Spider PowerForce On-ear Headphone Review
This young entrant into the congested field of headphones prides itself on producing sounds that audiophiles would be proud of as they themselves are audiophiles. Three-year old Irvine, CA based consumer electronics firm Spider International spends months of careful testing and re-testing their products until the engineers and designers get it just right. And they don’t disappoint. Introduced in September 2012, the PowerForce is a stylish and well-manufactured on-the-ear headphone. At a list price of $129.99, the headphone is available is either black with silver/black accents (E-HEPH-BK01) or white with silver/gold/white accents (E-HEPH-WH01). Both versions are exceedingly attractive. For the purposes of this review, I tested the PowerForce-Black.
The Design: Working from the top down, the headband is made from soft black leather with crisscrossing Poinsettia Red stitched pattern. The underside has a soft and comfortable memory foam support with webbed padding allowing your head to breath; a feature I’ve seen and particularly liked on the more than twice as expensive ($310) V-Moda Crossfade M-100. Even after hours of continuous wearing, the underside was a cool, lukewarm at most, temperature never once producing a hot or sweaty head that you feel on many headphones. (And this is coming from a bald guy.) The unit has sleeves that extend about 1.5 inches on either side to accommodate the largest of heads (and egos). What’s of particular interest is all the different positions one headphone can be in via 4-directional ear cups. This is possible due to the dual hinging of the unit. Immediately below the sleeve is an articulating arm that tilts the ear cups simultaneously over 100 degrees each in the X-Y and X-Z axis. Following this is another hinge which rotates the ear cups 180 degrees in the X-Y axis. Suffice to say, if you can’t find a comfortable fit, there’s something wrong with you, not the headphones. The cups themselves are a combination of soft premium leather cushions, rugged lightweight plastics, and 40mm dynamic drivers. The logo on each side is a sharp metallic silver spider engraved with concentric circles. And there’s a cable-lock feature which prevents you from losing your listening experience.
The Sound: Where exactly do I begin? The first time I tried on these headphones was on the final day of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Although I don’t recall what music I listened to on that day, I do recall that I was immediately impressed. Over the past month, I’ve put these headphones to many hours of use at home and the office and my impression has only gotten stronger. I’ve been listening to all sorts of music ranging from jazz legend John Coltrane’s remastered The Ultimate Blue Train to vocal works from Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die & Paradise to rock tracks from Rush’s Clockwork Angels and Weezer’s Hurley. The PowerForce’s 40mm dynamic drivers well demonstrate the sounds of John Coltrane’s tenor saxophone and those of his fellow trumpeter, drummer, pianist and bassist. The back-and-forth of the tenor sax and trumpet on Blue Train title track is magical to hear. Even the background static of the 1957 LP recording is there to hear as faint as it was back then. Strong vocals from Emile Sande and Lana Del Rey shine in these headphones. You can almost imagine yourself there in the studio as it was being recorded. I dare you to listen and tell me I’m wrong. Tracks like Off To the Races and National Anthem from Lana Del Ray pop and well display the capabilities which her haunting vocals exhibit. The sounds (vocals, bass, percussion, keyboards) whether they be from LDR or Emile Sande are rich and bold yet never overwhelming. One sound doesn’t drown out another as so often demonstrated by those synonymous-to-giant-or-cranium brands of headphones. Rock music whether it be lead, rythym, or instrumental (classical) guitar is well represented with the PowerForce. Take a listen to Alex Lifeson’s guitar work on the title track Clockwork Angels or the dueling Spanish guitar work of Strunz & Farah on their 1997 Live album. The sounds are so vibrant and rich that you’ll lose track of time. I certainly know I did. And for those of you familiar with “trip-hop” give Massive Attack’s 100th Window a spin. I’ll wager you won’t listen to this on your old headphones ever again.
After listening to all the above-named artists and numerous others, the PowerForce is a high quality headphone which presents distinct crisp sounds with a smooth controlled bass, which in all, are a pleasure to listen to. At the $130 price level, you get your monies worth and then some from Spider.
Included with the PowerForce headphone is the following:
- Storage/Travel Bag
- 4-foot Cable
- 9-Foot Cable
- Pro-Grade 1/4 Inch Adapter
For those of you prefer earphones, Spider makes a companion product, the PowerForce Micro (E-EAPH-BK03). It comes at a list price of $49.99. The earphone comes in all-black and a tangle-free cord, ideal for those at the gym.
For more product information on Spider, check out www.spidercable.com