Beyerdynamic DX 160 iE Headphones Review
Above-average sound, but with fierce competition to contend with
Beyerdynamic's DX 160 iE in-ear headphones (MSRP $115) are the older sibling of the company's DX 120 iE model. The pricier 160 has plenty to tempt buyers with, including sleek design, great isolation, and piles of desirable extras.
The sound profile won't suit everyone, of course. Bass is very prominent on the 160, and upper middle notes lack some clarity. Yet perhaps the biggest issue is that competition this year is hot for both quality and price.
Busy listeners will notice a frustrating design omission.
Open up the DX 160 iE and a whole host of extras is there to greet you: two types of spiraled speaker sleeves that twist into your ears for a comfortable fit, small/medium/large traditional speaker sleeves, an extra foam set for added isolation, a Y-shaped adaptor for sharing tunes, and a carry case to protect your new headphones during transport.
Even better, the flat cable is tangle resistant and a shirt clip latches onto your collar to prevent tugging. What more could you hope for? As a matter of fact, busy listeners are left longing for the convenience of a remote and microphone. If you're on the run and you want to skip a song or answer a phone call, you'll have to consult your pocket or purse in search of your mobile device.
Bass is in the spotlight.
Like many of the headphones that come through these doors, the Beyerdynamic DX 160 iE in-ears put extra emphasis on bass. Music therefore sounds full and sonorous, a quality many listeners explicitly search for these days, and middle and high notes still ring through with plenty of volume.
Unfortunately, high middle notes do not; the prominent bass combined with a drop in volume throughout upper middle notes steals attention from sibilance on guitar, percussive instruments, and the like. This isn't a make-or-break underemphasis—you can still hear these upper middle notes—but bass tends to overshadow.
If you're a purist, you've already dismissed this product. For everyone else, the rest of the performance points are shining: The DX 160 doesn't produce unwanted distortion and it blocks tons of outside noise—thanks to the included set of foam tips.
The Bottom Line
Likely enough to please most listeners, but still a hard sell
The DX 160 iE (MSRP $115) has plenty of attractive selling points. The host of great extras, the handsome design, the colossal isolation—for many, this set of in-ears is a no-brainer purchase.
Still, 100 bucks plus isn't exactly pocket change and the competition is stout: We've seen better options, less-expensive options, and even a combination of the two. Beyerdynamic's DX 160 iE are pretty good headphones, but these days, that's not necessarily reason enough to buy.
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