Link: GermanMAESTRO — Price: £169
Ever heard of GermanMAESTRO? No, neither had I, but that’s the company that built the GMP 8.35Ds, a well received set of cans for professional studio use. These red JFB editions are a special version designed in collaboration with UK DMC champion DJ JFB.
You know you’re in for an interesting product test when it’s introduced to you by throwing it across a room at you and watching it roll to your feet.
In the box
The packaging and contents are as practical as these headphones look. The fully-cardboard box is easy to get into and the contents are straightforward. Along with the headphones (duh), you get a fist full of JFB stickers and the 6.35mm jack adapter. What else were you expecting? It’s not like these headphones need a bag!
Out of the box, the 8.35Ds look like ear defenders. If pushed to describe them, I think the term “industrial” would be apt. These headphones are no Pioneer HDJ-2000s or AIAIAI TMA-1s. There’s no elegant use of coloured cabling or intricate hinges. There’s no replaceable cables nor folding ear cups. Industrial.
The 8.35D is very, very solidly built. These things are designed to take a beating. DJing for troops in Afghanistan? I’d probably go for the black ones, but these won’t break. I bent, twisted, pulled, swung, and threw these and they just screamed back at me “IS THAT ALL YA GOT, BUB?”
There are no obvious weak points on these headphones. The plastic they use seems to be similar to the stuff found on the cups of Sennheiser’s HD 25 range, which is known for its durability.
Reviewing the sound quality of any audio hardware is always so subjective. As such, I’ve simply stacked up these headphones against a few others to see how they sounded. I also had a mix using them to see how they sounded under “work conditions”. The 8.35Ds claim to have a frequency response of 20 – 27,400 Hz, which is a pretty decent range. Many other headphones go down past 16 Hz for bass, but 27 KHz is great for the high end.
Just listening to a few tracks (dance, classical and indie), you get OK bass, plenty of nice and crisp high end, but it felt there was something missing in the middle. Kicks, hats and claps are punchy and clear but melody feels muddy. Stacked up against some RHA SA950i consumer cans, Allen & Heath Xone XD40 and Sennheiser HD 25-SP II, the 8.35Ds held their own, getting decent volume at the same levels. Quite often with larger drivers, volume output suffers. Even at higher levels, they didn’t seem to buckle under pressure.
The good punchy mid-lower and high end gives a decent sound for DJing. All the sounds you need for monitoring in the booth are well defined in the mix making these an attractive workhorse.
Big cups give a very snug fit to the head. Though they’re not quite ear defenders, they certainly quieten external noise. People with massive noggins may struggle to find a good fit due to how the cups sit on the headband, though.
I spent most of a whole day with these on and they never felt uncomfortable. The headband is nicely padded and has a good feel on the head, avoiding that achy pain across the crown. Even though these aren’t light by any means, it’s not weight you feel you’re carrying.
The massive ear cups make things a bit more difficult to use for DJing unless you’re happy with them just sitting on your head. I don’t know about you, but my headphones are off, on, half-on, around my neck… pretty much all over the place while I’m mixing. The sheer size of these cans combined with the lack of hinges just makes it… unwieldy.
A solid (literally) pair of headphones, one niggle for some DJs might be the practicality of one-eared monitoring. Although these can bend and twist into weird and wonderful shapes, the size, weight and lack of hinges could be an inconvenience.
If you’re a clumsy oaf that keeps breaking your headphones, or a pro that does their best to avoid accidents that inevitably happen in a cosy booth, these could grant your wish of near indestructible headphones. The GMP 8.35Ds are great for long periods of use, being both comfortable and easy on the ears.
A Second Opinion from Mark Settle
It’s fair to say that I’ve played with more DJ headphones than I can remember. But these JFB cans stand a considerable distance apart from the others for a single reason — durability.
The biggest gripe when it comes to headphones is how long they last, mainly because they have to take such a beating, but on the whole have been designed with other considerations put first. These JFB headphones however put longevity front and centre. Dan is correct – I threw them down the studio to show him the key differentiator from the rest of the market. It wasn’t the first time I’d done it either, yet they’re still unmarked and will most likely last longer than anything on the market. This isn’t something I’d be entirely happy doing with any headphones I have right now.
From a business perspective, it’s essentially shooting yourself in the foot. By the feel of these, you’ll only ever need to to buy this pair and they’ll last and last, just like the workman-like tool that they’re supposed to be. Thankfully they’re not a one trick pony though, as everything else necessary to make a good pair of DJ headphones has been thought about and executed to a high level.
Are they my favourite pair of headphones? No, but my current needs are not for the most rugged and virtually unbreakable DJ headphones on the market. But if you’re one of those DJs who seems to get through a pair on an all too regular basis, these GermanMAESTRO JFB headphones should be at the very top of your shopping list.
Lastly, and definitely on the PR tip, you have to watch this video featuring JFB himself, trying and failing to break his signature headphones. If this doesn’t sell you on durability, nothing will.
Continuing her summer internship and general family business stuff, Hatty Settle did the photography for these headphones.
Big thanks to Robin London-Willis at KS Distribution for the headphones.