headphones

Beyerdynamic DX 120 iE Headphones Review

Plenty of great performance points, but not without some key drawbacks

$59.99 at Amazon
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Beyerdynamic's DX 120 iE in-ears (MSRP $99) do a lot of things well, especially for the price. For in-ear types, they're quite comfortable, with the added bonus that they block plenty of outside noise. Buyers are sure to love the added accessories, too.

Yet shoppers would do well to carefully consider the soundscape before purchasing. These headphones lack emphasis in the high end, which means music sounds very bass heavy. Some listeners love that kind of profile, but if you're anything of an audiophile, this sound quality just won't do.

The Outfit

10 great accessories, one glaring omission

Many consumers are sure to consider the DX 120 IE headphones based on the portability that in-ears generally offer. With that in mind, Beyerdynamic outfits these headphones with a flattened cable that wards off tangles, a shirt clip that reduces tug, and even a Y-adapter for sharing music with a friend.

To answer a phone call or pause a song, you'll have to fumble through pockets and purses in search of your device.

Still, certain drawbacks mean these Beyerdynamics aren't exactly the perfect companion to commuters. An included soft carry case works nicely for safe storage—and you'd better use it every time, because these aren't the most durable headphones. The cable isn't substantial, the speaker sleeves tend to slip off, the jack isn't gold plated, and the reinforcements look a bit vulnerable, too.

But the traveler's biggest gripe will probably be the omission of a mic and remote. If you want to answer a phone call or pause a song, you'll have to fumble through pockets and purses in search of your device.

No one will complain of an uncomfortable listening experience, however. Beyerdynamic includes a generous set of differently sized speaker sleeves—seven altogether. One pair sports a unique shape, too, so that users can "corkscrew" the speakers into the ear for a reliable fit.

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The Audio

I am bass, hear me roar.

The main thing to know before purchasing the DX 120 iE headphones is that they're big on bass and light on treble. If you're a purist, if you're someone that enjoys equalizing your own tunes, or if you're a classical enthusiast, these aren't the best buy for you.

Percussive shimmer, the delicate sibilance of a violin, the pierce of a piccolo—these notes lack decent prominence.

These in-ears lack detail in the high range. It's not that these headphones overemphasize bass, it's that they underemphasize treble. Thumping bass, low-down notes on brass, drums, and strings—those sound out richly and beautifully. Middle range instruments sound great, too. Much of the vocal range, plus midrange notes on every string, horn, and woodwind in the book sound forth loud and clear, despite the prominent bass.

The trouble is that high mids and very high notes fall sharply in volume. Percussive shimmer, the delicate sibilance of a violin, the pierce of a piccolo—these notes lack decent prominence.

That's a shame, too, because these things are otherwise a total ace. They block loads of annoying outside noises, thanks to their in-ear ear form factor. They absolutely dominated our distortion tests, they balance volume expertly in both speakers, and they don't produce any unwanted echoing. The only hangup is the lack of emphasis on tip-top notes, and that can be a real deal breaker for audiophiles or classical lovers.

Comparable Products

Before you buy the Beyerdynamic DX 120 iE, take a look at these other headphones.

The Bottom Line

One performance drawback and a lot of competition make these a rather tough sell.

Before you buy the DX 120iE in-ears (MSRP $109), consider these key drawbacks: Bass overwhelms the soundscape because of underemphasized treble, and there is no microphone or remote.

Perhaps you never use a mic and remote, and maybe you love big, booming bass. After all, the DX 120 iE aced every other performance test we threw at them: They're comfortable, free of distortion, and great isolators, too. Either way, shopping around never hurts. Better priced, better-performing options are frequently just around the bend.

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