Recently, the world has changed rapidly and unexpectedly. As a result, people have had to adapt to new situations, one major one being far fewer in-person meetings. For musicians, this has been devastating. However, creative minds found creative solutions. Today, countless artists are streaming and recording from their homes.
And for those who are doing the same, there is one piece of gear that can not go overlooked. Reference monitor headphones. Any studio work where there are active microphones requires monitor headphones. Even before the upheaval of 2021, in-studio musicians and podcasters always used them.
And these days, a good pair of reference monitor headphones are as important as ever.
So, let’s delve deeper into a superb pair of headphones in our in-depth Samson SR850 Review and find out if they are just what you need?
This is a pair of professional studio reference headphones and are not meant for casual listening. If you are looking to upgrade the audio of your gaming sessions, you will need to look elsewhere.
However, if you are working on making your own music, podcasting, or broadcasting sound superb, then keep reading.
These headphones feature a semi-open design, which means they are vented. As a result, this helps to create a linear response, which is needed for mixing and mastering. This design also works to keep them cool, which makes them more comfortable to wear.
Weighing roughly one pound, these over-ear headphones are very lightweight, especially for studio monitoring headphones.
There are plush velour earpads on both headphones. Using a velour covering instead of vinyl or leatherette also helps improve comfort. This covering works to reduce the warmth from the earpads pressing against your ears. Furthermore, it helps to wick away perspiration in ways that leather or vinyl cannot.
Along with the ear cushions providing comfort, the self-adjusting headband provides stability. The headband frame is made of durable metal wires. The headband itself is a wide flat piece of leatherette.
Unfortunately, there is no padding on the headband. However, the metal wire frame offers a secure and stable fit. Also, it does not pinch or add too much pressure on your head.
Overall, these do a good job of delivering long-lasting comfort and wearability.
When it comes to monitoring or reference headphones, you will normally only find wired connections. Wireless or Bluetooth monitor headphones are simply too prone to interference and lower quality audio transfer. And this defeats the purpose of reference headphones.
Electrical and bandwidth disruptions can occur with wireless and Bluetooth-enabled devices. Although these signal distortions are increasingly rare, they still happen.
Imagine listening to something you recorded and hearing a subtle hiss or hum. If you are using wireless monitor headphones, it could be on the recording or coming from some signal interference of the audio data transfer.
With a proper pair of wired monitor headphones, you would know the sound came from the recording. Therefore, you would know to check cables, mics, amps, and interfaces for the noise source.
The standard jack…
Along with WiFi and Bluetooth, USB connections can also create signal interference and color your audio source. That is why any quality pair of monitor headphones will have a standard audio jack.
Otherwise known as a 3.5mm jack, or eighth-inch jack, this is the most direct connection between your ears and the audio. As a general rule, the fewer the connections between you and the audio source, the more accurate the sound quality.
The Samson SR850 features a gold-plated 3.5mm input jack. The gold-plating works to improve and maintain a clear and accurate audio signal. Additionally, the connection cable from the headphones is 2.5 meters long. This gives you enough length to move around while at the desk without putting unwanted tension on the cable.
Furthermore, the cable is not detachable. This follows the general rule, since a detachable cable would create another connection point in the signal line. The majority of pro reference monitors do not feature detachable cables, but there are some notable exceptions.
The Sound Performance
These headphones provide a wide and neutral linear response. The frequency response is 10 Hz – 30,000 Hz with a sensitivity of 98 dB. This extended dynamic range will handle any kind of audio source, including voice-over monitoring for podcasts and video production.
The sound is powered by 50mm neodymium drivers. These do a great job of keeping the highs smooth, airy, and bright with the low-end warm and punchy. Plus, a detailed and balanced mid-range.
Why do you need a linear response?
Linear means ‘flat’ or ‘straight,’ and for the purpose of audio monitoring, that is what you want. A linear response is the most accurate reproduction of what the recording actually sounds like.
To mix and master audio properly, you need to hear the real deal in the finest detail, hence the need for a wide linear frequency response. Then you will know if there is too much bass or too little, shrill or weak highs, and muddled or overpowering mids.
It is the whole reason reference monitor headphones exist in the first place.
Samson SR850 Review Pros and Cons
- Semi-open design.
- 50mm drivers.
- Wide, neutral soundstage.
- Very accurate, linear frequency response.
- Ultra-lightweight and comfortable.
- Gold-plated 3.5mm connection jack.
- Quarter-inch adapter included.
- Earpads cannot be replaced.
- No padding on the headband.
Looking for Something Else?
Audio equipment for recording has never been easier to find. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Studio Headphones For Home Recording, the Best Microphone Preamp, the Best Headphones for Mixing and Mastering, the Best Condenser Mics under 200 Dollars, and the Most Comfortable Headphones you can buy in 2021.
Also, take a look at our reviews of the AKG K240 Studio, the Best Budget Studio Monitors under 200 Dollars, the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x, the Best Headphones Under $200, and the Best Headphones Under $1000 currently on the market.
Samson SR850 Review Final Thoughts
For an affordable pair of monitor headphones, the Samson SR850 performs very well. There are a few things to nitpick, such as the ear pads not being replaceable, but no real deal-breakers.
If you are looking for a good pair of reference monitor headphones, these are definitely worth a look.
Until next time, happy recording.