Brief: Budget-level DJ headphone from PC components manufacturer Arctic Cooling
MSRP: $ 26.95 (discontinued)
Current Price: N/A
Build Quality (5/10): Like most DJ headphones, the Arctic Sound P281 is collapsible and flat-folding. Oddly, the hinges are spring-loaded to the headphones won’t stay flat unless constant pressure is applied. The headband boasts cloth padding and the earpads are covered in a thin but soft pleather. The headband extension mechanism is too loose for my liking – leaving the P281 hanging on my headphone rack results in the headband extending fully and requiring readjustment the next time the headphone are worn. There’s also quite a bit of flex in the structure, which makes the unit feel cheap. The coiled cord is thick and light but lacks the toughness of coiled cables used by real studio and DJ headphones.
Comfort (7/10): The P281 is rather lightweight and not too large but unfortunately Arctic’s marketing team seems to misunderstand the concept of a circumaural headphone – even though the P281 is billed as such, the soft pads are nowhere near large enough to fully enclose an adult’s ears. The vented nylon mesh headband, on the other hand, is soft and comfortable. The large amount of flex in the structure and low clamping force mean that the P281 doesn’t provide a particularly stable or secure fit and won’t cope with any headbanging.
Isolation (6/10): Isolation is average for a supraaural closed headphone – the P281 isn’t too large and clamping force is quite low.
Sound (3.75/10): The sound of the P281 is slightly atypical of low-end DJ headphones, which are usually muddy-sounding and overly bass-heavy. The P281 is bright, crisp, and relatively clear. The bass is not very deep but it is rather punchy compared to that of the similarly-priced Panasonic RP-DJ120. The low end of the P281 does not encroach on the mids too much and generally sounds rather pleasant. The midrange is recessed slightly in comparison to the bass but since the overall presentation of the headphone is very forward and aggressive, this is hardly noticeable. Detail is lacking noticeably compared to the Koss KSC75 but is decent for the price. The treble is a bit uneven and will probably sound slightly fatiguing to some but for me the amount of sparkle is rather healthy. Sibilance and harshness don’t rear their ugly heads except where present on the track, which is admirable.
In terms of presentation the P281 is forward and aggressive. It is a bit two-dimensional and imaging is confused and imprecise. The tonality is off as well, making the headphone sound bleak and desaturated. Still, on the whole the presentation is not bad for a budget set – most of the similarly-priced models from big electronics brands don’t fare much better.
Value (5/10): The build and sound quality of the Arctic Sound headphones may not be quite as brilliant as those of sets from better-known manufacturers but for those in search of a DJ-style headphone on the cheap, the P281 is not the worst choice out there. The P281 is also covered by Arctic’s 2-year warranty despite the mediocre construction quality. Purely for sound quality, however, the Koss KSC75 and Coby CV-185 are still better options.
Frequency Response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Sensitivity: 109 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 7ft (2.5m), single-sided, coiled; Straight Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: Collapsible