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AOpen AOpen HP-590 Subwoofer Headphone Review
Date Posted: Dec 28 2002
Author: Joe
Posting Type: Review
Category: Misc Geek Gear
Page: 1 of 2
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AOpen HP-590 Subwoofer Headphone Review By: Joe

AOpen HP-590 "Vibrating" Headphone
Review / Shootout
By Joe 12/28/02

Well here we are again.  This time its not a cooling review, or anything remotely attached to cooling, but that doesn't mean its not reviewable :)  Today we have the new headset offering from AOpen - the HP-590 headphones with a built in vibrating feature.  Using the term "vibrating" makes it seem much more weak than what it really is... a sub woofer in your headphones (one on each side).  When AOpen offered to send me a set to look at I was interested but also unsure these headphones could meet the quality I have seen in the past from makes like some of the 200$ Sennheisers, some high end Koss, Sony studio quality pieces.  So what I did was I got 2 of my "LAN" quality headphones together to bench against the AOpen set. 

My definition of "LAN" quality is something that's nice enough to take to a LAN and wear for hours while you slaughter people in various games. They also need to be cheap enough that if they get stolen, broke, or spilled on you wont be in a corner crying. This puts the price range for headphones from 10$  - 35$.  After some digging ( since the HP-590 at this time 12/20/02) is not for sale yet, I found a price of $34.99 being the MSRP.  Its a bit pricey for a LAN headphone but I think it will fit well into this category.  Now before I give any more info away to early, lets get on to see what these things are:

From the packaging they come in, I think its clear that AOpen has a pretty mass market target for these headphones.  I wouldn't be surprised to see these on the shelves of your local stores with the money they put into the packaging.  On the back of the case it has the specs for the headphones:

It also includes 1 AA battery for the "Vibration" unit, and a 1/8 to 1/4" stereo jack converter.

Out of the box what you get is basically what you see to the right.   The headphones themselves fold up nicely and everything will fit into the included pleather pouch.

The cable length left a little to be desired, if you are going to take these to a LAN make sure you have a headphone extension cable or you will need to have your PC sitting on your lap to get them to reach the sound card.

Below is a pic of how they fold up.

The Vibration thingy - the Test Run

Since there is no "benchmark" outside of just listening to a headphone to see if you like it, that's exactly what I did.  First order of business was to fire up Soldier of Fortune 2, and tear into it online with these, and playing with the vibration control level to see where its better and worse. As expected its a new sensation when your headphones feel like they are going to hop off your head when someone shoots you with a shotgun in SoF2 :) The Vibration aspect of the headphones took some getting used to.  They do offer the ability to turn the vibration level down or off on the little box that's inline with the headphone cable.  But that's no good... basically that lil thing in the cable is nothing more than a crossover, that filters the low range to send it to the "sub" in each side of the headphone ( its also a minor amp to give the extra juice needed to drive those subs hence the AA battery).  So when you turn down the "vibration" part of the headphones all you are left with is a real tin can/lifeless sound.   So you have to run with the vibration thing on to some amount.

When listening to a few MP3's, ranging from some Bt mix's, to some NIN tracks all sounded OK in the headphones and the sub made up for some of the lacking mid range in the headphones. (we will get more into the sound qualities later on).  The vibration feature is a pretty smooth implementation, its light, and it works exactly as advertised.   Now... you wanna see what makes it work? :)

Headphone Autopsy

Pretty sure if AOpen knew I was going to take the headphones completely apart to see what makes em work they would have thought twice about it, but cummon... something this interesting just begs to be investigated :)

First lets look at the lil Vibration dongle that's inline with the headphone cord:

There's really nothing that complex in there.  Just some caps, an some resistors.  Basically its a very elementary crossover and amp.  (uses the battery to load up the caps, then the caps discharge when needed to drive the subs)

Now we take apart one side of the headphones.  The HP-590's are attached with 4 screws that to remove you need to remove the cushion part of the headphone.  Once you do that the "can' basically falls off the arch.

Once the can is off the headphone arch, you can see the woofer clearly.  Next step was to remove the woofer and see how its interfaced to the rest of the headphone.

So the sub woofer basically blows through the "Full Range" speaker.  Its an effective and simple setup. The magnet used on the woofer is noticeably stronger than the one in the full range speaker. The sub and the full range both run on their own pair of wires from the dongle down the line.

Onto the "LAN" headphone Shootout

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