The S301 comes in a fairly professional large black box but sadly, unlike the D901, it doesn’t come packed with a nice headphone stand. I guess some sacrifices have to be made for the lower price. Instead you get a detachable 1.3m 3.5mm terminated cable and a soft velvet pouch with the Perfect Sound logo. Again for $420 I am sort of looking for a little bit more given the stiff competition even at the $200 to $300 level from sebnnheiser, V-Moda, Aiaiai and Philips. A quarter jack would have been great and perhaps a stiffer case much like the B&W P7 which is the same price. Perhaps an igadget cable for those who have to have their headphone attached to their Android or Apple phone would have been a nice touch also. It is just a guess but perhaps most of the cost is sunk into the cost of developing the main headphone frame leaving not much room for accessories. You can get a stand and a 4 meter quarter jack terminated cable from Perfect Sound for the S301 for them but it is an optional extra and for an added price.
The S301 itself is a semi-open portable headphone with a largish supra-aural design that feels heavy but relatively sturdy in the hand. The design is foldable kepping the form factor discreet and baggable. The S301 construct is made up of a brushed metal frame, hard plastic cups and protein leather for the headband and rounded pads. $420 is pushing it a bit for protein leather but it seems reasonable quality and unlikely to fall apart from heavy use. The headband is a slide construct and relatively tight with no slippage and blends in neatly to the folding mechanism giving a fairly seamless frame look from afar. So far so very Frank Bruno – nice looking specimen, the finish looks just right but how does it work in action?
Well I have to say this is the first headphone in 7 years that is too big for my head even on the smallest setting which is highly unusual. To cope I had to push it a touch forward to get some balance relief on my crown to offset the rather uncomfortable weight pressing down on my ears. It just didn’t sit right even with that tilt and within 10 minutes my ears started to get a little red and aching from the downward pressure. The S301 could have done with being one inch shorter for the comfort and balance factor. Those with bigger heads than me rejoice, it probably fits just right for you.
Being semi-open the S301 is average for isolation but functions perfectly fine in reasonably quite environments. Pleasingly there is very minimal noise leak through the outside of the cups. I had to stick my ear real close to hear any leakage and when in the listening position external background was actually very low indeed. The protein leather pads did a good job sealing my ears even when tilted forward to accommodate for the large headband.
The cable system
The S301 sports what looks like a dual entry cup system but it is in actual fact two single entry jack ports meaning you can insert the cable into the left or right side of the cup and it will play as normal. This I actually quite like since tradition has favored left but the odd headphone has sported a right cup entry. I personally prefer the left entry, just feels more natural. My whole audio setup is on my left side in the office so that says something. It is choice in the end and choice is always a powerful feature. The cable itself is a straight through cable with no igadget wizardry which is my preferred type of cable except this one has a bit of memory retention and lacks the quarter jack I mentioned earlier. It is terminated with 3.5mm both sides meaning either end will insert into the s301 or amp/DAP/DAC of your choice with minimal fuss.