If you want to purchase a new amp, we recommend the Schiit Magni 3+ and we have an in-depth review for that here.
If you are looking for a cheap pair of studio headphones, the Samson SR850 should be among your top picks. For what you pay for these, they perform very well.
In this review, I will delve in-depth into the Samson SR850’s design and build quality, comfort and fit, sound, and lastly its package and accessories. I will also compare the Samson SR850 to the likes of the AKG K240, Samson SR950, and more. We also have an article here about best studio headphones under $100.
We also made a review here about OneOdio Monitor 60 which is also a studio headphone that is affordable and comfortable.
Driver type: Dynamic driver
Driver size: 50mm
Headphone type: Semi-Open-Back/Over-Ear
Impedance: 32 ohms
Sensitivity: 98 dB
Frequency response: 10–30,000 Hz
Pads: Velour Pads
Cable Length: 2.5m long
Headphone Connector: 3.5mm with 6.3 (1/4″) adapter included
Color options: Black
Headphone weight: 9.5oz/ 276g
The Samson SR850 has the design of the Superlux HD668B. After scouring several sites, I have come to learn that the two headphones are quite similar. The Samson 850 is simply a clone of the Superlux HD 681 with a small change. The Samson 850 also resembles the AKG K240 studio headphones and also falls in the same price range. I choose the SR850 because it is more comfortable than the HD681 and as you will read below in my comparison, the two have a slightly different sound signature.
At the cost, I did not expect much about the SR850’s build and material quality. However, they are good and should last longer with proper care. The headphone is made almost out of plastic. The plastic quality is very low but they have surprisingly gone a few months without breaking. Speaking of breaking headphones, if you are someone who keeps breaking their headphones, we have an article here for someone like you.
The headband has a hammock design that closely resembles the one on the AKG K240. The headband is a vinyl material stamped to make it look more like leather. It creates pressure on the head and works very well to balance the already light headphone. The earcups are attached to the headband via double wires. An elastic band on both earcups acts like a self-adjusting mechanism that extends when you pull it for a good fit.
The Samson SR850 is, of course, a semi-open headphone. This is because of the vents on the back of the earcups. The design is different from open-back (see open-back vs. closed-back headphones here) headphones. The earcups have a good size and you can spot the headphone cable on the left earcup. Sadly, the cable is not removable. However, it looks durable and at a length of 2.5m should be good for studio use. I find most studio headphones have an average cable length of about 3m. The earpads are thick and the opening is decent. They are covered with velour which makes them comfortable for use during long sessions.
The headband does a great job of distributing the headphone pressure. However, because it is made of vinyl, it does not adjust to sit on top of the head properly like real leather. However, I find no problem with this because the headphone is light and also comfortable. For people with large heads, the headband I think will not fit great, and the self-adjusting headband will also cause problems. Samson includes the option of disengaging the rubber tension bands that links the earcups to the headband. This should ease the pressure created.
The clamping pressure of the headphone is a bit high. I have read of people bending the wires slightly to ease the pressure, but I would not recommend this method. Instead, just leave the headphone clamped to something like your PC overnight. Over time, I find this trick very effective in lowering the clamping pressure.
The ear cups are big and I find them good at covering the ears. They also have a good depth that which makes them comfortable in the long run. They are a bit stiff at first, but they get softer with frequent use. Velour being used on earpads at this price range is very rare. The use of velour adds to the comfort of the headphone. They breathe well and do not get sticky or sweaty after a long session.
Isolation on the Samson SR850 is pretty minimal if at all it exists. The headphone has a semi-open design so you have no isolation. They will also leak just like open-headphones. Everyone will hear what you are listening to in a room. If privacy is one of your concerns, these are not for you. However, the upside is that the soundstage is wide.
Overall, the Samson SR850 are great sounding headphones at this price range. The bass is present, but do not expect it to be punchy. The mids are generous and the treble response seems to be the only weak point. Overall, it is a sort of a bright headphone. The soundstage is pretty good, though it is a semi-open headphone, which is to be expected. Let’s delve into the details below.
For semi-open headphones, most people wonder if there is real bass to talk about. Well, the Samson SR850 has some bass. Even though they feature a semi-open design, they do have some serious kicks. The decay of the bass is slow which gives a pleasing rumble.
The midrange makes up the bulk of what we listen to from voices to instruments. For the SR850, the midrange is present and forward and no way does it get drowned by the bass. Instruments and voices sound wonderful for such a budget headphone. This is especially considering most budget headphones usually have a recessed or slightly recessed midrange. This makes the bass and treble more prominent which gives a fun and popular sound quality. This is not the case with the Samson SR850. Mids are forward.
The treble of the SR850 is what I found to be too bright and forward at times. This makes the headphone sibilant and also fatiguing pretty fast. However, I only experienced this when using the headphone at a higher volume. For normal listening, this problem is pretty nonexistent. So if you listen to headphones very loud, you should keep that in mind when choosing the SR850. On the upside, the treble is airy and has good details which make the headphone interesting and clear.
For a semi-open-back headphone, the soundstage is expected to be wide with good separation of vocals and instruments. While the soundstage is not mindblowing, the SR850 gives a good sense of depth with a good perception of imaging. While they are good for listening to music, they can also be used to watch movies or in gaming where positional sound is important and pleasing.
|Samson SR850||32 ohms||98 dB||Semi-Open||276g|
|AKG K240||55ohms||104 dB||Semi-Open||240g|
|Samson SR950||32 ohms||96 dB||Closed-Back||305g|
|Audio Technica ATH M20x||47 ohms||96 dB||Closed-Back||190g|
|Superlux HD668b||56 ohms||98 dB||Semi-Open||210g|
|Superlux HD681||32 ohms||96 dB||Semi-Open||305g|
The AKG K240 and the Samson SR850 are brothers but from different headphone companies. The K240 is better built than the SR850. The overall quality of materials is also improved compared to the Samson SR850. The headband features a lightly padded pleather material which improves the comfort. The earpads, however, are covered with pleather, which apart from reducing the comfort level, degrades over time. For sound, the bass on both headphones is roughly the same. While the SR850 boasts a good midrange response, the K240 slightly beats it. The treble is probably where there is a huge difference between these two headphones. With the shortcomings of the SR850, the AKG K240 takes its time to capitalize on this. It is more lively and engaging. Overall, if you want a more neutral headphone between the two, choose the Samson SR850. For studio use, the AKG K240 is a better option.
The Samson SR850 and the SR 950 are completely identical save for the earcup design. The SR850 is a semi-open-back while the SR950 is a closed-back. These two headphones are similar in almost everything except for earcup design and sound quality. Overall, I find the SR850 a better all-around headphone that works well with movies, music, and gaming. The Samson SR950, has more bass the midrange is comparable to the SR850 and the treble is a little smoother on the SR950. Being Semi-open-back means the SR850 triumphs the SR950 on the soundstage. However, the SR950 still has a good perception of soundstage for a closed-back headphone.