We review the NDH 30 headphones from legendary audio company Neumann. Studio-grade, open-back headphones made for editing, mixing, and mastering.
Audio equipment and music gear presents such a rabbit hole of confusion and a ‘fork in the road’ that relying on a trusted brand like Neumann is a safe bet when choosing a polarising product like open-back headphones. We reviewed them in a professional studio, so you don’t have to wonder.
Neumann’s NDH 30 open-back headphones are on the top tier of the market, with no expense spared build and sound quality. These are made for when you are immersed in your music.
If you don’t know about the benefits of open-back headphones, you can find a huge amount of reviews, debating, advice and pro and con lists on the world wide web, but to put it simply they offer a clearer and more natural sound with the lack of ear fatigue.
Neumann might be better known for their microphones (we’ve reviewed a lot of them!) such as the U 47, 87 and 67, TLM 103, and the infamous M 49, but musicians and audio engineers are giving their monitors the proverbial tick of approval. Their KH 150 monitors — released late last year (2022) — turned heads in the music community. Not an easy feat when people like to pigeonhole you to your most well-known products.
The NDH 30’s are in complete marriage with the KH Line of monitors as they were developed with their MA 1 (microphone and monitor alignment system) to be a portable solution. Neumann knows musicians move around these days and don’t want you to second guess your work every time you change location.
Putting on the NDH 30s is the utmost comfort. The ear pads and headband sit snugly on your head and they feel solid. It’s all about longevity with open-back headphones, as the main use is for long editing sessions, mastering or mixing.
They come packed with a 3m detachable, high-quality cloth-covered cable, a soft bag, and the box with a moulded foam inside is sturdy enough to keep them in for the long term.
The drivers are 38mm Neodymium with a frequency range from 12Hz to 34kHz with a nominal impedance of 120 ohms and they come in at 352 grams. It handles power of 1000 mW at peak and 200 mW of continuous sound.
When reviewing gear, I’m looking for my instant reaction, and the sound on the NDH 30 headphones is just crystal clear and clean, with headroom galore. Without A/B these against one of Neumann’s KH monitors, I can’t comment on the translation, but I found that they did translate really well in our studio control room.
It’s always a good idea to have a mix reference playlist to try out new monitors or headphones (even earbuds!), and these got my tick of approval. The snare in Frank Ocean’s single Lost had a clear ring I listen out for, the ride cymbal on Brad Mehldau’s cover of Knives Out by Radiohead was not too bright and Jeff Buckley’s guitar on Hallelujah was front forward and not washed out in its reverb.
The ear pads and cable are replaceable and if you’re wondering, yes — these are very, very similar to Neumann’s closed-back headphones, the NDH 20.
To summarise this review, while not the cheapest headphones on the market, you can be guaranteed the highest quality — and honestly — if you were to fit yourself out with the NDH 20 and 30 headphones, and a pair of their KH line monitors, you might just find your work becoming more stream lined and consistent.
The Neumann NDH 30 headphones come in at $1229 AUD and you can find out more at Neumann.com