Beyerdynamic DT880 vs. Audio-Technica ATH-AD2000
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Elephas

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INTRODUCTION

This is a comparison of the Beyerdynamic DT880 and Audio-Technica ATH-AD2000. My DT880 is new, with about 80 hours of burn-in. All other equipment have plenty of burn-in.

Both headphones use stock cables. The DT880 is the coiled cord 250ohm model. I have added foam strips inside the AD2000's earpads to make it more comfortable. This slightly increases the distance of the drivers to the ears, which may affect the sound in comparison to other AD2000s.

Sources: Sony CDP-X505es, E-MU 1212m, iPod 30GB

Amplifiers: Lehmann Audio Black Cube Linear, SuperMacro-3 with switches & stock NE5534 opamps.

Music: I listen to a wide variety of music including pop, female vocals, rock, classical, jazz, new age, instrumental, dance, electronica, trance, ambient and chillout.

SOUND

Both headphones sound very good. My overall preference is for the AD2000, but I would be satisfied with the DT880 as my only headphone.

Although the Lehmann Black Cube Linear amp has two headphone ports, the higher impedence of the DT880 means the AD2000 is much louder. Dialing in the same volume for both headphones requires many adjustments and unplugging the AD2000. This makes the comparison more difficult.

The greatest perceived difference in sound between the DT880 and AD2000 is headstage and soundstage, followed by the AD2000's better balance and detail. I use the terms headstage and soundstage as defined in this thread by Head-Fi member darth nut http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=41424.

The DT880 has greater headstage. It provides the sense of greater space within and around your head. The expansive sound is especially pleasant for some types of music, and I preferred listening to the DT880 with some classical, jazz, electronica, ambient and chillout.

The AD2000 sounds more forward and direct, and is often more enjoyable and engaging. There is also a large headstage, but it doesn't extend as far as the DT880's.

Both headphones have excellent soundstage. For many different types of music the illusion of space between instruments is very effective. Classical, jazz, vocals and acoustics sounded very good on both headphones. The DT880 projects a wider soundstage and provides the feeling that a larger amount of space is inside your head. However, it is not necessarily always more enjoyable than the AD2000.

The AD2000 is more detailed. The DT880 is no slouch when it comes to detail, but loses to the AD2000 especially at low and high volumes. The DT880 seems to have a sweetspot in volume where it is most balanced, but at very low and high volume levels treble becomes over-emphasized and it loses balance. Comparatively, the AD2000 is more consistent and better balanced. For electronica, trance and chillout music, the AD2000 provides better detailed individual sounds.

Both headphones are bright with very clear treble. The AD2000 seems to have slightly clearer treble, but the difference is small. Its midrange and bass is also better balanced with the bright treble and makes the DT880 midrange and bass seem recessed.

I like the DT880's larger headstage/soundstage, but the AD2000 has better detail and midrange/bass. It is also more engaging and enjoyable overall. I would give the AD2000 a small edge in sound quality.

COMFORT

Both headphones are very comfortable, and do not make your ears feel warm. The DT880 has less clamping force and softer earpads. The DT880's headband, however, places greater and sharper pressure on the top of your head than the AD2000's excellent wing system. During longer listening sessions the AD2000 would feel lighter. Both headphones can be used while lying down on a pillow. I would consider comfort a tie.

MATERIALS QUALITY & APPEARANCE

In terms of materials and construction quality, the edge goes to the AD2000. The DT880 looks very good, but it does not match the AD2000's attention to detail. The AD2000's black metal mesh earcups with gold metal Audio-Technica label and chrome ring looks higher quality than the Beyer's silver mesh plastic. The AD2000's cord and plug looks better than the DT880's, although the Beyer's one-sided coiled cord is sometimes more convenient. Both seem very solid and made to last a long time.

MISC

The DT880 (250ohm) is harder to drive than the AD2000 (60 ohm). The DT880 benefits from the gain switches on the Lehmann Audio Black Cube and SuperMacro-3, while the AD2000 is fine at the base setting. Directly out of an iPod both sound decent. The DT880 doesn't get loud, however, while the AD2000 is too loud at 80% volume.

Both headphones sounded best with the Sony CDP, followed by the E-MU 1212m and the iPod line out. I felt the DT880 was better matched with the Lehmann than with the SuperMacro-3.

CONCLUSION

Both the DT880 and AD2000 sound excellent with my current equipment. Often while trying to listen critically I would become enthralled by the music and forget I was supposed to be comparing headphones.

Although I feel I have an overall preference for the AD2000, I also enjoy listening to the DT880 very much. Sometimes it is a case of different, not better.
 
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Loftprojection

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Wow, very nice review. I really like your style, no "unbelievable", "out of this world", "the ultimate", just plain and objective comments with positive and negative for each of the headphones.

It's too bad you did not have a cable upgrade on your DT880. After reading some of the comments on the Cardas upgrade for the DT880, it looks like the weak points you mention would be somewhat addressed with the recable. Well, this could be a good subject for a followup review! hahaha

Quite interesting, it's funny that there is almost no talk about the AD2000 which seems like a very fine piece and it has a significant advantage for people who want something to connect directly in a portable player...

Thanks for the time you took for this nice review. It's really gold for someone like me who is currently in the decision process for new phones, the DT880 are at the top of my list.

Cheers.
 
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Andrea

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Thanks, your comparison was an interesting read.


I, for what it's worth, not having even heard it (but having read lots & lots of things about it), somehow have this feeling that the DT880 has been a bit overhyped. Bah.
 
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SDA

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Great comparison, thanks. Haven't heard too much about the AD2k, but it looks pretty nice. Agree with Loftprojection about your style-- it's really great to see a down-to-earth comparison of two high-end headphones.


Quote:

I, for what it's worth, not having even heard it (but having read lots & lots of things about it), somehow have this feeling that the DT880 has been a bit overhyped.


Shouldn't you at least LISTEN to a headphone before insulting it?
 
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Andrea

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Quote:

Originally Posted by SDA
Shouldn't you at least LISTEN to a headphone before insulting it?



Ok, retired. I thought it's normally done (yep, insulting headphones
) so easily, heard or not, that it wouldn't be such a scandal.
 
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SDA

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Andrea
Ok, retired. I thought it's normally done (yep, insulting headphones
) so easily, heard or not, that it wouldn't be such a scandal.



Most people don't insult headphones that they've never heard, actually. Maybe that's a perception issue on your part?
 
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Andrea

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Quote:

Originally Posted by SDA
Most people don't insult headphones that they've never heard, actually. Maybe that's a perception issue on your part?


Yep, I recognize myself a sinner.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by SDA
Quote:

Originally Posted by Andrea
I, for what it's worth, not having even heard it (but having read lots & lots of things about it), somehow have this feeling that the DT880 has been a bit overhyped.


Shouldn't you at least LISTEN to a headphone before insulting it?



It's kinda a sport for him...
But I can't understand what part of his body he can improve with this sport... not the ears for sure...
 
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Andrea

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Quote:

Originally Posted by amartignano
It's kinda a sport for him...
But I can't understand what part of his body he can improve with this sport... not the ears for sure...



Hmmm, so much honour, mate.
 
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xelloss12

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Andrea
I, for what it's worth, not having even heard it (but having read lots & lots of things about it), somehow have this feeling that the DT880 has been a bit overhyped. Bah.


Not this again........
 
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Loftprojection

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Come on guys, let's not spoil the nice work Elephas did, I mean, I'm sure he spent several hours on this review and we should have some respect for his thread. For me it was useful and for others it will probably be as well. I think we would benefit much more of additional comments to the performance of these phones than the comments we read now!
 
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Lucidity

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I would also like to say that this is a very well written review/comparison. Thank you!
Objective and clear, yet still personal and emotional. Balanced


The AD2000 is one of the Audio-Technica models I am strongly considering buying, ever since I heard it in Japan.
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Andrea
somehow have this feeling that the DT880 has been a bit overhyped. Bah.


Should be noted that the 880s may be recabled and still fall far under the price of the AD2000 which is kinda frightening given there were no absolutes used in the review, which I do appreciate as well.

All of these 880 threads are working toward making the 880 the phone o the month
 
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Andrea

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Yep, really the Cardas recabled DT880 looks promising.
(as a side note, the recabled HD595 looks as intriguing to me)
 
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