Home Open Back Headphone Reviews Samson SR850 Review – Still Worth A Look?

Samson SR850 Review – Still Worth A Look?

by Stuart Charles Black
Samson SR850 Review

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Originally published 7/14/17.

Updates:

  • 3/30/19: Made SR850 Budget King #4.
  • 6/2/19: Replaced SR850 with K240 as Budget King #4.
  • 7/9/19: Added Video Comparison with the K240.
  • 1/22/21: Article/link cleanup.
  • 2/24/22. Article revisit.

Hi friend and Welcome aboard!!

Before we get into the Samson SR850 Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…

You’ve come to the right place!!

What I will bring you in this review

  1. Graph/Specs
  2. Summary
  3. Pros
  4. Cons
  5. Video Review
  6. Amp/DAC requirements
  7. Who benefits?
  8. Thoughts from Stu’s notepad
  9. Consensus/Conclusion
  10. Final Word

Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!!

Samson SR850

Measurements

My graph is pretty decent for the most part, but I think Rtings illustrated the 8-10kHz peak a bit more accurately. That just needs to come down a bit.

Samson SR850 Review

Right and Left side measurement.

Specifications

Summary

Right off the bat, these remind me so much of the AKG K240 Studios. They have the same hammock-style headband which I love, and the weight of them feels very similar.

I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t picked up a pair of K240s in a while, but the SR850s feel a bit more durable to me.

Related: AKG K240 vs. Samson SR850

The ear-cups are a bit shallower, but I’m digging the velour padding on the 850 more than the faux leather of the 240. The K240’s pads felt more rigid and stiff as if they were going to crack and completely fail you.

I’ve heard rumors that the 240 does tend to break down over time, but I haven’t experienced it for myself yet.

Comfort

Comfort is a bit hit and miss.

When you first put them on, they feel great. The clamp is just right and the weight is perfect.

Over time you’ll notice them hurting your ears due to the shallow cups and unfortunately it’s just about the same issue I have with the K240.

What makes the 850 a bit better is that the cups are velour and thicker than the K240’s faux leather toy pads. So I’d say the 850 is going to be more comfortable than the K240, but you’ll still likely be making adjustments over extended listening/mixing/gaming sessions.

Samson SR850 Review

Speaking of listening sessions, how’s the sound?

Sound

The sound quality is phenomenal for the most part.

The great thing about these headphones is that they don’t sound bloated or cheap – something that a lot of entry-level models suffer from. The bass is definitely lean, but it still has some impact though if you’re a bass-head you may want to stay away.

This is a headphone more for the budding audiophile who desires an overall balanced sound and tends to drink tea with his/her pinky out.

Treble wise, they do have a tendency to become bright, and pretty sibilant at times. What does Sibilant mean? For the most part, they are incredibly detailed and have a nice sense of air about them, but I will caution you that it will likely need some EQ.

Gaming

I would say the Soundstage is particularly impressive. I get a nice sense of space and depth to the music. The width of the image is exceptional, and for Gaming, these are a real treat.

For whatever reason, I don’t find them harsh or sibilant when I’m watching movies or slaying baddies. Go figure. I’d say these very closely mimic the Soundstage of my beloved K702, but perhaps not quite as wide.

You will notice a lot going on in film that you were previously unaware of. It can be subtle, but really adds to the intimacy and immersion. There were times when it legitimately felt like surround sound speakers in that I could hear things that I kind of thought were noises happening outside of me.

An example of this is the Method Man scene in Garden State. You can hear all sorts of strange and interesting sounds going on in the background that feel like they’re happening inside your home, causing you to take the headphones off and investigate.

With music, there’s this strange depth and thump that I can’t quite explain.

Everything has a nice lively quality about it.

Instruments feel more present and have a nice element of realism. You’ll also start to hear subtle details in the music that sound really interesting and also very revealing.

There are qualities about the 850 that feel too good for a headphone this cheap. Almost as if the price seems incredibly low for the quality of sound you’re getting.

To me, it’s astounding that a headphone below a hundred dollars could bear some of these same qualities as the stuff in higher price ranges.

Frankly, it’s scary.

I sometimes talk about the law of diminishing returns in my articles. This simply means that beyond a certain price threshold, the increase in sound quality gets incrementally smaller even though you’re paying a lot more.

This is why it really doesn’t make sense to purchase a headphone over a thousand dollars (in most cases, there are exceptions) when you can get just about the same sound for around $300.

With lower-end stuff like the 850, you’re really not missing that much and in fact, the sound is strikingly similar to some of the mid-fi gear that I’ve gotten a chance to demo or own.

The catch is that yes, instrument timbre and the way more expensive headphones are tuned is definitely superior to the cheaper stuff, so definitely keep that in mind.

Pros

  • Lively sound. There’s a nice crisp quality to the 850 that really leaves you smiling.
  • Plenty of air. These are very open and have a nice sense of space and depth.
  • Comfortable. Even as I sit here listening to them with sunglasses on, I don’t feel like I need to take them off or adjust them.
  • Build quality. It’s impressive for such a lightweight can. I feel like these can take a bit more abuse than your average Joe.

Cons

  • They definitely can be strident at times and may need some EQ around 8-10kHz.
  • Comfort isn’t bad, but you’ll be making adjustments with these. The ear cups are shallow and tend to dig after a while because your ears are basically touching the drivers.

My Video Review

Don’t forget to like, comment, and subscribe to my growing channel. Any support is much appreciated! ๐Ÿ™‚

Video Comparison

Amp/DAC requirements

These will not require an amp and sound great out of your mobile device. How to choose a headphone amp!

Being that they have a 32 Ohm Impedance and 98dB of Sensitivity, they’re very efficient (meaning they don’t need a lot of power from an amp), and don’t resist power at all.

If you were to purchase an Amp/DAC for these, I wouldn’t purchase anything more than an E10K or K3.

Who do these headphones benefit?

They do well with a lot of genres, and I like them with:

  • Indie/Indie Pop.
  • Rock/Classic Rock.
  • Hip-Hop.
  • Jazz. A lot of finer as well as minor details become present.

Samson SR850 Review

Thoughts from Stu’s notepad

  • I’ve heard Pink Floyd’s “Wish you were here” about a thousand times, but the sense of space and separation of the instruments here is impressive. Normally, the sounds kind of run together, but here they have a chance to breathe a little (no pun intended)
  • I really like the personality of the music as well. Things seem to have more character; you’re able to get a sense of how the artist intended for the song to sound. It’s hard to explain, but good headphones kind of reveal the true nature of how music sounds. There’s more impact behind the instrument. It feels more real, present, and complete. Something I’ve found also with revealing headphones is that they are more whole and you hear bass lines fully fleshed out, as well as other instruments and vocals.
  • What I’m really digging about the 850 is the fact that when a song reaches a crescendo, I don’t feel overwhelmed as if the sound is just out of control. You know the feeling I’m talking about: stuff starts running together, things feel claustrophobic and out of focus, and you can’t really hear what’s going on clearly. I haven’t had this problem with the 850, and again, it’s astonishing to me given its price.

The Underdog.

Consensus/Conclusion

The SR850 is an extremely revealing set of headphones with a very open, airy sound. They can be strident at times, but it’s something you’ll likely either come to accept or EQ down a bit. Comfort can be hit and miss, and the build, while light, doesn’t feel cheap.

Final Word

The SR850 isn’t a perfect headphone, but it’s an incredible value for the price. I would highly recommend them at a cost even over a Benjamin. For their current price, it’s an absolute steal. This is a very underrated headphone for sure.

You may be wondering why I replaced the 850 with the K240 in my Budget Kings Series, and if the 850 is still worth a purchase. In all honesty, it’s hard to decide between these 2 headphones as I’ve swapped them out of the list a couple of times.

On one hand, the K240 is less comfortable but has a more subdued treble. On the other hand, the 850 is crisper, livelier, and more comfortable, but has the treble peak issue.

I suppose the 850 is the 6th man right now (well 7th seeing as how Budget Kings contains 6), but it may easily make the list again in the future. In other words, I still think it’s an incredibly relevant headphone and should absolutely be considered if you’re just getting started in this bizarre hobby.

Interested in learning more?

 

 


Well, thatโ€™s about it for today my friend! I hope youโ€™ve enjoyed this Samson SR850 review.

If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

What do you think about the SR850? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

Save

Samson SR850

4.55

Build Quality

4.5/5

Sound Quality

4.5/5

Comfort

4.3/5

Soundstage

4.9/5

Pros

  • Incredibly detailed with lots of clarity
  • Good Comfort Overall
  • Versatile with many genres
  • Price to performance ratio is phenomenal

Cons

  • Sibilant at 9-10k
  • Build is a tad flimsy

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12 comments

Mike Ginty April 17, 2018 - 3:18 am

I just want to say, Stuart, that it’s refreshing to read your honest reviews on headphones. While yours are not the only good reviews, there are a lot of fanboys pushing products and it’s not all that hard to tell which reviews are somehow paid for through commercialism.

It took me many hours of research before I was able to find the painstaking, excellent work you’ve presented. Your work far exceeds the norm on the web and I really appreciate you giving of your valuable time and energy to help me and others reach a difficult decision. You rock!

Reply
Stuart Charles Black April 21, 2018 - 12:11 am

Hey Mike!

Thanks much I really appreciate that. I do my best to be unbiased and honest about what I hear. Do you mind if I put your nice comment on the front page? Let me know!

Blessings,
-Stu

Reply
Raven May 1, 2020 - 6:52 pm

Hey, i love watching your videos and getting information. Have a equalizer setting for Samson SR850 ? Thanks.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black May 4, 2020 - 5:46 pm

Hey Raven!

Nah I don’t actually. I’d probably just EQ down 9-10k though by about 5 or so dB. It just ends up being a bit much. Outside of that, the headphone is fantastic. How did you find my site if you don’t mind me asking?

Reply
neonbulb May 26, 2020 - 8:13 pm

Dear Stuart,

I ordered one yesterday and I’m eagerly waiting for it’s arrival. After reading a lot of reviews and watching videos, I found that Samson SR850 suits best for my needs. I’ve read your post on the comparison of SR850 with AKG too. But since it needs an additional amp I can’t go for it. Also it’s price is twice of that of SR850 in my country. I can’t afford both AKG and an amp at present.

My main usage will be mixing and mastering my personal music creations and songs, and also listening to music. I don’t like punchy bases or high trebles that all commercial headphones, though I was a fan of them a decade ago. Also I stopped listening to music using any headphones/earphones a decade ago (due to some personal reasons ?), and this would be the first time in the last decade I’m going to listen to music using headphones. So I want to start in a realistic, flat/natural way with large soundstage using it’s semi-opened design.

I read a comment of yours saying that you put 5db down the 9-10k frequencies. Is there any need of fine-tuning the while EQ to make the frequencies more flatter? In the graph, the frequencies around 15-18k is also very high, and the frequency between 4-5k a bit low. Also, the base levels are curved down from around 150Hz to 20Hz. Is there any need of increasing that too? I want to listen in almost possible flat way, that’s why I’m asking this.

Anyways, thanks again for this awesome detailed review!

Reply
Stuart Charles Black June 10, 2020 - 3:16 pm

Hey man!

Thank you so much for your kind words! ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t think you’ll have to do much to the 850 outside of 8-10kHz. The bass does roll off but it sounds very accurate for mixing and stuff like that. You could bring it up a little if you wanted, but if you don’t like punchy bass the 850 is going to be a welcome change! Bringing it up a bit would probably help if you mix a lot of lower bass frequencies and stuff. The 4-5dB dip from the graph looks more extreme than it actually is, but you could bring that up a bit too if it bothers you. I personally don’t have an issue with it because 5k is a bit less important to what our ears expect around 1-3. The 5k bump on the K240 does make it really special and unique for older Rock and Motown type of stuff though!

What do you think? Did the 850 arrive? What are your impressions?

Talk soon,

-Stu

Reply
neonbulb May 29, 2020 - 1:08 pm

Dear Stuart,

Thanks for the awesome detailed review. I also read and viewed the comparison post and video between AKG 240 and Samson SR-850. My earlier plan was to buy AKG, but due to the pandemic I couldn’t afford it and amp at present, so I bought the Samson. I’m now waiting for it’s arrival ?.

In one of your comment you said that you set the EQ around 9k-10k to -5db. The frequency graph in many reviews including yours shows the base frequencies below 100k curves to lower level, and higher frequencies at higher level. Can’t these base and higher frequencies should be adjusted to ‘flat’ like the 9k-10k? I’m very new to these that’s why I’m asking. Can’t all the frequencies should be adjusted to get a flatter sound? Like increase the base and decrease the highs?

I also found some softwares which adjusts the EQ to get the ‘flatter’ sound. One is Sonarworks and the other is EQ APO. Do you have any experience with these or simillar softwares?

Reply
Stuart Charles Black June 5, 2020 - 12:27 pm

Hey man! You commented on YouTube right? I think we were discussing it and I ask because I remember you had meant to say 100Hz heh ๐Ÿ™‚ Let me know! Did you get the 850 yet?

Reply
Mike October 27, 2020 - 12:35 am

Yes. These are the best headphones money can buy, BUT :
They need EQ to boost lows from 30Hz to 60Hz, but LOWER the 5KHz to 8KHz alot, and from 10KHz to 16KHz, to lower just a few dB’s.
I use them for listening music, mixing, mastering, for movies, youtube, so… for everything.
Try Equalizer APO with these settings : 20 -9; 25 2; 31.5 2; 40 3; 50 1.5; 63 1; 80 -1; 100 -2; 125 -2; 160 -3; 200 -2; 250 -2; 315 -3; 400 -4; 500 -4; 630 -4; 800 -3; 1000 -4; 1250 -4; 1600 -6; 2000 -8; 2500 -7; 3150 -5; 4000 -5; 5000 -9; 6300 -12; 8000 -10; 10000 -9; 12500 -7; 16000 -4; 20000 0 .
Cheers ๐Ÿ˜‰

Reply
Stuart Charles Black October 28, 2020 - 4:11 pm

Thanks for the EQ preset man!

Reply
ZartSchmelzShoki February 25, 2021 - 6:26 am

Nice and honest review. Very helpful! Thanks. There is much chatting about Superlux hd681b versus the Samson. Both are in budget range. What’s your opinion?

Reply
Stuart Charles Black February 25, 2021 - 9:33 pm

Hey man! Thank you so much. Can’t go wrong with either but the 681B has less bass roll-off if that’s important to you. Both have bright treble but a great mid-range and mostly neutral profile.

Reply

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