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Ma900 vs DT880 and JVC FX850

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I'll keep this short as I don't have too much to say. A friend of mine bought the DT880 250 ohm (premium) and I decided to spend an hour listening to all three headphones, out of my Sansa Clip+ and Schiit Magni (I'd have used my modi, but I didn't have a laptop/computer at the time). 

The DT880 is a nicely built headphone that's on the comfortable side, but I think the earpads are a tad too stiff and it's noticeable less comfortable than the MA900 -- though still not uncomfortable. I prefer it's headband, but I find it sounds and feels better with the MA900 pads, which are more open and bring the driver closer to your ear due to their shallowness. I dislike the adjustment bands on the DT880, the way they sort of slide-snap into place rather quickly makes me feel uneasy. Sound-wise the DT880 was large sounding, but it sounded strangely left and right without much front, back, up or down action -- not saying it was purely 'stereo' sounding, but as a headphone praised for soundstaging I felt it wasn't quite as respectable in that regard as I'd thought it'd be. The bass wasn't as lean as I'd expected, it had a nice volume and thickness, but it had an oddly thick quality to it, maybe too much upper bass presense coupled with the slightly recessed midrange. The bass was about on-par with the MA900s, maybe a tad faster but with less texture, and it didn't go as deep as I'd expected it to looking at the graph. The treble, ah yes the treble. The DT880s treble wasn't as glaring or overly-bright as I thought it'd be, a pleasant surprise for sure. Hi-hats, cymbols, anything high pithced sounded unnaturally emphasized to me, but didn't fatigue my ears. Listening to some reggae-rock it felt as though everything except the treble was in the background, giving the DT880 a strangely distant sound. As far as detail retrieval goes, I think the DT880 isn't better than the MA900 and in some ways  is worse. Treble is definitely more prominent, so details in that range are easier to pick out, but I'm not hearing anything on the DT880 the MA900 can't show me, except maybe a tad bit of reverb/echo detail (maybe that's part of the 'percieved' large soundstage people talk about). When it comes to midrange the MA900 wins hands down, dishing out planar-like realism and texture, whereas the DT880 it a tad recessed in this range and its treble greatly overshadows it anyway. Despite the DT880 having better extension in the low frequencies, the MA900 deliver more 'oomph' and impact, (no, not in the midbass). Though the MA900 isn't very audible below 40hz, it moves loads of air which is a physical sensation the DT880 cannot reproduce in the slightest (possibly due to the larger drivers on the MA900?) and adds to the realistic or perhaps europhoric oomph in some orchestral recordings -- doesn't work well for electronic music that's subbass dependant though. When it comes to soundstage and imaging, the DT880 has good seperation, but it sounds ajar. Distant sounding with a very present treble (yet, not overbearing). The MA900 takes the cake in every way here. The MA900 conveys a sense of distance that is sometimes out of head, and where the DT8080 sounds primarily left to right, the MA900 is far more surrounding and realistic, with far better imaging and sense of depth -- though it seems the DT880 is less prone to getting congested sounding with busier sounding content. Construction is definitely one of the better aspects of the DT880, and it clearly outdoes the MA900 here with ease, though it loses in comfort. Neither are hard to drive. The MA900 doesn't require amplification, though the DT880 needs about half the knob on the Magni. At the same price, I'd say the MA900 is the better value, purely in terms of sound-quality. The DT880 has a far more respectable build, and comes with a great case so I'd say in that way it's a better value than the Magni, and an equal value when costing 50$ more. I bought my MA900 for 180$, and my friend got his DT880 for 290$, so as far as I'm concerned the DT880 is overpriced. With the MA900 now discontinued and costing as much as 300$, I'd say the DT880 is the better value, but I'd still rather get the MA900. They're both technically great headphone, and if you're suffering hearing loss the DT880's treble spike might just work out fine for you -- or if you're a treble head. The MA900 is closer to neutral, but it's treble extension/roll-off isn't really ideal and I'd rather have a bit more in that region than it offers -- but no headphones in this price-range is without it's flaws (or any price, for that matter). I'd say whether you want a DT880 or an MA900 is a matter of preference, though I do believe the MA900 is the technically better headphone, being trumped by the DT880 in only a few aspects.

The HA-FX850: Normally it'd be strange to compare full-sized open (and semi-open) headphones to an IEM. It definitely is, but it's not totally unreasonable.

Compared to the DT880, I'd say the FX850 isn't too different. They're both a tad v-shaped, though the DT880 really emphasizes it's recessed midrange with it's overly prominent treble, whereas the FX850 only has a tad of a treble bump (probably about 2-ish decibels) and equally good extension. Sound-stage wise, they're both a bit left-right sounding with the DT880 having the edge in width, but the FX850 has more front-back and vertical sound, being somewhere inbetween the MA900 and the DT880. Vocals sound distant on the FX850, probably to the same degree as the DT880 at times, BUT it's highly song dependant and at times is more intimate with vocals than the MA900 (which is often pretty forward sounding), whereas the DT880 always has a somewhat distant sound. The DT880 is supposed to be gifted when it comes to treble detail / being analytical, but I find the FX850 easily outdoing it in terms of detail retrieval and texture, even despite the treble quantity differences. The FX850s bass is a bit elevated, so sometimes it overshadows the detail it delivers, but rest assured it's there and in spades. Compared to both the DT880 and MA900, the FX850 has more prominent bass with better extension, speed and texture -- though it can be slightly overbearing at times. Compared to both, the FX850 has the most realistic rendition of most instruments, and its mids are more detailed than the MA900 by a small amount and are slightly smoother, though the slight recession can make them seem a tad distant (though as I've tried to make a point of, they're highly, highly song dependant). 

The FX850 is an excellent in-ear headphone. But it is just that, an in-ear headphone. Sometimes it's rather apparent it's an in-ear, but other times it can compete toe-to-toe in perceived size with my MA900 and far outperform it in every aspect (except comfort, they're a tad uncomfortable sometimes -- but, I have gotten used to them). The FX850 is less balanced sounding than the MA900, but far more technically capable. So far it's the only headphone I've heard that easily makes the difference in albums so easily discernible, and it's also picky as to what material it'll shine with -- but it's not random, it definitely shows a good recording when a good recording is there. Pink Floyd, classical and many other orchestral stuff really lets the 850 be it's best self, and some well-done dubstep music, too.



 

post #2 of 8

TL;DR.

 

 

The DT880's (Premium 250 ohm) are a classic, but they need an amp.

I've not heard the JVC's.

And sadly, the MDR MA900's have been discontinued.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

TL;DR yeah, and to think I said I was keeping it short.. ahah oh well. It is sad that the MA900 were discontinued, makes one question what people at Sony are even thinking. The JVCs will be a lot more popular once their price settles at around 300. They're a very solid contender at that price, but at 400$ (what I paid) I think I'd rather have waited an extra 100$ and got some HE-500s.

post #4 of 8
Nice write-up. Even though I don't agree with you on the conclusion I can see why you prefer the MA900's. Here's my comparison:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/686083/sony-mdr-ma900-full-review-comparison-with-dt880
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

I definitely think DT880 vs MA900 is a matter of taste. Treble spikes aren't very pleasant, but neither are upper bass bumps. I think my next headphone is right in the middle of both, the K612. (though it's much closer to the MA900). MA900 has a lot of problems, but sound-wise it's pretty solid. I think it's lack of 10khz+ treble is due to it's acoustic filter/ring. I kind of want to remove it, but I also don't want to wreck them.

post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaPierre View Post
 

I definitely think DT880 vs MA900 is a matter of taste. Treble spikes aren't very pleasant, but neither are upper bass bumps. I think my next headphone is right in the middle of both, the K612. (though it's much closer to the MA900). MA900 has a lot of problems, but sound-wise it's pretty solid. I think it's lack of 10khz+ treble is due to it's acoustic filter/ring. I kind of want to remove it, but I also don't want to wreck them.

 

I think MA900's bass in on the warm side of neutral;  mids is definitely smooth and treble is on the polite side... just like my MDR 7550 IEM.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LaPierre View Post
 

TL;DR yeah, and to think I said I was keeping it short.. ahah oh well. It is sad that the MA900 were discontinued, makes one question what people at Sony are even thinking. The JVCs will be a lot more popular once their price settles at around 300. They're a very solid contender at that price, but at 400$ (what I paid) I think I'd rather have waited an extra 100$ and got some HE-500s.

 

I don't think MA900 is totally discontinued.  Distribution in certain markets such as North America is indeed discontinued, but in its home market Japan MA900 is still on sale, and the only way to get it after year 2013 is to import straight from Japan.

 

http://www.sony.jp/headphone/products/MDR-MA900/

post #7 of 8
Don't know about Japan, but the Ma900's prices have skyrocketed after they got discontinued in North America. At one point you could get them for $135-180, now the minimum you'll find them is $220. This puts it at some tough competition to be honest.
post #8 of 8

MA900 in Sony jp is currently @ 23,619円+税  http://pur.store.sony.jp/Qnavi/Purchase/MDR-MA900/

e-earphone jp :  20,380円  http://www.e-earphone.jp/shop/shopdetail.html?brandcode=002014000070&search=sony+mdr+ma900&sort=brandname

rakuten jp pricing can get even lower  http://search.rakuten.co.jp/search/mall?v=2&grp=product&p=1&min=&max=&sf=0&st=A&g=0&sitem=sony+mdr+ma900&nitem=&x=0&s=2 

 

Originally Posted by xkonfuzed View Post

Don't know about Japan, but the Ma900's prices have skyrocketed after they got discontinued in North America. At one point you could get them for $135-180, now the minimum you'll find them is $220. This puts it at some tough competition to be honest.

 

MA900's competition may be priced lower here in America (like the K6xx,  K7xx, HD6xx etc etc) but they require, at the minimum, ~$400 worth of amp, dac or a combo to sound at its full potential to exceed MA900.  MA900 on the other hand sounds as-advertised and consistent wherever you connect it because of impedance matcher (provided that the source has decent built-in dac).  In the "value" game MA900 is still tops because it avoids pricey amps altogether while sounding really good, thus making it a very good beginner's open headphone.


Edited by TheBoss - 6/24/14 at 10:16pm
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