The world of audio and musical equipment can be a tricky one to navigate at the best of times. With so many different products, conflicting opinions and confusing reviews, it’s hard to know what’s actually the best product for your needs. Luckily, the team at Mixdown have put in the legwork for you, sifting through the spec-sheets and putting the products through their paces to bring you Mixdown’s Picks - a new series of expansive, category defining product guides across our digital channels. Anything that has made the cut has rated highly across the board with the Mixdown staff, garnering a unanimous tick of approval from our staunch critics.
Today, we kick off proceedings with one of the staples of the modern recording climate and in many ways, a product group that has a much bigger influence on production quality than most probably realise - the humble studio headphone.
Neumann NDH20 Monitor Headphones
Distributed by: Sennhesier Australia | Expect to pay: $869
Key Features: If you have ever been within two kilometres of a recording studio, chances are you’ve probably heard of Neumann. The German brand are the Rolex of studio microphones - a name so synonymous in transducer design that they basically defined the space that we now inhabit.
The NDH20 is the first headphone release from the studio giants and with it, we are treated to the same kind of ‘Eureka’ design moments that has made the company such a legend in the microphone market for all these years.
Specifically tuned to attenuate the boxy frequencies that commonly plague closed-back headphones, the NDH20 has been designed with linearity and transparency in mind, encouraging critical decision making. Their newly designed 38mm drivers (complete with high-gauss neodymium magnets) are designed to ensure the lowest harmonic distortion possible (0.1% @ 100dB) whilst maintain the highest sensitivity levels possible (114dB-1k,1vrms).
This ultra-linear design gives the NDH20 a consistency on playback from one device to another, allowing for a continuity of workflow and presenting the NDH20 as a kind of ‘controlled variable’ in the increasingly nomadic life of the modern mix engineer. It also makes the NDH20 a particularly trusty mix headphone, one that is unlikely to burn you on playback in the open air.
This ‘Pro on the Go’ mindset is further echoed in their impressive foldability, with the NDH20 compact design making them a particularly stowable pair of headphones for the modern engineer, perfect for those long haul flights or for anyone mixing across multiple postcodes.
Mixdown Says: It would be remiss to not talk about the NDH20’s incredible isolation properties, providing some of the best passive noise cancellation of any headphone on the market. This coupled with the NDH20’s tendency for flatness in the mid-range combine to make it an awesome choice for Vocalists or Voiceover applications, or anybody requiring truthful and immediate appraisal of mic positioning, while keeping headphone spill to an absolute minimum.
Their flat, linear frequency profile and incredible isolation make them an awesome choice across multiple monitoring environments, providing a level of workability rarely encountered in the broader headphone space.
Overall: A giant in the microphone game, Neumann’s highly touted NDH20 well and truly live up to reputation. Their foldability and tendency to net consistent results regardless of device make them the perfect ‘controlled variable’ headphone for the itinerate engineer or for anyone bouncing between Studio and laptop. A headphone you can trust.
Check out the entire Neumann headphone range today.