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The Beyerdynamic DT880 Discussion thread - Page 505

post #7561 of 8201
Quote:
Originally Posted by lojay View Post

DT880 comparison with HD800 and SR-009

I will try to be concise because the difference between the three headphones is night and day. I hope this will let those who are hoping to upgrade from a mid-fi rig to a hi-fi one to put things in context.

The DT880s have a couple of hours on them but I've listened to a burnt-in pair at the shop for a couple of hours. I doubt that burn-in will make this much closer to the SR-009 or the HD800 though. The HD800 and SR-009 are fully burnt in and I have lived with them for months. 


I have not had a chance to run the DT800 via the Woo WA5. I do not intend to do so. Besides, I do not think the comparison will be helpful to those hoping to build a mid-fi rig based on the DT880. If you have a top-end amp you should be driving top-end phones.

Similarities:

Tonal balance - All three headphones are extremely neutral sounding with a slight emphasis on treble (see below). For those who enjoy a more balanced tonality at the expense of some musicality would enjoy these cans. That said, for all three headphones it seems that the musicality can be added upstream (with tubes, tubes and more tubes). 

Treble emphasis - The most striking sonic attribute of the DT880 is the treble sparkle in a way that gives a bit of tactile impact, much like the HE-6. This is present in the HD800 and SR009 but less emphasized because they are overall more all-rounded than the DT880 so there are other attributes that "jump" at you when you listen to them.

Differences:

Soundstage - SR009 on my Woo WA5 (which is not the best pairing) is about 20% wider than the DT880 and the HD800 is 50%. Soundstage is really not too bad on the DT880.

Imaging - SR009 has by far the most precise imaging. You can identify each voice and instrument within the soundstage with great accuracy. This is to be followed by HD800, and far far behind, the DT880. Imaging on the DT880 sounds fuzzy. If SR009 is attending a concert when you are wide awake and sober, DT880 is the what the same concert sounds like after you've had a couple of pints of beer.

Transparency, detail and microdynamics - SR009 wins by a large margin, despite that I am not driving it with the best amp (the BHSE). Because of its detail, fast transients, attack and decay, it is highly transparent and makes you feel that you are "there". Voices sound like voices, instruments sound like instruments. The same can be said about the HD800 but to a lesser extent. As for the DT880, well, vocals and instruments sound like voices and instruments portrayed through a headphone. It is less transparent. It also sounds muffled in comparison. 

An analogy that might be apt is one that photography hobbyists can relate to. HD800 sounds like applying a sharpening filter to a photo taken by a good lens and DSLR. SR009 sounds like it is using the best possible Leica system one can buy but without applying the sharpening filter. DT880 sounds like taking the same photo with your iPhone 5s - which is completely serviceable but not really there yet. For the sake of completeness, the HD600 sounds like taking the same photo with a iPhone 3.
 
Musicality - Given the transparency of the SR009, given my rather analogy sounding setup, my SR009 rig gives me lots of goosebumps and shivers down my spine. It can sound utterly musical and moving when the music calls for it. HD800 can but quite rarely moves me with the music. Nor does the DT880 because it is difficult to move me when I feel that I am listening through a pair of headphones.

Bass - DT880 has decent bass with some bass extension. I think burn-in will give it better bass but still, it is lacking in bass quantity and definition when compared to the SR009. The bass of the SR009 is absolutely first-class and I prefer it to the bass of the LCD-3 as it is more controlled. While HD800 has excellent and often underrated bass, I would say not as good as the SR-009 in terms of both quantity and definition. It is enough to have me fully satisfied. I cannot say that for the bass of the DT880. It falls behind the SR009 and HD800's bass by a fair margin, but not a wide one. It better controlled and defined than the bass of the HD600 (which is bloated) and K701 (which is non-existent).

Mids - I find that the DT880 has a slightly thin sounding but nevertheless pleasing representation of the midrange of the frequency spectrum. The mids do not slide into the highs or lows as effortlessly as the SR009 and HD800. But it is still very well done. Vocals sound natural with a slight bit of grain which should not be there. HD800 renders vocals with a similar but more emphasized "edginess" compared to the DT800 and SR009 but this can be alleviated by swapping cables and tubes. 

Amping - DT880 (250 ohm version) wins hands down. The Little Dot Mk IV is a good match with great synergy. It can be driven very satisfactorily by my iPhone to nearly ear-splitting levels. SR009 cannot be driven with anything but a proper electrostatic amp or a speaker amp through a Stax energiser such as the Woo WEE. The HD800 is notoriously amp-picky but with proper amp synergy it can tame the treble and have amazing bass.

Things in context

Is the SR-009 worth that much more than the DT880? I think so. It is that much better.

However, we need to put things in context:
  • DT880s are driven by the Little Dot Mk IV SE with the Emu 1212m as source. It costs about $900 in total. 
  • HD800s are driven by the Woo Audio 5 (premium tubes) with upgraded cables (SAA Endorphin) and AMR DP-777 as source (Audiophilleo1 pp as transport). It costs 10x more than the DT800 rig.
  • SR-009s are driven by the Woo Audio 5 (premium tubes) with AMR DP-777 as source (Audiophilleo1 pp as transport). It costs over 10x more than the DT800 rig.

If you can afford it, get the SR-009 rig. For ten times less the price, however, you can get a very satisfying DT880 setup that will give you much musical pleasure. Although it does not excel in many areas, it does not do much wrong and does not have distracting flaws. Speaking for myself, I could stand a lack of soundstage, a lack of detail or even an absence of transparency. These are things that cost a lot and depend on technological advances. I can live without them.

The main thing that can go wrong for anyone's ears is tonality.  I cannot listen to an overly bright or overly warm pair of headphones for more than one song. It will be either too fatiguing or fail to engage me because it has obvious flaws that detract me from enjoying the music. To me, Sennheiser and AKG headphones are prone to this problem, which can be fixed but at the cost of spending all the time and money to get the system synergy right. The HD650s are too warm and have bloated bass which are distracting in that they cover the music with a veil. The HD800 when improperly amped (and sometimes even when properly amped) can render female vocals annoyingly sibilant. These may or may not be solved by tweaking with the upstream components. But it seems the DT880 is a headphone that is so well put together that you do not need to tweak around with the source and amp to get a sound that does not have many flaws that distract you from musical enjoyment. And this is what impresses me about the DT880 (so far).

YMMV.

Thanks! I haven't heard the Stax, but I think your impressions of the HD800 vs DT880 pretty much match my own. Do you comment on the sibilance of the HD800 because it's 5x the price of the DT880's? I find sibilance more subdued on the HD800, but I only notice it on poor vocal recordings on either headphone. The main thing that blows me away about the HD800 is the soundstage and imaging. Tyll Hertsens at InnerFidelity claims the HD800 images better than the SR-009. Have you heard the HD800 on a solid-state amp?
post #7562 of 8201

IMO these HP it doesn't need any more MOD/PAD it's very good the way it is.

post #7563 of 8201
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrollDragon View Post

More like they got tired of your shenanigans rather quickly... biggrin.gif

Stock pads are perfect on the DT880's, we don't have to chase pads to make our overpriced heavy headphone sound good...

You guys try HM5 pads yet? Cheap fluffy leather pillows for your ears!

 

lies and scandals, no antics over there

Quote:
Originally Posted by i luvmusic 2 View Post
 

IMO these HP it doesn't need any more MOD/PAD it's very good the way it is.

exactly, love the dt 880 pads, perfect just as they are 

post #7564 of 8201
Yeah, I love the 880s the way they are. They sound great.
post #7565 of 8201

I usually rotate the PADS once in awhile in that way they wear out evenly.

post #7566 of 8201
I love the pads so much that I tried fitting them on my Q40's. Then wanted to order another set of Beyer pleather pads for the Dt880, unfortunately that didn't work out as planned because the Q40's sounded garbage with the 880 pads.(no bass, no treble, just mids sticking out on their own) biggrin.gif Anyway has anyone heard the 880's with the pleather pads? I'm curious as to how they would sound.

Oh, and Troll, how are the Hm5's pads on the dt880's?
post #7567 of 8201
Quote:
Originally Posted by xkonfuzed View Post

Oh, and Troll, how are the Hm5's pads on the dt880's?
I never tried them on the DT880's as I think it would stretch them too much to put back on the Ultrasone's. I did have the HM5's on the GMP 8.300D's for a bit so I'll have to compare the size with the GMP pleathers... Which are on the Koss TBSE's at the moment. biggrin.gif
post #7568 of 8201
Well the HM5's don't fit... Period...

The German Maestro pleathers 41-6015 (pictured) just fit but the bass goes out of control, really boomy not useable. I did not try the GMP 41-6085 velours as they only have one vent hole in the back like the 6015's do. The GMP 41-6049's might work as they are fully vented but I don't have a pair of those.

I tried the Fostex T50RP pads just for Schiit's and they actually perform quite well and would work in a pinch if you had a major DT880 pad blowout.

They are very thin so those of you who are spleeny about your ears touching the cups would go insane... XD



BUY a spare set of beyer velours and save yourself the possible trauma down the road!
post #7569 of 8201
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrollDragon View Post

Very nice review of the DT880's vs Top Tier gear.

So why did you choose the DT880's and MK IV if I may be so bold in asking?

I actually chose the Little Dot Mk IV and K701 as my first venture into Summit-fi back in the days. Was dissatisfied with the combo for many years so I moved on to the HD800, HE6 and SR009. These three cans are staying in my office.

The DT880 is now joining the LD Mk IV at home as my home rig. I needed the DT880 because my HD800 and HE6 are not properly amped by the LD and I don't want to bring my high end cans home (it's dustier, more hot and humid than my office). As you would have gathered, I spend little time on headphones at home....
Quote:
Originally Posted by riverlethe View Post

Thanks! I haven't heard the Stax, but I think your impressions of the HD800 vs DT880 pretty much match my own. Do you comment on the sibilance of the HD800 because it's 5x the price of the DT880's? I find sibilance more subdued on the HD800, but I only notice it on poor vocal recordings on either headphone. The main thing that blows me away about the HD800 is the soundstage and imaging. Tyll Hertsens at InnerFidelity claims the HD800 images better than the SR-009. Have you heard the HD800 on a solid-state amp?

Partly but not really. I think the sibilance is more serious in the HD800 (stock cables) than DT880 on objective terms, especially when driven by high end SS amps. Not that it's more pronounced than the DT880, it is more prevalent for the HD800 in most vocal recordings partly because sonic images are spread out wider in the soundstage, so the parameter of voices sound smaller and focuses attention on itself more than the DT880. In the DT880 the sonic images are lumped together in a mass so sibilance per se does not stick out like a sore thumb. The solution to this is to use a pure copper cable in HD800 and swap in some warm tubes that roll off highs slightly.

Let's not turn this into an HD800 thread, but to answer your last question, HD800 doesn't image better than the SR009 IMHO on my tube amp where I am able to drive both the SR009 and HD800 side by side though HD800 is more accurate in the sense that sonic images are more precisely located or "smaller" or less diffuse than the SR009 (see above on this). Doesn't make it 'better' in my view as it is not more natural. In any event, what people may forget is that apart from left-right imaging, there is also the front-back layering of sonic images, which SR009 does better ie more realistically and accurately. I do recall driving the HD800 out of a Rudistor RP030 and it does seem that combo does left-right imaging noticeably better than my present one including the SR009, but of course we cannot compare the HD800 to the SR009 on that amp. So Tyll's comments may be attributable to amping more than the cams themselves. Plus I've lived longer with both phones than I believe Tyll has though he has golden ears and I don't biggrin.gif
Edited by lojay - 6/7/14 at 6:53pm
post #7570 of 8201

lojay, terrific review and one of the most useful I've ever read, not least because it puts so much in perspective. I would only question what appears on the surface slightly contradictory: "the difference between the three headphones is night and day" and your photographic analogy. The first seems to indicate a vast difference in quality; the second that the DT880 is no worse than an imprecise, slightly out of focus version of the dearer phones. Or am I reading it wrong?

 

In any case I believe I get the picture, and it accords pretty much with what I imagined the differences would be. I've had my DT880 Pro now about a year and remain so satisfied with it I recently decided to grab a second pair on Ebay--near new for under $180--mainly because prices seem to be going up lately. I'm certainly not unaware of the virtues of dearer phones, having owned the HE-500 and LCD-2. I've also owned the HD600, HD650, K702, D2000...just about every mid-priced phone going, in fact. None has given me the overall satisfaction of the DT880. I didn't care for the HE-500 but allow that different amping or a jergpad could have altered that.The LCD-2 was great sounding but like a brick on my head. (I notice your review doesn't address comfort. Maybe you could add a few words on that). The thing about the DT880, its overriding virtue if you like, is balance: the balance of cost, build quality, comfort and sound. It'd be nice if we all only had to consider sound, but life is cruel to some of us and practicality and economics keep intruding. I'm glad you mentioned the 10X pricing but I believe the DT880 can be satisfactorily driven by much less expensive amps, thus increasing its overall value. You'll possibly disagree, and if so you'll be in a stronger position since I've never been into expensive amping.

 

Without sounding like a DT880 fanboy, I guess it's a tribute to the DT880 that you could even bear to listen to it against such exalted competition. This forum is riddled with military terminology like 'blows it out of the water', 'firebombs the competition' etc. You resisted such cliches and in the process gave us all a useful yardstick. You also recognised that, for all its shortcomings vs. the best, the DT880 is incredible value at typical selling prices and a wonderfully balanced product. Dare I suggest that it gives the more fiscally challenged among us a slight taste of things currently beyond our reach? ;)

post #7571 of 8201
Quote:
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post
 

lojay, terrific review and one of the most useful I've ever read, not least because it puts so much in perspective. I would only question what appears on the surface slightly contradictory: "the difference between the three headphones is night and day" and your photographic analogy. The first seems to indicate a vast difference in quality; the second that the DT880 is no worse than an imprecise, slightly out of focus version of the dearer phones. Or am I reading it wrong?

 

In any case I believe I get the picture, and it accords pretty much with what I imagined the differences would be. I've had my DT880 Pro now about a year and remain so satisfied with it I recently decided to grab a second pair on Ebay--near new for under $180--mainly because prices seem to be going up lately. I'm certainly not unaware of the virtues of dearer phones, having owned the HE-500 and LCD-2. I've also owned the HD600, HD650, K702, D2000...just about every mid-priced phone going, in fact. None has given me the overall satisfaction of the DT880. I didn't care for the HE-500 but allow that different amping or a jergpad could have altered that.The LCD-2 was great sounding but like a brick on my head. (I notice your review doesn't address comfort. Maybe you could add a few words on that). The thing about the DT880, its overriding virtue if you like, is balance: the balance of cost, build quality, comfort and sound. It'd be nice if we all only had to consider sound, but life is cruel to some of us and practicality and economics keep intruding. I'm glad you mentioned the 10X pricing but I believe the DT880 can be satisfactorily driven by much less expensive amps, thus increasing its overall value. You'll possibly disagree, and if so you'll be in a stronger position since I've never been into expensive amping.

 

Without sounding like a DT880 fanboy, I guess it's a tribute to the DT880 that you could even bear to listen to it against such exalted competition. This forum is riddled with military terminology like 'blows it out of the water', 'firebombs the competition' etc. You resisted such cliches and in the process gave us all a useful yardstick. You also recognised that, for all its shortcomings vs. the best, the DT880 is incredible value at typical selling prices and a wonderfully balanced product. Dare I suggest that it gives the more fiscally challenged among us a slight taste of things currently beyond our reach? ;)

I agree, for the money the DT 880 is one of the best cans around, it's balanced in sound, comfort and build quality. It's just a good can, very versitile and works well! 

 

And yes I am a bit of a beyer fan my self :3 

post #7572 of 8201
Quote:
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post
 

lojay, terrific review and one of the most useful I've ever read, not least because it puts so much in perspective. I would only question what appears on the surface slightly contradictory: "the difference between the three headphones is night and day" and your photographic analogy. The first seems to indicate a vast difference in quality; the second that the DT880 is no worse than an imprecise, slightly out of focus version of the dearer phones. Or am I reading it wrong?

 

[...]

 

Without sounding like a DT880 fanboy, I guess it's a tribute to the DT880 that you could even bear to listen to it against such exalted competition. This forum is riddled with military terminology like 'blows it out of the water', 'firebombs the competition' etc. You resisted such cliches and in the process gave us all a useful yardstick. You also recognised that, for all its shortcomings vs. the best, the DT880 is incredible value at typical selling prices and a wonderfully balanced product. Dare I suggest that it gives the more fiscally challenged among us a slight taste of things currently beyond our reach? ;)

 

Thanks. As for the slight contradiction, throughout the 'review' I do mention that the differences are not only vast and obvious between the three headphones (well much closer between the HD800 and SR009) but also that the SR-009 is worth its price tag. Indeed, I would not be surprised if some claim that the SR009 "blows the DT880 out of the water". The photography analogy demonstrates just that. A photograph taken by a top-end Leica or Hasselblad will blow a photograph taken by an iPhone out of the water. That does not mean you cannot derive photographic enjoyment from the iPhone either. You can. But it is far from sharp, it may have optical imperfections (e.g. noise and vignetting) and is not as versatile. The SR009 can really move me with the music. Sometimes I shout "Oh **** this is insane" when listening to it. It is that good. I don't think I'll do that with the DT880.

 

Indeed, the real contradiction is that I start out to announce I will be "concise" and then come up with a long review!

Quote:
(I notice your review doesn't address comfort. Maybe you could add a few words on that). 

 

I think all three headphones are extremely comfortable. If I had to rank, it'd be: HD800 > DT880 > SR009. The SR009 may be a bit tight for people with big heads. But the build quality of the SR009 is amazing. Unparalleled. 

Quote:

I'm glad you mentioned the 10X pricing but I believe the DT880 can be satisfactorily driven by much less expensive amps, thus increasing its overall value. You'll possibly disagree, and if so you'll be in a stronger position since I've never been into expensive amping.

The 10x pricing applies to the entire rig, so I've already taken into account the overall value. In fact, I think the HD800 is 5x the DT880 in terms of the price of the headphones only.


Edited by lojay - 6/7/14 at 9:01pm
post #7573 of 8201
Quote:
Originally Posted by lojay View Post
 

 

Indeed, the real contradiction is that I start out to announce I will be "concise" and then come up with a long review!

 

 

I was much too polite to mention that. Plus I was grateful for it.

 

Thanks for clarifying the photographic thing. It's a useful analogy. However I think the most valuable point your review makes is that a good low price headphone can provide long term listening satisfaction at its own level without the listener feeling he's missing anything. Of course direct comparison will reveal the inadequacies, but (perhaps fortunately) most of us never get to make such comparisons (I've never even heard an HD800, let alone an SR009). Ignorance is bliss, as they say.


Edited by pp312 - 6/7/14 at 9:12pm
post #7574 of 8201
Quote:
Originally Posted by pp312 View Post
 

 

I was much too polite to mention that. Plus I was grateful for it.

 

Thanks for clarifying the photographic thing. It's a useful analogy. However I think the most valuable point your review makes is that a good low price headphone can provide long term listening satisfaction at its own level without the listener feeling he's missing anything. Of course direct comparison will reveal the inadequacies, but (perhaps fortunately) most of us never get to make such comparisons (I've never even heard an HD800, let alone an SR009). Ignorance is bliss, as they say.


 The HD800 is begging for your audition!  :basshead:

post #7575 of 8201

Thanks, you've been very nice.

 

Even coming from someone who owns the SR009 and HD800, I do not feel that I am much handicapped coming home to my DT880. They are very well balanced. I must say, for most people the DT880 is already more than good enough for their music-listening needs. 

 

I am listening to the SR009 now and I am beginning to think that the differences between it and the DT880 are probably less than that between a Hasselblad and iPhone than I previously thought. That tells you how close the DT880 is to live music. It's much less refined, detailed and transparent but does its job extremely well for the price. Most importantly, it's not picky at all as to source and amping, which is important when it comes to the overall value of the rig.


Edited by lojay - 6/7/14 at 9:43pm
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