Auditioning the Phonon SMB-02 headphones with a wide range of source material and headphone amplifiers, they prove to be one of the finest all around choices we’ve experienced. While many headphone enthusiasts collect a stable of headphones, with some being better at one aspect of sound reproduction than others, the SMB-02s true strengths are that they perform a wide range of tasks incredibly well.
Combining that with the fact that they are easy to drive, and offer a high degree of musical satisfaction with even an iPod or smartphone as a musical source, makes them an excellent (perhaps one of the best) choices for someone wanting one great pair of headphones.
Listening to a wide range of music from classical to hip hop and electronica reinforce the even tonality of these phones. If comparing them to a speaker, the one that comes to mind is the Vandersteen 2Ce Signature. Like this famous loudspeaker, the SMB-02s do everything right and nothing wrong. They nail timbre, and acoustic instruments sound correct. Those preferring acoustic music will not be disappointed by a frequency response that is tilted one way or another, while fans of heavy rock will enjoy the truly full range response, especially the level of resolution in the lower registers.
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And for this reason, we award the Phonon SMB-02 headphones our first Exceptional Value Award.