It’s long overdue for us to review one of the studio world heavyweights – the Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro. For most people shopping for studio headphones best suited for producing, mixing and mastering, two of the top options should be Sennheiser HD 650 (and the derived models) and the DT 880 Pro. Read on to find out how these to giants compare!

Pros
  • Fantastic adaptiveness
  • Great comfort
  • Nearly every part replaceable

Pros list with Sonarworks Reference calibration

  • Superb, neutral sound
  • Dependable sub-bass response
Cons
  • Overly emphasized high frequencies when uncalibrated
  • Cable not detachable
Use cases Best use case:
Production, mixing, mastering.
Anything that doesn’t require sound isolation.
Tech specs Type
Open back, Over-ear
Impedance
250 Ohm
Distortion
Nominal THD: < 0.2%
Frequency response
5 Hz to 35 kHz
Connector
Threaded straight 3.5 mm jack
Adapter
Screw-on 6.3mm adapter
Weight
295 g (without cable)
Require headphone amp
Yes
Cable
3 m, coiled, undetachable
Headphone amp

DT 880’s could definitely lack volume if plugged directly into your phone or a built-in headphone socket on your laptop, especially if you’re using them with Sonarworks calibration and ‘Safe Headroom’ switch on. But don’t worry if you process sound through an audio interface – almost any interface with a headphone output will drive them loud enough. Even though the impedance for these is lower than that of HD 650, this pair is a tad harder to drive, same as with DT 770 Pro and DT 990 Pro 250 Ohm versions. If you need headphones for mobile DAW work and you don’t want to carry an audio interface around, this will not be your best option.

Build quality

DT 880 Pros feel solid and give the impression that they’re designed with not the most careful user in mind and will not fail without a fight. Over the years, quite a lot of our clients have sent us their pairs in for individual calibration service and we’ve seen many units with various levels of wear and tear. For the more battered ones it’s not uncommon to find the headband adjustment slider mechanism getting stuck in some positions and not fixating in other ones. Good thing that Beyerdynamic stocks replacement parts so this issue can be cheaply fixed. Our only complaint about build quality is the absence of a detachable cable.

Sound

The 100 Hz to 4 kHz region is not exactly flat but the curve is quite even and doesn’t have any resonances, this helps them sound more neutral in the mids than most of the other headphones out there. However, as we move higher up the frequency range we see the massive boost that’s characteristic to nearly all Beyerdynamic models. On the other end, the sub-bass extension is respectable for a semi-open set, but still leaves room for improvement. Overall, the sound is very bright and getting hi-hats and cymbals to sit right in the mix and translate well to a variety of playback systems might be a challenge.

Channel balance

Channels are nicely matched on DT 880 Pro’s as standard. We have measured great quantities of this model and any deviations between channels are rare, and when they do occur their not substantial enough to cause any concern as they are inaudible most of the time.

Comfort

You’ll find great praise for DT 880 comfort in any review, and this will be no different. The soft velour earpads are the perfect diameter to accommodate even the largest of pinnas, so they’re true over-ear design. Since no pressure is exerted on the outer ear, it’s possible to wear DT 880 Pros for hours on end without ears getting hot or uncomfortable. The headband doesn’t feel as great as the ear pads but it’s adequate and isn’t an obstacle to long sessions.

Value

If compared to Sennheiser HD 650, DT 880’s pack a considerable bang for your buck. Once calibrated, these DT’s are virtually equal to Sennheisers, yet cost significantly less. Also, all spare parts are half the price of HD 650 counterparts. The undetachable cable is the only DT 880 Pro drawback that hurts the value score, everything else is taken care of. If you want to save a few more euros, go for DT 880 Edition – you’ll get the same sound and overall quality at the expense of shorter cable and looser clamping force, which may be a good thing, depending on who you ask.

Observations on how headphones perform after applying Sonarworks Reference calibration Total Harmonic Distortion

As seen in the graph above, any distortion worth mentioning resides only down low. The shape of the THD curve is similar to the main competitor of DT 880 Pro, which is, undoubtedly, Sennheiser HD 650 (and all the derived models) and when looking at THD graphs, Beyers show lower figures, so, at least on paper, Beyerdynamic wins. In the real world though, when listening at sensible levels, the low end sounds the same on both of these models – and it does sound clean, even after calibration which does raise distortion a fair bit. The perceived low end resolution difference between 880 and headphones that cost five times as much and offer virtually no distortion throughout the spectrum, is negligible at best and won’t impact any mixing decisions. So while this graph might look a bit dramatic, THD is no issue for these Beyers.

How accurate and consistent is the correction effect among different listeners?

DT 880’s show fantastic adaptiveness, they’re almost as flawless as Sennheiser HD 650 (and all the derived models) in delivering accurate perceived frequency response to anybody wearing them.

How much do they differ pair to pair in terms of frequency response?

The manufacturing consistency is great, better than most rivals in the price range. This means that the average profile should be pretty accurate, in most cases falling in between +/-3 dB from 4 kHz upwards and much less than that from 4k down.

Rating

7.4 / 8.8 / 9.4

Sound rating is a weighted average of Frequency Response, Adaptiveness, Harmonic Distortion and Channel Balance scores, with Frequency Response and Adaptiveness having the greatest influence.

5 / 9 / 10

The flatter the frequency response – the higher the score. When evaluating the frequency response score with the Average calibration profile, the pair to pair consistency of the given model is taken into account – if we have measured a considerable frequency response inconsistency among multiple pairs of the given model, the score drops, as the profile loses accuracy. Individual calibration will grant perfectly flat frequency response.

9

Adaptiveness shows how capable these headphones are at delivering the same perceived frequency response to any listener. Headphones with high score will sound nearly identical to everyone.

7

Harmonic distortion – the lower the Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) figure, the higher the score. Headphones with prominent 3rd harmonic distortion above 100 Hz will score lower.

9 / 10

Channel balance – the closer to identical the frequency response of both channels, the higher the score. Individual calibration delivers perfect channel balance.

8

Comfort – shows if headphones can be used for long listening sessions comfortably. Every model is tested by at least a few individuals.

8

Build – evaluates how well the headphones are put together, the materials used and indicates the expected longevity. Easily replaceable (and easily available) parts will boost the score. We don’t do any stress tests and very few models are used for longer than a couple of days, so this is a fairly subjective score.

9

Value – indicates the price-performance ratio of the given headphones and how they stack up against the competition. High score means that you won’t find more neutral sounding alternatives for the price.

Conclusion

Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pros are high quality headphones that offer solid build, great comfort and quite affordable price. While the sound out of the box is bright, pair them with Sonarworks calibration and they’ll deliver astounding accuracy to any listener. These are among our all time favorites and we highly recommend them to anyone looking for headphones that excel in production, mixing and mastering.

Final Rating

8.7
With Sonarworks Reference 4
Calibration Enabled
7.5
Without Sonarworks
Calibration

Remove coloration from your
headphones with Reference 4

Learn more Supported headphones