Review: 808 headphones Page 2


To measure the performance of the 808, I used a G.R.A.S. 43AG ear/cheek simulator, a Clio FW audio analyzer, a laptop computer running TrueRTA software with an M-Audio MobilePre USB audio interface, and a Musical Fidelity V-Can headphone amplifier. Measurements were calibrated for ear reference point (ERP), roughly the point in space where your palm intersects with the axis of your ear canal when you press your hand against your ear. I experimented with the position of the earpads by moving them around slightly on the ear/cheek simulator, and settled on the placement that gave the best bass response and the most characteristic result overall.

The frequency response of the 808 suggests a "boom'n'sizzle" sound, with a strong bass resonance centered at 65 Hz, strong upper-mid and treble peaks at 2 and 7 kHz, and greater-than usual energy above 10 kHz. (Although we certainly heard the boom, we didn't hear any sizzle.) Adding 70 ohms output impedance to the V-Can's 5-ohm output impedance to simulate the effects of using a typical low-quality headphone amp boosts bass by +2 dB at 65 Hz.

Total harmonic distortion (THD) at 100 dBA is low through most of the audio range but very high in the low bass. It measures 2% at 100 Hz, which isn't unusual, but rises to 33% at 20 Hz. I'm always skeptical of making much of transducer distortion measurements, but I gotta think this is audible. Impedance averages 38 ohms, while average sensitivity from 300 Hz to 6 kHz at the rated 32 ohms measures a high 106.4 dB-great for use with low-end smartphones and cheap MP3 players. Isolation is pretty decent for a passive over-ear headphone: -14 dB at 1 kHz, -25 to -30 dB at higher frequencies.

Bottom Line

For $89, Voxx could have brought out a generic, untuned hunk'a'junk from some Chinese manufacturer, slapped a logo on it, and probably done OK. Whether they tuned the 808 or got lucky, I can't say. But while the 808 is not the kind of headphone we usually like at S&V-"I wouldn't buy it, but it's appropriate for the market," Will said-it's surprisingly good for the price, and actually more listenable than most of the hip-hop-oriented headphones we've tried. If you dig big bass, and you dig saving money, you'll dig the 808.