That the Direct Sound EX-29 Plus Isolating Headphones are designed for drummers is an understatement. They not only pick up the required low end frequencies a drummer needs to hear (like the kick drum), but they also gather just enough high end portion of the mix for a balanced playback. Typically isolation headphones are biased toward low end frequencies, but these particular headphones surprisingly offer equity between the low, mid, and highs. This gives the drummer the ability to hear his drums in the mix without being bombarded with too much kick drum or cymbal volume. We all know the last thing a drummer needs when playing in a studio setting is any excess volume overriding other channels.
Perhaps the most sought after feature of the EX-29s is their universal part replacement system. This design allows the customer to replace any individual part on the headphones if anything were to go wrong. This is truly a standout feature amongst competitors. So, whether the ear pads wear out after years of use or a cable gets caught on the corner of a shelf (we all know it happens), repairing these headphones is simple and inexpensive.
Further, these headphones are extremely comfortable and user friendly. Direct Sound continues to use their colored ear pad feature (“red is right”) which eliminates those minute-long searches for a little “R” in size 8 font on the side of the headphones. The pads themselves not only offer incredible noise isolation, but provide the necessary comfort a musician needs when spending endless hours tracking in the studio.
What pleasantly surprised me about these headphones is just how much unwanted cymbal bleed they keep out of the live mix. As a drummer myself, I have always wrestled with high pitch cymbal frequencies leaking back into my IEM. I have typically had to resort to lowering the overall level of my overhead mics to combat it; I did not need to do that with the EX-29s. With an isolation of 36.7dB, these headphones provide isolation where necessary, while allowing the desirable frequencies to pass through into the mix. In particular, I was deeply satisfied with my snare sound through these headphones; they picked up the depth of my snare (7”) along with the crispness of its high tuning.
Overall, the Direct Sound EX-29 headphones went beyond my personal expectations. They give the drummer exactly what he needs in the studio — isolation and balance. Their isolating features minimize any unwanted high frequencies (i.e., bright cymbals) while including the necessary frequencies a drummer needs to be accurate around the kit (i.e., kick drum, ghost notes, high hat strokes). All in all, these headphones serve as a great option for any drummer looking for a balanced pair of headphone monitors with just the right amount of isolation.
While these particular headphones have a lot to offer any musician, don't forget that Direct Sound also offers the more affordable EX-25s, the HP-25 Ear Muffs for those solely looking for hearing protection, and their luxurious Studio Plus headphones!
-Braden Cox (Front End Audio)