Everybody wants the best sound, but for many the cost of perfection is too steep to justify. Having visited a friend a while back and trying his headphones, beyerdynamic’s own DT 1990 Pro, I felt I had reached an Eden in both comfort and quality I had yet to encounter; the price of entry, however, made this Eden somewhat unattainable. Looking now to the company’s more affordable and ever-popular DT 880 Pro, I’m eager to see how they fare from a somewhat casual standpoint as an average consumer just wanting great sound for my Simoleans.
The unboxing experience for the DT 880 Pro is nothing special. The box itself is fairly unassuming with a large image of the headphones, and a few buzz words to express the build and sound quality you’re to expect. Holding them for the first time, I found they had a weight to them that feels durable but not bulky at 306g. Both the fabric ear pads and the thick headband cushioning can be detached and replaced, as well as a surprising amount of the unit’s casing. I’m really in love with the overall design of the headphones; they look and feel premium, and I’d be entirely confident in their longevity if it weren’t for one major let-down. The cable: it isn’t detachable. There isn’t all that much to say about it, outside of my surprise given how much of the headphones can be repaired and replaced easily. Both the cable itself and the points of connection to the headphones and the input feel well-made, but knowing this all too common weak point only has one life is a real disappointment.
It’s worth saying here that there are two models of the DT 880: the standard and Pro. The difference in model stems not from audio quality, but a few choice design changes. The Pro have a coiled cable and a firmer fit, while the standard model come with a straight cable and a softer headband. As somebody who would be more likely to fall into the target demographic for the standard model, I can say I find the Pro perfectly comfortable, and am a big fan of the coiled cable for how it’s basically its own cable management solution. Despite recently being made aware of my somewhat peanut-shaped top of head, making certain headphone bands uncomfortable in prolonged use, the DT 880 Pro have remained comfy even after more than six hours of continuous use. While the band remained comfortable, I did notice towards the end of this session a slight ache behind one of my ears, this could likely be attributed to how firmly the ear pads grip to the head. It’s possible this could be alleviated by purchasing a different set of ear pads, or even by opting for the standard model over the Pro, but with me only noticing this after very long sessions, it may not be all that big an issue for most.
When it comes to sound quality, these headphones are sublime. Having said that, you won’t get the best quality out of them by themselves. While the headphones do feature a 3.5mm jack, and this does work fine with phones and handheld consoles in a pinch, they really shine when paired with a DAC and amplifier. Being really quite new to this world until recently, I enlisted my sound wave-researching PhD buddy to help me pick out something suitable, ultimately purchasing Fiio’s K5 Pro.
- Operating Principle: Semi-Open
- Transmission Type: Wired
- Normal Impedance Headphones: 250 ohms
- Weight Headphones Without Cable: 295g
- Headphone Frequency Response: 5 - 35,000 Hz
- Nominal Sound Pressure Level: 96 dB
- Sound Coupling to the Ear: Circumaural (around the ear)
- Cable and Plug: Coiled connecting cable with mini-jack plug (3.5 mm) and 0.25 inch adapter (6.35 mm)
Reading off the tech specs sheet, these headphones can put out frequencies between 5 and 35,000 Hz, though I must admit those numbers are somewhat lost on me beyond knowing a wider range of frequencies is generally a good thing. From a casual perspective, I can say the audio is crisp, with lyrics and all parts of songs coming through in a somewhat balanced way. In that regard, they may be a little lacking with the bass some crave, but I don’t find it so much of an issue personally. The headphones natively using a 3.5mm jack for its connection, and coming with a 6.35mm adapter, you have two interesting use cases: with a DAC and without. Without, the 880s sound fine. It’s understandably quieter with less power behind it, but the convenience is difficult to pass up. Thanks to the jack’s ability to screw the adapter tip into place, you’re left with a bit of a neck to the 3.5mm jack. Though this might be annoying in some cases, the jack not going all the way into a given port, I did find it incredibly useful when trying to use the headphones with my phone. With so many earphones and headphones, I’m simply unable to use them due to my case obstructing the jack. The neck, as I so fondly call it, gives you that little bit of extra breathing room, and adds a small but noticeable degree of additional convenience.
What particularly stands out with beyerdynamic’s headphones is that you can pick between different models to suit your specific needs. While I’ve already mentioned the standard and Pro models, there’s actually more to it. With the Manufaktur model, you can customise the majority of the 880’s design, but most interestingly, the impedance, something not all too common among other headphone manufacturers. In short, a higher impedance means less distortion in the sound, but requiring more power. 32 ohms is largely the standard for your battery-powered devices. Your iPods, your phones, your Switches, those kinds of things. If you’re wanting the best sound on these devices, or even on your PC if you’re not wanting to fork out for a DAC/amp combo as well, this will be your best bet. The 250 ohm model I have is the standard for mains-powered devices, while the 600 ohm model is best suited to a studio environment. I won’t go much deeper into the subject because frankly I’m still quite new to it and I’m already touching on the depths of what I know, but for newcomers such as myself, it’s an interesting topic well worth looking into.
Currently retailing for around €180, and the Manufaktur model being just a touch more, the DT 880 Pro is an interesting set of headphones. Incredibly comfortable, highly repairable, with a number of customisation options to get the sound that’s right for you, they are fantastic. As an entrypoint to the world of audio bliss, they’re well-priced, but be aware there are extra costs if you’re wanting the best quality out of the standard 250 ohm Pro model. Check them out, I doubt you’ll regret it.