Beyerdynamic DTX501p full review

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, Sep 8, 2012.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Jul 3, 2011
    Charleston South Carolina
    This is a newer copy of the video with the brightness turned up. I hope it looks better.

    Sources: iPhone4 alone, iPhone4 with PA2V2 amp using LOD, various computers using Audioengine D1 DAC and the D1's headphone out.

    The DTX501p headphone is a big step up from the DTX300p in terms of physical quality. The DTX300p was very fragile and the earcups broke off of the sets I had, in spite of gentle care. The DTX501p has no fragile hinges that I can see. A few persons on headphone forums have suggested that the DTX501p is really a rebranded SoundMagic P30 - perhaps that will be confirmed one way or the other when the DTX501p's are delivered. This is a small, very light and mostly plastic headphone, and the appearance is about right for a 100 dollar USD item.

    The DTX501p's bass response, unlike the DTX300p which was weak and varied from sample to sample, is very good. The highs are recessed compared to the better (and non-bright) high fidelity headphones I have, but that can be addressed with a treble boost available on most of the portable music players that the DTX501p is designed to be used with. The midrange has significant peaks around 1-2 khz and 3.5 khz, and a depression around 2-3 khz. I determined these based not on my own hearing, but by comparison to the average response of the better hi-fi headphones such as the Shure 1840, ATH M50, Philips L1, Sennheiser Amperior etc.

    The DTX501p is so light that I can't imagine any comfort issues with long-term listening. The headband is narrow and has a thin pad, but if that presses even slightly on your head, just pull one or both earcups down another click and that will take pressure off of the headband and distribute it to the earcups. The earcup and earpad design are the best I've seen in a headphone of this type. The earpads are very soft and cover the ears in such a way that there is no problem getting a perfect seal and no pinching of the ears. Getting a good seal was difficult or impossible with the DTX300p, and even the expensive Beyerdynamic DT-1350 headphone has issues with that for many users.

    The single-sided cable is much thicker than the DTX300p's cable, and also much thicker than the B&W P3 and P5's cables. The 3.5 mm miniplug is a standard (non-Apple) plug and is right-angled, which most users say is a good feature. The DTX501p comes with a very nice stiff carrycase that will afford good protection in travel luggage and backpacks. Since the earcups fold flat and they also fold into the headband area, the carrycase is only 7 x 5.5 by 1.6 inches thick. Isolation is at least average for a closed on-ear headphone, and leakage is minimal. The DTX501p should work well in office cubicles, and even in bed next to someone sleeping if the volume is moderate.

    Using the DTX501p for a week now, I'm finding it to be a good headphone for long-term listening enjoyment. There are several headphones I'm familiar with that are small and portable, yet have near-hifi sound that can be EQ'd in some cases to sound better, and which could be competitive with the DTX501p. The Sennheiser PX200ii comes close when EQ'd to suppress the midrange. The B&W P3, Bose OE2, and Harman/Kardon CL are comparable overall, but despite costing twice as much, have midrange colorations that render them less musical. The Bose QC3 and Philips M1 cost more than twice as much, but the highs are so recessed with those two that they can't even be EQ'd to near-hifi sound. The DTX501p, in spite of any imperfections I noted above, gets the midrange right, and that's the key to long term musical satisfaction.

    In other reviews I've done I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to other reviews and see how the DTX501p compares with each individual track.

    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 extremely well by the DTX501p.

    Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Very good overall sound. Of special note for this headphone are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts won't overwhelm you since they're soft and well in the background, but you can feel the weight they carry.

    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 extremely well here.

    Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Good sound quality - this is a great test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled OK by the DTX501p.

    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, and it's good with the DTX501p.

    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. Sounds very good with the DTX501p.

    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 DTX501p renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

    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. The DTX501p plays this very well.

    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 DTX501p plays the tones seamlessly through the upper limits of the organ, which cover nearly the full range of human hearing. Of special note are the pedal notes - tracker organs have low-pressure pipes and don't typically produce the kind of impact around 30-35 hz that modern organs do. A headphone that's lacking in the low bass will sound especially bass-shy with this type of organ, but the DTX501p delivers the full experience of this music.

    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 DTX501p.

    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 DTX501p provides fairly good 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 DTX501p plays them reasonably well.

    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. Sounds OK with the DTX501p.

    Milt Jackson/Wes Montgomery - Delilah (Take 3) (1962): The vibraphone is heavily dependent on harmonics to sound right, and the DTX501p plays it very well.

    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 an issue with the DTX501p.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012

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