Brief: Beyerdynamic’s follow-up to the highly successful DT231 has gotten very little attention on head-fi. The somber looks of the headphone may partially be to blame but after spending a few weeks comparing the DT235 to some far more popular options I think these lightweight wonders deserve far more praise than they get.
Build Quality (8/10): The DT235 is not a pretty headphone, that much is certain. The single-piece headband and cups are made of a rough-feeling plastic, with a thin piece of rubber acting as an elastic second headband for comfort. A white Beyerdynamic logo on the headband and model markings on the cups complete the function-over-form appearance. There are no moving parts to the structure and the 8-foot single-sided cable is thick and flexible, with functional strain reliefs on either end. There really are no weak points to the construction – the DT235 may not be particularly high-rent but there is very little to go wrong with them.
Comfort (8/10): The egg-shaped cups of the DT235 are a bit too small to be circumaural. Still, the soft velour pads and low clamping force yield a very comfortable fit. The self-adjusting elastic headband allows them stay on securely despite the low clamp. The elastic headband and simple overall structure also make the DT235 very easy to wear around the neck, which I tend to do quite a bit for convenience. The only long-term issue with the comfort is the pads heating up over time. I suspect that like Beyer’s renowned DT770/880 pads, the DT235 are actually pleather-backed, which causes them to get hotter than ‘true’ velour pads such as those on my HD25-1.
Isolation (6/10): The semi-supraaural nature of the DT235 and low clamping force lead to fairly average isolation for a closed headphone of this size. Like the ATH-M30, the DT235 is adequate for use outside but probably not too useful on a plane.
Sound (7/10): While the styling of the DT235 is easily forgettable, the sound leaves a different impression. On the whole, the DT235s emphasize balance and detail. Compared to the far pricier HD25-1, the bass of the Beyers is neither as hard-hitting nor as extended. The low end is, however, quick, controlled, and still quite impactful. There is a very pleasant fullness to the bass of the DT235s, not unlike that present in the DT770/250. Generally, the low end stays back and the midrange is placed a step forward. On bass-heavy tracks, however, the DT235s really step up and display gobs of low-end muscle – it’s an addictive sort of bass that gets layered under the music but manages to remain integral to the listening experience. There isn’t any significant midrange bleed and mids are smooth and natural. Compared to the lush low end, the midrange can sound just a bit thin, but this is hardly noticeable. Though not quite up there with the best in the category, the DT235 is clear and detailed. Partly as a result of a larger soundstage, the midrange of the DT235 is not nearly as in-your-face as that of the Senns but it’s still very enjoyable and the softer bass presentation helps keep the detail discernible. The Beyers maintain smoothness up into the treble – no harshness or sibilance is present. The treble is a bit bright but is generally very clean and unfatiguing. Top-end extension is very good for a $50 can – the Beyers do roll off earlier than the HD25, but not by much. The overall signature leans slightly towards coolness but stops far short of being called cold as such. The presentation is rather airy for a closed headphone, with a medium-sized stage and solid positioning. As a final note, I will say that the DT235 is not a very efficient headphone, requiring quite a few volume notches from my Sansa Fuze. Most portable players will drive them just fine but the low sensitivity is something to be aware of.
Value (9/10): The DT235 is easily one of the better sub-$100 headphones I have heard. The combination of simple and durable construction, long-term comfort, and truly impressive sound quality make it an excellent choice for those who care little for looks and a whole lot for substance. In the land of similarly-priced portables, the balanced and neutral nature of the DT235 is a welcome relief from the bass-heavy offerings put out by Ultrasone, AKG, JVC, and other manufacturers. In the end I can only wonder why the $55 Beyer is recommended so rarely while the previous model was commonly compared – and often quite favorably – to the still-popular Grado SR60.
Frequency Response: 18 – 22,000 Hz
Impedance: 32 Ω
Sensitivity: 95 dB SPL/1mW
Cord: 8ft (2.4m); Straight Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: N/A