Recording - September 2014 - 61

rendition of cymbals, hi-hats, the higher harmonic structure of brasses and winds, and
the "special sauce" that surrounds a clear
female vocal? The mids provide a good balance of power and crisp clarity that's present
in the mix without being overly forward-
lead vocals and guitars, the key elements of
any good rock track, are there where they
can be analyzed and picked apart, warts
and all, yet as a nicely glued-in part of a
good mix. And from there it's down into the
bass, which is what one wants and needs to
hear in a mix: solid, believable, with no
nasty resonances or low-energy frequencies,
clear and deep.
The stereo imaging of the SR850 is very
good. You can easily pick out sources in the
soundstage and get a feel for how wide
you're getting with things like widely
panned delay effects or stereo drum loops.
Details of edits and punches can be heard
with stark clarity, making cleanup a
breeze... nothing's getting away from you.
The main strength of the SR850, the open
back that gives it such good frequency balance, is its only weakness-these phones
bleed like crazy and you can't wear them
near an open mic. That's a small price to
pay for such a nicely neutral listening experience, especially for the new recording
musician who might not have a clue as to
what a proper studio headphone should be.
The SR950: Specs
The SR950 is a closed-back dynamic
headphone with 50 mm drivers and
Neodymium magnets. Like the SR850, it
offers a comfortable fit with velour-padded
earpads and a self-adjusting headband, and
has the same 8.25' straight cable with minijack and screw-on 1/4" adaptor. It's also a 32
ohm headphone and gives the listener plenty
of volume from even the wimpiest sources.
Its closed earcups are substantially larger
than the SR850's and seal tight to the ears;
there's very little bleed unless you're listening
at dangerous SPL. It's slightly heavier than
the SR850 as well, with a weight of nearly
11 ounces. The headband and earpads are
comfortable enough so the extra weight
doesn't get fatiguing for several hours.
The SR950's stated frequency response
(again, with no tolerances given) is 10 Hz to
25 kHz, and the frequency plot in the manual shows an intriguing curve with significant
(up to 6 dB) smooth bumps below 100 Hz
and from 5 to 20 kHz, centered on 10 kHz
or so. I was curious to hear how these
phones sounded with that sort of response...
The SR950: Listening
After the neutral clarity of the SR850, the
SR950's sound was a real surprise, and
the word I'd use to describe the experience

is "fun". The SR950 has a lot of high mids
and presence, and a whole lot of yummy,
clear, powerful bass. That makes it a blast
(literally!) to listen to when working with
any sort of music that has a lot of critical
information in the low end-not just EDM,
hip hop, or electronica, but also a lot of
jazz that relies heavily on string bass and
piano.
Vocals are exceptionally forward and
dramatic in these phones. You can pick out
intonation issues, lip smacks, and other
details with ease, and know when things
need to be fixed. The highs aren't as extended as on the SR850 but there's plenty there,
and that bump around 10 kHz means you
feel what there is with more energy.
The soundstage is dramatically separated into Left and Right, with less of a
sense of implied "phantom center" than
some phones provide. I attribute this at
least partly to the isolation that the
SR950 provides, which is pretty impressive. It's not until you take them off and
the real world once again intrudes on
your consciousness that you realize just
how little of it was filtering through into
your ears; specialized isolation headphones will seal things out more effectively, but you'd have to hunt pretty hard
to find a pair of iso headphones that are
this much fun to listen to.
This frequency response is really
geared toward excitement, with the mids
a bit laid back behind the kick-ass bass
and lush treble. I can see these phones
becoming popular for recreational listening and for a check on popular trends in
modern headphone design as well as for
detailed work in the studio; they do have
more of a nod toward the big-bass/clearhighs sound that's popular today than
many studio phones.
Choices, choices
When I got these headphones, I made
a point of reviewing them before I looked
at what they cost. The prices I finally saw
them selling for frankly stunned me; both
of these models would still be contenders
at considerably higher prices, and the
SR850 in particular represents astounding
value for the money. There simply aren't
that many open-design phones out there at
prices that even come close to this, regardless of sound quality.
With these new offerings, Samson
makes it easy for even a beginner at home
recording to have a headphone that won't
be a sonic letdown.
Prices: SR850, $49.99; SR950, $69.99
More from: Samson, www.samsontech.com
RECORDING September 2014

61


http://www.transaudiogroup.com http://www.samsontech.com

Recording - September 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - September 2014

Contents
Recording - September 2014 - Cover1
Recording - September 2014 - Cover2
Recording - September 2014 - 1
Recording - September 2014 - 2
Recording - September 2014 - 3
Recording - September 2014 - 4
Recording - September 2014 - 5
Recording - September 2014 - Contents
Recording - September 2014 - 7
Recording - September 2014 - 8
Recording - September 2014 - 9
Recording - September 2014 - 10
Recording - September 2014 - 11
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Recording - September 2014 - Cover3
Recording - September 2014 - Cover4
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