Syntec | RRP AU$369
Is it just me, or does it feel like in the last 12 months or so, the standard of audio equipment available in the Content Creation space has well and truly gone up a notch? More so than in years past, it feels like the current wave of Creators are spoiled for choice when it comes to high quality peripherals, with so many iconic Pro Audio brands jumping into the space boots and all, taking their expertise in premium transducer design and applying it to the burgeoning world of Digital Media.
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The results have been something of a mini golden age for affordable, high quality headphone and microphone- bringing that Pro Audio design nous (and the heightened levels of application specific R’n’D that come with) and distilling it into products that actually move the collective standard of audio quality in the space forward.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the new Pro X line of premium headphones and microphones, courtesy of beloved German manufacturer, beyerdynamic.
Given their reputation as one of the most trusted names in professional transducer design (the brand’s M160 Ribbon mic and DT 770 Pro monitoring headphones are at this point, certified modern classics in their own right), it is of little surprise that the new Pro X release comes off an extended period of research and development from the brand, with beyerdynamic putting a mountain of forethought into the look, feel and sonic character of this exciting new product line.
The DT 700 Pro X, is the closed back monitoring option and is everything that you have come to expect from beyerdynamic in regards to build quality, comfort and performance but with some new practical additions that only broaden their appeal as a go to, everyday headphone.
Sonically, the DT 700 Pro X has all the famous midrange clarity and detailed separation that have made beyerdynamic such a ubiquitous presence in professional headphone, but with an newly extended LF response (reportedly all the way down to 5Hz, for all you seismologists out there!)—that really adds a sense of openness in the low end that differs from Beyerdynamic’s previous closed back offerings.
This refined voicing not only makes the DT 700 Pro X a more than adept monitoring headphone for standard tracking and mix work, but this aforementioned ability to reproduce low frequencies also lends itself to a whole host of non-musical applications like SFX balancing and full frequency sound design-perfect for the kind of diverse program material encountered by the modern Content Creator.
Other handy additions like the presence of a detachable cable and a reduced impedance, (combined with their excellent isolation and comfort) make the DT 700 Pro X a great headphone for casual listening also, pairing well a whole host of handheld and tablet devices and providing hours of comfortable listening.
With so many people mixing on headphones these days, it’s no surprise that there is also an open back offering in the Pro X range, in the form of the awesome new DT 900 Pro X .
The breathability of the open-backed design not only drastically reduces any chance of listening fatigue, but the broader sound stage and naturalistic sonic reproduction make them absolutely ideal for tonal work and placing objects in the stereo field.
On first listen, one thing that immediately jumps out is the impressive transient speed and reference quality of the DT 900 Pro X’s output in relation to the time-domain. This speed of reproduction is present all the way through the low frequencies and from a mix perspective, is worth its weight in gold, in terms of minimising masking effects and hangover frequencies.
In musical applications especially, I found this to be particularly handy for surgical EQ and compression on sources like snare and bass guitar, where the DT 900 Pro X’s proved a massive timesaver, allowing for confident, accurate decision making without the hours of tweaking and mix revision.
Just like the multi-faceted approach of the DT 700 Pro X, in the case of the open back DT 900 Pro X, the cross-over comes by way of their broad expanded soundstage and the way in which this translates into highly accurate immersive 3D; scary accurate ASMR playback and various other entertainment/content creator/post applications.
Now I’m not an electro-acoustic engineer by any stretch of the imagination, but I like to think I have enough experience in headphones to notice a good quality driver when I hear one, and the new German designed Stellar 45mm drivers found on the DT 900 Pro X are exactly that.
Exuding quality at every turn, the reproduction these afforded was innately professional, with a crisp top end sheen, exquisitely accurate midrange and ample bass that translates well between different playback devices. The diaphragm itself is comprised of three layers, an internal one for dampening, with two polymer layers on either side. The polymer is a high-grade material called PEEK (Polyetheretherketone) that is commonly found in medical and aerodynamic applications, renowned for its stable performance across a wide range of temperatures and its resistance to chemicals and general wear.
The build quality is what we’ve come to expect from beyerdynamic; solid and smooth. The detachable cable is a welcome upgrade from the fixed cable of the Pro range models (DT 990, DT 770 etc), and beyond the cable all components in the DT 900 Pro X’s are replaceable, ensuring long term function.
At 350 grams, they are reassuringly middle weight, which I found comfortable even during long use sessions. At 5.3 N of headband pressure on both models, I found them to be comfortable enough straight out of the box, the disclaimer here being my skull is probably narrower than average (craniologists come at me). When compared to the DT 990’s (which are lauded for their comfort) which sit at 3.5 N, they may be initially tighter than some people might be used to, I expect this would be eased once the break in period has subsided. The comfort of the whisper-soft velour pads (something that beyerdynamic is renowned for) and the replaceable nature of the components are bonuses on top of a great headphone experience.
Working with the DT 900 Pro X’s, I was struck by the present bass and overall clarity. I worked on some troublesome mixes until they sounded balanced in headphones, before cross-referencing the finished mix with my monitors and was impressed with the results.
Inside Premiere Pro, EQing dialogue recordings and balancing music beds gleaned far greater results than I’ve found in recent times using exclusively headphones. When we’re talking about studio-grade open-backed headphones, usually you expect you’d need the accompanying hardware (an audio interface or a headphone amp) to make full use of their sound reproduction.
The fact a laptop can drive the DT Pro X’s is one of the key selling points here, for me. Thinking about the on-the-fly and time-critical nature of content production, where you might find yourself trying to match levels and balance mixes from various sound sources before publishing the file to an insatiable online audience, the ability to do this directly, without the need for additional gain or drive stages is definitely a plus in the small footprint world of Content Creation.
All in all, both the DT 900 Pro X’s and the DT 700 Pro X, despite bringing very different strengths to the table, are both a delight to use. They inspire confidence in the audio reproduction you’re perceiving, while also being extremely fun headphones to enjoy recreationally-after the work has been turned in and it’s time to relax. Regardless of whether you are Creating the content or consuming it, the new Pro X line from beyerdynamic seamlessly floats between the two, hitting the proverbial bullseye throughout.