Pros: Quality Bass, Neutral mids, Articulate and extended treble, Solid build quality, All day comfort, Serviceable, Fairly priced
Cons: Bass and treble quantities not optimal, Lack of warmth / Analytical, Earpad wearing, Headband adjustment very prone to wearing out
Build Quality and Design
Beyerdynamic headphones are often touted as being built like tanks, and I have to agree that they are very solid indeed, but not without their flaws. The main body of the DT880 is a combination of plastic and what I assume is aluminium. The grille and forks are very solid aluminium, with the latter having a subtle brush effect which adds a nice feeling of quality. The premium version which I have has some aluminium wings (also brushed) on the headband which I really like, and the "DT880" badge on the grille is another nice addition which justifies the 'premium' name. The remainder of the cups and headband assembly is a solid, dark grey plastic which gives no impression of flimsiness or cheapness. The earpads are a silver-grey velour and the headband padding is a black pleather, both of which are high quality. The cable is single entry, 3 metres long with a solid rubber coating and terminated in a 1/8 inch jack with a 1/4 inch screw-on adapter. The DT880 feels substantial and well put together, with no hint of it falling apart. It's just a good demonstration of German build quality and sensibility.
Good quality materials typically lend themselves to looking at least decent, and I think that's the case with the DT880.
There are a few negative conceptions floating around about the DT880s and their sound signature. The most common is that it’s an analytical headphone, which was the most interesting aspect for me as I’d never heard a headphone that had earned that moniker before. Generally this is said to mean that the headphone does not have a ‘musical’ tone and that it sounds cold, clinical and dry. Other items of discussion about the DT880 is that they are too bright, recessed in the mids, and weak (and even muddy!) in the bass. Here is what I found:
Bass is the thing I think is most disagreed upon with headphones, since it seems to be what most people out there notice immediately (Show a good headphone to a friend and they’ll almost certainly comment about it). There are wildly differing expectations for bass quantity. One man’s “Noticeably boosted” is another man’s “Under-represented”. In my personal opinion, I have to say the DT880 does have less bass than I would consider optimal for listening pleasure, as well as too little to be truly neutral. Don’t get me wrong, the DT880 does not have what I would consider “weak” bass, I would say it’s “moderate” in level. It’s not totally and utterly underwhelming and lacking in presence to these ears, but more would be better, most notably in the sub-bass region. Of course, that’s the area that open back dynamic headphones historically struggle with, so I didn’t exactly expect a stellar sub-bass response. What is there, though, is of great quality. It’s tight, quick, textured; a quite articulate bass response. This is definitely a bass response that earns the right to be differentiated from “one note” bass. Quite good in quality, but lacking in quantity for me.
I think the midrange on the DT880 is dead neutral. I’ve owned headphones that have been forward and recessed in the mids, and I really can’t say that either of those terms really describes the DT880. I know that many say that this headphone does have a recessed midrange, but if it is then it’s very, very mild. The midrange sounds very flat and even handed (which is supported by measurements). It's also very clear and revealing, with great separation.
*Rest To Come*
I will unfortunately have to abandon this review for the foreseeable future. I no longer own the headphones and I really can't be bothered finishing this review off memory. I stand by the scoring, and my comments in the summary, pros and cons concisely sum up my thoughts on the DT880. It's a good headphone, it really is. It's the most satisfied I've been with a full sized can since starting my headphone journey in 2010, resulting in me keeping them for a good 2 and a half years. But, in the long run, I decided that the sound was a bit too cold and analytical, and maybe slightly too bright and lacking a little bit of body for me to enjoy anymore. By no means bad, but I prefer something a little warmer and musical sounding.
The next headphone I'll be giving a shot will be either the HD650 or 600 in an attempt on really finding my end-game headphone for home use. Whichever I end up with I shall review next.