Direct Sound EX-29 (Each) Reviews4.2/5.0 based on 25 customer reviews
Great for isolation during tracking or tweaking, not the best for critical listening when selecting preamps or microphones.
These are the quietest, most isolated headphones I've ever owned! They have NO bleed whatsoever. Amazing! If you don't want to hear headphone bleed-through on your studio condenser mics, hand your artist a pair of Direct Sound EX-29s.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with the inventor of these headphones, and after giving them a very thorough run, I have to tell you the EX-29 Extreme Isolation headphones are incredibly comfortable, lightweight, and they do an amazing job at isolating sound so you get the maximum listening experience without the need to turn up volumes that might hurt your hearing. These would be absolutely perfect for studios, specifically vocalists who are close to mics, to prevent bleed over. They also would be very useful for times where you don't want to disturb your neighbor, such as on a plane. These headphones provide an incredible 29dB of sound attenuation which means they could also make the perfect set of headphones for your trip to the gun range for a little targe practice. Literally, there is not a situation these headphones won't rock! The EX-29 has to be on the list of must-have accessories for every band, studio, or musical lover.
from Evergreen, CO
April 3, 2013Music Background:
Direct Sound EX-29Our church obtained a set of these headphones when we switched our
drummer from a wedge to a headphone monitor. Upon testing the
headphones, the first thing I noticed (of course implicit in the name) was
the attenuation of room-noise...these headphones really do provide great
isolation. The second was the lack of hiss that I am accustomed to in many high-end models I have used... these headphones have a flat response and are great for giving EQ a tweak during a live performance. I
took them home to try them out on recording and found them faithful in giving no bleed-through on the tracks. This is a great set of headphones for studio recording, live engineering, as well as reference EQing during post-production on recorded material.
from Post Falls, ID
March 29, 2013Music Background:
Musician, Voice Artist
A Bit OverpricedThree things I like about these headphones - good isolation, fairly good comfort and reasonably priced replacement parts (although a detachable cable with jacks would be nice)
They are overpriced for the sound reproduction which is ... adequate. Certainly wouldn't use them for mixing.
I bought a pair of these that I have had for a short time. I also picked up a used pair that are in excellent shape, except that one of the pads is coming loose. Direct Sound gets an "F" here in customer service. I contacted them to ask what suggestions they may have to replace the sticky stuff they use to hold these on. They replied that I could order new pads for $18. I replied back that it seemed really senseless to replace a perfectly good set of pads just because the adhesive had broken down. Their reply was to "use any all-purpose glue".
Of course, using an all-purpose glue will present a real problem when the cushions get worn and I want to replace them in the future. Is their adhesive a big patented secret? I quite doubt it. Chances are good I can find an equivalent at my local hardware store. I just thought Direct Sound might be helpful ...
Of course, I can understand. Why be helpful when there is no profit in it.
from Washington DC
January 15, 2013Music Background:
Hobbyist musician and enthusiast
EX-29's Do Not DisappointExtreme Isolation Headphones are called that because they do. These are the best I have found to cancel noise and keep you focused on what you need to.
Great for home studios, drumming, work, etc... HIGHLY recommend.
The manufacturer, Direct Sound, is known for their customer service. If you need anything, they are with you at the drop of a hat.
from Plymouth, MA
January 15, 2013Music Background:
Lifelong musician and tone hound.
Good but not greatPros - nice fold to make them a bit easier to transport; jack works well and it comes with a mini jack and a 1/4" adapter (instead of the other way around); I like the fact that if something breaks I can replace it.
Cons - for the money, I expected MUCH more sound attenuation. I have a $20 pair of ear protection headphones from Home Depot that block out more sound; the headband is a bit flimsy and hard to get just right on the head; having a cable from both sides is a bit annoying, but I understand why.
I originally bought these for travel. Overall the sound quality is decent and I love not having to take them off during takeoff and landing and still get good sound isolation (i.e., I don't have to listen to the screaming kid behind me until we get to 10,000 feet like you would with active sound attenuation like Bose). I love having "Extreme Isolation" printed on the outside. I think it's an extra little message letting everyone know how I feel about being disturbed. :)
Overall, aside from being a bit pricey, I think it's a good value. However, if you're a drummer, they may not be enough to isolate you; or if you're just looking for peace and quiet, get a good hearing protection set from your local hardware store.
from Virginia, USA
September 7, 2012Music Background:
Live Sound Engineer
Live mixing & web programmingI have 4 pair of EX-29. At work (web programming) I wear these most of the day, either listening to tunes or just blocking out office noise. They really help me stay focused.
At church I run FoH sound and mix a live-to-CD/video recording. With a full band (85db SPL A-weighted slow-response w/ peaks around 90dB), I need good isolation to have any clue what I'm recording.
Re: quality - I damaged the 1/8" connector (ran over it with my chair) on one set :( But otherwise, they have held up well for about two years. I did buy a used pair off the inter-webs that had blown speakers - but they were cheap, and I was able to order replacement drivers from Direct Sound. Now they are the best sounding set I have. Of course, the ones from Sweetwater had good drivers to begin with :)
Note on fit: The EX-29 are a bit tight at first; but they'll adjust over time (leave them wrapped around a paint can for a while to speed up the process). Also, they are snug enough on the ears that the headband doesn't have to sit right on top of your head . Adjust the band up just a bit taller than you need it to loosen the fit a touch - particularly during the stretch-in phase.
Caveat: Don't expect these to compare to a $400 pair of Sennheiser or Beyerdynamics for critical listening or final mixing. You may find a semi- open design better for the latter. But for isolation, tracking, live mixing, etc. the DX-29 are *great*.
Michael J. Allert
from Brooklyn, NY, USA
August 3, 2012Music Background:
Recording Engineer / Pro Musician
Direct Sound EX-29 is Highly RecommendedWow! absolutely beautiful; I'm very satisfied with my EX-29 headphones on which the sound and isolation is just wonderful.
July 26, 2012Music Background:
Good for the goVery good, TRUE sounding, wide-stereoed headphones. Unfortunately, only a somewhat convenient folding style.
July 25, 2012Music Background:
Producer, Composer, Recording Engineer
Isolates fairly well, but terrible sound qualityThese headphones isolate fairly well if you have the right shaped head.
They'll isolate well on one singer and then not so well on another. As to the sound quality, it is absolutely terrible, very low fi. Would not recommend them for recording vocals or anything else where it is important to hear detail and you certainly would not want to mix with them. They would probably be fine for a drummer since they isolate outside noise better than most
from Weed, CA USA
June 21, 2012Music Background:
songwriter, arranger, engineer
Really does isolate from loud soundexcellent isolation for recording loud sources like drums, bass, guitar,
also great for livesound mixing. They are punchy and loud without distorting. They also work great for vocal recording because there is no program leakage into the vocal mic. For mixing and mastering I prefer the Sony MDR 7506 headphones, however other people may like them for mixing and mastering. Great Product!
from lynden wa
June 1, 2012Music Background:
bass player, hobby producer
standing beside a drummeri've found these headphones to be great. they have been wonderful on stage where i play bass right next to the drummer, and also at home for writing and recording music. the sound isolation is great and they are very comfortable. i'm very impressed with the build quality, very sturdy and light. i've dropped them a couple times and no harm came from it. they do lack just a little in the high end, barely noticeable, but still not quite there. that would be the only thing i don't like about them. other then that great product, especially for bass and drum players on stage
from Long Island, NY
May 28, 2012Music Background:
Guitarist & Recording Engineer mostly my own stuff these days
Very happy!I have had other flat response, isolation headphones and these are hands down my favorite and most comfortable. What makes them so different from others is the ability to get replacement parts and no tools required. But at the same time just as sturdy as anything else on the market that I have tried, bottom line just a well-designed product.
May 28, 2012Music Background:
Extreme IsolationI'M LOVING MY NEW head phones. reduced the souns and offers some hearing protection when I'm practicing.. They don;t bleed into the mics,, I'm very happy
from Lawrence, KS
April 2, 2012Music Background:
Former semi-pro guitarist, now doing home recording
Nice headphonesI bought these EX-29s for tracking in my home studio. I had recently upgraded from dynamic mics to a substant ially more-sensitive large diaphragm condenser, and was concerned headphone bleed-out while recording vocals and acoustic guitar. For tracking, the EX-29s perform as advertised in isolating signals -- in both directions. I get no headphone leakage onto recorded tracks; in addition, the headphones also effectively isolate the listener from the outside world. The sound on these cans is surprisingly good...you still can't rely on them solely for mixing, as they will mislead you on both treble and bass ends, but they certainly surpassed my expectations.
March 19, 2012Music Background:
Isolation for surePut these on and you can hear how they isolate. The sound good for the price, there probably are better, but those probably do not stop the leakage into your mics as well as these. use then for recording drums, vocals, high gain mics/preamps for the price and isolation, their better than anything I've used.
Joseph V. Nauyalis
December 19, 2011Music Background:
46 years of guitar
Direct Sound EX-29Excellent value for the money. Great sounding headphones that does have excellent isolation. Once plugged into the Line 6 POD 500 , the sound was fantastic. Beyond excellent customer service from the company. Part broke on them , but sent out the replacement immediately. Hard to find this type of service now a days.
from Florida, USA
September 25, 2011Music Background:
Student, 7 yr home recordist
Helpful, but not miraculousI've had these phones for a bit longer than 6 months now and have used them extensively for tracking in my modest home studio. I was pretty excited about the headphones when I first got them, so maybe my expectations were just too high, but at this point I probably wouldn't recommend these to someone. In my experience, the fact is that they just don't provide very good isolation---it's plenty easy for me to drown out the click track when recording drums, and I'm not exactly playing thrash metal here. They are very effective as far as dampening sound and protecting the ears, so I do like to wear them when jamming at high volumes, but when it comes to studio tracking, so much of the lower-midrange and low-range frequencies bleed into the phones that it can be very difficult to listen and play precisely, especially when doing overdubs. I have found them to be nice when listening to music or watching videos on my laptop in a library, because they do do a pretty good job of preventing sound from leaking out of the cans (so no one around you is disturbed). Most of the time, however, I prefer not to use these for listening, because the high end is quite dull and the low end sort of putters out---you get a sort of flat "door knock" sound out of a powerful, bassy kick track, instead of the nice full, throbbing sound I've experienced on higher-quality cans. The impact of certain songs/sounds can vanish when heard through these phones, which makes them a bit problematic for me for recording because I'm never quite sure if the kick is super punchy but lacking in low end or if the low end just isn't translating into the phones. Tracking bass guitar is often uninspiring with these. All this being said, though, they are fairly comfortable, relative to most drumming phones I've worn, and the long cord can be very useful. When it comes down to the realities though, I think there are probably better phones for the same amount of cash or less than you'd be paying for these. So I'd recommend doing plenty of research before settling on these guys.
from Perth, WA AUS
September 5, 2011Music Background:
Amateur recording engineer, Pro Guitarist/Musician, Student
Throw out your practice amp/moniterThese things are perfect. Isolate perfectly (great for drums or gigs) and they don't bleed through in recordings AT ALL. I use these for when I practise guitar instead of my amps. I have an RP1000 which is plugged into my mixer which these headphones are the plugged into and the tone is so good, it's much easier to hear what you playing and I can properly mix my guitar in with the backing tracks instead of having them coming from to different speakers. I only use my amps for band practise now.
The Head Phones keep noise out and keep the music in while having great audio quality.
April 26, 2011Music Background:
Pro Musician, Studio Recording(Advanced-not pro ;)
Bang Bang Bang for the Buck!I am a Drummer/Bass Player. If you need a pair of great cans for tracking, want to protect your hearing, get great sound(sans deep lows), and don't want to spend a fortune-pull the trigger.
There are a couple of downfalls yet far from deal-killers.
As others have mentioned, these are not for detailed listening! The construction at first feels a bit flimsy, but the modular design and replaceable parts makes that issue a non-issue.
In short if you are a musician or studio/live engineer who needs a set of cans to play while tracking/placing mics/etc look no further!
from Minot, ND
April 13, 2011Music Background:
Recording Engineer, Percussive Musician
Direct-Sound EX-29I recently ordered these as I felt the Vic-Firth headphones still didn't have quite the isolation and comfort I was looking for for the musicians I have been tracking, including myself. Being a drummer I am very picky about what I can hear as far as click track separation from the rest of the music and had no problems getting full, definite sound from the headphones as well as being able to easily mix in the drum mics without interference from the bleed. Very comfortable, have been able to mix the cans without blowing out crazy dB to hear the click, and nice to use as protection while adjusting guitar cab levels. Not good for critical mixing as suggested on the box, yet great for everything else
from Westwood, NJ
November 23, 2009Music Background:
Not quite as effective as expectedI bought the X29s hoping they'd live up to the hype regarding their attenuation of bleed during “normal” tracking operations. I'm not sure how the X29 demo video was edited, but the headphone bleed was effectively muted when the demonstrator pressed his pair of X29s together, during what he referred to as a “blistering amount” of playback level. My X29s didn’t even come close to accomplishing what that example did, and I don’t think I received a defective pair.
I tested the X29s against a pair of AKG K 240 Studio open-backs at matched levels, and the bleed coming off the X29s was only marginally attenuated in comparison. The X29 seemed to work comparitively better at lower, or more "normal" tracking levels (which makes sense), but even at these lower levels, the bleed was still easily loud enough to impart a sufficiently detrimental amount of “noise” onto the source signal.
Despite all this, I plan to keep these headphones because they are a step in the right direction (albeit a much smaller step than I had anticipated). They're also comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and they have a good “energy” to them--punchy low-end and “energetic” mids and highs--in other words, they’re hyped in a healthy sort of way, which makes them ideal for musicians to use during studio tracking (since that environment is much more about being able to hear, feel, and perform with the energy of a track, rather than to critically listen or represent it with pristine signal fidelity; and given that, I wouldn’t recommend using the X29s if you’re on the engineer or mixer side of the glass). As for live performance mixing, I can't say how well they'd function.
Overall, these are good headphones and they accomplish pretty much everything you might expect them to, but if you're looking specifically for something that effectively mutes bleed during normal studio operation (as I was), these headphones are not solution.
from Mesa, AZ
November 22, 2009Music Background:
Recording Engineer, Production Sound Mixer, Boom Op
Great for FIlm ProductionI am a production sound mixer and bought these cans to wear on set. The isolation is invaluable to hear what your mics are hearing when you're standing in the same room as the action.
I wouldn't mind seeing a version with attenuation more on par with the muffs you wear to the shooting range. These claim 29dB reduction but my 25NRR shooting muffs seem quieter. These also do not make a complete seal around my ears. Maybe my head's just shaped funny, but as I look left and right, the seal around the pad is broken, letting in more outside sound.
The low-frequency response is great, but the high-freq can sound a bit muffled. I didn't buy these to do detail mixing, so it's not an issue. They're great for the film production work I do but I haven't yet had a chance to take them in-studio.
They're quite comfortable to wear for prolonged periods. I just finished out a 20-day film shoot where I was wearing these pretty much all day and my ears only became slightly sore over that time. The cushions are plenty thick to keep the elements off of your ears, unlike many other headphones.
They're also VERY durable. They're designed to disassemble under stress, rather than breaking. Over the course of this film shoot, they were dropped, sat upon, stepped on, and slammed in a car door. They still work flawlessly although they're a bit scuffed up now.
And, I love the straight cable, rather than the coiled cables you'll find on many similarly-priced cans that production sound mixers/boom ops tend to wear. It's a lot longer than it needs to be for my purposes, but I'm planning to cut it shorter. In the mean time I just tuck the excess in to my mixer bag.
In short; these are pretty much unbeatable in this price range if you are looking to do production sound mixing or boom operation. The attenuation is invaluable, they're comfortable to wear for an all-day shoot, and they're durable enough to withstand the inevitable abuses which every piece of gear seems to suffer on your average film set.
The only ways I can think of to improve them would be a version with greater attenuation and a tighter seal around the ears, such as you find with shooter's muffs, and maybe an out-of-the-box option for a shorter cable length.
from Austin, TX
October 9, 2009Music Background:
Recording Engineer, Musician
A great tool!I should say up front that I avoid doing any critical mixing in cans...regardless of how I think they sound so I won't really comment on the fidelity.
People comment a lot about how great these cans are for avoiding headphone bleed while tracking singers and they certainly excel at that...but they are really indispensable for an engineer as well. When tracking, these are a great pair of headphones wear in the live room to go move mics and get a feel for the changes you are making without the ambient sound in the room clouding your judgment (e.g. have a guitarist work through a part at a pretty good volume while you sweep the sound field with a mic to find "the spot").
I also do a fair amount of live remote recordings and depending on the space I'm in, I may be very close to the musicians or PA...the EX-29 allow me to tune out the sound in the room and focus on the sounds I'm capturing to tape. Best tool I've found for that application bar none. If you find yourself doing long remote gigs as well, you'll come to appreciate the 29dB of attenuation by itself - I routinely turn down the volume at various points in the night to give my ears a break from the punishment. Sweet!
from Seattle, WA USA
October 6, 2009Music Background:
Recording Engineer, Musician
Awesome for certain applicationsGreat headphones but don't expect to be able to critically mix or listen with these headphones. Compared to a regular, non isolating, pair of headphones, these sound like a blanket has been thrown over the highs. There is no way around that in a closed ear set with isolation it seems.
These headphones are EXTREMELY valuable for certain applications like:
-not letting backing tracks or a click track bleed when your gain is cranked for, say, recording acoustic guitar or vocals.
-giving your drummer a better chance to hear guitar/bass/whatever else by blocking the direct drum sound a bit
from Kansas City, MO
September 1, 2009Music Background:
Fantastic headphones!Great isolation... frequency response is unbelievable. These are really great for drummers.
from Long Island, NY
February 18, 2009Music Background:
Live/Recording Engineer, Equipment Repairs, Musician
Great HeadphonesI used to own a pair of an older model and I loved them. Unfortunately a friend of mine broke them, so I had to buy a new pair. The new pair however was one of the defective headband models that slipped by. One quick phone call to the manufacturer however, and they offered to send me a new headband to replace the defective one for free. So if you have this problem, give them a call and they will be more than willing to help you. They are even sending me a second one to fix the old pair! Great people!