Impressions on the DT-880/Cardas
Feb 25, 2006 at 6:05 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 2


Headphoneus Supremus
Aug 3, 2005
As a long time 650 fan (check sig), with a particular dislike for the accompanying Cardas upgrade cable, I couldn't resist the opportunity to try out some Cardas recabled DT-880's.

Firstly the cable is not standard, it's the special order 'HeadRoom Fat Pipe' made for, you guessed it, HeadRoom - it's wire is the same as Cardas headphone cable, however it has a thinner, lighter jacket which is black. Why this isn't their standard headphone cable, I really don't know as it's much nicer in every way.

Anyway, judging from the frequency response, I expected to find this headphone to be bright in a slightly disturbing way. I agree with myself on the first part - it's a little bright, but on the second I don't. It wasn't disturbing at all. It seems that the brighness comes from a rather high high frequency emphasis that doesn't actually directly impact the fundamentals of many notes actually played. I vehemently hate headphones that make some notes stick out more than others due to their frequency response anomalies, so I was very pleasantly surprised by the smoothness and coherence of this headphone.

I've read that some people find the DT-880 bass lean, and I just can't agree there. It had plenty of bass, and the added clarity of the midrange and treble meant that I noticed certain low bass events even more than with my 650's. Also, through the design I was able to feel that low bass on my head through the earcups somewhat more than the 650 (we're not talking head-banging here, just a pizzicato double bass).

The treble is just beautiful. The high frequency emphasis is obvious, however it is done so smoothly that it just sheds a little (potentially artificial) extra light on the textures of the recording. It also has excellent soundstaging, at least on a par with my 650's but with a somewhat different presentation. Definitely closer to the K701 I'd say, but again different.

The other part that is rarely mentioned about the 880's is their semi-sealed nature. Though the isolation is minimal, it is noticeably greater than the 650. That is particularly important in settings such as my apartment where it is impossible to maintain an ambient level of silence. I felt more enveloped with the recording with the 880's due to a slight muffling of the ambient sound of dump trucks outside or whatever other treats are in store. It's obvious when I put them on for the first time - the muffling effect is quite clear. They also seem to leak sound significantly less than 650's, so these may just be the cans for reference sound in an office cubicle environment for example.

Overall, excellently built, excellent sounding, just excellent. But... I don't think I could live with them. I happen to have a hypersensitivity to 8khz sounds, which excites my (very minor) tinnitus. I don't notice it while I'm listening, but afterwards I notice that my ears are simply not happy. This is a unique issue to me, and for those that do not have that problem I cannot praise this headphone highly enough for Classical Music. Yes, it does have a slightly bright/lean sound, however it's so tightly detailed yet smooth that it's a pleasure to listen to.

How much the Cardas cable is contributing to this, I have no idea, as I have never heard the stock cable. However this headphone in this configuration is actually the first headphone with a presentation other than that of the 650 that though I don't think I'll be keeping, I can't say is actually overall any 'worse' than my reference standard.

Tests were conducted with the 650/Balanced Equinox/single ended adapter (for fairness), HeadRoom Balanced Home/Max/Max, HeadRoom Convertable (Micro/Desktop/Home '05 modules used for testing). Music was Classical only, using iTunes ALAC to Airport Express (which is an excellent transport for the money - Stereophile reviewed it and found the jitter to be a little above 200ps, and the bits to be 100% accurate).
Dec 16, 2006 at 10:01 PM Post #2 of 2


The Hiss King
Aug 9, 2006
I think you will find that the stock cable too is perfect to find a wonderful review like this. I have heard all three headphones mentioned in your review and find them each beautiful for different things. As far as the laid-back 650 that is often mentioned, I found them engaging in that the lower bass emphasis made the music stand together better than any other headphone I have heard, but I do prefer its presentation with large soundstage of DT880. The 701 were very surprising in that it was even wider than the DT880, that much more of an out-of-head experience, but for me, both the 650 and the 880 are a sort of ultimate experience... cheers.

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