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. Before we get into specifics, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
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. 😀
Exceptional sound-stage (feels like the sound is in the room with you rather than in your ears).
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.
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..
Since the Pro version is almost exactly the same as the premiums at a lower price, I recommend them as the easy solution to your hard hitting bass needs..
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:
Beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium 32 Ohm
Beyerdynamic DT 880 Premium 250 Ohm
Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro 250 Ohm
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:
Premiums have slightly less headband clamp pressure.
Premiums have somewhat better “aesthetics” (It’s ridiculous I know).
Premiums come with a long straight chord rather than a coiled one.
Premiums may come with a different carrying case. Vinyl instead of Nylon.
As for Sound:
The 600 Ohm premiums may have a slightly smoother top end (subjective).
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:
Definitely needs amplification.
Benefits greatly from amplification. Highly recommended.
Can be used with your mobile devices without an amp.
More on amps later!
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.
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)
It is important to know that for 250 Ohm and up, an amp is highly recommended. You may be able to get away with not using one for 250 Ohm impedance, but then again you’d be doing yourself a disservice by purchasing a headphone of this caliber.
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. Most 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.
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.
Metal head bros
Pop Pamelas (lol)
Hip Hop Henry
Am I going overboard?
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.
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.
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:
DT990: fun, for bass-heads.
DT 880: clinical, analytical, neutral, flat. for mixing/reference.
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.
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
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.