The Awesome Beyerdynamic DT 1350
Simply put, I'm stunned.
It's hard to make a good sounding sealed headphone, and much more so a small, supra-aural (on-ear) type. They all seem to falter sonically somewhere. In-ear headphones were the only way to get really good portable sound ...
... until now.
The Beyerdynamic DT 1350 ($299 Street)
Man, I'm in love. It's hard to know where to start when it's all so good. I suppose the place to start is with the manufacturer's intent. From Beyerdynamic's website, the DT 1350 are:
"Closed supraaural headphone for control and monitoring applications, musicians and DJ's."
These headphones are absolutely fantastic for pro applications. The sound is excellent, the isolation is excellent, and the durability appears to be good. They don't fold up, but they're small and come with a dandy carrying case. I would think on first use that most location recordists, ENG teams, DJs, and musicians who don't want to use in-ear monitors would lust for a pair. They are simply that good.
I'd like to quote from a Head-Fi thread:
- "It almost sounds like they have now something that could rival their own DT48." --- Kees
I think Kees nails it with this statement: I think the DT 1350 with its great sound and isolation will be the new standard for field recording professionals. The DT 48 sounds wretched in comparison.
But consumers will love these cans, too. They look good, sound good, play loud enough on portables, and sound even better off home gear. Why they produced the remarkable inferior sounding T50p at nearly the same price for consumers is beyond me. We listen to the same music the pros produce, why wouldn't the same headphones be appropriate. Argh! Rant over.
Styling, Ergonomics, and Build Quality
Form follows function forcefully and with great flair in the DT 1350. These are a handsome headphone from every angle, and appear to be very well built.
Twin metal headband straps can split to various angles at the hinge for a very secure fit on the head. Drummers will like these cans. Headband metal straps have a hard plastic covering, and a thin pleather pad on each band; they are not plush by any means, but they are light and unobtrusive on the head. The hinge also houses the detent mechanism for the earpiece adjustment, which is positive, and provides an appropriate range of motion. This same hinge mechanism allows the earpieces to be rotated forward or back 90 degrees for one-ear listening. DJs will appreciate the very secure and reasonably comfortable fit in this one sided configuration. (There is no mono switch, however.)
The bail holding the earpiece to the adjustment strap is of formed sheet metal and elegantly follows the shape of the earpiece; the swivel action allows the earpieces to align easily with your ears, and twist flat for storage. The earcups are nicely finished black plastic.
Warning for longhairs: these headphones can catch on your hair pretty easily. They're so good though, that's it's worth a little pain ... heck, they're so good it's worth a haircut.
The earpads are pleather covered soft foam rings that have a somewhat flat profile and provide excellent isolation. The earpads are attached with a reusable adhesive and are replaceable. You will need to firmly pull on one side of the pad --- it's very well attached --- but once it starts coming off, it comes off readily and cleanly. (I recommend that anyone who has the old version of the T50p with the round cross-section pad, to replace them with this new style pad. Part # 906.794)
The 1.5 meter long cable exits the left earpiece and is terminated in a rather large threaded stereo mini-plug. A 1/8" to 1/4" screw-on adapter is included, as is a dual pin airline adapter. The included carry case is a sturdy fabric clam-shell with a Velcro closure strap. The interior of the case has a protective foam-filled and fabric covered insert with cut-outs nicely shaped to receive and protect your headphones.
Comfort and Isolation
Supra-aural (on the ear) headphones are never really comfortable when compared to full-sized circumaural (around the ear) cans. There's simply no way to make something pressing against your ear a pleasure for long term listening. This problem is compounded with the need for good isolation, which requires a reliable seal and generally greater clamping force. A good earpad is key to success. The DT 1350 earpads are soft and supple, conform quite well to the ear, and do provide very good isolation. While I would not call these a particularly comfortable headphone, I would also not characterize them as uncomfortable; rather, they are utilitarian and highly functional. The clamping force is firm without being overbearing and, because the pads are so nicely designed, is easily tolerable. Comfort with the DT 1350 is on par with, to slightly better than, other headphones of this type. If you want a truly comfortable headphone, you need to buy full-sized cans.
The measured isolation of 19dB (averaged broadband isolation from 100Hz to 10kHz) is very good on the DT 1350; the highest I've measured on an earpad headphone, and second only to the Beyerdynamic DT 48 of all sealed headphones --- not including in-ear monitors. This is simply an excellent result.
I took a flight recently with these and was amazed at the isolation. I could hardly heard the pilot announcements were happening, although I'll note that they weren't as obnoxiously loud as they usually are on that particular flight.
We should talk about the sound now ... 'cuz it's very good ...