Monday, April 09, 2012

Review: Goldring DR150 FullSized Headphone

It's been several weeks since I got my Goldring DR150 from Jaben. Now it's time to write a review about it. Actually, you can found my first impression on a fully burned DR150 on Jaben here, but I don't fell right if not wrote a full review of it.

The Package.
Goldring DR150 come in cardboard box with transparent window so you could see the headphone itself. The chosen colors, the letters, and the design are very attractive. It reflect the above USD100 price tag of it. Inside are the headphone it self, 3m detachable silver plated 99.999% oxygen free copper cable (or so it said on the package), golden plated 3.5mm to 6.3mm plug adapter, and Jaben pins. Ops, the Jaben pin isn't included by default. Sorry, my bad.

The Build.
The headphone made from plastic with metal mesh on the back. The pad is from velour, and so do the pad on the headband. It's much heavier than my AudioTechnica SJ33, but still lighter than Shure SRH440 (again, read my previous impression). The plastic is okay, though Shure SRH440 got better build: sturdier, nicer to touch, but heavier. Maybe it's because DR150 is for more home use, while SRH440 is for studio use, so it had to able to stand some rough handling. However, I think DR150 build is good enough for someone careless like me.

I could see some ripple on headband plastics, so the build is not as  good as Shure, which really good. The finishing touch too, could be better. There are some edge which could be smoother, etc.
The headphone look is okay. It look little ugly at first sight, but it has grown on me and now I think it look quite nice. From color perspective, I liked DR100 gray-black color combination much more than DR150 gray-silver. The silver accent on the rim of the metal mesh look nicer on gray-black combination than on gray-silver.

The detachable cable is nice. I don't know if the 99.999% oxygen free claim is true, so no comment on it. It has this rubbery finish which very pleasant to touch. It snap into 3.5mm jack on left side of the headphone quite strongly, so you don't have to fear it detached easily when pulled accidentally. Those detachable cable also mean it's easy to find cable replacement if the bundled one break, or mod the sound by using different cable materials (if you believe or could hear the differences).

The headphone itself is quite comfortable, the grip is rather hard on the first, but it lessened over the time. The headband is adjustable with several clicks which lock the headband on place. The velour pads is definitely comfortable and felt nice to touch.

The Sound.
This is my first open backed headphone so I quite surprised by how the sound-stage and positioning (layering) rendered. It's much better than my SJ33, which closed backed. Of course, price-wise, SJ33 is cheaper, but DR150 is simply at another level compared to it. DR150 sound-stage is wide, with very good separation and layer rendering. Listening to SJ33 after DR150, I could easily hear how SJ33 sound-stage is wide but flat, all instrument just placed at same level, while DR150 render the position beautifully. The dept is just very good on DR150.

The high is smooth, with enough sparkle to make it shine, but not bright. Definitely not bright. For comparison, listening to DR150 after SRH440, DR150 sounded like there is a veil over the sound. Cymbal is pretty crisp, although not as bright as SRH440, or MS1i. None of those sibilance, though, so it's easy on ears. Listening to DR150 after SRH440, it felt like going into a large and warm sauna room after a closed room with air cooler. MS1i, on the other side, felt like an open room with lot of air flow.
DR150 smooth and natural treble make my SJ33 sounded steely, cold and with lot of peak. DR150 also had some air to the sound which made my SJ33 sounded boxed. Not as airy as Alessandro MS1i, but enough to give breath on vocals and instruments. It's really refreshing after listening to SJ33

The mid is smooth and warm, with neutral presentation. It's neither forward nor laid back, actually it's quite versatile, when the recording is forward, the DR150 will sounded forward and vice versa. The vocal is luscious, and very, very nice. SJ33 sounded dry compared to DR150.
Male and female vocals rendered equally good. It's doesn't matter what kind vocals I threw at it, DR150 render them both good, Scotty McCreery low voice is as good as Andrea Bochelli tenor. High female vocal, like Sarah Brightman soprano is rendered beautifully, just like Amy Winehouse sultry contralto voice is.

The bass is thick, meaty and warm. It has bigger bass, both in quantity and quality than my SJ33. The bass is so detailed, SJ33 sounded like one big blob of bass. The mid bass is pretty good, detailed and punchy. None of the bass bleed to mid. I think DR150 bass is mostly on mid-bass though, while SJ33 had lot of sub bass. Tone down 200-100Hz (via equalizer), and the bass will loose lot of it punch.

Detail and micro-detail, Goldring DR150 absolutely murder my AudioTechnica SJ33. It's really no contest. I just can ear all those tiny sound, like when a player put down something or turn a page, or how the guitar string twanged against the wood board, how the singer open her mouth before singing, how the piano keys make those little click sound when they pressed... It's mesmerizing.
Goldring DR150 is pretty unforgiving, I can easily hear how bad is Glee record or how 128kbps mp3's sounded much like Lady GaGa second album (yup, it's that bad). Garbage in garbage out. On the other side, SJ33 is much more FUN, especially with mainstream music and or bad recorded music like GaGa, Madonna, Glee, Katy Perry etc.

Isolation is none at all, since it's open headphone. DR150 also leak sound from the grill/mesh on the back, although not very bad. The metal mesh on the back is actually lined with a piece of cloth inside, so you can't see the driver from outside like you do Sennheiser HD600/HD650 or Shure new SRH1440. I'm wondering how would DR150 sounded if I remove the cloth covering the mesh, will I get more airy sound? Will the sound-stage and layering increase? Hm... intriguing. I had to try that sometime in the future.

A bit nitpick, sometimes I felt the sound is not as coherent than, say MS1i or SRH440. It's like there is something which resonating along with the driver causing the sound, like, breaking or diffused or something. Is this the plastic color described by Heafonia review of DR150?! I don't know. It's not that bad, though, since this only apparent when I listening very closely. When I just sit and enjoying the music, I didn't notice it. My SJ33 also exhibit the same problem, at much bigger scale.

The Verdict.
For the price (about USD100-130) I think Godlring DR150 is a very good headphone. The sound definitely is, although I wish the build quality could bit better. It has this dark and luscious sound, meaty bass with punch and some nice treble sparkle on top. If the sound is a food, I say Goldring DR150 is a cake made from dark chocolate, filled with crunchy milk chocolates goodness and sprinkle of vanilla on top. Warm from the oven. Hmmm yummy!