstage and imaging performance.

      As a portable, however, the HD661 is indeed very good. It gives you a bigger sound than say the likes of the Sennheiser HD25-1 or the Beyerdynamic DT1350 mainly due to the bigger housing on the HD661 (the imaging is also more accurate on the Superlux, though I’m not saying that the Superlux is overall the better headphone). Compared to the Audio Tehnica SJ-series, the HD661 also maintains a bigger sound and soundstage, though the bass is noticeably looser than say the SJ-55. A similar comparison can also be made to the Marshall Major headphone, Superlux HD651, or the popular AKG K518DJ/LE headphones.”

    • Anonymous

      Hi Carlos, 
      Taken straight from the review: 

      “The HD661 is a portable and so it doesn’t belong in the same line as the bigger HD660 (or HD440, HD330, HD668B as well as the other big Superluxes). Technicalities wise the HD660 is still superior throughout the frequencies (most notable is the tighter bass on the HD660) as well as the better soundstage and imaging performance.

      As a portable, however, the HD661 is indeed very good. It gives you a bigger sound than say the likes of the Sennheiser HD25-1 or the Beyerdynamic DT1350 mainly due to the bigger housing on the HD661 (the imaging is also more accurate on the Superlux, though I’m not saying that the Superlux is overall the better headphone). Compared to the Audio Tehnica SJ-series, the HD661 also maintains a bigger sound and soundstage, though the bass is noticeably looser than say the SJ-55. A similar comparison can also be made to the Marshall Major headphone, Superlux HD651, or the popular AKG K518DJ/LE headphones.”

  • http://twitter.com/CarlosTaco Carlos Taco

    How does this compare to the Superlux HD440? Is it a better all-rounder?

  • Kerrigan

    Does this stand up against Sennheiser HD202? Cause I’m planning to buy one of those.

  • Kerrigan

    Does this stand up against Sennheiser HD202? Cause I’m planning to buy one of those.

    • Anonymous

      Different sound. The HD202 is more laid back, relaxed. The HD651 is different in the sense that it’s not a totally laid-back sound. It’s more engaging though not extremely forward. Some would prefer the HD202, some the HD651, depending on personal taste I guess. 

      • Kerrigan

        But I’m owning a Koss PortaPro  right now,  what do you think will suit me better, the Senn HD202 or the Superlux HD661?

        • Damage

          I’d say that the HD661 might be a closer match to the PortaPro than the HD202.  

          • Anonymous

            I would have to agree with Mr. Damage right here. :)

          • Kerrigan

            Thanks very much!

          • Damage

            Thanks for the confirm @headfonia:disqus   It’s been a good long while since I had the Koss Portapros.  

            Frankly, I have the HD661 (had them for last two weeks or so), and they are indeed very close to the sound of blue tacked MDR-V6s (which IIRC does help tame the treble brightness a bit… my pair is, like the PortaPros, long lost in the ethers).  Occassionally very bright trebles but overall, a worthwhile investment.  

            That reminds me, I know I have those PortaPros somewhere around somewhere….

    • Anonymous

      Different sound. The HD202 is more laid back, relaxed. The HD651 is different in the sense that it’s not a totally laid-back sound. It’s more engaging though not extremely forward. Some would prefer the HD202, some the HD651, depending on personal taste I guess. 

  • Demosthenesc

    Hi Mike

    I bought one Superlux hd 440. Many thanks to your review. I love this headphone. I have one particular question which side of the headphone is the right channel. No label an like other Superlux headphones?

    • Anonymous

      Really it doesn’t have a marking? That’s weird.

      • Mr. Ertai

        I confirm that the one with cable is on the left

  • Ignacio Nico

    hi what fiio amp do you think will work best with the hd661? im planning to buy E5, E6 or E11

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi Ignacio,
      The E11, or the E10.

  • Ron_evergreen

    Hey Mike what particular genre’s will benefit most for 661 and do I really need an amp to properly drive this?I have the s’lux hd651 with the cube c30 (aka Nationite n2)

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi Ron,
      I think the HD661 is a pretty good all rounder. A small amp would be good to have. Anything from the sub $100 range.

  • Fforet

    did you see this ? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3rFI7hvrDY
    interesting advert for a headphone.  after listening to some superluxes, i think i got some christmas gifts for a few friends ;)

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Nice video, makes you want to buy the HD661 no?

    • Fforet

      i ordered the headphone before watching this, but the ad really catches your attention. it’s a bit melodramatic, but hey, did you ever see a melodramatic advert for a headphone.who doesnt know that situation: you finish with so., listening to sad music.kind of cute. i really wish i could get other color options for the girls at thomann.de, but black is beautiful, too.

      • http://twitter.com/MrJ3sus Jonas E

        thats exactly my problem!
        I wanted to decide between Slux HD 572 and HD661 as I thought the 661 are too big.
        But as I watched the video I decided to buy the HD 661. The only problem is I only can get them in black but I think it’s okay as you said :)

        • http://www.facebook.com/chyansie Chyan Sie

          I have the red. Looks totally nice and am loving this sets of cans! Abundant burn-in time and it really opens up. For the price, this is no doubt the best I had paid for a set of quality cans. :)

          • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

            Looks really nice in Red!

      • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

        I thought thomann sells them in different colors too, but I think that’s for the HD651.

        • Hoki

          Thomann sells them now in different colors. Got one in grey now, as I originally wanted.

          • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

            Sounds awesome Hoki.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=743997995 Fernandez Lim

    Hi. Usually I’ll be listening to songs like these:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9LVeqLWgtA 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I-w9-sn-1I 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rH1kT8EIOU 

    Now I’m confused with which headphone should I actually go for? And I’m having a tight budget that is only around the price like the HD661.

    I have a few choices in my mind after I read a lot of reviews from different sites and my options are the Samson SR-850 or the SuperLux HD661 (Or maybe you can recommend me some other models that are around the same pricing =D)

    I’ve decided to get the FiiO E6 Portable Amp or maybe the Asus Xonar DG sound card together with the headphone too.

    May I know which headphone do you recommend?

    Thanks.

    • Hoki

      Hi Fernandez,
      unfortunately I don’t know the sound of the Samson. I’ve found links on the internet with comparisons about the Samson and other Superlux headphones (rockgrottos forum), so you might want to check these as well.
      Anyways, I’m running the HD661 with a Fiio E11 and for this price range of phones it sounds pretty damn good. I prefer it over the AKG K518LE, which I do like but found a little dark. I prefer clear sounding headphones. 

      The HD661 has a good soundstage and good seperation, sometimes it can sound clinical depending on the musical genre due to the slight treble peak. But it is a fun sounding headphone!
      The treble gets a little in the way if you really turn it up, but then again it’s at a volume that aren’t good for your ears anyways. There is a treble attenuation mod to be found online. I might do that to mine sometime, but right now I’m enjoying them as they are. Especially now in the wintertime when wearing a beanie they are perfect :).

      I listend to your youtube clips through the HD661 and it suits that kind of stuff pretty well. Maybe you should check out the AKG, maybe as well the Audio Technica SJ55 which is roughly in the same price range with the AKG.
      cheers,

      Holger 

      • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

        Hi Holger,
        Thanks for sharing your impression. I think the treble peak is quite real on the HD661 and it does get in the way sometimes. But overall it’s a very good portable headphone.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=743997995 Fernandez Lim

        Thanks a lot for the reply…I guess finally I’m able to make a decision on which 1 should I get.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          You’re welcome, Fernandez,

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  • http://twitter.com/elzafir Elzafir Habsjah

    Mike, after reading this review, I bought the white HD661 for $63 (a bit expensive, HD661 price has gone up recently in Indonesia. Used to be $43 just a few months ago).

    I’m pretty much satisfied. I was coming from a Samson SR850 (Superlux HD668b re-brand). And the HD661 exhibits much, much smoother sound. Bass is lacking vs the Samson, but the mids and highs are better and more “forward”, IMHO. The HD661 sparkles in my ear, whereas the SR850 has the rough edges on the highs (a bit piercing) and a bit recessed mids, although the full-size cans has a much better sound stage and much more comfortable for long listening sessions.
    So, I use the SR850 for home listening and games, while the HD661 keeps me company whenever I’m on the road. Perfect combination for ghetto-audiophile like me. I’ll be buying the FiiO E6 for my portable amplification needs, since my Android phones didn’t really has enough mojo to drive the HD661 to full volume (I can still hear the traffic when listening in max volume without amp).

    Now, I’m considering a DAC+Amp for home use to go with my SR850 and HD661. I’ve read almost all of your DAC+Amp review, but still can’t decide the best amp for under $100.
    I need it for my PC, so I don’t need portability, unless the portable is better than the desktop amp (like the E17 vs E10. But the E17 is unfortunately over my budget).
    So in your opinion, which is the best sub-$100 DAC+Amp (or DAC+Amp combination for also under 100 bucks) to drive Samson SR850 and Superlux HD661?
    I’m considering the FiiO E10, HiFiMan Express HM01, iBasso D-Zero, and the likes (anything under $100).
    On a side note, I’m planning to buy the M-Audio Fast Track audio interface for my recording needs. Should I just use it for DAC and get a separate (sub-$100) amp? Would it be a better setup vs the best sub-$100 DAC+Amp?
    I’m sorry to ask this here, but I think its relevant since the NEED is to drive a HD661.
    Please share your guidance!

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Replied on the other thread.

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  • http://www.techporn.ph/ Leo Bien Durana

    Hi,

    Good day! Is it possible to, lets say, transfer the drivers of the HD 661 to the Sony MDR 7506/V6′s body? I need the portability, but I love the signature of this Superlux headphone.

    P.S. Asking because I could buy a broken pair of 7506/V6 in my place for cheap. :)

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