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German Maestro GMP 8.35 Mobile Advanced headphones


A little while ago, Massdrop ran a drop for a headphone I’d never heard of, the German Maestro GMP 8.35 Mobile Advanced. After reading a bit about the headphone, particularly the reviews, I was intrigued and reached out to German Maestro (previously known as MB Quart) to see if we could arrange a review. They came through with a pair for me to test and trial (thankyou Dimitri!) and I’ve been enjoying the journey of discovery ever since. Let me take you through the tale of the GMP 8.35…


German Maestro is the new name for MB Quart and they are a highly respected brand in the audio world. My earliest awareness of them was with their fantastic car speakers so it’s great to revisit the connection now with their heaphones. The GMP 8.35 is marketed by German Maestro as an affordable, indestructible headphone that’s appropriate for a wide range of uses. The Mobile Advanced version of the GMP 8.35 adds a second, different pair of interchangeable earpads, a detachable cable design and a spare cable in case the first one gets damaged or lost. I will refer to the headphones here as just the GMP 8.35, but the exact model I am reviewing is the Mobile Advanced version. The Mobile Advanced version retails for approximately $260 (USD) on Amazon.


  • Headphone type: closed
  • Driver: dynamic (mylar)
  • Frequency response: 20 – 27,400 Hz
  • Impedance: 35 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 101 dB (1 mW/1 kHz)
  • Weight: 220g (without cable)
  • Cable: 1.5m, 3.5mm to 3.5mm

If you’re familiar with headphone specifications, you’ll recognise that the 35 ohm impedance and 101dB sensitivity mean that this is a headphone that will happily work with pretty much any source on the planet. It’s in a nice sweet spot where the impedance isn’t so low as to cause noise issues or impedance mismatches with high output impedances, but it’s still low enough to pose no significant strain on lower powered (i.e. portable) sources.

First Impressions: Unpacking & General Design

The GMP 8.35 arrived in a black and red retail box that’s fairly utilitarian, but perfectly acceptable. It suits the headphones perfectly – well-put together, all about business and no frills. Inside the box were the headphones themselves, two identical 1.5m cables with a nice fabric wrap over the insulation, and a spare pair of velour earpads that can be swapped easily with the standard faux leather pads. I’ll discuss the pads a little more later.

I have to admit that I was slightly surprised by the look and feel of the 8.35 despite reading all about their rugged and indestructible design. Every accessible surface is plastic and not the most aesthetically appealing plastics, but don’t be put off, the 8.35s have an ugly-duckling charm to them that I’ve grown to really appreciate. Probably the one element of the design that I still don’t really like is the plastic wrapping around the headband. The layers of the plastic covering appear to be heat-sealed together which creates a sharp lip that protrudes slightly on either side of the headband. It’s not sharp in the sense that it would cut, but it’s a very definite edge that doesn’t feel great. Again though, don’t write these off because of that – there’s too much else to love.

Headphones On: Comfort & Fit

The 8.35s feature a simple sliding adjustment system so you can just push or pull the ear cups up / down to get the fit right and while there’s not a huge range of motion, I’m pretty sure there’s plenty enough for almost anyone except perhaps those with big hair (think dreadlocks, etc.) I’d also read a few complaints about the depth (or lack thereof) of the earpads and they definitely look very shallow – like your ears will be pressed against the drivers – but I have found no problems with the design. People with particularly large ears or protruding ears may find the stock ‘leather’ pads to be too shallow, but that’s why the Advanced version of the 8.35 is a good choice. The velour pads are noticeably deeper and have a larger, circular opening to accommodate your ears rather than the snug, oval opening of the ‘leather’ pads.

Once on the head, the 8.35s are surprisingly comfortable. I wasn’t expecting a lot of comfort based on the look of the headphones, but I’ve worn them for reasonably long sessions (2+ hours) with no problems. I would probably recommend choosing your pads carefully though because I do find that the ‘leather’ pads get quite warm quite quickly. The velour pads are better in this regard, but there is a slight sound change that I’ll discuss shortly so you need to take that into account. I was also a bit surprised that the velour pads have no cover over the driver which leaves the holes exposed for hairs and other small particles to potentially get to the driver surface and cause distortion / sound artefacts. I’m sure this can be rectified with a couple of small circular pieces of foam, but it would be nice if the pads had this protection attached like the ‘leather’ ones do.

Edit: German Maestro have been in touch after seeing this review to let me know that the GMP 8.35 Mobile Advanced model does normally come with a foam dust guard for use with the velour pads. It was a random error that I happened to receive a pair without the dust covers so please know that you are unlikely to have the concerns that I’ve raised in regards to both the exposure of the drivers, but also my later comments in relation to the sound changes caused by the exposed drivers (or at least to a lesser degree).

Music On: Sound Quality

Wow, these are a fun headphone! Their sound is just engaging from the very first beat – they really surprised me. The 8.35 is designed to be a fairly neutral headphone, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they are analytical and soul-less. Somehow the engineers at German Maestro have created an accurate and revealing headphone that’s also really fun to listen to. There’s the slightest hint of sibilance on some top-end notes, but it’s so tiny that I only mention it to differentiate the sound quality from some much more expensive offerings (like the AudioQuest NightHawk).


As a fairly neutral headphone, bass is not a strength of the 8.35, but it’s not anaemic like some other neutral headphones. I’ve reviewed (and owned) the Sennheiser HD800 and the bass from the similarly tuned 8.35 is better than the HD800 (and possibly better than the HD800S as well). There’s enough bass quantity that you can feel a bit of kick when a recording calls for it and even some rumble sometimes. One of my test tracks, Wristband by Paul Simon, has a fantastic low-end rumble behind the opening riffs and the 8.35s reproduce the rumble with beautiful control and warmth.

Where the 8.35 may leave some bassheads wanting is the overall balance of the bass compared to other frequencies. The bass sits just a touch behind the mids and treble in terms of overall energy, but you will never be left wanting for bass quality with these – they are just marvellous! I went hunting for some tracks to trip up the 8.35 and I couldn’t find one – even hip-hop and rap sounds great on these! There seems to be a slight lift in the sub-bass that helps to keep the headphone sounding solid and weighty without bringing too much warmth into the upper bass and muddying the sense of clarity that’s the main draw of the 8.35.


The midrange from the 8.35s is equally surprising for a neutrally tuned headphone. The German Maestro engineers have managed to tune the sound with the perfect balance of articulation and detail retrieval, but without getting too thick or lush. I personally really enjoy a lush midrange, but despite being more balanced and clean, I love the mids from the 8.35.

In terms of describing the mids from the 8.35s I would say that they have a slight upper-mid lift which provides the wonderful sense of clarity they deliver. Guitars, vocals and the like sing through over the top of the recording (in a good way) and bring your attention to the focal points of the music, but without ever creating incoherence, becoming artificial or drawing too much attention to any particular instrument. The result is a very revealing midrange that’s totally engaging and enjoyable at all times – the perfect balance of neutrality and musicality.


This is where things get really interesting. The 8.35s come really close to audio perfection in the category of neutrally tuned headphones and the only thing that holds them back is a tiny bit of edge in the treble. I believe this is a result of the use of the mylar driver. If you’ve read my review of the AudioQuest NightHawks you might recall discussions about the driver design of the NightHawks being a biocellulose driver in a rubber suspension. The key reason AudioQuest designed the driver this way was to prevent exactly what I’m hearing with the 8.35. You see, a mylar driver is all plastic from edge to edge with no rubber (or other) suspension. To facilitate the movement of the centre of the driver, the edges of the driver flex and bend, essentially crinkling up the mylar ever-so-slightly. This results in an uneven surface creating inconsistent sound waves and we perceive that as distortion or edginess in the sound. Now, I have to clarify here – it is very, very subtle. In isolation, the 8.35s just sound like a slightly bright tuning, but when you put them next to a pistonic driver like the NightHawks or thinksound On1 you can hear the slight grittiness in the treble that I believe is coming from the driver. The treble on those other two headphones just sounds a bit cleaner and clearer. Before you right off the 8.35s though, please note that industry leading brands like Sennheiser employ the same technologies so it’s not like German Maestro have done anything heinous with their choice of driver, I just have a preference towards pistonic designs and the smoother sound they create.

Anyway, let’s talk about the overall treble quality and balance from the 8.35s. I’ve already mentioned that they have a hint of grittiness, but that is absolutely their only flaw. The quality of the treble in all other ways is fantastic. The treble is beautifully balanced throughout the range with no nasty peaks or troughs and the treble is also beautifully balanced with the mids and bass. The treble is probably a tiny bit forward of the bass and either level with or a fraction behind the mids, but it all comes together wonderfully to make a compelling and engaging sound signature that’s revealing and detailed AND highly enjoyable.

Staging & Imaging

These headphones are ridiculously good when it comes to the imaging and staging from a closed headphone. Traditionally, closed headphones result in a small and intimate experience, but no the 8.35s. They’re not going to compete with the best-of-the-best open headphones (HD800, etc.), but they’ll go toe-to-toe with any other headphone I can think of. Every time I put these on my head I am surprised by the soundstage and clarity of their image.

The soundstage isn’t particularly deep, but it’s beautifully defined from left to right with good overall width. Sounds are placed extremely well from left to right and well enough from front to back that everything sounds well separated and defined within its own space in the recording. I think the slight upper mid and treble emphasis from the 8.35s contributes to their extremely engaging presentation and I just love it. These have claimed a permanent place on my bedside table and will be added to the “On My Desk & In My Bag” page because they absolutely deserve a permanent place in any headphone enthusiast’s collection.

Earpad Tweaking

Earlier I touched on the fact that different earpads sound different on the 8.35s. The differences are very subtle, but let me summarise my findings to help you decide…

  • Stock fake leather pads: well-balanced sound with slightly stronger sense of beat due to the closer proximity of the ears to the drivers
  • Stock velour pads: slightly brighter and more articulated sound, may tend towards sibilance depending on your personal sensitivities with treble. (This could possibly be tamed using a foam cover over the exposed driver.) I personally find the bass to stay about the same, but the upper mids and treble come forward a little.
  • Dekoni aftermarket leather pads: slightly brighter than the stock ‘leather’, but not as bright as the velour – very comfortable too!

Personally, I would want a pad that sounds exactly like the stock ‘leather’ but with the comfort of the Dekoni pads. As it is, I’m very happy with the Dekoni pads, but the tiny bit more warmth from the stock pads is more to my personal listening tastes. You can buy the Dekoni pads here.

After a Few Weeks: The Final Verdict

I’ve been a bit slow writing this review due to work commitments so I’ve had plenty of time to evaluate the 8.35s in all kinds of circumstances and I can’t help but love them – they are just a perfect execution of everything they are meant to be. They are simple, rugged, neutral-sounding and highly enjoyable. Based on my time with them, carrying them around, taking photos with them, and visiting a friend in his recording studio and giving him a go with them I can honestly say that these headphones provide me with nothing but confidence that they are always going to sound great (regardless of the source) and will survive anything I can throw at them. To me, the German Maestro GMP 8.35 Mobile Advanced are one of the best headphones you can buy with your hard-earned cash. At $260 they are far better than many other options and although they’re not as pretty (some people will find them ugly) they have a certain rugged charm that’s totally won me over.

If you want to find out what’s got me so enamoured with the GMP 8.35 and you’d like to support my blog and the reviews I create, please consider buying the 8.35s (or any other gear you’re after) using the following link – it costs you nothing and provides me with a small amount of income to fund future reviews. Happy listening!