| Over-Ear | 50 mm Driver | Neodymium Magnet |
🎧 We are reviewing the Superlux HD681, an insanely affordable over-ear headphone with a semi-open design and a prosperous fame.
The Superlux HD681 features an open-back design, 50 mm dynamic drivers (which is a diameter larger than usually found on many over-ear headphones), neodymium magnets, a wide 10-30,000Hz frequency response, a maximum power of 300 mW and leather earpads.
The Superlux HD681 belong to the professional monitoring headphone’s line from the brand, among which you can find other highly popular headphones as the:
- Superlux HD668B – Probably the most famous of Superlux’s professional open-back headphones.
- Superlux HD681 EVO – A later introduced variant of the HD681.
- Superlux HD381 Series – In-ear headphones that we have reviewed long time ago.
The Superlux HD681 are actually a “series” line of 3 different sub-models with, supposedly, specific tuning; this series are much like the Superlux HD381 Series, Superlux HD662 Series. The 3 flavors that this line offers are (quoting Superlux’s product descriptions):
- Superlux HD681 – Superlux states: “Deep low frequency “On stage” sound, perfect for enjoying the beauty of classical music & other large ensembles… Both the HD681 & P-brand HP890 have a similar curve, presenting a bright and clear sound. When playing classical music, the HD681 will surprise you with its breadth, clarity and dynamic presence.”
- Superlux HD681F – Superlux states: “Flat extended frequency response “Front row” sound image, great for pop music and capturing that sweet vocal sound… Both the HD681F & A-brand AD500 have a similar curve. The HD681F delivers a sweet sound, just as if the singer was standing right in front of you.”
- Suplerux HD681B – Superlux states: “powerful bass “In hall” feel, great for enjoying rock music and similar exciting performances… Both the HD681B & A-brand K240 Studio have a similar curve. The HD681B optimizes a powerful bass and balanced tone, and it will be difficult to resist the urge to dance to the rhythm from your headphones.”
You might have noticed that Superlux compares them to some oddly named P-brand and A-brands which insinuate: “P-brand HP890”, the Philips SBC HP890 (a classic Philips headphone); “A-brand AD500” is pointing to the Audio Technica ATH-AD500 and “A-brand K240” suggests the AKG K240 – these 3 headphones belong to major brands and are highly famous models with already many years on the market. The Superlux HD681 has an immediately recognizable aesthetic resemblance with the AKG K240 STUDIO and AKG K240 MKII.
Among the 3 flavors of the HD681, it is the Superlux HD681 (without the “F” or the “B”) the one that has gained the most diffused reputation (to be honest, the Superlux HD681B and Superlux HD681F are hardly ever seen in stock). If you happen to stumble upon all 3 variants, there is an easy way to differentiate them: the HD681F has white rings and details, the HD681B has dark grey rings and details and the plain HD681 model has red rings and details.
The earcups of the Superlux HD681 are very large and offer an over-ear format/fit. The headband has a self-adjusting system with a double construction made of two pieces: a leather-like wide band and twin metals rods; this kind of headband system has been used by AKG headphones for a long time.
The Superlux HD681 is compatible with Android and Apple devices.
You can buy the Superlux HD681 Series in:
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Superlux HD681 Review
Tests & Scores
Superlux HD681 weight in Ounces and Superlux HD681 weight in grams.
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Accessories & Packaging
The Superlux HD681 unboxing results in a screw-on 3.5 mm to 6.3 mm stereo adapter (gold-plated) and a large soft carrying pouch that can fit the headphone inside. The packaging is an awkward sheet of cardboard, in fact there is not much packaging for the Superlux HD681. If you want a fancier packaging, detachable cables and various accessories you can opt for the Superlux HD668B.
Bass & Sub Bass
Open-back (and semi-open) headphones have a design that does not set an ideal starting point to build up super strong bass. Nonetheless, the Superlux HD681 are able to provide very rich bass with punchy mid-bass and good enough sub-bass depth — for a semi-open headphone their bass response is impressively energetic.
With an EQ, there is a punchier mid-bass response but sub-bass starts to get distorted and do not provide a much deeper sound.
Running the Superlux HD681 through our extreme bass tests they took up to 40% of a Fiio E12 Mont Blanc maximum power (custom basshead EQ, high gain, bass boost) with a huge increment of mid-bass punch and sub-bass that will offer a delicate but clearly perceptible basshead rumble on your cheek bones. To reach this it was necessary to push them to their limits (as we always do in this section), anything below this high-risk levels did not provide any rumble. Regarding sound quality, their sub-bass became distorted on and beyond 40% amplification. Do not expect the basshead rumble and impact that the Beats Solo2 achieved during our Beats Solo2 review.
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Mids & Vocals
The Superlux HD681 mids have clear lower mids and lower vocals with nice warmth and good enough higher-mids crispness. There is no muffle sound at all but some highly demanding listeners could want to apply a little bump to their lower vocals, if you want to fine tune it you can apply an EQ aimed to “fix” this. The upper range of their mids are well resolved without getting harsh nor sounding rolled-off or shy.
Using an EQ you can custom-match their mids to your liking by clearing up and enhancing vocals presence without touching the upper mids; you can empower higher mids and add crispness or you can combine both EQ paths. Any of the EQ decisions will answer back with highly efficient modification of their sound, of course you need to know what you are doing or you can mess up their already great mids sound quality.
Highs & Treble
The Superlux HD681 highs are superb bright and detailed, a “treble-head” dream come true… bringing some memories of in-ear headphones like the Senfer 4in1. Hats off for Superlux’s little monstrous creation.
As mostly happens with headphones tuned with very bright and detailed highs, piercing highs can show up at times but, honestly, their piercing highs are not too strong, it is their sibilance that is recurrent.
Apply an EQ to boost their highs and sit down because you will get a ridiculous amount of brightness but expect much stronger sibilance and piercing highs. If you have some experience using an EQ or want to play around you can try many different custom EQ configurations to find the perfect level of relation between brightness and piercing/sibilant highs or you can go all the opposite by dialing down some of their highs to reduce any fatiguing peaks and they will still sound bright and detailed.
The sound leaking out of the Superlux HD681 is high, as expected from any semi-open headphone. There is nothing wrong or badly achieved by the Superlux HD681 that leads to this strong leakage, it is a simple characteristic of every open and semi-open headphone.
If of any relevance, the sound leaking level of this headphone is slightly lower than on some fully open-back design headphones.
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Being a semi-open back headphone, the sound isolation provided by the Superlux HD681 is not their strongest asset. A strong sound isolation is something that no open-back and semi-open back design will be able to provide, if it would it would mean that they are not very open and nearer to a closed-back headphone.
If you were considering the Superlux H681 or any other open-back headphone for a strong isolation of your surroundings you are starting up with the wrong foot.
The self-adjusting headband of the Superlux HD681 offers an oustanding level of comfort. This design is inspired by the headbands of AKG headphones, which AKG has been using for decades already. The reduced amount of material needed to construct the headband results in a cumulative lighter weight of the headphone as a whole.
Moreover, the large, “cushiony” and leather (maybe leather) earpads supplement their excellent level of comfort offered with also a pivoting movement that adapts them better to your heads/ears shape. The headband’s clamping has a well-balanced pressure to provide a tight but not crushing fit and the single-sided robust cable reduces cumbersome cable-issues.
To be noted, as the Superlux HD681 are studio monitoring headphones they come with a long 2.5 m cable that could be a bit strange to manage if you are planning to use them while walking through the streets of your city (though by design they were not created to be used during daily commuting or even outside a studio or home)
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Response to Equalization
The response equalization of the Superlux HD681 was impeccable with perfect fine tuning of their mids, empowering of their bass and either taming of their highs peaks or sparkling even more their brightness and detail.
Size & Fit
Superlux HD681 size and Superlux HD681 fit.
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Superlux HD681 Scores
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Superlux HD681 Frequency Response
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Superlux HD681 Technical Specifications
|Cord||Y-type, round cord|
|Plug||Stereo mini plug|
|Supplied Accessories||3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter; soft carrying pouch|
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Superlux HD681 Photos
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