As promised, I will now post up my "Review"/Impressions and Comparisons of these DT880, 600 ohm version headphones.
Warning: Its Pretty LONG.
.......but it's pretty thorough.
Let's start with a brief set of remarks about my reviewing process.
I have a Set List of musics that I ALWAYS use as my 'test music', because it provides me with a consistency of sounds that demonstrate the capacity of whatever the item is, track-to-track and side-by-side comparison value. It's stuff I have some essential familiarty with, since I think it's tricky to say much about what music is doing inside of headphones or source components if you don't really understand how that music works and what's good or bad about how you are hearing it.
When I am comparing two or more components, I will listen to them side-by-side, track-by-track, so that I can have a distinct sense of how the components differ in their production of the music. It's hard to say how one set of headphones sound differently from another if you don't well remember what was going on in the first song because you listened to too many things before picking up the other set of cans.
If it's headphones I am evaluating, I use the exact same source components.
If it's source components, I use the exact same sets of headgears, and sample them all identically.
I usually don't post up graphs and spec sheets; the readers can look up that stuff for themselves, and my assessment of how stuff sounds is more to the point of why we review anyway- while you can read masses of data, for free, you can't always get your hands on a set of headphones, certainly not cheaply, so having another person who has experienced a set of gear tell you their impressions in an accurate and rather clinical way one can help steer decision making on expensive purchases. Graphs and stats don't aways translate well into what our ears are appreciating, they tell us the physics of what the component is doing to make the sounds.
MY BRAIN ISN'T INTERESTED IN THE MATHS WHEN I AM TRYING TO DECIDE HOW I LIKE THE MUSIC I'M HEARING.
Remember- this is all subjective. we all have different ears and brains and will always hear music a bit differently from our neighbour, and will always have something that differs in our preferences. Where some prefer warmer sounds, others will favour analytic reproduction... I tend toward production that is ACCURATE, neutral... and offers a more honest repro of the recording. I'm not always going to agree with somebody else's appraisal of what's being heard, and others won't always hear things the way that I do! And that's cool. :)
Now...... on to it!
Kind of Music chosen; (Yes, I copied this list from the Topping review, because it's THE SAME LIST I ALWAYS USE),Lots of classical with much strings, voice, Beethoven through Bernstein and Glass. Lots of electronic music a la Wollo, Boddy, Roach, Serrie, etc. Much Leo Kottke guitar happiness, with some Bluegrass and Appalachian schtuff tossed in. Classical piano. Silk Road Ensemble. Popular and Rock, from Joplin to Foo Fighters to Neil Young to classic Santana, to The Killers to Maroon 5 and so on. Jazz and Blues , Muddy Waters, early Severin, Puente. I don't really do Rap, Dub, or Hip-Hop, although I did run a little Black Eyed Peas and Outkast through it.
Production- iTunes and Songbird lossless and FLAC music files from my iMac out to DACs and amps listed below
iPod Classic 5th gen. with the Wolfson, upgraded to 128 gig, amped as listed below. A Denon 1940CI SACD/DVD player.
DACs- From the iMac only, as the iPod needs no DAC....I am using either a Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies purely as a DAC, or also as a DAC/Amp, the Schiit Modi 2, and the Schiit BiFrost, Finally, JDS LabsThe Element, a DAC/Amp.
Amps- Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies. Woo WA2, Woo WA6, The JDS labs The Element, JDS O2, Schiit Lyr
About this item, the DT880 600ohm headphones;
These are a semi-open backed headphone, so one experiences rather the best of both worlds, when talking about stage and intimacy. They don't have quite the breadth of "space" and "stage" that one notes when listening to fully open-backed cans, but offer a more intimate, and somewhat warmer sound,(from a Beyerdynamic!), a feeling of being closer to the performance and with less intrusion of outside sound.
These are most often described as being the most neutral of the DT line-up, with a good bass, a very nice and present midrange and treble, all ranges being very well balanced.
These headphones are fast and accurate. They are very responsive and are true to the performance being rendered, the detail offered is FANTASTIC. I believe that part of the reason that the detail is so handily presented is the partially closed back of these cans- your ear can hear the little squeaks and frictions of fingers on strings, for instance, because it's "closer in" to your ears.
The build, while light and comfortable, is still very sturdy and with a structure that does not intrude annoying buzzes, or creaks or microphonics into the listen.
Classical music is presented beautifully, and I have found that amplification with a tube amp lends an organicity, a more fluid and warmer sound that suits the organic qualities of classical/acoustic musics quite nicely.
These keep up with rock music and electronic music effortlessly, with very adequate bass presentation. The bass is NOT forward in any way, but adequately present, so that they are fun to have on the head when grooving through Santana and Yes. The responsiveness of these cans allows Tito Puente's blazing percussion work to be enjoyed with perfect crispness, clarity, and, even at volume, I hear no distortion in percussion, vocals, or towering Mahler finales. WHEN PROPERLY RUN-IN, there's no unfortunate sibilance, no shrillness to high soprano vocals. One of my best audits of this quality involves the Vivaldi "Glorias", #1, Gloria in Excelsis Deo, performace by the Academy of Ancient Music, Choir of Kings College Cambridge, et al. If you don't get shrill with THAT at volume, you just won't get it anywhere.
Loud, fast, thumpy acoustic guitar music is better produced using a tube amp with these also...but is very happily presented with the O2, really nice on The Element. No worries with Schiit... but I felt that Woo did it more justice, if only because of the power + organicity offered. That being said.... you would be very pleased with what you hear from these on almost any amp with sufficient power, as I found no fault from any of the components I attached the DT880's to.
For electronic/digital music, especially that which uses a lot of fast sequencer generation,(Klaus Schultze, Wendy Carlos, Erik Wollo), I tend to find strictly solid state amplifiers more appropriate for production, as digital music does not really WANT added organicity/fluidity. That's a PERSONAL preference, but it at least allows me to evaluate how the headphones themselves accurately present the digital music I am hearing, and these cans do so very well. I would say that accurate and "fast" rendering of electronic/analytical music is a serious strength of the DT880, and a fair number of audiophile listeners find them, at times, TOO analytical, dry. For me, these qualities are more of a bonus than they are a drawback.
I would, at times, describe the mids and highs as having something of a "sparkling" quality present with these cans, much as one hears described as an attribute of the Grado 325 metal back.
Build; Comfortable, sturdy, stable, fairly light. easily adjustable for headsize, The velour pads are very easy to kick back in. No rotation of the cups,(no gimbals), but I don't feel that's particularly a problem. Many people criticize the one-sided wiring, but I will say this about it- I gravitate toward two-siders myself, but there doesn't seem to be any problem with the way these sound because of the way they are wired, and it's actually easier to wear a one-sided headphone, from an ergonomics perspective. AKG seems to get away with it and many many people love the AKG cans.
And Now For Some Comparisons;
vs. The Beyerdynamic T1 Tesla; both V1 and 2, because they aren't very much different from each other, really.
The T1 is a wide open backed headphone. Thusly, it offers a wider stage, a more open presentation. T1 is very very accurate and fast, clear at volume....but the DT880's are no less so, and I often gravitate to the 880's over the T1 because of that intimacy factor mentioned above. It's like, because the sound is "closer in", it seems more detailed, even though, technically, it ISN'T.
Because the T1's are fully open backed, outside noises are more intrusive.
Where I feel the T1's beat out the DT880's is in large choral works, large scale symphony productions, and live performance large orchestral and rock concert music. The Foo Fighters at Wembley stadium, the U2 Paris , Joplin,(any Live recording), all are better on the T1's because the greater wider stage is quite the THING for live performances. You do indeed gain a better sense of the ever elusive headspace with the T1's, when listening to live performance.
vs. The DT770; Totally closed back, so you will not have a very great sense of stage. It's ALL intimacy, with a very nice responsiveness and clarity of production. You will be able to listen to the 770 on the bus, and it seems a bit more warm sounding than does the 880. This is probably because of the somewhat muting quality of the materials in the build and, well, to be frank, your face. I love my 770's but find myself preferring the somewhat more crisp presentation from the 880's. I will use my 770's when in a more noisy,(or fan cooled), environment.
The 770 bass is somewhat lacking, and I think the 880's sound BETTER over all.
vs. The DT990;
The 990 is NOT neutral. More bass forward. Trebles and mids maybe a bit weak-ish, but listenable. These are a more "fun" headphone, more likely to hit a happy spot with the bass-headed rock listener, but still useable for most music, albeit less seriously. They have a wider stage than either the 770's or 880's as they are fully open-backed cans. They do not have the breadth and clarity of the T1's. I listened to my variety of musics faithfully on the 990's for this review... and then happily hung them back up on their hook, because I, personally, prefer all of the other Beyerdynamics that I own to them.
They did do a nice, presentable job with 70's and 80's rock music, they were pretty nice with solo blues performances. If I didn't have the other Beyerdynamics headphones to compare them with, I would consider them nicer than I do, having that comparison.
How I power the DT880 600ohm cans;
Well, my list is above. My PREFERRED way to hear them is with either the Woo tube amplifiers , especially the WA2, or via the JDS Labs 'The Element'. The O2 also does a very nice job and I like how well it does it, so I am using that amp on my bedhead,(from the iPod Classic), with the 880's as I drift away, or for serious music on the recline.... these are maybe a bit more comfy, and again, intimate, than the T1's so they are a perfect late evening companion. The O2 has done a very nice job of powering what is often described as being a very demanding headphone. Schiit equipments are all adequate for the task from a power perspective... but I prefer the sound sig of the other equipments, and I don't feel like the Schiits are quite as lucid as are the JDS gear or as beautiful as the Woo. *
I own these.
I LOVE them.
I will never part with them, and I am actually considering picking up this drop just to have another set of them. That probably tells you how I regard these.
This is a very good price point on a very nice set of headphones. These headphones offer a very lucid, neutral,(so get out your equalizer, arready!), accurate,and crisp presentation with a nice taste of the higher-end Beyerdynamic sound. They offer a very lucid sound and, if you attend to the power requirements for them, you can count on a beautifully detailed sound quality, with a solid build quality and a happily comfortable kick-back listening experience.
WHEW!that was a lot!
cheers, and I hope this helps anybody who is interested.
* that being said, the Schiit Lyr is THE way to listen to the Audeeze LCD1 and 2, considered by many to be the golden pairing for the LCDs.