A Fine First Headphone for iPod/iPhone Users
March 30th, 2010 -- by Chris Martens
- Tonal balance: 8
- Clarity: 9
- Dynamics: 9.5
- Comfort/Fit: 7-9 (varies from user to user)
- Sensitivity: 10
- Value: 9.5
- Low impedance 32 Ohm 40mm drivers represent and extremely easy load for iPods, etc., to drive.
- Includes in-line microphone module with built-in send/end button said to be compatible with “Nokia, Blackberry, HTC and iPhone.”
- Headband design affords good range of size adjustments and incorporates distinctive earcup hinges that allows “the headphone to fold down to a fraction of its size.
- Very high quality materials are used throughout. For example, all plastic parts use special “soft feel” materials that impart an upscale feel. Earpads are upholstered in what we presume is faux leather, done up with incredibly finely detail stitch. The Plattan’s padded headband is covered in two types of fabric: a close weave on the outside for sleek good looks, coupled with a coarser weave in the inner surfaces to help hold the headphone in place as the wearer moves around. The consensus among Nextscreen staffers was that the Plattans look far more costly than they really are which speaks volumes for the Urbanear team’s attention to details.
- The Plattan is supplied with a 47-inch signal/mic cable that is fabric covered.
- For those who have always wished for a clean and simple mechanism through which two listeners could enjoy an iPod (or cell-phone) simultaneously, the Plattan provides an answer in the form of its “Zound Plug.” The “Zound Plug” is, quite simply, a 3.5mm audio signal pass-through jack mounted on the Plattan’s right-side earcup; via the Zound Plug, you can “daisy chain” two set of headphones to be driven by one source device. It’s an idea so simple and so ingenious that you’ll wonder why someone hasn’t thought of it before now.
- The Plattans come with two small extension cords, one optimized for the special four-conductor plug used for most music-capable Nokia cell-phones and the other designed to provide a basic three-conductor “playback only” plug. Urbanears points out that most playback-only devices will work just fine with the Plattan’s standard four-conductor plug, but that some older devices may require the three-conductor plug, which is why it is included.
- Offered in fourteen different colors: white, grey, dark grey, black, red, chocolate (medium brown), yellow, sallad (an intense, bright green, and yes, they spell “sallad” with two L’s—go figure), army (olive drab), ocean (medium blue), light blue, navy (dark blue), purple, and pink.
Three specific qualities define the sound of the Plattans. First, they offer rich and warm though perhaps just slightly forward-sounding mids. This characteristic gives the Plattans an engaging and sophisticated feel, since they seem able to tease out a fair amount more midrange detail and nuance than most other low-to-mid-price headphones can.
Second, the Plattans serve up taut yet very nicely weighted bass—especially mid- and upper bass. While the Plattans can’t plumb the subterranean low-frequency depths the way that certain state-of-the-art contenders can (we’re talking about ‘phones ten or twenty times the Plattans cost), they more than hold their own within their price class, offering plenty of “oomph” for bass guitars, kick drums and the like.
Third, the Plattans are dynamically responsive, so that they really make the most of the limited power output of the iPod or of cell-phones. More so than most mid-priced designs I’ve sampled, the Plattan seems to work well within the iPod’s constraints, rather than constantly making you wish you had sprung the extra cash needed for an outboard headphone amp. In this way, the Plattan is an example of good, solid, practical real-world design at its best.
The only noteworthy sonic drawback of the Plattans, though a “drawback” some listeners might potentially regard as a plus overall, is the fact that the highest upper midrange and treble frequencies are somewhat rolled off. While this characteristic is not, strictly speaking, accurate, it does have the side-benefit of softening raw or rough-edged recordings (of which there are far too many these days) to a point where they become more listenable. Accuracy mavens may be a little disappointed, but music lovers will, I think, find this minor flaw very easy to “listen through.”