If you do a search in Amazon for headphones you will see 236,565 choices. At least 1/3 are priced under $100. That’s a lot of options. Beyerdynamic has one more pair of earphones to add to the mix—the DTX 101 iE. Priced at $89.99, the DTX 101 iE looks like much like many other pairs of tiny earphones, but the combination of extremely light weight, good physical design, and excellent finish are intended to make the DTX 101 iE more than merely another me-too product shoehorned into a low price-point.
The DTX 101 iE presents music in a fairly neutral manner without pandering too much to the tizz-BOOM school of hip-hop harmonic balance. Obviously, given the sheer plethora of other earphones around this price, they have stiff competition. But for many prospective owners the DTX 101 iE may offer a Goldilocks’ perfect combination of features and price.
Because of their light weight and outer ear canal fit, it’s all too easy to accidently unseat the DTX 101 iE if the cable is pulled, even slightly. To avoid constantly readjusting the DTX 101’s, Beyerdynamic recommends running the cable around the top and down the back of your ears. Once the earphones were positioned in this way I had no issues with accidental removal.
The DTX 101 iE’s cable is soft and flexible. The cable is also almost completely non-microphonic. Even a few inches from the earbuds themselves, rubbing the cable doesn’t cause any noise. The cable is not user-replaceable and is made with a rubbery outer jacket that won’t provide any protection from sharp edges. Fortunately, the 51” length makes using the DTX 101s with your iPod easy, even if it’s in a back or hip pocket.
With only three different tips, the DTX 101 iE offers fewer fit options than the comparably priced Shure SE-215 earbuds. I found the best fit with the largest pair of tips, which filled and sealed my outer ear cavity fairly well. But even with a good fit the isolation from outside noise was not as complete as with the Shure SE-215, Etymotic ER-4P, or HiFiMAN RE-272 earbuds.
In my quest for a better fit and improved noise isolation, I tried using even larger ear tips from a third-party manufacturer, but with somewhat inconsistent results. My fit quest lead to discover another important point about the DTX 101 earphones: The amount of bass you hear will be directly proportional to the fit you achieve (a characteristic Playback has observed with many other earphones as well). The better the fit the more complete the isolation from outside noise will be, and the more bass you will hear through the DTX 101 iEs. With a tight seal I found the bass excessive, but with a loose fit the bass was “UTL” (or “unable to locate”, in firefighter speak). Thus, I was never able to get consistent bass response when I used the DTX 101 ‘phones at the gym—every movement shifted the fit slightly and altered the bass response. At my desktop where I tend to be more sedentary, I could get a decent fit that didn’t change, so I could “tune” the bass for optimal results.