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
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:
Probably this is incomplete list but anyway gives idea :)
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.
Edited by Lumos - 6/30/14 at 11:11am