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Beyerdinamic DT880 vs Sony MDR- MA900, Two nights impressions !

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Warning: This review was written in the beginning of my days evaluating and appreciating headphones performance, at that time I was lacking knowledge and experience and only amp I was using was Fiio E06 hence take it with a grain of salt!!! 

Many of you know the story one of the king's servant, who tried to drink same wine from golden cup belonged to his lord and from his own ordinary cup. He was comparing and had a hard time to decide from which he enjoyed drinking most. Now I am in same situation when comparing DT880 600 ohm and Sony MDR-MA900. DT880 is famous headphone with many positive reviews, while MA900 is relatively new in the market and have only 6 review here.

 

First of all let me thank to Hansb who kindly loaned me his DT880. I purchased Sony two months ago and always wondering how DT880 or HD600 would compete it. Finally I have Beyerdynamic on my head and ready to share some impressions. 


Music: Generally I listen classical, Jazz and Trance. Below you can see which albums were used for this review. I spent 2 days to compare headphones head to head, every track I was listening twice, sometimes I listened some parts again and again. (I should note here that I am Ubuntu user, hence I am using ALSA plugin. anyway it makes no difference for me)  

Albums: Amadine Beyer - I Quattro Stagioni  LINN

                 Audiophile from FOCAL JMlab - 1996-2009 8CD

                 Audiophile Reference I - Classical Music (Fim Recording)

                 B&W Audiophile Recordings vol. 1 (2001)

                 FIM Audiophile Reference IV CD

                 Decca Ultimate Classical music http://www.deccaclassics.com/en/cat/result?IN_XXSERIES=ULTIMA (I have full   collection but sadly I had no time to listen everything)

                The Vivaldi edition naive recordings http://www.naive.fr/artiste/vivaldi-edition I have most of their CDs

                Best Of Chesky Classics and Jazz and Audiophile Test Disc Vol.1 (EAC-APE)

                Music From Siesta Miles Davis & Marcus Miller

                VA-Electro_Swing_Vol.2-2009-H5N1

                Mozart - The 4 Great Symphonies 38, 39, 40 & 41 - Sir Georg Solti (Boxset) (1997)

                Wax Tailor - Positively Inclined - The Way We Lived (2007)

                HESPERION XXI - Altre Follie (Jordi Savall)[AAC 240k]

                Melody Gardot - My One And Only Thrill (2009) KompletlyWyred DHZ Inc Release

                Parov Stelar - That Swing (2009)

               Thomas Hardin Trio-URBAN CLASSIC IN JAZZ

               Shostakovich - Jazz Music

               Beethoven Complete Symphonies - Karajan [SACD 6CD FLAC] (ninth symphony)

               The Nordic Sound - 2L Audiophile Reference Recordings (2009) FLAC 24bit96khz

               some songs of British band ,,Tiger Lillies'' 

               Ultrasone Demo CD

               Antonio Forcione Live! Naim Records Audiophile

Also this Youtube videos:

             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jySMbo8b5QU

             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koyL0_GmgKo

             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEcSQ8BTlPQ

             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7V52kCW_vs

             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6SUiVUQ2GY 

             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xir-5oAWxXE

             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSAIAtxf3Us

Probably this is incomplete list but anyway gives idea :)


Impressions: 

DT880 and MA900 have different sound character. However I consider them both ,,high-end'' ,,high resolution'' headphones, both have great instrument separation, soundstage and capability to produce full audio spectrum. While MA900 is oriented on bass and mids, DT880 is oriented on bass and treble. To put it simply they are just differently coloured headphones in same league. However difference is not staggering and I liked both. 

 

Soundstage: DT880 is winner here, most times it is hard to say firmly but Ultrasone Demo CD makes it clear (binaural recording) in track 6, sea waves sound is more realistic and bit deep in space. I see Sony's soundstage as a bit problematic, most recordings is realistic and wide but suddenly you discover much left and to much right disconnected from each other, while 880 eliminates this effect slightly better. Again it is only very rare cases. 

Edit: I listened MA900 lately with Ibasso D12 and I was stunned how soundstage changed. I think you better use good DAC for MA900.

Bass: MA900 > DT880, for example - in album ,,McIntosh Audiophile Test, track ,,Billy the Kid (suite from the Ballet) - Gun Battle''  big drum hits was much better and realistic, here is slightly different recording http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJOcCaGHIRk (listen from 3:30), I believe it is due to problematic treble which dominates on dt880 sound signature and also in this particular case makes slightly glared image. 

 

Mids:  Here we have clear winner- Sony MA900, has forward and engaging, involving mids, male and female voices are well articulated. For example listening Nicole Renaud les amants solitaires, you have much more detailed male vocal!!!

 

Treble: I see major problem for DT880 here- It is hard to find vocal recording which sounds fine. You have too much ,,sss'' - sibilance. Sony manages this section better, You have all detail but not as sibilant as DT880, due to exaggerated 10 khz response Beyer's sonic character is overly bright and not natural as Sony. However sometimes it is pleasant coloration to listen cymbals and brass instruments.

 

I think both headphones offer nice ,,high-end'' sound. For my ears MA900 is more natural sounding and DT880 is more coloured.

Cheers

Lumos


 


Edited by Lumos - 6/30/14 at 11:11am
post #2 of 15

Nice review..

post #3 of 15

Hi Lumos, nice review.

 

I have a few questions:

What amp(s) did you use for testing these headphones? 

 

Are the Sony MDR MA-900's comfortable to wear, comparable to the Beyers?

 

Thanks

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Headzone View Post

Hi Lumos, nice review.

 

I have a few questions:

What amp(s) did you use for testing these headphones? 

 

Are the Sony MDR MA-900's comfortable to wear, comparable to the Beyers?

 

Thanks


Hi

 

For Beyer I used Fiio E6 and Asus Xonar U3, I know people will be sceptical but I tried it on NuForce Icon HDP, difference is minor. I was able to receive same volume as Sony, no distortion or clipping no bass problems either. I can post video how loud is Beyer on U3 and E6 if you wish...

 

I think Sony is most comfortable phone you can wear, compared to DT880 you have no slight headband pressure. It is like to wear nothing. more comfort then Senn HD5XX series.      

 

cheers


Edited by Lumos - 6/2/13 at 8:01am
post #5 of 15
Nice comparison. Ma900 is starting to get a reputation here on head-fi.
post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumos View Post


Hi

 

For Beyer I used Fiio E6 and Asus Xonar U3, I know people will be sceptical but I tried it on NuForce Icon HDP, difference is minor. I was able to receive same volume as Sony, no distortion or clipping no bass problems either. I can post video how loud is Beyer on U3 and E6 if you wish...

 

I think Sony is most comfortable phone you can wear, compared to DT880 you have no slight headband pressure. It is like to wear nothing. more comfort then Senn HD5XX series.      

 

cheers

 

Nice review.

 

 

Overall, I like the DT880's slightly more than the Sony's

though I find myself listening to the Sony's more often -

partially due to their extraordinary wearing comfort.

 

IME and IMO you need a better amplifier than those

listed to hear the DT880's as they're supposed to sound.

They are really fine headphones.

post #7 of 15
i am looking to buy the sony mdr ma900 headphones . i have not heard them but the reviews have been great . plus people who have the sony mdr ma900 say they are very comfortable which to me is as important as the good sound . the price of the sony mdr ma900 keep getting lower on amazon and ebay . they are under $150 in some places . not that i have $150 right now but the sony mdr ma900 is often compared favorably to headphones costing twice as much .

doggrell3000
new york ny
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zazex View Post

 

Nice review.

 

 

Overall, I like the DT880's slightly more than the Sony's

though I find myself listening to the Sony's more often -

partially due to their extraordinary wearing comfort.

 

IME and IMO you need a better amplifier than those

listed to hear the DT880's as they're supposed to sound.

They are really fine headphones.


Probably better amp will be more loud, but I didn't find sound quality changed for better, slightly different but not better. while I was using DT880 and U3 I had 50-60% of loudness Knob, On Sony I used 20-25%. Better amp=better sound is somewhat true for Sennheiser HD5XX HD600/650 series, due to NOT linear impedance and hence larger phase swings. DT880 is not suffering from such technical ,,problems'' It has linear impedance and phase, so if amp can drive them loud you are done. It is my understanding but it could be wrong.

 

Anyway I would be happy if someone explains why better amp will be better for dt880 :)

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumos View Post


Probably better amp will be more loud, but I didn't find sound quality changed for better, slightly different but not better. while I was using DT880 and U3 I had 50-60% of loudness Knob, On Sony I used 20-25%. Better amp=better sound is somewhat true for Sennheiser HD5XX HD600/650 series, due to NOT linear impedance and hence larger phase swings. DT880 is not suffering from such technical ,,problems'' It has linear impedance and phase, so if amp can drive them loud you are done. It is my understanding but it could be wrong.

 

Anyway I would be happy if someone explains why better amp will be better for dt880 :)

 

The technical info is important, of course, and while I'm familiar with much of it

there's way more that's out of my knowledge base.

 

But still, in the same way I don't know how exactly google comes up with its

search results, I don't know exactly why "better" amplification makes the

DT880's (and many other headphones) sound better - at least to my ears.

 

But it does.

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by doggrell3000 View Post

i am looking to buy the sony mdr ma900 headphones . i have not heard them but the reviews have been great . plus people who have the sony mdr ma900 say they are very comfortable which to me is as important as the good sound . the price of the sony mdr ma900 keep getting lower on amazon and ebay . they are under $150 in some places . not that i have $150 right now but the sony mdr ma900 is often compared favorably to headphones costing twice as much .

doggrell3000
new york ny

 

 

Hey, where you found new MA900 under 150? I saw used on ebay but new ???

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 

Edited

post #12 of 15
Nice review Lumos, glad to here these can compete with the big boys. I just picked up a pair for $180 and I can't wait to listen
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by zazex View Post

 

Nice review.

 

 

Overall, I like the DT880's slightly more than the Sony's

though I find myself listening to the Sony's more often -

partially due to their extraordinary wearing comfort.

 

IME and IMO you need a better amplifier than those

listed to hear the DT880's as they're supposed to sound.

They are really fine headphones.

Indeed, the beyers are a little harder to amp than the Sony MA. The beyer a little fickle with her amps! Espically with the 600 ohm variant which [and I say this as a SLIGHT SLIGHTY] are just a [TOUCH] better than the Pro 250 ohm variant. Again only an amp will really out the SLIGHT improvements the 600 ohm has to offer. and YES I owned both the Pro 250 and 600 ohm Pre variants! 

 

but both are nice and I will admit, I enjoy the overly bright treble. It makes brass instruments... like sex on the ears! Classical Jazz [which features a HEAVY use of brass] is the Beyer's home turf, in addition bells and other "heavy metal" mids have a really nice sound of the Beyers

 

Still I've not tried the Sony so I can't say to much about it, that and I'm a beyer fan boi xD. At the end of the day I'd choose a Beyer over most anything for build quality alone. I've broken MANY a sony cans [cheap and expensive] and I find beyer to be well a tad tougher than sony overall. 

post #14 of 15

​Thank for review, Cool spec :darthsmile::darthsmile:

post #15 of 15
I just bought a pair today I'm not an audiophile but I like and know good sound. I'll let u guys know what I think I got them because I have heard alot about these headphones and because they're soon to be discontinued, peace.
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