Take something forward and engaging like the HD25-1, make it a bit darker, add more bass body, and that’s roughly how the German Maestro 8.35D is. Somehow reminds me of the Doppelganger of Spider Man. Bigger sound, badder build, different enough to be unique by itself, though not exactly better or worse. After too much head time with Herr Sennheiser HD800, this is just the headphone I need to get away from all those technicalities and simply jump to the music.
I first encountered the German Maestro 8.35D sound years ago when I listened to the DBI Pro705 headphones on a local CD shop. It was generally forward, engaging, slightly dark, plenty of bass quantity, and generally a very fun sound. I don’t have the DBI Pro705 so I can’t make a direct comparison, but the GMP 8.35D reminds me of how the Pro705 sounds back then. It has also been confirmed by the German Maestro distributor in Singapore that they indeed do OEM work for DBI and also for another brand called Chartered Oak (with the GMP 450 model), so the likelihood that both headphones are identical is highly probable. I also heard that the HMV stores supposedly use the DBI headphones too, so if you happen to have an HMV store near you, you can check it out too see if they are indeed using the DBI Pro705 (it looks identical to the GMP8.35D).
Like the Doppelganger to Spider Man, the build is bigger and badder than HD25-1. The GMP 8.35 is perhaps the few headphone that can match and even beat the HD25-1’s shockproof build quality. The solid ABS-grade plastic and the overall construction tells me that this headphone is probably going to win in a physical combat against the HD25-1. Good thing that the use of high quality plastic keeps weight manageable, though still heavier than the HD25-1. The clamping force is relatively grippy, and though the big pleather pads distributes the force well enough, it’s still quite dizzying for long term listening. If I’m playing music by the albums on my Ipod, I have to take off the headphones after every album otherwise it’ll get too much. Though the tank-like build quality is good, I find the range of headband adjustment range to be quite limited. My head is pretty big, and the GMP 8.35 barely makes it at the maximum adjustment range. I am sure that there are others with heads larger than I, and the fitting GMP 8.35 would be a problem for them. Sound isolation, however, is quite superb, being a circumaural design with large pad area and tight clamping force. It definitely exceeds my the HD25-1 in that aspect.
It’s always good to have alternatives, and in this case the GMP 8.35 provides an alternative sound to the HD25-1. Both are similar in that they are forward sounding, fun, and engaging. The GMP 8.35 is darker, bassier, and more relaxed than the HD25-1, but overall it’s still a forward sounding headphone. The pace is more relaxed and the focus on the music is more dispersed on the GMP 8.35, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. On some albums though, like John Mayer’s Continuum or Armin Van Buuren’s Imagine, and U2’s The Joshua Tree, I do prefer the GMP 8.35’s darker and bassier presentation. So, this is a case of headphone to recording synergy, and less about which headphone is better than the other.
Having a bigger size housing contributes to a more spacious sound than what you’re hearing on the HD25-1. Larger soundstage tends to disperse the energy of the music, and in this case the GMP 8.35 is less intense and less focused than the HD25-1’s claustrophobic presentation. Again, this is a welcome change, though on faster paced music like Rage Against the Machine, the GMP 8.35 fails to transfer the energy of the music better than the HD25-1, but on other more moderate paced recordings, the GMP 8.35 makes the HD25-1 feels too uptight.
The bass is what makes this headphone fun sounding. The bass areas are fatter than the HD25-1’s, so you get more bass quantity in general, but the actual punch is weaker than the HD25-1, nor is the articulation as good as the HD25-1. It’s not boomy, but each punch is more rounded and less tight than the HD25-1’s. But again, I think this is all in line with the GMP 8.35’s overall sound signature. Of course if you want the ultimate in bass quantity in punch, then you should be looking at the ATH Pro700 Mk2, but the Pro700 Mk2’s extremely bass-skewed tonal response is not going to handle different genres as well as the GMP 8.35 or the HD25-1.
The GMP 8.35 earns my recommendation for a fun headphone to try. The sound signature is generally fun, engaging, and likable. Those looking for technicalities better look elsewhere. If you’re into Jazz or Classical, then you also should look elsewhere. This headphone is all about giving a fun sound with whatever is playing in the Top40 charts. Very wide genre bandwith, and paired with the extremely smooth Just Audio AHA-120 amplifier, I really had some highly musical moments with the GMP 8.35. However, it’s hard to see it becoming a crowd favorite, mostly because of its not-so-comfortable grippy fitting. You can probably ignore the grip for a 15-30 minutes session at the CD store, but for personal long listening sessions, it’s going to be hard to not feel it.
Thanks to Louis at the Audiohub for the GMP 8.35 loaner.
Gears used for review:
Headphones: German Maestro GMP 8.35, Sennheiser HD25-1
Amplifiers: Just Audio AHA-120, Burson HA160D