DT880 Edition (600Ω)

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published: Jul-26-2020

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NO SMOOTHING is applied to the shown plots. Most measurement sites have some smoothing applied which ‘irons flat’ sharp peaks and ‘wiggles’. I do not use smoothing because some info about sound quality is lost when plots are smoothed.

Aside from a small correction of the microphone itself also some correction in the lowest frequencies is applied to the plots to compensate for the perceived loss of bass when using headphones. This is described HERE in more detail.
A ‘horizontal‘ frequency response curve on the shown frequency response plots on this website thus indicates a perceived ‘flat’ tonal signature.

ALL measurements are made with a good SEAL on a flatbed measurement rig.
The shape of your head, bone structure, pad size, pad ‘softness,  (compliance), hair or no hair and or wearing glasses may (drastically) change the frequency response of some headphones, so… your personal experience may differ substantially from these plots.

Frequency response (tonal balance) is the most sound-determining aspect of headphones. A horizontal line shows audible neutral response in the plots on this website. Deviations in different severities at different frequency bands have an effect on the sound character.
The bigger the deviation the stronger the effect.

Below an aid to help determining the sound character of headphones with relation to the frequency response.

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Beyerdynamic DT880 Edition –  600Ω


The Beyerdynamic DT 880 Edition is an open over-ear (circumaural) dynamic headphone. This is the 600Ω ‘Edition’ version which has a straight cable and less clamping force than the Pro versions, which have a coiled cable and higher clamping force.
The DT 880 Edition retails for around € 160.- to € 200.-  The 600Ω versions are intended for home and studio usage and have to be driven from an amplifier that can supply a rather high voltage and must have enough gain. The output resistance is not of any importance so these headphones can effortlessly be driven by OTL tube amps for instance.
Portable sources can not supply enough voltage to make it reach impressive levels.

The Beyerdynamic series DT770-DT880-DT990 exist in many different versions that have been released through their many, many years of existence. Also the DT880 has evolved and the earlier DT880’s sound a bit different from the later (current) versions.
In my opinion the current DT880 Edition/Pro is an improved version of the older DT880 versions with more bass extension and sllightly ‘warmer’. The tonal balance between these DT880’s is quite similar though, not the DT880 Black edition though which is much bassier.
The DT880 is also available in 32Ω and 250Ω versions.

These headphones are pretty lightweight and quite comfortable headphones.
It has (replaceable) velour pads with ‘normal’ foam inside so no ‘memory foam’ in these pads. The pads are a bit ‘squeeky’ when rubbing against (reading) glasses.

The headband padding is soft, but could start to flake after years of usage. Fortunately most parts of the headphone can be ordered if needed. The clamping force is pleasantly low/comfortable in the Edition version and there is enough adjustability to fit most headsizes.

The cable is 3 meter long and has a smooth plastic feel to it. Clearly intended for desktop usage. The cable is non replaceable and fortunately very low in microphonics. It terminates in a 3.5mm TRS jack with a screw-on 6.3mm adapter.
Cable swappers need to modify the headphone when they want to change the cable.
One would have to modify the headphone if one really wanted to use it from a balanced output.

A rather big storage ‘box’ is supplied with it. It is made of pleather and has pre-shaped foam inside.


Type: Over ear, open
Usage: Home
Driver type: dynamic
Pads: replaceable, velour
Inner Pad dimensions: depth = 20mm, ∅ 58mm
Collapsible: No
Headphone connector: none, fixed (non replaceable) cable.
Cable entry: single sided (left)
Cable: 3m terminated in 3.5mm TRS with screw-on 6.3mm adapter.
Driver size: ∅ 45mm
Nom. power rating: 0.1W (100mW)
Max. voltage: 7.8V
Max. current: 13mA
Max. S.P.L.: 114dB
Impedance: 570 Ω
Efficiency: 93dB @ 1mW
Sensitivity: 95dB @ 1V
Weight: 330 g. (with cable)
Colour options: Black (more options in ‘Manufaktur‘ edition)
Clamping force: low (2.8N)
Accessories: Ø3.5mm to Ø6.3mm gold-plated connector, travel case

Sound description:

Bass is there but not in abundance. Those looking for thumping powerful bass will have to look elsewhere. The DT880 is somewhat lacking ‘body’/’grunt’/‘fullness’ to its sound.  Mids is what this headphone is all about. The mids sound very realistic and clear and with the right amount ‘warmth’. The DT880-600 is overly ‘detailed’, which as a result, also leads to sibilance with a lot of music. With classical music this isn’t really much of a problem. There is no offending sound colouration between the upper bass and upper mids that stand out, it sounds very ‘even’. A bit like a ‘warmer’ HD600 but with ‘hotter’ treble.
The treble is elevated and stands out a bit more than with the DT770 or DT990, because the elevated bass in these models kind of ‘masks’ this (many people prefer V-shaped sound). The treble is not harsh but there is a sharp character for sure and with some  recordings sibilance (sharp ‘sss’es) are heard. The DT880-600 is a bit artificial and fatiguing when used at somewhat higher listening levels. The DT880-600 has good ‘air’ and instruments are well separated and fairly easy to ‘place’. The stereo image is ‘normal’ in width. Not narrow nor congested but also not super wide.

Because of its neutral character the DT880 could easily be found to be boring to some.
Very well suited for acoustical, classical and Jazz music. Less suited for most popular and rock recordings (lacks bass for this and is a bit too bright).
The headphone reacts quite well to EQ which is a good thing.
Cannot be turned into a bass monster though.


Below the frequency response of the DT880 Edition (Left, Right)

DT880-600 FRChannel matching is excellent and have rarely seen such close matching drivers.
The DT880 Edition has a ‘warm‘ tonal balance with elevated treble on top of it that can be ‘sharp’.
Bass is extended but lowest frequencies are a bit too low in amplitude. No thunderous bass nor ‘body’ to the sound but bass itself is reproduced realistically.
The mids have a ‘neutral’ character. The mids between 200Hz and 4kHz have a subtle and pleasant downwards slope.
The treble is elevated in a similar way as the DT770 and DT990. The elevated treble gives the idea of a hyper detailed sound. The elevated treble, however, can sound a bit sharp with some recordings. With some EQ (or filter) the sound quality can be improved.

compared to

Below the frequency response of the DT880 Edition 600Ω versus the DT880 Edition 250ΩDT880-600 vs DT880 EditionThe difference in tonal character is subtle. The DT880-600 does have a slightly fuller sound (elevated upper bass/lower mids). The biggest difference is in the treble area. There is a substantially higher peak that gives the DT880-600 the impression of ‘more detail’ but at the same time makes it sharper sounding than the DT880-250.
In tonal character these are very similar though.

Below the frequency response of the DT880 Edition 600Ω versus the DT880 Black Special Edition.DT880-600 vs DT880 BE
The DT880 Black is warmer and bassier in signature compared to the DT880-600. The treble peak of the DT880 Black is slightly lower in amplitude and also relatively lower compared to the bass/mids. This makes the DT880-600 a more neutral but also sharper sounding headphone.

Below the frequency response of the DT880 Edition 600Ω versus the DT880 Black Special Edition with grey pads.DT880-600 vs DT880 BE grey pads
These look quite a bit more similar.

Of course there are other (and more expensive) options in the Beyerdynamic stable.
Below the DT880 Edition 600Ω versus the DT1990 with Analytical pads.DT880-600 vs DT1990-A The DT1990 Pro with Analytical pads is very close to the DT880-600. The DT1990 is a bit more ‘neutral’ though. IMO the DT1990 is 2 ‘higher end’ Beyers in one. With the A pads the sound is closer to the DT880 and with the B pads the sound is closer to the DT990.
Some find the DT1990 with A pads a bit too ‘cold’, when they find the B pads too ‘warm’ then the DT880 is a nice ‘in-between’ alternative. Closer to the DT1990 with Dekoni Velours pads.

Seal is important in most headphones to get proper bass extension / reproduction. (partial) loss of seal usually means loss of bass and ‘body’.
The DT880-600 is very insensitive to loss of seal but granted does not have much ‘body’ or deep bass to begin with.
People wearing glasses do not have to fear losing any of the existing bass.
Below the frequency response with perfect seal, using glasses and with a complete loss of seal (pads slightly lifted)sealIt is obviously having a perfect seal is not essential for this headphone. Good news for owners with hair over their ears or wearing glasses.

output resistance / damping-factor

As this is a dynamic headphone the frequency response might be amplifier output resistance dependent when certain higher output resistance amplifiers are used.
To test this the headphone is measured via a low impedance amplifier (0.2Ω) and a high impedance amplifier (120Ω).
On a higher output resistance amplifier the output level will be somewhat lower (1.6dB). To compensate for this the amplifier is cranked up to the same level (at 1kHz) as the low impedance amplifier. This way the plots are overlaid and it is easier to show the tonal balance differences.R120 -1.6dBAs can be seen the tonal balance of the DT880-600 does not change when driving it from higher output resistance (desktop) amplifiers. Damping is not amplifier dependent.
This means this headphone can be used with high output resistance OTL tube amps just as well as low output resistance amps (as long as they can provide enough voltage)

Below the distortion measurements of the DT880-600 (Left channel)dist R

Below the same distortion plot but with the vertical scale in percentages instead of level differences. dist R percent
Nothing alarming to see here and distortion is low.

Below the CSD of the DT880-600. (Left and Right are superimposed)The CSD is actually quite good. Very short lived resonances around 5kHz and 8kHz but don’t think this will be audible (the elevated treble is of course). No alarming resonances or deal breaking performance.

Below the spectrum plot of the DT880-600 (Left channel) which doesn’t show any alarming issues at all. spectr R

The step response plot below shows a fast attack but followed by a rather deep ‘bounce’.
The steep drop-off after 1ms shows the lack of subbass extension quite well. (Left, Right)step stock

passive filter

The treble peak can be addressed with EQ or a passive filter.
below the schematic of the filter.DT880-600 filter schematic
Some measurements made with the passive filter.
Below the filter effect versus the stock DT880-600 (left channel)L filter action
The sharpness is removed and some slight treble elevation is left as it is to prevent the sound from losing its detailed signature.

Below the response of the filtered DT880-600 (Left, Right)DT880-600 with filter

Also the step response has been improved. (Left, Right)step filteredThe excessive ringing is gone while the speed (rising edge) has remained the same.

Below the CSD of the filtered DT880-600. (Left, Right)CSD dt880 filtered


All in all this is a ‘pleasant’ headphone to wear and listen to with a midrange oriented ‘neutral’ character. It does lack some ‘grunt’ and subbass a bit but bass itself sounds good and ‘tight’. It also has slight ‘warmth’ to the mids so isn’t overly ‘forward’ sounding and has a good ‘presence’. The elevated treble may be an issue for those who prefer softer and subdued treble. Those that like ‘detail’ and ‘analytical’ sound will not be disappointed.  It can get a bit ‘hot’ in the treble with lesser recordings and rock music but sounds great with classical music. For jazz and most well recorded music etc there can be too much ‘sibilance’ and ‘sharpness’ but these can be dealt with. Thereby removing the biggest obstacle for liking this relatively cheap and realistic headphone.

You can’t drive this headphone from your phone nor with most portable devices. At least not to impressive levels. You need an amplifier that can supply quite a lot of voltage.
This headphone thus will work really well with Output Transformer Less full tube amplifiers. The headphone doesn’t mind a high output resistance so is no problem for such amplifiers. To reach impressive levels one needs to pair it with amps being able to reach 200mW in 300Ω (or 100mW in 600Ω) that have a substantial gain.
No point to connect it to sources that are only specified at 32Ω because these might not deliver enough voltage.

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  1. ezra-s says:

    Thanks a lot for the review. It is awesome!

  2. Resistance says:

    Does your site have a contact page?

  3. Scoox says:

    Thank you for the review, you really put a lot of work in.

  4. Relja says:

    I have made a great improvement on these by removing the silk screen on the back of the driver. Less peaky treble and less aggressive bass (I found it had too much of an impact over the rest of the music and be fatiguing over longer listening periods).

    If you still have these I suggest trying this out.

    • Solderdude says:

      Alas, I don’t have any DT880 at the moment. Whenever I encounter one again I will test. Usually everything done behind the driver only affects the lows.

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