Pros: Organic and rich mids, strong bass, little to no listening fatigue, PRAT
Cons: COMFORT. Ouch.
My Review of the Beyerdaynamic dx 160ie In Ear Monitors
I will start with the summary / conclusion. This way you get all the important information right away. If you want to know how I came to my conclusion, you can just continue reading. If you don't want to you simply don't have to scroll through a ton of words
- Very nice mids! Organic and full bodied.
- Potent bass
- Little to no listening fatigue.
- Highs: some detail doesn't reach your ear, and sound lacks sparkle. They just don't shine.
- Soundstage: Rather intimate and close to the head. Good for some tracks and genres, but I have heard better. Good in width, not so much in depth.
- Air/Space: I often miss some airiness.
- Transparency: While the mids are fairly transparent and vocals are particularly clear and easy to follow, the rest can often sound dull and uninspired. I think this comes from the softened treble and the limited soundstage.
- The potent bass. Again. On some tracks it's just too powerful and bloated.
- The cable.
- Isolation: it's ok, but not more than that.
- COMFORT! I have to use the smallest pair of all the tips to even get a decent seal. Once they are properly positioned I just don't find them comfortable. Especially on the left ear it's almost like a piercing kind of pain. Listening session don't last longer than 15-20 minutes due to that. My girlfriend found them absolutely unbearable.
My experiences with the dx 160ie that led to what you have just read:
The packaging and everything not related to the sound quality:
Very good for the price. The packaging and the accessoires suggest that this is a premium product. The pouch is well made, albeit a bit small. Quite a selection of ear tips! In my case only the smallest ones give me an acceptable seal, but at least I didn't have to buy additional tips.
The dx 160ie + the small sized stock tips are not comfortable, at all. I have experienced worse, but I am always aware of their presence. After a few minutes they begin to hurt. After some more minutes I already feel the urge to take them out and never put them in again, it is that bad.
Isolation is ok. When I listen with these IEMs while commuting (bus + train) they are able to block out a fair ammount of ambient noise, but when I mute the music a lot of it still goes through. On a scale where 1 means no isolation and 7 perfect isolation, I give them a 4.
Cable noise is no problem. I wear them over-ear. The cable itself feels slightly heavy compared to the weight of the IEMs themselves. Wearing them cable-down it feels to me as if the cable pulls on the IEMs.
I listened to the these combinations:
ibasso dx50 (fw 1.2.8) -> dx 160ie
Galaxy Nexus / Blackberry Q5 -> dx160ie
These are my impressions with the dx 160ies on my favorite music suitable for evaluation. All of these tracks are 16bit/44.1khz .flac files.
Capricorn - George Duke (from Faces In Reflection) / features E-Bass, Drums, Synthesizer, piano and male voices.
- Mighty bass
- Lacks air
- Soundstage ok, rather intimate but believable
- Percussion is tight, I like it
- Mids are really nice, Synths are powerful and organic, voices are pronounced and clear
- I miss some detail and transparency
What's new - Elvira Nikolaissen & Matthias Eick (from I Concentrate On You) / features female jazz voice, piano, guitar, double bass, trumpet and some digital effects
- Bass is strong and a bit too thick
- Voice is very easy to understand and follow
- Piano lacks sparkle, but easy to listen to
- Soundstage is quite intimate
- Trumpet lacks air
- A bit dull as a whole
Thousand Knives - Ryuichi Sakamoto (from Playing The Piano) / features two pianos
- Lower registers are rich and full
- Highs lack sparkle
- Good pace and timing
- Sounds a bit dull
Dream Dancing - Tony Bennett and Bill Evans (from Together Again)/ features male jazz voice and piano
- Good soundstage
- Voice is nice and quite rich
- Lower registers on the piano are really good, "tasty"
- Good timing, the swing feel of the song comes through
Cherry Pie - Sade (from Diamond Life) /features female voice, E-Bass, drums, guitar, percussion, some additional effects
- Good soundstage width, depth is lacking
- Bass too strong, bloated
- Very nice voice
- Drums are tight and have some nice kick
Um Beijo - Kenny Barron & other artists (from Spirit Song) / features piano, violin (or viola?), double bass, drums, saxophone, trumpet
- Nice violin, good tone
- Piano is ok, lacks sparkle
- I miss air, soundstage is not as big as it could be
- Trumpet is really nice
- Awesome saxophone, the tone!
- Best track so far, the most enjoyable with these IEMs.
Too Young To Die - Jamiroquai (from High Times) /features Strings, E-piano, guitar, E-Bass, male voice, drums and percussion
- Strings are placed in a wide room, nice
- Bass too strong, but the bassline is killer (Stuart Zender!)
- Voice is really good
- Good drive and energy
Strange Fruit - Marcus Miller (from Tales) / features synthesizer, bass clarinet and some ambient sounds
- Beautiful synth
- Very nice clarinet, great tone!
- Together with "Um Beijo" the best experience with these IEMs
+ many other songs that didn't reveal anything new about the dx160ie...
I tried the dx 160ies with an awesome mobile game called "Osmos". The soundtrack is truly remarkable not only for a mobile game - it features a nice selection of tracks from a genre I'd call "ambient electronica", all of them have been recorded in very good quality. The dx160ie goes really well with this kind of music, delivering an immersive and full bodied sound.
Comments from my fiancée (not half as much into audio as I am):
About the comfort: Maaaaaaaan, that hurts.
About the sound: Not my cup of tea. They sound dull and I think there's too much bass.
Note that I didn't tell her my opinion before she gave them a try.
Sooo... these are my findings. It's now up to you to decide whether you want to give the dx 160ie a try or not. I don't like recommending gear, everyones a bit different and our opinions are not the same every day.
Would I buy them? Maybe, if they were considerably more comfortable, had a less bloated or prominent bass and a bit more air. End of story!
I tried my best and sincerely hope that you enjoyed reading this review.