We tested the NDH 30 headphones from the legendary audio company Neumann. Studio-quality open headphones made for editing, mixing and mastering.
Audio and music equipment presents such confusion and a “fork in the road” that relying on a trusted brand like Neumann is a safe bet when choosing a polarizing product like open-back headphones.
Neumann’s NDH 30 open-back headphones are at the top level of the market, with no expense spared in build and sound quality. These are made for when you are immersed in your music.
If you’re new to the benefits of open-back headphones, you can find plenty of discussion, advice, and dos and don’ts on the web, but simply put, they offer clearer, more natural sound with no ear fatigue.
Neumann may be best known for microphones like the U 47, 87 and 67, the TLM 103 and the infamous M 49, but musicians and audio engineers alike are giving their monitors the proverbial tick of approval. His KH 150 monitors, released late last year (2022), garnered attention in the music community. Not an easy feat when people like to pigeonhole you in your best-known products.
The NDH 30s are in complete marriage to the KH line of monitors, as they were developed with their MA 1 (Microphone and Monitor Alignment System) to be a portable solution. Neumann knows that musicians are on the move these days and he doesn’t want you to doubt your work every time you change locations.
Putting on the NDH 30s is the ultimate in comfort. The ear cushions and headband fit comfortably on the head and feel solid. It’s all about longevity with open headphones, as the primary use is for long editing, mastering, or mixing sessions.
They come packed with a detachable 3m high-quality cloth-covered cable, a soft bag, and the box with a molded foam inside is durable enough for long-term storage.
The drivers are 38mm neodymium with a frequency range of 12Hz to 34kHz with a nominal impedance of 120 ohms and weigh 352 grams. It handles powers of 1000 mW in peak and 200 mW of continuous sound.
Instant reaction sound is crystal clear and clean with plenty of headroom. No A/B, these against one of Neumann’s KH monitors, I can’t comment on the translation, but I found they translated very well in our studio control room.
It’s always a good idea to have a mix reference playlist for trying out new monitors or headphones (even headphones!), and these got my thumbs up. The snare on Frank Ocean’s single Lost had a clear sound I heard, the ride cymbal on Brad Mehldau’s version of Radiohead’s Knives Out wasn’t too bright and Jeff Buckley’s guitar on Hallelujah was up front and didn’t fade into its reverb.
The earpads and cable are replaceable, and if you’re wondering, yes, they’re very, very similar to Neumann’s closed-back headphones, the NDH 20.
While they’re not the cheapest headphones on the market, you can be guaranteed the highest quality, and honestly, if you were to equip yourself with the NDH 20 and 30 headphones, and a pair of their KH line monitors, you could find the job. increasingly streamlined and consistent.
The Neumann NDH 30 headphones are priced at $1229 AUD and you can learn more at Neumann.com