Hot on the heels of the well-received NDH 20, Neumann is back with the brand new NDH 30. An open-backed pair of headphones with a keen eye for serious studio work. But can they replicate the success of the NDH 20 in an open-backed model? Read on to find out.
Neumann NDH 30
Neumann hasn’t gone out and simply changed the housing from the NDH 20. The NDH 30 is its own beast with some fantastic features. Check out the highlights before we take a closer look.
With a range of valuable features, the NDH 30 sets itself apart from other open-backed headphones on the market. Let’s dive into the details.
First and foremost, the Neumann NDH 30 is a reference-level set of headphones that can do serious work in the studio. The sound profile is sublime and reveals what open-backed headphones can be.
These are exceptionally neutral headphones without a hint of color across the full range of 12Hz – 34kHz. The NDH 20 was already a very neutral set of cans, but these take it further.
The lows offer plenty of punch without any boominess. The open-back design also lends well to eliminating low-end build-up. Clean and precise but with enough life to make them enjoyable beyond a studio setting.
The NDH 30 features a broad and accurate frequency range.
The midrange is also up there with the best. Perhaps a little forward, but to my ears, I prefer a slightly more pronounced focus in this range. There is no unwanted resonance and a pure and accurate sound that perfectly highlights the tonality in this range.
Likewise, the top end provides ample sparkle without harshness. Once again, the focus here is on pure and clean sound. And these headphones deliver.
Distortion is non-existent, which adds to the appeal of these studio headphones. The balance between the two drivers is also accurate and stable.
As you would expect, the soundstage is more spacious and broad than the closed NDH 20. But it also offers exceptional spatial positioning.
An immersive yet focused output that is fantastic for serious work. But at no point do these headphones sound bland. It’s a rich and full soundscape that is inviting.
At 104 dB sensitivity, these also pack quite the punch in the volume department. Enough headroom for the vast majority of applications.
Neumann touts these as a headphone equivalent to their super popular line of monitors. And I’m inclined to agree wholeheartedly. The sound profile is remarkably comparable. If you are already a fan, you’ll know what to expect. But for those unfamiliar, you’re in for a treat.
These are stunningly accurate headphones that are more than capable of serious studio work. But equally pleasant for casually enjoying your favorite music.
There are also some notable changes here in comparison to its closed-back counterpart. But all the slight modifications add to what was already a comfortable experience in the NDH 20.
The first notable difference is the change in ear cup padding. According to Neumann, these don’t offer memory foam since the density impacted the sound profile they were going for.
This did make me feel that perhaps the ear padding would be inferior. But I was pleasantly surprised to find it quite the opposite. These are lush and plush and a little larger, giving your ears ample room.
The ear padding is soft and comfortable.
Long sessions in the studio can become a tedious affair when dealing with uncomfortable headphones. With these, you can comfortably work all day without feeling them.
The headband design retains the same qualities as the NDH 20. It adjusts cleanly and adapts well to your head shape. The padding design here is also fantastic. The most notable is the little dip in the middle which prevents that awkward pressure point discomfort at the tip of your head.
Another change is the clamping force. The NDH 20 offered a rather tight grip ideal for isolation and stability, but it was a little forceful. The NDH 30 provides a more relaxed fit that adds to the comfort level. Not too loose where these will slip and slide but just enough to give an inviting and secure fit.
Small changes like this showcase the focus on delivering an uncompromising comfort experience in the studio. If you need a high level of comfort from your headphones, these are an easy recommendation.
The Neumann NDH 30 offers an almost identical appearance to the NDH 20, barring the open-back ear cups. And hey, if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
I like the design sensibilities behind these headphones. These project a slick silver finish instead of an uninspired and bland all-black appearance. And it isn’t that cheapy looking silver than many budget options feature. It has a vibrance and polished feel that oozes style and class.
Slick styling and high-quality components.
The engraved Neumann logo, coupled with the cups’ orange accents, gives it some extra flair. The shaped grille reminiscent of Neumann monitors adds a nice touch.
The Neumann NDH 30 offers some other notable design features beyond aesthetics. Internally the 38mm drivers don’t sit flat. And instead, they provide a slight angle to replicate the directionality of monitors in a studio setting.
The calibration behind these is also unique to these headphones. Neumann has not slapped open ear cups onto the existing NDH 20 profile. These are their own and unashamedly so.
The impedance of 120 ohms is low enough that you won’t need a super-powerful amp to drive these. Even when directly attached to a smartphone, these hold up rather well.
Another appealing element is the foldable design. Most open-backed studio headphones do not fold. And while I appreciate that in a studio setting, it isn’t necessary, I’m glad these offer it. It is simple and convenient to fold these up into a compact package and take them on the road.
It is worth noting the headphone jack is on the right earcup. Most other headphones opt for the left side, so the cable could be in your way, depending on your setup.
The Neumann NDH 30 also offers exceptional build quality. These are robust headphones that are up to the challenges of frequent use.
The ear padding is high quality, and replacement ear pads are available if required. They resist dirt and grime quite well, but as with most fabric-covered earpads, they will eventually become a dirty mess.
The headband is solid and dependable. It features flexible steel, which combines durability and shape integrity. The earcup covers offer lightweight aluminum that is equally robust.
The flexible steel headband is very durable.
Component quality is also up there with the best in the business. High-gauss neodymium magnets take center stage in the drivers.
The cloth-covered cable is also internally balanced, which significantly improves over regular cables. At 9.8 ft. (3 m), this straight cable also allows you to move freely.
There are some plastic elements, but the balance between metal and plastic is excellent.
These are a little heavier than some competitors at 0.77 lbs. (350 grams). But this adds to the premium feel of these headphones. Plus, despite the higher than average weight, it doesn’t impact comfort levels.
Neumann has a reputation for impeccable quality, which is on full display here. No complaints.
Premium quality materials and precision engineering does result in a high price point. There are cheaper open-backed headphones out there. But there are also more expensive options that can’t compete with the level of quality on display here.
These are also a bit sparse when it comes to included accessories. You will only have access to one straight cable. You can buy a coiled option, but this is an added expense on top of an already high price point. But it does come with a pouch for transport.
There is a case of diminishing returns when it comes to headphones. But the Neumann NDH 30 is worth every bit of its price point. Super high quality and spectacular sound. It is an investment but one you won’t regret.
Bring On The Competition
There have been several manufacturers in the audio scene that have recently moved into the headphone market. And with mixed results.
But Neumann has followed up an impressive opening with an even better follow-up. I welcome the increase in competition. The more high-quality options available, the higher the likelihood that existing stalwarts of the industry won’t rest on their laurels.
Companies like Neumann that have a strong reputation for quality are good for the headphone market.
It also highlights how being a specialist in one area doesn’t exclude you from branching out. Neumann is best known for its line of microphones along with its studio monitors. And I’ll admit I was skeptical at first when hearing they were moving into headphones. And that, if anything, highlights my own bias after years in the industry.
I’m a big supporter of sticking to trusted brands. But this recent wave of new products has highlighted that it is worth expanding your scope. Especially if it is from a brand that already has a solid reputation in the audio scene.
Competition breeds innovation and also creates more diversity and choice for us. Both of these things are beneficial for an industry’s long-term development and health. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what the future holds with so many new high-quality products hitting the market from new contenders.
While Neumann may be a newcomer to the headphones scene, some established options are worth considering. Below are a few other open-back cans to check out.
Sennheiser HD 800 S Review
The Sennheiser HD 800 S is another superb set of open-backed headphones. It offers stunning sound in a robust and dependable package.
- Super detailed and accurate response for precise mixing and mastering.
- Ergonomic fit despite the rather bulky weight and appearance.
- Substantially more expensive than the Neumann NDH 30.
Read our full Sennheiser HD 800 S review for more detailed information.
Sennheiser HD 800 S
AKG K701 Review
AKG produces a large variety of high-quality headphones. The K701 is among their best offerings, with detailed and accurate sound.
- Excellent clarity and precision in the sound profile.
- A lightweight design that adapts to your head well.
- Non-replaceable cable along with heavy use of plastic in the build.
Read our full AKG K701 review for more detailed information.
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro Review
The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro is another firm favorite in the open-back headphone market. High build quality and impressive sound make it an excellent choice.
- A natural and spacious soundscape that retains neutrality.
- Inviting ear pads that are among the most comfortable in the market.
- The high impedance rating means you’ll need an amp to get the most out of them.
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro
Should You Buy?
The Neumann NDH 30 is another impressive showing from the Berlin-based company. Building on the success of its debut offering Neumann has delivered another stunning pair of headphones.
A sensational sound profile that is both balanced and lively. An ideal choice for detailed analytical listening. Great for mixing and mastering but also pleasant for day-to-day listening. When you combine high-quality materials with fantastic comfort, it is hard not to recommend these headphones.
While the price is a little high, it still presents excellent value. It is hard to find a pair of headphones that ticks so many of the right boxes below this price point. If you are on the fence, I suggest jumping off and taking the plunge. Thes headphones don’t disappoint.
Neumann NDH 30