Beyerdynamic DT-1350 Stereo Headphone Review

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, Mar 2, 2014.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Youtube review: Beyerdynamic DT-1350 Stereo Headphone review #2 by Dale - YouTube

    Photos:
    http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Panasonic_Gm1/Headphone_Beyer_Dt1350_01.jpg
    http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Panasonic_Gm1/Headphone_Beyer_Dt1350_T51p.jpg
    http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Audioforge/Beyer_Dt1350.jpg

    Sources: iPhone5, iPhone5 with PA2V2/FiiO E07k/Decware Zen Head amps using the LOD, various computers using the Microstreamer and Beyer A200p DAC/amps.

    Review notes: My first impressions of the sound of the DT1350 are based on direct comparisons to other headphones - in particular the FAD Pandora VI, Focal Spirit Pro, Yamaha MT220, B&O H6, B&W P7, v-moda M100, Beyerdynamic T51p, and notes I've accumulated from many prior reviews. I describe how I relate to the DT1350 (i.e. my personal taste and how I use the headphone) only after covering all of the objective issues.

    Summarizing the sound (details below): Out of the box, the DT1350 is very mids-oriented, but somehow manages to have a strong deep bass without the typical upper bass emphasis or colorations heard with other premium headphones. The treble is neither emphasized nor recessed, so there's not much to say there except that it's very detailed, as I would expect from Tesla headphone drivers. This review is going to be based on the sound of the DT1350 with the Audioforge Parametric Equalizer app for Apple i-devices, and since there are plenty of reviews available that describe the DT1350 without EQ, I'm sure that readers won't mind hearing about how much better this headphone can sound with optimum EQ - the kind that Audioforge provides. The main focus of this review is still the DT1350, so the following will describe what the EQ will and won't do.

    What the EQ won't do: It won't change the basic nature of the headphone. Where the headphone is warm it will stay warm and vice-versa, and the detail provided by the Tesla drivers will continue to sparkle.

    What the EQ will do: It will reduce the midrange emphasis just enough that it will no longer give an impression of being a coloration. The 'constricted' or 'pinched' sound that some expert reviewers have reported for this as well as other small-earcup closed headphones will just go away. Really.

    When I first put the DT1350 on, I thought it sounded like a "pure" midrange (if that makes any sense), as though the bass and treble were sufficiently present to ensure the fidelity of the overall sound, but with no "effects" upon the midrange as is the case with most headphones. No boom, no warmth, no sparkle, and no sibilants - just pure midrange tone, as though I were present in the recording session with just a voice and one instrument playing softly. This is an exaggeration of course, but it's the best I can do to convey the impression of a sound that's not enhanced in any way, which is probably a rare thing with modern recordings in any case. As it turned out the bass was not only present, but when the recording had some strong deep bass in it, the DT1350 responded with amazing detail and impact.

    The bass response then was a revelation, but in the end the overall sound was lacking the subtle sparkle of live music - enter the parametric equalizer which has an almost magical ability to change subtlety into drama. Note here that my intent was not to make the headphone sound like something very different - my intent was to make a slight reduction in any one area that might be dominating the overall sound and thus masking important detail, and/or provide a slight emphasis in any other area that was recessed to the point of a direct loss of detail. This review will be accompanied by a graphic chart, with a green line that indicates what sort of adjustment was made to the overall spectrum from approximately 30 hz to 15 khz, above and below which the DT1350's response is sufficiently diminished that it doesn't contribute to colorations in the sound.

    The only significant modifications to the sound that are indicated in the graph which accompanies this review are a recess centered around 550 hz that lessens the midrange dominance as noted above, and another recess centered around 5 khz whose main effect is to relieve the sense of having a 'constricted' or 'pinched' sound as noted by several expert reviewers. Note that a headphone's soundstage is critically dependent on having a full and accurate treble, and reviewers often treat those as separate properties, when in fact those properties (and others) are very interdependent. Note also that these EQ adjustments are not based on my hearing, but on comparing the sound to many other headphones (some of which are noted above), to try to be as objective as possible. The net effect of this EQ is a balanced sound from top to bottom that allows the Tesla driver technology to deliver essentially all of the detail in the music, while at the same time relieving any 'constricted' or 'pinched' effects.

    Although I'd describe the EQ-modified DT1350's sound as very neutral, the lack of emphasis in the upper bass to low mids contrasts sharply with most of the premium headphones being sold today. Fortunately, since this review is EQ-based the user can move the adjustment points up or down slightly to enhance the warmth etc., and not lose the overall benefit that the EQ provides. Note that the equalizer described here is being used with its default bandwidth ("Q") settings only, and so moving any one setting up or down also affects adjacent frequencies to some extent. In essence, the green line in the accompanying graph is a summation or average of the explicit settings described by the seven small white circles shown in the graph. If the user tries a different equalizer that also has user-defined frequency settings, they should get results similar to what are shown in the accompanying graph. If a fixed-frequency equalizer is used then 30 frequency 'bands' would probably be necessary to duplicate my results.

    In spite of the flexibility afforded by a good equalizer, I would not recommend the DT1350 for gaming where users generally favor a strong bass that provides a noticeable "kick" in combat etc. situations, or to use on public transport where the bass is masked to a large extent by the mass of low-frequency energy in the environment. Like most headphones, the DT1350 improves noticeably with DACs and headphone amps as compared to using just a low-cost portable music player, and the DT1350 plays very loudly with typical iPods and cellphones. Isolation is above average - much better than 10 db at the treble frequencies but less less lower down, as it is with all non-noise-canceling headphones. Leakage is equal to the lowest I can remember in a conventional closed headphone - if used in a very quiet office next to other cubicles, the people in those cubicles won't likely hear anything unless the DT1350 is played at extremely loud volumes.

    Build quality is good (mostly metal) and while the headband has a strong clamp, the earpads are soft and have a quality pleather covering, so good comfort can be achieved when the earpads are positioned properly on the ears. The earcups have click detents and the earcups can be extended about one inch further than where they fit my ears. The earcups don't contact my chin when they're fully extended and I wear the headphone around my neck, so the DT1350 is as an ideal portable headphone for users who don't want to carry a separate headphone case. The 5-ft cable is single-sided (left) and non-detachable, and while it looks thin (~2 mm), it's quite strong and should prove durable as long as continued heavy stress isn't applied to the end that goes into the earcup. The terminator is a 3.5 mm miniplug with threading for the included 6.35 mm (1/4 inch) adapter, and although the sleeve ahead of the plug is fairly thick (12 mm) the plug fits into my Otter Box iPhone case, while some headphones plugs don't.

    The music tracks below have been listed in a number of prior reviews, and are a selection of my most revealing tracks for headphone testing. Since these tracks cover a wide range of genres and were selected from my tests of very different headphones, there won't be a bias toward the DT1350 with this music. I suggest that instead of reading each comment below as an absolute unto itself, you could compare these notes to the prior reviews and see how the DT1350 compares with each individual track.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2014
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Beyer DT-1350 review part 2 - music tracks.

    Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth has excellent detail and tone with a modest weight, and both male and female vocals sound natural without favoring either. The DT1350 plays this very well.

    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 perfectly by the DT1350.

    Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound. Of special note for the DT1350 are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts are soft and well in the background, but you can feel some of the weight they carry.

    Black Sabbath - Iron Man (Classic Rock): Very good instrumental detail and the vocal sounds very natural. As with most classic rock tracks, there is very little or no deep bass. The DT1350 plays this music very smoothly, and the lack of deep bass doesn't unbalance the treble.

    Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled very well by the DT1350.

    Cantus - Danny Boy (Traditional/Male Choral/Acapella): The DT1350 plays the voices with enough low end warmth and weight to sound very natural, yet there is no added emphasis of the lower register of the male voices on this track.

    Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice are crisp and well-balanced, and there's a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The DT1350 reproduces the space and detail convincingly.

    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 DT1350 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

    Chris Isaak - Wicked Game (Pop/Rock): The DT1350 plays this high treble energy recording very smoothly - the voice and instruments are detailed but not sharp or edgy.

    Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): This track has a good amount of space around the voice and instruments, making for a very pleasant stereo image. The voice is excellent, and the tambourine sound is the most realistic that I've heard with any headphone since doing these detailed reviews.

    David Hazeltine - Fur Elise (Jazz): A very high-quality recording from HDTracks. The DT1350 reproduces the instruments smoothly with a spacious ambiance. The wire-brush-on-cymbal harmonics are very extended and detailed.

    Grieg (Beecham-Royal Philharmonic) - Peer Gynt-Solveig's Lullaby (Classical): This very old (late 1950's) stereo recording must have been made on the most expensive gear in the world, since the overall sound quality and especially Ilse Hollweg's amazing voice are as close to "being there" as I've heard with some of the better classical recordings made since the year 2000. The DT1350 plays this music perfectly.

    Hans Zimmer - Dark Knight-Aggressive Expansion (Soundtrack): The percussion in this track hits really hard, and the subtle bass tones beginning around 0:45 have the ultra-deep "shuddery" kind of sound and feel that indicates a good deep-bass response. Overall, the DT1350 plays this music extremely well.

    Heaven 17 - Let Me Go (1980's New Wave/Techno): The bass instrument (guitar?) has very good detail, and the voices and ambiance have a "you are there" quality that's uncommon in early 1980's pop music.

    Hugo Audiophile - 15-16 (Electronic): I'm not sure what the 15-16 stands for - perhaps track numbers from a CD album. The deep-bass tones that start around 33-34 seconds into the track reproduce very well with the DT1350. This is a great recording for evaluating whether a headphone's bass will be sufficient for most environments, since for many headphones that have a weaker bass, the deep bass gets absorbed and mostly lost when the environment contains a lot of low-frequency energy.

    Human League - Keep Feeling Fascination (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's bass line is very detailed, but the somewhat forward voices don't have quite the "you are there" quality of the Heaven 17 track noted above.

    Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has several loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical with some headphones. The DT1350 provides excellent reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in for maximum detail effect. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrumental separation and detail, and the DT1350 plays them extremely well.

    Kellogg Auditorium, Battle Creek Michigan, Aeolian-Skinner Organ (1933) - Pedal, 32', Resultant, Arpeggio: This 16 hz organ pedal tone differs from other music tones in that you won't "hear" the tone - you'll only feel it. Although most music tones have harmonics (including this one), the harmonics from this tone will be too weak to provide any "feel", so whatever you actually hear would not be part of the fundamental 16 hz tone. There are ~30 hz sounds in the outdoor environment in big cities, generated by large trucks, buses, and subway trains, and they have a quality of "rumble" that's similar to some deep-bass tones found in music. This 16 hz organ tone is easily distinguished from those sounds when compared on a headphone that has good undistorted response at 16 hz. The DT1350 plays this very well.

    Michael Tilson Thomas - Rhapsody In Blue (20th Century Classic): Great sound and soundstage, and terrific piano playing and tone. There are some very deep bass impacts starting around 38 seconds into the 17:24 length track, and the weight of those impacts is subtle but appreciable with the DT1350.

    Phaeleh - Afterglow (feat. Soundmouse) (Electronic/Vocal): The instrumental sounds that begin this track are played very nicely by the DT1350, but the voice tends to overwhelm those background sounds - until the heavy bass impacts kick in. If there is any doubt about whether the DT1350 will play heavy impactful bass with good detail (if such sounds are really in the recording), this track is the proof. If you were to begin your DT1350 listening with this track, you might think you were listening to a headphone that has a boosted but tight and detailed bass. Simply amazing.

    Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some nicely-detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are a series of "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that should sound like they were made with wooden blocks of some kind. The DT1350 reproduces these sounds faithfully.

    Richard Strauss (Mester-Pasadena) - Also Sprach Zarathustra (opening) (Classical): The granddaddy of bass is in the opening 1:50 of this recording, and I've heard it only once on a large and expensive loudspeaker system in Cleveland. For most people, that experience would be indistinguishable from being in a fairly strong earthquake. The DT1350 reproduces that experience in a subtle but convincing way. The tympani also have good impact here.

    Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Major K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is fairly bright and highly detailed, and the DT1350 renders the tones and transients perfectly.

    Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Jazz-Funk): The deep bass impacts here are quite strong, and work very well with the horns and other instruments. The DT1350 delivers the impacts with a decent weight and great detail, and the horns have the kind of bite that gives them a wonderfully realistic sound.

    William Orbit - Optical Illusion (Billy Buttons Mix) (Electronic): This is about as close as I want to get to easy-listening music. The string tones beginning at 0:18 are fairly soft, and while the bass isn't very deep, it still adds a good underpinning to the music. The short poetic rap at 4:14, preceded by an etherial female voice, works very well with this track.
     
  3. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Oops - forgot the third image - the EQ curve.
     
  4. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    My current Foobar2000 EQ settings for the standard DT-1350 headphone:

    55: +0.0
    77: -2.0
    110: -2.0
    156: +2.0
    220: -2.0
    311: -6.0
    440: -6.0
    622: -6.0
    880: -4.0
    1200: -2.0
    1800: +0.0
    2500: +2.0
    3500: +2.0
    5000: -4.0
    7000: +4.0
    10000: +2.0
    14000: +0.0
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014
  5. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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