The entry level over-the-ear headphone segment rarely sees any good models being launched with the frequency of, say, in-ears. But what’s surprising is that the demand side seems to have many takers. The last decent on-ear headphone was perhaps the MEElectronics HT-21 which was about two years ago. It has been a long wait.
So in these parched lands, the ATH-SJ33 from the house of Audio-Technica was just the refreshing sip of fresh water we’ve been waiting for. They’re foldable, built well, and can be stowed away in cramped bags -- exactly what you need for your daily commute. They feature swivel housing and one-ear monitoring -- each ear piece is designed to turn 90 degrees horizontal and 180 degrees vertical -- DJ-style monitoring if you’d like to call it that.
The clamping is strong enough to withstand most jostling you’ll likely face in our local trains, but try hard enough and they will get dislodged from your head. Being closed cans, they tend to get a little warm and sweaty but hey, most supra-aural headphones are inherently not that comfortable to begin with. The plastic, the matte-black finish on the ATH-SJ33 and the quality of cables is exactly what you’d expect from headphones in this price range.
In terms of sound quality, you can expect clear highs and deep but not overpowering lows. Going by popular tastes and the general public’s predilection for a sound signature, most people would say they lack punch. The mid-range is a little recessed and vocals don’t sound very natural. Much of our testing took place hooked up to our Xonar Essence STX, but the headphones were not difficult to drive with portable sources either (like smartphones and PMPs).
Overall, the Audio-Technica ATH-SJ33 delivers great sound that is definitely a few notches above most popular on-ear headphones available in the market right now. At their street price -- which will definitely be cheaper than their MRP -- they’re an absolute steal.
>> Foldable design
>> Extremely portable
>> Key mapper works well
>> Great tonal quality
>> Subdued mid-range
>> Pads could’ve been better
Driver diameter: 40mm
Frequency response: 23,000Hz
Maximum input: 500 mW
Impedance: 48 ohms
OS: Android 4.0.4 ICS
Price: Rs 2,499
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