This article first appeared in HWM Sep 2011.
If audio quality matters in your books, you might agree it can be difficult to land a pair of decent in-ear monitors (IEM) priced below the hundred-dollar mark. Generally, in-ear monitors around that range are often too harsh, too thin, or suffer invariably from distortion. That said, we are hoping that the German-made Beyerdynamic DTX 101 iE might change our outlook.
The mid-range DTX 101 iE comes in a variety of shades, including pink, silver or red. Its lightweight aluminum housing sports a metallic sheen, which gives the headphones a nice shiny vibe without being presumptuous. The 1.2m-long cable has its share of pros and cons. On the upside, it feels tough and is surprisingly resistant to creases. However, the same wire is also susceptible to cable thumps when unsecured, and this might interfere with the headphone’s overall delivery during your commute.
Like most IEMs, the DTX 101 iE comes with three pairs of interchangeable rubber tips in small, medium and large sizes. The medium buds offered the best fit for us, and they are mighty comfortable if we may add. They also managed to impede ambient noise well, with little trace of sound leakage. Printed on the rubberized spines are the left and right channel indicators. A soft carrying case is also included with the DTX 101 iE.
The DTX 101 iE is a low-impedance model, 12 ohms to be exact, which makes it ideal for low-power devices such as portable media players to drive. According to Beyerdynamic, the business ends of the DTX 101 iE are powered by neodymium acoustic drivers capable of a “punchy audio performance”.
On the whole, these in-ears delivered a warm sound with fuller bass than average monitors. The mids and highs were more pronounced and defined, as compared to earbuds like the slightly cheaper Creative EP-830, also known for their meaty bass range but less articulate sound.
When tested with tracks like Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain”, it is clear that the DTX 101 iE favors the lower and mid spectrums, with ample separation from the highs. That said, treble reproduction is sufficiently crisp, although its precision might pale in comparison to models with brighter acoustics such as the Ultimate Ears 700.
On the whole, a decent pair of in-ear monitors should exhibit two qualities — a light yet robust build, and of course, an audio delivery which doesn’t do injustice to its source. Beyerdynamic’s DTX 101 iE came close to that mark. And while the headset tends to be overenthusiastic with the lower ranges at times, its comfortable fit and notable attention to detail are reasons enough to entrench it at the top of its league.