AKG K501 Bass VS. Beyer DT880 Bass
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elliot

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I recently tried out the AKG 501's and they were everything that everybody here said: great soundstage, great detail, great mid to high range sound, great comfort, laid back sound, and lean bass.

The K501's might be the perfect cans for some people, but not for me. I don't know if I'm a "basshead," but I like the bass response I get from the Sony 7506 and the Senn 590. I think I might be satisfied with less bass than either of those headphones, but I need more than the k501 offers in that area.

So, taking this into consideration, I have been looking at the Beyer dt880's, and it looks like they share a lot of the characteristics I like about the K501's. However, some people say that the bass response is light, and other people say it is good.

How does the dt880 compare to the K501? In particular, I am interested in a comparison of the bass response. Will these cans satisfy me, or will I find them lacking in the low end of the sound spectrum?
 
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kiwirugby

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Elliot,

I have both cans and run them off three different amplifiers: JMT PIMETA, grado RA-1, and Xin supermini (the first being the best). I listen primarily to classical and jazz. The DT880s have more bass than the AKG501 by far. Yet the bass in DT880 is not as much as the 590s (which I also have with and Stephan Art cable - they lack the midrange of the AKGs and Beyers).

If you're looking for more bass, then you may have to look (listen!) elsewhere. A search on here should help you.

All that being said, for the kinds of music I listen to, I find the DT880s to be very satisfying in both the psread and balance of high to low frequencies. Just right, in my opinion.
 
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wallijonn

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I find that the DT880 bass is a lot like the K501. It will depend a lot on the recording, though.

What you may be perceiving as bass, others may see as bass bloat (usually in the 100 - 250 Hz range). You on the other hand may be thinking of bass extension (going very deep and clean). If that is the case then there are other headphones which can reach into the lower registers than the DT880 and K501.

To make my K501 more "bass friendly," I usually boost the bass at 80 Hz by about 2 dB on my equaliser. I usually do this for DVD viewing / listening. When boosting bass you'll want a headphone that has a lot of dynamic headroom and power handling. Since most headphones don't reproduce below about 40 Hz, if you boost the bass at 20 Hz by 10 dB you'll want a headphone that can handle that power without distorting the rest of the band.
 
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SeventyFive

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Personally I find the DT880s to have much more noticeable bass than the K501s, which I find to be utterly lacking in the bass department.
 
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lini

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Elliot: Maybe you should better look into the DT440 than the DT880, if you want a more pronounced bass response...

Greetings from Hannover!

Manfred / lini
 
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JaZZ

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The DT 880 may not be suited for bassheads, nevertheless it has clearly stronger bass than the K 501. Actually its bass response is even one of the best when it comes to low-freqency extension and linearity (no mid-bass hump and little drop-off below 50 Hz). Not just the bass is very different from the K501. The treble is more brilliant and smoother (while slightly on the dry side with the K 501) and the mids are slightly recessed, but very detailed and transparent.

 
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wallijonn

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I prefer the treble on the K501 over the DT880 finding that it has better dynamic headroom and find the DT880 to be on the side of slightly smudgy rather than transparent. Obviously the whole system has to be taken into account when we start speaking nuances as many of us are wont to. Chances are that if you have a system which can drive the K501 to its full potential (becaus they are very power hungry) then it will probably drive the DT880 just as well. Mate the DT880 with an anemic power amp and the bass will fail to appear. Personally, I prefer an amp with less channel separation with the K501 and more channel separation with the DT880. Each amp will have its own soundstage, some having larger or smaller soundstage than another different amp. I presume that the K501 sounds best with tubes and the DT880 better with solidstate. Yes, I am probably wrong, but I would love to hear the K501 driven from a tube amp.
 
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JaZZ

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Quote:

Originally Posted by wallijonn
I prefer the treble on the K501 over the DT880 finding that it has better dynamic headroom and find the DT880 to be on the side of slightly smudgy rather than transparent.


To my ears there was no difference in dynamic headroom. As I said, the K501's treble is a bit on the dry side, so from this perspective the DT 880 may appear as slightly smudgy. Not to me though. But for my taste its treble is a bit too brilliant and exaggerated.

I really liked the quality and character of the K 501's bass, if it only were deeper and stronger. I also liked the clear and accurate midrange. A bit less the treble, which can have a certain hardness at times. But it's pretty accurate nonetheless. Well, I finally sold it -- primarily because of the lacking bass --, while I still have the DT 880 (although it's mighty jealous of the HD 650 which I use almost exclusively now).



Quote:

Personally, I prefer an amp with less channel separation with the K501 and more channel separation with the DT880. Each amp will have its own soundstage, some having larger or smaller soundstage than another different amp. I presume that the K501 sounds best with tubes and the DT880 better with solidstate. Yes, I am probably wrong, but I would love to hear the K501 driven from a tube amp.


I had no amp preference with the K 501: EMP and Corda HA-2 were equally good matches, although they sounded different. The DT 880 indeed sounded better with the solid-state amp IMO, but I wouldn't deduce any generalization from that.

How do you come to the conlusion that soundstage has something to do with channel separation (or do I get it wrong?)? Did you measure the crosstalk of your amps? I really don't think that the crosstalk with modern amp is audible at all, let alone it would influence the perception of soundstage. As I see it, the amps' resolution and accuracy with microdetail as well as sonic synergies between electronics and headphones create the differences with soundstage, but not channel separation: 50 or 90 dB don't make a difference and are still much more than any analog source can offer.

 
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fmplautus

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You know what's really interesting about this. The AKG 501 is a design that's probably five or six years old. You can buy a new pair on ebay for $125. Whatever the bass issue with the 501 (I think it's really, ahem, overblown -- with the right amp these things are tight!), the rest of the attributes of this headphone are unmatched by any of the top of the line Sennheisers I've heard (I used to own the 600s). I think it clobbers the old set of Grado 225s I used to own. Haven't yet heard the Beyer 880s, but they're at least a $100 more expensive. So here's my questions: as far as overall musicality and regardless of price is there another dynamic headphone that offers a window on the performance in quite the same way?

I know some people are bassheads, but the AKG 501 reminds me a lot of the classic Rogers ls3/5a, the mini-monitor that was used for on location work by the BBC and which literally blew away the competition in high-end hi fi when it was introduced in the seventies, and became the standard for the next 30 years. The little box couldn't claim accurate bass below 125 hz, but the rest of the music was treated with such astonishing transparency and three dimensionality and vocals were so you-are-there on the little beast that nobody cared. The speaker became a classic, and they command three times the price on Ebay now as when they were introduced.

So when it comes to the AKG 501 I think two things --
1) What a midrange!
2) $125...$125!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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Jacques

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Quote:

Originally Posted by fmplautus
You know what's really interesting about this. The AKG 501 is a design that's probably five or six years old. You can buy a new pair on ebay for $125. Whatever the bass issue with the 501 (I think it's really, ahem, overblown -- with the right amp these things are tight!), the rest of the attributes of this headphone are unmatched by any of the top of the line Sennheisers I've heard (I used to own the 600s). [/i]


I can not agree more. I have owned several kind of more expensive and apparently better cans but I always come back to to the 501's. Somehow the 501's are more natural (less hifi) than the others. My local symphonic orchestra does not seem to have a lot more bass.
 
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Jazz,

It just seems to me that some amps have more or less center channel imaging. On certain amps I seem to detect a more compressed soundstage versus some other amp. In the case of the K501 I tend to think that it has too big a hole in the center whereas I detect a seamless soundstage (imaging) with the DT880. I detected the center channel "hole" (hard left / hard right) with the DT931, also, but less so with my DT831. So when I matched up the K501 with the amp which seems to have a more collapsed soundstage it seems to have more centre channel information (along with a bigger sense of bass).

I'm sorry if that doesn't make sense, but I feel that each type of amp tends to have an inherent sound signature. Otherwise how can one account for the difference in sound between an OPA637 and an AD8620? (for example) (I have not heard the AD8620 although I have heard the OPA637 in the Headroom Max). Spec wise they must be almost identical. Yet people here say that they have sonic differences.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by wallijonn
It just seems to me that some amps have more or less center channel imaging. On certain amps I seem to detect a more compressed soundstage versus some other amp. In the case of the K501 I tend to think that it has too big a hole in the center whereas I detect a seamless soundstage (imaging) with the DT880. I detected the center channel "hole" (hard left / hard right) with the DT931, also, but less so with my DT831. So when I matched up the K501 with the amp which seems to have a more collapsed soundstage it seems to have more centre channel information (along with a bigger sense of bass).


I'm with you all the way on this one. My experience with K501 has been a rollercoaster ride. First k501/perreaux combo proved to be a fatal one for me since the center image was rendered hollow. Then k501/mcintosh c28 combo rescued every weakness that previous combo offer. The NEW combo rendered in rich, full, warm and filling. Suddenly the vocal was in the center of my head with little compromise of the width in soundstage.

Wallijohn helped me to see it in the long run where k501 shines. These pairs grow on you.

Elliot, if these are the only cans you have, I highly recommend getting another pair around $150 which rocks and groovalizes. IMO, that was my remedy (sr225), by doing this my two pairs/two amps cover more kinds of music then 1 pair would.

You need a groovalizer!!!
 
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wallijonn

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Thanks for the kind words, BigD. So, I'm not crazy, uh? I'm glad you found a synergistic combo. Nothing like putting on a set of neutral headphones after an extended listening session of head bangers (bass heavy) or bright headphones. I take it that the female vocals sound exemplary?
 
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JaZZ

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Quote:

Originally Posted by wallijonn
So, I'm not crazy, uh?


Just in case: I wasn't saying you're crazy -- of course amps can make differences with soundstage --, I just wasn't happy with the channel-separation theory.


 
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Quote:

I take it that the female vocals sound exemplary?


By walli

More than that. After slight bass adjustment on my preamp/headamp, even male vocal was reaching lower tone,but not exagerated. With better center imaging, female/male vocal really whispers in my ears.
 
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