The majority of cheap studio headphones – especially those on our list of the best studio headphones under $50 – come with a closed-back design. So today we decided to take a look at a popular pair that offer a semi-open-back, giving beginners to audio mixing and those on a budget a viable alternative. But, at such an affordable price, are they any good?
As aesthetics go, these SR850s show off an attractive design. While there is nothing particularly premium, the overall look of these phones is definitely one of sophistication – all black and relatively minimalist. The headband isn’t padded but it is conveniently self-adjusting and features a leatherette piece that fits the head nicely.
Combined with the large circular velour ear pads, it makes for a very comfortable pair that aren’t likely to bug you after a few hours of wear. Obviously at this affordable price there is a lot of plastic used, but the build quality is still impressive and, while not as robust as some pairs you’d find in higher price ranges, these will take a fair bit of use. Very enjoyable to wear.
In terms of power, these cans are fitted with standard 50mm drivers that deliver a wide dynamic range, with 32 ohms of impedance, so not much is needed to drive them. They also feature a solid frequency range of 10Hz-30kHz – this is something you would expect to see on higher-end phones, making this pair instantly great value. As for hardware, they are fitted with a long (but non-removable) cable. In the box you will also find a 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch gold plated adapter.
Overall, the SR850s sound great – not as bassy as some would want, but with smooth mids and super-clear highs and vocals. For this reason, they are a solid pair for casual music listening as well as monitoring. The semi-open-back design allows for a wider, more transparent sound when mixing, as well as a generally more ambient sound. Of course, even semi-open-back headphones come with the disclaimer that they should be used in a quiet, studio atmosphere as they naturally allow in external noise (around as much as full open-back phones, so taking them to class or on an airplane is out!).
If you’ve read this review, you’ll know we are impressed with the SR850. At a surprisingly low price, Samson offer a solid pair of comfortable studio headphones that offer sound more akin to a higher-end pair. While not good for travel or busy places, for their intended use – a quiet studio – these are undoubtedly one of the best budget pairs you can buy.