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Finally, a full review that’s not derived from any previous work!

I’ve owned a pair of Beyerdynamics DT1350 headphones since 2011. I had been meaning to write a review of these headphones from then, but only recently managed to get around to putting my long-term impressions on record. I’m not usually keen on doing such detailed reviews, but do bear in mind this review has been nearly two years in the making!

Accessories & Build

The Beyer DT1350s are supra-aural headphones with a split-headband design similar to the Sennheiser HD25. Despite its delicate looks, the headphone is actually very sturdily built with a very strong metal – matte stainless steel perhaps. The driver enclosures appear to be made of plastic, but don’t seem any less hardy than the rest of the headphones. Cable seems a bit thin for my liking, though strain relief on connection points appears adequate.

The DT1350s come in a handsome semi-soft ballistic nylon case with a molded section to fit the headphones into. Plenty of space to keep accessories and even smaller portable DAPs like the iPod Touch and Nano, Sansa Fuze etc. 1/4″ screw-on adaptor and airplane audio adaptor are also standard-issues, as is a cute little rubber spiral cable-tidy that helps you to keep your headphone cable nicely coiled up.

I find that the headphones exert a very firm clamping force, presumably to improve fit and isolation. I reckon I’ve got an average-sized noggin (by Asian standards, anyway), and these supra-aural cans tend to get a bit uncomfortable after an hour or so, resulting in squished ears. Compared to my past experiences with using headphones like the AKG K240 Mk II, ATH-M30, Jays V-Jays, ES7 and Alessandro MS1, the DT1350s exert much, much more clamping force than any of these other cans.

It’s even worse when I have my spectacles on. I use very thick plastic frames (hey, I’ve had  them before it was hip, alright!), and it’s nearly impossible to use the DT1350s for much longer than 30 minutes. Even when I try to seat my frames above the drive housing, it just makes for a very uncomfortable experience. With the thinner plastic frames of my sunglasses, the DT1350s are more comfortable, although they are most comfortable without any spectacles getting in the way.

Review setup

Photo

Portable: iPod Touch (3rd gen) and iPod Nano (5th gen), straight through headphone out and also through a Hippo cricri amp.

Home: 15″ 2010 MBP, through a Line 6 Toneport UX1, and more recently, a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface.

Despite the 80ohm impedance, the iPod’s standard headphone out actually provided enough level to run these cans, even while in noisy environments. I did have to push the volume to around 85% or so. That said, these cans definitely benefit from some sort of amplification.

I ran the DT1350 through a wide variety of music, ranging from Jazz (bossa, fusion, bebop) and Classical to generic indierock and harder rock genres. I’ve also used it as a studio headphone monitor for critical applications – mixing, as well as tracking guitars and vocals.

Sound Signature

Clear and well-balanced, with a marked emphasis in the high-midrange. There is enough high end to make it distinctly brighter and cleaner-sounding than the Sennheiser HD25, but not so much that it becomes uncomfortably bright. Low end is very present, with enough thump to make the average basshead happy. That said, Garbage In Garbage Out – if the source recording isn’t bassy, these cans will reveal that. Soundstage is excellent, accurate stereo placement and seperation. Not as wide as closed circumaural cans, and definitely not as wide as open cans like the AKG K240 that I occasionally use as a studio reference. Fine details present themselves well, even on noisy music – e.g. I was discovering new tonal details in a fuzz guitar part that I had recorded for Vertical Rush’s second album. Was pleasantly surprised to discover new details on music that I’m so intimately familiar with.

Initially, the signature was a bit harsh and bass wasn’t as impactful as I liked. Upper-midrange was also very forward, and somewhat uncomfortable to listen to for long stretches. After about 20 hours of burn-in with music, noise & sweeps, the low end opened up, midrange was tamed and high end sweetened, evening out the overall signature, making it much more enjoyable to listen to.

The DT3150 definitely works well for more vocal genres of music, as well as for rock and dance. Low end is also more present than compared to my Scarlett HP60s or AKG K240s – it’s tight, well defined and kicks rather pleasingly. Compared to the Senn HD25 though, it is definitely brighter – but not analytical. This is a pair of headphones that definitely need some burn-in time – but its fun to take your time and listen to the sound signature change as the drivers burn in and settle down.

Isolation is surprisingly good, considering that my experience with supra-aural cans is that they have a higher tendency to let in more noise. In very noisy environments, loud low end noise  (e.g. bus sounds, train rumbles) seeps through, especially when listening to quieter genres of music. Otherwise, these earphones will significantly dampen most external noises – in the office I could barely hear my colleagues yelling at me to go for lunch. I’m quite sure these will do well on an airplane – though the strong clamping force will require you to take them off from time to time to let your ears rest.

These cans are also useful for critical listening in environments where you don’t want to disturb the people around you. I currently share a room with my wife and daughter, and do a lot of listening (and a bit of mixing) after we’ve put my daughter to bed. My other home-use reference studio cans (Focusrite Scarlett HP60) have a wider soundstage and much flatter frequency response, but are not very well sealed and tend to leak sound. The DT1350s isolate well enough for me to use in situations like these. That said, I tend to stick to balancing levels, tweaking plugins and stereo placement with these cans, as the low end and midrange emphasis tends to cause me to under-compensate for those frequencies on EQ.

I’ve also used the DT1350s for tracking vocals and guitars for home demo recordings. They work a treat – the midrange emphasis help me to pick out vocals and instrument parts quickly, so I can focus on the performance without trying to pick out the parts, which tend to get obscured before proper mixing. Great for quickly assessing takes as well, especially vocals – mistakes are revealed quite quickly. With the DT1350s, I managed to dial in a pretty rumblin’ bass tone for a demo track, much better than what I achieved with the ATH-M30s that I’d used previously, which tended to make me dial in less bass than needed for a track, resulting in anemic sounding mixes.

Portability

What sets the Beyerdynamic DT1350 apart from other similar headphones is the fact that it’s meant for portable use. The headphones fold flat into a semi-rigid carrying case, making it much more portable, and well-protected than the Sennheiser HD25, which don’t fold flat and only come with a velour pouch (if memory serves me right). Beyerdynamic even include a nifty cable tidy in the form of a bit of coiled rubber, which twists around your cable and helps to keep it properly coiled in the case. However, light packers will find the carrying case a tad bulky. Still, one must bear in mind that the DT1350 was made for the working music professional in mind, and that relative to other pro-level cans, the DT1350 is a sight more portable than any other similar headphone. These are definitely my go-to cans for recording sessions outside my home.

Conclusion
The Beyerdynamic DT1350 is a fantastic pro-level portable headphone that sounds warm and natural, whilst still offering enough treble detail for critical applications. Small features like the well-built carrying case, sturdy frame and cable tidy leave no doubt that a lot of thought has gone into the end-user’s needs, whilst creating these headphones. It is this mix of features that makes these my preferred portable headphone for critical applications, and even the occasional commute to work.

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