MSRP: $74.99 (discontinued)
Current Price: $40 from amazon.com
Build Quality (6.5/10): The build of the UHP304 is very simple – two steel bands comprise the headband and the cups slide easily up and down. The bands are connected at the top by a small rubber pad, which also acts as a headband cushion. There don’t seem to be any weaknesses to the design and the headphones do look rather good in person. Strain reliefs are functional both on housing entry and the pudgy 45º plug The long, thick cable is nylon-wrapped for extra protection and has a volume control about halfway down. The pot in the volume control is not very good and creates massive channel imbalance at lower volumes so it’s probably best not to use it at all. Other than that, the build quality is very good.
Comfort (6.5/10): The twin-band construction allows for quite a bit of flex in the structure of the headphones, leading to a fairly compliant fit. The headphones are very lightweight and clamping force is average. The cloth pads are pleasant to the touch and don’t heat up much, though the rubber “padding” on the headband is about as soft as a bar of soap. Overall, the UHP304s aren’t quite as comfortable as the softer-clamping PortaPros and PX100s but far more so than most of the small portables.
Isolation (4.5/10): The UHP304 are quite compact and, as far as I can tell, semi-open. Leakage is present and isolation could definitely be better. Not for those who commute via subway.
Sound (4/10): While the styling and build of the UHP304 show an attractive coherency and purposefulness, the sound signature is decidedly confused. The bass is rather full and pleasant, punchy in nature and reasonably extended. Not much low-end grunt or rumble but good, if a bit muddy, bass. Sadly, things take a turn for the worst from there – the midrange is veiled and muddy, taking a step back from the bass in positioning and giving up a good chunk of clarity, especially towards the top. By the time we reach the upper midrange, the lack of clarity makes everything sound slightly compressed and run-together. On the upside, the mids are smooth, but the treble rolls off gradually and is devoid of sparkle. In terms of soundstaging the UHP304 is just competent – there isn’t much of a sense of space and the presentation definitely leans towards intimate/in-the-head. The overall sound is fairly competitive at the current $20 price but seriously lacks the crispness to justify the $75 MSRP.
Value (6/10): With decent build quality and comfort, futuristic styling, and passable sound quality, the Altec Lansing UHP304 makes for a solid low-budget set. No, they don’t sound like a closed PortaPro, but the smoothness and relative lack of clarity in the midrange make them a pretty decent relaxation headphone, so long as you don’t mind every track sounding like a 128kbps mp3. They also come with a handy neoprene carrying pouch, which cannot be said for any of the other headphones in its price range. If appearance is a priority over sound quality and your budget is capped at $20, the UHP304 are definitely worth a look; they certainly do make my HD25-1 look like a grotesque plastic monstrosity.
Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Sensitivity: 110 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 4.9ft (1.5m); 45º Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: N/A