PRIME AUDIO 2016

MSUR N650 review

Hi everyone. Today we’re looking at the MSUR N650. Hailing from Guangzhou, China and now located in Shenzhen, MSUR is a company whose focus is forward oriented. Here’s what they had to say:

“Past company information is not important and our goal is in the future. Start with headset products, first make a good reputation, the user likes the headset products, and then slowly create more other good digital audio and video products in the future. I hope to represent a new generation of Guangzhou entrepreneurs, to make a real “audio capital” of the honor of the product.”

Intro

It might have come as a shock to some people when I told them I had my first full-sized woody. There was gasping all around and some unintentional glances toward my nether-region until I showed them these headphones. The N650 has a rich, warm and fairly balanced sound (still slightly V-shaped) with loads of detail and musicality, and a wide, immersive soundstage. These pretty much define my preferred sound signature but hopefully, it hasn’t coloured my objectivity too much.

This product was sent to me for the purpose of this review. I have no affiliation with the company and all observations and opinions here are my own, based on my personal experience with the product.

MSUR Taobao store: https://msur.world.tmall.com/search.htm?spm=a312a.7700718.w5001-10817971129.5.ZZd3SU&search=y&scene=taobao_shop

MSUR N650 on Taobao: https://world.tmall.com/item/41749129201.htm?spm=a312a.7700824.w4011-9747907109.64.BySSML&id=41749129201&rn=3869dd6586656f2728eb2887bc7c5580&abbucket=15

There are three full-sized, closed back headphones in MSUR’s lineup: The N350, N550 and N650. Today I’ll be looking at their flagship model, the MSUR N650 closed back, wooden headphones.

Specifications

Brand Name:MSUR
Model Number:  N650
Product Name:  Wooden Metal Headphone
Color: As picture
Transducer Principle:   100% walnut wooden ear housing
Impedance: 32 ohm
Sensitivity: 105dB
Frequency Response: 5-25000Hz
Rated input power: 10mW
Maximum input power: 1000mW
Cable length:2M
50mm Beryllium alloy driver
Accessory: 1pcs detachable cable  3.5mm/6.3mm
Plug diameter:3.5mm

Packaging and accessories

The N650 comes in a heavy duty cardboard box that is bare apart from the gold coloured MSUR embossed on the front. Upon opening, you’re presented with the headphones that are securely nestled in foam atop a silky golden fabric. It’s simplistic but has a sense of grandeur about it.

In a separate section at the bottom of the box, we find a warranty card, user booklet, 6.35mm adapter and 2 cables. The first cable is 2 meters in length and is a supple braided affair.

The second is made for portability and includes an inline microphone with a single button for play/pause and answering/ending calls. This cable is sheathed in  a rubberized/plastic coating and is similar to what you would find supplied with good quality IEMs, except of course that these have 2 plugs (one with red markings and one with blue) for connecting each of the ear-cups, along with a single 3.5mm gold-plated, straight plug at the other end. Both cables are very nice and also practical.

Build and comfort

The construction of the MSUR N650 is very solid. They boast metal and wood materials in a classy form factor. Starting at the top we see a metal arch that connects to the ear-cup brackets. Underneath this is the self-adjusting headband made of a stiff pleather material with a generous amount of soft padding on the underside.
This is all held together with high-quality stitching and bound at each end by a metal clasp, adding to the sense of a durable build. The ear-cup brackets are a lovely polished metal arch that like all the other components feel very durable.
The ear-cups are made from a “rare wood” and aluminium and look quite stunning indeed. Despite their large size, they aren’t heavy at all and as you can see from the pictures, are fairly large. The ear-pads (which are removable) are a very soft pleather material and sit comfortably around the ears. Inside, the pleather padding is another smaller foam ring that sits flush against the ears and gives the strange sensation that you’re wearing on-ear headphones rather than full-sized.
Fortunately, the outer padding still gives you a proper seal meaning that sound isolation is still good and sound leakage is minimal. On the topside of the ear-cups is a series of 5 small holes. I’m not sure what their purpose is – perhaps bass ports or to help keep your ears a bit cooler? There doesn’t seem to be any sound leakage from them. I did try covering them with tape and I thought I sensed a little less bass presence but it was within a margin of error so could be imagination.
On the underside are the cable jacks. The cable plugs give a satisfying click when inserted and while some might bemoan having a cable on both sides I quite like it because it means there’s no need for the cable to be run through the headband. One thing of note is that there are no Left and Right indicators anywhere on the headphones. Such an omission is quite disappointing when the overall quality of everything else is taken into account – it seems such an obvious necessity and I can’t see how such an oversight could occur without being intentional.
**The manufacturer pointed out to me that the longer cable does, in fact, have Left and Right markings on the plugs but they’re very difficult to see. On both cables, the plugs also have a colour marking – red for right and green for the left. For the short cable, it’s easier to determine by remembering that the microphone is on the Left.**
These are a big headphone. Not overly large mind you but not really suited for portability. Although the ear-cups only swivel up and down I had no problems at all with fit or comfort. Speaking of which I find these to be very comfortable. Not the most comfortable headphones I have but far from the least.
The pleather pads are reasonably thick and very soft. There’s sufficient clamp force on these to keep them in place but the metal arch of the headband is quite flexible so they don’t press too hard on your ears or skull.

Sound

Sources used for testing

Shinrico D3S Digital Turntable > Audinst HUD-MX2

PC using JRiver Media Center > Audinst HUD-MX2
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Benjie K9
FiiO X1ii

These headphones are very easy to drive and can be powered easily from smartphones and budget DAPs.

Bass has an effortless weightiness to it that’s never in your face but leaves no doubt of its presence like a pet tiger sitting in the corner, you know that if called upon it’s ready to pounce with claws bared.  There are some rather busy sections throughout Katatonia’s “The Night Subscriber” with some rapid-fire kick drums and here the N650s take it in their stride without breaking a sweat. In “Snow Park” by Connect.Ohm the low synth tones are handled admirably and that’s a good sign because this track can be a real challenge for many headphones.

So while the bass is well executed these are not for those looking for a neutral headphone but they’re not for bassheads either. There’s definitely some extra weight there but not enough to detract from the rest of the spectrum. Decay on kick drums is fast with plenty of punch.

Mids are rich, lifelike and fairly balanced. Female vocals shine in songs like “The Moment” (gentle version) by The Gentle Storm where Anneke van Giersbergen’s voice is bright and clear and her high notes in this track come through without any edginess.

There’s a good balance between her singing and the various wind instruments and acoustic guitar but a little too much low midrange can be detected here with the drums but this doesn’t happen often and happens with quite a few items in my inventory. It’s the warmth here that makes things silky smooth and engaging while retaining excellent separation.

Possibly my favourite aspect of the N650 (if all of it wasn’t) is the treble. The ride cymbal in Marcin Wasilewski Trio’s “The Cat” from their January album sounds incredibly realistic as if you’re sitting just near the real thing. There’s no hint of any harshness here, it’s all smooth and easygoing but at the same time beautifully extended and still clear when things get busy. It’s the treble here too that gives the sound a sense of air and gives it a liveliness and excitement that compliments the mellow warmth of the mids and elevated bass.

These have an excellent soundstage for a closed headphone, helped no doubt by the smooth airiness of the treble. Isolation is very good as you would expect from closed cans and you’ll need spider-sense to know if someone is trying to talk to you while you’re wearing them.

Comparison

MSUR N650 vs Ultrasone Performance 680
The N650 has more bass and sub-bass, warmer but slightly less detailed midrange and just a hint more treble. Both have very good isolation which is no surprise, both being closed back. The Ultrasone pulls ahead when it comes to soundstage but not by much, both being able to project sound outside of your head. The MSUR is also quite a bit easier to drive and better suited for unamped use. These both provide a great audio experience and for me it comes down to what I’m listening to and whether I just want to chill or do critical listening. The MSUR are more relaxed while the Ultrasone are more towards analytical. There’s no clear winner here for me as they’re both strong contenders.

MSUR N650 Conclusion

Warm, smooth, musical, big and beautiful is what the MSUR N650 is for me. They’re comfortable, durable and designed for enjoying music. The detail they put out is fantastic and there’s enough bass to give you a rattle when needed but for the most part, it’s well behaved and happy to compliment the rest of the spectrum.
Beautiful sparkling high notes and rich midrange will get your feet tapping in no time. The only real negative point I find with these is the lack of Left and Right indicators and that’s easy enough to fix yourself with an elastic band or piece of string attached to one of the cables for reference but it’s unfortunate and shouldn’t be necessary with a headphone of this calibre.
**The 2-meter cable actually has L and R on the plugs though they’re very difficult to see. The manufacturer tells me they will also add markings to the short cable in the next batch.**
Prices vary drastically depending on where you look. At Newegg, they go from $355 up to $446 but on Taobao and AliExpress they can be found as low as $130. If you’ve looked at these and hesitated due to there being little information and reviews don’t hesitate any longer. Likewise, if you’re looking for something in this price range with great detail and a good dose or warmth with some tight, low-end grunt then these should do the trick.
Founder of Prime Audio

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