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Neumann NDH 30 headphones on a table with cables and carrying case.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys

Neumann NDH 30 review

Reference headphone built for professionals.

Published onMarch 7, 2024

Neumann NDH 30
The bottom line
If you often mix on a studio monitor system, or are simply seeking a reference headphone, the Neumann NDH 30 are worth considering. They don't really have a wow factor, but they work well as a professional tool for picking out details in a mix.

Neumann NDH 30

If you often mix on a studio monitor system, or are simply seeking a reference headphone, the Neumann NDH 30 are worth considering. They don't really have a wow factor, but they work well as a professional tool for picking out details in a mix.
Product release date
$649 USD
Ear cup: 60 x 60 mm
Cable length: 3m
Model Number
NDH 30
What we like
Neutral reference sound
Aluminum build
What we don't like
Cloth ear pads
Lack of low and high frequencies
SoundGuys Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Isolation / Attenuation
Durability / Build Quality
MDAQS rating
Learn more

Headphones may not fully replicate the benefits of mixing on a proper studio monitor setup, but they’re a valuable tool in the content creation process. Neumann is no stranger to that process, with a history in studio microphones going back almost 100 years. While not known for headphones, the company offers both closed-back and open-back reference models. Today, we’re checking out the open-back NDH 30 headphones to see if they deserve a spot in your setup.

Editor’s note: this is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.

About this Neumann NDH 30 review: We tested the Neumann NDH 30 over two weeks. Neumann provided the unit for this review.

The Neumann NDH 30 are for professionals seeking reference open back headphones. Whether as a secondary monitoring solution or if you don’t have the space for a studio monitor setup, the Neumann NDH 30 is great for mixing in a quiet space.

What’s it like to use the Neumann NDH 30?

Neumann NDH 30 headphones on a man looking left.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys
The Neumann NDH 30 headphones are built from aluminum with a durable feel.

Unlike other headphones in this price range that target the luxury crowd with fancy designs, the Neumann NDH 30 isn’t trying to be anything more than a tool. Inside the box, you get the headphones, a basic cloth case, a 3.5mm jack cable, and a 6.3mm adapter. The headphones have a simple black and silver aluminum design with cloth-covered ear pads. At a hefty 352g, these headphones feel very solidly built. With a detachable cable and replaceable ear pads, they should last for a very long time.

The cloth ear pads don’t feel as soft or luxurious as the velour ear pads on the Sennheiser HD 490 PRO or Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X, but they are still comfortable for an hour or two. We don’t have perfectly round ears, so I’m not a massive fan of the circle-shaped ear cups, but they are large and spacious.

There’s no IP rating for water or dust resistance, but as open-back studio headphones, you shouldn’t plan on taking the Neumann NDH 30 far from your desk anyway.

How do the Neumann NDH 30 connect?

Neumann NDH 30 headphones next to their case and cable.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys
You only get the essentials with these headphones.

The Neumann NDH 30 have a 2.5mm input on the right ear cup. Included with the headphones is a straight cable that is 3m in length with a 3.5mm termination. Neumann also includes a 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter for using the headphones with a wide variety of audio equipment. You can’t use the headphones wirelessly, and there’s no microphone included in the headphones or cable.

With 120 Ohms of impedance and a 104dB SPL sensitivity (1 kHz/1V RMS), the Neumann NDH 30 might need an amplifier, depending on your source component. If you are buying mixing headphones that are this expensive, you probably have an audio interface that will work just fine for powering the Neumann NDH 30.

How well do the Neumann NDH 30 isolate noise?

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As open back headphones, the Neumann NDH 30 do not passively isolate environmental noise. You will hear most of what is happening around you while wearing the headphones. Similarly, anyone sitting next to you will hear whatever you are listening to. It also means they are not a good choice for monitoring while recording vocals or acoustic instruments in the same room.

How do the Neumann NDH 30 sound?

When it comes to sound quality, these headphones accomplish the mission they set out on. Designed for reference listening, these headphones don’t have a very exciting sound without exaggerated bass and highs.

Reviewer’s notes

Editor’s note: this review uses a hover-enabled glossary to describe sound quality based on a consensus vocabulary. You can read about it here.

Objective Measurements

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The frequency response of the Neumann NDH 30 has both less bass and treble than our headphone preference curve. While attenuated low frequencies are to be expected with open-back studio headphones, the relatively diminished high-frequency output above 10kHz is odd for a reference headphone. You may compensate by boosting the highs in your mix if mixing solely with the Neumann NDH 30.

Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Scores (MDAQS)

The chart below shows how the sound of the Neumann NDH 30 was assessed by the Multi-Dimensional Audio Quality Score (MDAQS) algorithm from HEAD acoustics.

This chart shows the MDAQS results for the Neumann NDH30 in Default mode. The Timbre score is 4.1, The Distortion score is 3.9, the Immersiveness score is 2.8, and the Overall Score is 3.9).
The Neumann NDH 30 do well for Timbre, less well for Immersiveness.

Open-backed headphones tend to score lower in MDAQS than typical consumer headphones, as most listeners prefer more bass. You’ll see similar scoring with headphones such as the Sennheiser HD 490 PRO and Sennheiser HD 650.

Timbre (MOS-T) represents how faithfully the earbuds reproduce the frequency spectrum and temporal resolution (timing information).

Distortion (MOS-D) represents non-linearities and added noise: higher scores mean cleaner reproduction.

Immersiveness (MOS-I) represents perceived source width and positioning: how well virtual sound sources are defined in three-dimensional space.

See here for an explanation of MDAQS, how it works, and how it was developed.

Should you buy the Neumann NDH 30?

Neumann NDH 30 headphones on a desk next to a plastic dragon and smartphone.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys
The headphones can fold for easy storage, though they aren’t designed for taking out and about.

If you are a mixing or mastering engineer needing reference headphones, the Neumann NDH 30 might be for you. These are expensive, and you don’t necessarily need to spend this much to get neutral-sounding headphones. That said, the Neumann NDH 30 serves a valuable role in mixing sessions, particularly when identifying details in the mid-range of a mix.

Neumann NDH 30Neumann NDH 30
Neumann NDH 30
Neutral sound • Open back design • Velour ear pads
MSRP: $649.00
Comfortable reference headphones for mixing and mastering.
With a Neumann studio monitor reference sound, the Neumann NDH 30 is ideal for mixing and mastering sessions.

How do the Neumann NDH 30 compare to the Neumann NDH 20?

Neumann NDH 20

The Neumann NDH 20 is the closed-back cousin of the Neumann NDH 30. The build and materials are mostly the same, with the only notable difference being the closed exterior design of the ear cups that allows you to use the headphones in a greater variety of environments and recording situations. Your decision should come down to the intended use of your headphones, although the Neumann NDH 20 is $100 cheaper, which may be a factor.

What should you get instead of the Neumann NDH 30?

Sennheiser HD490 PRO headphones on man facing left.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys
The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO is versatile and relatively affordable.

There are lots of other options you can consider for reference mixing headphones. For starters, you can look to Neumann’s parent company, Sennheiser. There are lots of classic reference headphones to consider from Sennheiser, such as the HD 600 ($299 at Amazon) and HD 650 ($399 at Amazon). However, the most appealing is the newer Sennheiser HD 490 PRO, which features two different sets of ear pads and comes with some nice perks such as virtual mixing room software, $399.99 at Amazon.

Another brand you should consider is Beyerdynamic, which is well-known for making ultra-comfortable reference headphones such as the DT 900 PRO X, $269 at Amazon. You could also look to HiFiMan, which has an affordable planar magnetic headphone that performs well in the HiFiMan Sundara, $299 at Amazon.

Frequently asked questions

Whatever amplifier you have in your audio interface will work just fine for powering the Neumann NDH 30. The only job of an amplifier is to increase the signal volume, so if the headphones get loud without distortion, you’re good to go.

The Neumann NDH 30 have a quoted frequency range that extends beyond the spectrum of human hearing, from 12Hz up to 34,000Hz, although you can see what that equates to in actual usage in our measurement data above.

120 Ohms.

104 dB SPL at 1 kHz/1 Vrms.

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