Goldring Headphones: DR50, DR100, DR150

goldring_trio_05

I don’t really hear a lot of things being said about these headphones from British based Goldring. Entry level pricing with mediocre design, the only way people would look at them seriously is when you have a friend telling you to check them out.

Consider for a second the popular offerings in the sub $100 segment that gives you a natural open-back sound: I can think of the Grado SR-60/80 (and the Alessandro counterparts), as well as the Audio Technica AD-series (AD300-AD700). The Grados and the Audio Technicas are good headphones. They have their own unique presentation along with all the good characteristics of an open-back headphone. However, their unique presentation does make them a bit polarizing. This is where the Goldring comes in.

The Goldrings sound like cheaper variants of the Sennheiser HD600 and HD650s. You get a mildly laid back sound with good treble/mid/bass balance, and though they lean toward a dark sound signature, they aren’t quite as dark as the big Sennheisers. You still get more treble, a faster pace, a more forward sound, less mellow, and generally more lively than the Senns. It’s like they take all the good things that you find on the HD600s and the HD650s, and improve on the aspects people mostly complain on: slow pace, boring, too dark, and veiled. Obviously, they don’t have the HD600/650’s superior timbre, bass impact, soundstage, resolution — things that make the Senns a clear reference-class headphone. But given the context of the sub $100 pricing (except the $129 DR150), this sort of a more well-balanced, open-backed, sound is nowhere to be found other than on these Goldrings.

Sound Impressions

You start the line up with the entry level DR50. Cheap pleather pads though still good comfort level, the DR50 is already in-tune with that Goldring sound signature — that faster and livelier version of the Sennheiser sound. Although the DR50 still surprises me with its natural and clear sounding midrange, it’s really a little too entry level to recommend to you guys. The timbre is very plasticky, and there is a very noticeable treble and bass roll off, added with the very weak bass impact. Let’s move on to the next model.

The DR100 hits the sweet spot in this line up. For $89, the kind of sound that you get is almost unbeatable. Again that same Goldring sound, but the bass no longer feels puny as on the DR50. The timbre is something I can live with, despite not being HD650 accurate. The treble doesn’t roll off as early. Basically, you get this well balanced sound that although not perfect, but makes for a very natural and pleasing companion for a cheap entry level set up. You can take this headphone for slow mellow songs, and at the same time it also plays well with Slipknot. That’s just an amazing genre bandwith from an $89 headphone. The DR100 is quick and is light footed, but you never feel it to sound thin. The midrange is clear, natural and smooth. Give it a good source (like the Fiio E17 I’m using right now) and you’re good to go. If I can complain, the only thing I would ask for is a fuller bottom end and an improved vocal performance.

 

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  • Pan

    You got typo  here:
    “However, at $129, it does seem that the DR100 is just the easier
    headphone to recommend to people. I’m not saying that the DR150 is
    overpriced…”
    Which one is it, DR100 or DR150? I guess its DR150 right?
    Nice review, make me wanting DR150…

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Actually no that’s not a typo.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rūdolfs-Putniņš/100001284307683 Rūdolfs Putniņš

    Nice article! Any comparison with the Superluxes? They seem to be the established giant killers.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      The Superluxes are more rigid monitoring sound headphones, while the Goldrings are smoother and more relaxed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1015061613 Soonkiong Kho

    nice review. i acquired the DR50 just a few days ago and found that amping helps to boost the bass significantly. using the govibe mini box amp btw.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Yes I think that’s because the Govibe is a bassy amp. Still that’s good though. 

  • Anonymous

    Hi, Mike!
    I like how you describe the differences between DR100 and DR150.
    I know what is the different between both cans, but only in my brain. I can’t describe it by words as good as you did when people asked. :D

    There still more reviews coming up, right? I’m waiting for E17 review especially. ;)
    It’s still early on 2012, so may the force be with you!  d(^_^)b

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Thanks! Yes I’m also working on the E17 review. 

  • http://twitter.com/SpencerMChan Spencer Chan

    Sounds like a great headphone for a new audiophile…  

    How do they compare  vs  some “musician” branded headphones (who’s name I will not use so that I do not pollute this awesome website) that is super popular with the lay crowd or those ‘brand name’ headphones that’s always on the TV? This seems like a good place to convince people to look elsewhere! ;-)

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Well you know some of the brand name headphones aren’t too bad actually. They are just expensive. 

  • Anonymous

    I think these headphones should be compare to Sennheiser HD518 not the very top end of the spectrum.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I did, didn’t you read it? 

      • Anonymous

        Sorry about that. I was reading two reviews at the same time. 

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Alright man :) 

  • Donunus

    I had the dr150 before and i found the treble peaky. Although not as bright as Grados, they are weird because the bass is ala senn. soft and rich then the highs are peaky. i dunno… I just found them weird. Only good for a few listens IMO before going up for sale again :)

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      You sure about that? The DR150 is very smooth. 

      • Donunus

        I was particularly sensitive to that spike. It was probably in the 8 to 10khz area if I remember correctly. The thing about it was that it was a thorn among the smooth water vs grados where almost the entire brightness region feels boosted making it more welcome to me. This one seemed weird just because it was lacking snap and dynamics yet had some brightness at the same time. Hope that rant made sense :)

      • Donunus

        I think it is precisely that plastic color to their tonality that you talked about that bothered me. It just contributed to them feeling incoherent for some reason. I’m sure my quirks and issues with them are things that not very many people get annoyed with. If the listener can live with these quirks that I can’t live with then I can say that everything else about them are peachy and they are especially nice cans for the price :)

        • Donunus

          I would like to add that I would take hd595s over the dr150 any day. Those are about the same price I think.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          You sure have picky ears. :)

          • Donunus

            Just picky enough to make my music enjoyable. I don’t have expensive cans either. I am perfectly happy with hd600s for example even though they aren’t the most detailed thing in the world. I just like them because nothing sticks out in their sound that makes my music sound annoying. I listen to Grados and other harsher cans once in a while to spice things up but I would be fine even with just one pair of boring yet behaved cans like the hd600s :D

  • Jerry Szprot

    I used to own the DR150 and enjoyed it a lot. IMO it sounds just like a Grado but with slightly more bass. Unfortunately, I found that the bass was too rolled off (at about 30 or 40 Hz) and this is why I eventually sold it. 

    Still a nice alternative to a Grado though, since it is so much more comfortable than a Grado and sounds quite similar.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      What I hear is totally un-grado like. 

  • Anonymous

    got the goldring, returned them for an HD 598 – my DR150 was too uncomfortable and kinda heavy.

    goldring is bang for buck, yes, but if you’re starting your audiophile journey, skip this step and head to the hd 598. you’ll save more money in the long run.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Yes the HD598 is more refined and is higher up, but also a lot more money and is not as well balanced. 

  • Andreyoniar

    hi Mike nice review!,do you have compare to denon ah-d1100

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Sorry, no D1100 here.

  • TheManko

    I bought the DR100 a few years back when they first came out but returned them because I found them to be sibilant. The sibilance was painful to me so I couldn’t live with them. I haven’t heard the DR150, but they sure look nice and if they don’t have the same treble issues as the DR100 I could see them being a good value.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I wonder why people keep on having issues with their Goldrings.

      • Donunus

        I am also wondering whether Goldring tweaked the sound to be smoother in the newer stocks than the ones from a few years back.

  • Alex

    Hi Mike, fascinating review. I have a headphone question peripheral to the Goldrings and I wasn’t sure where to post it. I currently listen to the Senn HD25-1; like you, I find it always propulsive and musical, especially for rock and jazz, which is mostly what I listen to. My ATH-M50s, though better in some ways technically, just don’t involve me as much with the music. My old Grado SR60s are too fatiguing and bright. My question is, is there a higher-end, more capable headphone around with the same PRaT, excitement, involvement and musicality as the HD25-1? I listen to lossless files on a Macbook->Amarra->HRT Headstreamer (awesome, by the way!). 

    Thanks in advance, 
    Alex

    • Donunus

      I’m not Mike but would like to comment that there is a new revamped HD25 out :)

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Hi Alex,
      The Beyer T1 is not quite a HD25-1 but people who enjoys the HD25-1 should give the T1 a try for a high end equivalent.

      • Alex

        Thanks, Mike. I’d like to move up from the HD25, but can’t quite swing the extra $1100 for a T1, plus probably another $1K for a dedicated tube head amp :) What about the new Hifiman HE-400, or the T-70P from Beyer? Have you had an opportunity to listen?

        Also, some folks have mentioned the high-end Denons as being highly involving and having great PRaT. I’m curious why you have never written about them on your site or included them in your closed phone shootout. Are you not a fan? Surely if Beats by Dre can land a spot, so could the Denons :)

        Thanks again,
        Alex

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          HI Alex, the Denons are really popular I know and I owe them a good review. However, I’ve been holding back on a Denon review since I want to do a review on the full trio D2K, D5K and D7K. So far I’ve only had the chance to listen to the D2K and I don’t think it’ll be a very exciting article if I just do a single D2K review. 

          The D2K I think it’s okay in PRaT. It’s a bit laid back and though the bass is plenty, it’s not fast paced enough and so I wouldn’t say it has a good PRaT. 

          The T70 or T70p, I’ve yet to listen to them. 

          At this point I feel that you really ought to try the RS1i (or at least the SR325is) with a good warm amp like the Schiit Asgard. I think it’ll make a great Rock and Jazz system, and it shouldn’t be too bright either. 

          The HE-400 would make for a great all rounder headphone, but moving from the SR60 and the HD25-1, the Hifiman is going to be a few stops darker in tonality, meaning much less treble presence. Maybe the Senn HD600 would be less extreme than the HE-400, and it’s also a good Rock and Jazz headphone.

          If you’d like to read my initial impressions on the HE-400 here is the link: 
          https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=317143768330327

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          Hi Alex, the Denons are really popular I know and I owe them a good review. However, I’ve been holding back on a Denon review since I want to do a review on the full trio D2K, D5K and D7K. So far I’ve only had the chance to listen to the D2K and I don’t think it’ll be a very exciting article if I just do a single D2K review.
          The D2K I think it’s okay in PRaT. It’s a bit laid back and though the bass is plenty, it’s not fast paced enough and so I wouldn’t say it has a good PRaT.
          The T70 or T70p, I’ve yet to listen to them.

          At this point I feel that you really ought to try the RS1i (or at least the SR325is) with a good warm amp like the Schiit Asgard. I think it’ll make a great Rock and Jazz system, and it shouldn’t be too bright either.
          The HE-400 would make for a great all rounder headphone, but moving from the SR60 and the HD25-1, the Hifiman is going to be a few stops darker in tonality, meaning much less treble presence. Maybe the Senn HD600 would be less extreme than the HE-400, and it’s also a good Rock and Jazz headphone.
          If you’d like to read my initial impressions on the HE-400 here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=317143768330327

  • lou

    hi mike, putting off all other aspect, which one is grainier, smoother, sweeter mids and more “grand” soundstage. hd600 or dr150?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Lou,
      Aside from the price and the tonality differences, you can bet that the more expensive Senn is better in all those aspects.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Except maybe grain, they’re roughly the same.

  • David Johansson

    Where can I get replacement stuff for this line? I have a pair of DR150 which were demo’d in a store, so I’m interested in if I can get them in shape somehow.

    Preferably from an European retailer.

  • Riezjkie

    if DR100 compared with superlux HD 668b which one better for audiophile recording?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      With audiophile recordings, definitely the HD668B.

  • Spam

    I think they are differences between older and newer batches of the DR150 and DR100, i bought both of them now and they don’t have the harsh highs as some guys telling having owned them couple of years ago.
    The DR100 sound even more relaxing than the DR150. In many older reviews it is not the case.

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Okay yes that would explain it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QWFHFLFHFAGYVFETP2YPCWUCEM Lukman

    finally got the dr 100…and so far loving the sound of  it.
    the only problem i fell is the lack of bass punch and the sound is to small(i have to put the volume on my laptop to the max).
    thinking of getting the fiio E10 to solve this….so the question is:
    how’s the pairing between the E10 with the DR100,mike?

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Lukman, 
      Try an amplifier first before the E10. Something like the E11 or the JDSLabs Cmoy.

      The E10 is a great DAC but the amplifier is not particularly impactful or  punchy.

  • cujo101

    I bought the DR150’s in the UK for £30 ($47) in December and find them to be great value for money. They are a little light on bass and the high are a little harsh but ‘burn in’ does help over time.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Ng/784502490 Steve Ng

    Hi guys ,
    I changed the cables on the Goldrings with dnm interconnect used as a headphone cable and the wow factor came.  It’s the QED cable that is limiting the Goldring’s performance. Anyway, I tried on all three models and all of them improved in performance. 

  • Prakhar Yadav

    Hey
    Im considering the DR150 ($179.99) or the DR100($100) and Superlux 668-B($50) (Both of which will be able to be paired with the ZO2).
    I will be using music in MP3 320kbps format mostly

    What do you think would be the best combo for the price; Im looking for a fun/musical headphone with decent soundstage? If the ZO is not a good combo with these headphones then ignore the option to pair :P.

    Edit: Have you tried the AD 300/700 with the ZO? The Zo might help to alleviate the anemic bass of the Audio Technicas.
    Thanks in Advance

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      I’m afraid you have to read the review and see which headphones fit your music better.

      • Prakhar Yadav

        I have but I think that makes sense; Ill spend extra time to evaluate my options.

        But have you tried the ZO with open back headphones? Does it still give that extra bass oomph, or is it not as effective.

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          It still works very well with open-back headphones.

  • disqus_exGg7s7Zwd

    It seems Goldring’s vanished? Can’t find it on local stores (kantong-kresek, dontblameyourears), even amazon is out of stock

    • http://www.facebook.com/agungruswandi Agung Kurniawan Ruswandi

      Pro-X, bro?

    • tranqon

      BTW Mike, which is better for instrumental/orchestra mp3, DR100 or Senn
      HD 439? Senn HD 439 is priced slightly higher, maybe about $8

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  • George Lai

    Hey Mike, just got the DR150 for only USD63 new. Patience does come to those who wait :-)

    • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

      Lol, nice

      • George Lai

        The velour earpads are really itchy though. They seem to be the same size as the Shure 940’s and since you have so many headphones, do you think they will fit?

        • http://www.headfonia.com Mike

          No actually I don’t have the 940. I’ll try to check with Jaben okay

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