German manufacturing and a tradition of efficient, reliable engineering have become synonymous in the auto industry. But in the last century, that country has also proven no slouch when it comes to driving sound. The company beyerdynamic furthered this reputation when in 2009 it premiered its Tesla sound transducers, which use a metal-cased ring in place of a traditionally centered neodymium magnet to more effectively distribute energy throughout a membrane positioned to minimize disruptive vibrations. This technology, introduced in the audiophile flagship T1 ($1,295 street), has now trickled down to the DT 1350 headphone ($299 street), reviewed here: a portable closed-back model seemingly aimed directly at the Sennheiser HD 25-1 II market of monitoring for broadcast and stage sound engineers.
I tested the DT 1350 by the following means: with an iPhone 3GS, then directly off the headphone jack on a MacBook Pro to test efficiency, and using either a NuForce uDAC-2 or Native Instruments Traktor Audio 10 connected to the MacBook Pro by USB to test quality. When using the laptop, playback was done using Native Instruments Traktor Pro 2 or Audio Engineering’s Fidelia 1.0.8 (set to take exclusive control of the audio device using the highest level of re-sampling/dithering). The material auditioned included 320 kps MP3, 256 kps AAC, Apple Lossless, 96 kHz/24-bit FLAC and standard WAV classic and indie rock, modern compressed pop and dub-step.
Though “supra-aural,” the DT 1350’s industrial housing has substantial clamping power in its split headband design, and its small but sturdy brushed-metal cups proved capable of emitting seemingly distortion-free volume (109 SPL nominal/129 SPL max, and they also swivel for previewing on the fly) with no sibilance and quick, delineated transients. Having an 80-ohm impedance, the DT 1350 did perform well with an iPhone.
The response from a solid source isn’t so much analytical as enjoying more purity than many “traditional” headphones, which seem to generally emphasize bass. The DT 1350, rated at 5 - 30,000 Hz, is anchored with low end that’s impressively assertive for its size, kept proportionate with treble extension that’s not peaky and controlled, slightly forward midrange. This direct but not brightened presentation has just a touch more perceivable clarity in the intimate lower mids, which comes across as delivering less liquidity but imparts a presence that cuts through high-volume environments.
Even competing with a noisy threshold, as it did when I DJ’ed a country club gig, directly flanked by two dual 15-inch JBL cabinets and a dedicated sub, the Tesla architecture skillfully assures a detail-oriented soundstage that never feels fatiguing or that it’s straining for accuracy. Gunning for neutrality, they’re well suited for mixing. The DT 1350’s pedigree favors neither reference civility nor wantonly visceral slam. These headphones balance both isolation and resolution without glaring exaggerations, slung inside a compact semi-rigid case and ready to impact with authority.
Contact: American Music & Sound (U.S. distributor) | americanmusicandsound.com
Tony Ware has been an editor for Pro Audio Review and contributes to sister publication, Electronic Musician.