Urbanears Plattan and House of Marley Positive Vibration: The $59 Headphone Roundup, Part 3 Page 2

Urbanears Plattan ($60)

I counted 12 colors of the Plattan on Urbanears’ website, which must be a record. The company occasionally revises its palette, dropping colors and adding new ones. A friend who heard my sample of the Plattan and immediately ordered his own informed me that the less-popular colors can sometimes be found on websites for $10 less — so not only can you save money, you can give a good home to an unwanted set of headphones that probably would have been put down (or at least ended up at Big Lots! or Tuesday Morning).

It’s easy to love the Plattan’s minimalist style, and I found the comfort more than adequate for a two-hour trip on Los Angeles public transit. The earpieces fold for easier portability, the fabric-covered cord resists tangles, and there’s an inline microphone for cell phone calls. For $10 more, you can get the Plattan Plus, which adds an inline Apple-compatible remote with volume control. An output jack on the right earpiece lets a friend plug in his/her ’phones to share the sound.

Often as I’ve been proven wrong, I still never expect a stylish headphone to sound good. But the Plattan definitely does. Howard and I ranked it #2, and he thought it was very close in sound quality to his #1 pick. Joe put it in the middle of pack. By and large, the mids sound excellent, with little coloration and a great sense of ambience. I thought the Plattan beautifully handled the extraordinarily difficult job of delineating the slack-key guitar, concert ukulele, and duetting male tenors in Dennis and David Kamakahi’s “’Ülili E,” from the CD Ohana. The highs sounded almost equally smooth, although in Joe’s opinion a tad harsh with some of the music he played.

The bass balance is a little on the heavy side, and a little on the muddy side, which is why Lauren dissented, ranking the Plattan near the bottom. “The bass doesn’t have any pitch, which seems to ‘slow the sound down,’” she complained.

Measurements: As with the Beyerdynamic DTX 300 p, I had to use the ear/cheek simulator’s clamping mechanism to get a good fit on the sim’s fake rubber ear; this might have boosted its bass by a few dB more than you’d actually experience with the ’phones on your head. The frequency response measurements show a slightly midrange-heavy balance and a weak treble response.  Adding 70 ohms output impedance to the V-Can’s 5-ohm output impedance to simulate the effects of using a low-quality headphone amp kicked up the bass by +1 dB below 80 Hz. Total harmonic distortion (THD) is moderate, hitting 3% at 20 Hz at 80 dBA and 10% THD at 100 dBA. Impedance averages 57 ohms across most of the audio band, except for a bump to 72 ohms centered at 60 Hz. Isolation is about average or a tad below, measuring -10 to -28 dB above 1.3 kHz. Average sensitivity from 300 Hz to 10 kHz with a 1 mW signal at the rated 60 ohms impedance is a very high 110.0 dB, so the Plattan should really crank even with one of those $29 MP3 players.

Bottom Line: Overall, the Plattan delivers a terrific mix of sound, style, and feature for the price — as long as its fat-sounding bass appeals to you.

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