We were given an opportunity to review the new Studio PLUS+ headphones by Direct Sound, a very sturdy, high quality and relatively affordable pair of studio headphones. With some advanced built-in tech to increase sound quality as well as some noise isolation on top of it all, we have quite the package here. At first use at NAMM, we were impressed at the headphones ability to block out outside noise, even at a crazy loud convention like that one. Direct Sound gave us a pair to review on our own time in exchange for a fair and honest write up here today, so here are our final thoughts and experiences with the Studio PLUS+.
Features and Specs of the Studio PLUS+
- Dynamic, closed-back headphones
- Interchangeable cables (1 36″ and 1 8′ included)
- 6.3 screw-on adapter included
- Color-coded inner earpads
- High Precision Audio (HPA) drivers built-in (40 mm)
- Foldable for easy storage
- Adjustable headband
- Weight: 10.5 ounces
- Frequency response: 20 to 20 kHz
- Impedance: 32 ohm
- Sensitivity: 114 dB at 1 KHz 1 mW
- Input power: 1000 mW
- Available colors: White or Black
Standouts of the Direct Sound Studio PLUS+ headphones
First and foremost, these headphones came in the box already folded. It will really depend on the person, but to us, this feature is a big standout since not many pairs do this, and some bigger brands are even starting to steer away from foldability. It isn’t going to effect the overall quality and “is it worth buying?” question; however, for us since we travel quite frequently to gigs and performances, it’s important to be able to store these safely (it does not come with a case or bag, so we’d recommend buying one separately if you do travel or plan on using these on the road in the train, bus, at school or work).
Another great little additive feature we love of the Studio PLUS+ headphones is the color-coded inner ear pads. Right is right and black is left, and as opposed to our typical “L” or “R” on the outside of our pads, we have this feature to help our work flow. We can’t count how many times we’ve had to take our headphones off and on (especially while recording or producing) and struggled to find which ear went where. Not necessarily a “must” here, but we’re big fans of this feature — why not?
Interchanging the cables is also extremely easy here, and we’re glad they provide two options at our convenience (both cables do come with the headphones). The shortest cable wasn’t long enough for us to reach our audio interface and lean back in the chair comfortably, so we were able to switch it out with the longer, 8′ cable. Something we also noticed here is that these cables aren’t just “regular cables”, either. The shorter, 36″ extension is a thicker-than-normal solution, while the longest 8′ is an even better, sturdier “mesh” build, or what we’d describe it as “rope-like” make — definitely not breaking on us easily. Luckily Direct Sound also provides us with a gold-plated screw-on adapter — we didn’t see it at first and had to shuffle through our stuff but eventually saw it was already attached to the longer, 8′ cable. We recommend and highly prefer screw-on adapters as opposed to others that just pop-in.
The shorter cable will be best used for being up close to your computer or laptop, or perhaps if you’re listening on a smart device and don’t want to fumble with a longer cable and stuff it under your shirt. The longer cable is great for reaching distances when you need, such as into your mixer or interface when recording, or perhaps leisurely when using a headphone amp or sitting back watching a TV show or movie on your PC or laptop.
Build and stability of the Studio PLUS+
The overall fit of these things is quite comfortable, even though at first glance and feel you don’t have the beloved “leather”, “velvet” or “plush” ear pads or headband a lot of other studio headphones in this price range have. Although we were curious at first of how this would work out, the material actual helps with the headphones fit. We feel the Studio PLUS+ have a bit of a tigher fit than a few other headphones out there. For example, we have our ATH-M50x right next to us and feel they’re a bit looser than the Studio PLUS+. This will depend on your personal preference. We actually like this fit because it also helps with sound isolation, giving us that true “closed-back” feel — no sound is getting out of this one. We had a fellow reviewer wear the pair and blast the volume as loud as they were comfortable with, and we barely heard any sound. This will especially be effective for those that plan on recording with these as no sound will leak out into your mix (we still suggest mixing and mastering with some open-back headphones, however).
The Studio PLUS+ ear pad build in our experience is somewhat of a vacuum-like fit — it doesn’t hurt, but it definitely feels tight. They’re a bit more stiff than ‘normal’ ear pads we’ve worn, but we kind of like this to be honest. A big concern would be extended use and how it feels after a while of wearing them; however, we didn’t experience pain after about 4-5 hours of straight use as we wrote this review.
The headband is also adjustable, and although it takes a little more strength than average to tweak, this also ensures it doesn’t move on us while we move around or record. It combines with the tougher ear pads (still a nice, soft material) to fit on our heads very sturdily. There isn’t necessarily stainless steel or rugged metal built-in to these materials, but most headphones with that make tend to hit the $200+ range. This particular build has mostly plastic all-around, but not cheaply made whatsoever. This material ultimately does have some pros, especially when it comes to the weight department. Those studio headphones with steel or other material starts to increase both the size and weight, giving a more clunky and heavier feel on our heads. The Studio PLUS+ at 10.5 ounces are lighter than a lot other headphones out there, so if you’re DJ’ing or need to wear these on stage, it’ll be easier to move around with. Again, personal preference here.
The Studio PLUS+ headphones sound quality
Most importantly with any pair of cans and especially when we review and nit-pick, there are no complaints on the sound quality here. The drivers are a larger than aftermarket, consumer friendly headphones yet average size for ‘studio headphones’ of this caliber at 40 mm, although driver size isn’t everything, the ‘High Precision Audio’ technology built-in gives us a clear sound, especially among all frequencies (the standard response range helps as well). We didn’t hear much embellishment on the bass or treble, something a lot of those ‘studio headphones’ (aka Beats) headphones do in order to appeal to more leisure-listening consumers. The Studio PLUS+ do not do that at all. We’re enjoying the quality these are giving us. We hooked them up to our audio interface to test out the impedance and power and were pleased, especially when we got to making some music with them on.
Again, a big proponent of these headphones is the passive noise isolation. Not only will the overall build and tight fit we previously mentioned help with this, but the internal drivers are key to combine both sound quality and the ability to have outside, ambient noise being disallowed from entering our audio sphere. If you attempt to research what exactly ‘HPA’ is, there isn’t much when it comes to actually outlining what it entails. However, we do know (and especially from listening with these on) that the internal drivers, aside from being 40 mm, have a slight better means to processing digital sound. They’re able to do so by how the internal hardware is built. With some better material and overall cleaner driver technology (think of it like an engine), digital sound isn’t necessarily processed “faster”, but clearer with some higher-powered circuitry.
Conclusion of the Direct Sound Studio PLUS+ headphones review
A few complaints some may have is the overall material these are made of. For those into leather or velvet ear pads and headbands, no you won’t be getting that here. However, if you’re able to get past the outside build, the internal personality is what stands out with these. True audiophiles would wear headphones made of cardboard if it meant having better sound (no offense, we’re in this category, too). We don’t think the material is necessarily bad — again, this helps with the overall weight and fit of the headphones. Does it rival other studio headphones out there by the looks? Well, we’d say don’t judge a book by its cover. Those into the Sennheiser or even Audio-Technica looks may be skeptical at first; however, we feel these can start rival those in the $150-$200 price-range, or if they do get discounted below $150 we’d grab them instantly.
All in all, we were really impressed by the Studio PLUS+ sound quality. After plugging it into our audio interface (we use a Focusrite Scarlett right now) and giving it some in-depth listening of many types of genres to check on the frequency distribution, there wasn’t any cluttering or embellishment we noticed (especially when it comes to bass, which we’ve learned to be on the look out for the more we review headphones). Of course, our number one concern with any headphones we review are sound quality, and the Studio PLUS+ cover that realm fine.
The Direct Sound Studio PLUS+ give us a great combination of headphones features we love — lightweight, foldable, interchangeable cable, tight fit, noise isolation, and of course, clear sound quality distributed among our three favorite frequencies. Don’t forget that nifty color-coded channel identifier. They’re great for recording, performing, or even leisure listening if you want a high quality solution for enjoying your favorite tunes, TV shows or movies as well.