Reviewed: Neumann NDH20 Monitor Headphones

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Reviewed: Neumann NDH20 Monitor Headphones

Sennheiser Australia | Expect to Pay: $869

Neumann is a leader in top-tier pro audio equipment, and has been pushing the envelope for some time. Since the company’s founding in 1928, the company has produced the famed U47 in the 40s, before progressively releasing the KM series, U67 and U87. More recently, Neumann has branched into studio monitors and headphones that compromise no less than any other product in the range. The NDH20 is the most recent addition to this branch of Neumann, a pair of studio-quality, closed-back dynamic headphones.

The NDH20s are sleek and classy, which is everything you’d expect from Neumann, but also have form and function packed relentlessly into a tiny package. The drivers are powerful, the reproduction even, clean and uncoloured, and the sound is balanced, full and honest.

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The headphones, once removed from the classy box and packaging, are weighty and well-built. They’re solid and comfortable on your ears with padded ear-pads and malleable hinges to fit any head with a glossy silver finish and classy Neumann branding. While the NDH20s feel solid, this also makes them quite heavy on the head and may not be ideal for wearing over long periods.

The weight makes the headband press down on the top of your head, which becomes uncomfortable after wearing the headphones for a little while. The headphones include a 3.5mm cable and 1/4” cable, as well as coiled and uncoiled options for the cables for different users’ needs. The cables included can be lengthy or short and will easily integrate into any rig, reaching wherever your headphone outputs may be. The ear-pads and closed-back construction provide stellar isolation, which really assist in referencing during mixing and mastering.

While the NDH20s may be a little uncomfortable to wear for extended periods, the response of the 38mm dynamic drivers is also uncomfortably clinical – which is an absolute blessing. The NDH20s are so clinical that they’re not ideal as a sole monitoring source – but no speakers or monitors really are.

While the headphones are not pleasing or exciting to listen to, believe me, you will not miss a thing when monitoring recordings or referencing a mix. Reproducing sounds from 5Hz all the way up to 30kHz, with very true bottom end and un-hyped top end, you can trust that the NDH20s will reveal issues in recorded sounds, potential problem areas in entire mixes and mastering, as well as being great for referencing your work against other mixes and sounds.

Because of the clinical sound reproduction the headphones provide, the NDH20s could be used to great effect for mastering or other quality control tasks in audio. Issues are blatantly obvious in these cans, but can also be remedied faster because the source of the issue can be illuminated so clearly.

The NDH20s are a great headphone overall and a phenomenal point of reference when working with audio. Issues can be highlighted at any stage of the production process to ensure the end product is as good as it can be, no matter what system it’s played on. Despite being a very heavy headphone, the NDH20s are a great option to swap in and out while monitoring, but are not a total monitoring solution, but again, no speaker or headphone should be.

Neumann’s products inspire greatness, and the way the NDH20s isolate sound and shine a light on each part of a mix or arrangement simply doesn’t allow you to do a bad mix. Great work starts with a great reference, because you can’t fix what you can’t hear, and the Neumann NDH20 Closed Back Studio Headphones are that great reference.