Wednesday, March 23, 2011

CAD MH310 / Superlux HD-662F Review

There is almost no info available about the new CAD MH310 headphones right now - but I just got three pair today.

Here's the available spiel on the CAD cans:

"CAD MH310 Closed-Back Studio Headphones Details

The CAD MH310 is a closed back, circumaural, precision built monitor headphone equipped with 50mm neodymium drivers offering extended frequency response while delivering exceptional detail and clarity. Exceptionally comfortable, the MH310s are designed with a self-adjusting headband with closed-back leatherette ear cushions that allow for hours of comfortable, fatigue free listening.
CAD MH310 Closed-Back Studio Headphones Features

* Frequency response: 10Hz-30kHz
* Sensitivity: 98 +/- 3dB
* High output, Neodymium 50mm drivers
* 2.5 Meter (98”) cord with 1/4" and 1/8" plugs
* Impedence: 30 ohms
* Foam cushions for maximum comfort and sound isolation
* Carrying pouch
* One year Limited Warranty"

So, with just about zero information anywhere online on these, I had to start searching for some super-similar styles with the same specs (use that line to test for sibilance the next time you set up a vocal mic).

The closest I came up with was the brand-new Superlux HD-662F. Superlux is the new up-and-comer big-bang-for-the-buck headphone brand made in Taiwan. "Close" isn't even the word for the match I got - except for the branding, the CAD and Superlux seem nearly identical. The Superlux HD-662 series are all closed-back, and they offer good isolation. There are three styles: the 662 (red trim-well balanced), the 662-F (white trim-true bass), and the 662-B (blue trim-bass punch).

The CAD MH310 has white trim, so it's probably the HD-662F. Here I have removed one of the ear cushions to get a better look inside:

Here's a shot someone took of the guts of an AKG (left) and a Superlux (right)...not sure of the exact models used, however:

So it sure looks like the CAD is a rebranded Superlux.

There are a few differences from the original description, once you have the item in front of you: The Superlux is from Taiwan, the CAD box says Made in China. The specs have changed, too - from 10Hz-30KHz to 20Hz-20KHz...darn, I lost some frequency response during shipping! That's perfectly fine with me in this case, because humans generally CAN'T HEAR down to 10Hz (that is bass you feel in your chest at a live show, not something that comes out of 50mm/2-inch drivers) or up to 30KHz.

So it also looks like CAD has put the specs into...perSPECtive. More real-world.

AND my paperwork has the one year warranty upped to a two year warranty. Nice.


I'm currently "burning-in" a pair right now, I'll be able to comment on those after 100+ hours of burn. My first comments will be on a fresh, unburned set:

These offer pretty good isolation, though not quite as good as some of my vintage cans. Probably thinner-walled plastic in the cups. Might be room for some modding, there (I was thinking that something like fiberglass lining the inside would do some good, I dunno). Comments/suggestions?

They clamp pretty well on my head, around the ears (circumaural), which is a must for tracking, to reduce leakage from the headphone. I am used to this style of headphones, as all of my vintage ones for tracking and my AKG K240-M's for mixing are this type. I like the solid feel of these. Those who aren't used to circumaural headphones may feel a bit claustrophobic in them.

These have a very similar design to the AKG K240's, but the curved metal rods that connect the earpieces (not sure what these are actually called - the headband/s?) are extremely resonant on the CADs...they vibrate/ring at around 80Hz, while the same parts on the AKGs are isolated and do not ring at all. Not that you're going to go around flicking these with your fingernail making them vibrate very often, but it does seem to be a negative as far as using them for a quality reference. If your source material happened to have lots of 80Hz in it, the CAD headphones would probably ring (sympathetic vibration). I will probably add some sort of damping to eliminate the resonance.

Now for the sound quality: VERY NICE. Certainly beyond the price (these list for $99 currently, generally go for about $69, and can be found for as little as $49). I am used to mostly "flat" sound...I use my AKG's for monitoring, so the sound that they output must be as close to the original source material as possible - that's why I chose the AKG's.

The CAD's add a bit of "smile" eq to the source (similar to what a listener might add on their own with a separate equalizer): a bass bump, and some high-end peaks around 6KHz, as shown in this Superlux frequency response chart:

Though I might like to hear a little bit more midrange definition, I must say I really enjoy listening on these headphones! The bass is very full and present, while not being overdone or flabby. The treble is natural and clear, not harsh.

I was able to hear ALL of the test tones 20Hz-20KHz from the Alan Parsons "Sound Check" cd through these headphones, and although the highest and lowest tones were much quieter than the rest, they were most certainly audible.

Please keep in mind that I am only making an assumption that these are rebranded Superlux headphones. I do not have any Superlux HD662-F's yet to make a "for-certain" call. But from the photos and specs online, it seems a safe assumption they are the same...who knows? CAD may have had some alterations done to the Superlux design, to make these their own. Time will tell.

But I must say that I approve of these headphones! Comfortable fit, quality build, nice isolation, and a great listening experience. A GREAT bang-for-the-buck, in my opinion.