Recording - August 2016 - 58

B Y M I K E M E T L AY

Senal SMH-1200 Enhanced Studio Monitor Headphones
Quality audio and convenience at an impressive price

We first mentioned Senal, a new entry
into the pro audio arena, with our
review of the ASM-6 reference monitors
in our January 2016 issue. We noted
that Senal had made a good first
impression with a product that was wellbuilt, uncompromising, and easy to like
once we got it to suit our workplace.
Not long after that, Senal sent us a pair
of SMH-1200 headphones, and I risk
repeating myself in describing my
impressions...
Out of the box
Senal offers three models of studio
headphones: the entry-level SMH-500,
the very affordable SMH-1000, and the
flagship SMH-1200. Even at the top of
the line, the SMH-1200 is not an expensive headphone by any means, and it
represents considerable value for the
money.
The SMH-1200 is a closed-back circumaural headphone that appears to be
intended for both studio and casual use.
When some makers say that, what they
really mean is that their product is a (to
be polite) "fashion-forward" headphone
that they've taken pictures of in a recording studio, usually around the neck of an
attractive model. In Senal's case, I use the
term to mean a headphone that sounds
like it belongs in a studio, but which is
designed for casual use... meaning it has
everything you'd want in a day-to-day listening headphone, and is affordable
58

RECORDING AUGUST 2016

enough to take out of the studio without
suffering from the heebie-jeebies.
Let's run down the wish list, shall we?
Folding design for portability, check.
Extremely comfortable sealed earpads
that are easily and cheaply replaceable,
check. Removable cable with twist-lock
socket on the left earcup, check. Two
cables included: a 10' straight/coiled
cable with gold-plated miniplug and
screw-on 1/4" adaptor, plus a 3' flexible
fabric-covered cable with TRRS miniplug
and inline mic for phone use, check. (My
one small complaint: the inline remote
has a mute button but no Applecompliant volume controls.) Carrying
bag for the works, check. Choice of colors-driver covers and headband stitching in red, burgundy, blue, or black, on
a tasteful black design-check. Options
include a broadcast-style headset mic
attachment, spare cables, and earcups in
a variety of styles including sheepskin
and velour.
So what about specs? The SMH-1200
features 40 mm drivers with neodymium
magnets that handle up to 1000 mW
maximum input power. Sensitivity is
103±3 dB/mW at 1 kHz, impedance is
58Ω, and frequency response is quoted
at 10 Hz to 20 kHz.
This tells us that the SMH-1200 falls
nicely into the ballpark of modern midpriced pro headphones, specswise. That
bass extension to 10 Hz looks appealing, the 103 dB/mW sensitivity is about
par for this sort of headphone, and a
58Ω impedance means that while the
SMH-120 won't get blisteringly loud
when run by a cheap smartphone's anemic headphone jack, it will provide plenty of level for comfortable long-term listening when fed by pretty much any
amplifier.
So far, on paper at least, the SMH1200 looks like a very capable headphone. But how does it sound?
Onto the ears
I broke in the SMH-1200 phones over
a period of 48 hours of music played at
moderate level, then started working
with them on casual tasks at the

Recording office studio and at my home
studio. Within a week, I was using them
exclusively in both offices, and within
two weeks I was carrying them everywhere. Hopefully that speaks well for
how enjoyable and comfortable they
were to listen to for long periods.
The SMH-1200 presents a soundstage
with reasonably wide stereo imaging.
Lows are rich, dense, and plentiful without being boomy or overwhelming or
fatiguing. The high end is clear and
accurate, but might seem a bit veiled to
someone used to really bright consumer
earphones or inexpensive studio cans. It
doesn't have the magical airy extension
of a $500 headphone, but it doesn't
cost $500, either.
The all-important mids are well-handled
by the SMH-1200. They're ever so slightly forward, making it easy to pick out
edit spots for vocal comping or fixes to a
guitar solo, but they're not obtrusive.
The overall impression when listening
to full mixes on these headphones is that
all the elements are being presented
with reasonable clarity and just a bit of
the natural gelling that one hopes to
hear in a well-mixed recording. I think
these phones would be great for field
work; they're sinfully comfortable and
do a pretty good job of isolating outside
sounds while presenting details when
needed.
Conclusions
The SMH-1200 is a textbook example
of a workhorse headphone. Whether in
the studio, in the field, or just hooked up
to your phone, it presents beautiful, balanced audio in a comfortable listening
environment. There's a lot to like, and at
this price, you can afford to take it out
and live in it like a favorite pair of jeans.
I've heard (and own) headphones that
present higher-quality audio, but I'd be
hard pressed to think of a pair I'd be as
relaxed about taking along with me as
the SMH-1200.
Price: $149.99
More from: Senal, www.senalsound.com


http://www.senalsound.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - August 2016

 Contents
Recording - August 2016 - Intro
Recording - August 2016 - Cover1
Recording - August 2016 - Cover2
Recording - August 2016 - 1
Recording - August 2016 - 2
Recording - August 2016 - 3
Recording - August 2016 - 4
Recording - August 2016 - 5
Recording - August 2016 -  Contents
Recording - August 2016 - 7
Recording - August 2016 - 8
Recording - August 2016 - 9
Recording - August 2016 - 10
Recording - August 2016 - 11
Recording - August 2016 - 12
Recording - August 2016 - 13
Recording - August 2016 - 14
Recording - August 2016 - 15
Recording - August 2016 - 16
Recording - August 2016 - 17
Recording - August 2016 - 18
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Recording - August 2016 - 20
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Recording - August 2016 - Cover3
Recording - August 2016 - Cover4
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