With headphones, it’s not just about the sound quality. There is so much more that makes a good pair, and it starts the moment you open the box. To be truly excellent, a pair of headphones has to impress from the very start, delivering a user experience – you’ll have to excuse us while we retch quietly in the corner for a moment, but we can’t think of a more appropriate term – that is excellent at every step of the way. German headphone supremos Beyerdynamic understand this. If there was any doubt about that statement after a long history of delivering great cans, it’s put to rest the moment you drop their Amiron Home headphones on your head. These are, quite simply, the most comfortable pair of headphones we’ve ever worn.
We’ll come back to that comfort thing in a minute. It’s worth taking a second just to look at what these headphones are made of. Even if they didn’t wow us with how good they felt, there’s no question that they are very pretty indeed.
Beyerdynamic have always had a design ethos that walks the line between industrial and attractive, with muted, often drab grey and black color schemes matched with smooth curves and swooping accents. For the Amiron Home, a pair of sizeable over-ear, open-back cans, this is very much the case. The cups might be made of plastic, but they feel rock-solid, and what dominates the outer housing is a circular, tightly-woven grille with a broad metal stripe across each side that houses an embossed logo. It not only looks great, but it feels great, too; run your thumb across it, and it’s easy to see just how much thought and concerted application has gone into the design.
The headband and the cups themselves are made of a material known as microvelour, which is something we are going to talk about at length and in an increasingly admiring tone in a minute. The rest of the headphone is functional and, if we’re being honest, pretty unremarkable, with plastic hinges holding the cups in place and a second logo at the base of each side of the headband. One thing we do like is the embossed information printed on the inside of the band’s plastic base: not only do you get clear left and right indicators, which are a blessing in a world of tiny and obscure ones, but you also – praise be! – get a clear indication of headphone impedance (250 ohms, since you ask), along with an edition number. The right side proudly announces that the cans are Made In Germany.
Beneath each cup, there’s a 3.5mm cable connector, slightly angled, which is handy as it allows you to transport the cans without the cable attached.
It’s the combination of these things – the industrial aesthetic and materials with the little design touches – that make Beyerdynamic cans every bit as distinctive as headphones from Grado or AUDEZE. Match these up with a classic, like the DT770 Pros, and you can see the design lineage going all the way back. While it’s probably not going to appeal to everyone, it’s an aesthetic that we really enjoy.
And even if you have misgivings, all you have to do is try these cans on all of them to go away…
There are three things that make these headphones the most comfortable on earth.
The first is the weight. The Amiron Homes weigh 12 ounces – Objectively, not very much less than something like the similarly-shaped Fostex TH610s, a pair we have in for review at the moment, and which weigh 13 ounces. It’s not particularly heavy, but all the same, we couldn’t help feeling that these headphones were just…light. There really is no other way to put it. Holding them, they feel almost weightless.
The second thing – and it leads on directly from the first – is the clamping pressure.
This is such a small thing, but if it’s off, if it hasn’t been given enough thought, it can ruin the whole experience. Too loose on your skull, and the whole kit and caboodle slides off the moment you tilt your head. Too tight, and it can stop you listening to your brand-new headphones for longer than an hour, which is the most deeply annoying kind of problem to have. And yet, as important as it is, it’s incredibly tricky to get right. Since everyone has a different size noggin, getting a particular type of material to have just the right amount of flex and torsion in all circumstances is crazy difficult. Somehow, Beyer have managed it. The clamping pressure of the Amiron Homes is perfect. Really, there’s not much more we can say to add to that.
The third thing is the microvelour. It’s what the cups and headband are covered with, and it is perfect. As lush and soft and rich as a pair of silk sheets. If there’s a better material to have against your head - and this includes leather - we haven’t found it. It. Is. Perfect.
In terms of comfort and fit, the Amiron Home headphones do everything right and nothing wrong. They are just phenomenal.
(An early version of this review stated that you couldn't swap out the microvelour pads. Beyerdynamic's Doris Henzler has since been in touch, letting us know that this isn't the case: "Just put your finger in the small gap between ear pad and ear cup and then pull the ear pad away from the cup. It might need a little force but will definitely work." We've confirmed this - the cups pop off without too much trouble, meaning you can replace them down the line if they get worn out. We apologise for the error.)
Perfect clamping pressure and velvety pads are all well and good, but they don’t mean a damn thing if the sound isn’t up to scratch. Fortunately, that’s not a problem here.
Beyerdynamic headphones are known for their neutrality – so much so that many professional studios often use them to check songs mixes. While that’s probably not going to happen with the Amiron Homes, there’s no question that they have the same sound signature. Overall, you’re looking at a neutral, balanced portrayal of your sound, with just enough character and verve to keep you coming back.
There is no bias towards any particular part of the frequency spectrum. Bass is powerful and clear without being overbearing, and the mids are cool and straightforward. There’s no sense of stripping the music bare that you get with so many other reference-grade headphones – we played several low-quality MP3 files through these cans, and they didn’t seem at pains to point out that we were listening to compressed material. On the opposite end of the spectrum, good-quality sound files like Spotify Premium or CDs sounded absolutely gorgeous, the headphones framing the music without overly adding to it, accentuating its qualities and then getting out the way.
We loved how tight the dynamics were, and how much clarity the headphones gave to even the smallest elements of a track. If we had one criticism, it’s that the highs, while detailed, sometimes felt a tiny bit harsh – nothing that would cause us to quit listening, but just something we would have liked to be a bit smoother. A speck of dust on the perfect frame, if you like.
Ultimately, you’d go for these cans not only for their next-level comfort, but also when you enjoy music that is uncolored by headphones, and served up in as natural a manner as possible. At 250 ohms, they aren’t going to be happy running off a smart phone, although the 3.5mm jack (adaptable to 6.3mm) certainly allows for that; couple them to a decent amplifier, and they absolutely sing. By the way, since they’re open-back, you do need to be aware of bleed - even if it’s nowhere near as bad as other examples, like Grados.
Although they aren’t as exciting as other headphones, we’d quite happily put them up against anything in their price range. Perhaps the best comparison would be something like the Audio-Technica ATH-W1000Z, which offers similar clarity and functionality. All the same, we much prefer these, which are much more complete headphone experience. They are going to compete with the truly big dogs in the open back world, like AUDEZE, but that doesn’t stop them from sounding terrific.
It’s just as well that you aren’t going to be using these for smartphone listening. Having to tote around a damn-near ten foot cable would get old fast. Admittedly, it’s a well-built cable, two strand, with a 3.5mm jack at one end that can be adapted into a 6.3mm one with the included plug. It’s just very long.
Outside of that, the only accessory you get is a fairly bog-standard, rigid, zippered case. While this does the job of holding and protecting the headphones, its black surface attracts dust, and the tiny pouch on the inside is simply insufficient to hold the cable when it’s detached. All the accessories work reasonably well, but we can’t help feeling that in this case, Beyerdynamic went a little bit too far onto the industrial side of things.
The packaging is fairly standard, too, with a simple cardboard box that gets the job done without being ostentatious. At this price range – $600 or so – it’s almost a little disappointing to see that the packaging and accessories are little more than ticking boxes. Still, when the actual headphones themselves are this good, it’s not a deal breaker.
So, let’s sum up.
We have a pair of headphones that offer the most sublime comfort and fit in existence. They deliver accomplished, classy sound. They have build quality and materials that are the best in their class. What’s not to like?
Admittedly, these headphones aren’t really going to be suitable for anybody looking for portable audio, or for those who aren’t into over-ears, but come on. When a headphone experience is this good, you’d be crazy not to check it out. These get a major thumbs-up from us, and they ensure that Beyerdynamic’s reputation for making excellent gear remains unsullied. The Amiron Homes are superb.
- Microvelour pads.
- Unreal comfort and fit.
- Neutral, clear, dynamic sound.
- Accessories are a little middling.
Although they are closed-back, Audio-Technica’s cans do a very good job at competing with the sound of the Amiron Homes – and at a lower price point. While the audio quality might not be right up there with the Beyerdynamics, it’s refined and elegant enough to warrant a second look.
The design is a little more sensual, too, with teak ear-cups and leather pads. The comfort level is nowhere near that of the Beyers, but this is an aesthetic that will probably hold wider appeal. Go check them out.
We finally had a chance to hear these headphones – for whatever reason, a pair had eluded us – and we really liked them. They sound neutral and natural, and are particularly good at articulating vocals. While this makes them a little more specialised than the Beyers, it definitely means they are a worthy alternative.
The huge cups and design may not appeal to everyone, but the comfort level is good. We really like the orange accents too, which set the headphones apart from the competition.
At an identical price to the Amiron Homes, and with similar specs, you might reasonably wonder why we offer these as an alternative. They don’t have the comfort level or aesthetics, but what they lack in design, they make up for in pinpoint precise sound.
These are the headphones you go for if you want absolutely nothing getting in the way of your music – if you want to analyse it exactly as it’s presented. These are also ideal if you’re actually making music, and looking to check mixes using headphones. They aren’t nearly as much fun as the Amiron Homes, but they are still bloody good.
|Beyerdynamic Amiron Home||$599||12oz||Open||Unknown||250Ω||102dB|
|Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro||$599||13oz||Open||Unknown||250Ω||102dB|
(If none of these make any sense, go check our guide to headphone specs!)