I don't even know where to start because I'm totally speechless. As much as I like to focus on premium brand name products in my reviews, I do like to balance it out with underdog surprises that cost a fraction and can still deliver a great quality. This surprise comes from tvc-mall.com where until now I was only shopping for phone cases and budget headphones. As a matter of fact they probably have one of the best and cheapest selection of smartphone/tablet cases and accessories, so imagine my surprise when I saw a new release listing with a pair of headphones I never even heard of for $129. That really caught my attention considering tvc-mall is the only place selling these, and there is no other review available on-line. I took a risk, but I believe it paid off big time because in comparison to other premium headphones I have tested - these could easily cost twice as much and worth every penny. Let's find out what the whole excitement is about.
Don Scorpio Dolphin headphones arrived in a beautiful high quality box with high resolution graphics and bi-lingual text. Even before opening the box, you get a strong impression of how much work was put into the design and how much this company is proud of their product. Another thing I noticed was a thin profile of the box, indicating flat foldable design. Once you open the box, you are presented with a premium quality zip around hard flat case. Again, I can probably spend a few paragraphs just talking about all the details of its craftsmanship, but instead I'm just going to leave it up to my pictures. The case had a very distinct look, something you would want to show off to others keeping it outside instead of tacked into your bag. Opening the case revealed the subject of this review - Don Scorpio Dolphin headphones. Folded flat, thanks to 90 deg swivel earcups, these beauties were placed along the perimeter of the case around a precisely shaped area in the middle allocated for the accessories, such as two 3.5mm cables with one straight and the other with in-line remote/mic. That storage area in the middle had a little bit of extra room to add a few more accessories, maybe your clip+ mp3 player or something of that smaller size. Also, included was cleaning cloth and two high quality booklets with Don Scorpio product line and specific Dolphin manual. Everything in these document is bi-lingual, and it had a high resolution images and a lot of interesting info.
As I mentioned above, two 1.2m long cables were included since these headphones have removable audio cables. A very important factor to extend the life of your headphones, to be able to upgrade to a custom cable, or to add specific in-line controls to use with your smartphones. The cable is rounded, tangle free, flexible, and made out of durable rubbery material. Both of the connectors are gold plated, with straight one going to earcup and the angled one (my favorite 270deg setup) going to your phone. The one with in-line remote had a built in mic and single control multifunction button to make it universal with either Android or iDevices. I tested multi-function button to work well for play/pause/call, double-click to skip a track, and long-press to start Google Now. Call quality was good, and the placement of the in-line remote closer to the earcup helped when talking into the mic. Next, let's look into design/fit/comfort of these headphones.
Per the label on the box, these have Luminous Ocean color/finish. The finish was glossy and color felt almost like it was baked in and completely scratch resistant. While headband had a solid luminous finish, the outside plastic headphone cup had a fading effect of dark to light finish from top to bottom. In addition, each earcup had a decorative air vent and a logo. While listening, I tried closing that air vent with my finger and didn't hear any change in sound, that's why I assume it's decorative only. Furthermore, each earcup has its own 3.5mm port which allows you to connect audio cable to either side, and also allows you to daisy chain another pair of headphones to share your music. There is no visible wires going from earcup to headband, everything is hidden inside of beautifully crafted brushed metal bracket which looks like a piece of art. The bracket connects to earcup at a single point, thus allowing 90 deg swivel. Here, I probably going to have one comment since relative to Left/Right headphone position, the earcup did swivel outward instead of inward. This was due to a metal bracket going to the back rather than a front. My comment is that if you want to keep your headphones around your neck rotated to flatten them, the earpads will be facing out rather than in.
Speaking of earpads, I found these memory foam synthetic leather covered "marshmallows" to be very comfortable. Cleverly designed with leather outside, on inside walls they have breathable mesh material so when earpads are pressed against your ear it lets the air out. The 40mm drivers are covered by a unique to the touch material, and I felt with my finger that underneath there was another diagonally placed layer of thicker cloth material but it was only covering half of the driver. I think it has something to do with a sound filtering, and it was symmetrical on both Right and Left sides. The headband adjustment had a precise click action so you know exactly by how much you extend each side. Inside of the headband, the area was partitioned into 3 sections separated by 2 metal bands, where outer two sections were plastic and the middle section which sits on top of your head was soft foam covered in the same synthetic leather material. The padding was not too thick, but it was comfortable enough not to feel the weight of these headphones. And speaking of the weight, these are not exactly feather light at 268g, but with a moderate clamping force and soft cushioning of earpads and foam support at the top of the headband - they felt very comfortable. I will be honest with you, you can wear these for an extended period of time without a problem, but I still felt their presence on my head. One thing I didn't feel at all was outside noise - they have an excellent passive noise isolation.
As you can see, these headphones look beautiful, they feel beautiful, and they have a great build quality. At this point, just based on the looks and possible average sound quality expected from an unknown brand I would say they definitely worth every penny of its price. Isn't that what the Beats are all about, except costing 3x as much But guess what? Don Scorpio Dolphin headphones turned out to have an amazing sound quality!!! I actually had to go back and double check against all of my premium headphones in $300-$500 price range. I really couldn't believe how great these sound.
Right out of the box the sound details were great, but after about 4hr of burn in with pink noise loop - the quality went up and the bass came alive!!! According to the spec, these 40mm CCAW voice coil dome type drivers have an extended frequency range way beyond typical 20Hz-20kHz range, where they actually claim 13Hz-30kHz. I'm not quite sure if it goes to that extent especially since our human ears can't even hear that wide frequency range, but I can tell you with certainly their lows and highs do extend beyond 20-20 range. The overall sound signature was very well balanced, smooth, more on a warm side, with a little bit of dip around upper mids and a boost in low frequencies. They don't have a typical "fun" v-shaped frequency response since the mids do have a presence, it's crystal clear, and with a nice definition and full body, just a bit recessed. Mids for me are very important because I love to hear power of vocals, and these delivered it right on the mark without being too much in your face. But the best part of their sound are the lows and the highs. The bass is very detailed, well controlled, no spilling into mids, and with a layer of sub bass texture. There is no rumbling, and it didn't feel bloated at all; also not even a hint of being veiled. I was actually able to clearly distinguish a lower sub bass from a punchy main bass part. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you get a well extended treble that sparkles with details equivalent to the quality comparable to Momentum or P7. There is no sibilance, and it's easy on your ears for extended listening period. The soundstage is wider than average, it has a very nice stereo separation, and it felt like you are right next to the music stage, rather than listening from the center or the back of the room. With 16ohm impedance I was able to drive it easily from my smartphone as well as X5 DAP. In general, it handled audio even of lower quality quite well and very forgiving.
Overall, I seriously consider these Don Scorpio Dolphin headphones to be at the top of the list of headphones I have tested, and that says a lot considering all the reviews of other premium top brand headphones I shared with you. I was impressed with everything about these, from the design to build quality and the sound quality. I was honestly very skeptical and a bit nervous thinking it might end up being a good looking headphone with an average sound, but instead discovered a product which surpasses a lot of other headphones that cost 2x-3x as much. I know for some it's hard to justify spending $129 on an unknown product, but you will be very pleasantly surprised when you open the box and put these Dolphins on to dive into the ocean of the sound!!!
Here are the pictures.