For any up and coming DJ, getting the perfect headphone is a must (along with other equipment too, of course). But, the headphone market is stuffed with so many alternatives, it can get confusing on the best one to pick. Today we have two popular headphones in the category—Beyerdynamic’s Custom Street and Ultrasone’s DJ1. Read on to find out who’s the best.
Since both headphones are made for on-the-go DJs, we are going compare them on these parameters. If you want to know more about what to look for in your DJ headphones, you can check out this article.
The Beyerdynamic Custom Street is the younger brother of the higher-priced and larger Custom One Pro Plus. Just like its older brother, it is made of plastic and aluminium. Just out of the box, this on-ear looks sleek with its simple and subtle design. You have the Beyerdynamic logo on top of the headband while the earcup covers are made of aluminium and easily blend in.
CUSTOM STREET’S CUSTOMISABLE PANELS VS. D1’S SIMPLE, ELEGANT LOOK
This headphone can be easily customised. The earcup covers, custom rings, headband and design covers can be easily swapped. Upcoming DJs can even design their own covers to showcase their logo/name/initials.
Just like its counterpart, even the Ultrasone DJ1 has its elder brother—The DJ1 Pro (Though a comparison between both older brothers will need another blog post). Both headphones look almost the same with their durable plastic build.
The earcups are oval-shaped and are stuffed with faux leather. The headband is padded too, but only on the top arch. It comes in a simple black and white design.
The thing I loved about the DJ1 (and I’m sure you will too if you are a DJ) is the cable. It has a sumptuous 3m long cable. It starts with a straight cable, goes on a coiled part and then ends with a straight section again. This keeps it from getting tangled (Phew!) or catching on any equipment. The length also makes it easy to move around in the DJ booth.
On opening the Custom Street’s box (it is a simple package, much like the headphone), you are greeted with the hard shell zip-up case. Inside the case, you can find the headphone along with its accessories. These include a cable, 8 pairs of earcup panels and a hex wrench to easily swap the covers.
The detachable cable features a one-button remote and mic. With this, you can switch tracks, play/pause, take calls and more. The only problem with the remote is its lack of volume, so you will always have to fish out your phone from your bag to change it.
The Custom Street is extremely portable. The earcups can swivel by 90 degrees and fold flat making it really easy to slip them in the carry case (though they are not as compact as the DJ1).
Coming to the comfort, while the headpad and earpad don’t look as comfy and plush, I cannot really say that they were uncomfortable. The headband isn’t as flexible as I would have liked. The clamping force feels normal.
BEYERDYNAMIC’S DETACHABLE CABLE VS. ULTRASONE’S SUPER-PORTABILITY
I also didn’t get the point of including the bass switch (a little more on this later) on both earcups. I mean you will need to change the settings on both earcups (so that they are balanced) whenever you need to adjust the bass.
What I loved the most about this headphone—The fact that I can share my music with my friend. On the bottom of each earcup, there is a socket. While one can connect to an audio player, the other connects to my friend’s headphone.
Unlike the Custom Street where the hard case (containing the headphone and accessories) just slides out in an easy, classy way, unboxing the DJ1 is not as much a pleasure. On opening the box, you will find the headphone packed-in with accessories in a plastic bag. The accessories include a carry pouch and two screw-on adapters (3.5mm and 6.3mm).
If you are looking for an uber-portable headphone, this is it. The earcups fold inwards to become super-compact. They can also rotate an entire 180 degrees for convenient one-sided listening.
In terms of comfort, well, I would prefer the Custom Street. While the DJ1 has an over-ear design (which certainly makes it great due to its noise isolation), the ear cushions have an ‘exact’ fit and feel a bit tight. This makes it uncomfortable when worn for more than a few hours. The clamp-like fit is also probably responsible for this.
With the Custom Street, you can customise your sound along with the design. A switch on each earcup lets you adjust the bass response in three different settings i.e. Linear, Standard and Maximum Bass.
Unlike a good number of headphones with a bass slider, this headphone uses bass reflex vents instead of a powered amp. While this gives you a more natural sounding bass, it does lead to a little sound leakage.
No matter how much the bass is increased/decreased, the high-mids and highs still sound prominent and clear. The mids sound a little recessed and withdrawn. The vocals lack depth and on a few songs sounded a little tinny.
To give you a rough idea how each setting sounds, let’s start with the Linear mode. The bass is much too little for my liking. It sounds really thin and brittle. The saving grace on this mode was the isolation (since the bass vents are closed). The vocals and mids are the clearest in this mode.
CUSTOM STREET’S CUSTOMISABLE SOUND VS. DJ1’S SUPREME CLARITY
My personal favourite is the Standard mode. Here the bass opens out. It sounds full, clean and punchy. In some songs, I could even feel the sub-bass. Basically, music sounds well-balanced and extremely accurate on these.
Coming to the last setting i.e. Heavy Bass, well, bassheads are certainly going to walk about with their Custom Streets on this setting. Going on maximum bass means unleashing uncontrollable thunderous low-end frequencies. This sound does not distort, even at unwise volume levels. The details, though, tend to be overpowered and the overall audio experience tends to lean towards the lows.
Heavy bass with tons of clarity is how I would like to describe the Ultrasone DJ1’s sound in a nutshell. The bass is rich and quite deep. While not as heavy as the Custom Street’s Heavy Bass sound, you can still enjoy the punch of the low frequencies.
You can even hear the mids and highs quite clearly without much recession. Of course, with such a heavy sound some details are bound to be lost, but I would be ready to overlook this for the audio I get.
The DJ1 certainly has a better soundstage and I think that this is all thanks to Ultrasone’s S-Logic Plus technology. I could easily imagine most of the instruments I could hear (though being a closed-back, it fell short of a concert-like experience). I guess this makes it one of the best portable headphones with a wide spatial experience.
S-Logic Plus is also supposed to reduce the amount of sound pressure on your ears, which, while I have no way of finding out whether it’s true, I certainly like the sound of it.
Personally I find both headphones equally good. If you want something that can be customised, is extremely comfy and has a V-shaped sound, the Custom Street is your best pick. But, if you are looking for something that is easily portable, has heavy bass and does not compromise on clarity, choose the DJ1.
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