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The Beyerdynamic DT48 Arrives...

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by adanac061, Apr 8, 2009.
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  1. kool bubba ice
    I read between 55-57.. The Wiki could be off since it's the same one that claims there is a 600 ohm version. (Can't click link to verify) I asked Beyer, & they told me no.. Maybe the original in 1937 was 600ohm. My theory. But none since. I was told the A version was from 51 or early 50's.. Of course it's hard to gauge the date of a headphone that been around for 73 yrs.. The A coming before the NAGRA wouldn't surprise me.

  2. kool bubba ice

    I believe this to be correct.. The DT48A even comes bare ended with no termination for mono or stereo applications.

  3. kool bubba ice
    Final Impressions & NAGRA DT48S comparisons
    CosmeticsConnections & Design:
    This is the prototype. I have no idea if any, what changes will be made to the finished product. Overall, the quality & designs fits right in with other high end, under 1,000 headphones. I found them very light on my head. The padding is full, yet soft like a pillow, without being to fluffy. They covered every ounce of my ears. They fit on my head nearly perfect. Only needed a few minor adjustments. They are on par with my former MDR F1/SA5000/DT880 in terms of comfort. I like the wooden design. Minimal gloss, unlike some of the prettier looking AT woodies. Construction is good, but I question the overall durability of these headphones. Don't get the wrong impression. The craftsmanship is wonderful, but seem more on the fragile side of the spectrum.
    The HE6 came packaged with a assortment of connections & adapters for both speaker amp/headphone amp usage. The cables themselves are de tachable & of the screw on/off variety. Red/white coloring for proper cable placement. Very easy & self explanatory. Unfortunately the stock cable seems to fit with most high end headphones, which are just 'OK.'. I'm sure getting a better & more capable 3rd party cable will be mandatory for most serious buyers.
    Headphone History
    NAGRA DT48S Cir 1955-1957
    DT48a x4
    DT48e X7
    Sen 650
    Sen 600
    Sen 595
    Sen 212 Pro
    AKG K501
    AKG K240 Sextett
    AKG K280
    AKG K701
    AKG K1000
    AKG K340
    Audio Technia AD700
    Audio Technics 810 (Ortho)
    Yamaha Y1 (Ortho)
    Beyers DT480
    Beyers DT770 03
    Beyers DT880 05
    Beyers DT990 05
    Sony SA5000
    Sony MDR F1
    Equipment & cables used:
    GoldPoint Pro Headphone amp V9
    OPPO 83SE Universal player
    Yamaha V1800 receiever
    Zu Birth PC
    Zu Bok PC
    ZU Mother PC
    Cardas Silver stereo interconnects
    Belkin  stereo interconnects
    Monster 1000 toslink cable
    Monster digital coax cable
    Blue Jean Toslink cable
    Panamax 5300 Power center & surge protector
    Overview.  2 headphones from 2 different eras, purposes, & technology come together with interesting results.
    Brief history. The NAGRA DT48S is the first headphone released to the public in the mid 50's. The NAGRA DT48S is based off the original that was restricted to professional use for 20 yrs. Since 1937. So we have a headphone based on the first moving coil design. Due to their technical prowess, They met NAGRA's strict standards for recording purposes & other professional applications, even though they were released to the public. From what I know they were modified sonically before their release. & some say were 600 ohms. My NAGRA DT48S is from 1955-1957, only 5 ohms, & has been repaired & re cabled by Alex from apuresound.com. To put it bluntly, I decided to compare the NAGRA DT48S to the HE6 cause I feel they are the best headphones I ever owned, & quite possibly , the best I heard. My apologies to the K1000.
    My Ortho knowledge is not up to snuff. I believe planar technology was created in the 60's, (electrostats also fall in the planar family) & have some noticeable improvements over dynamic headphones. In general, the sound is more natural, effortless audio reproduction with a smoothness that voice coil technology cannot compete with. Yamaha lead the charge for ortho's in the 70's.. Even making ortho friendly receivers. Yamaha also has one of the most revered & respected Ortho ever created. The Yamaha 1000. Fostex was also a major player in Ortho technology, but mostly for the professional market. Ortho's run lasted until early to mid 90's I believe. Ortho's have a cult following, partly in due to the ease of modding, & there has been a resurgence in Ortho's recently with the Fostex T50, LCD1, LCD2, HE5, HE5 LE, & the formidable HE6, which I'm about to review.
    I must admit, I expected a highly colored & 'fun' headphone. To my surprise they are more neutral & transparent, then I thought. That is a good thing IMO. They lean on the tonally/timbre rich & warm side, but do so delicately, think subliminally tinkering.. The HE6 'slides' this in without notice at first, it just sounds like it should be there. & nothing in excess like the 650, which seemed overly rich & lush to the point of sounding a bit manufactured. The HE6.
    rich/warm un amped instruments sound realistic & natural to me. On the flip side, you realize the HE6 does add a bit of it's own 'magic', cause drums, finger snaps, tambourine among others are too rich sounding IMO.. So it really is a mixed bag.. I was on cloud 9 then was hit with a nose dive..Cello to drums. So the HE6 isn't hard-line neutral. Drums can sound a bit artificial, but the HE6 is transparent enough to allow the listener to differentiate the type of drums/drum machine being used. Acoustics get a 'pass' with the HE6. There's a nice sense of warmth & sheen, but isn't able to re create a authentic type experience with 100% consistency & lacks the ability to dissect every layer & every fiber of the individual string. The HE6 blend string instruments to a certain extent, but with a inviting & enticing sense of warmth that pulls you into the music emotionally, while the NAGRA's just expose what is there without being discrete or trying to connect you to the music. Better used as a analyzing tool, then a headphone that touches all the right neurons for the intended response.
    Tonally rich instruments sound more realistic on the HE6 then on my NAGRA DT48S. They have more 'bite', & more 'flesh.' the NAGRA's feel naked in comparison.. But the NAGRA DT48S is more consistent overall & authentic in general when comparing a host of un amped/acoustics instruments.. The HE6 is more hit or miss. & the NAGRA's removes layer upon layer of acoustics along with a life like authenticity that is unreal at times.. But with certain instruments, the HE6 really get's it right, where the NAGRA's tend to struggle a bit. Too sum it up. I was impressed with the Neutrality & transparency.. People looking for a strictly fun headphone should look elsewhere..

    IMO the midrange is what really makes or breaks a headphone. I will use an analogy by Kevin to describe the DT48's mid range. It's like a mike feed that's connected to your brain. This is very true. The DT48 mid range is the best sonic trait it has. The DT48 NAGRA is very mid centric without sounding forward. The mids are full, intimate, extremely detailed, resolving, with  a true to like authentic presentation, with great clarity to match.. So how does the HE6 stack up? The mid range does sound more natural & effortless in it's presentation. Free flowing comes to mind. Very smooth, but feels a bit distance & recessed compared to the NAGRA. The vocals on the HE6 carries more weight & warmth to the vocalist voice making them sound more alive & seductive, but there is a slight gloss over the mid range that lacks the resolving power & detail extraction the NAGRA gives you in spades.. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.. The HE6 mid range is certainly detailed enough to pick up minor gaffs, & can allow for a more pleasing listening experience, masking minor ambient quirks.. The HE6 mid range wants to keep the listener engaged. The NAGRA wants to discet everything in the vocalist voice.
    This is where the HE6 start to move ahead of the NAGRA. The DT48 in general is a labor of love in getting proper bass. It's very tricky but can be done, especially the vintage 5-25ohm versions. The NAGRA's are overly dependent on the source for their bass. The bass is truly neutral without any emphasis in the bass. This makes them sound 'bass lite.' I believe Beyer's did this to monitor the bass accurately for recording & other pro applications. They just wanted to hear the bass how it is. Some call this flat. There are people who feel the NAGRA & DT48 in general get the bass right, others feel you needed added emphasis to get realistic bass with acoustic instruments.
    The NAGRA's bass varies greatly depending on the recording. The bass is full, tight, & snappy. Some might interpret them as bass lean due to the lack of extra weight & quantity. The NAGRA's re produce un amped bass much better then amped bass or poorly done bass. The NAGRA's lack bass definition, meat on the low end, & extends much less then the HE6. The HE6 bass is rich, better mid bass, meatier bottom end with much better extension. The DT48 roll off starts between 50-60hz from most reports. But some members have listed they go deeper, with less roll off. The HE6 just offers a fuller, richer bass with more impact & quantity without sticking out. I agree with Frank & others who say the HE6 have a balanced sound. They really do.. & the bass is no different. Bass heads look elsewhere. The HE6 bass leans more towards the accurate & realistic side of the spectrum.
    This is another area that I feel the HE6 betters the NAGRAs. The NAGRA's highs are of good quality. Clean & detailed. But doesn't extend farly as much as the HE6. The highs extend very well, & smoother, better well rounded with some 'sparkle'. While the NAGRA's illustrate some roll off in the upper frequencies in comparison.
    Distortion/Blackness/Noise floor
    The HE6 demonstrate a type of blacker then black ground that I have yet to discover in any headphone. & sounds natural to boot. The NAGRA's are 'grayish' in comparison. The HE6 seems to have a lower distortion level, which allows for so,me great lower level resolving power that picks up more data with little effort, while the NAGRA strains a bit. The Blackness is like a void, where instruments & voices simply appear & disappear with a very authentic & life like decay.. Think playing Marco polo. You literally don't know where the instrument is coming from. Any direction & height. It's like being sucker punched but in a good way.. Truly stunning.. This was with my Panamax 5300 PC/SP/Goldpoint V9/Oppo84se combo..
    Sound stage & imaging
    The HE6 Sound stage is quite ordinary. In some respects that's good. It's not overly big or feels artificial. The Sound stage is bigger & rounder in the 3d sense then the NAGRA which are heavy left to right sounding. They sound exactly like a headphone. Very seldom do you get a out of head experience. The HE6 Sound stage does have better vertical depth then horizontal width & depth. The overall size is above average. They do offer a complete 3d experience. Both the space the instruments occupy & the instruments themselves are 3d & good, but not stellar imaging. The NAGRA's space is flat & 2d.. Think side scrolling gaming. But the instruments & vocals are 3D & gives you a better sense of the instruments & studios surroundings.. From reverb reflections off walls. Studio conditions. The weight & dimensions of the instruments. The NAGRA's sound stage & imaging is better equip to accommodate to the recording. The sound stage will expand, widen, get smaller, change heights of the venue. In this sense the NAGRA's are a chameleon, while the HE6 sound stage pretty much stays the same & is less transparent. You don't get the full picture so to speak with the HE6. The air around the instruments isn't very good on the HE6, & is just a tad better then my NAGRA's. Both headphones do a good job with sound stage coherency , albeit, the NAGR does a better & more believable job of it. The HE6 sound stage does give the listener a full 3d experience,  with the NAGRA you kind of have to 'fill in the blanks & can seem a bit awkward at times. Think of a fighting game with 3d stages & 2d characters. The NAGRA's also offer better instrument separation, but this could easily change if the HE6 had more adequate amping.
    Clarity. Detail. Speed.
    I did expect more clarity & speed. I expected stat like speed & clarity. The Speed is Dynamic good. Not overly impressive, but the notes & instruments are clean & clear. Detail is very good, but it didn't expose anymore information then the NAGRA's.. Clarity & fidelity is clearly on the NAGRA's side.
    Final thoughts
    I won't project a winner. It wouldn't be fair to the HE6. I didn't have the juice to drive them to their potential. It would not surprise me if the HE6 are more detailed, faster, with great separation, & possibly clarity with the right power amp or mono block. So, no winner. I do, however, feel the HE6 is a very good headphone even under powered, their greatest strengths were able to shine. IMO, for 800.00 they would be a great bargain. I would even sell them for 800 for a month before starting to sell them for around 1,000. If Mr Fang does sell the HE6 between 1,200-1,600, I see this as a mistake, especially if the retail version is hard as nails to drive as this prototype. Better the sound, make them easier to drive, sell them for 995, & I think they will sell very well, despite being in direct competition with the LCD2. I would like to thank MR Fang for giving me the chance to listen to his wonderful sounding headphone. I hope he does extremely well with them.
  4. shamu144
    Very very interesting reading KBI...
    Are those differences you have expressed due to the different technology used, I don't know. But I feel your comments in many ways are matching my overall impressions of the T50RP I just received.
  5. kool bubba ice

    Thank you.
    I think it goes beyond the technology a bit, ableit, Ortho's do have a inherent advantage.I just wished I could have heard the HE6 really amped.. The Speed. Detail. Resolve. Separation. Really could have swung in the HE6 favor, but I had to review then with what I had.. I didn't expect I needed a power amp, ala a K1000.. I still feel there are certain areas where the HE6 didn't have a chance.. Neutrality/transparency.. Which is a bit un fair since the NAGRA was made for pro applications.. So 2 different technologies.. 2 different era.. 2 different purposes. One was made for audiophile & musical enjoyment first, the other wasn't.. I'm sure the LCD2 would be much tougher, & would have a better chance to equal or better the NAGRA in most areas.. Hell, maybe all.. I don't know.. Would be surprised though..

  6. lejaz


    Review coming soon?? [​IMG]
  7. shamu144

    Unfortunatley no. The pair I received went wacky and started to play left only, then right only, then both channels at lower volume... Don't know what happened, but had to return them. Now I will track another pair, but it could take some time, as those are not widely available in Europe. [​IMG]

  8. leeperry
    They just needed some soldering, the 3.5mm minijack bs in the left cup was doing me the exact same thing....and anyway they require some major dampening to sound amazing.
    I'm currently using mine w/ the sa5k angled earpads and recabled/dampening/felt before the drivers = [​IMG]
  9. EYEdROP
    Today im attending the AZ headfi meet in Scottsdale. There will be a slew of very high end gear including the Stax 007, D7000, HD800, LCD2, K1000, as well as JH13 and 16 universals. No T1 or PS1000 though.  
    It will be interesting what people think of the DT48. Ill be doing some comparisons for sure. I will also do my best to find which amplifiers have good "synergy" with the DT48E 25 ohm.
  10. lejaz
    Looking forward to your impressions!
  11. kool bubba ice
    Please focus on the HD800 & LCD2.. I know you don't have the DT48A, but maybe you Can collaborate with Shamu concerning the HD800..
    If you feel the DT48 actually betters any of the phones you listed.. Run from the huge flames behind you..
    I can tell you what they will think. Expect audio snobbery. No Bass!! No Sound stage. They sound weird. How can anyone like these..

  12. EYEdROP
    Well, the stax 007 and lcd2 never showed up unfortunately. The person that had HD800 left after 1 hour (seriously), so I didnt hear them. But, I did hear the LCD1 with a vinyl rig and zana deux. I compared it to the DT-48. I thought the DT48 mids were more lifelike and intimate. I liked the LCD1, they were very detailed, but the mids just seemed more thin and plasticky. The DT48 mids were more full and lively. Didnt compare too long, so thats all I can say. I also heard the Grado HF2. It was the most neutral of grados there. I also heard the ESP950, which was really nice. Very clear, undistorted sound with detail that would just pop out of nowhere. The bass on them was deep, clean, and flat. But again, the mids just dont compare to DT48 IMO. The K701 was very detailed but something was weird about the mids, it seemed like fake detail.
    The LCD1 and ESP950 were the closest competetors to the DT-48. The ESP950 was closest IMO and really sounds effortless in its detail and bass, and is possibly more detailed than the DT48 (dont know for sure, meet conditions). But the DT48, to my ears, was the most uncolored phone there. It was able to change like a chameleon to different recordings. All the other headphones seemed to add atleast something to the music. Someone actually said my DT 48 had good bass but not highs. It was the particular recording he listened to. You could really tell the difference between gear and recordings with the DT48.  
    There was only 2 people I think that liked the DT48. One said the mids sounded like "liquid" and is planning on buying a pair. He was quite impressed. This is coming from the HD800 guy. The LCD1 guy also like the DT48. Anyone with senns or denons seemed to not like them and called them "bass light", "too neutral". And for me, their setups always sounded like a rock EQ in a cave. Sennheiser HD650 and 600 very pleasing and musical, a bit warm, and artificially smooth midrange. They do sound quite nice though...  
    The 3 amps that worked great with DT48 are: Rudistor RP8, Zana Deux, and the DIY "Bijou" amp. The rudistor had a great blackground and really made the DT48 detailed. The Zana and Bijou were perhaps more colored, but seductive and natural at the same time. The Woo Audio 6 maxxed did not sound good with DT48, I would not recommend. The Bijou is great with them, especially for the price. It seemed like tube amps sounded better with the DT48. REally seemed to open them up. The solid state amps sounded lifeless in comparison (except the rudistor).   
    Sorry I cant offer more info, It all happend so fast and its hard to remember what I heard. But all I can say is the DT48 is a chameleon compared to all the other headphones I heard. 
  13. kool bubba ice
    Interesting.. The 950 possibly being more detailed then then the DT48..Wish you had the superior A model to compare the detail to.. 2 people liking the DT48 at the same meet is pretty impressive.. Every HD800 owner, besides one has found something to like about the DT48 in a comparable sense to the HD800.. I really wouldn't call the new DT48e mids liquid.. They are actually a bit thick sounding compared to the NAGRA's.... Overall, I'm eating a bit a crow.. No hating like I usually read from meet impressions, & they suck comments.. Seems like a mature crowd.. Glad you heard how well the DT48 can scale with better gear.. & you got two new fans of the DT48.. Always a good thing... I might buy the 200 ohm on ebay to compare to my franken 200 ohm.. Would loved to have been there with my Franken 48 & NAGRA.. Two of the best DT48 non A models I heard.. Either way.. a 73 yr old headphone design holding it's own or bettering good modern days headphones, especially ortho/Stat is a incredible acomplishment.
    You did a good write up.. Too bad the HD800 owner left so soon & no 02 show up..
  14. EYEdROP
    Yeah, they honeslty sounded incredible with the vinyl rig (DT48). All analog right there, sounds so beautiful. The K701 I thought was also very detailed. Again, meet conditions are not the best for open headphones.  
    Overall, my main favorites were: ESP950, HD600, LA7000, HF2, DT880pro. JH13 universals did not fit me. too bad.. K701, W5000 held there own... The reason I liked the DT880's, they seemed to fix the problems 770's have while still retaining some of the same qualities. 
  15. Uncle Erik Contributor
    EYEdROP, it's nice to see someone else who enjoyed the DT48 with the Zana! When the DT48 first arrived, that was the first amp I tried them with. Really, really nice combination. This was before hardly anyone here had tried a DT48 - I plugged them in and was surprised. I had found the DT48s cheap on eBay and had no idea if they were any good. But I've been listening happily for a few years now and always get the DT48s out when I want an intimate listen to something.

    I completely agree that the DT48 does its best with tubes. I've only tried them with a handful of tube amps, but I should have another three of four online by the end of the year.
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