Today, we’ll be reviewing the Samson SR850 semi-open back studio headphones and comparing them to several of their competitors.
These aren’t very popular, but we’re hoping to find a reason for why the opposite should be true.
Our verdict on the Samson SR850
Unfortunately, the Samson SR850s aren’t very popular because they aren’t very good. They’re incredibly cheap and affordable, but that’s the only real highlight.
These can offer a quick solution for engineers in between headphones, or as a crumby reference set, but not much else.
Power and frequency response
The Samson SR850s have a frequency response of 10 Hz – 30 kHz and an impedance of 32 ohms.
The bass response is quite accurate. The low bass is de-emphasized somewhat, but this is to be expected from semi-open back headphones.
The underemphasis of this region will leave tracks missing the thump and rumble, although the upper registers of the bass are overemphasized, adding boom and punch.
Some users may find the sound to be a bit muddy depending on the seal and fit of the ear cups.
The midrange is strikingly accurate, and vocals and lead instruments sound present and clear.
There are some minor peaks around the low and high mids, adding some clutter and harshness respectively. However, these issues are minor enough that we suspect many won’t pick up on it right away.
When it comes to treble, let’s just say that these headphones are… wonky. The entire region is exaggerated, making the low-highs sound harsh and the mid-highs piercing.
Sibilants T and S will sure be a problem with these headphones, and we suggest either EQing them or trying a paper towel modification.
The overall build and make of these headphones feels rather cheap. The plastic is very thin and flimsy, and the ear cup padding seems likely to rip.
The audio cable is also non-detachable and looks as though it may break with repeated use. These are budget headphones not meant to last.
The Samson SR850s are mildly comfortable due to their lightweight. They don’t clamp down too hard on the head either.
The earcups are rather small though, and it is likely that your ears will press up against the drivers which can be a nuisance.
These headphones are perfectly stable enough for studio work, but don’t expect to take these on a jog or to the gym.
They weren’t designed for sport and will most likely fall off with any intense movements.
Noise cancellation and isolation
Unfortunately, there isn’t much to mention here about the SR850’s noise cancellation abilities.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering that they are semi-open, so don’t be surprised when you can hear almost everything outside of the headphones.
They do cancel out high frequencies adequately well, but not by much.
Upon arrival, you will receive the SR850s, a 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapter, and the manual. Not the best but not the worst.
Compared to other headphones
Here are some alternatives to consider in comparison to the Samson SR850s. You can also check out our pick of the best cheap studio headphones.
Samson SR850 vs. AKG K240 Studio
In our opinion, the AKG K240 Studio are among the best options available in terms of budget-friendly headphones. They sound and feel far better than the Samsons.
Samson SR850 vs. Superlux HD681
The HD681 have a similar semi-open back design, but are much more accurate in terms of sound quality than the SR850s.
They’re also much more comfortable to wear. We recommend the Superlux.
Samson SR850 vs. Audio-Technica ATH-M20x
The SR850s are much better for neutral sound than the Audio-Technicas. Although, the ATH-M20x are much more comfortable and have better noise cancellation due to their closed-back design.
Samson SR850 vs. SR950
The SR950 is the closed-back, bass heavy version of the SR850.
If you want the SR850 but need more low end thump and noise cancellation, go for the SR950.
Who are the Samson SR850s best suited for?
The Samson SR850s are best suited for engineers on a budget, and in need of a quick fix.
We can’t recommend these as your go-to pair of headphones for either mixing, or casual listening. But if the price is right, be our guest.
- Accurate midrange.
- Lacking bass.
- Harsh high end.