Cons - Recommended only for acoustic, and requires an amplifier.
There is certainly a design intent for these headphones. An engineer at some point sat down to create these phones, and I believe she walked away from the experience and effort with a certain satisfaction in the results. Why do I say this? It is because I am listening to these phones as I write this review. And I am enjoying what I hear.
In the simplest review possible, I could call the Beyerdynamic DT-831 an anti-bass headphone in a sealed form. But that would almost completely miss the point. These phones are intended to be musical, detailed, and free of any bass bloat that is too often associated with sealed headphones.
However, unlike other sealed designs against which these phones must compete, the DT-831 will require suitable power to drive. I do not customarily drive headphones to high volumes. In fact I believe that is one of the benefits of using a sealed phone (or an in-ear design) as they can generally be played at a lower volume, allowing for less toxic sonic stress on the listener. However if the user were to connect these phones to an iPod, the sound would not be satisfying. And this would be an issue even at low volumes. I do not know why the engineering decision was made to result in a headphone with 250 ohm load in a sealed design versus the 38 ohm load in the significantly more popular sealed design of the Audio Technica ATH-M50x. But my ears tell me there is a sonic benefit to the design of the DT-831. There is more cohesion and musical tone once the DT-831 is mated to a proper headphone amplifier.
That being said, these are most certainly a detail oriented headphone. In an optimally quiet environment, I would much prefer to listen to my Sennheiser HD650, which present a similar load but are sonically more balanced. The load can be a benefit to counter a modern USB powered headphone amplifier, like the Meridian Explorer. Because the Explorer has an internal impedance of 5.5 ohms, it is less friendly to the sealed 38 ohm load of the ATH-M50x. And the DT-831 would provide an acceptable load and reap the benefits of the amplifier. But the HD650 can provide a similar load and a sound that is far more balanced than the DT-831. If you listen to well-recorded Jazz or Classical music, the detail of the DT-831 is welcome. However for the majority of poorly recorded or loudness war mastered disasters of modern pop music, the edge will soon become tiresome with the DT-831. I'm just getting back into my headphone listening hobby, so I cannot offer an alternative sealed option. But I'm sure a few must exist, and at a price somewhere below the cost of the HD650.
The source material I used were digital tracks downloaded in FLAC format, each sampled at 24-bit of various rates (96 kHz, 44.1 kHz, 88.1kHz, and 48 kHz). I also listened to FLAC at 192 kHz, which had to be down-sampled to 96 kHz by my playback software (Audirvana Plus). The headphone DAC used (Schiit Fulla) could handle all sample rates up to its 96 kHz limit.
How can any human, living or otherwise, fail to appreciate the Santa-Claus-furred-ear-cradling Luftwaffe severity of these utterly closed and bright side-intelligencers? They deliver the analytical groceries with icicles to spare.
Trust me when I tell you they'll sound even brighter once you're dead. Sonic knife-tossing is especially prized among the black gas etherea of Chaos, and these phones, what with their forward-looking miniplug and backward-staring deco cross grilles and tinted B&W Color Scheme of the Dead, throw auditory shapes as deliciously brittle as this humble skeleton with xylophone-tong bones could possibly hope for.
Yes, I happen to love mine and doubt I'll ever sell them. Dig me up in a few years if you're fiending for a listen.