The Accidentally Extraordinary 51st Studio Sealed Headphone

This story originally appeared at

The Accidentally Extraordinary 51st Studio ($99)
Hundred dollar headphones are usually cheap plastic affairs; I'll gladly take a little stainless steel and wood in the mix, which is what you get with these dandy little cans. I really like the look of the 51st Studio, it's obviously not up to the sumptuous quality of the B&W P7 but I think they're pretty tasty for a headphone 1/3rd the price. Accidentally Extraordinary was going for a "lifestyle" headphone at $100, and I think they've pretty much nailed it. This is a very good looking headphone for this price.

The 51st Studio is a compact, around-the-ear, sealed headphone. The headband is a stainless steel arch with two adjustment slider detent mechanisms attached at either end. The headband pad is a modestly but adequately padded all-synthetic assembly which is glued to the bottom of the headband. The stainless steel headband has a large oval cut-out on the top through which a molding on the top of the pad slightly protrudes and onto which the "Accidentaly Extraordinary" logo is embossed.

Each ear capsule is connected to the headband with a stainless steel bail assembly. The bails are connected to either side of the ear capsule allowing it to rock with plenty of adjustment—but the very thin wires between the top of the capsule and the headband may be stressed if the top of the ear piece is rotated inward too far. Seems to me this is the weak point of the headphone.

The top of the bail is attached to the adjustment slider with a small bolt and cap nut, which allows it to rotate about 20 degrees in either direction. The slider has a series of holes for adjustment, and the detent mechanism seems a little rough but had about the right amount of friction for both easy adjustment and a secure fit.

Space in the ear-pad is smallish but my medium sized ears fit within the pad nicely, if a bit cozy. There is a small foam disk over the driver to cusion your ear against the driver grill. Ear-pads are pleather over non-memory foam, and are removable. They do get a bit warm after long wear.


The main body of the capsule is a chromed injection-molded plastic piece. Two decorative black metal mesh panels are inserted into it, but are not functional vents. The wood in the headphones is real, sustainably-grown Walnut, and is not just a veneer but rather a fairly hefty block machined to shape, and internally bounds the acoustic chamber behind the driver.

The headphone capsules are fairly easy to disassemble: remover the pad; undo the four screws; pull off baffle plate; remove bail swivel pins. I think these cans make an excellent candidate for DIY modifications. Replacing the cable that goes from ear to ear may be a bit difficult as the headband pad covering it is glued to the headband.

The headphones come with two cables: a plain flat cable with wood housing 3.5mm plugs at both ends, and a shorter, and very much cheaper feeling, 39" cable with a one-button remote. Seems like the remote cable was an afterthought as it doesn't appear on their website as included accessories. I'd like to see them put the remote on the flat cable, and just leave it at that. Frankly, these cans just beg for a cable replacement. (There is a hole in the capsule housing into which the plug must fit before reaching the jack—inside dia .24"/6.1mm, depth 0.086"/2.2mm). Also included is what appears to be a hemp carry sack with draw-string. The box bottom has a foam insert and makes for a serviceable storage box at home or office.

So, flip the page and we'll see if they've been able to accidentally produce a headphone with extraordinary sound...

Accidentally Extraordinary