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The most underappreciated can ever? DT 48

post #1 of 110
Thread Starter 
Okay - a provocative title but I seriously think the Beyer DT 48 E might just take the cake here.

You can count the head-fiers who have even heard it one one hand - so the recommendation are few and far between.

Recently there was a thread featuring some first impression that had a couple folks come out of the woodwork and praise them and then there's a mention or two in the monster beyer roll call thread - but not too much more than that excluding their mention as a historical note (they are perhaps the earliest production headphone - search here for history of headphones or look at wikipedia) or for their function in hearing tests.

I first came across these gems when I heard a few very respected head-fier's and various studio folks praised them as rivaling the AKG 1000 or better stax systems (I'll refrain from giving names to protect the innocent).

Well after buying and selling a half dozen current and vintage versions of them, I settle on the current 25 ohms DT 48 E with the stock cirumaural pads and then had them recabled with RAL cable I bought used that terminates in a mini jack.

See pics:







First off, these are metal cans, the housing and the headband are metal and about as indestructible as a grado PS-1 - absolutely bullet proof. You'll occasionally come across some from the 1950s if you look carefully and I have yet to find a pair that was faulty for any other reason than a cable.

And now a work on recabling. Believe in it or not, it does make sense with these ancient cables, which if vintage tend to have functional issues.

RAL may be a crook, but if you can get the cable it's basically the best stuff out there, IMHO destroying every major aftermarket cable (note: I haven't yet heard A Pure Sound's V3). RAL tend to be hyper detailed and with these cans it makes an unreal combination, for reasons I'll get into shortly.

There are various versions and each version can range in impedance between about 200 and 5 ohms and each has a fairly distinct sonic signature.

There are a couple of pad options, the supraaural, designed for the hearing tests DT 48 A stock, and the cirumaural DT 48 E stock and some folks on ebay and elsewhere making custom pads you'll come across every now and then. The supraaural are extraordinarily uncomfortable, but then again they are designed to be worn a short while during hearing tests. The circumaural are comfy and have more bass, important for reasons I'll get into shortly. Replacements are available from Beyer or places like Trew audio.

Isolation. These have it in spades. Remember they are hearing test or studio cans. I'd say it's greater isolation than the AKG 271, the senn 280 or 25-1 or the beyer 250 - just first rate noise blockage.

Physically they are almost unbreakable but have some quirks. For instance, to adjust the size, you have to literally loosen and tight a hex bolt on each side! The headband itself is a comfy, puffy beyer. The sliding piece that adjust size to have some plastic and they are prone to breakage on their tips, especially on vintage version, but that's doesn't affect function or fit and you can't really see it or wouldn't notice it unless someone told you so I've never bother to replace them.

Price. They are not cheap, retailing for close to $500 some places but available from online stores for just under $300 if you call (B&H from time to time). They show up on ebay as well - check the german ebay too. There they have been selling for around $200 used, partially because studio folks snap them up as well as general consumers. But again be warned, even if they don't list it often the cable has issues on the vintage or used versions.

On now, the sound. In short, astonishingly revealing - hyper-resolving. On the drier, analytical side, but worth that price of admission to hear details simply not audible on cans such as the RS-1, Beyer DT 880, Senn 600/650 or AKG 501/701. Seriously, no joke, no lie. A/B them side by side and your jaw will drop. That may not be too surprising considering research labs conducting medical studies on hearing as well as your local audiologist use them, but it is truly something to hear one in your life.

For example, I hear specific conversation in the back of the room on lives recordings, hear them as in can follow them clearly, conversations not present with any other cans. Tape drop out are not just notable but obviously so. crazy, crazy stuff.

Typically, conversation revolves around fun, wet, warm cans versus dry sterile cans. These are analytical but they don't really fall into this debate. For instance, I strongly dislike the AKG 701 and am not a huge Senn fan either. Grado fun is enjoyable, but I prefer these. Why? It's tough to say.

Listening to them, they are starkly coherent with razer-sharp distinction (descent head-stage to boot) but they also get your toe tapping. It's really like being in a club or recording studio with a raw, unadulterated mike in front and an artist singing away. They are not an instrument in themselves as the grados, but not a sterile or veiled tool as I've found with other cans.

They scale very, very well and are almost hyper sensitive with source and amp - and yet, at 25ohms they are enjoyable straight out of t DAP. You'll loose resolution and they'll get a bit muddled up when attempting to resolve complexity with such a set up, but still very enjoyable compared to some of the better closed cans that get kind of strained.

Jazz and vocal are the obvious mates but listening to rock guitar gives you goosebumps and large symphony seems 'right'.

One of the odder experiences with them is hear over-tones and harmonics that are much more subtle or not present with say a Beyer 880, RS-1 or 600. It's not just that the these resolve music better it's that they are conveying additional information. I know, I know it's a crazy claim - but it's true.

I have not tried these with a tube amp - my hunch is that a great tube amp would make a heck of a combination. I also haven't heard any of the crazy stax systems and would love someone, perhaps at a meet, to do a side-by-side.

Underappreciated? Yeah. In a meritocracy, these would be a very frequent recommendation for a host of folks (dorms, dedicated high-end home rigs, alternatives to a collector's main can's, heck even cans for listening to a DAP at home sans an amp). Hopefully this thread will put them on folks' radar and maybe even help someone find and enjoy these little gems.

Happy listening
post #2 of 110
Excellent post. How comfortable are they compared to say, D2000 or HD650 (which I find very comfortable)?
post #3 of 110
stop making these threads, i'm still trying to get a pair for cheap. :P
post #4 of 110
Thread Starter 
Sorry

I think there's still a good shot at getting them off ebay for cheap, especially german ebay. But the prices even there do seem to be going up a good deal as of late. One could say it's just a FOTM developing but there's so much intrinsic value in these cans I think that anyone who hears them would be loathe to sell them off as a fad passing. Just be sure to get the right version as I found the e version in 5 ohms and 8 ohms to be notable inferior to the 25 ohm version. YMMV

On the comfort I haven't heard any of the foster/denons, something I should probably rectify soon. Compared to the senns, I found them much, much more comfortable. I have a big, fat head and actually broke a senn headband (one of the new ones they are now making from the inferior plastic as even the senn rep admitted).

Oh shoot - it occurs to me I never did get to their flaws. They are not a bass heavy can. Pretty similar to a Beyer 880 with maybe even less, but better, more articulate bass. Low, taught, supple but not terribly impactful. I do have a hunch that with the right amp (say a KICAS caliente or a plump, fat tube amp) this would be great. The DT 48E with the circumaural pads helps and honestly the recabling helped as well. I don't know what's in that stock beyer cable but it reminds me of a bad radio shack wire. That said, you're actually hearing so much additional information in the rest of the spectrum not having a pounding bass line is not as obvious as you would think.

They also don't have the greatest headstage. It's very good for a closed can (think AKG 271) but isn't going to rival a world-class open can here (like the Beyer 880 or the AKG 501's soundstage).

They are also heavy - not horribly awful but think Alessandro MS2i heavy as opposed to a grado rs-1.

Those are the most notable flaws to my ears.
post #5 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrosenth View Post
Sorry

I think there's still a good shot at getting them off ebay for cheap, especially german ebay. But the prices even there do seem to be going up a good deal as of late. One could say it's just a FOTM developing but there's so much intrinsic value in these cans I think that anyone who hears them would be loathe to sell them off as a fad passing. Just be sure to get the right version as I found the e version in 5 ohms and 8 ohms to be notable inferior to the 25 ohm version. YMMV

On the comfort I haven't heard any of the foster/denons, something I should probably rectify soon. Compared to the senns, I found them much, much more comfortable. I have a big, fat head and actually broke a senn headband (one of the new ones they are now making from the inferior plastic as even the senn rep admitted).

Oh shoot - it occurs to me I never did get to their flaws. They are not a bass heavy can. Pretty similar to a Beyer 880 with maybe even less, but better, more articulate bass. Low, taught, supple but not terribly impactful. I do have a hunch that with the right amp (say a KICAS caliente or a plump, fat tube amp) this would be great. The DT 48E with the circumaural pads helps and honestly the recabling helped as well. I don't know what's in that stock beyer cable but it reminds me of a bad radio shack wire. That said, you're actually hearing so much additional information in the rest of the spectrum not having a pounding bass line is not as obvious as you would think.

They also don't have the greatest headstage. It's very good for a closed can (think AKG 271) but isn't going to rival a world-class open can here (like the Beyer 880 or the AKG 501's soundstage).

They are also heavy - not horribly awful but think Alessandro MS2i heavy as opposed to a grado rs-1.

Those are the most notable flaws to my ears.
Watch out, bluesunday might try to discredit you.. I got flamed for putting these on the level of the ultra hi end headphones.. & said they will do somethings even better. I just got eye rolls & snickers. The midrange on a great recording is beyond amazing. Yes, I said it. & they are a chemelon. 100% source dependant. If the song has bass impact, the 48's will feel more alive, & sound a bit musical.. He's not lying about the detail. I'd venture to say these are the most detailed closed cans ever, considering what they are made for.. But I'm that kooky old uncle at the family reunion, that everyone says, yeah, yeah to.. There goes our uncle again.
post #6 of 110
Thread Starter 
Sorry to hear you got flamed.

I'd like to think that head-fi is pretty civil and people have different opinions and literally hear (ear physiology) differently.

In any case, I don't know if these are even comparable to crazy and high-end cans but I do strongly prefer them to the Grado RS-1, RS-2 the Senn 600 and 650, the Beyer 880 and 250, the AKG 501, 701 and 271.

I do also hear things with the DT 48 E that I don't with the aforementioned.

Also, I think the version is very important. I didn't really like a couple of different versions I heard as they were very bass shy.

Source and system is also a very important qualification - as, like you said, they are very system dependent and synergy is incredibly important with these guys.

All that said, if someone disagrees, feel free. I really enjoy them and wish someone had tipped me off to them earlier. Best way to decide is to try and listen for yourself
post #7 of 110
So 25 ohm DT48 E isn't bass shy ? What about 200 ohm version ? http://www.beyerdynamic.de/en/broadcast-studio-video-production/products/headphonesheadsets/headphones.html?tx_sbproductdatabase_pi1[showUid][showUID]=421&tx_sbproductdatabase_pi1[showUid][backPID]=93&cHash=ea00ad4144
from this page I read that nominal source impedance is 120 ohm. I wonder if Earmax Silver Edition will do well with these cans. I ordered this amp and it is being shipped to me at the moment.
post #8 of 110
Good with rock guitar, you say? Never tried it, but will tonight. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to Django on vinyl, though.

I highly recommend a tube amp with the DT48. You get the most delicious mids and a window into how your amp actually sounds. (Side note to Craig: your work continues to impress me!)

It is funny that a headphone that's been in production for 50 years has only a handful of fans at Head-Fi. I've got to fix an intermittent cable on the 200 ohm pair, but I should have three pairs to pass around at the Los Angeles meet next weekend. I think there will be close to 40 attendees and lots of good equipment. I hope everyone will be curious enough to give the DT48 a listen.

Speaking of meets, is anyone interested in putting together a DT48 table for CanJam '09? I was thinking we could have several pairs with well-matched amps and music for each. If no new flagship headphone is released at CanJam '09, a DT48 table might have the most buzz there.
post #9 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by dcpoor View Post
stop making these threads, i'm still trying to get a pair for cheap. :P
Same here.
post #10 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrosenth View Post
....
Also, I think the version is very important. I didn't really like a couple of different versions I heard as they were very bass shy.
Are you talking about the 25 Ohm and the 200 Ohm version?
What would be the difference (soundwise, not 175)?
post #11 of 110
Thread Starter 
The impedance does different things aside from make it more difficult to drive.

I have a 75ohm ety adapter and routinely use that on different cans just for kicks and it changes the frequency slope.

I disliked the 8 ohm version as being bass shy, the 200 ohm version as well but found that to be better than the 8 ohm version to my ears.

Putting the 75 ohm adapter on the 5 and 8 ohm versions helped but of all I've tried I've found the DT 48E at 25 ohms to have the most bass - circumaural pads increase the bass on any version.

With a guitar it's certainly not like listening to a Grado RS-1 but a very enjoyable experience - reminds me of the days I used to tinker around in a studio with a guitar-driven band - definitely worth a try. Guilty pleasure is listening to Weezer with them - listening to U2 guitars with them is unreal. Acoustic guitar on them is also a must try - listening to Jesse Cook and Paul Galbraith doing Bach lutes or even stuff like Yo Yo Ma and Mark O'Conner's bluegrass and folk.

For finding them cheap, I'd also highly recommend Craig's List looking for studio cast offs - takes some hunting but it can eventually lead to some interesting goods.

I had a feeling putting a good tube amp on them would be an ideal match - would love to hear that sometime.

If I make can jam 09 I'll definitely bring them.

it is odd how this can is a total staple for recording for half a century and rarely mentioned here.
post #12 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by argentum View Post
from this page I read that nominal source impedance is 120 ohm. I wonder if Earmax Silver Edition will do well with these cans. I ordered this amp and it is being shipped to me at the moment.
I have an amp that is pretty much an earmax clone
The Earmax has a good sound, its drawback is that it can be a littttle power-shy for low impedance headphones. The whole "power issue" goes out the window when you add the 120-ohm cable.

If you use a 120-ohm cable with the lower impedance versions of the DT-48 it should do well. My amp drives the headphones without the extra impedance, but the bass is pretty week.
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrosenth View Post
For finding them cheap, I'd also highly recommend Craig's List looking for studio cast offs - takes some hunting but it can eventually lead to some interesting goods.
you can find all sorts of old junk when recording studios close up. Cheap grados they bought in 1997

Anyways, I want a set of THOSE pads. My DT-48 have the ear-crusher pads, and its a worthwhile upgrade. I just want to check: is there is a little raised ring about the size of a quarter that the pads "clamp" to?

my DT48 with cardas headphone cable, and Neutrik 4-pin XLR plug.
post #13 of 110
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikongod View Post
Anyways, I want a set of THOSE pads. My DT-48 have the ear-crusher pads, and its a worthwhile upgrade. I just want to check: is there is a little raised ring about the size of a quarter that the pads "clamp" to?
Great photo and gorgeous cardas work

Yeah, the pads make a difference for sure.

Yes, there is a little raised ring about the size of a quarter that the pads 'clamp' to. That threw me at first because the hole in in the ear pad is bigger than the little raised ring and the ring doesn't really clamp as the earpads kind of sit around it and they user the self-adhesive rings to stick to the cups. In any case, the pads stay on without any problems.
post #14 of 110
So, I'm the only one with the a model? Are they really that different? a/e? About the information. It's like system overload so much is going around you. Not sure what a crazy, crazy, hi end headphone is.. But I'm sure it would include the R10. I think in certain areas like Midrange & detail, that the 48's can compete with those types of phones. They seem to be on the same level as the K1000, although polar opposites. I just know that they are a cut above every hi end headphone in production that I listen too or owned. Actually, this might sound weird, but it kind of reminds me of my balanced 650/DAC1 combo.. But the air around the instruments had more weight & impact, & more pleasing. Maybe a more dry, bright, & analytical 650.

I noticed that I'm able to understand about 30% more of artist lyrics since getting these.. I was listening to Victory last night. Must be a reference CD, cause I never heard the midrange sound any better on these puppies. Ma$e rhymes in a whisper, & tends to mumble.. With the 48's I can make out most of what he is saying. Kid Rock. Van Halen. Ect.

This must be said, You might not like their sound. I say over half of Hi end, would hate them for certain genres, like rock/rap/R&B.. They are the anti Grado in every sense of the word. & they phones weren't meant to sound pleasant. High fidelity, first & foremost. My current source for them is awful. A PS3. I can't wait to see how they sound with a better source..
post #15 of 110
Thread Starter 
No you're not the only one, I've had an a version or two and I think uncle erik has one and someone in the big beyer roll call had them and there was one sold here about a month ago or so.

I find them to sound different. I enjoyed the a but preferred the E, but that's a matter of degree and resistance in the mix makes it more complicated and probably preference driven.

Yeah, I also would be very interested to hear a shoot out or see a review of it and the R10, K1000 etc.

You've got to hear them with a good source. And after reading Uncle Erik's and Nikon God's posts I'm dying to hear them with a good tube amp - would love to see a table at can jam.

They are kind of an anti-grado in a way for sure. At the same time the only two cans I've been listening to are these and an rs-2 off a pico as of late. I enjoy them both immensely but for very different reasons.
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