We live a world where customization is becoming increasingly accessible. We can now get things closer to exactly the way we want it, delivered to us in the way we desire. Gone are the days when we could only receive our TV entertainment through 3 stations, served up to us as the producers saw fit. Now we can feed ourselves though endless options of video streaming, at all hours of the night (some of you may still remember a time when TV used to shut down programming in the late hours). You can pick custom colors for your tennis shoes and if the store is out of your size or color, you can always buy it online. The Custom One Pro by Beyerdynamic ($200) is the latest entry by the German-based company to assuage the customization itch down to the source. The Custom One is a very unique device that allows you to adjust the bass directly from the headphone.
Bass levels can be very polarizing when it comes to headphone listening, especially when you look at the $200 or less mass-market category. I have always been a fan of the Beyerdynamic house sound. And this headphone does share some of the qualities that I have come to love from their product line. I believe that the Custom One Pro driver is loosely based upon the 770 pro driver. The overall sound signature is very much what you would expect from Beyer.
The small porthole slider located on the bottom of the driver rim is successful in adjusting the bass within four levels. I found the most closed off setting to be a bit too bass-light for me, and I don’t think it will likely get much use from someone interested in a headphone such as this. Setting two seemed to be the most neutral sounding to my ears, if not just a bit more north of neutral in the bass area. I spot-checked the Custom One Pro with some material I was very familiar with. When I listened to the opening sound bites I created for the Audio-Head YouTube channel intro through the Custom One Pro the top end and mids were fairly close to the original as I remember it when I laid it down a few weeks before, with just a little bump in the low-end on setting two. Setting three has even more accentuated bass. Not out-of control, but also not quite as tight at the Beyerdynamic 880s low-end. The most open setting for bass was quite big and boomy. I found the bass to be a little much for me on this setting and a little less controlled than the other three. Overall I found this little experiment in headphone bass manipulation to be quite successful. Changes can be done on the fly and each step seemed a natural progression from the previous. This bass progression feels different than when augmented at the amplifier level. With access to both in the same setup I bet you could find some very interesting combinations. If nothing else, the Custom One Pro allows more music versatility than almost any other headphone, leaning slightly toward the bass-friendly genres obviously. I was happy to find that the bass on the first two settings did not overly crowd the mids, especially considering the $200 cost and intention of the design.
The build and finish are similar to the Beyerdynamic 880. The major difference between the two is the design and materials of the earcup itself. Both headphones are roughly the same size and shape, both fit around the ear. The 880 feels a bit more sturdy, being made out of metal, whereas the Custom One Pro is made out of plastic. Both are still very lightweight headphones and comfortable for long listening sessions. I found the earpads on the 880’s to be slightly more comfortable, being made out of velour-style padding. The Custom One Pro comes with a faux leather material that is prone to heat and sweat, however they can also be swapped out if you so desire. Being more of a closed-back design, the COP suffered less outside sound leakage than the 880s semi-open back drivers.
Bass isn’t the only thing that is customizable on the Custom One Pro. The headband can be easily removed and replaced with the color of your choice. The headphone also comes with a small tool to remove the side faceplates and replace the standard black finish with your own personal expression similar to what V-Moda has done with their Crossfade line. The Custom One comes with a removable cable with screw-on type headphone adapter.
The Bottom Line
For $200 the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro retains enough of its hifi roots to be considered a value for the money. This value could also be extended to include audiophiles who land in the more “consumer-friendly” personal audio market. Headphone listeners should check it out if genre versatility is your one of your core needs, along with bass lovers that don’t want the “love” in every song. The bass adjustment on the Custom One Pro delivers a natural progression and is easy to change on the fly.
On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008XEYT48