Whether you’re a casual music listener, professional producer/DJ, or audiophile, you probably hold headphones as one of your most essential items in life. Regardless of whatever type of headphone user you may be, we can all agree that sound quality is of the utmost importance, in addition to build quality for a lasting product. Over the past 5 years, Japan’s Phonon has offered headphones that have been created with those ideals at the forefront of their development. When top professional veteran audiophiles joined with Isao Kumano, a highly respected sound and mastering engineer, Alex Prat aka DJ Alex from Tokyo, Kumano’s partner in the music production team Tokyo Black Star, and Yusuke Uchiyama aka no milk, a producer and audio technician, the Phonon brand was born in an effort to truly convey music’s imagination.
Phonon’s innovative and professional equipment, such as their flagship headphones, the SMB-02 and 4000 models, did not come easy, as the development and production has taken decades of research, dedication, and high-level experience in the audio field and industry. It’s clear that their efforts are greatly appreciated and worthwhile with artists like Dixon, Âme, John Digweed, Jeff Mills, DJ Harvey, Laurent Garnier, John Talabot, Gerd Janson, and more supporting their headphones.
We were given the opportunity to give the SMB-02 and 4000 models a test drive, and we’ve been thoroughly impressed to say the least. Read on for why exactly we now prefer Phonon for studio and DJ use, and see how you can get 10% off of your order, just in time for the holidays.
The SMB-02 headphones are the slightly larger, studio-oriented model that are also appropriate for DJ use. They have a sturdy build with both metal and plastic used throughout, along with a soft, padded leather headband, and thick cushioned ear-pads that are essential for comfort during long sessions. The attached cable is about 7′ long and has a 3.5mm gold-plated plug at the end (a great screw-on 1/4″ adapter is also included). It seems that the SMB-02s are built to last and can withstand heavy long-term use.
With the sturdy build quality accounted for, the real test comes with sound, and these deliver. Phonon has successfully addressed the needs of accuracy for producers, mixers, and engineers, without sacrificing the pure enjoyment of listening as a consumer, as some competitors may fall flat in that regard. The mids and highs are crisp, and the lows are thick and present without being too boomy or overcompensated for. The full frequency spectrum comes through with transparent clarity across a wide stereo image to complete the aural package. Although we may not know the specifics of Phonon’s exclusive tuning theory, we can definitely hear and appreciate their proprietary methods.
• Price – $349
• Type – Air-tight fully enclosed dynamic headphone
• Driver – Φ40mm
• Output sound level – 100dB/mW
• Playback frequency range – 20 – 20,000Hz
• Maximum input – 1,300mW
• Impedance – 40Ω
• Weight (including cable and plug) – 300g
• Plug – Φ6.3 / Φ3.5mm gold-plated screw-type stereo 2 ways plug
• Connection cable length (material) – 3m (4 wires-type L/R independent ground wire connection)
The 4000s (available in Matte black and Silver) are essentially the little brother of the SMB-02s, as they are essentially the same, but in a more compact, travel-friendly frame. They are just as sturdy, but they are also foldable and come with a travel bag that protects them in between gigs or on vacation. The 4000s feature the same speaker driver as the SMB-02s so you’ll get the same high sound quality. Aside from the size and foldability, the other main discerning feature is that they have an on-ear design, rather than over-ear, which is more similar to Sennheiser HD-25s, making them an obvious choice for DJ usage.
4000’s as seen in this video of Dixon b2b Âme at a City Fox boat party in NYC this year…
• Price – $249
• Type – enclosed dynamic headphones
• Driver: φ40㎜
• Impedance – 46Ω
• Maximum output sound level – 500mW
• Playback frequency range – 20~22,000 Hz
• Weight (including cable) – 243g
• Plug – φ3.5㎜ gold-plated screw-type stereo 2 way plug
• Cable length – 1.5m
After months of use, Phonon headphones have become my headphones of choice, over several other popular brands that offer similar products. They’re often compared to headphones that are well above their $250-350 price range, and you will be hard pressed to find any negative reviews of them online, for good reason. With the additional backing of industry professionals and world-class artists, Phonon is becoming a go-to brand as their products truly measure up to exactly what they’re promised to be with exceptional value.
Try out Phonon headphones for yourself, and use our 10% off discount code: “GDD10” when you order from their store. Phonon offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so hear what they’re all about with no risk. If you’re not happy with them, return them unharmed within 15 days.