beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium Headphones

  1. F4R3W3LL
    Good starting headphone!
    Written by F4R3W3LL
    Published Jun 26, 2015
    Pros - Sound quality, looks, comfort
    Cons - Non-detachable cords
    First off, let me just say that I am in no way an expert regarding headphones. I'm actually quite new to this whole scene. I only own the Audio-technica M40X and these headphones. The headphones are powered with my Fiio E09K amp.
    There's already been said so much about this headphone, and I don't think about this headphone much different than any of these people do.
    It's a great headphone, sporting a tremendously comfortable design with (in my opinion) fantastic sound quality. It's a very pleasant, and "airy" sound. This is a nice contribution to the fact that you almost cant feel the headphones on your head, due to the comfort of these headphones.
    The only thing that really stands out to me as a fault with these headphones would be the non-detachable cables. It's pretty disappointing to see a headphone, with a pretty gigantic cord, and not being able to easily switch out that cable. Otherwise, it's a fantastic headphone, if you are a fan of acoustic music!
  2. Xyrium
    Best Rock n' Roll headphone ever, but is a chameleon overall!
    Written by Xyrium
    Published Jul 11, 2014
    Pros - Smooth and balanced. Like the HD600, but with more precise timbre
    Cons - Non-removable cord
    I have the 600 Ohm version of these, so other impedance models will probably vary in sound. This said, I find this to be a wonderfully balanced set. They exhibit no harshness to my ears across several genres such as Rock, Metal, Pop, Jazz Fusion, and classical. I believe the timbre of the instruments is what sets this one apart from other easy listening phones like the HD600 and 650s. You can hear the resonance of wood on strings in classical arrangements, especially quartets and such arrangements. The upright bass in several of Holly Cole's releases is clear and clean. Meanwhile, that timbre is what carries the signature of the impact from bass drums and the upright bass alike. For Rock and Metal, it conveys the dynamics and power without irritation.
    The natural sound that these produce is preserved without the phones sounding harsh or sibilant, as many of the detail champs exhibit. To me, these are easy listening cans, which don't lose the instrumental details. Unfortunately, my only two other references are a pair of HD600s and HD650s. Those are also very easy listening, but fail to convey the timbre of instruments as well as the 880 Premiums, which is what really sets them apart. Great cans for the price.
  3. twister6
    A perfect blend of comfort and sound quality
    Written by twister6
    Published May 19, 2014
    Pros - Balanced, detailed, very comfortable
    Cons - no detachable cables, 32 ohm impedance still needs amping to drive from a phone
    As a disclaimer, this pair of DT880 was a review unit from Beyerdynamic.
    Arrived in a rather large box, beside a high definition picture of the headphones and a detailed technical spec, I always appreciate how Beyer guys honestly describe the sound signature and talk about the comfort without any hype or exaggeration. A lot of other companies write a flashy phrases to artificially boost their product, but with every Beyerdynamic product I reviewed in the last few months - the description was always spot on. Inside of the box you'll find a pleather case with a foam form fitting interior for storage and carrying of DT880. The only other accessory is screw-on 1/4" adapter. Out of the case, the first thing that jumped out and grabbed my attention was the velor earpads. These earpads could be considered as a luxury upgrade to bring the comfort level of these full size over-ear headphones to the best I have tested in a very long time. One of the biggest complains with over-/on-ear headphones is typically about earpads and how hot and sweaty they get after an extended listening period. Here, the breathable soft microfibre material wraps your ears in a comfort of two plush pillows. As a result of a perfect clamping force and a soft padding of spring steel headband, you get a super comfortable fitment that also feels very lightweight. The headband itself is adjustable, and has a soft click action with dots indicating the length of the extension. The earcup is attached to a headband through a brushed aluminum Y-fork construction which is typical for most of the Beyer headphone designs. This construction allows a decent angle of tilt to adjust the angle as well as a limited rotation of earcup to fit any shape/size head and ears. The earcup itself is made out of aluminum and hard plastic material which compliments design very nicely.
    The back of DT880 earcups has a fine micro-mesh cover as part of semi-open design to allow some sound leakage as well as letting a little bit of external sound in to create a wider more airy sound. Another thing that worth mentioning is single side cable used on the left side which makes it convenient to unclutter cable management as well as helping to identify L/R when in the dark. Cable itself has a heavy duty shielding, but it's still flexible enough. Unfortunately, cable itself it not removable, but hopefully future updates will take care of that. Other design detail is an aluminum tab on each side of the headband which I found to have no functionality other than a cool look. One final thought, both earpads and headband padding are removable and replaceable, which is great when you have to take care of wear'n'tear in the future.
    I found DT880 to have a balanced warm sound with a very realistic delivery of every instrument timbre. I typically expect neutral headphones to have such level of details, but here I was pleasantly surprised to find a full body balanced sound that was quite a pleasure to listen to. Everything from a low end with a detailed bass extension without any artificial bloat or spillage into mids, to clarity of mids with lush vocal delivery and upper mids clarity (not harsh at all, just perfect), to a sparkle of treble without any hint of unpleasant sibilance - I would go as far as saying these could be considered as audiophile quality reference monitors. The semi-open design adds to widening the depth and height of soundstage, though it wasn't reaching the level of T5p I tested before.
    The nature of semi-open design means you will not have a perfect sound isolation from outside world, and the same refers to outside world that will not be isolated from a sound leaking out of your headphones either. Unfortunately that's a price to pay to enhance your listening experience. Another important thing I found, since these are advertised as 32 ohm headphones for portable use, they are NOT easy to drive directly from your phone. They did pair up nicely with a dedicated X5 DAP, and I was even able to drive them in low-gain mode at about 85% of max volume setting, but directly out of my Note 2 I was maxing it out in volume and internal smartphone's DAC was hitting saturation region, not the cleanest sound. Once I added A200p into that sound chain with my phone, things got back on track with a rich clean sound. What does it all mean? If you are planning to get these headphones to drive with your smartphone - not a good idea. To enjoy them to a full potential they will need some amping or to be used with a dedicated DAP. In that case, either 32 ohm or 250 ohm will not make that much of a difference and you can look on amazon for a better deal.
    Here are the pictures.
      Wilashort and cpauya like this.
  4. Chiek
    Perfect for acoustic folk songs and other genres probably
    Written by Chiek
    Published Sep 4, 2013
    Pros - Rich, warm, detailed and balanced audio, super comfortable to the ears,
    Cons - Needs amp.
    Superb sounding to the likes of Howie Day and Matt Nathanson. They sound perfect. Thanks to this pair of sweet babies and Spotify of course. Been a premium member for two years now. Life without a good pair of headphones and Spotify will be so unbearable now. 
    For classical music for example, Sarah Walker – Symphony No. 9 in D minor 'Choral' Op. 125: I. Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso,  what may sound harsh to the ears with a pair of Soul Ludacris 150 (which I have a pair), is transformed into sweet symphonic magic with the Bere 880. Treble is detailed, smooth as silk and classy. 
  5. headphones1999
    Written by headphones1999
    Published Jul 15, 2013
    i have the 250ohm 2005
    wonderful headphones worth every dolar you paying for them.
    good bass 
    dont have big soundstage 
    good treble and mids
    not the best clean sound but still good
    i hear all I hear all kinds of music
    and they sound amazing in every each one of theme
    highly recomended!
      Katji likes this.
  6. Argyris
    A neutral, airy, comfortable all-rounder
    Written by Argyris
    Published Dec 20, 2012
    Pros - Neutral, balanced, detailed, airy, comfortable, well-built
    Cons - Some might find the treble too peaky or the bass not present enough


    I've had my DT880 for over two years now, and I figured it's finally time to give it a proper write-up. Of course the DT880 is nothing new. It was introduced into Beyer's Premium lineup in 2003 and got an aesthetic makeover, along with the entire Premium lineup, in 2005. This is the version I have (the 250 ohm variant). It competed with the HD6x0, and later the K70x, as one of the three top dynamic headphones in the world. The DT880 was the bright, airy one out of the bunch. Lots of headphones have come and gone since then, and Beyer itself has released a new (much more expensive) flagship, the T1. What kind of value does the DT880 offer today? Let's find out.

    General Summary

    I'll save you reading through the detailed, long-winded part to follow and offer a quick summary of what I'm going to say. The DT880 is a member of the airy, buoyant, neutral class of headphones. It will certainly not satisfy bassheads or those looking for a smooth, thick, euphonic midrange, and those sensitive to treble had best look elsewhere. However, if you're looking for detail, openness, extended treble, texture, transparency, and speed, the DT880 might suit you. It's a comfortable, well-built, and IMO gorgeous headphone, whose understated appearance belies the energetic sound it produces.

    What's in the box, Build Quality, Comfort, Ergo, etc.

    The DT880 comes well packaged in a reusable, foam-padded leather carrying case. You get the headphone itself, a 1/4" adapter, and a booklet trumpeting the virtues of Beyerdynamic and attempting to sell you the T1 (thanks, guys [​IMG]). The case is a nice addition, and while it won't protect the headphones from getting crushed, it's more practical than the aluminum box the original 2003 version used to come in and I've used it many times to transport my DT880 around the house.
    The build quality is impressive. I like to joke that if I threw my DT880 at the wall, it'd break...the wall. I'm not actually going to do that to find out what would really happen, though. Walls are expensive. Anyway, the DT880 is constructed from mostly metal and tough, matte plastic, with some squishy padding on the headband and soft velour pads. All the seams are tight, nothing creaks, and after over two years of ownership my pair looks brand new. The cable is supple, decently thick, and is well relieved on both entry and termination. It has a 3.5mm mini plug which takes a threaded 1/4" adapter (though you can use a regular adapter as well). It's straight and 10 feet in length.
    Comfort is exceptional. They truly disappear when I'm wearing them. The velour pads don't retain heat in my experience (though others report this as a mild issue), though they do absorb body oil and require a yearly cleaning in warm water and mild dish soap. The clamping force is just enough to keep the headphone on my head. Though they're of medium weight (290g), that weight is distributed evenly across the headband and pads. My only complaint, from an ergonomic standpoint, is that because of the sheer size of the DT880 and the way its earcup yokes stick out, it's difficult to lie back on a pillow while wearing them.



    Tonal Balance

    Overall, the DT880 is a well-balanced headphone, leaning somewhat toward brightness. Reports that it's a treble monster are exaggerated, IMO. The range and extension on either end are both impressive. That said, they won't be rattling your brain with bass or lulling you with forward, smooth midrange. They are accurate, to some perhaps to a fault, and if you've never heard such a sound before you might not like it. Let's do a breakdown:
    Probably the weakest aspect of the sound, but still quite good. Typical of open dynamics of its vintage, the DT880 struggles with absolute sub bass extension. Despite this handicap it does manage to dig quite deep, but it loses texture on the way down and rolls off at the very bottom. The bass character is quick, taut, and even. It tends toward punchy rather than boomy. There might be the slightest hint of upper bass/lower midrange warmth, but it's faint if it's there at all.
    Contrary to what is usually written about the DT880, I find the midrange the strongest aspect of this headphone. I don't find it recessed at all. There's a slight metallic tinge that comes from the treble (see next section), but this can be eliminated with precision EQ (see the relevant section). Either way, the DT880's midrange is highly revealing and transparent. It adds absolutely nothing to the recording and lacks the euphonic thickness and warmth that a lot of listeners prefer. It's what's known as dry, a term I failed to understand until just recently.
    Here's where the trouble starts. The treble is nicely extended and is certainly not shy. However, the tuning has a few issues. There is a very prominent spike at around 5.8kHz (my measurements indicate ~7.5 dB) and a few smaller (3 dB) ones above 10kHz. The former especially is responsible for the DT880's reputation as a bright headphone and manifests itself as a grainy sort of glare that overlays everything. In addition, because of the relatively strong baseline level, my resonance peak (for me it's 6 dB at 7.6kHz) tends to exaggerate sibilance and make cymbals and other treble elements sound overly shimmery. Depending on your preferred genres, these might not be detriments, since they add perceived clarity. For me, though, it can be too much sometimes. Thankfully, there is an answer.
    Those who know me from around the forums know I'm a strong proponent of properly applied precision EQ. This is not the same thing as loading up a 10-band graphic EQ and playing with the sliders willy-nilly. There's a technique involved, one which is designed to produce repeatable results. I've linked the thread in my signature, but here's a link to it anyway. Basically, after notching out the 5.8kHz peak, the 7.6kHz one that's intrinsic to my hearing and which I perceive in all headphones, and the two small ones above 10kHz, the treble goes from peaky to merely energetic and well extended.
    The remainder of the review is judged using my calibration curve, but since it's about the presentation it holds true regardless of whether or not EQ is applied.

    Presentation - Macro

    The three basic tenets of presentation are soundstage, imaging, and transparency. Of course there are lots of ways to describe sound, but these are the three I'm going to concentrate on in this section. Some folks also separate out the terms soundstage and headstage, which I don't bother doing since I've never quite understood the distinction.
    The DT880 has a well-rounded soundstage. It's not the widest in the world, I'm sure, nor is it the deepest. It's well balanced, however, and gives a nice sense of both width and depth. It even manages to convey some height, which is rare. Sonic cues are well-distributed within the soundstage and layered nicely. The DT880 is adept at separating background from foreground and can even indicate when an element is in a state of transition from one to the other (e.g. an instrument steps forward in the mix and plays a solo, then retreats to the background).
    Imaging is excellent. There's no doubt where sonic cues are coming from, and as mentioned before, layering is a strong suit of the presentation. Musical elements separate out cleanly and it's easy to follow any one or several elements as you like. My only criticism is that it's sometimes difficult to quite find the center image, though part of the problem for me is that I have a slight bias toward my left ear so everything is shifted in that direction.
    The DT880 is a transparent headphone. Perhaps due to its lack of midrange warmth or sweetness, it doesn't feel like there's anything separating the listener from the music. Especially after EQ, the headphone completely disappears. Some folks like their headphone to add some color to the sound, and from what I understand, well-designed colored headphones can be transparent as well. I think there's an advantage, however, to starting with a neutral balance, and the DT880 certainly does just that.

    Presentation - Micro

    In both texturing and detail retrieval, I find the DT880 mostly excellent. Nothing is glossed over or lost, and even when a lot is happening at once the DT880 manages to separate it all out and deliver fine detail. The midrange in particular is well-textured, with detailed and realistic renderings of instruments and vocals.
    All this said, the bass definitely loses some texturing on the way down, which isn't surprising for an early 2000s-era open dynamic. A look at the distortion figures shows a rising baseline below 100Hz, indicating a driver that is having difficulty controlling its output at those frequencies. Nonetheless, there's enough information returned from the bass to pick out different kinds of bass instruments.

    Final Thoughts

    Some might say that the DT880 has outlived its useful life, what with the flurry of new headphones that have come out after it and the raising of the bar (or the price, say the cynical) for flagship performance. To those people I can only point to DavidMahler's epic thread, in which he compares over 50 flagships and former flagships. Among the best headphones in the world, he places the DT880 at #25 out of 56 and gives it one of only four A+ value ratings. He's just one guy, yes, but he has access to the best of the best, and he says a lot of the same things I've touched on in this review.
    The DT880 might be an older model, and with the DT770 being replaced by the Tesla-based T70 and the new T90 coming out, the writing seems to be on the wall for the eventual discontinuation of the entire Premium line. However, I still believe it's an excellent choice for those who would like a headphone with a neutral, airy, and detailed sound, all in a well-built and supremely comfortable design.
    1. pp312
      Nice review. In fact excellent. I don't see the writing on the wall for the Premium line, least of all for the 880, but even if it is there's the Pro model, which will definitely not be discontinued and which is effectively the same phone.
      pp312, Sep 4, 2013
  7. bisayaboi
    Treble masters
    Written by bisayaboi
    Published Jan 6, 2011
    Pros - One of the best treble performing headphones, extremely comfortable, very well build
    Cons - Bass is not enough for a bass head
    I'm reviewing the 2005 edition 250ohm version.
    As I said about how good it is in the pros and the weaknesses in the con is all I can say about the headphone.
    Soundstage is great which make these fantastic for gaming.
    The rest sound of the sound (mids/bass) are neutral and are done well.
    Great headphone if you really care about treble.