April 11, 2019

Beyerdynamic Custom one pro

The custom one pro (and pro plus) has been around for the better part of a decade by now and it has been my main tool at work since 2014. Hereafter are the reasons why this is the case.

The Custom one pro by renowned Beyerdynamic has a very interesting profile. To me, it seems it tries to be everything: nomad headphones, studio/work headphones, Hi-Fi headphones, Geek headphones... It tries to be both warm and analytic and dark; both trendy looking and sober & professional. It's like the ultimate "I'm up to any task device". Or more realistically the ultimate "I don't know where I'm standing" device. Don't misunderstand me: this doesn't mean it sucks, far from it. These cans have an impedence of 16ohm, meaning that it can be powered by devices that lack power, like smartphones (although I do use a Schiit Modi/Magni DAC and and preamp combo to drive them). Furthermore, Beyer proposes a myriad of accessories to customize its look. Given these two points, the headphone should logically be classified as nomad. Only that isn't exactly the case, as it is also bulky. Also, the chance to go unnoticed while wearing it in the street is rather small (believe me, I know what I'm talking about). Add to that the fact that, even after hours of listening, it remains extremely comfortable (one of its two greatest strength with sturdiness, but we'll see that in an instant) and you would certainly want to re-classify it as home/Hi-Fi headphone? Well, not really either. The cable is way too short (1.5m) long and most people would certainly prefer better sounding open headphones at home. So, in the end, where should people use that thing? Well, the best answer is probably at the exact same place other Beyerdynamic headphones are used: at work. But not necessarily in a studio (better not actually, there are better, more analytic headphones available for the same price like the excellent AKG k271 mk2 or even the much better k702).

In fact, high-end dynamic headphones (not speaking of planar-magnetic) can already deliver clear, neutral sound (if you don't like neutral phones, don't consider buying electrostatics). They are even better than electrostatics for lower bass and music with a strong dynamic. But they cannot compete with electrostatics when it comes to mids and lower treble. I must say my new headphones literally smashed the competition (even my beloved HD600) for most musics I played, especially classical. And this is not only because of the quality of the restitution. The #1 thing I heard concerning electrostatic headphones is that you don't listen to music the same way, especially because the stage is gigantic. Well, I must say this is entirely true. The 10 first seconds I listened to the 'phones, I really thought music was coming from somewhere else than just around my head.

But there is thing on which Beyerdynamic didn't make any compromise: sturdiness. These headphones have been my main nomad headphones for two years and are my work headphones since 2014. I basically dropped them, scratched them, stained them with ink, packed them in ridiculously small spaces, used them under heavy rain... Yet, the ink went away easily, I cannot see the slightest scratch and the cushions look like they are ready for another 10 years. The headphones just look exactly as they did when I upacked them in early 2014 (as you can see on the pictures). You can literally bend them and agitate them all your soul without the slightest fear. It is, by far, the sturdiest headphones I ever used or tried. If you don't think of using them in a warzone, you can fairly assume that these phones are indestructible. The only thing that got damaged is the standard jack cable (so not an actual part of the headphones) witch you can replace by any other 3.5 jack (or you can buy one that fits better with a locking system on Beyer website). Which brings me to another great thing about Beyer in general. Beyerdynamic has been making great professional studio headphones for decades and one of the things I love with them is the availability of spare parts, directly on their official website. This is in complete contradiction with the mass market worst influence on headphones. Today, people buy them for 3 years max. When they break, or when the cable or the cushions are damaged, people just throw them away. Problem is, headphones could and should last for years, decades even; which is not the case of TVs or computers (though companies tend to make these even more fragile). Headphones, becoming a popular fashion accessory in recent years, suddenly saw its renewal cycle shortened by a factor 10. Professional headphones thankfully still last for decades, like my HD600 (commercialized in 1997, still produced and still leagues away from these headphones marketers sell as producing "outstanding", "unmatched" sound) and have a lot of spare parts available.