Babolat Origin String Review
- Tension Maintenance
- May not have enough control for full-bed poly players
Babolat Origin resists easy classification. For starters, it is a monofilament, which is the construction most commonly associated with polyester. Unlike polyester, Origin is made from a "natural polyamide," which is a very pliable material similar in structure to nylon. This pliability helps explain why our playtesters were so impressed by the comfort. Even more impressive was the feel, which our team found to be wonderfully crisp and precise, as opposed to mushy or overly muted. We also found this string to be quite powerful, but with no reports of an unruly "trampoline effect" or unpredictable launch angle, two common afflictions of soft strings. Perhaps the most outstanding quality was the tension maintenance, which bordered on unbelievably good. With the exception of natural gut, Origin holds its playability longer than strings with comparable comfort and power. Ultimately, Origin's comfortably crisp feel, superior tension maintenance and impressive all around playability makes it one of the better soft strings we've hit in a while.
Power - Score: 88, Control - Score: 77
For our playtest team, the power level of Origin was comparable to that of a lively multifilament, like Tecnifibre X-One Biphase or Wilson NXT. According to Tiffani, though, it also had great control. She explained, "I wasn't quite sure what to expect. As a fan of multifilament strings, I didn't want to give up power or comfort -- the two factors that usually steer me toward multifilaments. With Origin, I didn't give up much, if any, power. Origin felt less elastic than a typical multifilament right from the stringer, but after the initial hit the string settled and offered plenty of power. I did find it to be on the more powerful side, but it wasn't at the sacrifice of control. I could feel the ball on the strings, so I could easily direct my shots where I wanted. I didn't feel precise, but I felt in control of my shots and game with Origin."
Andy also found an impressive level of control. He said, "This string offers a nice blend of power and control. It definitely has more pop than the polyester strings I'm used to, but I rarely felt like I couldn't control the ball. It had good feel, and whether I was trying to hit the ball deep to a corner or play a touch volley short, I felt like I could get the ball where I wanted it with confidence."
For Chris, the defining feature of Origin was power. He said, "I was able to get a lot of power on my shots when hitting with this string. Finding depth and pace took noticeably less effort, and I found better power than I do with Babolat Xcel. To up the level of control (and also to test the comfort to the extreme) I kept upping the tension. In the end I was at 68lbs in a Prestige Pro 600, and the string was still offering good power -- remarkable! That this string can still offer good power in a low powered midsize racquet with a dense 18x20 string pattern at a stupidly high tension was very impressive, to say the least. I would definitely recommend this to anyone seeking lots of power from the stringbed. For me, control got better as the tension went up on each stringing. I never got close to the control of my favorite polys, but that's not what this string is about. If you want a plush and soft feel with effortless power, it's right here."
Spin - Score: 57
Origin doesn't have the tight grip of a polyester, nor is it likely to be listed in the spin section of anyone's string inventory, but this didn't stop Andy from generating some decent spin. He said, "I was surprised by the level of spin I was able to get with Origin. It certainly possesses very good spin potential when compared to other softer strings, but not as much as a polyester. I was able to accelerate the racquet and get the ball to dive into the court at the last moment."
For Tiffani, who admittedly has flatter mechanics, the spin potential was middle of the road. She said, "Here's where I think the string was about average. Although I'm not a big spin player, I do use moderate topspin and like to throw in the slice now and then. I also love a good topspin lob. As expected, there wasn't the kind of spin I would see with a co-poly, but the spin production was adequate for my flatter game."
For Chris, a little extra concentration on mechanics was required to bring the ball down with spin. He said, "This string was far from the best at biting the ball for spin in a full setup. In a hybrid with a poly, it seemed to allow the poly to snap back decently and the level of spin remained solid. On its own, I had to focus on adding some additional brush to my strokes to get the spin I needed to hit aggressively and still control the depth of my shots. I get much more spin out of natural gut. Natural gut offers more bite (grip on the ball), whereas the ball felt like it was sliding off Origin and leaving my racquet with less rotation."
Comfort - Score: 94
Origin received one of the highest comfort scores awarded by our playtest program. Chris was definitely impressed, saying, "The level of comfort from this string was simply exceptional. Even at the extremely high tensions I tried, the string remained very comfortable. Shanks never felt too jarring, and the level of comfort was very close to what I get from natural gut. No other synthetic strings come to mind as being this forgiving. The soft and plush feel also made Origin feel powerful when I hit outside the sweetspot."
Agreeing with Chris, Andy said, "This string was very comfortable! I had it in my already plush-feeling Pro Staff, and the combination made my arm and wrist very happy. Off-center shots were not jarring at all, and a ball hit inside the sweetspot had virtually no shock on the arm. This is a real strength of this string."
"As I mentioned earlier, a full bed of Origin feels firmer than my typical multifilaments right off the stringer," said Tiffani. "It wasn't jarring, just firm. That said, it really only took an hour or so before it really opened up and the comfort became one of the highlights. Origin manages to walk the line of offering comfort without sacrificing too much ball feel."
Feel - Score: 80
Origin provided our team with exceptional feel. Like natural gut, this string's considerable comfort was punctuated by a refreshing crispness, one that translated into better control. Tiffani explains, "One of the drawbacks I find with some multifilament strings is that comfort translates into a mushy feel. With Origin, I felt connected to my shots. The feel is clean and somewhat crisp, although not as crisp as the firmer material of a co-poly. Still, I liked the feel, and it helped me be in control of my shots."
Chris also appreciated the comfortably crisp response, saying, "The feel of this string was very soft and plush; however, it was not overly muted. Despite the deep ball pocketing and plush feel, the feel was also crisp and clean. In other words, I felt well connected to where the ball was going and I had a good sense of the quality of the contact I was making with the ball. When mixed in with a poly or co-poly string for a hybrid setup, Origin brought lots of added comfort to the stringbed."
For Andy, the soft and crisp response translated into decent control, but not enough to pry him away from his favorite co-poly. He said, "Origin seems to have the flexible feel of a multifilament, but it's also fairly crisp, almost like a softer co-poly. I was definitely in control of my shots, but I would've liked more of the firm feedback I get with my poly-based strings."
Playability Duration - Score: 93
In addition to the crisp comfort and impressive power, Origin also gave our team truly outstanding tension maintenance. Even after months of being punished by Andy's powerful strokes, Origin's playability refused to quit. He said, "After four months - yeah, you read that right, FOUR MONTHS -- the string still played great. I've never seen a string other than natural gut hold its tension and playability this well. Truly exceptional!"
As someone who typically plays with soft multifilaments, Tiffani appreciated getting a little extra life out of this string. She said, "Here's where Origin outshone my typical multifilament choices. I've had the same set of Origin in my racquet for a solid month of hitting and I don't feel like the tension has changed noticeably. The performance is still there. There has been some notching and some string movement, but nothing excessive."
Chris also got a some good mileage out of Origin. He said, "The tension maintenance of this string was seriously good. It felt like it held tension like natural gut, and I was very, very impressed with the consistent feel throughout the test. Origin is a great option for those who don't break strings. They will enjoy a consistent feel for a long time with this string. For me, the lasting feel was somewhat of a saving grace considering the significant cost of entry."
Overall - Score: 83
What type of player would you recommend this to?
Andy - "This is a great option for the player looking for tons of comfort without having to sacrifice too much control. The durability is excellent, so it's also good for someone who wants the power and comfort of a multi but breaks strings often. Lastly, this is ideal for someone who doesn't get their racquet restrung very often, because the tension maintenance is truly incredible. "
Tiffani - "Players who like the power and comfort of multifilaments but want something that holds tension better will like Origin. Players who are seeking something that attempts to mimic natural gut, at a slightly lower cost, might want to give this one a try as well."
Chris - "Anyone seeking an alternative to natural gut should try this string. It offers similar power and comfort, but perhaps not quite the same level of bite. It is also a great option to improve the comfort or your favorite poly when hybridized. Players using a stiff game improvement type of racquet could also increase the comfort of their racquet with this string. Since it feels so forgiving on mishits, it makes a great choice for improving players."
Andy - "I loved the playability duration and tension maintenance. It also possessed a nice blend of power, control and spin for a softer string. Excellent comfort as well."
Tiffani - "I like the tension maintenance, feel, comfort and power."
Chris - "I loved the comfort this string offered. The tension maintenance was also seriously impressive, and the power felt great when I was looking to add pace to my serves."
Andy - "It doesn't quite have the responsiveness of strings with comparable comfort and power, and I didn't feel as connected to the ball as I would've liked."
Tiffani - "There isn't much performance-wise. This is easier on the wallet than natural gut, but it's still not cheap."
Chris - "I didn't get much spin with this string, and it is very expensive."
Comparing the string to others they've tried, our testers said:
Andy - "Origin is a pretty unique string! It holds its tension and is super comfortable like natural gut, but it doesn't quite have the power or feel. Wilson Optimus performs similarly, in that I still felt comfortable taking big swings at the ball without fear of it sailing long."
Tiffani - "My favorite multifilament has been Tecnifibre X-One Biphase for quite some time. This has a lot of the same qualities, with a good balance of power and control along with good ball feel. Where Origin really trumps Biphase is tension maintenance."
Chris - "This string plays softer than just about all of the multifilaments I've used, such as Babolat Xcel, Tecnifibre NRG2 and Wilson NXT-- especially at high tensions. In that regard it has a lot of the features of natural gut, but it lacks some of the bite. Still, Origin was a very impressive string that also worked very well in a hybrid."
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
Playtester String Setups
Playtest Racquet: Babolat Pure Drive PLAY
Playtest Tension: 56 lbs
Usual String: Tecnifibre X-One Biphase 16
Playtest Racquet: Wilson Pro Staff 95
Playtest Tension: 58 lbs
Typical String: ALU Power Spin 16L
Playtest Racquet: Prestige Pro 600 mid 93sq in.
Playtest Tension: 68 lbs
Usual String: Volkl Cyclone 16
Review date: May 2014. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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