Teufel is an interesting company that has always gone about the business of selling speakers and headphones in a slightly different way to everybody else. Founded in 1980, the company originally sold loudspeaker kits so that enthusiastic (and more DIY capable than I) individuals could assemble their own speakers at a price lower than would be the case if they were buying the completed article. Ten years later, the company knocked the standard retail model on the head altogether and began a process of direct sales that continues to this day.
As Teufel had direct sales down to a fine art at a time when the internet was still something that barely existed, it means that the company has evolved into the online era and become the world’s largest direct seller of speakers. Part of the reason for this is that the terms under which products are sold are impressively no quibble. Buy a product and you have an impressive eight weeks to decide whether the product is a keeper or not. If you do decide that it is for you, Teufel warranties make everyone else’s look pretty weak with some as long as twelve years.
Naturally, as a speaker company in 2013, Teufel has noticed that headphones are big business and have added two over ear and an in-ear model to their very extensive range of speakers. The curiously named Aureol Real is the most expensive over ear model on offer. It bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain range of rapper endorsed headphones at a substantially reduced price but does it deliver in a very competitive market?
The Teufel is an open backed over ear headphone and in truth is not the most radical piece of technology we are likely to see this year. Despite this the omens are good for strong performance and there are some decidedly neat touches in the basic design. Teufel has managed to fit a 44m driver into each earpad which is an impressively large driver for the price and the size of the headphone as a whole. The driver itself is a neodymium dynamic type and Teufel claim a frequency response of 20Hz to 22,000kHz which seems entirely believable in use.
Teufel has combined a 50 ohm impedance with an open back design to ensure that the sensitivity of the Aureol is commendably high and this is not a headphone that should cause most portable equipment much in the way of problems. They are capable of going impressively loud from limited power input and they should prove amenable to use with all but the feeblest of electronic equipment. The neat trick that Teufel has pulled off with the design is that even though the Aureol is open backed, it doesn’t leak a particularly huge amount of sound and compared to something like the Grado SR60i, you could use the Teufel on a busy train or bus without being killed by your fellow passengers.
This is nothing compared to the achievement Teufel has pulled off with the overall mass of the Aureol. The mass of the complete headphone assembly is 180 grams all up. This is the lightest pair of full size, over ear headphones that I can remember testing and this has obvious benefits for comfort and long term use. Naturally, this would be as much use as a handbrake on a rowing boat if the construction of the Aureol wasn’t up to much but Teufel has managed to combine this extremely low weight with impressively substantial build quality. The quality of the plastics used is high and they feel pleasantly tactile to the touch. The various sections have been well bolted together and literally the only area I can raise any criticism of is the external cabling between the earpad and the headband which I am sure is a styling decision but leaves the cable slightly vulnerable.
The styling as a whole is more than a little reminiscent of the Beats By Dre range. The Teufel is available in black and white and complete with red cabling and logos on the earpads and the effective is a bit derivative. I think that the black looks better than the white but neither is exactly my thing. I don’t think that the Teufel is ugly but in a way I wish that they had decided to strike out and style what is a very impressive piece of engineering in their own way.
Where the Teufel has the Beats (and much of the rest of the market) beat is in terms of comfort. The light weight has been combined with a headband that manages to exert enough grip to ensure that the Aureol is never in any danger of going anywhere even when you are moving quite rapidly but at the same time it avoids digging into your head or pressing down on your ears. They are quite simply exceptionally comfortable and easy to wear for very long periods of time.
The final neat touch is the use of a detachable cable which connects to the left earpad. One of them is for portable use and is a metre long with a 3.5mm jack at either end. The other is three metres ln length and terminates in the full quarter inch jack. In a perfect world, there would be an inline remote on the portable cord but it is hardly the end of the world that one is not present. The last freebie supplied in the box is a neat carrying bag.
The Teufel was used with pretty much the same collection of equipment that other headphones are tested with- Lenovo ThinkPad using Songbird and Spotify, an iPad 3 and iPhone 4. The only major difference is that my Furutech ADL cruise was elsewhere for the duration of the test so an iBasso D4 Mamba was used as an external USB headphone amplifier. I also used the Teufel with a Pioneer A70 integrated amplifier which will also be reviewed shortly. Listening was carried out in domestic and roving situations with music, video on demand and standard browsing requirements.
In supplying two different cord types, Teufel is making a statement that the Aureol Real is as happy at home as it is on the move which is a bold statement for an £80 headphone. Happily, after some time spent with them, the good news is that they do a more than reasonable job in both situations although some design decisions have been made that will shape whether they are a perfect fit for you.
As a relatively sensitive design, the Teufel is sensitive to noisy headphone amps so if you have a laptop that introduces any hash onto the headphone output, you are going to hear it as part of the amplified signal. Most mobile devices and actual pieces of audio equipment are easily quiet enough though and the sensitivity does mean that they can achieve impressive volume levels if required.
The overall balance of the Teufels comes across as a little forward of neutral but not unpleasantly so. The effect tends to make music that is upbeat and exciting sound even more so but thankfully it manages to avoid coming across as wearing or forced. The more you listen to the Teufel, it becomes clear that this impression is generated by well lit treble which has a slight pronounced lift to it. If you listen to the Aureol side by side with the scrupulously accurate Grado SR60i, the lift becomes apparent. The clever bit is that although the obvious danger of doing this is that thin sounding material will be unlistenable but the Teufel largely avoids this.
At the other end of the frequency spectrum the bass is also boosted but less perceptibly than the top end has been. This mainly makes itself felt where you listen to something with hefty electronic bass like Visions by Grimes which has real shove to it and manages to generate a real sense of air moving inside the enclosure. The result is that if you are a dance or electronic fan, the Teufel is generally a great deal of fun to listen to. I think describing it as ‘artificial’ is wrong but ‘augmented’ is probably the best turn of phrase to describe it.
The reason for this is that on the move, with more outside noise to handle, these boosted extremes mean that the Teufel ends up managing to keep the important details in place and actually sounds flatter than a headphone with a genuinely flat response which can sound recessed and subdued in the same conditions. As previously mentioned, the open back design appears to have been done in such a way as to avoid too much transfer of noise in either direction and this means they are ideal partners for commuting although even with a pair of cans this light, I would still rather have a pair of earphones as they are that little more discrete.
Using the Aureol real in a domestic environment is a more qualified success. The tweaks to the frequency response are more noticeable and if you are listening to something less energetic than dance music- the lovely In Motion #1 by the Cinematic Orchestra being a fine example, the detail that present in the midrange can sometime struggle to compete with the more well lit ends of the frequency response. The result is usually entirely listenable but switch back to the Grado’s and the missing detail is returned and you realise that the portrayal by the Teufel is not absolutely accurate.
It is usually entertaining though. With the top end lending a sense of excitement, the Aureol manages to sound agile and lively despite the fairly deep bass on offer. The timing and energy that it brings to performances is appealing and while it probably be my first choice for mastering something, I didn’t find myself automatically reaching for another pair of headphones when I had completed the formal listening tests which is normally a good sign.
The limitations besides the voicing for use on the move are reasonably benign and should not be a huge problem. The sense of space and soundstage that the Aureol can generate is not that extensive and when I was listening to a vinyl copy of Running on Empty through the Pioneer A70, the title track, which sounded impressively vast through the speakers, didn’t have the same space and air to it. The tonal quality of some aspects of the recording weren’t exactly right either. Voices were well handled and impressively real but the piano in many of the pieces sounded a little flat and didn’t have quite the same sense of decay to notes that really adds realism. There are headphones at a similar price point that can do a better job than this but the flexibility they offer is usually not as great as the Teufel can manage. The lack of call microphone is annoying though as the Aureol has to be removed to make a call and this is tricky if you don’t have a spare hand to do it- especially as the Teufel isn’t going to come off by shaking your head.
- Excellent build quality despite light weight
- Extremely comfortable
- Generally sound lively and entertaining
- Can sound a little artificial
- No inline remote control
- Looks a matter of taste
Teufel Aureol Real over ear headphones
The Teufel Aureol Real has a slightly odd name and no shortage of competition but it manages to do a number of things impressively well. The combination of light weight and extremely good build quality is something that Teufel has done exceptionally well at getting spot on and there are headphones that cost a great deal more than this that feel more cumbersome and at the same time less well bolted together. They are also superbly comfortable and you can wear them for hours at a time without a trace of discomfort. Only the lack of inline mic stops them from being absolutely perfect for use on the move. The looks are a matter of personal taste but when you wear them you don’t have to look at them.
The sonic performance is good but comes with some more provisos than the basic design does. Teufel might have also supplied the Aureol with a longer cord for use at home but the voicing and presentation is designed to be most effective used on the move. This means that although it is an exciting and forceful performer, it has to give ground to more home orientated designs in terms of absolute tonality and soundstaging but none of these designs at a similar price can hold a candle to the Teufel once you leave the house. If you are looking for a pair of headphones mainly to use on the move but with the occasional bit of home listening, the Aureol Real is fine value and well worth seeking out.
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