Brief: Closed studio headphone from French pro audio manufacturer Prodipe
Current Price: $49 from amazon.com
Build Quality (7.5/10): The Pro 800 is a fairly typical DJ-style headphone made almost entirely out of plastic. Construction quality is a notch below that of Ultrasone’s entry-level HFI-450 model but really not bad at all for a $40 headphone. The Prodipes aren’t exactly pretty and a little on the large size, mostly due to the thickness of the cups, but they can be folded flat and collapsed, which makes them easy to cram in a backpack or the included storage pouch. The coiled cable is thick, well-relieved, and terminated in a threaded 3.5mm I-plug, measuring close to 4m in length when fully extended.
Comfort (8/10): Despite appearances, the Prodipes are circumaural and arguably more comfortable than the larger Superlux HD668B. The round vinyl pads are just barely tall enough to enclose my (average-sized) ears but are deeper than and don’t get as sweaty as Superlux pads, making the Prodipes a little easier to wear for long stretches. Due to the folding mechanism, the cups of the Pro 800 are highly adjustable, which makes up for some of their extra weight.
Isolation (7.5/10): The Pro 800 is a closed headphone and isolates a good amount – on par with most of the other circumaural studio cans. Sound leakage is nearly nonexistent.
Sound (7/10): Though the Pro 800 is marketed as a studio headphone, its sound signature is a stark contrast to the neutral-and-balanced Superlux HD668B. Instead, the Prodipes take a more bass-heavy approach to audio commonly attributed to so-called ‘DJ’ monitors. The bass of the Pro 800 is deep and powerful but impact is softer and duller than with the HD668B. Sub-bass is far more present, however, providing that low-end rumble typical of competing DJ sets. In addition, the enhanced mid/upper-bass gives the entire signature a full-bodied feel. The low end always remains thick and weighty, making it sound like the Prodipes are just a touch too slow to match the resolution of the Superluxes. For those who value bass quantity the tradeoff will undoubtedly be worth it but from an accuracy standpoint, the HD668B has the upper hand.
The midrange of the Pro 800 is not at all forward and the powerful bass can make it seem even less so at times. Clarity is decent but not outstanding – consumer-oriented portables such the Koss PortaPro and Sennheiser PX100 can easily reach and even exceed the Prodipes’ level of midrange clarity. Next to the crystal-clear Superlux HD668B, the midrange of the Pro 800 sounds overly thick and slightly veiled. Listening at lower volumes makes the moderate clarity level a bit less noticeable and generally works well with the bass-heavy sound signature of the Prodipes. On the upside, the mids are smooth and fluid and detail levels are quite good. The smoothness of the Prodipes doesn’t break down in the treble, either, though there is a slight lift in emphasis towards the high end. Treble sparkle is very low in quantity – next to the Sennheiser HD25 and Superlux HD668B, the Pro 800 can sound a bit dark. Extension is good, however, so while the headphones don’t derive any airiness from the treble sparkle, they are quite difficult to fault on a technical level – not bad at all considering the ridiculously low asking price.
The presentation of the Pro 800 is reasonably well-rounded as well. The soundstage is not the largest I’ve encountered in the price range but fairly decent for a closed headphone. Next to the HD668B, it lacks openness and air and the bass has a bit of that typical ‘closed headphone’ boom. However, layering and imaging are quite decent and the overall sonic picture is coherent and reasonably convincing. Closed headphones in this price range are rarely purchased by those in search of a realistic presentation anyway, and in that context the Pro 800 does not disappoint. Worth noting is the Prodipes’ efficiency – the headphones are driven far more easily by portable devices than the Superlux HD668B and perform quite consistently with all sources.
Value (8.5/10): Despite Prodipe’s attempts too market the Pro 800 as a studio monitor, the thick and slightly colored sound of the headphones is undoubtedly far less suited for monitoring applications than mid-range sets from big name manufacturers such as Denon, Audio-Technica, and Ultrasone. However, the Prodipes are also far cheaper, undercutting even the Numark PHX for the title of the cheapest full-size DJ-style monitor featured in this lineup. The build quality, comfort, and isolation of a full-size monitor all give the Pro 800 a leg up on its direct competition but it is the smooth and generally enjoyable sound that really allows the Pro 800 to hold its own in a segment usually dominated by small open portables. Barring the fairly large size and questionable aesthetics of the set, that makes it a good value in my book.
Frequency Response: 20-20,000 Hz
Impedance: 45 Ω
Sensitivity: 104 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 13.1ft (4m) coiled, single-sided; Straight Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: Flat-folding, collapsible