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Reviewed on Aug 03, 2017

Superlux HD 681 HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
5.8
Mixed Usage
7.7
Critical Listening
4.7
Commute/Travel
5.4
Sports/Fitness
5.4
Office
5.9
TV
5.7
Gaming
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Semi-Open
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : No
Transducer : Dynamic

The Superlux HD 681 are very similar to the HD 668B in shape and sound. They're a bit more comfortable thanks to the different headband design that's not as tight on the head. They also sound better than a lot of pricier headphones, but they're not very versatile. They're cumbersome, they don't block a lot of noise and leak quite a bit so they're best used in isolation.

Test Results
Design 6.0
Sound 8.0
Isolation 3.8
Microphone 0
Active Features 0
Connectivity 4.8
Pros
  • Good sound quality.
  • Lightweight design.
Cons
  • Sensitive to noisy environments, by deisgn.
  • Plasticky build quality.
  1. Update 2/16/2018: Converted to Test Bench 1.2.
  2. Update 8/10/2017: Converted to Test Bench 1.1. Learn more about our new versioned test bench system here.

Check Price

6.0

Design

The Superlux HD 681 have the same ear cups as the HD 668B but a more comfortable headband. The strap design of the headband adjusts better to different head sizes and shapes compared to the previous model. However, they're less stable than the HD 668 since they're not as tight and do not have a detachable audio cable. They're also quite bulky and cumbersome to carry on your person if you don't have a bag.

Style

The Superlux HD 681 look very similar to the HD 668B. They have practically the same ear cups but a different headband design. This makes the HD 681 look even more like the AKG K240 MKII. The color scheme is pretty bland but this model stands out a bit more compared to the HD668 thanks to the red accents on the ear cups and headband. Unfortunately, their plasticky build quality makes them look cheap and not durable.

7.5 Comfort
Weight : 0.5 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0.9 lbs

The Superlux HD 681 are more comfortable than the HD 668. They're just as lightweight and have a better headband design that doesn't feel as tight on the head and extends a bit further than that of the HD 668. They also have large ear cups that fit well around most listeners' ears. Unfortunately, the padding on the ear cup feels a bit stiff and may cause a bit of uneven pressure. It's not particularly uncomfortable but it is noticeable after wearing them for a while.

0 Controls
Ease of use : N/A
Feedback : N/A
Call/Music Control : No
Volume Control : No
Microphone Control : N/A
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : N/A
6.7 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 4.8 C
5.4 Portability
L : 8 "
W : 7.2 "
H : 3.5 "
Volume : 201 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

The Superlux HD 681 are lightweight but bulky and cumbersome headphones. The ear cups do not fold or lay flat, making them difficult to carry around on your person if you do not have a bag.

5.5 Case
Type : No case
L : N/A
W : N/A
H : N/A
Volume : N/A

Comes with a somewhat, rugged pouch that will shield the headphones from scratches and minor water exposure. However, it will not protect your headphones against drops and impacts.

5.5 Build Quality

The Superlux HD 681 like the HD 668B are cheaply made and plasticky. They feel like a budget version of the AKG K240, which shows in their build quality. They have a plastic design with no metal parts, and all the materials used in their build quality feel slightly low grade. They won't break if they accidentally fall once or twice, but they don't feel like durable headphones.

6.0 Stability

The HD681 are not as tight on the head as the Superlux HD 668B and are slightly less stable overall. They won't be the best for sports since they have big ear cups that sway during physical activity but they don't move much during casual listening sessions. Unfortunately, this model does not have a detachable cable so the headphones will get yanked off your head if the cable gets hooked by something.

Cable
Detachable : No
Length : 8 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS
Top
Headshots 1
Headshots 2
8.0

Sound

The Superlux HD 681 are a good sounding pair of semi-open over-ear headphones (see our recommendations for the best over-ear headphones under $100). They have a nearly flawless Bass, an excellent Mid Range and a decent Treble. They also perform quite consistently across multiple humans, but if you wear glasses there's a chance you get slightly less Bass compared to those who don't wear glasses. Additionally, they have an average Soundstage and image decently, but their mediocre distortion could make their Bass and Treble slightly harsh under heavy loads.

9.4 Bass
Std. Err.
:
0.89 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
13.94 Hz
Low-Bass
:
-0.37 dB
Mid-Bass
:
-0.09 dB
High-Bass
:
-0.93 dB

Excellent Bass Range performance. Low-frequency extension is at 14Hz, which is great. The entire Bass response is virtually flat and within 1dB of our target.

8.6 Mid
Std. Err.
:
1.93 dB
Low-Mid
:
-1.45 dB
Mid-Mid
:
-2.14 dB
High-Mid
:
-0.91 dB

Very good Mid Range performance. Low-mid and Mid are virtually flat, but under our target by about 2dB. This pushes vocals/leads slightly to the back of the mix and giving more emphasis to Bass and Treble Ranges. High-mid shows a small tilt favoring higher frequencies, but the effect will be very subtle.

7.2 Treble
Std. Err.
:
4.15 dB
Low-Treble
:
0.2 dB
Mid-Treble
:
4.07 dB
High-Treble
:
1.83 dB

Decent Treble Range performance. Low-treble is well-balanced but slightly inconsistent. Treble has a 10dB bump between 7KHz and 12KHz which makes the sound of these headphones noticeably sharp and sibilant.

7.8 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
0.44 dB

Good Consistency performance. The Bass Range performance is very consistent across our human subjects, except for our subject who wears glasses as he gets 3dB less Bass than others at 20Hz. The Treble Range consistency is also very good, especially below 10KHz.

8.1 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.26
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.76
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
1.71
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
13.41
7.1 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
1.58 dB
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
6.36 dB
PRTF Distance
:
11.68 dB
Openness
:
6.6
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
6.6
Correlated Crosstalk
:
0.0 dB
6.3 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
5.318
Weighted THD @ 100
:
39.873

Mediocre Harmonic Distortion performance. The amount of harmonic distortion in the Bass Range is high, especially at 100dB SPL. This could make the Bass of these headphones slightly unclear. The peak in distortion at around 9KHz will have a negative effect on the Treble Range by making it noticeably harsh sounding.

3.8

Isolation

The HD 681 like the HD 668B  are not designed to block ambient noise. They have semi-open ear cups that create a more immersive Soundstage but also leaks and lets ambient noise seep into your audio. This means the HD 681 won't be the ideal headphones for commuting or to use at the office since you will struggle to hear your music in noisy environments and the level of leakage will be too distracting to the people around you in quieter settings.

3.6 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-6.85 dB
Bass
:
-0.02 dB
Mid
:
-0.23 dB
Treble
:
-19.98 dB
Self-Noise
:
0 dB

Poor Isolation performance. Due to the semi-open back of the HD 681, they don't isolate at all in the Bass and Mid Ranges. In the Treble Range they reduce the outside noise by about 20dB, which is decent.

4.3 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
52.9 dB

Poor Leakage performance. The significant portion of Leakage on these semi-open back headphones sits between 500Hz and 20KHz which is a broad range. Additionally, their overall level of Leakage is also relatively loud.

0

Microphone

Integrated
:
N/A
In-line
:
N/A
Boom
:
N/A
Detachable Boom
:
N/A
0 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
N/A
LFE
:
N/A
FR Std. Dev.
:
N/A
HFE
:
N/A
Weighted THD
:
N/A
Gain
:
N/A
0 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise : N/A
Speech + Subway Noise : N/A
SpNR
:
N/A
0

Active Features

No active features.

N/A Battery
Battery Type
:
N/A
Battery Life
:
N/A
Charge Time
:
N/A
Power Saving Feature
:
N/A
Audio while charging
:
N/A
Passive Playback
:
N/A
0 App Support
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
N/A
ANC control
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
:
N/A
Playback control
:
N/A
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

No compatible app.

4.8

Connectivity

0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
:
N/A
NFC Pairing
:
N/A
7.2 Wired
OS Compatibility
:
Not OS specific
Analog Audio
:
Yes
USB Audio
:
No
PS4 Compatible
:
Audio Only
Xbox One Compatible
:
Audio Only
PC Compatible
:
Audio Only
0 Base/Dock
Type
:
N/A
Optical Input
:
N/A
Line In
:
N/A
Line Out
:
N/A
USB Input
:
N/A
RCA Input
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
N/A
Dock Charging
:
N/A
0 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
:
N/A
10 Latency
Default Latency
:
0 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

Wired connection negligible latency (see our recommendations for the best wired headphones).

In the box

  • Superlux HD681 Headphones
  • 1/8" to 1/4" Adapter
  • Carrying pouch
  • Manual

Compared to other Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M20x
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Superlux HD 681 are better critical listening headphones than the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x. These semi-open headphones are more comfortable and offer great audio quality, especially for their affordable price. Their design also makes them more open-sounding, although their build quality is pretty cheap and fragile. On the other hand, the ATH-M20x will be better headphones to bring on the go since they are closed-backs, which means they block a bit of ambient noise and don’t leak as much as the Superlux HD 681.

5.8 Mixed Usage

The HD 681 are best used for critical listening and won't be the most versatile headphones for other use cases. They're good-sounding and affordable headphones but they do not block a lot of noise, they leak and they're bulky and cumbersome.

7.7 Critical Listening

The Superlux HD 681 are a good, budget option for critical listening. They have slightly more extended bass than the HD 668 and deliver a satisfying audio reproduction that caters well to instruments and vocals. They have a relatively flat mid-range but tend to sound slightly sharp because of the bump in the high-mid/low-treble, especially with tracks that are already a little bright. Sadly, they don't have a Soundstage as immersive as some of the other fully open-back headphones, but overall the sound quality of the HD 681 like the HD 668B is good for both casual and critical listeners.

4.7 Commute/Travel

Poor for commuting. They're not intended for this use case as they don't block a lot of ambient noise, they're not portable and do not have the most durable build quality.

5.4 Sports/Fitness

Not made for sports. They're bulky and impractical to use outdoors. They're a bit more comfortable than the HD 668B but they're less stable and won't be ideal to use while doing physical activities. They also, they don't have any controls, which makes controlling your music source while exercising a bit more of a hassle.

5.4 Office

Subpar for office use. They let a lot of noise seep into your audio and also leak a lot which might be distracting to your colleagues.

5.9 TV

Above average for home theater use. The wired HD 681 have no latency and a good audio reproduction that caters well to voices. They're a suitable option to watch movies, provided you have an extension cord for the relatively short audio cable.

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