Bring It Home: Beyerdynamic Amiron Home High-End Headphone ReviewDecember 13, 2016
Having owned Beyerdynamic’s DT990 PRO and acclaimed T90 headphones early on in my journey to #AudioNirvana, I thought I knew what I was getting into when I was offered a review unit of the T90’s recently-released successor, the Amiron Home. I was dead wrong. In other words, wow. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
If you’re familiar with the house sound of Beyerdynamic’s high-end headphones, you’ll feel right at home when you fire up the Amiron Home, which doesn’t stray too, too far from what has been a successful sonic signature for decades. Instead, the Amiron Home offers a much-welcomed refinement of it—a fine-tuning that easily makes this headphone an end-game contender. Yes, you read that right—it’s that good.
For the Amiron Home, Beyerdynamic engineers have been hard at work refining everything loved about the T90 (spaciousness, clarity, realism)—and fixing everything that was hated about it (namely sibilance and the peaky and sometimes strident treble). Beyerdynamic also states that it further refined its Tesla technology for the Amiron Home, modifying the transducers to further diminish unwanted vibrations and completely eliminate annoying treble resonances. I’m not one to usually buy into a brand’s marketing speak right off the bat, but the way Beyerdynamic describes the Amiron Home is almost exactly how my ears hear it—and that’s an amazing feat because you’ve got to be picky along this hi-fi highway.
Home Sweet Home
At first listen, the Amiron Home is not at all what I expected, and that’s a good thing. Being fondly familiar with the overly-excited bass and treble of the DT990 PRO (review), the cutting clarity and cool, edgy traits of the T90 (review), and the clinical precision of the T1, I thought the Amiron Home would fall somewhere in line with the three. The honest truth, though, is that the Amiron Home is really a headphone all its own, picking and choosing traits of each to evolve into something much more. In fact, the Amiron Home is likely the richest and most balanced Beyerdynamic headphone I’ve heard to date.
“Amiron Home is our invitation to pure musical enjoyment: Just sit back in your favourite chair and let the sound carry you away.”
From top to bottom the Amiron Home is crisp, clean and controlled. It exhibits excellent detail retrieval. It’s tonally rich and engaging. It has presence and space. It’s intimate and cohesive. It’s everything you could want in a headphone, and maybe more, because it exhibits all of this without ever overdoing any of it.
So let’s start at the beginning.
Early on The Spirited Uncle M taught me that reaching the elusive state of Audio Nirvana isn’t just about how good your gear is, it’s also about how good your recordings are. Enter Dave Grusin’s Homage to Duke, a digital master by GPR Records, and one of the best sounding Redbook CDs I have heard. While this album won’t tickle everyone’s fancy, it really reveals exactly what your gear is capable of, which makes it an excellent test album for discerning listeners—exactly who Beyerdynamic is targeting with the Amiron Home.
“More precise than ever, the sound tuning will amaze even the most discerning music enthusiasts.”
Again, I won’t argue with Beyerdynamic’s claims. Right from the start of Homage to Duke, I was thrust into the studio alongside the ensemble. Cymbals shimmer and cut cleanly through the clutter, ringing incredibly true to life with really nice timbre and decay. Bass notes, whether from strings or kick drums, reach deep and hit with speed, punch and precision. Horns and pianos are full of gusto. Vocals are both natural and engaging.
Overall, the Amiron Home has a sweetness and balance throughout its dynamic range that its predecessors lacked—you can forget bass bloat or bloom that drowns out the mid-range and that dreaded harsh sibilance and tizzy, tipped-up treble that you’ve likely seen cursed on audio forums around the WWW. The Amiron Home truly delivers on its promise to bring you concert-quality sound that’s defined by precise bass, transparent mids and clear highs.
The Amiron Home’s rich tonality and resolution were particular standouts for me. The new tuning brings much-needed warmth to the Beyerdynamic line. I dare say that the Amiron Home makes the Sennheiser HD650—a headphone commonly regarded for its lush mids and traditional analog sound signature—sound quite hollow while also besting it at just about everything with the exception of, perhaps, overall soundstage width. For me, the Amiron Home’s overall sound is what I’ll call believable; it’s realistic and natural. Add in the crispness achieved throughout the dynamic range and you gain a great deal of detail being pushed into your ears without ever coming off as overly aggressive or fatiguing.
From the most sensitive snare strikes, to the gutsiest trumpet blasts, it’s easy to take in all the Amiron Home can render. On “Caravan” for instance, I could practically make out the sound of the drum tips’ impacts separate from the actual notes of the drum heads and cymbals. This sort of theme continues in Matthew Halsall’s “Finding my Way” off of Fletcher Moss Park. The elaborate drum work throughout this track is really enjoyable to sit back and absorb through the Amiron Home as it excels at instrument separation and layering, giving each musician depth and a clear and cohesive phantom position that reveals the micro-details of their performance.
What’s most refreshing about the Amiron Home is that it accomplishes all of these feats with damn near every genre of music. Ben Howard, Bjork, Daughter, Dave Grusin, Ghostpoet, Matthew Halsall, Miles Davis, Lucy Rose, Moderat, Odesza, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, Sublime, The Counting Crows, and on and on.... While most headphones I’ve owned or reviewed excel in some areas but suffer in others (Yes, even my several times more expensive Audeze LCD-X, Hifiman HE-6, and Sennheiser HD800 have their faults), the Amiron Home, in my opinion, is a strong performer through-and-through.
Where the Magic Happens
In the words of The Spirited Uncle M, however, I must caution to the up-and-coming audiophile, “Sh*t in, sh*t out.” As stellar as the Amiron Home can be, feed it bad recordings or through questionable gear and you’ll be left wondering what the hell happened to your “high-end” headphones. The Amiron Home, like any true audiophile-grade high-fidelity headphone, is pitiless—it’s not going to hide the pitfalls of your song selections or system like the lush and euphoric Meze Headphones 99 Classics might be able to. The “downside” of such clarity is that the Amiron Home will only sound as good as what’s in front of it. But if you’re dropping $599 on the Amiron Home, chances are you’ve already invested a good amount of time and money into building your music collection and front end.
Don’t mistake my warning as me saying that the Amiron Home will only sound good out of top-tier gear. In fact, with its highly-efficient dynamic transducers, the Amiron Home can sing loud and proud out of something as simple as a tablet streaming hi-res audio if you really want or need it to. Better though is a small desktop amp/DAC combo, like the JDS Labs Objective2 and OL DAC, which the Amiron Home starts to flex its muscle with. But the Amiron Home is truly intended to be plugged into a highly resolving home audio system—that’s when the magic really happens.
My main listening room rig is made up of the Eddie Current Balancing Act amplifier, Schiit Audio Yggdrasil DAC and Sony DVP-S9000ES SACD player. I’m not trying to boast here, but the organic transparency of the Yggy blended with the tubey goodness of the ECBA turn the Amiron Home into something enchanted to my ears.
Daughter’s haunting music becomes ever more holographic. Miles Davis and John Coltrane become phantom figures in the listening room. Jenni Potts turns into something angelic among Odesza’s electronic vibes. The Amiron Home scales. It’s spacious, but intimate. It’s cutting, but comforting. It’s layered, but cohesive. It tricks you into thinking you’re in the concert hall or studio, and then it hits you right between the eyes. It’s the definition of high-fidelity audio.
Fits & Finishes
Oh yeah, the Amiron Home is pretty darn comfortable too. It’s almost an afterthought that it’s on my head. Beyerdynamic headphones have always been some of the easiest for me to wear, but the Amiron Home takes fit and finish up a notch. The circular ear pads are roomy and use high-quality Alcantara coverings that let your ears breathe, and the supple headband padding is wrapped in Microvelour, both of which are very soft and high-end in look and feel. These changes, combined with the light clamping force and even weight distribution, allow the Amiron Home to sit very lightly on the head. Even after extended, hours-long listening sessions, I never experienced any hot spots from headband pressure despite the fact that the Amiron Home weighs in at a middle-of-the-road 340 grams. However Beyerdynamic pulls this off makes no difference to me, because all I care about is that it makes for an excellent listening experience.
Bring It Home
From fit and finish, to sound quality and price-to-performance, Beyerdynamic nails it with the Amiron Home—there’s no denying that this is a high-end, hi-fi headphone (it’s even handmade in Germany to boot). It’s exciting and engaging, uniquely fresh and refined, and easily an endgame headphone. The Amiron Home has found a home in my listening room, so I think I’ll head back there now. Audio Nirvana awaits.