The Sterling Audio S402 headphones are designed to be used as studio monitors and they have a really nice sound and build quality for their price.
This pair of headphones offers a fairly crisp, clear and balanced sound and I was surprised at how crisp the mids and highs sounded at their price point. When testing the Sterling S402 with various types of music I was jumping between these and the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X and ATH-M20X headphones to see how they compare. In my opinion the S402 sounded closer to the M50X which was surprising considering they are closer in price to the M20X.
The highs are crisp and clear. They sound fairly even with the rest of the frequency spectrum and didn’t give me the feeling they are being pushed unnaturally. The highs sound really good with most music I tried out and there wasn’t anything that sounded either muffled or overly bright. For electronic drums, the snare drums sound crisp, hi-hats sizzle and cymbals have good presence without sounding harsh.
The mid range sounds clear as well. To me the mid range sounded smooth and not overly pushed. I didn’t notice any overly strong resonant mid range frequencies which can sometimes bother my ears. I didn’t notice anything feeling overly subdued either in the mid range. The mid range felt like it was maybe just a little softer than the Audio-Technica headphones that I compared to. The slightly softer mid range still has good presence for vocals and percussion, for example. While my ears can be overly sensitive to resonance at around 3-5k, the characteristics of the mid range helped make heavily distorted guitars and piercing guitar solos sound better to my ears at louder volumes.
The low end is punchy and tight. I liked how the low end sounded on these headphones. It has a solid presence but it isn’t overly boomy or resonant, it feels about right. Bass guitars sounded really good and don’t get muddled with the kick drums, and sub bass in hip-hop and electronic music sounded good without being overly strong.
The spaciousness and sound stage is ok. These are closed back headphones, so they can sound a little less spacious like most typically do. The sound field was well defined from left to right and it was easy to place various parts of mixes in the stereo field.
Clarity is really good. I was surprised at how clear and crisp everything sounded, especially full mixes. I expected a little muddiness somewhere when I consider how much I payed for these, and they exceeded my expectations here. The high end especially stands out as crisp when compared to many other headphones in it’s price range.
These would make good monitoring headphones and decent budget mixing headphones. The detail and clarity was good enough that I’d pick these over some of my other favorites in this price range based on the sound quality alone. These have enough passive isolation and good enough sound to make for good monitoring headphones during vocal recording.
Casual listeners will probably like these. I thought all the music that put through these sounded great. There was quite a few times where I kept thinking “I paid about $60 for these?” and I mean that in a good way. I really liked these for heavy metal since they weren’t overly strong in the mid range frequencies that can get annoying with distorted guitars. Electronic music had really good low end presence without being too much. And hip-hop sounded great with sub bass being present and punchy, vocals coming through smoothly and the high end sounding nice and crispy.
Electronic drummers will like these. I’ve been using these with my Roland kit for about a month and I haven’t felt the need to switch back to any other headphones in my collection for the time being. I think these sound great with electronic drums, and the sound qualities are pretty well balanced for the wide range of sounds around the kit.
Closed Back Design
The closed back design of these headphones helps a bit with passive noise isolation, which is great when using these for both studio monitoring or playing electronic drums. The ear cups create a good enough seal around the ears to help keep noise both in and out.
The closed back design can make these ideal for playing electronic drums since it will keep the noise of tapping on the pads to a minimum and help you focus more on the sounds coming from the module.
In terms of comfort, these are on the better side of average. Personally, I find them to be fairly comfortable and I’ve worn them for up to an hour without any discomfort while playing drums.
They do have a fairly tight fit, and I wonder if that might still loosen up over time, but so far they are staying fairly tight. I like that though since it helps with noise isolation. They also have a little bit of weight to them, they feel heavier than many other comparably priced studio headphones I’ve tried.
The headband padding is good, I haven’t had any issues with hot spots on my head. The headband can also be adjusted large enough to fit over my hat while I’m wearing them, which I appreciate.
The ear cups are large enough to fit over my ears, with decent depth, but I could see them being too small for people with larger ears than myself. The ear cups can also rotate both backwards and forwards 90 degrees which can help position them on your head securely while also being comfortable, as well as allowing you to use just one of the ear cups a little more easily if you prefer.
These headphones are mostly plastic in construction but they don’t feel overly cheap. The headband strap is metal, but all the surrounding parts are plastic such as the hinges on the ear cups. The headband padding and ear cups have a nice faux leather feel to them.
They are fully collapsible and they fold up to a smaller size for transport. They feel pretty sturdy and I don’t have any problem cramming them in my backpack. I’ve dropped them a couple times and they haven’t broke, so that’s good as well.
They don’t squeak or creak while I have them on my head or while making adjustments, so that’s a plus. Overall, I think the build quality is quite suitable for the price I paid, if not better than I expected.
These headphones come with a long, 8 foot straight cable. The cable has a 3.5mm plug and a 1/4″ adapter. The cable attaches to the bottom of the left ear cup and can be removed. It twist locks into place to keep it from coming unplugged.
The cable is braided nylon which feels pretty good to the touch and I like it better than the rubber coated types of cables. My only issue with the cable is that you can hear the noise from from rubbing on clothes or anything else while you’re wearing them. It’s not too bad though, and that issue is fairly common on budget headphones like these.
The long, straight cable is great for electronic drumming. It gives you some freedom of movement and lessens the chance that you’ll accidentally jerk around the cable when it’s plugged into a drum module. It might feel a little too long for casual listeners who are looking to plug their headphones into a phone in their pocket.
Are These Headphones Good For Electronic Drumming?
We think these headphones are a great pick for use with electronic drum kits. They check all of our boxes in terms of what to look for.
- The sound quality is great and drums sound clear and punchy.
- The sound stage is plenty good enough to properly present a stereo drum kit and to represent the positioning of the drums and cymbals from left to right.
- The noise isolation is good enough to help you focus more on the sounds of the drum module rather than the sounds of the sticks on the pads.
- These headphones are plenty comfortable and can be worn for longer periods of time.
- The long, straight cable is also ideal for use with electronic drums.
Studio monitoring, electronic drumming
Closed-back, over ear
15 – 24,000 Hz
90° both directions
8 ft straight cable, detachable
- Clear, crisp and smooth sound
- Decent noise attenuation
- Long cable
- Thick ear cups
- Ear cups swivel 90 degrees both ways
- Lots of plastic in construction
- Mid range isn’t overly forward
- Cable noise
- Ear cup size could be too small for larger ears
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The Sterling Audio S402 headphones surprised me and they sound really good for their price level. I usually expect the sound to have some deficiencies in these budget price ranges but I have a hard time finding issue with the sound on these.
They sound crisp and clear and don’t seem to push any annoying frequency levels. The bass is nice and punchy, and it’s present while not being overpowering. The construction feels like a lot of plastic but not in a bad way. The headband is comfy and the ear cups make a good seal. I think these are a really good value for the money and they make for a great pair of budget headphones for electronic drums.