Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus Headphones Review
Solid audio and intense customization options make this a fashionable find.
In this day and age, why settle for something you don't want? That's Beyerdynamic's strategy with the Custom One Pro Plus, and it's been a winning formula for a few years now.
These are headphones defined by choice. Don't like something about the headphones? Change it. You can replace just about anything on these cans: the pads, the band, the faceplates, and even the sound can be changed at a whim. The Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus is designed to be whatever you want it to be—today, tomorrow, whenever.
Coming on the tails of the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro, it seems like nobody wanted to mess with a good thing. In fact, by Beyerdynamic's own admission, the hardware is identical—but now the headphones offer a new cable, and a bunch of faceplates to add a splash of personalization to your cans.
Design & Usability
Choose your own adventure
If there's one thing these cans are designed to do, it's meet your needs—whatever they might be. Don't like how they look? Change 'em. Don't like how they sound? Flip through the four different response settings with the sliders on the back of each ear cup.
This was the strategy of the preceding set of cans, and nothing changed here. Really, the differences are limited to the new cable, and the added Pog-like faceplates you can find in the box. That's it. Everything about these headphones outside of those two changes is absolutely identical to the Custom One Pros in every way. Why fix what ain't broke?
For over-ears, these are very comfortable closed-back cans. In fact, they follow many of the exact same design guidelines as Beyerdynamic's high-end headphones: A thick headband, leather removable earpads, and a relatively unassuming removable cable hung from the left ear cup. The thickly-padded band and huge ear cups do a great job of minimizing clamping force, allowing you to kick back and listen for long periods of time without discomfort. I will say that users with glasses (or Zapp Brannigan) should probably look into picking up Beyerdynamic's velour ear pads, as they are far more comfortable with specs—and they don't squeak when you move.
If you're worried about plunking down $200+ on a set of headphones, don't be: these are some of the most durable cans out there. If the cable breaks, you can easily replace it with any 1/8th inch male-to-male cable of your choosing—even the V-Moda kevlar-wrapped cables will work. Having removable cables is hands-down the best durability feature headphones can have, because it's usually the first thing that gives up the ghost over time. Additionally, Beyerdynamic makes a boom mic that can be used with the Custom One Pro Plus for online gaming.
To change the faceplates, all you have to do is unscrew the guard ring with the included hex key, and go from there. It takes some doing, but you'll get through the four screws quickly. You might find yourself picking a set of plates and sticking to it, but keep in mind you can always buy new ones. Heck why not make your own? Just measure out the dimensions of the plates and print to your heart's desire.
When it comes to switching up the sound performance, all you have to do is move the sliders on the back of each ear cup to reveal vented ports. The more you reveal, the stronger the bass response will be. For example, if you're listening to a podcast, you'll probably want to drop bass down to its lowest levels, but once you switch up to hip hop or metal you can push those lows up 20+dB to really rattle your skull.
Switch it up
Really, you can pretty much pick your poison when it comes to the Custom One Pro Plus—even if your poison is Poison. There's a setting for just about everyone, and it's very unlikely that you'll find yourself disliking these cans. None of these settings really suffer from deal-breaker issues like high distortion or violent tracking issues, but no setting is perfect.
You're very rarely going to use the first setting unless you talk on the phone a lot. You're much more likely to be bouncing between the last three settings on the cans—the second position will be passable for users who like a more flat response for mixing (or equalizing), and the fourth position is appealing for bass heads. The third position offers a bit of a middle ground between the two that I used a lot in the office, and is a really good setting to use for pop and classical music with poor leveling of its woodwinds.
These cans use some pretty serious dynamic drivers for their cost, delivering performance similar to Beyerdynamic's higher-end offerings out there. For most settings, you can assume that it'll sound more like a set of consumer-tuned headphones—meaning the lows and highs will be overemphasized to match the average human's hearing. If you're a fan of more studio-like performance, these aren't the cans for you.
There is a small peculiarity that crops up as the result of using one set of drivers to cover four responses, and that's a peak in sibilant sounds. It's not terribly obvious all the time, but it's something to be wary of if you monitor with these cans. Really, the changes you're making to the sound are mostly limited to the levels of bass. If you realize that, the somewhat dynamic mids and highs will make much more sense.
Really, the Custom One Pro Plus stands in a strange sort of middle-ground between the high-end cans and better portable options out there. If you're looking for a set of headphones that are a solid value, it's really tough to get a better bang for your buck. They punch above their weight class with super-low distortion, good sound options, and passable tracking. They offer very competitive audio performance to their closest.
The Custom One Pro Plus' isolation is great for over-ears, owing in part to just how big the ear cups are. Though they don't quite do the best at blocking out bass-heavy sounds like engine rumble or male voices, you'll find that they're adequate at the office. If you want even more isolation, you're going to be looking at active noise-canceling cans or in-ears.
The Bottom Line
Make these cans yours
I'll be honest, given the versatility of these headphones, it's really tough to recommend something else to newcomers to the higher-end audio game. Not only can they meet users' needs in terms of audio, but there's something special about a set of cans that can be tailored to suit your desires on a whim. $200 isn't cheap, but it's within reason given how good—and durable—these headphones proven to be.
There's something for just about every listener with the Custom One Pros of old, and literally nothing changed with the Custom One Pro Plus outside of the remote on the cable, and the addition of the faceplates. While it may seem like a boring or useless update, there's something to be said for not messing with success. The Custom One Pros were a fantastic set of headphones, and so are the Custom One Pro Plus.
If the Custom One Pro Plus is on your radar, I'm inclined to recommend these cans over any in their price bracket. They might not be the best at any one thing, but they are great at just about everything they do. But they are a slave to their headphone type.
Outside of the closed-back, over-ear design, you'll find headphones that complement different types of listening. For example, you can find technically better audio performance in the open-backed AKG Q701, Beyerdynamic DT880, or electrostatic/orthodynamic headphones—but you'd be shelling out more money for your entire setup, and you definitely wouldn't be taking those cans outside with you.
A good set of active noise cancelers like the Bose QC25, Harman Kardon NC, or Sennheiser Momentum Wireless will give you about 5-7dB better noise reduction over the Custom One Pro Plus. I would like to point out that so far, nothing really tops in-ears when it comes to isolation, so you might find yourself grabbing a pair of those instead. The Bose QC20i in particular is a cancellation king, but for a hefty ransom.
But when it comes to customizability and performance, you're really looking at these headphones, and the V-Moda M-100—but the V-Modas don't offer the ability to change up your sound the way the Beyerdynamics do. To their credit, though, their metal construction is amazingly durable, and the ability to fold up makes them easier to port around. The Custom One Pro Plus isn't necessarily the best pair of headphones for everyone, but no matter what your tastes, these could very well be the best pair for your wallet.
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