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Compared: Three GermanMaestro headphones (previously MB Quart)

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
This time I’ve borrowed three headphones from a company I don’t know at all.
Their name is GermanMAESTRO, a fairly new company, and apparently they are “comprised of industry experts who were the marketing, engineering and manufacturing strength behind the original German-made MB Quart products”.
I’ve heard about MB Quart, and it’s mostly good things, but I haven’t tried any of their products.
They claim that all their products are made in Germany, not just designed in Germany.

Could be interesting.




Some pics (click for larger):

The GMP400 (open, 300 ohm)


The GMP450 PRO (closed, 300 ohm):


The GMP435 S (open, 35 ohm) - hanging next to my DT990-32:


The driver of the GMP400:


Some quick specs on the three phones:

GMP 400 (€199): Open, 300 ohm, 14-24100 Hz, 240 grams
GMP 435 S (€199): Open, 35 ohm, 20-27000 Hz, 240 grams
GMP 450 PRO (€229): Closed, 300 ohm, 14-24000 Hz, 240 grams

Their website: German MAESTRO


Equipment used:

Sources:
- PC with a Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic (optical/Coax cable to DAC/Opera).
- Foobar 0.9.5.2.

Amplifier:
- Meier-Audio Corda Opera with DAC ($1100+)

Cables:
-Headphone cables are all stock.

Headphones:
- GermanMAESTRO GMP 400 (open, 300 ohm)
- GermanMAESTRO GMP 450 PRO (closed, 300 ohm)
- GermanMAESTRO GMP 435 S (open, 35 ohm)

My own phones:
- Beyerdynamic DT990-32 (Beyer Manufacture custom)
- Beyerdynamic DT770-250 Pro+Light Edition 2005 (Limited Edition)
- Audio-Technica ATH-W1000

All headphones are well-used, so there shouldn’t be any issues regarding burn-in.

Music used:
Mostly WAVs and MP3s (ÜberStandard) of good quality.

Some of the artists:
- Mark Knopfler (generally fantastic quality recordings, especially voices and guitars)
- Ani DiFranco (raw, non-compressed recordings with great percussive guitarplaying)
- Opeth (Mostly “Damnation” – the calm one.)
- Massive Attack (huge soundscapes with lots happening, and great bass)
- Rage Against the Machine (amazing raw energy)
- Faithless (Interesting electronica)
- Pink Floyd (what’s there to say?)
- Dream Theater (things can get quite fast and busy here)
- Patricia Barber (very good jazz)
- Steve Vai (well-recorded guitar weirdness)
- Joe Satriani (very well-recorded rhythm sections)
- Niacin (oh so funky)

Some words on the testing procedure
Nothing special, I just tried to use the Maestros exclusively for a while, to get used to their sound to better hear differences to my regular headphones.


Construction
First impression: They’re most definitely looking like German headphones. :-)
They remind me quite a bit about older Beyerdynamics, especially the headband, which is almost identical to the one used on DT531, DT831, DT931 etc.
This is not a bad thing, as that type of headband is both comfortable and solid.

The plastic almost feels very similar to that of the Beyer DT931 era. Not much metal, though (like the DT770/DT880). Should be quite sturdy, which is quite important as most of the Maestro headphones are meant for professional use.
They can’t match the great feeling of the Beyer DT770/DT880/DT990, though.

I think the look quite nice, actually. Very serious and professional. Nothing flashy here, all business. :-)
All three weigh 240 grams, which is quite light for their size.

The GMP450 PRO is the only closed construction, but it doesn’t isolate as good as a Beyer DT770. Actually not as good as the Audio-Technica W1000 either.
So this is not a phone for those who demand serious isolation.
However, the clamping force is very low, so it can be more comfortable than other closed phones.
I see their site states a clamping force of 3 Newton, and the DT770 got 3.5 N. Not much, but in real life it feels like a huge difference. Maybe their measuring methods differ.

The GMP450 PRO and GMP435 S uses pleather pads, and the GMP400 uses velour.
The pleather feels like…just that: Plastic leather. Pretty similar to what other quality headphone manufacturers use. As most pleather pads, they get a little warm after a while.
The velour pads are nicer, but not as nice as the Beyer ones. They’re not as soft and the stuffing is a little harder, but they’re more than comfortable enough.

So, regarding construction, the Maestros are just fine then?

No, there are some issues. Well, for me, at least.

All three use wires to both cups, which is a bit impractical.
Not a big issue, but the problem is that the cable is quite microphonic, and having it running to both cups just makes this noise problem worse.
My two Beyers are much better.
There also some plastic creaking when you move around, but this is nothing major.

I’m also somewhat skeptical to how the cups are fastened to the headband/frame. They’re free-floating in a ring, with just some elastic bands between them. This allows for some movement to make it fit the head, but I can definitely see some reliability issues coming up.
At least they should be easy and cheap to replace.

Here's a pic of the elastic bands:


Then there’s some comfort issues.
The pleather pads on the GMP450 PRO and GMP435 S are oval-shaped, much like the ones on the Beyer DT250, only those are velour. This makes these two Maestros supra aural, and will not be big enough to room most ears, which can make them tiring over longer listening sessions.

The velour pads on the GMP400 are better, but the inner diameter is smaller than on the Beyers, and could be an issue for big-eared people.

Also, the Maestros are a bit small, I think.
I can barely get them far enough down so that the pads are correctly placed over my ears.
And they’re quite narrow, so the top of the pads press harder against my skull than the bottom, which feels a bit strange.
However, I must mention that I’ve got a fairly large skull. 
These issues will most likely not matter to most people, but it should be mentioned.
For example, the Beyer DT531 is very similar to these Maestros, but fits me very comfortably.

So, there are some issues, but all in all I must say that the GermanMaestro headphones are quite nice.



Sound

First I compared the Maestros to each other to get a feel of their character, and then I compare them to my own phones.

GMP400 (Open, 300 ohm) compared to GMP450 PRO (closed, 300 ohm)
First impression: The open GMP400 is quite a bit warmer sounding than the closed GMP450 PRO that sounds dry and detailed.

The highs: The GMP400 is quite dark and more rounded off in the upper ranges, and loses a few details here and there. This also makes it agreeable for those sensitive to harsh highs. It’s pretty smooth stuff.
The closed GMP450 PRO sounds much drier and colder, but there are lots of details and space. In some setups, I can imagine it being a little harsh. The Corda Opera is a wonderfully smooth and delicate amplifier.

The midrange: Again, open is darker than closed. Voices gains a bit of body and warmth, but loses some texture and details. The GMP400 is a little too dark for my taste, almost like a Sennheiser HD600, but not as boring.
I think I would use the word “analytical” about the closed GMP450 PRO. It’s easy to pick out details, but it lacks a bit of fun and life.
The soundstage is predictably larger and more distant in the open phone, which is quite pleasant.

The bass: Both are pretty decent and similar, but the GMP400 got a bit more response and heft to it, which makes it good fun, actually. The GMP450 PRO might be a little snappier and faster, but again, a little colder.
Both don’t do much below 30-35 Hz, but the GMP400 goes deepest of the two. Not bad at all.



GMP435 S (Open, 35 ohm) compared to GMP400 (Open, 300 ohm)
First impression: The 35 ohm GMP435 S seems more balanced than GMP400.

The highs: The GMP435 is definitely more airy and detailed than the GMP400. Not harsh, though.

The midrange: The higher parts of the midrange seem to be more in focus in the GMP435. Soundstage is a bit smaller, but clear and detailed. There’s a pretty nice balance to the GMP435s midrange in general.

The bass: The GMP435 got tighter, more controlled bass than the GMP400, but there still plenty of it.

All in all, I must say that I like the 35 ohm GMP435 S the best. It’s nice and airy feel to it, without losing all bass, and not being slightly cold as the GMP450 PRO or too warm as the GMP400.



GMP450 PRO (closed, 300 ohm) compared to Beyer DT770-250 Ltd.Ed. (Closed, 250 ohm)
First impression: Two quite different headphones.

Especially the midrange is different from the DT770. It’s more in focus, and feels closer. The soundstage is much smaller.
It’s really weird swapping between these two, as they both sound odd and wrong the first minute or so, but then sound really good after a while. It’s funny how the ear/brain adjusts.

The highs: It’s not as bright in the upper extremes as the DT770, and looses a few details because of this. It’s not a dark, veiled or laidback phone in any way, though. There are plenty of details slightly lower in these frequencies.

The midrange: Here the Maestro is brighter and more direct than the DT770, which might make it a little more detailed in this range. Voices sound good, with lots of texture and feel.
Being this close and detailed, the midrange makes the soundstage quite small, where the DT770 is more loudspeaker-like and natural (to my ears). Also there’s more space between sounds in the DT770, meaning that the Maestro can get a little overwhelmed some times.
Switching directly from the DT770 makes the GMP450s midrange feel a bit hollow and cold, but this passes in a few moments. Again I find this Maestro a bit analytical, especially when compared to this fun and groovy DT770.

The bass: The GMP450 PRO got quite a bit of bass response, but can’t match the brutal DT770. It doesn’t have the fast and hard-hitting feel to it, and doesn’t go as deep. It’s nicely controlled, though. There shouldn’t be a problem with overpowering bass here. A sinus sweep reveals that there isn’t much response below 30-35 Hz in the Maestro.
Compared to many other headphones, the GMP450 PRO would manage quite nicely in the bass-range, but the DT770 just destroys it in so many ways (if you like plenty of bass, that is).
If you like a more correct and lean approach to your bass, the Maestro should suit you better.



GMP435 S (Open, 35 ohm) compared to Audio-Technica W1000 (Closed, 40 ohm)
First impression: The Maestro sounds a bit “smaller”, closer, and not as sweet and smooth as the W1000.

The highs: The GMP435 is brighter way up on top, but a little coarser too. Cymbals and such are more up front, and could be somewhat harsh if you got a bad recording. Not sure which is most correct, but I prefer the smoothness of the W1000.

The midrange: The GMP435s soundstage isn’t as wide or balanced as the W1000s. Voices are very nicely handled by the Maestro, but the W1000 edges it out on pure sophistication and delicacy.
Both got plenty of details, but the GMP435 is more in-your-face, and the W1000 presents them in a more effortless and natural way.
The Maestro feels quite a bit more intimate, for those who like that.

The bass: Actually quite similar, but there’s a bit more slam in the GMP435. Both are nicely balanced with the rest of the frequency range, and there are slim chances for boomy bass.
The Maestro has a tendency to be more fun with hard rock, like Rage Against The Machine.



GMP400 (Open, 300 ohm) compared to Beyer DT990-32 Manufacture (closed, 32 ohm)
First impression: The Maestro sounds a bit veiled and slow compared to the Beyer.

The highs: No surprise, the Maestro sounds darker and more rolled off than the Beyer. Not as much details or air. It’s pretty forgiving and smooth, though. It should be a nice match for those sensitive to sharp highs.

The midrange: The Maestro still feels dark and rolled off, but also pleasant in a warm and fussy way. Voices lose a bit of texture and feel.
I keep thinking that it feels like a HD600, only more fun because of its pace and rhythm, which makes it less laid back.

The bass: The DT990 is a very tough competitor in this range, but the GMP400 isn’t bad at all. It lacks some of the brutal pace and hardness, and some depth, but it’s still very entertaining. It isn’t slow at all, with pretty decent control. For me, the bass is the most impressive aspect of this Maestro.


A quick test of the GMP435 S (Open, 35 ohm) on the Sansa Fuze MP3-player
The Maestro loses some bass and pace compared to the Corda Opera, but it works impressively with this tiny MP3-player. Some air and sweetness is lost too.
Overall this is very good by the Maestro, and shows that the Fuze is a great little player.


Final conclusion

It’s always interesting getting to know a new headphone brand, and GermanMAESTRO can be taken seriously. I’m not going to sell any of my phones to get any of these Maestros, but that’s mostly because of comfort/fit issues. None of them really fits my big head, but this shouldn’t be a problem for most.
Here’s some sort of conclusion on all three:

GMP400
(Open, 300 ohm)
The darkest sounding of the lot, but with great bass. As I mentioned, the memory of the HD600 popped into my mind while listening to the GMP400. Not having the Senn around, is kind of unfair to them both, but that’s what my gut feeling says. The Maestro might not be as refined or smooth as the HD600, but it’s not as boring either, which is more important to me.
It’s got a rich, smooth and fat midrange.
The bass is the most prominent of the lot, with great punch and depth. Really good stuff.
With some setups, music and taste, I’m pretty sure it could be a great headphone.
Also, the GMP400 is the only one with velour pads. :-)

GMP450 PRO (closed, 300 ohm)
The only closed construction here, but it doesn’t isolate as good as a Beyer DT770 or an AT W1000.
It’s got quite a detailed and bright presentation, and could sound cold and analytical on some systems or with some music/recordings. The midrange is detailed, but somewhat narrow which could be a problem with really busy music.
Bass is good and plentiful, but again somewhat dry and analytical.
I think I would say that this Maestro lives up to the “PRO” part of its name, which is both a good and bad thing.

GMP435 S (Open, 35 ohm)
This is my favorite. It’s fairly open and airy, got good bass and plenty of details.
It’s also the most balanced of the three Maestros, and still manages to be lively and fun.
Also, it’s a pretty easy phone to drive, so it’s great with (good) portables.
I listened only to this one for a while, and found out that I wouldn’t have any problems living with it as my only headphone.
If it only fit my head properly, that is. :-)
post #2 of 10
WOAH?! One of my all time favorite headphone brands are actually continued by a different company?! SWEET!!
post #3 of 10
So, I'm still not clear.

These guys got sick of their Maxxsonics overlords and formed their own company, or what?

I wish they'd thought of a better name.
post #4 of 10
Thanks a lot for this insightful and well written review.
I own the GMP250, and they have the same comfort/fit issues.
I replaced the pleahter earpads with DT770 velour pads, which makes them more comfortable. But still the top of the pads press harder against my skull than the bottom. The sound becomes a little better: tighter, more detailed, snappier.
The GMP250 is not bass light, in fact it has too much bass for my taste.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiemen View Post
Thanks a lot for this insightful and well written review.
I own the GMP250, and they have the same comfort/fit issues.
I replaced the pleahter earpads with DT770 velour pads, which makes them more comfortable. But still the top of the pads press harder against my skull than the bottom. The sound becomes a little better: tighter, more detailed, snappier.
The GMP250 is not bass light, in fact it has too much bass for my taste.
Thanks for the kind words.
Interesting that you got the same comfort issues.
Good to know that there are at least two big-skulled guys here. :-)

I tried to fit some DT770 pads on the GMP450 PRO, but they didn't fit. Couldn't get the "lip" of the pad over the edge, and didn't want to rip my Beyer pads. I guess your GMP250 is a little different.

But I tried the pads without attaching them, just resting them against the housing, and although comfort improved, sound didn't. The sound got thinner and flatter. Probably because the pads wasn't attached properly.
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by JensL View Post
Thanks for the kind words.
Interesting that you got the same comfort issues.
Good to know that there are at least two big-skulled guys here. :-)

I tried to fit some DT770 pads on the GMP450 PRO, but they didn't fit. Couldn't get the "lip" of the pad over the edge, and didn't want to rip my Beyer pads. I guess your GMP250 is a little different.

But I tried the pads without attaching them, just resting them against the housing, and although comfort improved, sound didn't. The sound got thinner and flatter. Probably because the pads wasn't attached properly.

 

 

 

 

At first I also thought the DT770 pads wouldn't fit. But after some stretching and strugling, I finally got them around without destroying the pads. But it wasn't easy.....

For me the sound really improved. With stock pads I found the bass boomy, and the overall sound a bit boring.

With the DT770 pads, the bass got tighter and has more impact. Hitting harder so to speak. Details can also be better heard. There's more PraT. Soundstage is also wider now. And to my surprise, the treble is clear, but not harsh.

The overall sound is very clean, no grain at all. But also not cold/analytical, although far from warm sounding.

I can recommend those DT770 pads for every GMP/ QP 250 owner.

 

Of course there's a downside: vocals sounds a little recessed now

I tried to restore that with the "nickchen mod": putting tape on the little holes at the back of the DT770 pads. But that didn't helped at all.

 

The biggest negative of the GMP250 for me is the poor isolation. There is hardly any isolation. Rather strange for a so called closed headphone. You could better say semi-closed.

Edit: I have now squeezed DT770 velour pads on them. The drivers are nearer to the ears, so less of a U-shaped sound. Best solution so far, along with Beyer leather earpads.


Edited by Tiemen - 2/19/13 at 7:28am
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiemen View Post
At first I also thought the DT770 pads wouldn't fit. But after some stretching and strugling, I finally got them around without destroying the pads. But it wasn't easy.....
For me the sound really improved. With stock pads I found the bass boomy, and the overall sound a bit boring.
With the DT770 pads, the bass got tighter and has more impact. Hitting harder so to speak. Details can also be better heard. There's more PraT. Soundstage is also wider now. And to my surprise, the treble is clear, but not harsh.
The overall sound is very clean, no grain at all. But also not cold/analytical, although far from warm sounding.
I can recommend those DT770 pads for every GMP/ QP 250 owner.

Of course there's a downside: vocals sounds a little recessed now
I tried to restore that with the "nickchen mod": putting tape on the little holes at the back of the DT770 pads. But that didn't helped at all.
Not bad getting the DT770 pads on. :-)
I was sure something was going to rip.

Obviously your QP 250 sounds quite different to the GMP450 PRO I tested.
The 450 is already clean, clear and fairly thin sounding, so the DT770 won't do it any good, unless you like that sort of sound.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiemen View Post
The biggest negative of the GMP250 for me is the poor isolation. There is hardly any isolation. Rather strange for a so called closed headphone. You could better say semi-closed.
Yeah, I agree. The GMP450 PRO doesn't even isolate as well as the AT W1000, and nowhere near the DT770. Can't be more than a few decibels of isolation.
Quite strange.
post #8 of 10
Thanks for the review. Really helpful trying to decide weither to keep the 450 Pro or exchange it for the 435S. Since as mentioned it has no isolation I can as well go fully open if the 435S indead have a bit larger soundstage? How is it with voices better then the 450 Pro?

May as well go for the 8.35D with the new pads.
post #9 of 10
In my experience the newer pads make a bigger sound stage, as well more details.
I'll try to get extra pads to the http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f4/ger...rogram-438831/
post #10 of 10
JensL's, you can exchange DT-770 pads with any of the GMPs.
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