Monday, January 03, 2005

Beyerdynamic DT231 headphones

These phones are what I could call 'why spend more?' phones. OK, so they don't isolate surrounding noise. Maybe they aren't supremely comfortable. In fact, they're pretty uncomfortable if you try and wear them as circumaural phones, which is the best way to get the most impact out of these. But hearing them out of the headphone socket of my SACD player without a dedicated headphone amp, well a bit of the 'why spend more?' questions come out.

The DT231 are 1/30th of the cost of the cable that links my SACD player to the amp for the Stax Omega II headphones, itself retailing for 100 timesthe cost of the Beyerdynamic phone. Is the other headphone set-up 130 times better than the DT231? Hell no. Is it even 30 times better? Absolutely not. I'm at a loss to pin down exactly how many times better the Omega II set-up is, but it's well below 30. (of course, your 'times table' will differ according to your own requirements. I take a fairly sceptical approach to the whole thing)

The truth is that you're not missing out on a significant amount of the musicality of the performance on the DT231 with a decent cheap headphone amp (or a decent receiver headphone jack) when compared to some of the best headphone gear that money can buy. Yes of course, it doesn't resolve anywhere near as well and when pushed it is a little rough... but this is a $60 headphone.

One thing I have to mention though, which is that they look terrible. Like artifacts from the 80's combined with the 'lets make everything iMac transparent' earcups from the late 90's on the 'upgraded' DT231 Galactic, and on the standard DT231 the plastic they use to mould both headband and earcups seems to be of the same colour as those fake dog poos.

I'm not going to write reams of text about how this phone does things: All I will say is that this phone has the essential sonic flavour of the best high-end phones, coupled with a fair percentage of their technical performance as well. All this, while throwing in a little more bass than many high-enders to give you a more rounded sound.

Personally speaking, just for PC listening or things like that, I could be extremely happy with the DT231 if only they were a bit more comfy. That's about the only criticism as home listening phones I can level against them. The DT231 gives you more than a peek at how high-end phones sound, and it's very impressive for that.

Manufacturer Link

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