DT 990 vs. DT 880 | NO MORE CONFUSION!

Updated 10/25/18

2,572 word post, approx 5-6 min. read


Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!

The differences between the DT 990 vs. DT 880 are pretty profound. Well, let’s not get carried away, they’re just headphones but you should definitely know what each is primarily used for before purchase.

First let’s check out this quick comparison:


Comparison Chart


Preview
Better For Gaming
beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Over-Ear Studio Headphones in black. Open construction, wired
Better For Mixing
beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro Over-Ear Studio Headphone
Title
beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Over-Ear Studio Headphones in black. Open construction, wired
beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro Over-Ear Studio Headphone
Color
Grey/Black
Grey/Black
Impedance
250 Ohm
250 Ohm
Sensitivity
96dB/mW
96dB/mW
Amplification Required?
Type
Open Back
Semi-Open
Primary Use
Casual, Gaming, Movies, Bass
Mixing, Mastering, Reference
Prime
Price
from $144.98
$202.88
Better For Gaming
Preview
beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Over-Ear Studio Headphones in black. Open construction, wired
Title
beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Over-Ear Studio Headphones in black. Open construction, wired
Color
Grey/Black
Impedance
250 Ohm
Sensitivity
96dB/mW
Amplification Required?
Type
Open Back
Primary Use
Casual, Gaming, Movies, Bass
Prime
Price
from $144.98
Details
Better For Mixing
Preview
beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro Over-Ear Studio Headphone
Title
beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro Over-Ear Studio Headphone
Color
Grey/Black
Impedance
250 Ohm
Sensitivity
96dB/mW
Amplification Required?
Type
Semi-Open
Primary Use
Mixing, Mastering, Reference
Prime
Price
$202.88
Details

Before we get into specifics, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…

You’ve come to the right place!!

What I will bring you in this review


Table of Contents

DT990 Review

Click to navigate the page!


Specifications/Summary
Pros & Cons
Video Review (Coming Soon!)
Who these headphones benefit?
Amp/DAC Requirements
Consensus/Conclusion
990 Pro vs. Premium


DT880 Review

Click to navigate the page!


Specifications/Summary
Pros & Cons
Video Review
Who these headphones benefit?
Amp/DAC Requirements
Consensus/Conclusion
Similarities & Differences (990 vs. 880)
Final Word


Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro

Specifications

  • price: check amazon! | check eBay!
  • type: open back
  • fit: circumaural (over ear)
  • impedance: 250 Ohms
  • frequency response: 5 Hz – 35,000 Hz
  • material: velour ear pads, rugged plastic, metal
  • headband: spring steel, soft cushioning
  • color: black, grey, silver
  • plug: screw-able 6.3 mm / 1/4″ adapter
  • cable: coiled

Summary

A superb open back headphone that showcases tight, authoritative bass and sparkling highs.

Closed back vs. Open back headphones.

The bass isn’t so pronounced that it drowns out the other frequencies, but it also isn’t shy in the least. This is a hip-hop lovers headphone. The highs are crisp and clear without being harsh or sibilant, but if you’re listening to a badly mastered recording you will know. The sound-stage is also exceptional, and being an open backed can, you feel as if the music is playing in the room rather than in your ears. The build quality is solid as well, and these things are built like a tank. All in all, if you prefer your listening experience to be more fun rather than overly analytical, then you may want to check these out..

Be aware that they require a certain amount of burn in time. They will likely sound a bit harsh and muddy at first. Give them time, MAN. 😀

Pros

  • Extremely comfortable.
  • Exceptional sound-stage (feels like the sound is in the room with you rather than in your ears).

What is Soundstage?

  • Crystal clear clarity.
  • Excellent bass extension.
  • Amazing build quality (this has been really common among-st reviewers).
  • Flawless instrument separation.
  • Replaceable parts!
  • Hard hitting bass.

Cons

  • Non-detachable cable feels a bit cheap and “oldschool”.
  • Clamping force is intense at first.
  • Slightly recessed (but detailed) mids due to the V (or U) shaped curve.
  • They can be a bit “fatiguing” after awhile.

So..

Who these headphones benefit?

  • people who play video games
  • people who want to listen for hours without taking them off
  • classical listeners
  • jazz and nu jazz listeners
  • hip-hop heads
  • fans of EDM (electronic dance music)
  • people who enjoy watching movies with their headphones (due to the sound-stage and it’s “theater like” presentation)
  • bluegrass and folk listeners

Will you need an amp?

Amp/DAC Requirements

AT 250 Ohm and 96dB of Sensitivity, you will definitely need an amp. These do require a bit of power as well as quite a bit of current to reach optimal listening levels. Luckily most of your standard pairings will sound just fine.

Here are some of my recommendations:


Entry Level

Amp/DAC


FiiO E10K.

I really love this combo with a lot of headphones. They even power my beloved HD600’s with relative ease and would make a fine fit with the 990. This is a great solution for your desktop but it also works well on the go.

SEE IT FOR YOURSELF!!

OR

CHECK OUT MY OFFICIAL FiiO E10K USB DAC REVIEW!!

Audioquest Dragonfly Red.

Audioquest DragonFly Red Review
Dragonflies are found outside, right?

This little crumb sized wonder would make an amazing pair with the DT990, and is a great solution for people who want to listen with a phone or from their computer. You’ll simply need this adapter which is very cheap and gets glowing reviews. What’s so impressive is how much better this thing makes your headphones sound. You really wouldn’t think so by looking at it but it’s really a beast of a unit and probably the most convenient piece of gear ever assembled.

LEARN MORE: AUDIOQUEST DRAGONFLY RED REVIEW!

SEE THE GLOWING REVIEWS FOR YOURSELF!!


Solid State Amps

Desktop


JDS Labs 02 + ODAC

(or any other DAC of your choosing)

Crisp, just like it’s sound.

Th Objective 2 is my favorite desktop amp right now, with it’s ridiculously high power output and ability to drive all headphones with ease. It’s a clean, crisp, and neutral sound that will reveal the intricacies of your headphones with startling realism. Highly recommended for people that want an Amp that will last them a long time.

SEE IT FOR YOURSELF!!

AND

CHECK OUT MY OFFICIAL JDS LABS OBJECTIVE 2 HEADPHONE AMP REVIEW!!

Here’s the combo:

OBJECTIVE 2 + ODAC COMBO!

Aside from these, don’t get too carried away in trying to choose an Amp. The differences between amps are very subtle a lot of the time, and any of these pairings will work wonderfully well with the 990.

Now let’s peep the Consensus..


Consensus/Conclusion

Great sounding headphone, with booming lows and sparkling highs, and a somewhat recessed mid range. The accentuation of the bass may lead to the treble being a bit “harsh” and too sibilant for some people. By and large though, this is a great studio headphone that will satisfy the majority of people with it’s open, spacious, but hard hitting sound.

How does it compare with the Premium though?

How the Pro version compares with the Premium

They are almost identical in every aspect, except for a few things:

  • They each have a slightly different design and aesthetic.
  • The pro version has a slightly higher clamping force
  • The Pro version has a coiled cable, while the Premiums have a straight cable
  • The Premium is marketed more toward consumer use, while the pro version is marketed towards studio use. As far as sound goes, they are identical in every way, and even use the same drivers. The difference in price that you pay more for in the premiums is basically in aesthetic, feel, and looks. It has been said that the premiums have a nicer build. That’s it!

The sound for both of these is somewhat colored, but in a very natural way. The highs are sparkling and crisp, although they may become sibilant at times due to variances in recordings, or just a bad master. They are definitely a bass heads headphone, and it has been said that out of the 770, 880, and 990 lines, the 990’s are the “fun” headphone out of the bunch. The 770’s and 880’s come in second and third respectively in this regard. The 880’s are the most neutral of the bunch, and are meant strictly for mixing/mastering.

If you want tight, authoritative, punchy lows that don’t get muddy, and enjoy listening to a wide variety of music, these may be for you. They excel in many other applications as well including video games and movies. The clarity and crispness of the highs really lends itself well to cinema. You will be able to hear things in movies that were previously lost in consumer grade cans. The same goes for music. Think you know a record like the back of your hand? THINK AGAIN BRO!! Haha. But for real, you will start to hear things in recordings that you never dreamed were there. With that..

Let’s talk about the DT880!


Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro (250 Ohm)

Specifications

  • price: check amazon! | check eBay!
  • type: semi-open
  • fit: circumaural (over ear)
  • impedance: 250 ohm
  • frequency response: 5 – 35000 Hz
  • material: velour ear pads, plastic
  • headband: soft padded headband construction
  • color: black, grey, silver

Summary

To preface, I’ll be reviewing the 250 Ohm Pro version, and kind of comparing the other models to it.  Keep in mind that these are open backed reference cans, and will not color your sound in any way.

They will bleed sound and people will be able to hear what you’re listening to. Ideal for isolated studio sessions. They aren’t particularly exciting, but rather honest. They are flat and neutral, and aren’t really for “enjoying” music so much as critiquing it. These would do extremely well as your primary mixing headphone. Don’t expect to be blown away by the low end, but the high end has a bit of extra sparkle. Coming from Beyer, you know you will get crazy comfort with those velour ear pads, and extreme durability. They sometimes lack a deep bass extension, but with a proper amp the bass signature overall really shines. This model also does well with all genres of music.

For clarity’s sake, these come in 4 different models:

  1. Beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium 32 Ohm
  2. Beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium 250 Ohm
  3. Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro 250 Ohm
  4. Beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium 600 Ohm

A lot has been said about the price difference between the Premiums and the Pros. The only real differences in the headphones themselves are as follows:

  1. Premiums have slightly less headband clamp pressure.
  2. Premiums have somewhat better “aesthetics” (It’s ridiculous I know).
  3. Premiums come with a long straight chord rather than a coiled one.
  4. Premiums may come with a different carrying case. Vinyl instead of Nylon.

As for Sound:

  1. The 600 Ohm premiums may have a slightly smoother top end (subjective).
  2. The aforementioned clamping force may make the Pro have a slightly better bass and a more forward mid-range. The differences are however subtle, and should be taken with a grain of salt. Pink Himalayan is preferred. 🙂

As for impedance:

  • 600 Ohm. Definitely needs amplification.
  • 250 Ohm. Benefits greatly from amplification. Highly recommended.
  • 32 Ohm. Can be used with your mobile devices without an amp.

More on amps later!

Pros

  • Extremely Accurate, “Surgical”
  • One of the best investments you’ll make regarding flagship audiophile headphones. Price to performance ratio is through the roof.
  • Phenomenal for mixing/reference.
  • Very comfortable.
  • Clear mid-range, bass response enhanced with a good amp.
  • Casual listeners and producers alike will enjoy and appreciate the sound.
  • Superb build quality (standard for the DT line).
  • Replaceable ear-pads (or ear muffs, as some reviewers like to call them :D)
  • Replaceable headband.
  • Wide sound-stage.

Cons

  • High end may be a bit exaggerated to some. It has been called too shrill and harsh/sibilant. What does Sibilant mean?
  • Clamp force can be a bit tight at first.
  • While the sound-stage is wide, it lacks somewhat in the imaging dept. Basically this means that some clarity and detail is lost.

Take a break!

Video Review!

Credit to @Metal571. Check him out on Twitter!

Will you need an amp?

Amp/DAC Requirements

It is important to know that for a headphone with 250 Ohms of Impedance, an amp is highly recommended, if not outright mandatory. You may be able to get away with not using one, but then again you’d be doing yourself a disservice by purchasing a headphone of this caliber. It’s just going to need a lot more power than your average 32 Ohm headphone.

That said, there are some good options out there that won’t break the bank, and the DT 880’s are relatively easy to drive. Keep in mind, if it’s not an amp/DAC combo (all in one), then your set up would look something like:

Computer/laptop —> DAC —> Amp —> Headphone.

This is a relatively simple way of illustrating it. All amps need a digital to analog converter so that your brain can make sense out of the numbers. It functions much like an audio interface. The sound is a jumbled mess until it is converted to a signal that we can process. This signal is meant to be of a much higher quality than your standard built in DAC that comes with your laptop or CPU.

That said, the options that work with the 990 (discussed above) will also work just fine with the 880. 🙂

Who these headphones benefit?

I’ve heard from a very reliable source that it fares strong with nearly every genre of music, and is 1 out of only 4 other headphones (out of the 58 on his site) that received an A+ price to performance rating. Amazon reviewers have noted these qualities as well. For a list:

  • Classical listeners (nice wide sound-stage)
  • Audio engineers and producers who need a great mix down.
  • People who need an open and airy sound, and don’t want to be fatigued wearing headphones for long periods of time.
  • Rock Rambos
  • Metal head bros
  • Pop Pamelas (lol)
  • Jazzy Jeffs
  • Hip Hop Henry

Am I going overboard?

Consensus/Conclusion

An extremely accurate, neutral set of mixing cans that gives a slight nudge in the treble department. At first, they may sound a bit harsh if you’re coming from bass heavy cans. Over time, they develop beautifully, going from “bright” to lively. Be aware that it does take some burn in time for these to settle in nicely. Around 200 hours is the benchmark. As for the sound-stage, it is wide, but some detail may be lost. The low end is clean, but lacking to some. This is not a bass-heads can by any means.

Let’s talk a bit about Similarities & Differences..


Similarities & Differences


Similarities

  • Both have velour ear pads are very comfortable.
  • Both are open backed, circumaurual, and have the same 250 ohm impedance.
  • Both have replaceable headbands.
  • Both benefit from separate amplification.
  • Both are comfortable and durable.

Differences

  • Sound. The main difference between these two is sound signature. The DT990 is more of a “fun”, bass-heads headphone, meant for pure listening enjoyment. By contrast, the DT 880 is a mixing/reference headphone that has a very flat, neutral response.
  • Bass. As alluded to above, the bass on the DT 880 is quite lean, as opposed to the meaty, heavy, bass-head friendly DT 990. It’s not overblown, but rather has impact.

Outside of these differences, the two headphones are very similar. To recap:

  1. DT990: fun, for bass-heads.
  2. DT 880: clinical, analytical, neutral, flat. for mixing/reference.

Let’s wrap it up!


Final Word


If you came here looking for a fun headphone with bass that has impact, the DT990 is a great option. It’s really comfortable and durable as well. Just be aware that neither are really meant for on the go situations.

SEE THE 990 FOR YOURSELF ON AMAZON!!

If you are instead looking for the best mixing headphone, the DT880 comes in second place. It is a phenomenal option, but I have a better recommendation for you today in the form of the Sennheiser HD 600. The Gold Standard. A+ Price to performance ratio. Genre master. All of these things and more describe perhaps the most important headphone of the last 20 years. Learn more about them in my:

SENNHEISER HD 600 REVIEW!!


Well that’s about it for today my friend. I hope you’ve come away with some valuable information today in my DT 990 vs. DT 880 review!

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Let me know down below or Contact me!

Until next time, all the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

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