Not straying far at all from the classic headphone design for DJs, the sturdy, comfortable and decent sounding ETR 1000s from American Audio are fine for DJ booths big and small. The colour choices might not be to your taste, nor the fixed flat cable, but if these things don’t bother you, they’re great value for money.
First Impressions / Setting up
The first impression is of a brightly painted but otherwise classic-looking DJ headphone: Big earcups, horseshoe-shaped couplings to a thick headband, absolutely standard joints and adjusters, big leather pads, fabric underside to the headband. The American Audio logo is limited to an embossed version on the headband, and two printed versions on the earcups. There is no Etronik branding at all. Where they differ from the standard is that they have a (currently trendy) flat cable, as opposed to the more traditional coiled variety, and in this case it is joined permanently to the headphones.
In my experience, it’s joints and cables where headphones tend to break, and having such a flimsy feeling cable permanently joined up would indicate to me that you should treat this part with care; pull a coiled cable hard by mistake and it uncoils a bit, but pull a straight one, and you could damage it where it joins the headphones.
Having said that, as long as you don’t see yourself ever wanting to wander more than 5ft or 2.7 metres from the mixer/controller they’re plugged into and are careful when wearing then, the cable design works well; this type of cable is good at not getting tangled up. In this case, it has an 1/8″ jack on the end, but the headphones are supplied with a 1/4″ adaptor as well.
The drivers are 40mm which seems a bit small for me for a headphone of this size, most being 50mm or more, but of course the proof is in the listening, which we’ll get on to. As well as the headphones themselves and the adaptor, there is a standard soft bag supplied to tuck them away in when you’re not using them. They semi-collapse into their own headband, but don’t fold as small as some due to a limit on how far the couplings move.
They felt as I was expecting from looking at the design (and from using countless other pairs of extremely similarly designed DJ headphones). Not a bad thing at all; the design is this way due to being effective. They’re sturdy and comfortable, which is a promising start. Due to the design, they do exactly what I like in a DJ headphone. They cover your ears well and isolate decently, they can be worn single or double cupped, and the earcups swivel out of your neck’s way when you wear them there.
Sound quality-wise I was perfectly satisfied with them too. They sounded deep and powerful, and despite having slightly smaller drivers than some, were plenty loud enough. I see no reason why you couldn’t use them in any DJ booth from the smallest to the biggest, and the sound is balanced and detailed enough for you to be able to use them for general listening too.
I don’t know exactly what design input our friend DJ Etronik had, but if it was limited to: “Design them like the Sony ‘700s and don’t mess it up!”, well, it’s worked. They’re a timeless design, and they work fine.
For me they actually sound better than they look (why not have a grey or black pair in the range for those of us who aren’t down with bright, metallic, primary colour paint jobs?) but I am aware that’s a personal choice thing. The only thing I’d question functionality wise is the use of the trendy flat cable combined with its being permanently joined to the headphones. Trip up on that by accident and it’s likely to weaken or even break that join.
Overall, they’re good. They sound great for the price, they’re comfortable for DJing, and they’re a proven design. If the colour choices are your thing and you don’t mind the modern fixed cabling, I’d say add them to your shortlist. They certainly represent good value for money at this price point.