The Senal SMH-1000 studio headphones have the look and feel of the Sony MDR-7506 headphones, which pretty much set the standard for professional monitoring headphones in the sub-$100 range. In many cases, the Sony MDR-7506 headphones are even better than other models that cost substantially more.
I found the Sony MDR-7506 headphones a few years ago when I started my HDSLR journey and began to get serious about shooting and editing video. I have been thrilled with the quality and performance of these. Going into this review, I have a strong bias toward the Sony models and much of my impression of the Senal SMH-1000 headphones is due to a direct comparison to the Sony MDR-7506 unit. In that regard, the SMH-1000 headphones stack up quite well.
The appearance of the SMH-1000, including the ear cushion feel, headband and folding design are very close to the Sony MDR-7506. I really can’t tell much of a difference in wearing the SMH-1000 versus the MDR-7506 – and I’ve logged many hours with the MDR-7506 on my head.
Notably, the SMH-1000′s ear cushions are replaceable and readily available for only $14. Likewise, the headphone cable plugs into the SMH-1000, which means that you don’t have to worry about pinching a cable and trashing a set of headphones (or attempting to solder on a new cable). If a cable is broken or otherwise damaged, you can simply unplug it from the SMH-1000 and get a new one for $10 or $15. These are a couple of great features that potentially make the SMH-1000′s lifespan much longer than the average set of headphones. Additionally, Senal offers a 3-year warranty over the 90-day warranty from Sony. That said, I’ve had my Sony MDR-7506 headphones for 3-4 years now and they still work like new.
Senal includes two headphone cables with the SMH-1000 – a 10′ coiled cable (similar to what is permanently attached to the Sony MDR-7506) and a 3′ straight cable. I can certainly see the added value of the 3′ straight cable when I’m traveling with only my MacBook and don’t need to be any further from my computer.
What I wish Senal included with the SMH-1000 is a bag or case for the headphones. Sony includes a simple faux-leather bag with a drawstring, which I have used since day one. It is a simple and cheap accessory that I feel has added value and life to the product. You can buy a similar bag from Senal for $10, but it is something I feel should be in the box to begin with. If you consider the value of the two included cables, however, this oversight becomes a bit of a wash when compared to the Sony MDR-7506.
The sound quality of the SMH-1000 is solid and is very similar to the Sony MDR-7506. However, I still give an edge to the Sony MDR-7506 in pure sound quality. I feel like the MDR-7506 is slightly richer in bass and midrange frequencies and provides a warmth that the Senal SMH-1000 doesn’t quite reach.
On the other hand, the Sony MDR-7506 always sound like the highs are a bit tinny – and I feel like, in spite of the lesser punch in the bass and midrange of the SMH-1000, they don’t have the same tinny sound in the highs. This difference is probably attributable to the gradual roll off at 14kHz in the SMH-1000. Senal says this roll off is design for accruate low level monitoring and hearing protection – and I believe it. I can really crank some Weezer in the SMH-1000 and I don’t feel like the cymbals are killing me. In sum, the SMH-1000 headphones sound great and provide an accurate reproduction of your tracks and I feel fully confident that I can build an accurate mix with the SMH-1000.
I’m viewing both of these headphones from the perspective of a video editor that has to edit audio as well. I’m sure audio editors and mixers would have even more caveats on both units.
I think Senal got a lot right in the build of the SMH-1000 headphones. The detachable cable and removable ear cushions are a huge added value to the SMH-1000. If I didn’t have the pre-existing bias and perform direct comparison of the sound quality with the Sony MDR-7506, I probably wouldn’t have even commented on the bass and midrange differences with the SMH-1000. That said, I don’t think you can go wrong with either set of headphones – just consider which features are most important to your intended use and choose accordingly.
At the time of this review, B&H is selling the SMH-1000 headphones for $69.99, which is $20 off the regular price of $89.99. The Sony MDR-7506 headphones sell for $79.99. So, there’s not much difference in overall price to consider whether the SMH-1000 is on sale on or not.
The Senal SMH-1000 and Sony MDR-7506 headphones are available from Photography Bay’s trusted retail partner, B&H Photo, at the following links:
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