MSRP: $39.95 (discontinued)
Current Price: $25 from amazon.com
Build Quality (4/10): The build quality of the SBC HP430 is a two-sided affair. On one hand there is a purposeful minimalism to the design that I rather like. The thick plastics and stitched headband look quite nice and the metal rotating mechanism is smooth and robust. The fitting of the plastics is sub-par, though, and the while structure tends to rattle and wobble. In contrast to the nice material used on the headband, the pleather on the pads is so thin it feels more like tissue paper. The thick cabling features an inline volume control and large molded strain relief on the 3.5mm plug. The cords have a fair bit of memory character, which is frustrating. I want to like the HP430 but I just can’t help feeling that it was designed to be a more upmarket headphone and then thrown together from cheaper materials to cut costs.
Comfort (7.5/10): The HP430 is extremely lightweight, clamps very little, and has generous padding on the headband and earcups. The resulting fit is pleasant but not nearly secure enough for my liking. An odd feature of the design is that the earcups swivel in the wrong direction in order to fold flat, which results in a less compliant fit than otherwise possible.
Isolation (4.5/10): The HP430 is a closed-back headphone that isolates a fair amount if a good seal is achieved. However, the light clamping force never really provides a great seal so plenty of noise leaks in and some sound leaks out.
Sound (5.75/10): If these have one definite strength it’s the sound. The clarity and balance are excellent with nothing standing out on the frequency response. The average-sized soundstage has good separation and positioning and the signature is tonally neutral. The bass is heard rather than felt unless a very good seal is achieved so they are likely too bass-light for the average consumer. Treble has equal presence and is neither too bright nor too harsh. It has a bit of edginess to it but I don’t expect great refinement from $30 portables. The mids can sound a little thin but there’s a delicacy to the sound which puts them above most of the competition. One thing that surprised was that these do benefit from a little extra juice – there are notable improvements to the sound when a mini3 or T4 is added between the headphones and my Fuze. Overall while these may sound boring to some, the lack of aggression when compared to the Ultrasone Zinos, KSC75s, and AKG K81DJs that I’ve been listening to lately is a welcome change.
Value (6.5/10): The HP430 is another interesting entry from Philips that’s let down by the build quality and choice of materials rather than sound quality. The sound is well-balanced and boasts excellent clarity and quite a bit of detail. With a slightly tighter fit and a less shaky construction they could be serious competition for the PX100s and PortaPros. As it stands, they’re just a good-sounding portable that isn’t quite there all-around.
Frequency Response: 20-25,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Sensitivity: 106 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 3.94ft (1.2m) + 5.9ft (1.8m) extension; Straight Plug