- Aug 25, 2003
[size=medium]"Old & Busted" vs. "New Hotness"[/size]
[size=x-small]The old and new DT 880s compared[/size]
A few days ago, Jamey from HeadRoom posted a thread announcing the new 2005 edition DT 880s were in stock. I'm not usually an impulsive buyer, but I ended up buying them 10 minutes later. After reading some impressions from JensL and other board members, I had gotten the impression the differences were pretty small between the older model and the new one. Either way, it would be a win-win situation, so why not?
I'll only be comparing the two in this review-- my previous review has my impressions of the DT 880 compared to the DT 990 Pro and DT 660. My old DT 880s were purchased in Sept. 2003 from HeadRoom, and have been extensively used. They're still in excellent condition, but have had the left driver replaced after it mysteriously died suddenly. The earpads have been compressed a bit from use, so this might create differences in sound and comfort that might not have been there otherwise.
(click on a thumbnail for full-size)
Visual impressions --
Visually, the new model looks quite different from the old. However, the only parts that have seem to be changed are the headband and enclosures-- not a lot, but it does make quite a different visual statement. From photographs I wasn't too hot on the new look, but after seeing them in person I really do like them. Build quality is of course excellent, and maybe even better than the older model. They're extremely sturdy. The cable is straight unlike my older DT 880s which have the coiled cable. The headband is more comfortable for me, and I've experienced no burning scalp as of yet, which was a problem I had with the older model(caused by a rubber piece inside the headband). Clamping force is more or less the same. I believe the earpads are exactly the same, and they're just as comfortable. Overall, only improvements in the comfort department which is always welcome. The enclosures on the new model are larger, I'd say about 1/2" deeper.
Sound impressions --
From an audio perspective-- yes!, they sound very similar, but there are some important differences. Probably the most notable difference to me right off the bat was the bass. I've always loved the bass extension and response of the older model, but felt it could be tweaked -ever- so slightly. It seems Beyerdynamic has done just that, as the bass has a tad bit more presence. The newer model has more power behind it, slightly more punch, and feels even more authoritative. The difference is minor enough to where it does not change the frequency balance at all, which is exactly what it needed in my opinion. It's also important to note that while my older DT 880s are well, older, the bass response has stayed pretty consistent after burn-in and years of listening.
I was a little concerned while the newer ones were burning in that they might not have the same midrange and upper midrange presence as the older model. Luckily, after some more extensive burn-in, this returned and the midrange is generally about the same as far as frequency response goes. Female vocals are still smooth and intimate, as well. The same goes for the high end. In fact, I noticed the least difference in the high frequency range. I never found the older model to be bright, and these sound almost identical in that regard.
The other differences, besides the bass, that grabbed my attention were the soundstage and detail. The soundstage on the newer model is set slightly farther back, and actually sounds a bit more open. Instrument separation on the newer model actually reminded me slightly of the K 501; notes had more "air" around them. The soundstage differences are probably influenced by the fact the earpads are compressed on my older model, while the new ones are pretty stiff and set the headphones farther away from the ear. I'm not sure how much of a difference this would make, though.
A complaint(albeit a small one) I had on the older model was the tendency for detail to get "lost" in the soundstage. It seemed like notes in the background would be set very far back in the soundstage, and would "blur" together almost. While this definitely increased the perceived size of the soundstage, it masked a tiny bit of detail. The newer model seems to place every detail and note in the correct spot without losing it's presence. It's easier to discern the background details and texture and this, combined with the improved airiness and separation, creates a very nice improvement. The newer model also seems to have a lower noise floor-- but I think might be due to the soundstage differences.
Overall, the DT 880s have been improved, and more importantly, the changes have not created any deficiencies. It was much easier to pick out the differences once the new ones had burned in a bit. The improved bass response and power, soundstaging, and detail have made the DT 880s even better, and for under $300, they've become an even better deal than they already were. A big question might be, is it worth upgrading? That really depends, of course. The differences aren't massive by any means, and depending on the system they might be very hard to pick out at all. I'd say it's worth upgrading if you're a big fan of the DT 880 and plan on sticking with them for awhile, I know I will be!