Music, gaming, movie enthusiasts today demand the best possible audio performance from their gear, and the gear they often turn to are headphones. The growing enthusiasm and the number of brands entering the market to fill this void is clear. All the major headphone manufacturers that cater to professional as well as the audiophile audience are already present here, in India. The ones who aren’t, are gradually making their way.
An overambitious product by TDK, but a very good starting point
TDK isn’t among the first brands that come to mind when you think high-performance headphones. They’re better known in the 80s and 90s for their cassettes and tapes. The only other recent news from TDK was that a part of their business was bought over by Imation, which becomes obvious when you notice that these headphones come with a pair of Imation batteries. And what seems like a completely random move, TDK has chosen to sell one of the more expensive headphones in their lineup, the ST-800, in India.
One would expect TDK to launch by introducing some entry-level models in a market like ours, since audio equipment isn't really their foray. The ST800 is in fact their top-of-the-line headphones that falls under their high-fidelity range. The ST800 uses 50mm drivers to generate sound and TDK claims that they have a frequency range of 20 to 20,000Hz.
An element of style
The ST-800 has an EQ control on the audio cable that allows you to adjust bass and treble for the headphones. There’s a display that makes setting up the bass and treble easier. It’s not very common to find an equaliser on a pair of headphone and it’s something that shouldn’t be present, especially on a high-end set such as this. Equalisers are only used to correct any shortcomings of a headphone, so an equaliser on the ST-800 is a strange feature to us. There is a slider that lets you switch the equaliser on and off, a button to set the EQ mode to select the bass or the treble value and at last two-way switch to increase and decrease the boost in these frequency ranges. Usage is simple and effective.
A remote but it can be a hindrance at times
Another (less odd) feature is that the volume control isn’t placed on this equaliser module but on the headphone itself. Rotate the dial on the right can and you can change the volume while you’re listening. This is pretty neat and convenient as opposed to using the volume control on your media player or PC. There are two AAA batteries required to power the equaliser function as well as the volume control. The batteries fit into the left speaker’s enclosure. The AAA batteries help amplify the headphones. TDK rates these headphones as 200 Ohm headphones which means by themselves, they should be difficult to drive by most PMPs and even integrated sound solutions on motherboards.
Build Quality and Design
Not only do the ST-800 headphones look very classy, but they are also very sturdy. Sure, the dial for the volume control is made of plastic but the main frame of the band that goes over the top of your head is made of solid metal and that’s very well padded by a thick foam padding. The exteriors of the headphones have a thick leather strip stitched on top of the solid plastic frame that encloses the drivers. These are a durable set of headphones for sure.
Quality everywhere you go, even the extension cable and connector
The cable is sheathed with a fabric and TDK has even bundled an extension. We’re not terribly fond of the EQ control module that dangles from the headphone and is a hindrance most of the time. There’s a clip at the back of the module that can be clipped onto a shirt pocket if required, but the cables are pretty rigid and the fact that the ST-800 has a pair of them running from the two speaker cans does make it a tiny bit annoying.
The comfort level of the headphones is arguable. The ST800 didn’t cover my ears completely, but just. After extended use, you do feel a slight pain in the ear. Those with smaller ears shouldn’t face this problem, at all.
TDK , ST-800 , TDK ST-800 , ST800 , headphones , audiophile , 20Hz , 20 , 000Hz , remote , EQ , bass , treble , 200 ohms , impedance , music , movies , gaming , amplifier , Headphones , TDK (Imation India Pvt Ltd) ,
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