| 13.5 mm Driver |
🎧 Superlux has been around for a while making outstanding headphones that compete hand to hand with many big brands, sound quality wise, but always at very small fraction of the price. The Superlux HD381 is actually a family of different models tuned for different type of listening.
There are 3 models: HD381, HD381F and HD381B. They are promoted as following (citing textually what Superlux says): HD381 “Rich bass and powerful low end”, HD381F “Flat frequency response”, HD381B “Crystal clear sound, deep and tight bass”. We are reviewing specifically the HD381 model.
The HD381 have an interesting design, an hybrid between an earbud and iem
The HD381 have an interesting design, an hybrid between an earbud and iem (in ear monitor). Sound comes from both ends, the earbud side and the iem side. This design has its benefits and drawbacks that we will see later.
The cable is a very basic earphone cable type, no special rubberized material or flat tangle free cable here.
Superlux has certainly more headphones than earphones, but relying on their headphone reputation and performance it was fair to give the Superlux HD381 a testing drive.
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Superlux HD381 - Review
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Accessories & Packaging
Packaging design might not be the fanciest around but inside you get a respectable quantity of accessories; a cable winder, 3 eartips and a very useful cable extension.
Bass & Sub Bass
The Superlux HD381 hides under the hood a very large 13.5mm dynamic driver, we will see how it performs when bass is requested.
Bass and sub-bass are present and mid-bass is mildly boosted
Bass and sub-bass are present and mid-bass is mildly boosted. Bass has body, adds punch and fun to the music but they are not too bassy and sub-bass lacks some depth.
Equalizing helps to add sub-bass depth and they respond well.
Pushing the Superlux HD381 for extreme bass with a custom basshead equalization and amplifying it with a Fiio E12 set to high gain and with bass boost turned on; the HD381 handled around 52% of Fiio’s maximum power. Bass gained a lot of presence without overstepping the mids and vocals, bass impact reached rumble levels below the KZ ATE with noticeable less depth but similar mid-bass punch.
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Mids & Vocals
Mids are recessed mostly on the middle mids and upper mids frequencies. Mids suffer from some recession, just enough to make them not harsh or fatiguing. They do not have the best mids and vocals presence that you can buy but they are good enough and if you boost them a bit with a custom equalization they improve vastly without bringing any boxiness to the sound.
Highs & Treble
The highs of the Superlux are recessed but not much, definition and detail can still be perceived. They are not a brightness centered earphone but they achieve a respectable level. They are not piercing but can have a slight sibilant presence at times.
The sound leakage of the HD381 is the worst of all, there is no attenuation at all of the sound level that comes from the earphone. Everybody will hear what your are listening to on silent environments as well as on noisy environments. It is absolutely not recommended for libraries.
The not so tight fit does not provide the best level of noise isolation, noises levels get reduced but you need to crank the volume up more than many other earphones to achieve the same level of reduction.
The design of the Superlux adds to the comfort, they fit securely helped by a rubberized ring on the edges of the housing, they are comfortable overall and do not generate soreness. They can be used for prolonged sessions without any issue or discomfort.
Response to Equalization
The Superlux HD381 respond very well to any frequency equalization. Eq up mid frequencies and the recession goes away with no boxy sound at all or harshness. High frequencies can be enhanced a little bit but you can boost easily the sibilance base that they already have. Bass responds well to eq enriching depth and impact.
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Superlux HD381 Frequency Response
|Cord||Y-type, round cord|
|Cord Length||0.6m + 0.6m|
|Plug||L shaped stereo mini plug|
|Weight (Without Cord)||Approx. 12g|
|Supplied Accessories||2x Earphone tips; cable winder; cable extension|
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