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Review - Beyerdynamic Custom Studio

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Also available on YouTube in Spanish: Acho Reviews YouTube 


 

This review is upon request by one of the subscribers to Acho Reviews on Youtube. If you have seen any of the Youtube reviews, you will have seen these headphones as they appear in the intro and outro of every video.

I purchased the Beyerdynamic Custom Studio headphones around 2 years ago as an upgrade to the AudioTechnica M40x. At the time I had only recently become involved in the headphones game and my main reason for purchasing them was because I needed a set of closed back headphones for the office, this was because I was sharing an office at the time and I wanted to be as respectful as possible.

Until the time I purchased the Custom Studio, the M40x had been the only headphone I had really used to listen to music for extended periods of time, as before I only really used headphones as a tool when needed (in studio etc.). My intention with the purchase of the Custom Studio (CS) was to find something that was a step up from the M40x, in both sound and comfort, while still meeting my requirements for closed back and not breaking the bank in the process (there really weren’t that many options in closed back at the time and there still aren’t many in comparison to open back). I tried out a few models, including the Custom One Pro, but found the Custom Studio to be far better in comparison to the other models I tried.

Since I got the CS, I have been lucky enough to try out many other headphones and have a much better base for comparison, however, this also means that I may not be as excited by the CS now as I was back then.

Anyhow, let’s talk headphones!




Build and comfort…

I can’t talk about presentation as it has been a long time since I received them, so I have forgotten what was actually included and how it was presented. As far as I can remember it was the headphones, the cable and a carrying bag, but I may be wrong.

The headphones themselves are built very well, as is the case with almost every Beyer product I have tried. They are not on a par with things like the DT1990 Pro or the DT1770, but are still well assembled and use metal in the correct places, like the headband and yokes etc.

It is hard to tell if the actual cups are made of metal or plastic. If they are plastic then it is of good quality and looks like metal, if they are metal then it is very lightweight as the headphones are not heavy at all. I don’t know the exact weight but they are certainly lighter than the DT series.

The headband is covered in a faux leather material that is padded on the underside and is clipped together, allowing it to be easily removed if you wish. There are also 4 allen screws on each cup that allow the external part of the cup to be removed and the metal plate to be changed. Beyerdynamic sells custom plates that have all kinds of colours and designs on them but the price is not cheap, you could easily make your own or even paint these if you wanted to. Personally, I removed the plates once and turned them around and never got back to turning them back the other way.
In fact, the whole headphones are easily dismantled and makes them easy to repair if they are being used somewhere like in a studio environment where they may get abused.

The CS have the connection point on one side and use a proprietary 3.5mm connector, however, the proprietary part is just a small plastic tab that is easily removed if you want to replace the coiled cable that is included with the headphones. In fact, you can insert a small 3.5mm connector without any modification at all. Personally I like coiled cables, especially in studio environments, as it prevents many accidents and strain on the connectors or equipment they are plugged into.

As far as comfort, they are more than acceptable. The clamp force may be a little too much for some people but is not terribly tight. The pads are velour and have a large inside opening, adding to the comfort, however, the velour + closed back combination can become hot during extended listening periods.



Sound…

The important part of the review is the sound and one of the important parts of the sound of the CS is the bass slider. The bass slider is a small slider located under each cup which can be placed in one of 4 positions, the first being totally closed and the other having a different sized vent in each location.

This bass slider adjusts the quantity of bass presence in the headphones and, while it may seem like a cheap gimmick to sell headphones, it does actually work!

Here is a quick measurement of the CS with the bass slider in each of the four positions.



In general, I only really find the slider to affect the bass frequencies themselves, any other changes are not really noticeable while listening, probably due to the fact that my brain automatically focuses on the changes to bass levels.


In the fully closed position, the headphones have a noticeable roll off in the bass range, losing some of the extension into sub bass and also removing some of the warmth that is present in other positions. I really don’t use this position much due to the roll off, however, it does come in handy on certain tracks that may have too much bass in the recording. For example, if you would like to remove some of the overly present bass on “When The Party’s Over” by Billie Eilish, allowing you to focus more on her voice, then this position is capable of doing so.

In the second position, the smallest of the three holes, the headphones present a very neutral sound signature. I find this position to be my go to for the majority of time that I spend with the CS. It still has enough bass to present good extension into the subbass while keeping it tight and controlled. The remaining bass frequencies are also nicely balanced, allowing you to focus on any bass lines or other instruments in this range, without them clashing amongst themselves. On songs such as “New Life” by Swindle, this position allows you to appreciate the bass without it becoming overpowering.

The third position gives the CS a slight bass boost. The boost is not overly exaggerated but is noticeable. If we take something like the song “New Life” I just mentioned or “Royals” by Lorde, the hit of the bass is more pronounced and starts to have a slight bit of looseness to it. It doesn’t become overpowering, at least on the majority of music, but it does give you the impression that the subwoofer has been turned up.

The fourth and final position is a rather exaggerated bass boost. Here the bass starts to lose control and be a bit too present on lots of tracks, especially those that already have large amounts of bass in the recordings. For songs like “Sun Is Shining” I feel that the bass is too loose for my tastes. I think this setting may be appealing for those that like exaggerated bass on some music but in my opinion is overly boosted.

Moving on to the lower mids, it is quite impressive Beyerdynamic have managed to offer the 4 levels of bass without it affecting the low mids. There really isn’t any bass bleed to speak off, although on the highest bass boost setting, the looseness of the bass does make the lower mids seem a little overshadowed. The main reason for this is that there is a slight boost in the lower mids which helps as a ramp down from the lower frequencies when these are boosted and also works well to keep a nice presence of bass harmonics when they are on a more neutral setting.

As we move through all of the mids, they remain very neutral without any noticeable peaks or recesses. There is plenty of presence in voices but these never seem too harsh and other mid-centric instruments, such as electric guitars are clear and well defined.

Up in the higher registries, there is no real harshness, these headphones don’t become shouty or sibilant and manage to keep a very neutral overall sound signature. Typical sibilance tests such as “Code Cool” by Patricia Barber are very listenable with virtually no sibilance, however, songs that are not sibilant by nature do not come across as dull.

If I had to complain about any of the frequency ranges, I think it would be in the highest ranges, from where sibilance is found up to the very top where the CS seem to have a slight roll off. This can avoid music sounding harsh and overly bright but at the same time can sometimes leave the music feeling a little dull and in need of a little more shimmer and air.

This can particularly be an issue if using the CS for music production, for which they are intended. As the high end can be a little dull, it is easy to overcompensate when mixing and mastering, resulting in a track that may be harsh for others on other systems. This is not an exaggerated problem, I mean, they do a much better job than the majority of competitors, but is still something to take into consideration if purchasing these for production.

The speed with which these headphones resolve fast and busy passages is actually pretty impressive for a headphone in its price range. They are far from something like a Sundara or even a DT1990 Pro in this regard but still do a decent job.

As far as details, these are not the most detailed of headphones but are again above the majority of the competition in their price bracket. If you are used to hi-quality headphones then I don’t think that the CS will suddenly present you with details you have never heard before, but the do a good job of instrument separation and allow you to follow individual parts quite easily.

When I am working with the CS on assembling tracks, I find that switching the bass slider to the fully closed position helps me focus a little better on the nuances such as the way acoustic guitars etc.

Speaking of acoustic instruments, I find the timbre of the CS to be pleasurable and quite realistic. As mentioned earlier, I prefer the 2nd position of the slider to balance out the lows with the rest of the frequencies but when listening particularly to acoustic tracks such as “Free Fallin (live)” by John Mayer, the 1st position also works very well and allows his guitar playing to stand out.

As far as width and image placement, these are not terribly wide headphones but we do need to consider that they are a set of closed backs. The image placement is not bad, it gives a good feel for the location of instruments but is not really a possibility to pinpoint the exact location. Songs like “La Luna” by Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra are very pleasant but “Letter” shows a bit of a lack in placement moving between the left-center-right locations.




Conclusion...

I mentioned at the beginning that I purchased the Custom Studio as a step up from the M40x and I feel that they are. They are not a night and day difference but the improvement in quality, both in build and sound, are quite noticeable.

I have used these mainly in the office for music listening when I need to use a closed back, although I have also used them for a little bit of music production now and again, with decent results.

One of the main things that jumps out about these headphones are the bass sliders, something that I have only really seen on these and on the Custom One Pro. I only really used the Custom One Pro briefly when deciding between them and the Custom Studio but the latter was clearly superior.

It is impressive that the bass slider on the CS not only works, but also manages to clearly adjust bass levels without affecting the rest of the frequencies. These headphones can go from a neutral sound with a slight bass roll off, all the way to a clear L shaped sound.

The headphones are easily driven, although phones could do with a little more power to make these work the best, meaning that they can be used in the majority of situations without issue.

Personally I am quite fond of the Custom Studio and keep them in my office so I have a closed back option always available. I find that I really do use the bass slider, meaning it is more than just a gimmick to me at least, as I can increase or reduce the bass on a song by song basis with nothing more than a quick flick of my fingers. I may find myself listening to a neutral sound after lunch and become a bass head by late afternoon.

These are not the best headphones I have ever heard but I certainly don’t have any issues recommending them for their price, both for pleasure and production tasks. In a perfect world, I would prefer better imaging, a little more soundstage, a bit more detail and a little more shimmer up top, but then we wouldn’t be talking about a set of 130€ Beyerdynamics.

SenyorC