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DT880 vs DT990 | Comparison & Review

post #1 of 143
Thread Starter 

NOTE: Both these were the 600ohm variant and were tested out of my MKIII through my P1260 using a large variety of music

 


Build, Appearance, and Function

 

Basic Build:

Obviously, the build and appearance of both these headphone will be nearly identical. And that is correct, with the only difference being the outside of the earcups. The build quality of these headphones are among the best I have ever experienced. They are made of very high quality materials and feel very hefty, despite their light weight. The cable is nice and thick and is well connected to the headphone and jack itself. Although coated in an almost stiff plastic, I have no complaints about the cable. The headband, is also incredibly durable, able to withstand horrible abuse. In fact, I conducted an experiment. I actually grabbed the two cups of the headphone, and bent them backwards so that the headphone was completely straight in a  flat line form. After that, I bent the headband in a very tight loop. After all this, the headband looked and functioned exactly as it did before, with absolutely no obvious wear or damage. Although I cannot recommend doing this for stress relief, rest assured that your Beyer headband will never break. If it does, tell me how you did it. Overall build is just fantastic. Beefy parts, solid materials, resistant design, and great feel overall.

 

Appearance:

Flat out, these look really quite fantastic. They look especially good when seen in person. In fact, the DT880 is one of the best looking headphones I have yet come across. As discussed in the previous paragraph, there is only one difference in the appearance of the DT880 and the DT990. The DT880 has dotted outer earcups, and the DT990 has slatted outer earcups. In person, and in my opinion, the DT880 looks superior to the DT990. But of course, all of this relies on the users opinion and preference. Both do look great, but the DT880 simply looks better. Most will tell you there are only two differences between the DT880 and the DT990, and that would be the appearance and sound. But I am here to tell you, that there is actually a third difference in which sets these two apart, and I will go into more detail on that in the upcoming paragraphs.

 

Function:

Since these headphones are identical build wise, this lead to the exact same headband adjustment. The headband adjustment on these headphones, is good, but not great. So far, the D2000 is clearly the king of adjustment, with it's superior clicking adjustment device. The Beyer headphones on the other hand, are a bit harder to adjust to your desired size. On the insides of the earcup arms, you will see many dots -- all of which indicate how far out the headphone is adjusted. From what I can recall, there are eight of them, with which being at eighth dot is the headphone at full size. Pulling them out can sometimes be a bit resistant at times, but once you get the specific size you want, you don't have to adjust them anymore, so it's really not a problem. This is actually quite similar to the HD650, except the HD650 doesn't have any way to guide you into how far you've pulled them out, so balanced adjustment relies on your eyes. Although, Beyer definitely isn't the worst, but definitely not the best when it comes to adjustment. The interesting thing about these headphones though, is even fully adjusted to the eighth dot, the headphone really isn't that big. So what does this mean? This means, if you close them all the way in, the are absolutely tiny, and can be great for storage or display. For some reason, they look even more fantastic when they are in their tiny form, but again, just another opinion.

 


Initial and Long Term Comfort

 

Initial Comfort:

This is where both of these headphones differ from each other. But first, let me explain their initial comfort. Most people know by now that Beyerdynamic headphones are very comfortable. And I am happy to report, this is true -- but to some extent. The earpads a very soft indeed, and feel very good while wearing them. And the headband is generously padded as well, so most will find it comfortable too. But there is a slight problem with both of these headphones in terms of comfort -- especially with the DT880. First let me clarify that this may not be a problem to users with very small ears. To those of us with medium to large ears, there is a slight problem. Both of the earcups on these headphones are really quite shallow. In which, your ear WILL most likely be touching the inner foam of the earcups. To many this isn't a problem, but to some, it is the end of the world. The interesting thing is, the DT880 has "curved" foam inside it's earcup and the DT990 has "flat" foam inside it's earcup. This is extremely apparent not only while wearing them, but by taking off the earpads, it's clear they are to what I have stated. What this means is, your ear is much more likely to not only touch, but be irritated by the inside foam while wearing the DT880, than the DT990. Putting them on back and forth reveals that this issue is obvious, and the DT990 is clearly a step ahead of the DT880 in terms of comfort -- which is a real shame, because the DT880 sounds superior to the DT990. With that said, the DT990 feels absolutely fantastic when first placed on your head. It's pillow-like feel, and the relatively soft headband makes these a joy to wear.

 

Long Term Comfort:

Many will overlook something as important as long term comfort. They look for the initial shock in how comfortable a headphone is, and leave it at that. Unfortunately, no headphone I have ever owned feels the same after even half an hour after you put them on -- excluding the king of comfort, the AD700. No matter how soft, or how good they feel when you first put them on, they WILL feel different after extended wear. That said, the DT880 began to irritate me in less than a half an hour. Not only did my ears not like the semi-claustrophobic earcups, but they really detested to the foam. The DT990 on the other hand, even from initial wear, is quite obvious that they will be more comfortable down the road -- and they were. Unfortunately, I have only worn these for a little less than an hour, but with that, they still felt pretty good. Most may not even keep them on that long anyway, so in that case, the DT990 passes the test with flying colors. Sadly for the DT880, it's curved foam inside the earcup disabled me from wearing them for anywhere near as long as the DT990. A sad fact indeed, as I already mentioned that I liked the sound of the DT880 loads more than the DT990. That of which I will go onto in the next section.

 


Bass, Treble, and Overall Sound

 

Bass:

And now comes the section in which the DT880 and the DT990 differ most. The sound. Let's start out with the basics and begin with bass. Between the two, it's quite apparent that the bass is indeed different. Instead of putting it into confusing terms and long descriptions, I'll put it nice and simple. The DT990 has MORE bass, the DT880 has LESS bass. Yup, it's that simple, and is that self-explanatory. The DT880 has very "safe" bass, in which most will be happy with the bass it has to offer. It's not too much, nor is it too little, thus it's the perfect amount. I will definitely agree with that to some extent. Between the two headphones, the DT880 has the more favorable bass. In some songs, it had too little, just as the DT990 had too much. But the DT880's bass is safe -- in which it sounds perfectly acceptable and it won't be fatiguing, at all. It's deep, it's balanced, and it's clear. The DT990 on the other hand, is a bit more risky. It does indeed have more bass, but some can find it fatiguing, just as some will love the addition of more of it. To play it safe AND if I could keep one for bass alone, I would choose the DT880 no question. For fun listening, rock sessions, laid back, or analytical examining, I would still pick the DT880 for all of those categories.

 

Treble and Overall Sound:

This is where the storm begins. The treble is without a doubt, the trademark of Beyerdynamic headphones. They are bright, energetic, and detailed -- thanks to their overemphasized treble. But where they get their strength, is also where they get their weakness. Too much treble. Far too much. I'm writing this comparison to obviously compare and review the DT880 and DT990, and not to criticize it's sound based off listening to the HD650, but what I hear is what I hear, and I will share my findings. The DT880 and the DT990 are simply too bright for my tastes. With it's brightness also comes it's detail and energy, but also comes it's dryness, lack of body, and hollow sound. It actually reminds me of Grado headphones in a way that it has a very upfront and engaging sound. Due to this, I find it not only fatiguing listening to both, but find it not as enjoyable due to something being "left out" in the sound. To describe this, I will give you a mental image of their general sound signature. With "higher" equaling "treble" and "lower" equaling "bass", the Beyer's sound resembles an "upside down pyramid". Little support at the bottom, and too much weight up top. Due to this shape, the sound like I mentioned, sounds very dry, lacks body, and has a relatively hollow sound -- but with that has a very sharp and detailed sound. But, with all this information describing Beyer in a general sense, or more so the DT880, I will now give you a glimpse into the strange, twisted world of the DT990.

 

After discovering my DT880 was too bright when compared to my reference HD650, I completely forget to also compare it to the DT990. I tested the DT880 vs the HD650 extensively, and only tested the DT880 and the DT990 briefly in the past (I quickly came to the conclusion I found the DT880's sound superior to the DT990, so I discarded the DT990 temporarily). So, after my extensive tests between the DT880 and the HD650, coming to the conclusion the DT880 was too bright, I went ahead and threw the DT990 back into the mix. Let's just say, I was blown away with the sheer amount of treble they presented. It was, in short, appalling. It was so incredibly bright, it rendered them almost unlistenable with all the variety of music I threw at it. With brightness comes sibilance, and with sibilance comes fatigue. The sound of the DT990 was so bright, it felt as if it was covering up all the other details in the music. Instead of the sound being "veiled" it was more like being "tinned", as everything in the sound had such a bright shimmer, which seemed to detract from the overall enjoyment. But, to make things even more interesting, the DT990 has enhanced bass as well. Now we have a bit too much bass that can blur into the mids, and WAY too much treble that eats the rest of the spectrum! An incredibly twisted sound if you ask me, but many may find it amusing! Overall, both of these headphones are extremely bright and lack bodied, balanced sound. The DT990 just takes that to the next level -- by offering an even brighter sound, and bass that can also render fatigued listening. In all, the DT990 is a very strange (and not preferred) headphone indeed. Getting fatigued by bass and treble at the same time is really quite the experience! The DT880 is a "tamed" DT990, and for that, it sounds much better for all kinds of music.

 


Conclusion and Recommendations

 

Message to DT880 owners:

Between the two, you definitely have not only picked the "safe" headphone, but the "better" headphone. The DT880 is a fantastic headphone if you love a brighter, more upfront sound, and to that I couldn't think of a better headphone for the job. It's a fantastic looking headphone and even looks better than the DT990, but unfortunately, the DT990 has beat you on comfort. Build is fantastic and will allow use for many years to come. All of this for the incredibly cheap street price, and with all that, I can't help but be impressed! Although, if you find the sound too bright or you find it lacking body, I will go ahead and suggest the amazing HD650, a headphone that fixes most of the DT880's flaws, and provides an overall better sound and sound signature. (I refer to the HD650 as MY perfect headphone).

 

Message to DT990 owners: (Please read this with a sense of humor. I realize everyone's tastes differ)

What on earth have you done? I'm not sure if it's possible anyone could like the insane sound the DT990's put out, but I'll just tell you this. If you like the bright and clear sound of Beyerdynamic headphones in any way, shape, or form, I highly suggest you pick up a pair of DT880's in the future. Once you compare them, I'm sure you will come to the same conclusion I did and get rid of them ASAP. The DT880's highs are much more controlled, and the bass has more balance to it. It's overall sound is simply more pleasing. On the contrary, you do have the edge in comfort, but don't get too smug, as I'm sure the sizzling treble will wipe it clean off your face! (If you are thinking about becoming a DT990 owner, you aren't thinking hard enough. Think DT880 instead, if you are set on Beyerdyanmic).

 

Recommendation:

Whatever you do, try them first if that's an option. Beyerdyanmic headphones give me more mixed reactions than any headphone I have ever tried, and to that, you really should try to listen to them and possibly compare, before you buy. If that's not an option, and you think the words: bright, dry, upfront, energetic, and detailed might engage you, then go ahead and buy the DT880, unless you are feeling extremely courageous and want to risk it with the DT990. But, if you feel like you want a more: balanced, emotional, full bodied, complete, unobtrusive, and smooth sound, then I strongly recommend the fabulous HD650. Whatever you decide, remember, I warned you about the DT990, so if you still choose to get it, may your ears endure such a sound...


Edited by Katun - 5/12/11 at 9:31am
post #2 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katun View Post

Message to DT990 owners:

What on earth have you done?

 

 

ME :

yeah bad high's to much bass and lacking body and has rescessed mids... i could not stand it....... !!!!!!!!!!

MY Answer to that question in words it should be (the right thing) btw want the hd 650 :) :88a27479_060120071295.jpg


Edited by t-h-e-p-i-m-p - 12/6/10 at 12:17pm
post #3 of 143

Sounds like there's a good chance there just wasn't any synergy with your setup. Keep in mind, the equipment in use in this review is very inexpensive, and both these headphones will scale very well with higher end equipment, especially in the areas the reviewer had issue with. Treble with smoothen out, bass will tighten up in the case of the DT990, and the entire spectrum will become more balanced. The same can be said of the HD650, but then it goes back to synergy.

post #4 of 143

call me crazy.

i much prefer the sound of the dt990.

at least it's not boring.

 

i won't pretend that the 600 ohm beyers become "different headphones" with high-end OTL tube amps...

but, i lived with my dt990 for many months, and never heard it reach its potential until i paired it up with the 5-watt Little Dot MKVI.

 

also, i'm not afraid of a little EQ, to bring out the mids of the dt990.

with that tweek, they somewhat compete with higher-end headphones...

somewhat.  wink.gif

 

 

post #5 of 143

In terms of the typical head fi phones, I have owned the DT880, DT990, K701, M50, Creative Aurvana Live, XB700, DT770 Pro 80, DT770/600, ES7, and AD700. I have heard/borrowed/tested Senn HD280 Pros, XB500, Senn HD428, and others I can't even begin to remember.

 

Call ME crazy, but the DT990 is my absolute favorite headphone. The DT880 doesn't even come close to the enjoyability I get from my 990s. For most people, the 880s WOULD be a better balanced phone, but that's not my preference. They were too boring for me.

 

I know for a fact I would personally hate the HD650. The Senns I have owned and listened to were just...ugh. Smoothness to me just sounds like congestion, muddiness, and stuffiness. I love bright treble, and the DT990's bass is anything but fatiguing. Fatiguing bass to me is what I heard from the Koss UR40 and the bass ported DT770/600.

 

Of course, we all have our preferences, but that's my 2 cents.

 

PIMP, I'm getting REAL sick of your stupid 990 mutilation pics. We get it. You have shown it enough. Are you 'slow' or what? You keep posting it for what? It's annoying. It's about every thread mentioning the 990s becomes a "hey, look what I did to my $200+ headphones, I'm a genius!" rolleyes.gif


Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 12/6/10 at 2:36pm
post #6 of 143
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

Call ME crazy, but the DT990 is my absolute favorite headphone. The DT880 doesn't even come close to the enjoyability I get from my 990s. For most people, the 880s WOULD be a better balanced phone, but that's not my preference. They were too boring for me.


Too boring? Even with all that treble? Hmm, very surprising indeed. I actually thought the DT880 were more exciting, because they didn't make you focus strictly on treble. And they also were easier to listen to and enjoy.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

I know for a fact I would personally hate the HD650. The Senns I have owned and listened to were just...ugh. Smoothness to me just sounds like congestion, muddiness, and stuffiness. I love bright treble, and the DT990's bass is anything but fatiguing. Fatiguing bass to me is what I heard from the Koss UR40 and the bass ported DT770/600.


The thing is, many users have stated the HD650 is boring due to it's slower, laid back sound. To me, I found it more enjoyable even with rock compared to either of the Beyers. In fact, it did everything better than the Beyers IMO.

 

Just like Kernmac wrote in his AD900 review, "Who said AD900s are only good for classical? Who said Grado is king of rock" I think the same applies for the HD650, as I think they are fabulous for literally anything I throw at them!

post #7 of 143

Very nice write up, and great comparison, thanks for putting in the time. Although I agree with many of your remarks, I tend to disagree with some of your conclusions.

 

I agree that the DT990 does have a u-shape sound signature: emphasis on lows, recessed mids, emphasis on treble. Although the recessed mids may remove from a full bodied sound, I wouldn't characterize the DT990 as lacking body.

 

Here is my experience with the two headphones to present another opinion:

While auditioning headphones to determine which ones I should purchase, I was able to compare both the DT990 250 Ohm and DT880. When comparing them I immediately noticed the difference described by Katun: more bass and more treble. I must admit that the treble on the DT990 was even harsh on the ones I listened too, and I much preferred the treble of the DT880. Yet when switching back and forth, I couldn't help but favor the sound of the DT990. The DT880 has a more analytical sound than the DT990: less bass, more present mids, and less treble. All of these were very detailed and quite enjoyable. When listening to the DT990, the bass would always blow me away: it was powerful, had strong impact,  was detailed and clean. I was surprised that an open ear headphone could deliver such good bass. Yet the harsh treble prevented me from appreciating everything I was hearing. So I left the store with quite a problem: I wanted the bass of the DT990s, with the smoother treble of the DT880s. After reading tons of post here I settled for the DT990 600 Ohm version. Paired with the LD MK III they sound amazing. The treble is no longer harsh and the bass is even tighter than before.

I think that these two headphones are really aimed at different audiences: the DT880 is a more analytical headphone with a slight emphasis on treble which make it a very revealing headphone; the DT990 is a more fun headphone with an emphasis on bass. In the end the DT990 just suited me better. Although its sound signature will not be everyones cup of tee, its the headphone that allowed me to appreciate and enjoy my music.  

post #8 of 143
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your sharing your opinion Yekrut. It will be nice for users to get input from two different reviewers.

 

I actually thought that same thing when comparing the two. I thought, "I want the DT990 bass, and the DT880 treble", but that is assuming I want a Beyer in the first place! I still find the DT880's treble too bright, but it is MUCH more controlled than the DT990's. I will admit and I was going to mention this in the review, that the DT990 did have a bit more body than the DT880, but it sounded artificial. What I mean by that is, yes they did give you more bass, but they also gave you more treble, so it seemed like it canceled each other out. It's like taking a DT880, and making it more hostile sounding by murdering the EQ. And that I cannot say I enjoy, but just how everyone has opinions, many others may find it fascinating...


Edited by Katun - 12/6/10 at 5:00pm
post #9 of 143

Thanks for the review, it was entertaining to read, although I disagree with your conclusions.  I think you are doing fellow head-fiers a disservice by being so hard on the DT990/600, as you might be leading them away from a headphone that can be extremely pleasing.

 

I've owned T1, DT880, Darth Beyers, HD650, K701, HE-5, and a few more I can't remember, and the DT990/600 is the one I still listen to the most on my Woo WA6SE.  I listen to lounge jazz, Buble, Krall, some classical, plus a variety of classic rock, pop, and even rap.  The DT990 had been the most versatile can I've owned.  If I get the itch to change music styles, I don't need to change cans.  Everything sounds great through them.  Sound has a wonderful sparkle to the highs, without ever feeling fatiguing (think K701's), balanced beautifully with rich and deep lows, but never boomy or "one note". 

 

My jaw dropped when I read your one sided conclusion at the end of your review, I simply can't imagine hating these headphones.  I think they are one of the great bargains in the Head-fi world.  Maybe your source or your amp aren't bringing them to life like they do for me, but my combo is an absolute joy to listen to.

post #10 of 143

First impression matters, and this is what those beyers fall.

 

About DT990's bass, this is a part of the bass- reflex design i guess,  it needs user's head to really fit the earcup/earpads, by  some use time,otherwise would have a overly-damping bass- just like those Grados. (Irony, this is some peoples " too bass-heavy" )

 

I mean, Grado's over damping bass is one essential part of its tone: make funny mid-bass bump/punch , But this is not the case of DT990.

 

Bright,overemphasized treble? Beyond individual's taste, this is Problematic,too.

 

Most SS headphone amp (and some rather poor tube amp)that highlight as low, or zero output Impedances would very, very easy cause this problem, this is somehow a reference of amps with really good/reasonable feedback-design.

 

So, with unnatural bass-bump and overemphasized treble, you wouldn't got much mid and listening pleasures.

 

If  interesting about "how DT990 should sounded" , please check my review (250ohm ver.) in head gear catalogue.

 

p.s. after DT990's review, i fixed some point by experiences with T1, another beyerdynamic headphone with so call "bass-reflex system". 


Edited by donthuang - 12/6/10 at 5:34pm
post #11 of 143

The 990 and 770 are two of the worst phones I have heard. Throw in the AD700 and that's my top three. Recessed mids automatically get headphones packed up and returned. Also, a big problem with the 990 is that the timbre and accuracy are way off. Cymbals sounded terrible, actually all instruments were off. Now the 880/600 I owned was a different animal. Bass was too light for my mix of genres and the mids, while great for acoustic and less complex music, were still too recessed for rock, pop and hip-hop. Highs were smooth as butter. The 880 would be the perfect headphone for me, if the mids were moved forward a little and the bass was between the 880 and 990.

 

I anxiously wait for Beyer to release something new....

post #12 of 143
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slaughter View Post

The 990 and 770 are two of the worst phones I have heard. Throw in the AD700 and that's my top three. Recessed mids automatically get headphones packed up and returned. Also, a big problem with the 990 is that the timbre and accuracy are way off. Cymbals sounded terrible, actually all instruments were off. Now the 880/600 I owned was a different animal. Bass was too light for my mix of genres and the mids, while great for acoustic and less complex music, were still too recessed for rock, pop and hip-hop. Highs were smooth as butter. The 880 would be the perfect headphone for me, if the mids were moved forward a little and the bass was between the 880 and 990.

 

I anxiously wait for Beyer to release something new....


I'll have to agree with that last sentence. The DT880 does have what I call "safe" bass, but in turn, it's a bit too little for my tastes. The DT990 sometimes is perfect, but at times is overbearing. So, I thought the same thing you did and wanted bass in between the DT880 and the DT990. And of course, I would want the mids bumped up a bit more as well. That combined with slightly improved bass would make it one of the best headphones around. (Most likely making it worthy to challenging my HD650) biggrin.gif

post #13 of 143

DT 880 has a nice level of treble. A Goldilocks just right amount.

 

Bad is Audio Technica AD 700 and other AT models from what I read or the worst ever Sony MDR V6.
 

 

Any mid problems is probably your source.

The mids in DT 880 were lacking a bit until I got a better source.

 

I guess it depends on the genre of music the slightly more treble the DT 880 has really works with some music.

But other genres or just  certain albums a dead zero treble like my Ultrasone Pro 2500 works better.

 

 

I still want to get the DT 990 though its only other headphone I want to buy/try besides a sorta of fantasy buy of Ultrasone ED 8 or ED 10.

 


Edited by mibutenma - 12/6/10 at 6:24pm
post #14 of 143

I'm going to add this thread to my beyer comparison thread.

post #15 of 143
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katun View Post

Thanks for your sharing your opinion Yekrut. It will be nice for users to get input from two different reviewers.

 

I actually thought that same thing when comparing the two. I thought, "I want the DT990 bass, and the DT880 treble", but that is assuming I want a Beyer in the first place! I still find the DT880's treble too bright, but it is MUCH more controlled than the DT990's. I will admit and I was going to mention this in the review, that the DT990 did have a bit more body than the DT880, but it sounded artificial. What I mean by that is, yes they did give you more bass, but they also gave you more treble, so it seemed like it canceled each other out. It's like taking a DT880, and making it more hostile sounding by murdering the EQ. And that I cannot say I enjoy, but just how everyone has opinions, many others may find it fascinating...

 

Giving my headphones another 2 hour listen today I can see where the artificial aspect may be coming from by over-emphasizing the bass and treble. I really want to get my hands on some more headphones so I can further compare and better understand my headphones sonic signature. 

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