OUR FULL REVIEW OF THE AMIRON HOME IS BELOW - IT WAS PART OF A HEADPHONE GROUP IN SOUND+IMAGE. YOU CAN READ THE FULL GROUP TEST AS PDFs BY CLICKING RIGHT >>>
Don’t worry too much about the ‘Home’ part of Beyerdynamic’s Amiron Home. It’s there to distinguish these headphones from the Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless, which is a powered and closed design which is, as the name suggests, Bluetooth connected. Whereas these are passive, wired — and open, likely why they have the ‘Home’ tag.
They use a dynamic driver with what Beyerdynamic calls ‘optimised tesla technology’. Apparently that means “a much stronger magnetic field than standard headphones”. Apart from anything else, that should result in greater control of the driver cone.
However that works, the headphones are rated at 250-ohms impedance, which is rather higher than the norm these days. That suggests best operation with a headphone amplifier that has plenty of voltage available on tap. But it also offers greater immunity to issues with high impedance headphone outputs. In my test, the headphones had an impedance peak at around 100 hertz. With receivers that have very high impedance outputs (466 ohms) that resulted in an input signal peak of only two decibels.
Perhaps a little unusually, in these days of globalisation, these headphones are ‘handmade in Germany’. They are beautifully constructed, with elegant, simple styling, an open design with large ear cups that provide a generous cavity to accommodate the listener’s ears.
The cable is removable and connects via 3.5mm plugs, with one to each ear, joining about 300mm below your chin (so if you ever need a replacement cable, it’ll have to be the real thing). The cable is also generous: over three metres in length. It’s terminated in a 3.5mm plug. A 6.35mm adaptor is included, and this screws onto the 3.5mm plug for added security.
I opened with the Laura Marling track. This number is heavily acoustic, with a super close-miked, slightly overloaded vocal. When well reproduced there’s a superb immediacy, near-intimacy, with her voice. And, yes, these headphones reproduced it very well indeed.
There was a remarkably openness to the sound, a broader sound space than is typical with headphones. Her voice was close, but the piano, guitar and percussion occupied a much larger space. Her voice and microphone threaten sibilance on occasion, but these headphones held that to just the right side. It’s hinted at, but not actually produced. Meanwhile, each of the instruments was described with precision, and complete clarity.
That clarity made these headphones rather unforgiving at times, as with the Melanie test track. There’s little detail worth extracting from it, given the transfer quality, and since these headphones don’t seem interested in papering over recording flaws, Melanie was a trifle harsh, and was presented in the in-your-face manner of the times.
Very different was the Schedrin/Bizet ‘Carmen’, which is gorgeously, lusciously recorded. This uses a good chunk of the full dynamic range available on CD, and being percussion heavy, the dynamic highlights are powerful and sudden. And with these headphones, these were not held back at all.
But after I’d been playing this track for a while, I went back and restarted it. The reason: I realised I’d had the volume too low for full enjoyment. At that point I realised that the best playback level was with the DAC/headphone amp unit set to -3dB. It maxes out at 0dB, of course, which is equivalent to almost exactly two volts into relatively high impedance loads, such as these headphones. That was a lot higher volume setting than when using, say, the Grado GH3. And that’s even though the sensitivity rating of the Grado GH3 headphones is a couple of decibels less for 1mW than for these.
That’s the impact that a high impedance has. One milliwatt into the Grado’s 32 ohms requires 179 millivolts. Whereas one milliwatt into the Beyerdynamic’s 250 ohms required 500 millivolts. That wasn’t a problem with the DAC I was using; it’s okay for a full two volts. But a portable player that complies with European rules has to be overridden to go over a few tens of millivolts, and isn’t supposed to be able to produce more than 100 millivolts.
Which is my long-winded way of saying: if you settle on these headphones, do test them out with your portable player and some of your music which you think may be encoded at a quite low level.
Of course, most modern music is encoded at a much higher level than classical. ‘Carmen’ finished and the next track was Primus’ Southbound Pachyderm. And I soon discovered that Primus was far too loud at that volume setting. A rapid reduction by 6dB brought it within proper bounds, and established that these headphones ought to go quite loud enough to satisfy us on those brief occasions when we really need to let it rip.
The rendition of this track was a touch brighter than the norm to which I am accustomed. That did no damage, serving to add a little clarity to Les Claypool’s voice, and bring the cymbals a little more forward.
And then there was the Schubert. This is being played so very delightfully through these headphones as I type. The dynamics are superb. The lead violin has never been sweeter. Every subtlety of the recording is being conveyed with assurance. I think that I’m falling a little in love with these headphones from this track alone.
And then there was the Tchaikovsky. Satisfying playback levels demanded the headphone amplifier be put to maximum volume. I could do that safely because there’s no way it would clip into a load this large. That allowed the orchestral levels to be engagingly high. When the cannon arrived, the headphones handled them magnificently. They delivered the slam, but added what seemed to be an octave of deeper bass rarely heard on any gear, let along headphones. It was the same on the bass drum earlier in the piece. The slam was there with the best of them, but there was more going on in the near-infrasonic regions. I was impressed.
But still, I always like to have a little headroom to spare. I’d recommend the use of a dedicated headphone amplifier capable of delivering well over two volts of output into highish impedance headphones.
One final pleasing discovery — I had the idea that these were thousand-dollar plus headphones when I was writing this review. And then I checked the price, to find they are $799. These are the bargain buy from this collection. (Again, so long as your device has plenty of voltage available. Two volts is the bare minimum.)
beyerdynamic Amiron Home
+ Superbly well defined sound
+ Excellent bass reach
+ Excellent value for money
– Best with low impedance, high output headphone amplifiers
– Little isolation from ambient noise
Drivers: Dynamic with ‘tesla’ magnets
Quoted frequency response: 5Hz-40kHz
Nominal impedance: 250 ohms
Sensitivity: 102dB (1mW/500Hz)