Firstly I would like to thank Thomas at German Maestro for sending me this sample for review, along with a few pairs of different pads. I will write as honest a review possible. These received over 50hrs of burn-in before reviewing, no changes were noted.
IPod Classic 160gb (rockboxed) > GMP 8.35 D
IPod Classic 160gb (rockboxed) > silver LOD > iFi iCan (no EQ) > GMP 8.35 D
Frequency response: 20 - 27,000 Hz
Impedance: 2 x 35ohm
Closed back circumaural
Continuous power rating: 100mw
Weight w/o cable: 242g
Connector: 3.5mm gold plated with screw on adapter
Packaging, build quality and accessories:
Packaging is a black box with red highlights for the information. It is more industrial looking than most because these are designed for studio and field use, not flashy walking around the street showing off. So the box is quite plain with all the information on the front and sides, they say Made in Germany in big letters also. Nothing spectacular, the headphones are held in place by a cardboard triangle. Well packaged but not eye catching, these are pure function over fashion.
Build quality there is no point me mentioning, I'll just demonstrate with this video (not made by me):
Accessories are not really any, only a screw on 3.5-6.3mm adapter. I think a small carry pouch could be included, but as these are well built you don't have to worry about putting them in a bag.
Comfort and isolation:
Comfort with the stock pads is average at best, they are quite shallow and are not quite fully circumaural, they don't put much pressure on your ears but they are rather thin and shallow. The headband is well padded but a little stiff, which puts some pressure on the top of your head after longer listening sessions.
Now with velour pads they are much more comfortable, but this affects the sound (more on this later)
Isolation is excellent, these are closed back and do block out a lot of outside noise, obviously not on IEM level, but I use these as my go to portable headphones a lot and they block out enough for me not to be disturbed by outside noises,
Split into the usual categories, for review purposes I used the stock pads.
Punchy and precise, the lows are fast in attack and recovery and give the sound some great body. They are also superbly textured and articulate, with separation being a strong point. Quantity wise they are very neutral, the lows don't ever sound over the top or boomy, and are always perfectly in balance with the mids and highs. These have a fairly linear bass response, with only a bit more mid-bass punch than sub-bass rumble. For a studio you don't want boosted lows so these are brilliant in that sense, and for out and about these EQ very well, and an amp bass boost does wonders when you want a more fun sound.
Again very in line with the rest of the sound, no recession or warming from the lows, only a little sibilance up top sometimes, but is song dependent. The mid are realistic and airy, with details easily picked out. As there are no dips or humps in the mids, both male and female vocals fair very well, neither sounding too lush or thin. It is easy to pick up on distortion in the recordings, so they are ruthless in picking out flaws in your songs. These lend their hand to any genre, acoustic sounds open and lush, metal is fast and aggressive, very transparent.
Just like the rest of the sound, then highs are in good quantity and measure, I detest recessed treble as to me treble is vital for excitement and detail in the sound, and the highs on these do excite. For some these may be borderline too much in terms of treble, but the highs are not harsh unless the recording is, they are well spaced and portrayed, with great control and detail, like the rest of the sound. There is nothing lacking, extension and decay are both brilliant, plenty of energy and shimmer up top.
Soundstage and imaging are also recording dependent, but in general they are wide and precise, it is easy to pinpoint instruments within the stage.
Instrument separation is excellent, they are not the most airy of headphones, but they never sound congested, and can keep up with fast music easily.
Overall stock they do a lot well, by far the flattest headphones I've heard, very neutral and controlled, with great detail and presentation. The lows are tight and punchy with good body, the mids are clean and separated, the highs are extended and sparkly. But they are not an exciting headphone, to a lot they may sound boring, as they portray what's in the recording, not adding a flavour as such.
In a way I agree they do sound a little boring sometimes, but they let you hear the music as it was recorded like any studio monitor should. As these are very flat sounding, you can tailor the sound to good effect with EQ and amps, pads make a big difference too, not always for the best.
These are a brilliant portable headphone due to their indestructible build and good isolation, these need more exposure.
Now what happens when you change the pads (dust covers always used):
Oval pleather pads (Ear Pad 41-6050): loss of bass and overly bright highs (no go)
Velour with holey back (Ear Pad 41-6049): slight loss of isolation but much wider soundstage. The lows are affected again, not as much as with the oval pleather but still a little too much, the highs are crisper but the whole sound lacks body. Definitely calls for bass boost on the iCan at full. Then they are better, but still are not perfect.
Velour with covered back (Ear Pad 41-6085): slight loss in isolation but nothing major, big gain in comfort as my ears don't touch the drivers, and the lows haven't all disappeared. They do loose some presence and the highs come forward a little, but they are fine for portable use still with better comfort, the lows still extend down to 30hz. The soundstage is wider and presentation more airy.
Using the covered back velours as they are my favourite:
Amping comes into play, just through the iCan they sound great, turn on the lowest bass boost and they have that little extra body back. Turn on 3D sound to normal and you get a very real yet super wide soundstage and image.
Using the iTube as a buffer with (digital antidote on) takes the edge off some of the harshness introduced by the velour pads. This is my favourite setup so far. Smooth with superb detail and wide soundstage.
Awaiting my JDS Labs C5D for on the go, guessing it will be a great match with the bass boost to make up for what was lost by using the velour pads.
Skrillex – First Of The Year (Equinox) (320kbps MP3)
Paramore – Franklin (320kbps MP3)
Diana Krall – The Girl In The Other Room (FLAC)
Deolinda – Passou Por Mim E Sorriu (live) (ALAC)
Suicide Silence – Unanswered (FLAC)
Massive Attack – Angel (ALAC)
Eat Static – Dzhopa Dream (ALAC)
The XX – Crystalised (FLAC)
Funeral For A Friend – Bend Your Arms To Look Like Wings (ALAC)
Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man (FLAC)
The Scene Aesthetic – Humans (259kbps MP3)
A Hero A Fake – Swallowed By The Sea (254kbps MP3)
Vivaldi – The Four Seasons, Spring Allegro (ALAC)
Johnny Craig – Children Of Divorce (161kbps MP3)
Deadmau5 + Kaskade – I Remember (Caspa Remix) (320kbps MP3)
Black Uhuru – Utterance (ALAC)
We Are The In Crowd – Never Be What You Want (226kbps MP3)
Silverstein – Discovering The Waterfront (320kbps MP3)
Concept Of Thought – Our Thought (FLAC)
Nirvana – Something In The Way (Unplugged) (ALAC)