Brief: Semi-open portable headphone from Astrotec
Current Price: $24 from lendmeurears
Build Quality (7/10): The AS-100HD is a compact supraaural headphone. Cosmetically, it bears a very strong resemblance to the MEElectronics HT-21 I’ve reviewed previously, down to the single-sided cable attachment and angled plug. The cord is of good thickness and a metal band runs through the headband. The AS-100HD is a semi-open variant and uses metal mesh earcups, which give it a more solid feel compared to the all-plastic HT-21. The construction is not heavy-duty by any means but for a small and reasonably-priced supraaural portable it feels like it should last.
Comfort (8.5/10): The AS-100HD utilizes pleather-padded cups and headband. The headphones are very lightweight but there is more clamp force compared to the MEElec HT-21, which allows the Astrotec set to fit more securely but gives up a small amount of long-term comfort.
Isolation (5/10): Surprisingly, the semi-open AS-100HD doesn’t really isolate any worse than the closed-back but looser-fitting MEElec HT-21.
Sound (6.25/10): The AS-100HD pursues an enhanced-bass sound signature, delivering surprising depth and power for a semi-open headphone. The low is slightly boomy and lacks the detail and refinement higher-end sets are typically capable of providing. Still, it performs well enough for the asking price and the bass boost gives the AS-100HD a pleasantly warm sound. The overall sound signature is centered on the bass and lower midrange and begins to roll off at the upper mids. Bass bleed is kept to a minimum by the generally forward midrange, which is smooth and boasts very decent detailing.
The treble presentation is also smooth but the top end is recessed. In some ways the AS-100HD is the polar opposite of the similarly-priced MEElec HT-21, which boasts leaner bass and forward, somewhat shouty upper mids. The closed-back AS-200HD also offers better treble presence and a more balanced overall sound signature. The presentation of the AS-100HD is good—broader and more spacious than that of its closed-back counterpart. The mids and bass tend to sound rather forward, however, which doesn’t lend a whole lot of depth to the sound.
Value (8/10): The Astrotec AS-100HD is a consumer-friendly portable headphone that manages to provide a warm sound signature with surprisingly powerful bass. The real strength, however, is midrange, which is clean and informative. For such a small headphone the AS-100HD also feels sturdy and provides some isolation despite the semi-open design. For years now the trend has been towards closed portable headphones, but, when taken alongside its closed-back counterpart, the AS-100HD shows that there is still merit in the sound of open-back designs.
Frequency Response: 8-21,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Sensitivity: 106 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 3.94ft (1.2m); Angled Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: Flat-folding, collapsible