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Arctic P402 Dynamic Supra-Aural Headphones Review

by September 18, 2012
Arctic P402 Dynamic Supra-Aural Headphones

Arctic P402 Dynamic Supra-Aural Headphones

  • Product Name: Arctic P402 Dynamic Supra-Aural Headphones
  • Manufacturer: Arctic
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: September 18, 2012 04:50
  • MSRP: $ 39.90
Wearing Style Supra-aural
Frequency Response (Hz-kHz) 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Dimensions (Packaging) 204 L x 84 W x 206 H mm
Impedance (ohm) 32 Ω
Sensitivity (dB/mW) 101 dB +/- 5dB at 1 kHz
Microphone Sensitivity -42 dB +/- 5 dB
TRRS adaptor T-T, R1-R1, R2-S, S-R2
Cord Length 1.2 m with a 3.5 mm Plug
Product Net Weight 130 g
Limited Warranty 2 years
itemnumber HEASO-ERM43-GBA01
UPC 0872767005709
Gross Weight 0.8 kg


  • Price
  • Sound quality much better than price suggests
  • Light


  • Loose fit
  • Mic orientation


Arctic P402 First Impressions and Fit

P402_inboxYou get into the reviewing game because you love the gear. That's the long and short of it. You can't fake that. You can't just like the gear because you'll lose motivation before your fifth review. I've seen it happen all too often. Some new gung-ho reviewer pops out a few, exceptionally in-depth, reviews, and then you never hear from them again. They didn't love the gear. They liked it.

I love gear. No matter the price or type, opening a new box gives me the same thrill it did when I opened my very first DVD-Audio disc that Gene sent me all those years ago. Some people get jaded after a while. They start to believe that some gear is beneath them. Their ears are too golden, their system too high-end, their tastes too refined. Not me. Send me all the budget stuff. I don't care if it costs $5 or $5000, I'm game to review it.

When the Arctic P402 on-ear (they call them Supra-Aural) headphones arrived, I didn't know exactly how much they cost. All I knew was that they were light. Super light. Arctic specifies them at 130 grams. That's a touch over 4.5 ounces and includes the cable. That's light.


The P402's have twin black plastic arches for a headrest and thin, chromed bent wire frames for connecting the ear pieces. The earpieces feature 15mm (0.6") thick ear pads for extended listening. The wire, which is thinner than most others I've experienced, has an inline mic but no controls. It is designed to work with all sorts of smartphones and tablets. Arctic even included a adapter for older Samsung and Sony-Ericsson phones (they reverse the mic/return contacts on the connector).

Other than the chrome wire frames, the only other color on the Arctic P402s is a textured backplate on the earpads featuring the Arctic logo. The P402s feature a nicely industrial design that apes professional-style (or DJ-style) headphones and convey an air of quality. I generally like the way they look and am consistently surprised by their weight. They just look much heavier and beefier than they are.


Obviously Arctic targeted the P402s to chronic headphone users. At 130 grams, you only know they are on your head because of the pressure on your ears. The earpads have an interesting (and in my experience unique) design. The bottom of the pads are thicker than the top. The wire frame is meant to slide up and down in the black plastic housing to adjust the fit but I found that it had no staying power. Basically, you put on the headphones and they sort of self-adjusted. You couldn't slide the wire frames to make the fit looser or tighter.


P402_dudeIf I had to describe the fit overall, I'd call it tenuous. It wasn't as if they were falling off all the time, but the Arctic P402 headphones didn't grab the head very firmly. Looking at the promo picture on the right, in my mind those headphones came screaming off that guy's head milliseconds after that shot was taken. In everyday use, the P402s didn't fall off but any sort of quick motion would dislodge them. These are headphones that I believe would be perfect for a commuter - as long as they walked or rode the train/bus. Any sort of running/biking would likely end badly for the Arctic P402s.

Arctic P402 Use and Sound Quality

The first thing I wanted to do with the Arctic P402s was test out the microphone. The first reaction I got was that I sounded muffled. A quick examination of the microphone showed that the way the cord was naturally twisting, it was aiming the mic away from my mouth. The mic was at the right height (if I pulled it toward my face, it would touch my chin) but I couldn't get it to face me without holding it. When I did, however, the sound quality was about as good as using the phone. Arctic could have helped with this by having the mic be omnidirectional with openings at both sides. It might have introduced more noise but at least I wouldn't have to hold the mic to have people hear me clearly.


Some might lament the lack of in-line controls. I don't. While they can be convenient, at the price point of the Arctic P402s, I just don't think they'd justify the extra cost. More important for the consumers of the Arctic P402s is comfort and convenience. Having a mic in-line is very convenient. It works with just about any smartphone/tablet without having to worry about who made it and it is fairly simple to implement. With controls, you are now having to deal with OS specific issues and, frankly, Arctic did well to leave that to higher-priced offerings.

P402_plug1     P402_plug2

P402_slideComfort-wise, the P402s rate very highly. While they felt a bit loose on the head, they were never uncomfortable. During long listening sessions, I never found myself wanting to adjust them or move them around. They put just enough pressure on the ear to hold them in place without making them uncomfortable to wear with glasses. Often, tight fitting headphones will be very secure but will make wearing glasses a painful experience. So you end up having to choose whether listen to music or see. An easy choice if you are just sitting on the bus, a much more difficult one if you are trying to listen and work at the same time.

The one missed opportunity with the Arctic P402s was portability. This seems to me to be the perfect at work/at home/on the commute headphone. The $40 price tag means you don't mind leaving them in your desk or breaking them in transit. Arctic hasn't included any sort of carrying case or any way for the P402s to fold up into a smaller package. While it seems to me that the reason for this is that it would add weight (and perhaps cost), it seems a necessary tradeoff for this type of product.

Sound Quality

Let me start by saying that I was shocked by how good the Arctic P402 headphones sounded. They cost less that $40 and I'm betting you're going to have a hard time finding much in the price point that comes close to their sound quality. Like most professional reviewers, I have a lot of gear lying around but not a lot that is at this price point. So I ended up having to compare the Arctic P402s to headphones that cost at least 3x's their asking price, and some that cost much more.

On hand I have the $150 Denon AH-D1000 on-ear (though they fit over my small ears), the $200 Audio-Technica ATH-M50s over-ear, and the $300 Pioneer SE-MJ591 on-ear headphones. I have a number of in-ear headphones as well, but I tend not to want to compare different types if I can get away with it. So, going in, the comparisons weren't going to be very fair. Rather than compare directly, let's just say that the Arctic P402s held up very well. While their sound wasn't as full or extended, and they tended to clip at lower volumes, I was impressed with how flat the P402s were. They didn't seem to have any obvious sonic issues and, for a $40 set of headphones, sounded remarkably uniform and even.

Taken on their own, I'd say that the issues I had with the design are easily explained by the sound quality. If these headphones cost $40, I'd guess that $38 of that was spent on how they sound and the rest on how they fit. Are the true audiophile headphones? No. But you are getting the absolute best sound $40 worth of headphones can get you. I found the Arctic P402s to be very engaging and lively with just a hint of sibilance at the top end at higher volumes. The lower end was extended but not boomy, something I'd expect with a budget set of headphones.


When you are trying to impress a buyer, sizzle and boom with do it at first blush. If you audition a speaker and it has a ton of bass, you're going to think it is a pretty good speaker. But take it home and listen to it for a while and you'll quickly realize that what sounded pretty good in the short term starts to sound muddy and distorted over time. The Arctic P402s didn't fall into this trap and, instead, tried to give a more uniform and accurate frequency response (note - if you go to the Arctic website and see what looks to be a frequency response graph - it isn't. It is a sensitivity graph).

The Arctic P402s were well extended on the top end but did tend to get fatiguing at higher volumes (likely due to clipping). The low end was reasonably well extended for the price point. The overall response was very even with only a hint of distortion with some of the higher male voices. Overall, I found that the Arctic P402s reacted much like my more audiophile headphones in that they sounded better with better recorded tracks but were fairly unforgiving with the lower quality tracks.

Imaging was good, overall, and dynamic were okay though the P402s lost a lot of oomph at the lower volumes. If I had to categorize the Arctic P402 headphones, I'd classify them suitable for an audiophile in training. While they obviously aren't going to have the performance of a true audiophile set, they will give you enough of that flavor so that you can recognize good sound when you hear it. This makes them perfect for the discerning listener who wants an affordable offering for use in unsecured settings or places where they don't want to risk their quality headphones.

The only issue I had with the Arctic P402 headphones was that they seemed to be very hard to drive. Compared to all my other headphones I had to jack up the level much more for the same perceived volume. It might sound crazy to suggest with a $40 headphone, but the Arctic P402s might actually perform better with a little external amplification. Now, I don't think anyone will actually do that, but it might help.

Arctic P402 On-Ear Headphones Conclusion

It's not hard to see the appeal of the Arctic P402 On-Ear Headphones. For $40, you are getting some very impressive sonic performance. While you won't be taking these to the gym anytime soon (at least, not if you want them to stay on), they're perfect for listening to music while working or commuting. They are comfortable if a bit loose on the head which may, over time, become problematic. Chances are, however, for $40, you aren't going to care. If you are looking for accurate sound at an incredible price, the Arctic P402 Headphones should be on your list. At this price, why not give them a shot?


Arctic P402 Dynamic Supra-Aural Headphones



The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStar
About the author:
author portrait

As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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