Superlux HD 330 Review

Update 2018

Today UPS was ringing at my door at 11am. A big box containing an HD330 from Superlux was here.

First thing I was planning to mod this one. Already owner of a Superlux HD660 I thought that the cable was nice for mobile use but not for Home use. The HD330 destinated to Home use I changed the cable with the cordial CMK 422 Twin. The pads are also replaced by Beyer DT 770 Velour pads. The mini jack 3.5mm used is an Hicon (sommercable)  HI-J35S02.

The Sound:

After something like 30h of burning I can give an apreciation of this headphone. The sound quality is simply astonishing. I’ve never seen something like this in this price range. It is superior to the hd660. I decided to recable my HD 660 with the same cable/jack because it was so obvious.

The recable of the HD660 bring it close to the HD330 in term of deph in the high freq. But the problem is the bass and sub region nowhere close to the HD330. In fact the bass cut higher and the coloration of the bass is not comparable like sounding too punchy in a small volume when the HD330 have more space and volume to expand.

I will prefer the HD330 for my taste and I recommend it if noise isolation is not a criteria.

Well and the sound ? Simply crazy, So Airy, the soundstage is good, very deep and rich in the lows frequencies. The bass region is dense with a lot of energy it is very agreable. The bass region is actually a litle on the emphasys side. A choice of signature oriented toward confortablr listening.

You have something more agreable than the DT990 that also have a good botom.
After that it is maybe a little less precise or it will attenuate some details compared to the DT990 or other very critical monitoring headphone. It is the debate between precision and pleasure.

When I say “little less precise” it is not a very important diference of precision, just that the choise of the response “style” is oriented toward bright hights on the DT990 and the bass/sub are less forward than on the HD330. This give a monitoring/studio sound signature/ impression (wich is originaly the use intented for the DT990 pro so no deception here). What makes me say that the HD330 can compete with the DT990 (with some modification: cable + pads) is the midrange. This HD 330 sound very good/right with vocals. I prefer to listen rock music with the HD330 than with the DT990 and overall for confortable listening the HD330 is more enjoyable at little volume. When it comes to monitoring and making decisions on drums or doing a mix (studio not dj of course) the DT990 is more at is advantage.

Globally ?

In the high Region the tone are very rafined and precise.
You have have a little less resolution than the DT990 on some details. But the tone of the midrange make it very nice to listen. The panoramics and spatialisation are also at a very good level.

It is a very fun to say it simply: not the more precise but one of the more agreable I ‘ve listened to.

Well actually it will be one headphone that I will listen lot at home with the Beyerdinamic DT990 for more critical listening.

I’ve to had that the superior soundstage/ more open sound of the DT990 makes it better for classical styles, orchestra etc. The HD330 really shine with rock, pop, punk , electronic and this kind of style. (see the listening session )

I think It is a very good surprise, I was expecting less from this one. I recommend the pads and cable mod to bring out the full potential of this headphones.

Definitely a must have at this price point.

Listening to some tracks:  (youtube for preview purpose only the test has been realised with FLAC files)

  • Ten Madison – Raindrop [ambient] [ Flac 1024 kBit/s, 44.1 khz]  :

A very beautiful track, very relaxing and constructed around the sound of rain and aquatic drums. All that is layered with non agressive synths. we are in the deepness.

On the DT990 you have a little bit larger scene, but the HD330 put some détail in evidence that are very agreable. You really feel the bass and this participate to render a more realistic immersion in this type of track.  Some people will say that it is to much bass but in fact I believe that it is the right amount for a musical listening when the DT990 try to offer a clearer presentation. Verdict aex aequo: The DT990 offer for sure a larger soundstage and a little bit more separation between sounds but lack somewhere the bottom of the HD330. The panoramics effect are at the same level of precision.

  • Lostprophets – A town called hypocrisy [Metal/Punk] [ Flac 1014 kBit/s, 44.1 khz]

A very good contemporary Rock/Punk track with lots of guitars and an interesting placement of those guitars in the left or right channel ( stereo placement). The bass is less a criteria in this track. Due to its V signature The DT990’s reproduction show the drums very clearly (hi hats, snare …) You have a good soundstage/scene. The voice is clear but lack some mids like sounding a little dry. Stereo placement/arrangement are very well rendered. On the HD330 there is a little bit less separation but the voice is forward and sound more engaging. You also have a more detailled vocals due to the nice midrange. The bass region also had something warm in the sound where the DT990 sounds dry. Verdict: More enjoyable on the HD330. 

  • M83 Midnight City [electric] [ Flac 994 kBit/s, 44.1 khz]

The very good track of the French producer M83, made with lot of synth hardware. It is a very dense track, not the best production in terms of separation but a very nice track for the genre. You will have your dose of synth and vintage style percussive snare, reverb, deep synth athmosphere.

With this one the HD330 really shine, the high are precise and a little bit tamed, youre immerged in a synth athmosphere with rich mid-bass, correct dynamic not the best but decent, presence of the vocal and the sax and main elements of the song.  The DT990 lack the solid bottom of the HD330 here but due to a little bit better separation/soundstage win the game on this track. the less amount of mid bass permit a better perception of the synth bass layer. The difference in the voice restitution is smaller here. The perception of the dynamic is a little less impressive than with the HD330 the kick and snare sound more far.  Verdict: Close but little advantage for The DT990. 

  • Debussy – Prelude to the afternoon:

On this type of classical orchestra, the tone are correct on the HD330 and the instruments have a good energy. Panoramics are correct. The soundstage is less large than on the DT990. The DT 990 win here with more separation and a sound signature more adapted to classical genre. The feeling is closer to a concert auditorium with this one. Even if the restitution of the HD330 is well balanced its just not the best headphone for this type of music. Verdict: Clear advantage for The DT990.

  • The Birthday Massacre – In This moment:  [ Flac 1060 kBit/s, 44.1 khz]

Goth-Rock with Pop/synth influences, This canadian group improve the production of their popular tracks with each new albums/releases. A track with guitars, synths and feminine voice. Here the Dynamic of the HD330 give more impact and make the track more engaging. The voice doesnt sound more detailed but more present due to a different choice in restitution and a closer soundstage. The HD330 is here clearly more adapted than the DT990. It sound more engaging, the guitars are here and the voice precence is very apreciable. Verdict: Clear advantage for The HD330

Gear used: EMU 1616 as a DAC/preamp + SUPERLUX HD 330

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