> > > BeatIt Test: Direct Sound EX-25 Extreme Isolation Headphones

Very recently, we have received yet another parcel from DrumStore – an excellent outlet based in Gdynia, Poland. Inside, there was a number of interesting objects, which we are going to thoroughly test for you. We will share the results of our tests with you as we go along. Today, we would like to present our review of the Direct Sound EX-25 Extreme Isolation headphones.

Our impressions as far as the quality of the headset itself are very positive. All the strain relief spots next to the jacks, the jack socket the and ear cups (that’s where cables usually wear if the cable bending radius is too small) look very solid and are made of aluminium, not plastic, which has a positive influence on the appearance. The headband is strong and fully adjustible, it will easily fit any head size. The ear pads and the headband pad are replaceable. That also is good news since the plastic is strong and the headset could serve the end user for a very long time. The drivers are covered with a cloth in two colours (black for the left, red for the right channel), which is a very practical solution as one does not have to look for a tiny ‘L’ or ‘R’ in the ear cups. The headphones come in two colours: black and white (we received them in the former).

The isolation capacity was checked during my band’s rehearsal. They are very good (the manufacturer promises up to 36.7 dB), even as much as perfect for my expectations. It is due to the fact that the ear cups eliminate high frequences present in the vocals and distorted guitars while reducing the volume of the instrument mix as a whole. This allows a drummer to keep click volume down while it is still fully audible. When playing the drums, all the drum kit elements will be heard without any problems. This is good news to all the drummers and drummerettes out there who worry about hearing protection (for those who don’t, too). My bandmates in turn heard no click bleed. In studio conditions, bleed from the headphones presented no problem either.

We should also point out that the cable (running from the ear cups to the jack) is equipped with a stereo jack connector (female + male). Thanks to this, in case of a sudden tug or jerk, the cable will not be damaged in the strain relief areas. Also the price (around PLN 450/USD130) is quite encouraging given what the headphones offer in return.

2. Basic specification:

  • Manufacturer: Direct Sound
  • Model: EX-25 Extreme Islolation
  • Type: over-ear headphones
  • Frequency: 20-20,000 Hz
  • TruSound™
  • Driver: 40 mm
  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Sensitivity: 107 dB at1 KHz 1 mW
  • Cable: 2,750 mm
  • Plug: 1/8 mini jack with a 1/4 stereo jack adaptor
  • Weight: 270 g (including cable and jacks)
  • Red is Right™ – channel identification
  • IncrediFlex™ – fully adjustible headband

As far as the sound characteristics of the Direct Sound EX-25 Extreme Isolation headphones are concerned, we asked Artur Nowak – an electronic engineer, electrician, sound engineer, pianist and bassist – to give us a handful of his impressions:

“Some of the people I asked to try these headphones out said they were somewhat lacking in the bass department. That’s, obviously, not true. You can even hear how nicely it goes down providing the rest of the arrangement doesn’t get in the way. The dynamics the device offers makes it prefer the kick drum rather than the growl of a bass guitar. I was able to achieve the most satisfactory proportions on selected Depeche Mode tracks, where the bass is mostly synthetic, hard and broad, which fills the band better.

The high end is also very dynamic, when listening at a high volume level the ear may be a little “stung”. The headphones could use a bit of softness there, which would reduce the slightly “metallic” ring. However, it must be said that the high frequencies are well matched with the low end.

Mid range. This is where it gets the most interesting. I didn’t use a spectrometer, but by ear I can feel a boost starting from 500 Hz (maybe 1 kHz) to 4 kHz (perhaps a little bit more). It is very cleverly integrated because the clarity of vocals, guitars, strings, brass shines even more brightly. The stereo also benefits from that. There is no brashness typical for budget headphones. The disadvantage of the concept is the impression of insufficient bass and high frequencies slightly pushed back. Let me stress that again: it’s only an impression.

I would use these headphones as studio support (mid-range and stereo control) because the sound quality is really good. For my taste, the device is too analytical and dynamic for the purposes of listening to music just for pleasure. However, I don’t consider it a shortcoming. It is probably a deliberate kind of sound presentation. These are good headphones with certains features which can be tamed and put to one’s use.”

OUR VERDICT: 5/5

Advantages:

  • Very well crafted
  • Dynamic sound
  • Great isolation
  • Replaceable pads
  • Very good studio headphones

Disadvantages:

  • None
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