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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The Talented Noontec Zoro – Review

Noontec Zoro Headphones

The portable headphone market is a rapidly growing branch of consumer electronics and audio. The Noontec Zoro is a new headphone in the market and  with a price that makes it immensely appealing and with an attractive styling to suit. Soundwise, Noontec has also decided to take a balanced presentation, opting out of the “boomy bass” approach of several of its counterparts. Most headphones that are designed for audiophiles generally try to maintain a reasonably neutral presentation, which is tweaked to tilt slightly on either sides of the sound spectrum (from treble to bass) to add some personality to the product.

Design & Comfort

The build is very respectable for a budget headphone. The Zoro feels good when you hold it your hands, though the folding hinges seem a little under-built in my opinion. The headphone is very light and may not be able to take too much of a beating. The headphone competes strongly in the looks department and there is no missing the “semblance” to another popular brand! 😉 Though I believe this was done for its marketing potential it also tends to mislead the consumer in a good or bad way.

 The detachable cable is very convenient, considering a portable headphone usually experiences a lot of stress on the cables. The flat cable is not unique but is catchy and helps with avoiding cable tangle. The headphone can be adjusted to fit different head sizes; the extension mechanism makes a satisfying click and has clear markings. The Zoro folds up conveniently and can be carried around in the provided pouch which actually keeps the fingerprint prone glossy plastic cleaner. Comes in three colors (red, black & White), of which I prefer the white – shows less finger smudges. The provided carrying pouch is handy to carry the headphones in, when folded. The folding setup makes it more convenient to carry and adds to it’s appeal.

The earpads are on the smaller side from my perspective and I had to experiment with the fit. The headphones had no problem holding onto my slightly larger than average head. After about an hour of continuously wearing the Zoro, I did feel a distinct pain developing in my ear lobes. I had to take a break! I have also heard instances of similar experiences from some other Zoro users on the HeadFi forum. After several days of using the headphone I was able to narrow down the problem to the way one places the earpads on the ear. The problem only affects users with slightly larger than average ear lobes, though the best way to judge this is to just buy it from a seller that accepts returns!

Sound

Let me start by saying that I am able to forgive what little disadvantages the Zoro has for the lovely sound it pleasantly surprised me with! The Noontec Zoro has a very neutral presentation but yet manages to keep the music pleasurable. Ideally I would be saying these words about much higher end headphones with suitable prices to match. I keep reminding myself that this is an entry level model priced as such!

The bass is tight and well-fleshed with a satisfying texture. In fact the the Noontec Zoro has one of the best bass for the price. The Creative Aurvana Live! (CAL) comes close, the Zoro edges out the CAL with slightly better definition in my opinion.It is also without doubt the best bass presentation I have ever heard at this price point! bass response is very precise and tight with good texture and doesn’t get overbearing at all. So is this a bass head’s headphone? if you are looking for the presentation I have described above, then sure! but don’t expect the bass to be bloated and flowing into the mids and generally creating a “boomy” signature as most budget basshead phones do.

As a part of its neutral presentation style, the vocals are clear and there is very little to no bleeding of other frequency ranges into the mids. I like presentations where the mids are slightly pushed forward in the soundstage which I believe envelops the listener in music, but the vocals on the Zoro are slightly recessed or rather in line with its neutral nature. This presentation of mids keeps the listener interested in the whole audio spectrum providing a balanced style. There is generally something special about the mids that one gets easily absorbed by that part of the sound spectrum, the Zoro doesn’t add any magic of its own though presents the mids in a satisfying flavour.

The highs are well etched out compared to the other headphones in this price range. The highs retain enough detail to provide good tonality to all genres of music. The Zoro does not have a bright image in the highs and also clearly beats its closest rival, the CAL! At times shiny recordings do tend to bother, but was far and few. My other favorite in this price range the Sennheiser HD448, is easily beaten in bass response and high end clarity by the Zoros. The HD449 seems to have received an appreciable upgrade but I personally have not heard it to compare with the Zoro. The Sennheisers on the other hand, beat the Zoro hands down in comfort! The Zoro shines with just about every source I tried it with, the iPod Classic, iPod Touch, dell laptop (headphones out) & the Sansa Clip+. Feeding it good quality files, an mp3 320 Kbps or a lossless audio file brings out all that the headphone has to offer. Adding an amplifier to the setup did very little to none, the Fiio E11 and the O2 both did not do anything special. Tip: Pickup one of those Vmoda cables that come with a mic and now you can use the Zoro with your smartphone as well!

Comparisons & Conclusion

  The Zoro does not compete with the Vmoda M80, the Sennheiser HD25 1 II & company (but is definitely going to pull some of this crowd) but establishing a niche of its own at a price point that generally does not provide this style of audio presentation and quality. The soundstage is good, nowhere near the Vmoda M80 but for a closed can at this price range, it is very satisfactory.

Noontec Zoro & Meelec HT21The true competitor to the Zoro (in my opinion) is the Creative Aurvana Live!. Both headphones have a similar retail price, are closed portable headphones and aim for a reasonably neutral but sound. As good as the CAL! is, the Zoro seems to edge the CAL! out in terms of base response, clarity and overall neutrality. The laid back style of presentation combined with its neutral tonality does make the Noontec Zoro unlike any other portable headphones I have used.This also affects to some degree the noise isolation which is not great on the Zoro but fair provided it is not too noisy! The Meelec HT21 is decent portable headphone and provides little isolation but does give a quality sound that than most bundled earphones. Priced appropriately lower, it lacks noticeably behind the Zoro in terms of sound quality. If you are planning for the HT21, I suggest to aim a little higher and go with the Zoro.

Noontec Zoro & Superlux HD661 A good ear-seal combined with a weighted boomy and in your-face fun presentation ( the Superlux HD661) generally tends to lower the perception of noise and is preferred for portable headphones, the Zoro being the only defector I know of.The very mature presentation style of the Noontec Zoro may not be for everybody but if you are looking for a headphone with a balanced presentation it is tough to beat at its price! Noontec Zoro is available from Flipkart in India and making use of discount coupons from CupoNation can save you more, making the headphones a bargain not worth missing.

This post was sponsored by CupoNation.

Review Equipment:

iPod Classic – Cambridge Audio DAC Magic- Fiio E11 Amp, O2 Amp

320 Kbps MP3 & Lossless Audio tracks

Superlux HD661, 668B, Meelec HT21, Vmoda M80, Creative Aurvana Live!