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.
“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.
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.
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