By now you've probably guessed that the GermanMAESTRO GMP 8.35 D headphones sound pretty good, given the score. We don't love the look and only grudgingly accept that their design makes them pretty versatile, but the real surprise comes when you start listening to them.
These headphones are extremely well-balanced, to the extent that it's tricky to point out exactly what they are best at - the highs, the lows, or the in-betweens. The careful tuning that's clearly gone into these headphones makes them excellent monitors, at least on-par with comparable sets like the Beyedynamic DT 770 and Shure SRH940.
In accordance with this serious approach to sound, the GMP 8.35 D don't have comically pounding bass. But the low-end is excellent, boasting great integrity and the sense of well-defined body without ever, ever stepping out of line and splurging out of its area. The bass doesn't have tremendous volume as such, but it does have great impact, which is what "good" bass is all about.
This sense of superior definition, of there being a carefully-controlled notion of the shape of sound, continues across the frequency spectrum, resulting in an excellent impression of clarity. And that's without resorting to a very bright sound signature that can result in sibilance. We noticed none in the upper register here, although some rockier tunes lead to a very slight harshness in the upper-mids. This isn't common, though.
The Rammstein of the headphone world: German, pretty hardcore, and an acquired taste
Fine balancing gives the GMP 8.35 D an unusually good sense of separation for a headphone that's close-backed. The sound stage isn't hugely wide here - less so than the Shure SRH840, and pretty much all open-back headphones - but their beyond-competent imaging and detail resolution nevertheless lends the sound expensiveness.
Without the V-shaped curve of many detailed-sounding headphones, where mid-range is cut down in favour of bass and treble, the presentation is fairly forward. This helps with vocals in general, and mid-heavy guitar music in particular.
We listened to the lower impedance 35Ohm version of these headphones, which don't need a headphone amp to produce good volume. However, pairing these headphones the Fiio E9 desktop amp did result in a slightly warmer, sweeter tone.
HiFi Headphones also sells a 300Ohm version, which is slightly cheaper and worth considering if you'll be tied to a mixing desk or headphone amp the whole time. GermanMAESTRO supplies a screw-on 3.5mm to 6.3mm jack adapter to let you easily connect to MP3 players and more serious audio kit alike. The cable ends in a right-angle jack, and is, predictably, pretty chunky.
For the money, you can get nicer headphones than the GermanMAESTRO GMP 8.35 D headphones. Even within the less shallow field of studio headphones, prettier and slicker pairs are available. But will they give you better sound? In a word, no. You get great sound for your money here, and - aside from the looks and the heavy coiled cable - they are brilliant all-rounders.
They may look like they've escaped from the soviet bloc circa 1955, but there's a lot to like about the GermanMAESTRO GMP 8.35 D headphones. You don't need a headphone amp to get great results out of 'em, they're comfortable and their sound is well-balanced and highly enjoyable. Sure to be remembered as one of this year's pleasant surprises.