REVIEW: German Maestro Pro 400 & 435S
From reading head-fi I found out about a loan program from a “new kid on the block”. German Maestro Pro (GMP) is – as far as I know – the old MB Quart. MB Quart isn’t very popular around head-fi but it seems most people really enjoy their headphones by this German headphone manufacturer. Another impression suggests that GMP isn’t really popular either. And I must be honest and say that I never really looked at their products. When I found out about their loan program however I was intrigued to try them out and after a few e-mails to Thomas from GMP was kind enough to let me loan some of their open headphones namely the GMP 400 “für audiophile Genießer” and the GMP 435S “mit hervorragender Basswiedergabe und bestem Wirkungsgrad”. Yep, that’s a lot of German for you but that’s appropriate for headphones that were not only designed but also built in Deutschland. Let´s start with the design first then – like I said it only seems appropriate.
As a lot of you hardcore head-fi veterans will see is that the GMP headphones look a lot like the vintage Beyerdynamic ones. They’re not completely the same though as the most interesting thing about the GMP headphones is that the cups are being held by small rubber bands that connect the cups to the o-ring from the headband. Only time will tell how durable this solution is. Perhaps a bit unfair to compare but I prefer the Panzer design of the Beyerdynamic phones.
On the other hand the comfort is very good. The phones are nice and light and I think the rubber bands really contribute to the fact that these have a nice grip without sacrificing comfort. The pads are really comfortable; they’re made out of some velour and are very similar to the pads Beyerdynamic uses (hmm, a lot of Beyerdynamic so far in this review). And to re all you wondering: yes, the Beyerdynamic pads and GMP ones are interchangeable with the GMP pads being only slightly bigger.
The cable is also nice. It is flexible, light-weight and a pen holder. Jokes aside, the curled bit of cable is a kind of relief in case you stand on the cable or whatever. Both professionals and audiophiles should be content with this cable.
A NOTE ON PADS (/SHORTCOMINGS OF THIS REVIEW)
Thomas from GMP sent some extra pads along so I could roll the pads a little. Because I don’t have too much time to review these headphones extensively I decided on the pads in the first hours that I got them. For the GMP 400 I decided to use the round “openback” pads and for the GMP 435S the stock oval pads.
What I also feel is important is the change in sound that pads can achieve on these GMP headphones. For the 435S I was pretty happy with the stock pads but I was very disappointed with the GMP 400 when I first got them with their stock “closeback” pads. The sound was very boomy with absolutely no highs to speak of. I had to EQ the treble to make them sound somewhat pleasant. Looking at the pads I found the inside of the pads were closed and remembering the DT880 stock pads – they are openback – I quickly tried the other pads that Thomas sent me. Now with the openback pads the highs returned. Phew. Also just for tests I tried some stock DT880/DT990 pads and they made the GMP 400 sound more transparent (and a lot like the DT880 for that matter). These drivers can do really good things with the right pads.
Another last thing on the pads. It can be quite scary to put the pads on considering the rubber bands that I spoke of earlier. I was afraid to use brute force like I do on the DT880 so I had to come up with another way to put on the pads. The best way, to my knowledge, to put them on is to fold the vinyl parts and then lay the pads on the drivers. Then you fold the vinyl over the drivers.
From left to right: DT880, closedback velour, openback velour, stock 435S oval, oval
The best way to put the pads on: fold the vinyl back and then fold it over the circumference of the drivers
Both of these headphones get little talk but it’s not because of their sound as I think they both sound excellent with the GMP 400 being technically better (but think about my note on pads). They’re definitely high-fi (or mid-fi if you will) headphones. They share the same presentation which is a bit different from the MS1000 (modded MS-1, see sig) and modded DT880 (taped closed with DT770 pads) I currently own. The Alessandro and Beyer are creating a really big stage where it feels like you’re listening to a huge wall of sound. That wall is really tall and built to withstand the worst weather. What that means for sound is perhaps a more relaxed presentation if you will. The GMP headphones’ sound is less “spread out” and more left-right oriented. The soundstage is more width than height. Not bad and probably preferred by a lot of people especially in the industry where a more direct sound may be preferred. I think that if you like the direct Grado sound you might also like the GMP presentation. The GMP headphones have more soundstage of course
Albeit the left-right sound the imaging on both is very good. They have a nice airy sound to them that I really like. This combined with the direct sound of which I spoke earlier makes for a believable sound, but perhaps a bit headphone-y. Shouldn’t be a problem for the lot of you.
Another real good thing about these headphones is how they handle bass. It’s nice and pretty tight. I say pretty tight because it also wants to play with you being not as tight and fast as some Grados for example. They really are no overly bassy cans, don’t get me wrong. They just have a playful way of delivering bass.
I think I made my point on how I feel these headphones sound. It is probably time to make clear how the GMP 400 and 435S differ from eachother. Somewhere in this review I said that the GMP 400 are technically better (and again, keep in mind my note on pads) and I really stand by that. They feel more at home in a good setup than straight out of an iPod. Not that it sounds bad unamped but with some songs I own the GMP 400 needs some more juice to sound their best or to come to acceptable listening levels – vinyl rips are often not as loud as regular songs from CD. They also scale nicely from a good amp and DAC.
The 435S laughs at your expensive interconnects and spits you in the eye for having ridiculous pieces of rubber for vibration control. They sound very good from my iPod and don’t sound like they’re underpowered at all from this little device designed by Steve Jobs (well, in a way). They don’t benefit from a good hi-fi setup in the way the GMP 400 does.
Simply put the GMP 400 is better for a more transparent and perhaps audiophile listening experience. The GMP435S is bit more energetic in the bass department and doesn’t want to caress my ears like the GMP 400 but rather let me feel the music.
So this was my short review on two headphones that I got on loan from German Maestro Pro, a German based headphone manufacturer. The comfort on these is very good which is probably because of their design which uses rubber bands to hold the cups. This might not be the most durable way but it is something I can’t review. I also spoke of the pads and how much of a change they make to the sound on the GMP headphones. I really hope that GMP reads this and considers the openback pads as the stock pads for the GMP 400 as I couldn’t stand them with the stock closedback pads. The sound on both of these is also very good. The GMP 400 being more transparent with a more audiophile presentation seems to be aimed at hi-fi use and the GMP 435S being less serious at enthusiasts alike. The GMP 435S is really good from portable players such as my iPod.
I hope more people will consider the GMP headphones as the ones that I had on loan are very good. In their price range they are a direct rival to the Sennheiser HD600 and I will most certainly get one of the GMP headphones over the Sennies. This is based on the short time that I owned the HD600. For what it’s worth I sold them because I thought they were boring cans that neither had deep bass or sparkling highs.
The next head-fier in line to receive these headphones is head-fier Kees. It would be interested to hear what he has to say about these headphones. To all head-fiers in EU: make sure to get in touch with Kees (or GMP) if you want to try these headphones. It’s completely free.
EQUIPMENT USED FOR THIS REVIEW
Buffalo 32S DAC
Goldpoint Headphone Pro
iPod Touch 8gb 3G
GMP HEADPHONES SPECS (TAKEN FROM GMP SITE)
GMP 435S (199,00€): 20-27000Hz; 35OHM, Open, Circumaural
GMP 400 (199,00€): 14-24.100Hz; 300OHM, Open, Circumaural
Note that I am not a native speaker. I will try to correct any flaws that I can find though. :-)
Edited by apatN - 11/30/10 at 3:09pm