Samson SR850 semi-open studio headphones might not be the most beautiful, but they sure sound incredible.
For this review, we decided to try out, once again, our old Samson SR850 semi-open headphone to see what you can get from a cheap pair of cans for under $50.
Samson is saying you can use these for studio monitoring. While they are not too comfortable, you can definitely use them as studio headphones. They have a long, thick cord with a 6.3mm adapter.
The most fantastic thing about these is their sound quality. For the price, they blow everything under $100 out of the water. The sound is detailed and exciting, giving you a great listening experience, whether you listen to music or play games.
However, there are other options out there that look better and are more comfortable. Should you still pick these up? Check our Samson SR850 review to make your decision easier.
- Fantastic sound for the price
- Lightweight construction
- Decent durability
- 6.3mm adapter included in the box
- All-plastic construction feels cheap
- Below average comfort and fit
- Bad noise isolation
What’s in the Box?
- Samson SR850 semi-open studio headphones
- 6.3mm audio jack adapter
- User manual
Comfort & Fit
Surprisingly, comfort isn’t terrible. They’re about average, with slightly better results if you don’t wear glasses.
While you can get them with velour earpads, our model came with fake leather ones. Or, to be more precise, genuine plastic pads.
SR850 headphones feel very cheap and stiff to the touch, with not much padding inside them. Since the clamping force is quite gentle, they a bit comfier than you might expect.
However, because the material can’t breathe, you get sweaty ears after an hour of use. We mainly played games on them, and we needed to take breaks once our ears began to ache.
The latter is mostly due to the size of the earpads. They’re not big enough to fully cover my ears (and my ears aren’t that big). Therefore, we would strongly recommend replacing the earpads with some aftermarket ones. They’re compatible with the AKG Kxxx series of headphones (for example AKG K240), so you can get those and improve the comfort significantly.
They let in far more ambient noise than other semi-open headphones. However, they don’t leak as much as fully open-back ones.
Because of loose clamping force, pads don’t squeeze against your ears, therefore, not creating a seal necessary to achieve isolation. You can still hear everything around you almost entirely, even when you’re listening to music.
They do, however, similarly leak their sound as other semi-open headphones. So unless your room isn’t completely quiet, others can’t hear what you’re listening to.
If you are searching for something to fully block the environmental noise, you should probably check closed-back headphones instead of open-back ones.
Samson cut a lot of corners to get the price tag of the SR850 that low. That is most noticeable in the build quality.
These are made entirely from plastic. Housing, self-adjusting headband, and even earpads. They’re very lightweight for their size, which adds to the comfort, but not to durability.
Our pair never fell on the floor, neither were thrown on a desk in a moment of gaming rage. The headphones still look like new, except for a bit of dust and a small crack in the plastic earpad.
On some cheap products, plastic usually starts to deteriorate, becoming sticky to the touch. That is not the case with Samson SR850, which is quite good.
All in all, the build quality of these headphones leaves much to be desired. However, if you don’t abuse them much, they can probably last you a couple of years with no problems.
Since Samson advertises these as studio monitors, they come with 3.5mm to 6.3mm gold-plated adapter.
You can supposedly use these in the studio for monitoring. Samson made some adjustments to fill the need for a studio worker.
Firstly, Samson SR850’s come with longer than usual cable, which is thick enough not to break it if you run it over with a chair. They also added the screw-on 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter with a gold-plated connection.
At this price range, these headphones sound so good it should be illegal.
The sound quality on these is absurd, especially when you consider the price. They’re near $45, but a few years ago, we got them for $32.
Apparently, Samson SR850 uses some AKG drivers that are usually found in pricier headphones. The result is simply excellent.
The frequency response isn’t the most even, but overall, they have a balanced sound signature with a bit of brightness. Bass has a good punch and control and works great for the majority of genres.
However, it can’t reach very low into the sub-bass region. Even Sennheiser HD 650 can go lower, and those are known to lack sub-bass.
You can easily forget the lack of low-end once you hear the midrange. It sounds very natural and exciting. You can find a lot of details in it, with good instrumental separation and vocal clarity. Treble is also quite good for cheap headphones, with a decent amount of air.
The soundstage could be larger for a semi-open headphone, but at least imaging is accurate.
Why Buy Samson SR850?
When I decided to buy our Samson SR850, I did so because I was on a tight budget. The extensive research lead me to them, and I can’t be more satisfied.
They’re not winning any beauty contests, but they can make your ears very happy. Sound quality is easily comparable to something that costs $100 and more. Superlux HD668B can be cheaper than these, but they’re a bit brighter sounding in comparison.
Sure, there are more comfortable options in this price range, but none sound that good. They’re also usually bloated with tons of bass. If you seek neutrality, Samson’s are as close as you can get.
If you don’t mind the looks and maybe buying some aftermarket pads, we strongly recommend picking them up. If sound quality is what you’re after, Samson SR850 will do the job for very little money.
|Connection:||Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm|
|Weight:||9.7 oz (276g)|
|Mic & Controls:||No|
|Active noise cancelling:||No|