Reloop are better known for their products in the DJ world – in fact they’ve gone from being a smalltime OEM re-brander to one of the big players in original IP in the past few years – and it looks like they’ve decided to make a foray into the music production and pro audio world. I’ve had the Reloop SHP-1 studio headphones in for a test drive to see whether Reloop can cut it in the more subtle world of pro audio.
Reloop SHP-1 Review: Specs
- Frequency range: 10 Hz – 26 kHz
- Impedance: 64 ohm
- THD: <0,2%
- Acoustic pressure: 100 dB
- Plug: 3.5 mm stereo jack
- Adaptor: 6,3 mm stereo jack
- Weight: appr. 279 g
- Price: £149/$249
The Reloop SHP-1 is priced up there with premium headphones, and 100% of the asking price is based on the cans themselves. Inside the box is a pair of headphones, a cable, and a 3.5mm to 1/4” adapter. It would have been nice to see a carry bag in there as many other manufacturers include them, but realistically it’s nothing major. Made of a soft, porous rubbery plastic, faux leather ear pads and a 1980s car seat fabric headband, the shiny Reloop logo on the outside of each cup doesn’t rescue the SHP-1 from feeling a bit cheap.
As you’ll notice in the photos, the porous nature of the matt material is basically impossible to keep ‘clean’ looking, and the construction of the headphones is really nothing to crow about – although one thing we can’t test in the time we have to do in a review is longevity, a quality that can be quite deceptive. The SHP-1 might not win any design awards, but it doesn’t feel like it’s going to fall apart. Of course, it’s not how studio equipment looks but how it sounds that matters, but the Reloop SHP-1 doesn’t do itself many favours aesthetically – it looks like budget gear that uses the style, but not the materials, that a premium construction alternative might. If you’re looking for a pair of headphones that can moonlight as DJ gear monitors look elsewhere, because (not that they’re designed to, you understand) these feel unlikely to withstand the rigours of frequent abuse in a club environment.
Put the SHP-1 on and things take a definite turn for the better though – they’re very comfortable. The large, circum-aural ear pads easily cover my ears and the padding and flex in the headband is just right, making for a pretty weightless feel on your bonce even for long periods. I’ve used quite a lot of headphones that employ a single cable connection from one cup to drive audio lately, and very nearly garrotted myself on multiple occasions when removing the SHP-1 and its connected to each ear cable, but this is just a preference thing and Reloop gets brownie points for making the cable replaceable – with standard connectors, no less. In fact I’m informed that more or less everything in the Reloop SHP-1 is replaceable; ear cups and cable are easily switched by the end user and should they need a repair Reloop can get their hands on the innards, which is definitely a good look for £150 headphones.
So they’re a bit tacky looking but very comfortable; the most (or perhaps only?) important question, though, is how do the Reloop SHP-1s sound? My worries that there’d be a ‘DJ/producer’ sound to the SHP-1 proved completely unfounded as the sound that greeted my ears was, on first listen, flat as a pancake – a good thing.
Because of the closed back design I was pleasantly surprised to find that bass is very faithful, and sits beneath everything without pushing its way to the front – and sub bass digs deep, alerting you to the fact it’s there without colouring anything else. The same goes for the rest of the frequency range, and there’s a welcome, natural sound to separation – a quality that tends to start to be seen in this class of larger headphone. If anything it appears there’s a bit of a ‘hump’ in the upper mids region where snares snap and vocals crisp out, but it’s actually quite hard to say whether this is simply because this is an all too easy area for engineers (home studio ones, especially) to boost too harshly for presence. My go-to collection I regularly use for testing (a melee of tracks including amongst others joints from D’Angelo’s Voodoo, Anthony Hamilton’s Coming From Where I’m From, Common’s Like Water For Chocolate, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, a few guilty pleasures I won’t mention and Kanye West’s All of the Lights – the last one in the vain attempt to find a listening device that can possibly hope to explain how the engineer working on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy could have made things sound so bad and not realise) all sounded completely as expected, as did mixes I did myself and tried on reference systems.
For their price I feel I need to be picky, and despite saying there’s a nice, natural sense of space and separation – there is – it’s not up there with the best in class headphones I’ve tested at this price. It’s not until you start to drive the SHP-1 quite hard that you really get the best from them, and even then they just lack that glistening, ‘everything’s apart, but everything’s together’ quality that lets you know you’re listening to something great. The stereo field is almost too wide as well, a wideness probably due in part to how far each driver sits from your ear due to the thickness of the padding around the cups.
With the SHP-1 being brand new, I’m sure street price will settle over the coming months. Right now I’d be a little hesitant to wholeheartedly recommend them at £150, but for Reloop’s first real venture into music production gear the SHP-1 is impressive, and certainly worth keeping if they’re added to deals or packs. As always with monitors, be they headphone or loudspeaker, your mileage may vary and you should test them yourself if you can – you might disagree with me and think the Reloop SHP-1 is perfect.