It doesn't matter whether you're listening to classical with high dynamic range or something from the loudness war era. 114 db is still 114 db, regardless of whether you have to turn your amps volume pot to 40% or 80%. Whether its constantly that loud, which would be horribly loud to listen to, or only in a few passages, its still as loud as that headphone will safely go, few db up or down. Putting considerably more power into them won't do anything else than damage the drivers. 114 db at peaks is too loud even for listening to live classical recordings with a very high dynamic range. Even if most of the stuff you hear is at 90-95 db, which is already loud, 114 db peaks would be very uncomfortable.
I don't think I've ever heard my DT880 distort, but I never felt it wasnt loud enough. In fact, I gave up before it did during the "lets see how loud this Infected Mushroom song will play" challenge, which cannot be said for the HD650's for example, which start distorting pretty quickly, actually disappointingly quickly. Even plugged into a cheap speaker amp headphone output, there's plenty of power and current to keep DT880's (600) satisfied up to I assume as loud as they can possibly play.
Yeah, but it does matter if you have to turn your volume pot to 80% because the music is not loud enough. I have heard a lot of amplifiers distort at 80% mark on the volume pot.
And you probably would be surprised, but a good amplifier does make the DT880 sound better. I have heard the DT880 600 now out of almost anything from O2 to vintage amplifier to just recently out of ALO Studio Six. It almost makes me question whether the DT880 600 was distorting with the lower-end amps at the volume I set them at. Now... scientifically, with calculations and measurements, you can claim that the O2 should be enough for most people. But my listening experience doesn't reflect that at all.
HD650, on the other hand, I haven't had much chance to play around with. DT880 made me realize how much of a midrange-head I was, and I jumped straight to Audio Technica offerings at around that time.
Edited by Bill-P - 8/24/13 at 10:20am