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Mackie

Review: Beyerdynamic DT880 (2005-06 version)

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It's been a long time since I let the fingers do the talking with any specific product but the all new 2005-06 version of Beyer DT880 deserves my attention since I've been a user of its predecessor since 2003. On this note, new members please note of our very own review articles under the FAQ, Articles, Reviews etc section.

http://www.sgheadphones.net/index.php?showtopic=191

 

Assumptions and Hopes

Let's walk through the initial expectations and hopes borne by me when I learnt of the new versions. When I saw the images of the all new DT770/880/990, I thought they resemble the other Premiumline DT440/660/860. As yet, the new DT990 catches my fancy with its winged like cuts on its cups. I didn't react much to the new looks of DT770/880 though. I expected an overhaul in aesthetics department and perhaps no or little changes in sound characteristics. The other issue that I took with is the relatively less cushy/comfy headband over the old DT880. At that moment in time, I felt the new versions are indeed more contemporary but I prefer the older versions which simply ooze exclusiveness, charm and seriousness to performance. What are my hopes for the new DT880? Well as a whole, retain all the sonic characteristics of the old and add more weight to the upper bass and body to mid-range. However, this must not be done with colouration to this spectrum and thus, retain the long-time house signature of Beyerdynamics.

 

At last, a real date

After getting hold of a set from Abert of Anything Audio (thanks dude, you're a charm and I'm not even gay nor female), gone is the aluminium box that used to house the old DT880 and in replacement, it's the same "leather" case that houses DT860. No complaints but I personally like the aluminium box better for its rigidity and even looks; read prestige, ladies and gentlemen.

 

Construction and Aesthetics

Ok I stand corrected! The new DT880 in real life is indeed prettier than picture and oozes high quality and a contemporary charm on its own. Shucks, now my old DT880 seems to have aged by a decade! Look at the cups on each side, I noticed "DT880 tabs" which according to the factory, can be removed and replaced with tailor-made tabs (at a cost of course). I also noticed the shiny steep clips on both sides which are part of the structure to secure the familiar steel cup-holder to notches which the wearer will then adjust for the correct extension to his/her ears. Now the dubious headband which is indeed less cushy than the older one but dare I say not comfy? An astounding no as the new DT880 is significantly lighter than the older version, which makes the former really comfortable to wear. Let me reveal a part of my anatomy....spank yourself if you have "crooked" thoughts........I have a pointed head right at the very peak and after wearing a pair of cans for an hour or so, soreness will pervade and can be quite painful sometimes. However, I didn't encounter the same problem after hours of wearing it on ends. Overall, structure is as sturdy as the old DT880 but lighter. Finally, gone are the coiled cable as it's been replaced with straight cable.

 

Performance/Sound

Well a singer must have a pretty voice to entice the audience, although looks may sometimes do the job too. Now will the new DT880 be equal, better or unexpectedly, worse off then its predecessor? Prior to burning in, a brief audition reveals wow in mid-range, upper bass and thumbs down in higher spectrum. I hear reminiscence of DT860 but the highs are simply too sibilant for now. Patience, patience......shall open the pandora box after 3-4 weeks of 24/7 run in (my reason of being lazy to write a review).

 

On the second encounter, the new and older DT880s are connected to Audiovalve RKVII head amp simultaneously for easier and quicker A-B-A comparisons. Musical Fidelity A3CD is the source while Tara Labs RSC Decade interconnects serve to link up the entire system. The following findings and opinions are purely personal and subjective.

 

Soundstaging

The new DT880 loses a certain degree of soundstaging width and also depth but only on a relative basis to the older version. You won't notice any difference not unless you carry out an A-B-A assessment. I reckon the older DT880 sounded closer to open design than it being semi-open. Perhaps the new DT880 exhibits the sonic traits and advantages of a semi-open design better; stay open and yet offers a degree of isolation which also aids the bass department. I feel rather claustrophobic with closed cans (DT770/150) but in the case of the new DT880, I was completely at ease.

 

Transparency, Articulation, Tonality Extensions

Transparency of the higher spectrum is slightly undermined by the overall thicker and weightier sound of the bass-mid range but I don't hear any major masking though. Let's break up the audio spectrum.

 

Bass

Upper bass indeed has greater oomph and slam like that of DT860 and a few notches higher than that of the older DT880 which many a time can sound a bit lean in this area. However, unlike the DT860 which loses much in bass tonality which the older DT880 excels, the new version manages to retain this trait to handle the overall bass region fuller and better. Greater body and slam aside, little nuances in bass tonality is easily picked up with ease and yet with little masking to the adjacent spectrum. For example, hear the finger work along with the rumbling and growl of a double bass together with no loss in details whatsoever. Be mindful of this, fat bass does not equate to full bass and lesser cans may opt for the former to wrongfully exude greater weight but often at the expense of tonality and details in low bass extreme. This area is one of the 2 key components that the new DT880 is superior over the older.

 

Midrange

More importantly, at least to me, the new DT880 must retain its wonderful colouration-free mid range which I'm very accustomed to. For example, I considered Senn HD650 (stock condition) is coloured in this spectrum albeit beautifully. Many users (me too) have grumbled about the recessed mids of the old DT880 and this is where the other key improvement is seen. Vocal is more forward and involving and with fuller body to boot, in fact, the degree of change is very noticeable when I switched between the old and new DT880s. Think shifting about at least 5-10 rows closer to the stage and you will have a pretty good idea.

 

Highs-treble

Now that the mid range has taken more of the center stage, I feel that certain articulation is lost in the higher spectrum. For instance, the delicate finger work and presence of strings on a Gu Zhen is less noticeable and elegant. Overall reverberation in the highs is also less extended. Where the old DT880 excels in the higher spectrum, the newer version seems to be a notch lower but we must remember the newer DT880 scores more than a few notches in bass-mid range.

 

Summary

All in all, the new DT880 has greater kick in bass, fuller and more forward in midrange but somewhat rounder at the top (didn't want to use roll-off lest it creates a wrong idea). The latter sonic trait actually gives music performance a smoother texture as opposed to full treble extension which can be a tad gritty to some listeners. There is a negative note lingering though, I really miss the presence, soundstage depth/width, articulation of the higher spectrum that the older DT880 exudes really well. Just based on this, I feel that the new and old DT880 can co-exist to handle different mood and music in my collection. Now there are claims that Beyer did not change the drivers in the latest version, so what could have contributed to the sonic changes? Psychoacoustics or am I just kidding myself? For one, I suspect the cups housing the transducer capsules. Different amount of dampening, isolation and even size will change the resonant frequency which in turn, tilts the overall sound from one end to the other. I suspect the bass and mid range gain more presence owing to either greater isolation or/and changes in dampening. I will not know until I open up a set (voids the warranty if you do) and see the inards. What's my conclusion then? I love the new DT880 and in fact, it could very well be the one of the very best model that Beyer has produced so far, and within reach of the other favourite of mine ie. DT150. From the aforementioned assessment, I am now looking forward to auditioning the new DT990 as I heard this model has new transducers. I wonder how much more improvement can be yielded considering DT990 costs S$100 more than DT880.

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Another good write up from mackie ! ... happy.gif

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Excellent write up. It serves a very good reference between the two.

You see, now my DT880 become OLD already hammer.gif .

Look forward to the DT990.

 

 

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would the DT880 be suitable for electronic / house / breakbeat music?

 

not into basshead sounding signature but rather looking for tight bass with decent punch and clean extensions.

is the DT880 able catch up with notes esp. breakbeat music?

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would the DT880 be suitable for electronic / house / breakbeat music?

 

not into basshead sounding signature but rather looking for tight bass with decent punch and clean extensions.

is the DT880 able catch up with notes esp. breakbeat music?

 

the 880's forte is playing jazz & classical and has wonderful upper mid energy.

 

it just doesn't have enough grinding bass detail for your genres. for that u need something like the Denon D2000. it's just the way electronica is produced and it needs really low, tight bass details. u can also try the DT770 but the bass resonance might be too much for non-bassheads. the DT990 is better, but the bass on those beyers in stock form compared to the lows on the Denon, is just to full and rounded to extract the required bass details in electronica.

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Nope.

 

A better bet would be the DT-150 or the HD25 as iboth are faster sounding cans and are more suited towards electronic music as those u mentioned.

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