With the release of the Neumann NDH 20, the renowned German microphone manufacturer delivers its very first venture into the headphone market. As you’d expect from a company as renowned as Neumann, the technical prowess of these headphones is something to be admired. Nothing less than high-resolution audio and neutral studio sound specs will do here.
The foldable NDH 20 headphone model itself comes packaged with two exchangeable cables in an elegant product box. Additional accessories include a spiral cable, saving on space and giving you a little more range, while there’s also a straight cable to utilise when you only need a shorter distance from headphone to ear. A drawstring-fasten fabric bag also offers an easy way to keep your hardware safely stored when not in use. Finally, there’s a small to large jack adapter rounding off the accessory line-up.
The NDH 20 itself is a closed over-ear headphone which, according to the information provided by the manufacturer, offers a high level of sound insulation to keep the distractions of the outside world at bay. There’s also the promise of exceptional wearing comfort, while the manufacturing finish and materials utilised in production are also of a high standard. The headphones are equipped with two specially developed dynamic 38 mm drivers, delivering an impressive 1,000 mW of power, along with a max sound pressure level that exceeds 100 dB SPL.
The exterior appearance of the Neumann NDH instantly impresses with its simplicity and eye-catching accents. The timeless tones of silver and grey are stylishly contrasted with signature Neumann orange on the inside of the earpieces. The grey velour cushions of the earpieces add another, more subtle level of contrast that will also impress.
Materials and manufacturing standards are all top-tier. The headband is made from hard-wearing sprung steel, while the covering plates of the earpieces are made from quality aluminium. A significant amount of the components on offer here are made from robust metals and screwed together, providing audiophiles looking for long-term investment a service-friendly pair of headphones. It’s the perfect combination of high-quality aesthetics and an overall appearance that exudes a “built to last” philosophy.
How it Handles
The handling of these headphones is very practical indeed. Its folding mechanism allows it to be folded away to a relatively compact size that makes it easy to stow away in backpacks or luggage, or simply in a drawer or cupboard at home. The memory foam of the ear cushions delivers a high level of wearing comfort, even if you’re listening for a longer period of time. The replaceable velour pads are both breathable and soft to the touch, with lower contact pressure adding to the overall comfort credentials. Despite this lower contact pressure, the NDH 20 has no trouble keeping sat firm on smaller head sizes. The size adjustment of the headband is precise and securely locked in when you’ve found the ideal setting for you, ensuring there’s chance of it slipping off your head while you’re on the move. The incremental adjustment will also remain locked in place after you’re done listening and looking to store your headphones away, so you can slip them straight on without adjusting them again come your next listening session
The jack plug of the headphone cable can be securely attached to the device thanks to a handy rotating mechanism. This one-sided attachment is particularly useful as it offers plenty of freedom of movement when in use. The spiral cable can be extended to an impressive total length of 3 metres. The straight cable has a shorter length of 1.5 metres, making it suitable for things like smartphone use. Gold-plated jack plugs also ensure that corrosion is not something you need to worry about too much here.
Neumann Sound Spec
The sound of the Neumann NDH 20 is promoted as linear in its advertising. The frequency range of the headphones extends from 5 to 30,000 Hz and can therefore be described quite confidently as expansive. This wide sound field does impress with its big numbers, but also delivers in practice with noteworthy results. Low frequencies often cause issues, for headphone hardware, but that’s something the sound output of these NDA 20 headphones don’t have a problem with. Here, you can enjoy ultra-deep TR808 kick drums from Urban Music and Hip-Hop for trembling percussion down to the lowest frequency regions. In the bass range above this the sound is always powerful and consistently defined.
The absence of a midrange boost and a relatively moderate 10 kHz frequency curve contour ensure that these headphones truly deliver when it comes to things like speech intelligibility on music tracks. Here, the output you’ll receive via the NDH 20 will give you a listening experience that holds up just as well as the original production quality.
The restrained performance in the highs is an expected signature of a pair of headphones leaning toward the analytical side of the spectrum. Anyone who listens to audio with this piece of hardware will be able to very easily judge how high frequencies within a mix are. In the super-high frequency range however, the NDH 20 does show some weakness, seeming a little overstretched. Additionally, I did note that modern pop music with more elaborate productions suffer from a lack of openness and airiness.
Transients are reproduced in a powerful way with these headphones, but don’t demonstrate the same level of precision as headphones at a similar level of technical spec. Also, the stereo image suffers a little from the more muted sound character of the NDH 20. The stereo stage comes across a little limited and seems somewhat narrow, even when playing productions that are synonymous with extreme stereo expansion. Think for example current EDM songs.
On paper, these Neumann headphones promise a relatively high impedance. In practice, a high sensitivity ensures this is fit for task even with lower spec headphone amplifiers such as the tech found within your favourite smartphone.
One final thing I have to touch upon is the excellent sound insulation properties of these headphones. The NDH 20 delivers and then some in this respect. I really appreciated the superb suppression of external noise while there’s very little leakage of audio from the listeners themselves.
Areas of Application
Neumann states the NDH 20 can be utilised in various ways within the studio. Standard studio functions like monitoring, recording, editing, mixing and more can all be supported with the use of these headphones. Additionally, the impressive levels of external noise shielding makes these a well-functioning piece of hardware, even in the loudest of environments. Due to its more analytical sound character, the NDH 20 perform very well in more demanding listening situations. Once you’ve gotten used to the more unobtrusive sound of these headphones, you may come to find it useful as a hi-fi headphone. What’s more, thanks to its folding mechanism and noise-cancelling properties, it’s a good choice for listening on the go.
These Neumann NDH 20 closed-back over-ear headphones are an ideal aid for analytical sound applications such as recording, editing and mixing in studio environments. They do a good job at the deepest depths of the bass range, while also performing brilliantly when it comes to midrange differentiation. Additionally, a more discreet performance in the highs results in a less pronounced stereo image, a lower transient definition and a more extensive depth graduation. Those looking into this particular piece of hardware from Neumann will likely be satisfied with these specs, although they still take a little while to get used to. Quality of materials, manufacturing, detail and design are all exemplary. Here, these Neumann headphones inspire all round. Thanks to interchangeable cables and high sensitivity, these headphones are not only suitable for studio and professional applications, but can also be used as a hi-fi listening aid and for use on the go. With all that in mind, the NDH 20 has a price/performance ration that’s perfectly in order.
Measurement ResultsMore measurement results
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)5 - 30.000 Hz
- Impedance158,58 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)100,81 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head662,5 g
- Weight with cable491 g
- Weight without cable393 g
- Cable lengthgerades Kabel: 150 cm / Spiralkabel: 300 cm
What's in the box
- Straight cable
- Coiled cable
- 6.35mm stereo jack
- Travel bag