We all love a good set of headphones. They let us connect with our favorite music and disconnect with all of the aggravation of the outside world. And with the rise of artist-backed, premium cans, it might seem like everybody and their auntie will try to make a decent set, with emphasis on the trying part. While that’s great, us common folk might not ever get a chance to try them since they can be rather overpriced. Thankfully, there are companies that produce solid headphones at prices that don’t include paying-for-rapper’s-lifestyles markups. We’re taking a look at one such headset today, the Aerial7 DIY Tank.
For those that aren’t familiar with the brand, Aerial 7 is a “music lifestyle” company that was founded in 2008. Their main products are fashion-forward headphones for all ages. We were invited to an event they threw last year to announce their first permanent store-in-store and some new headsets (check that coverage here)
So let’s dig into the DIY Tank and see what this set of headphones has to offer. Once we broke through the colorful packaging, we were greeted with lots of white. So it’s obvious that the entire headset is completely “Stormtrooper” white, but that goes for the headset and the two included cables. One of which is a heavy-gauge coiled wire with a right-angled terminal and the other is thinner with built-in microphone and answer/play button. Also in the packaging are a travel pouch for the headphones, 1/8th inch to 1/4-inch adapter, and three permanent markers (red, blue, and black).
Looking over the headset, we found that the swivel cups are easier to spin and the spring returns have less tension in them. If you’ve been following the company since nearly the beginning (like we have) you might not know that this is the second generation of the Tank. We have the first version to compare this to, but finding one to accidentally purchase new will nearly impossible.
New for the Tank are threaded ends for the short cable at the end of the headset and both ends on the coiled cable. This adds considerable amounts of durability to the cable. Accidentally pulling out the cord from getting up quickly or turning won’t be a problem for the Tank. The right-angle male connector is threaded to connect to the 1/4-inch adapter. The threads are necessary since the coiled cable is rather heavy. Without any tension, the cable is about 3 feet long, but can be stretched to over twice that length. With so much cable in a small space, we’ve had more than one incident where the weight of the cable pulled the headphones right off a table.
The thinner cable is for connecting to phones or anything meant to record. This thinner cable is much shorter at around 4 feet in length and has an in-line microphone clip with an answer/end-call button. Depending on your phone, this button may also have music playback functionality.
The fit of the Tank is impressive as it’s very comfortable and snug. The earcups are large enough to completely cover just about anyone’s ears and the earcup adjusters are tight enough to hold where ever they are placed. The head band across the top does an adequate job of displacing the weight of the headphones off our ears. That said, the coiled cable is still too heavy for the headband to displace. Unless you’re actually going to DJ, we suggest keeping the cable in your lap.
With any headphones, it’s all about the sound experience that they deliver. The Tank has some seriously large drivers in the ear-cups, each measuring a massive 57mm in diameter. Drivers of that size are able to produce some seriously low frequencies. For bass-heads in the audience, this is a good set to consider. While the bass is heavy, it’s not ear-rocking like the Audio Technica ATH-WS55. Our doctor’s would probably appreciate that. Bass won’t distort on the Tank, with virtually any kind of music. We tested this set of headphones with bass music, including drum ‘ n bass and dubstep, pop music and classical.
We found that the low ends and mid-range blends much better on the Tank than the ATH-WS55’s. While the mids were great sounding, even better was the fact that they didn’t sound like the had to be bumped up in order to make them out. Picking out subtle sounds was a bit less difficult since the low frequencies weren’t making our vision shake.
The high end frequencies weren’t the best, but for the price point are fairly good. They’re not the cleanest if you’re looking for studio quality reproduction, but most non-audiophiles don’t have music in high enough quality to note the difference. The highs are better than the Audio Technicas since again, they don’t seem to be artificially boosted.
The big selling point of the Tank, outside of the audio quality, is the ability to create a custom design on them using just about any medium. This is where we feel the DIY Tank fails. The surface material of the headphones includes two different plastics (one glossy and one matte) as well as the faux leather for the ear-cups and headband. While trying the included markers, we noticed that the color would come off with some pressure. The included markers are leaps and bounds better than using a Sharpie though, as they will wipe nearly clean off.
We were able to get markings to stay on if we let them dry for a few minutes first, but even that couldn’t keep the ink on them while they were folded up and placed in their carrying bag. Any markings we tried would smudge and don’t come off completely. It was like the plastic has been stained.
We decided to step our game up and got a few paint markers from a local art supply store (DecoColors for those interested) and were able to get our designs to stay. Or so we thought. After a few days of general use, we noticed that even the supposed permanency of the paint markers was coming off the headphones. The only real advantage we could see in using paint markers is that the colors don’t smudge when they come off, but instead peel off leaving a cleaner surface to try again. Maybe using a base coat of spray paint might make using other markers and such stick better, but we weren’t about to try that yet.
At the end of the day, the Aerial 7 Tank DIY is a great sounding set of headphones. They sound reproduction is very good, the style looks great, and they’re comfortable enough to wear for hours. They’re also really affordable to boot, retailing at $100. We highly recommend looking into the other colorways of the Tank before going the DIY route. That is unless you want that super-clean, minimalist white look.
The Marduk Rating:
Growing up the son of a West Coast Video Manager, Sean-Paul has literally been playing video games for as long as he can remember. Starting as a wee little boy in his room with a 7” black and white TV and his Atari 2600 with Tank Plus, not much has changed, just the room and television have gotten bigger. When not gaming, Sean-Paul is usually cooking, watching anime, or riding his bike around Singapore and dreaming up his next computer build.