Lasmex H75 Pro – It’s Sweet!

Over at HeadFi, fellow headphone nuts often dig out some of the best audio gear worth owning. Sometimes, the gear tend to be quite expensive and/or difficult to source (unless ofcourse one is prepared to make their wallet suffer !) but the Somic MH463 is neither!. Somic is a Chinese manufacturer of headphones and other associated communication equipment and are quite popular in that part of the world. The headphone is available on Ebay from sellers in both China and Hong Kong. I like shopping closer to home (saves time on shipping and customs procedures) and was on the look out for a dealer in Europe. That is when I came upon the Lasmex H-75 Pro, a rebranded version of the Somic MH463 sold in Europe by the Chinese OEM brand Lasmex. There do seem to be other branded versions of the MH463 available as well with some slight modifications in the cable and styling.

         Lasmex H-75 Pro

Build & Comfort

     At budget prices there is not much one can expect from headphone manufacturers. These budget headphones have to balance pricing and performance to be competitive but the Lasmex H75 Pros seem to have found a decent balance. They don’t look overtly “plasticky”, maintaining a reasonably reassuring build. The metal band that runs across both headphone frame is pretty sturdy and the remaining parts are made of tough plastic. A three year guarantee is greatly admirable and definitely helps the buyer to be more confident with the headphone, ofcourse this may depend on the rebranding vendor. The headband also seems to add considerable weight to the headphone, which makes it heavy over extended listening sessions The markings on the metal band help in making quick adjustments and are much appreciated by users like moi! The headphones have an impedance of 45 ohms and have a 50 mm driver. The large driver makes the headphone quite substantial to look at and most definitely also plays a role in the well resolved sound the headphone puts out (more on that later…). The headphone has an open type construction meaning, there is going to be leakage of music to the surrounding, the size and open nature of the H-75 Pro will mean you would ideally be using these indoors. A 3m cable terminating in a 3.5mm stereo plug with a 6.5mm adapter completes the Lasmex H75 Pro.The earpads cushions are unusually too soft and do tend to compress too much. Though that may not affect all, users like me (not small ears!) have comfort issues. The earlobe tends to rest on the hard plastic containing the drivers and causes comfort problems during extended listening periods. Yet another discomfort is  the sheer weight of the headphone itself! The plastic lining bearing the branding “Lasmex” covering the headband seems to be the culprit, you can always remove that to increase comfort and probably replace it with a third-party headband cushion.

Sound

The H75 Pro weaves magic with vocals! I had been listening to the HiFiman HE500 for a few months ago and then moved on since, I did not have the right amplifier and the H75 pleasantly reminded me of that headphone.Yes, the HE500 is in an altogether different league but the H75 does truly have a good, no Great (for the price!) presentation in the mids. Can’t wait to try it on with a tube amp, unfortunately don’t have one at the moment :-(. The headphone portrayed a very natural and sweet mid frequency presentation that is portrayed in an intimate manner than the bass and high frequencies, when supported by the Burson HA160 & the O2 amp the vocals were very good. Ideally, alternative, pop, vocal Jazz and other mid centric content shine with this headphone.Though when the volume is pushed beyond reasonable levels I did not notice some distortion in the mids. The performance of this headphone rests so much on this part of the sound that it is not as impressive with genres like dance, techno and electronic where not much attention is required in the vocals.

A beautifully resolved and airy presentation with the right amount of shine. The treble is definitely one of the strengths of the H75 pro. A very rich but untiring treble as observed in other higher end & expensive headphones. The amount of instrument separation and air in the high frequencies is just unheard of at this price point! Though the H75 does not beat the AKG K550 in the details  and the treble section, the H75 is definitely more “natural” sounding.The H75 Pro has just the right amount shine without making the listener feel strained. The clarity and resolution in the higher frequencies can be felt in several stage recordings and its also smoothes some treble peaks in bright recordings that were previously a bit difficult to listen to.

I procrastinated commenting on the H75 Pro’s bass for as long as I could. Coming from the HD650 it is quite difficult to get used to a presentation that does not put as much intensity and richness into the low-end. The bass on the H75 Pro is quite linear and neutral with some presence of sub bass as well. It does have enough quality, but definitely seems to lack  in midbass quantity for my tastes. This perhaps, has to do something with the presentation style that the headphone adopts. The beautiful mids in the foreground with clean and clear highs seem to demand a suitable amount of low-frequency (midbass) support to really anchor the presentation, unfortunately that’s where the Lasmex H75 pro let me down. One cannot plainly complain about the bass of this headphone, its does make itself felt when called for by the music, but feels slightly anemic.As mentioned before this observation could also be due to the time that I spent with the HE500/HD650 and somehow fixing that presentation as the standard to judge similarly voiced headphones.

The open nature of the headphones coupled with the excellent high end makes for a truly wonderful experience with vocals. The vocals provide more of a “sweetness” and may probably offer good pairing with amplifiers with a lush presentation style. The pace of the H75 Pro is again slightly faster than the HD650 making it a good accompaniment for most music styles. Though most music genres would benefit from a bit more weighty lower end, on the Lasmex H75 Pro it is all about mids!.

Final words..

The Lasmex H75 Pro or the Somic MH463 is a well executed headphone design with very little drawbacks. The comfort problem is something that would be a pain for some listeners, the lack of a slightly weighty bottom  may as well leave some listeners unsatisfied. Ofcourse, it is quite possible that the lower region of the sound spectrum has been restrained to suit the presentation style adopted by the headphone. The H75 Pro sure has the pace, rhythm and timing (PRaT) going for it which also makes the listening experience pleasurable. The H75 Pro is in my opinion as very niche headphone, but a very good one. Remember that in the comparisons above I have been talking about the HE500, HD650 and AKG K550 – these are high end products from top manufacturers,  talking about them in the context of the H75 Pro is itself great praise. No, that also does not mean that the H75 Pro bests all of them or is equally good! The H75 Pro aspires for exalted company and has the “sound sense” to match, if not the prowess. I can heartily recommend this headphone as a great match for vocal lovers and anybody who shares a craving for beautiful mids. The Lasmex H75 Pro retails for around 50 bucks and is a good headphone to have in an audiophile’s headphone collection. 

Tip! The Somic Ef 82 Mt is another offering that seems more appealing than the MH 463 in terms of sound, review coming up…..!

Review Gear

Cambridge DAC Magic – Burson HA160 – iPod Classic – Fiio E11 – DIY O2 amp – MP3 320 Kbps – 16/44 & 24/96 Lossless.

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Sennheiser HD448 Review

I am a contented IEM (in-ear monitor) user and the HD 448 was an impulse buy which turned out to be AMAZING! So you now know what to expect further into the review. The Sennheiser HD 448 is a closed-back full size headphone that performs admirably well in the pool of headphones that it competes with.

I have been listening on the Sennheiser HD448s for almost 3 months,  if over-the-ear headphones are you’re thing then there just isn’t anything (in this class) under the $100 or 100€ mark that will best this beauty. Now that earlier statement may not hold true for long since there are always price cuts!

The HD448 fall into the over-the-ear class of full size headphones. These envelop the complete ear lobe (the over-the-ear) and the ear-cups are designed with sufficient space to do the job.They also fall into the closed design class which means they do not leak sound and offer some isolation (more on the isolation later). The HD 448 was designed for use with portable music players (as Sennheiser says) and their size is quite reasonable. and generally does provoke stares from people around (oh, I should say that if you do get some looks it’s probably the styling on the ear-cups ;-)).

Sound Quality

The biggest advantage that the 448 offers is the clarity/resolution that just blows away anything I’ve heard before. Clarity of sound is something that I’m not sure that I would be able to explain satisfactorily, but let me try. Every chord or beat or frequency is so clear – the best way to experience this is the first time you put on the 448 after using your regular headphone. Now if you go back to your older headphone you’ll definitely notice the muddy spectrum of sounds. An example that strikes me is with photography, you’ve shot with point & shoots and then switched to a SLR with a fast prime lens – now you suddenly notice how you’re primary subject is so sharp! That’s exactly what I’m talking about in terms of sound.If you’re a bass lover, stay clear of the 448s – there are other cans out there which will satisfy you more. Though the bass on the 448 is decent but it’s nowhere close to the oomph  that even a cheap pair of in-ears (though the bass is going to be muddy!) can deliver (Check the frequency response of the Sennheiser CX-300s in the image below). My earlier statement should not be misconstrued as “no bass”, the bass response is clean but not very deep nor is there much “attack”.  If you like balanced or neutral sound then the 448s are definitely the way to go.The HD448s were designed for midrange beauty or vocals and that’s where it shines. Its not easy switching to neutral listening styles, I started out with the CX300 and have been moving down/up ever since (Koss porta pro and the Shure SE 210). Initially, I felt that the bass was too faint but I gradually settled into the levels within a few days (though not without withdrawal effects ;-)). I can’t stress enough that these headphones are tuned for midrange response – and it really does that very well.The vocals on most pop and Indian music is fantastic and very musical. Soundstage is good after the initial burn-in period though initially it was a bit constricted (guess I am making an unfair comparison with my semi-open headphones!).

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For more detailed technical  test data check out Inner fidelity headphone data sheet.

Comfort

Wearing comfort is a primary concern when going for a full-size can, the Sennheisers are just masters at making the best fit. The longest I’ve managed to wear my 448 was about 5hrs and after which I actually fell asleep with my cans on..I had totally forgotten that they were there in the first place! The clamping force is gentle, yet the fit is firm – which provides decent noise isolation. The isolation can ofcourse not be compared to in-ears but the seal is decent enough to get you through busy streets and on flights. The isolation may not be sufficient in really noisy environments such as underground transport stations.

To amp or not to amp?

Sennheiser suggests the HD448 as a great accompaniment to portable music players, which it definitely is – but does it really flex the muscles of this headphone? Unfortunately the answer is no! A 32 ohm impedance rating on this headphones suggests that it should play very well with most of the portable music players. The reality is though the HD448 does a good job with most portable music players including mobile phones, it just seems to lack that shine which is very prominent when an amplifier is introduced. I’ve listened to the HD448 on an iPod Nano, iPod Classic and the iPhone as well and always noticed that… something was just lacking!. Throwing in a Fiio E7 or an iBasso T3 just made the HD448 outshine itself. The tonality and the attack on the base notes and the timbral response definitely seem to be enhanced by introducing an amplifier. Ofcourse that could just be a personal subjective opinion, but I would earnestly ask you to give it a try and see if your experience is the same.

Verdict

I have no second thoughts about recommending the HD448 as a worthy buy for the discerning music listener. Remember that most music lovers are inevitably addicted to inordinate amounts of Bass (with a capital B), though the HD448 has a “decent” amount of well textured low-end it might not be enough for everyone and I would therefore recommend that you try the headphone before buying it! The headphone definitely gets better with burn-in (around 20 hrs) and the bass as well gets a little better. The HD448 is on the Headroom’s Top 10 list which adds to my opinions about its value, that said if you love bass and strong bass – look elsewhere!

Update:

Sennheiser has recently come out with the follow-up to the HD448, you guessed it right! HD449 – which looks equally cool and from the specifications online seems pretty much the same. But, it’s never a good idea to judge a headphones by its looks and specification so if you’re looking into the HD448s check out the HD449 as well – unless you get a good deal on the HD448 ;-). I’ll post a review of the HD449 when I get a chance to test it out.

Philips 9550 headphones – Review

After a year of use my Shure SE250’s cable as well as the rubber seal around the headphones have given up. I still got a year of warranty on it so would be sending them in for repairs. In the meantime however I needed a cheap but quality headphones to sooth my music cravings. I didn’t want to go in for pricey pair (anything above €50..yeah..that’s kinda pricey for a student!) so went shopping for the cheapest in-ear canalphones that I can get away with. I’ve used the Sennheiser CX300 before and have recommended it to my friends as well, but I was in a mood to try something different (or even cheaper than the €27 that the CX300s cost). The Philips 9550 retails on Amazon for €20 (there’s the Creative EP630 coming in cheaper at €15! but that’s kinda scarily cheap!) and seemed appealing.


On the outside the headphones are well designed (and they come in black only!) the package comes with a standard 3 set fit kit of rubber seals and a cable winder thrown in for free. The cable of the Philips 9550 comes in at 1.2m which is about right for a 6ft guy carrying the ipod or any other music player in the jeans pocket – but i still feel its stingy! and the cable winder is just sarcastic! Anyway that’s about the only gripe with the Philips 9550 that I had. I’ve a full review up on Blogcritics and would definitely like to underline the verdict..this thing is a mean bass machine! remember to wear the headphones over the ear (like the shure models) and the angled audiotunnel gives you a comfortable and effective fit canceling out background noise as well as pumping bass into your earcanals. The Philips 9550 is a fantastic buy for the money, and will definitely satisfy bassheads and casual listeners alike. If you’re looking for anything better than good…then this isn’t the pricepoint you should be looking in.


Notify 2 – Must have Email Notifier for the Mac

Remember google notifier? I used to be a big fan and used it regularly, was good till it lasted. The google notifier for the Mac is no longer available and though the Apple Mail client will give you an audible tone to denote arrival of new mail – I love the Gmail interface and love to use it.

Notify 2 is a fabulous piece of software designed for the mac that notifies you whenever you’ve got mail! and it does it with so much style that you wouldn’t go back to your mail client. Also you can reply and compose message quickly and zap them off in no time! I have a review here and would definitely recommend the $10 pro version – though the free version does the job as well as is no slouch.