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DD Audio DXB-03 On-Ear Headphones Review

by June 24, 2014
  • Product Name: DXB-03 On-Ear Headphone
  • Manufacturer: DD Audio
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Review Date: June 24, 2014 08:00
  • MSRP: $ 149/pair

Frequency Response:        20Hz - 20KHz
Nominal Impedance:          40 Ohm
Sensitivity:                        113+/3dB at 1KHz 1mW
Speaker size:                    50mm
R&L balance:                     < 3dB (20Hz10KHz 1mW)
Rated power handling:        30mW
Maximum input power:       50mW
Cable: length:                    1.2m TPE material
Plug:                                3.5mm gold -lated


  • Efficient design that plays LOUD with very little power
  • Tuned for Bassaholics
  • Beautiful woodgrain finish
  • Rugged design with excellent detachable cable


  • Bass emphasis may be less suitable for orchestral and vocal musical preferences
  • Headband may cause minor wear fatigue over extended listening sessions on larger heads


DXB03-package.JPGDD Audio DXB-03 Headphones Introduction

I know what you’re thinking. Not another headphone review.  Yes another, but from a relatively unknown entity in the home consumer market place that happens to have deep roots in car audio.  DD (Digital Designs) Audio is hungry to sink its teeth into consumer audio and they are producing some high value products that have gotten our attention.  Enter the DXB-03 on-ear headphones.  The DXB-03’s have 50mm drivers housed in a vented chamber to improve bass response.  They are finished in what DD Audio refers to as Bubinga wood with leather earpads and an adjustable brushed stainless steel headband.  The accompanying detachable cable integrates the wood trim finish for some additional panache.  They even come with a travel bag for easy transportation.  From an aesthetics standpoint, the DD Audio DXB-03’s look great. But how do they sound?  Read the rest of the review to find out.



DXB-03 Detachable Cable               

       the well engineered detachable cable with rigid connectors ensures a durable and reliable connection.                                        

The DD DXB-03 on-ear headphones have some noteworthy features that by themselves justify the asking price regardless of just sound quality alone.  For one, I am completely enamored with the quality of the detachable 1.2 meter connecting cable which DD Audio claims is made of TPE coated fabric and oxygen-free copper wire.  The rigidity of the gold-plated wood encased connectors ensures that they will still function properly after being tugged on during normal usage.  I can’t tell you how many fixed cable headphones I had to toss in the garbage due to bad connectors a few weeks after my daughter got a hold of them for her personal use.  I had her use the DXB-03’s for over a month before I even decided to sit down and listen to them and they still worked perfectly.  No static, no loose connector, what a pleasant feature. The wood encasing on the headphones looks and feels great.  The adjustable metal headband is surprisingly comfortable thanks partly to the thin rubber padding at the top that helps isolate your skull.  The 360 degree hinges on the earpieces make for easy storage and a more custom fit on your ears.

DXB03-wood.JPG           DXB03-ear.JPG

DD Audio DXB-03 (wood finish left pic; earcups right pic)

DD Audio DXB-03 On-Ear Headphones Sound Quality Tests

I plugged the DD DXB-03 headphones into several systems to get a good gauge of their performance.  I started with my iPhone streaming Pandora and finished with my Headroom micro DAC and headphone preamp listening to CD’s.  I had my $450/pair Sennheiser HD600’s on hand to serve as a reference.

Pandora.com Streampandora.pnging via iPhone

Random Act of Love” by Al Jarreau revealed what bass monsters the DXB-03’s really are.  When directly compared against my Sennheiser HD600’s the DXB-03’s pumped out substantially more low end (50Hz to 100Hz region) as if someone cranked up the bass control and gave the music a shot of adrenaline.  The DXB-03’s were also much more efficient and easier to drive to ear bleeding levels than the HD600’s. This came as no surprise since the DXB-03’s are on-ear headphones and the HD600’s are over the ear, open back headphones.

I welcomed the bass boost but it wasn’t always to my taste depending on the type of music being listened too.  The stand up bass in “The More I See You” by Michael Buble was very satisfying.  I felt more connected to the music with the incredible depth the DXB-03’s were providing.  The high’s were clean and airy while Michael’s voice was articulate and didn’t sound colored by bass boost these cans were providing to the listening experience.  As I turned up the volume, the DXB-03’s just begged to be played louder, never sounding distorted or compressed.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much clean output they delivered.  The DXB-03 headphones provided a nice punch to Carl Palmer’s bass drum in ELP’s “Lucky Man”.  Greg Lake’s vocals where a bit subdued by his bass guitar but were still reproduced with good clarity and a nice stereo effect.  By comparison, this song sounded a bit thin on my HD600’s but also more natural, especially in the vocals.  The DXB-03’s sounded a bit more closed in than the more expensive HD600’s on


Pat Metheny’s “Question and Answer,” but the standup bass sounded very distinct and intimate.  The cymbals had beautiful detail while Metheny’s lead electric guitar work was mesmerizing.   Muse “Madness” from their 2nd Law album really showed off the dynamic prowess of the DXB-03 headphones.  Bass was aplenty and I was able to drive them to beyond comfortable listening levels with my iPhone 5 where as my Sennheisers

just didn’t get nearly as loud.  I literally had the volume turned up about 60% on my iPhone when driving the DXB-03’s compared to being maxed out on the HD600’s to get to the same perceived SPL levels. 

DXB-03 as a Headset

I honestly didn’t realize the DXB-03’s sport a microphone conveniently integrated into the detachable cable.  It wasn’t until I perused the DD Audio website for specs that I discovered this.  Of course it was kinda hard to miss with the 3-stripped male connector and the little plastic module affixed to the cable just below the left headphone input.  I decided to test this feature out by calling a few friends.  Vocal clarity was excellent and nobody detected I was using a headset to call them.  However, talking with the DXB-03’s on my head was a bit uncomfortable due to its excellent noise isolation from the outside world.  I found myself often shouting because my voice sounded too muffled to me.  I suppose this is something one has to get used to when using a pair of on-ear headphones with an integrated microphone.  This is something I rarely do as I am a speakerphone kind of guy. 

Still, it’s nice to have such capability that I am sure many buyers will appreciate. 

Headroom Headphone Amp and DAC System

Switching over to my Headroom gear on my desktop system, I cued up my music database stored in iTunes as uncompressed ALAC.

King Crimson: Red

Track #1 “Red” is a classic among Crimson fans.  The hard guitars courtesy of Fripp and the off-beat masterful drumming of Bill Bruford came in loud and clear on the DD DXB-03 headphones. It was like I was having my own private concert that I’m sure my wife was relieved she didn’t have to hear.  Track #5 “Starless” is perhaps my favorite on the album, since it really showcases not only the great musicianship of the band but the strength of John Wetton’s voice who in my opinion is one of the most underrated progressive rock musicians of our time. The drums had good snap and depth and I was able to distinguish between the myriad of instruments playing in unison.  This is definitely the kind of music best suited to your own private listening session, and the DXB-03’s didn’t disappoint.

DXB03-wear.JPG    Eric-Clapton-Sessions.jpg

King Crimson: Red (left pic) ; Eric Clapton: Sessions for Robert J (right pic)

Eric Clapton: Sessions for Robert J

There is a love/hate relationship of music fans with Eric Clapton doing the blues.  Personally I appreciate his singing style and signature playing regardless of the music genre he plays.  Sessions for Robert J is probably a less known entity out there, but it’s a goodie nonetheless.  Track #3 “Terraplane Blues” gave me the chance to really hear male vocals to understand the midrange accuracy of the DXB-03’s.  I detected a slight chestiness in Eric Clapton’s vocals as the acoustic guitar lead played behind his vocal track.  With this type of music, I clearly preferred the more tonally neutral Sennheiser HD600’s.  Listening to this track was enjoyable on the DXB-03’s nonetheless.  The DXB-03’s did a commendable job of showcasing the heartfelt lyrics in Track #10 “Kind Hearted Woman Blues”.  Bass again was a bit accentuated at the expense of vocal clarity but overall it made for a pleasant listening experience.

DD Audio DXB-03 On-Ear Headphones Measurements and Analysis

DD Audio rates the DXB-03 headphones to be 40 ohms.  As you can see in my impedance and phase measurement, it seems about right. 


DD Audio DXB-03 Impedance Measurement

I constructed a very primitive ear by usage of a styrofoam cup with the microphone placed at the opposite end.  As you can see from the graph, these headphones are reasonably linear though there seems to be a bit of bass boosting going on below 200Hz which is likely why I found these headphones to offer a very bass intensive listening experience. 


DD Audio DXB-03 Frequency Response


I only have a couple of nits to pick with these cans.  The first being that they can sometimes sound a bit chesty with male vocals while listening to bass heavy music.  Still, I’d venture to say the casual listener would prefer the sound quality of these headphones over my more tonally neutral and far less efficient and more expensive Sennheiser’s.  The second gripe is with the metal headband that can sometimes exert a tad more pressure than I’d like when wearing headphones for an extended period of time.  I understand why they went with metal since it’s more durable than plastic, but a little more padding at the top where the headband touches your skull would be appreciated. Also it would have been nice if the DXB-03’s had about another half inch of adjustment for people with oversized heads like me. 

DD Audio DXB-03 On-Ear Headphones Conclusion

The DD Audio DXB-03 headphones reDXB03-headphones.JPGpresent a very good value at their $150/pair retail price for on-ear headphones sold direct by the manufacturer.  Their construction quality is excellent and the wood grain dressing really adds a touch of class to the product.  The detachable cable is built to a very high durability standard likely neutralizing the need to ever replace it for all but the most careless users; hey we all have children.  Bass is the forte of the DXB-03’s which is no surprise from a company that specializes in car audio boom.  If you’re a Bassaholic, then you’re going love these headphones. The DXB-03’s will play at ungodly loud listening levels with very little input power and they will do it cleanly with plenty of bottom end and top end sizzle. 

If you’re looking for a rugged, beautiful pair of affordable headphones with integrated microphone capability that offer a lot of sound for your money, then the DXB-03’s should be on your shortlist.


1141 NW 1st St.

Oklahoma City
, OK 73106
(405) 239-2800


The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Build QualityStarStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
About the author:
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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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