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DT990 '05 Vs DT880 '03: Which to Choose?

Poll Results: Which Headphone Should I Choose?

  • 50% (2)
    DT 990 '05 (32 ohm)
  • 50% (2)
    DT 880 '03 (250 ohm)
4 Total Votes  
post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for an upgrade from my ATH-m50's and I want to know if the DT880 and DT990 are good upgrades.  The problem is, I can't really decide which is best from all the comments and review given in the forums.  Confused, to say the least!


For what I have read, the DT990 '05 and DT880 '03 are rated as the best headphones for musicality and detail.  I personally have no experience with either, but I have listened to a DT880 '05 Pro unamped from a laptop.  The DT880 '05 Pro sounded okay but in my opinion it needed more bass and a tad more treble in the upper most extremes around 12 KHz to 16 KHz.   The perceived slight lack of treble air could be a result of the treble boost in the middle and lower treble so I could be wrong.  At any rate, if the DT990 '05 or the DT880 '03 does compensate at all for this shortcoming, please recommend it.


All in all, though, I was somewhat satisfied with the sound on the DT880 '05.  Hall ambiance was readily apparent without any sibilance and vocals were smooth and yet brimming with detail. Very audiophile, but it was not involving enough on the utmost extremes for my tastes.


If this information is any help, my listening preferences include classic rock, bubblegum rock, 70s pop, and also a little modern hard rock by an obscure band called Crush 40.


I totally hated the SR325i and SR125 and I also disliked the SR225i.  I found the midrange in particularly the upper midrange overbearingly "pistonic" if that makes any sense and the treble shouty yet slow to the point that they sounded like cardboard.


Unamped is the way I want to go.   I don't have my an outboard amp, but I've got nearly all the parts gathered for a PPA V2 amplifier.  My best sources currently are a Sansa Clip V1 and an X-Fi XtremeMusic sound card.  Still, if the 32 ohm version of the DT990 '05 is comparable to its 250 ohm sibling, I'm more than willing to give it a shot.

post #2 of 12

If you like the bass on your M50s then you'll probably like the 990s better.  The 990s are supposed to be pretty similar to the 880s with more bass, and a little more sparkly highs.  I don't know much about the '03 880s, but for the '05 versions, the 600 ohm versions are almost universally recognized as superior, so you might want to consider those.


Maybe chinesekiwi or Skylab will show up and tell you a little bit about the '03s.

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the recommendation, maverickronin.
That is the impression I got from reading the threads on the DT990s, but I wasn't too sure about it.  I live in an area that has virtually zero audio shops except for a Grado dealer and a few Guitar Centers.  Still, from what you've told me, it lines up perfectly with what I have been able to gather from everyone else's impressions.
I'm still unsure about the 32 ohm version, though.  I heard one opinion online at Amazon saying that it distorts less than the 250 ohm model, and another on Headphonic saying the opposite.

Edited by Hifihedgehog - 6/3/10 at 11:35am
post #4 of 12

That's basically the data I've gathered in doing my own research on what to buy next.  I haven't heard any of those yet, but I plan to at CanJam this weekend.


As for the impedance, I think I read a review on Amazon that rated them 600>32>250, best to worst in SQ.  I'm not sure if it was for the 880s or the 990s, but it may well apply to both.  I haven't read anyone on head-fi who had any experience with the 32 ohm, but I've also never seen anyone who's heard both the 250 and 600 ohm versions who like the 250s better.


An amp should help quite a bit with the high impedance models.  If you don't want to use an amp, then the 32 ohm may be a better choice.  Unamped, from your clip, or X-Fi, the 600 will probably sound better but will likely be very quiet.  With the 32 ohm I'd bet that you'll lose some speed and control, but you won't have to listen inside an anechoic chamber either.  I'm not doing much better than grasping at straws here, but that may be something to consider.

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

I just finished reading a post comparing a DT990 '05 to a HD650 ( http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/270284/dt990-vs-hd650/15#post_3443272 ), and it seems to correspond fully with my current experience.  The poster noted that the HD650 was more involving than the HD595.  I do remember listening to the HD650 a couple years ago at a now-closed audio shop, and if my memory serves me well, it was very similar to the M50 albeit with a much smoother midrange, warmer yet less exuberant bass, and a similar treble response.  What caught my attention, though, was where the poster noted that the DT990 '05 had more bass and a much more sparkly treble.


I'm sold on the DT990 '05.


Now maverickronin, you mentioned that the 32 ohm version of one of the Beyers was somewhat better than the 250 ohm model, but still inferior to the 600 ohm model.  I was able to track down where you got that fact to a reviewer, GN3RAL KARL, on Amazon.  His conclusion came from the DT880 line, but I can safely assume the same logic would fit with the DT990 models as well.


That would put two headphones, the DT990 '05 (32 ohm) and DT990 '05 (600 ohm), head-to-head for me personally.  I am not too sure which one would best fit my fancy or my (small) equipment stash.  I could get the 32 ohm version and enjoy it from every device I own without the inconvenience of an external amplifier.  Or, I could bite the bullet and actually build a PPA and use it exclusively with the 600 ohm version.


Decisions, decisions.  I will think I will go with the 32 ohm version and hope it will grow enough with my gear.  My personal Head-Fi budget limit is $500 per year, so I hope I am not shooting myself in my foot with this when I do buy it.  (The SR225i still gives me nightmares.)

Edited by Hifihedgehog - 6/3/10 at 4:58pm
post #6 of 12

Actually, it seems that the 600 will still sound decent without dedicated amp.  Seems a bit surprising but I'll take his word for it.

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

That is reassuring.  Although, I am still unsure if the 600 ohm version is the best considering my amping situation.  At any rate, I will not be buying a headphone for a long, long while but it's nice to have a rough battle plan ready for when I take the climb to the next tier in Audiophilia.  Thanks for the help, maverickronin!


Consider this thread closed.

Edited by Hifihedgehog - 6/4/10 at 12:36pm
post #8 of 12

No problem, enjoy the music!

post #9 of 12

I have DT-990 PRO 2008 version. As far I read, 05 is better, but I can tell about mine vs. others.


880 vs. 990

If you want flat sound signature, choose 880s, for fun sounding fignature: more bass, more highs, choose 990s.

The bass(990) is not muffled, and there's plenty of it. 990s have recessed mids depending on amp. 990s are opened, 880 half-opened, 990s have bigger soundstage and plenty of airiness that I love. From what I read, you'd like 990s more.



If you want to power those 'phones directly from source, I can highly recommend you to take 32ohm version, it should be easy to drive and you should be ok with them.


I have 250ohm v. and I liked the sound directly from player, but when I tried something more serious(even cmoy, or some cheap tube amps), the sound is night and day. Without amp: ok, with amp: much better. This apply for 250 version, 32 should be better sounding without an amp.

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

Opps.  I just want to post back and say that I just read another thread where someone compared the 250 ohm and 600 ohm DT990s, and found that the 250 ohm version had more bass and highs, and vastly preferred the 250 version.  If I am using logic appropriately, then the 32 ohm version should have even more bass and treble.


I will go ahead with 32 ohm version when I decide to hit the purchase button, and add an amp in later for the extra benefits of expanded dynamics and transparency.  I would rather run my headphones from my mediocre sources and enjoy my fun rather than strive for straight-line neutrality.


Thanks marcello for the help, too!  Your post helps confirm my choice of a DT990.


The OP is now done asking his questions.  Thread closed.

post #11 of 12

I don't know if you can extrapolate that the 32ohm would be bassier and treblier just because the 250ohm was more so than the 600ohm. Also, I own the latest version of the dt990 250ohm, and I don't think you'd want more bass and treble than this, but I can't speak for you.

post #12 of 12
Originally Posted by Sonichedgehog360 View Post

Opps.  I just want to post back and say that I just read another thread where someone compared the 250 ohm and 600 ohm DT990s, and found that the 250 ohm version had more bass and highs, and vastly preferred the 250 version.  If I am using logic appropriately, then the 32 ohm version should have even more bass and treble.

On a good amp changes should be smaller, maybe the guy, he wrote, 250ohm version is funnier, has poor amp.

32 ohm version will definitely have more bass and treble without an amp, so to start with 32 ohm version is a good idea, later when you add amp, it will improve even more.


Btw, I don't know SQ difference between 250 and 32 when both amped, if you can choose from those two and you are still thinking, read some more reviews.

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