Beyerdynamic DT-1350 Headphone Review by Dale

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    So how does the DT-1350 sound? Excellent. Is it worth the price? Yes. But that determination is purely subjective of course, and takes into account things other than the sound. I'll get to the details of that sound after first describing the headphone's physical characteristics.

    The DT-1350 has a single-entry fixed (non-detachable) cable that's about five feet long and straight (not coiled), terminated by a standard straight (not angled) miniplug. A 1/4 inch (6.35mm) adapter is supplied and screws onto the miniplug. I can't be certain whether the miniplug would fit into any of the recessed sockets on music players that have such things, but the threaded portion of the plug ahead of the business end is 7mm in diameter including the threads.

    The cord is a slender single strand that's just 2mm thick, and joins the left earcup which then routes the sound to the right earcup through the headband. Many people feel that single-entry headphone cables are a better choice because they're more convenient, i.e. they don't get tangled as much as double-entry cables. This headphone comes with a small semi-stiff carrycase that affords good protection when transporting the headphone, and at less than two inches thick is a very convenient size for including in airline carry-on bags without taking up much room.

    Since the DT-1350's cable has a standard miniplug with optional 6.5mm adapter, one might assume that Beyer intended that it could be used with portable music players. Since laptop and desktop computers also have miniplug jacks, I'm going to assume that the intent for the miniplug is to be used primarily with computers, although small music players like the iPod Touch will drive the headphone to satisfactory volume levels as long as the music tracks themselves are set to a reasonable volume.

    The earpads are the on-ear type and made of 'pleather' apparently, and are round with a diameter of 2-1/2 inches. The insides of the cups have a thin cloth covering over the drivers, and the drivers and their covers are recessed enough that there is no chance of the ears contacting anything that would cause discomfort. The earcups appear to be some type of high-grade plastic or metal, with a headband of metal alloy that provides good flexibility, light clamping force, and (since the DT-1350 is so light), good stability with no tendency to shift when I move my head around.

    The headband has small spongy pads underneath which feel very comfortable on my head, but if there is any tendency for discomfort in spite of the very light weight of the headphone, I recommend pulling the earcups down just slightly more than the minimum, to let more of the weight be borne by the earcups and not the headband. Note that the earcups of the DT-1350 swivel 180 degrees, so they should fit any ears and also fold flat for convenience when walking around or packing them into the standard slim carrycase supplied with the headphone.

    The DT-1350 is a nice-looking small headphone if you've seen photos of it - mostly black with some silver-color trim, so it has a modest bling factor that you don't have to pay a premium for. I would rate its appearance as 8.5 out of 10 and I would rate its comfort factor equally high. The reason the appearance doesn't get a 9 or better is because the DT-1350 isn't a fashion headphone, so my subjective rating of 8.5 is probably as good as you can get for a serious hi-fi product like this. The reason I didn't rate the comfort 9 or higher is because the DT-1350 is an on-ear design with moderate clamping pressure to keep it stable on your head.

    The DT-1350 sound is emphasized somewhat in the lower midrange around 400-500 hz, and some users have reported the bass to be "light", presumably because the midrange might overshadow other aspects of the sound. Since the DT-1350's overall sound is so smooth and detailed, and since people in most cases are going to be using it with high-quality audio equipment, I recommend they avail themselves of the features in that equipment that adjust sound parameters like midrange levels and bass strength etc. The DT-1350 has the quality and dynamic range to accomodate nearly any audio gear and settings that users are likely to apply to it. I have heard of people bending the headband to increase or decrease the clamping pressure in an attempt to modify the sound signature, but I don't recommend such modifications since they can damage the headphone.

    Being a closed-back design, the DT-1350 offers decent isolation against the higher-frequency sounds that make up most background noise in an office or home. The soundstage is average for a closed headphone, which is fine for myself and most other headphone fans. Listening to the DT-1350 I never get a sense of constriction, compression or any other such quality - the sound is always airy and effortless. Sibilants also seem less bothersome with the DT-1350 than some other premium headphones I've used.

    For this review I mostly used a Dell desktop with premium soundcard playing FLAC format tracks in Foobar2000. Some of those tracks, notably certain recordings by David Chesky, sound so amazingly good with the DT-1350 that I'm often startled by their realism and clarity. Some tracks that I use I don't have FLAC copies of, and those MP3's (320k CBR) sound nearly as good on the iPod Touch connected via the line out dock to an Objective2 "assembled" headphone amp as they do on the desktop computer. A more ideal configuration would be a good DAC running from the desktop or laptop USB, feeding into a decent headphone amp like the Objective2 or better, but given the terrific sound I'm getting already I have no doubts about the ultimate quality of the DT-1350 headphone.

    Now that I've covered the basics of the sound, it's time to describe how the DT-1350 sounds with a variety of music that's available on CD's or as high-quality downloads from Internet music stores. I've used the following examples in other reviews, so these will serve as good test tracks for this review and the results can also be compared to the results noted in the other reviews.

    10000 Maniacs - Peace Train (late 80's); pleasant sound, great details and good soundstage depth.

    Andrea True Connection - More More More (late 70's): Classic disco, very smooth, big soundstage.

    Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled very well by the DT-1350.

    Beatles - And I Love Her, Things We Said Today, I'll Be Back, I'll Follow The Sun (~1964, in stereo): Amazing sound quality and decent soundstage, with excellent voice and instrument detail. These four tracks are a perfect example of how good high fidelity recordings could be as far back as the 1960's.

    Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound and particularly striking how the DT-1350 reproduces the triangles, bells and other background instruments that are often obscured with other headphones that have limited high frequency response. Of special note for this headphone are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Although the Solti is my long-time favorite, I recently got the Abbado/Berlin Philharmonic version in FLAC format from HDTracks, and the dynamics in that version are so wide that it took some time to get used to. The DT-1350 makes listening to that version a very rewarding experience.

    Bill Evans Trio - Nardis (early 60's): Fairly close-up recording, and despite soft highs, excellent instrumental detail, particularly the upright bass and piano.

    Billy Eckstine - Imagination (date??): Sounds like a recent high-quality stereo recording. Excellent from top to bottom, wide soundstage and overall a great vocal demo.

    Blood Sweat & Tears - And When I Die, God Bless The Child, Spinning Wheel (late 60's): Excellent sound quality, and fortunately (I think) given the strength of the brass instruments, the highs are slightly soft.

    Blues Project - Caress Me Baby (1966): Rarely mentioned, but one of the greatest white blues recordings ever. The loud piercing guitar sound at 0:41 into the track is a good test for distortion or other problems. Handled well by the DT-1350.

    Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled very well by the DT-1350.

    Buffalo Springfield - Kind Woman (~1968): A Richie Furay song entirely, rarely mentioned, but one of the best sounding rock ballads ever. This will sound good on most headphones, but it's a special treat with the DT-1350.

    Cat Stevens - Morning Has Broken (early 70's): A near-perfect test for overall sound - this track will separate the best sounding headphones from the lesser quality types. Nothing specific, except that almost any deviation from perfect reproduction will stand out with this track.

    Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the DT-1350 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

    Cocteau Twins - Carolyn's Fingers (1988): Unusual ambient pop with excellent guitar details.

    Commodores - Night Shift (~1985): Good spacious sound with very detailed bass guitar lines.

    Cranes - Adoration (~1991): Excellent piano sound leading into a goth-flavored song with very unusual vocals.

    Creedence Clearwater Revival - The Midnight Special (1969??): Classic CCR featured in Twilight Zone, this track has great guitar sounds and a really good ambience despite a mediocre soundstage.

    Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five (1959): Paul Desmond piece - good test of saxophone sound and cymbals, less so most of the other instruments.
     
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Beyerdynamic DT-1350 Review continued.

    Dead Can Dance - Ariadne (1993??): Atmospheric goth music - good ambience in spite of mediocre soundstage.

    Def Leppard - Bringin' On The Heartbreak (1981): MTV goth/pop/metal at its best - good ambience and high energy - the better headphones will separate the details and make for a good experience. Lesser quality and the details tend to mush together.

    Del Reeves - Girl On The Billboard (early-mid 70's): Classic truck-drivin' country tune with a Thelma & Louise theme, this song's overall recorded quality (almost typical of Nashville in the 70's) is a superb demo if you can get past the peculiar lyrics.

    Dick Hyman - Dooji Wooji (1990??): Swing-era composition played with perfect technique by all band members, with excellent recorded sound.

    Frank Sinatra - Theme From New York, New York (1980): Ultimate Sinatra with big band production and well-balanced sound.

    J.S. Bach - E. Power Biggs Plays Bach in the Thomaskirche (~1970): Recorded on a tracker organ in East Germany, the tracks on this recording have the authentic baroque sound that Bach composed for, albeit the bellows are operated by motor today. The DT-1350 plays the tones seamlessly through the upper limits of the organ, which are near the upper limits of most people's hearing.

    Jamming With Edward - It Hurts Me Too (1969): Intended originally as a test to fill studio down time and set recording levels etc., this was released a few years later for hardcore Rolling Stones fans. Although not as good technically in every aspect as the Chess studio recordings of 1964, and in spite of the non-serious vocals by Mick Jagger, this rates very high on my list of white blues recordings, and sounds absolutely delicious with the DT-1350.

    Jim Ruiz Group - Katerine (1998?): Unusually spacious and ambient indie-pop recording with a samba flavor. Every pop song should sound this good, in my opinion.

    Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has some loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical on some headphones. The DT-1350 provides excellent reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in, for maximum detail effect.

    Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes (Acoustic version, 2006?): Stripped-down ("acoustic") version of the big hit - good voice and excellent guitar sounds.

    Ladytron - Destroy Everything You Touch (~2009): Featured in The September Issue, this song has heavy overdub and will sound a bit muddy on some headphones.

    Merle Haggard - Okie From Muskogee (1969): Another good-quality country recording with almost-acoustic guitar accompaniment. Lovely guitar sounds.

    Milt Jackson/Wes Montgomery - Delilah (Take 3) (1962): The vibraphone is heavily dependent on harmonics to sound right, and the DT-1350 plays it very well.

    Nylons - The Lion Sleeps Tonight (A Capella version, 1980's): High-energy vocals sans instrumental accompaniment - an excellent test of vocal reproduction.

    Pink Floyd/Dark Side of the Moon - Speak To Me (1973): Strong deep bass impacts will be heard and felt here.

    Rolling Stones - Stray Cat Blues (1968): Dirty, gritty blues that very few white artists could match. On some headphones the vocals and guitar lack the edge and fall more-or-less flat. If you're a really good person, playing this song will probably make you feel nervous and uneasy.

    Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco (1962): Frank Sinatra's favorite singer. Highest recommendation. With some of the best headphones, the sibilants on this recording are very strong, but they're not bad with the DT-1350.
     
  3. UndefinedMemory

    UndefinedMemory New Member

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    Wow Dale, you really are prolific with these reviews! Excellent!

    I love these headphones, but I really think they benefit from a good portable amp. As the headphones are so analytical/clean something with a more warm and natural sound, especially in the bass region, can really bring some extra life to them. Anything from FiiO works very well but I currently use JustAudio's uHA-120 and I think they're a perfect match. Much wider soundstage, with the same excellent instrument separation and better mids and bass.

    I've found with this amp the placement of the headphones on the ears is less finicky but as it has higher output than you'd get directly out of a portable player you may end up with some sound leaking. I generally never have it that loud, but some days (especially if I've had a few beers) I really blast it to get the most out of the bass!
     
  4. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Beyer DT-1350

    Actually I've found that the midrange around 440 hz is so prominent that they need significant EQ to sound best. On the desktop with Foobar2000 I use -8 db at 440, -6 db at the adjacent sliders, -4 db next to those, and -2 db next to those, creating a 'U' shape curve of EQ which has the 1350 sounding more like my other headphones in the mids. Then the bass also sounds much better. The highs are probably not perfect that way, but they're not bad either. I played the Le Voyage Dans La Lune album by Air with that setting, and the sound was fantastic. Getting a PMP EQ'd as well is a challenge.
     
  5. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    We never really mention it much but I do love to see the excellent mix of music you test with.

    This grabbed my interest - I will look for this later:D
     
  6. UndefinedMemory

    UndefinedMemory New Member

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    Dale,

    Thanks for that information! I will have a look at some of the songs you have in your test and give them a listen. I recently installed Foobar2000 but I can never find EQ settings that I'm happy with so generally leave it alone and listen as is. When I have time I'll have a proper listen to these with the different amps I have and try out the adjusted settings you mention.

    Chase
     
  7. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Foobar, music selections.

    Someone found me a 30-band equalizer for Foobar that has much less distortion than the default equalizer that comes with Foobar. I don't have that in front of me at the moment but I could look it up later.

    I got a tip a couple days ago about a color(!) movie filmed in 1902 (hand colored, all 14000 frames of it) - titled Le Voyage Dans La Lune (possible accents missing on one or more characters). An artist named 'Air' did a soundtrack to this film, and besides being a very enjoyable music adventure, it sounds merely spectacular with the DT-1350. Very highly recommended.
     
  8. UndefinedMemory

    UndefinedMemory New Member

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    Thanks, that would be excellent. Please put it up here (or even in another place on the site?) as it may be useful to other people as well. I want to get the most out of my software so found some guides on setting Foobar's EQ up and nothing that I found sounded good. I'm clearly very picky and do my best to find the most natural sound reproduction though!

    I also wanted to check out some alternative software as Headfonia recently mentioned several apps on facebook, only to find out that every app they were talking about is mac only. Apparently computer audiophiles are all mac users? So any help you have on PC software setup focussed on audio I'd love to hear.

    Air is an amazing band. I think they've done other projects similar to that one as well. I have another cd, Charlotte Gainsbourg - 5:55, for which Air was the supporting band. I don't know just how much is her and how much is them, but it's a beautiful cd.
     
  9. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    foo_dsp_xgeq.dll

    foo_dsp_xgeq.dll is the name of the DLL that provides the 30-band (and presumably low-distortion) equalizer. My copy of the DLL is dated Oct. 4th 2011, and is 192,000 bytes.

    I added the DLL to the folder '\program files\foobar2000\components'

    Then click 'file', 'preferences', 'playback', 'dsp manager',
    Double-click 'graphic equalizer' on the right pane, then click 'graphic equalizer' on the left pane, then click the 'configure selected' button at top, and you should see the equalizer.
     
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