Saturday, 28 April 2012

Direct Sound EX-29 Extreme Isolation Headphones

My old Sennheiser CX-300 headphones were nearing the end of their 2 year warranty. They had a small, but not too discernible split near the top of the plug. It didn't affect the sound, but I thought since it was my last chance to have it repaired, and maybe give it an extended lease of life.

While it was getting repaired I had to use what I had in the downtime. I tried to tolerate a pair of the most horrible in-ear headphones I got on my Jetstar flight to Australia. With all treble and no bass, it only lasted one day.

I like over-ear headphones, probably more for the retro aesthetic look rather than any other reason. I LOVE the sound of my Kenwood KH-K1000 cans, but they easily leak audio making them unsuitable on the trains. And besides I sent them back to Australia!

While looking through Shibuya on the 3rd of March, I was again considering the Sennheiser HD25-1 II. They sound great and have easily replaceable parts. Close by I saw the Direct Sound EX-29 Extreme Isolation headphones.

I'd heard about these through seeing Paul Gilbert use them live and part of his first Signature Fireman guitar release a few years ago.

Also watching this video turned me onto their sound isolation features.

I switched between the Sennheisers and these to try to discern any noticeable differences especially with bass as the HD's had a spec down to 5 hz, but to my ears both sounded excellent, so with the price difference (and points I got from my last purchase) I decided to get these.

The clarity is very nice. They sound quite balanced. The bass is not hyped, so all kinds of music I listened  to were equally pleasant and the stereo separation was very clear. I let her hear it too, and she wanted mine! It was her birthday at the end of the month so I decided a week later to get her a pair as well.

All's well until April 21st when I was getting to work. I just took them off my head and the cup clip on my right side had snapped off the headband! Like all new things I baby them carefully so I was quite shocked.

From looking at some forums, it looks like this was a common problem. I was going to take them into the Shibuya store where I bought them, but I figured with my poor Japanese it'd be better, and quicker to go straight to the source.

I emailed Direct Sound's customer support and found them to be absolutely fantastic. They sent the replacement parts immediately so by the 28th, they were as good as new.

From looking at this video, it looks like they have made the headbands more durable, so I guess time will tell. But seeing how they responded quickly and professional, I'd still recommend these if you want a great pair of cans.

I get some strange looks when I walk around with these, but really, being a foreigner in Japan is par for the course for getting strange looks so.. meh. They get a little sweaty with prolonged use, and I'm sure in the Summer it will get much worse, but for now I'm quite happy with them.