Call me VSG
The beyerdynamic brand is not new to audio enthusiasts, with nearly a century of experience giving us products over the years that have competed very well in a crowded market across all price points. Indeed, their own mission statement is, and I quote here: "To design, engineer and manufacture superior quality professional audio products.". The customer base for beyerdynamic is extremely varied thus, ranging from media broadcast over network, air or the internet to recording studios, musicians and the general consumer public alike. Today we take a look at one of their recent audio solutions released to the market- the DT 240 PRO. It is being marketed as a closed studio headphone for monitoring, which fits directly with one of the target base mentioned above, but offers plenty as a whole to interest readers of Overclock.net just as it interested me. Thanks to beyerdynamic for providing a review sample, and let us begin with a look at the specs courtesy the product page:
Be sure to click on the images to view them in full size, as I will be using thumbnails in the review for better spacing.
Unboxing and Accessories
beyerdynamic does operate a web shop in North America, however this unit arrived from their marketing representative and may not be indicative of the retail shipping experience when it comes to shipping packaging. As such, we begin with a look at the product packaging itself. This arrives in a soft foam wrap that adds protection against shipping and handling issues, and also allows for a pristine unboxing experience. The packaging is clean with a black and white color scheme adopting red accents for highlighting. On the front is the company and product name along with a large printed illustration of a side profile of the headphone and some salient marketing features. This continues on the back and sides with another large image of the product, specs we saw earlier, as well as a carry handle and seals keeping the box closed and the contents inside in place.
Opening the box, we see another box- this time made out of plastic and shaped to fit the headphone snugly for the entire headphone and both ear cups laid flat. There are wire cable ties used through holes on each side and through the plastic box to secure it in place, and turning the entire thing over we see also where the accessories are located. A plastic bag, with tape securing it in place, holds everything you need to get up and running with the DT 240 PRO, and remember to loosen and remove the wire ties while you are at it.
One of the accessories that initially puzzled me, and then became quite clear as to the reason for inclusion in due course of time testing the headphone, is a lightweight, black colored carry bag. There is a large drawstring on one end to help close it, and it is smooth enough while also being large and thick enough to be a decent carry material for the headphone and requisite cables. Speaking of which, we get a detachable cable with a coiled section and a flat section such that the total length is 1.5 m as it comes out of the box, but can be stretched to a total of 3 m if needed. I came to adore this design for the applications I was using it for, which matched also what beyerdynamic is targeting end users for. Say you are at a desk with the headphone plugged into a source, but need to move slightly to access another source or an attachment- a DAC or AMP perhaps- to where the coiled section will help without making the cable long all the time. This helps also with the portability aspect of the headphone which is another underrated feature as I have come to see. The cable terminates with gold-plated connectors, a 2.5 mm plug hooking securely into the headphone itself and a standard 3.5 mm TRS mini stereo jack on the other for the audio source. For those needing it, a screw-on gold-plated 3.5 mm to 1/4" (6.35 mm) jack adapter is also provided, which works fine as seen above.
Closer Look: DT 240 PRO
The beyerdynamic DT 24O PRO is a closed headphone, with the earcups covered by a plastic cover finished to match the rest of the headphone. The product name is inscribed on both cup covers, and beyerdynamic makes sure you realize these are indeed professional headphones by adding that as well. The DT 240 PRO is on the lighter side of average when it comes to mass of headphones in the studio monitoring class, weighing in at ~195 g without the cable. Part of this has to do with the ~52 mm diameter cushions that are ~15 mm deep, which meant I was only just about able to fit these over my ears and I dare say a substantial fraction of the user base will not be able to completely do so. Calling this an over-ear headphone is potentially misleading, although it is more that than an on-ear headphone so I do understand where they are coming from.
The cushions are composed of foam, similar to the head band itself, and beyerdynamic have added in more padding on the headband section where it contacts the human head than on the sides which helps with comfort while managing to keep the product lightweight. Clamping pressure from the headband was just right for my 58 cm circumference head, with the curvature aiding further in achieving a good fit in use. The earcups swivel from operation to fully flat, as it comes out of the box, and also swivel up and down around a securing pin on each side. The actual hinge is plastic, and is the one item I am worried most about durability here, with extension via solid aluminum yokes that was great to see. The extension also has discrete steps that click in use to help size the headphone precisely on both sides, and I wish everyone would adopt this simple and efficient user experience enhancement. The beyerdynamic logo and certification are present on either side of the hinges as well.
Swivel the earcups slightly and you will see the hole that the 2.5 mm jack hooks into. In fact, beyerdynamic saw it fit to provide the option for the end user to be able to connect the cable on either ear. The detachable nature of the cable means that you will also be able to quickly and easily remove the cable from one ear to the other, should you want to change the source from one side of where you sit to another, and this is another small tweak that I can definitely see studio monitors benefiting from- especially if working with a lot of material in a small area. With the lightweight construction, earcups that can fold flat, and a detachable cable, portability is high here and the included drawstring bag works well to transport all you need- including the cable adapter- in a convenient manner. The nominal impedance of 34 Ohms also means just about anything can drive this, including a smartphone (assuming yours still has the 3.5 mm jack, anyway).
To get a closer look at the drivers, the earpads must be removed. These are held in place via a section of the fabric extending outwards and into a groove in the earcup, and we can see better here the depth available for the ears to sink into- assuming yours even fit in. More screws greet us now, and noting the match of the right driver on the right earcup is always reassuring. With these screws removed, we can get the driver loose from the earcup, which reveals more plastic, but at no point of the review did these feel flimsy. Plastic is a not a bad thing by itself, especially when you realize it is a general term to describe a lot of different materials. The drivers can't be fully removed from the earcups without some telltale signs left behind, however, and there is a good reason for this.
The cable hooking to the 2.5 mm port on either earcup had to be electrically connected to the driver, and this is done via two wires soldered on to the PCB the driver is hosted on. Soldering quality was okay, but could have been better since the solder balls were larger than needed. Nothing that will affect functionality here, however, and I would have remained unaware of this had I not gone this far. As it is, we see a 35 mm dynamic driver here with a standard neodymium magnet and a PET diaphragm that, as beyerdynamic let me know, is 12 microns thick. Dynamic drivers are the most common for headphones, and I am glad to report beyerdynamic has mitigated the potential for audio distortion from these drivers.
Using the DT 240 Pro + Conclusions
In the absence of equipment allowing an objective testing of the headphone output, it is best to provide context and compare to other headphones. Even here, it is only fair to do so in a common price class so let's get that out of the way. The beyerdynamic DT 240 PRO costs $99.99 from their North American web shop directly, as well as third-party retailers. A closed headphone marketed for studio monitoring in this price range is not very common, but also not unheard of. The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x comes to mind immediately, as does the newer Sennheiser HD280 PRO which also has a similar name. I happen to have used all three of these $99.99 headphones in the same month which helped make an opinion here concerning the DT 240 PRO. For what it is worth, I also had some experience with the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x but that costs $150 as of the date of this article, and beyerdynamic themselves would have other contenders at this point. Another set of audio solutions in this price range would be closed-back headsets, usually seen targeted at gamers, but these tend to be tuned differently with an emphasis on the lows and not so much the highs or the general soundstage.
Speaking of which, the soundstage here is quite wide- and felt more so than the Sennheiser HD280 PRO while being on par with, or slightly narrower than the ATH-M40x. Listening to a recording from the local orchestra was a very good experience here, and I would go as far as to say this is plenty enough for the vast majority of people even beyond the class of headphones that retail for this price point.
The drivers on this sample at least were tuned slightly biased towards to the lows and mids, with a deep bass response on par with most gaming headsets. It won't touch what you get with, say, a V-MODA Crossfade LP2, but that would have been a negative in this case. A neutral midrange helps solidify the monitoring aspect advertised by the DT 240 PRO, with satisfying vocals and instruments alike. It is when we get into the trebel highs that the ATH-M40x and HD280 PRO both do a better job retaining an even output- especially with vocals. The wider soundstage helps expose the relatively muted response here further, and do check out other reviews to get a larger sampling of opinions from other people before framing your opinion should you be in a position that prevents you from trying these out prior to purchase. For what it is worth, noise isolation is good and felt on par with most other closed-back headphones.
Overall, the DT 240 PRO from beyerdynamic is a weird little spot that it manages to do well in. It attempts to bridge a gap between the consumer and the professional, and the so-called prosumer term is perhaps a perfect fit here. By leveraging their decades of experience bringing audio solutions to the higher end of the market, and now attempting to do so at a price point more people can afford, beyerdynamic had to figure out how best to balance the entire product. Some parts they did exceptionally well, such as the aluminum extension yokes with discrete steps and the wide soundstage. Others are fair and par for the course- the 35 mm dynamic driver and the plastic hinges. A few places remain where other competitors have an edge, especially when it comes to tuning for the highs, and the relatively small earcups for an over-ear headphone are also puzzling. As it stands, the DT 240 PRO is well worth checking out even if you are just looking for a good set of headphones that are portable and value for your money.