You cannot destroy these headphones

I hate buying something cheap. There’s nothing worse than that sinking feeling when you open something and realize it’s not long for this world. I’m also hard on my tools, which is why I bought these bullet wires from an obscure company called German Maestro.

But to talk about these headphones, I have to talk about a pair of headphones first: the Sony MDR-7506 (and its discontinued sibling, the Sony MDR-V6).

I edit a lot of videos and do voice work. And if you’ve done any video work, you’ve definitely used a pair of Sony MDRs. They are symbols. You can see the blue or red color and the braided cord from a set. When you go to film school, you’re handed a pair of MDRs like a service rifle, for no good reason.

The Sony MDR-7506s are an industry standard, excellent value, and I hate them.

The Sony MDR-7506s are an industry standard, excellent value, and I hate them.
Image courtesy of Amazon

First and foremost, it’s small. They usually go for about 80 dollars if you look for sales. Their proximity to movie sets allows you to grab these phones at a great price, because it is one of the best prices for those who want to use a phone to work. Next, it’s closed-back and completely isolated, allowing you to pick out the weaknesses in the mix. There’s a reason you see people monitoring audio on film sets and video shoots wearing these. Third, they have a “flat” feel, without being overly structured and awkward, they don’t try to dress up what you’re hearing to make it sound good. These are not heavy Beats. These are to fulfill the tasks. In the end, it’s a good build for the price. It folds up and stays put, so you can throw it in a Porta Brace bag without worrying about it getting in the way.

For what they do, MDRs are great. But they are not perfect.

For one thing, it’s a long, non-removable cable that works well in a studio setting but is ridiculous if you’re trying to listen to music on your phone. I hate this rope with every fiber of my being. In fact, I strongly suggest that all cables should be removed, as cables can take a lot of abuse. But the thing that really drives me up the wall is that I hate the way cable looks. I find that there are too many things that pop up and every time they hit it, it drives me up the wall.

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The second thing is that the foam pads on the MDRs are still very absorbent. It is not a matter of comfort; it’s just a bad floor. I always replace the pads on my headphones with Dekoni or Brainwavz pads, but you should definitely replace these pads as you see fit, especially if you’re using them in context. produce unforgivable.

A pair of Sony MDR-7506's with badly damaged sound boards.

The foam on these things is really bad, man. I have seen this and worse many times over the years.
Photo: Alex Parkin, The Verge

Finally, I don’t like how it sounds. How the audio works gets into very subjective territory, but the MDRs are, well, good, and at worst, too difficult for me. These are functional headphones, but there’s something about the treble that makes my skin crawl when I listen to what people are saying. It’s not fair to ask for the MDRs for the price, but at the end of the day, I just wanted something better: a pro version of the MDRs with better, better foam, and can remove cable options and weak sound. At the time (November 2020), this was not released in the US.

This led me down a long and winding road, trying to find a pair of earphones that ticked all the boxes: flat, unbreakable, lock-back, cable. better. When you get to the highest levels of audio manipulation, most of the IEMs’ external wiring options are open or closed. I researched some of the most popular classical music. I know a lot of people who swear by the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pros, and while they’re pretty solid, they’re durable and have some of the best soundboards of any headphone in their range. These are not what I would call fathers, and I am. was not used to the way it sounded. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x also checked a lot of my needs, but I didn’t like the sound, it wasn’t very good or very durable. My friend swears by the Sennheiser HD 300 Pros, and I believe him, but I haven’t tried them. Sony also has another flimsy but highly respected sibling to the MDR-7506 called the MDR-CD900ST with a flat cable, and a higher end model called the Sony MDR-M1ST with a detachable cable. , but the former wasn’t available outside of Japan until recently, and the latter you still have to import.

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Finally, my answer came in the form of a 76-page thread on Head-fi forums from 2009 to 2019 by a user named Acix titled “The German Maestro GMP 8.35 D Track in the studio … so much for audio, INDEED! !” I’ve never heard of the German Maestro (formerly MB Quart), but from the jump, I was impressed. The headphones look industrial. Solid. Good. In a word, they look German. man, i’m all for work (sic) on style, but those are the worst phones i’ve ever seen,” said user Bones2010. To me, they look beautiful.

A close-up picture of the German Maestro industrial brand.

“So much for audio, SO MUCH!!”
Photo by Christopher Person / The Verge

Many of the reviews were glowing, with the words “impossible” being mentioned. One sent the image of black leather shoes trampling. Another thread said that listening stations in music stores are often used. People seem to love their balanced, detailed sound and the fact that they are so sensitive that you don’t need loud music to listen to them. In the threads and elsewhere, reviews have compared it to the Sennheiser HD25-1s, but better and a bit darker. Enough. Manage it. One of the users said that it was better in every way than their MDR, which is what I wanted to pay for.

As cotton progressed over the years, people started to get more creative. Some disliked the wooden boards and replaced them with plush ones from the aforementioned DT770s and Brainwavez HM5s. Some dug holes in it and changed the wooden rope. Finally, Germany Maestro released a version with a removable cable and a pair of extra pads called the GMP 8.35 Mobile due to the demand of customers with autism. It’s refreshing to hear a company respond like this.

Oh thanks, it's a loose cable.  That's all I have to ask.

Oh thanks, it’s a loose cable. That’s all I have to ask.
Photo by Christopher Person / The Verge

The phones seem to feature the same checkmarks, but buying them can be a little tricky. Besides the drop.com delivery, no one in the United States stocked it, so I had to order directly from the manufacturer and pay in euros. I waited patiently and when they arrived, they were exactly what I needed.

I was always amazed at how sturdy they were. The plastic is thick, but the wires are not heavy. Everything done today is simple and easy. They seem to be from a different time, when results were measured in decades, not years. These are the English equivalent of Doc Martens ears. I could throw these things against a brick wall, ride a bike over them, and pull them out by the teeth of a dog, and it would be fine.

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They sound the same: “management,” said one forum user. I don’t want to get too deep into the weeds of audiophile testing because that’s not the point of this blog (although I’d be happy to send a couple of mine to the crinacle or the folks at Audio Science Review for general tests). It’s simple, flat, and has a lot of information but it’s not obvious. The bass was there, but not as strong as I’ve seen Beyerdynamics. If something is wrong with my mix, I can hear it right away, like listening to a pair of Yamaha NS10s. I ended up wanting the velor pads, which sound a little different, but now I want to try other options. They’re not the best headphones I’ve ever heard, but within the parameters of what I want them to do, they’re unbeatable.

Of course, they are not everyone’s cup of tea. Some of the people I’ve shown it to are a little sad. Some did not want to cry. When I showed it to Alex Parkin on the video team (a certified MDR user with a pair of his own who despises braided cable), I could sense his fear. “I really need to know these,” he said.

It was built like a tank.

It was built like a tank.
Photo by Christopher Person / The Verge

But even the people who couldn’t cry agreed that it was strong, good, and very lonely. The Maestros is a very good musical instrument produced by a small and obscure company that seems to care about the products they make. Is it expensive to import? I personally have no regrets.

In the corner of my desk, I have two headphones hanging from a hook: a pair of Hifiman and my Maestro.

The Hifimans are large and airy, with comfortable Dekoni pads that I replaced. Those are my simple hearing aids. It’s big and fragile and never left my desk, and I had to order a replacement headstock from the manufacturer.

My Maestro will be with them. They are my “workhorses,” smart and sturdy, about as durable and sturdy as a Herman Miller chair. Every time I pick it up, it makes me happy. I think about that set of threads that went on for ten years, with new people going around, discovering, loving, and sometimes really hating these cans. I’m keeping them knowing there’s a very good chance they’ll continue to work for decades, maybe after I’m dead and buried, and it’s very difficult to buy a tool that’s been made to last you.

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