Direct Sound from the USA is not yet famous, at least it stay outside of my radar until my audiophile buddy, yen from Stereo Head show me the sample of their headphones, Direct Sound EX-29 which is selling for 130USD currently for reviewing purpose. Hereby I also thanks for his kindness for lending me his unit.
Direct Sound EX-29, Ergonomics and Design
EX-29 (In fact for entire current line-up of Direct Sound) is designed more towards professional application/monitor purpose rather than for audiophile purpose, we can track these by the closed back design and ‘peltor headphone’ industry looks.
For a closed back headphone, or maybe I have long been using open back headphones, the isolation is really good as Direct Sound claimed. The pad itself is quite stiff and hard, not the cushy type but not really a problem upon my usage, clamping force is modeate and at least there is no critical comfort issue, I am happy to wear it for hours (Although might cause sweat in hot days, but what closed back headphones not by the way?). It is not difficult to drive.
EX-29 is quite durable despite it is finished in plastic, it certainly does not apply any luxury materials on it but this doesn’t mean that it is fragile, in fact I think Direct sound is quite clever for choosing materials, balancing the price and build quality factor, finishing is acceptable especially for the price, outlook is not what EX-29 is about, it is about headphone for the job and its apllication.
Source : Dell Desktop
DACs : Firestone Audio CustomCute, M2Tech Hiface DAC
Headphone Amplifier : Tubeamp BL-2
EX-29 is a laid back, dark sounding and quite balance overal. Midrange and vocal is quite nice and thick, with laid back signature vocal is actually enjoyable. It is quite slow in terms of speed and punch with some grain in the music, but it is quite euphonic and the price is sweet. Treble is quite rounded off and there is no sense of harsh, nice for music listening because even after hours of listening I am not tired of the sound, however, at times I think the treble has caused the overal sound sounded less airy and spacious.
One thing that EX-29 one very right is it is neither forward sounding nor sounded too far. In fact the distance is quite nice, soundstage is quite small as you will be expecting for a closed can headphones, bass is not really boosted but sometimes it is muddy.
So where should Direct Sound EX-29 sit?
The Direct Sound is good for its application and it really seals quite well. Noise isolation is very good and although it works in passive way, it is impressive. For this reason, I honestly think that broadcaster and those demand more noise attenuation have to consider this headphone seriously. For music along, although it is not really bad, but I think might be a better all rounder available.