On the wheels of the exceptionally well-received Neumann NDH 20 comes the Neumann NDH 30. Neumann has long had a reputation for providing some of the best studio microphones and professional monitors in the business, and the NDH 30 attempts to honor that. . Unlike its closed-back predecessor, the Neumann NDH 30 are a pair of open-back, circumaural studio headphones primarily targeting broadcast and music producers. These reference studio boxes can be used for editing, mixing and mastering purposes. Priced at ₹52,900, these cans are sure to put a dent in your wallet, but are they worth their asking price? Let’s find out.
Neumann NDH 30 review: build and features
The Neumann NDH 30 looks a lot like the NDH 20. One major difference is the open ear cups. These are wired studio monitor headphones with a brushed silver design with matte black accents. The headphones have a premium look and feel, mainly due to the high quality materials used in their construction, namely aluminum and stainless steel mixed with some plastic. The inside of the ear cups are orange in color which gives the cans a bit more flair in the design department. There are plenty of subtle yet stylish design elements that add to the premium look.
The headphones are quite heavy at 350 grams, but the Neumann have done a commendable job with the weight distribution, so they don’t feel uncomfortable despite their heft. The ear cushions are made of a velour-like material that the company calls “cloth-covered foam.” They are flexible, soft and extremely comfortable, and also interchangeable! The padding of the headband is also plush, but it causes pain on the top of the head after long periods of use.
The cups are well ventilated due to the headphones’ open-back design, but that means sound leaks out considerably and there’s not much passive isolation too. These are best for use in an indoor studio environment. The cans are also quite portable; the arms can be folded inwards and the cups rotate 90 degrees. Neumann also provided a fabric carry bag but we expected a hard case at this price.
The headband is adjustable via a spring steel band and a perforated black metal grille protects the diaphragms inside. The clamping force is sufficient. Inside the box you get a three meter long connection cable, a 3.5mm to 6.3mm format screw adapter, and the fabric carrying case. The 6.3mm adapter allows you to connect the headset to an audio interface if needed. The cable attaches to the right side of the helmet; not the usual left side, so the cable might get in the way, depending on your setup.
Since these are wired studio headphones, they don’t have a lot of features. There’s no IP rating or built-in controls, but they’re not supposed to have them. The NDH 30s are studio reference monitors intended for use in a professional setup and the features, as we mentioned above, don’t usually make their way to professional gear.
Neumann NDH 30 review: performance
The Neumann NDH 30 means serious business, and for ₹52,900, we expected nothing less from this reputable company. The sound profile is neutral with almost no coloration, which is what you’d expect from a reference-level pair of professional headphones. These enclosures contain slightly angled 38mm drivers to replicate the directivity of monitors in a studio. They have an impedance of 120 ohms, so most devices, including some smartphones, should be able to power them without the need for a super-powered amp.
Bass response is deep and dynamic, mids are exceptionally balanced and detailed, and highs are dynamic and bright. The average consumer might find the highs a bit harsh since they’re not colorful like consumer headphones – so the bright highs would sound a little artificial to some. Neumann’s goal with the NDH 30 is to deliver pure, weathered sound that’s an integral part of mixing engineers and performers – and these headphones do just that. Distortion is almost non-existent even at high volume levels and the two drivers are fairly well balanced as well.
The open-back design allows for open, spacious sound that can’t quite be achieved with closed-back headphones such as the NDH 20. Although passive isolation suffers, the stage is expansive, making the experience very immersive listening. Due to the uncolored sound representation, you may sometimes feel the need to turn up the volume levels, but we do not recommend turning it up too loud to avoid hearing damage.
Although these canisters are aimed at professionals, they can even compete with some audiophile headphones such as the Sennheiser HD 660 S and HD 800 S. While the HD 800 S has more precise treble adjustment (they are also much more expensive) , the NDH 30 matches the HD 660 S fairly well with an open, spacious and neutral sound.
Neumann NDH 30 Review: Verdict
The Neumann NDH 30 is an ideal open alternative to the popular NDH 20. Sure, at ₹52,900 it’s a lot more expensive, but you get an analytical and neutral sound profile perfect for mixing, mastering and editing. The headphones are also superbly built, feel quite sturdy and look premium. However, there are cheaper open-back headphones, such as the Sennheiser HD 660 S and the Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X. But if the price is not a bar for you, the Neumann NDH 30 will certainly not disappoint any professional. These cans sound spectacular, super premium build quality and are a great investment.