As this is a 250-ohm headphone, it is recommended that you use an amplifier to get the best possible sound. You can still use it un-amped but you may not get loud enough volume. For this, I used a Fiio E11 and a JDSLabs O2. Between them I find the sound difference to be minimal so I’m just generalizing as a whole.
Just like most headphone enthusiasts, I read reviews before purchasing headphones so I can ensure my money isn’t going for naught. And to summarize, the impression I’ve been reading about this headphone is it’s bright and dry sounding. If you’re not familiar with the terms, it simply means it has a lot of treble energy and not enough midrange boost or warmth. I did find that to be true to some extent but I did find myself liking the sound signature still.
To me, the overall signature is close to neutral as in flat but with little treble emphasis so neutral-bright. The bass extends deeply before it rolls off smoothly around the sub-bass area but the texture is not as full as most people would like it to be. No, I won’t even consider it bass-shy because it’s not at all. The appropriate term that I would like to use for bass is fast and punchy. You don’t get any humps which makes it not warm-sounding but linear.
A lot of people complain that the midrange is recessed or too dry to be resolving. To be honest, my own subjective findings couldn’t be farther from that. For my own taste, I find the midrange flat but not too distant. As a whole, I find the midrange engaging enough to complement the entire spectrum because remember the DT880 has a wide soundstage so the voice of the artist doesn’t appear to be “in your face”. To conclude, I would like to say it’s not a warm-sounding headphone. It’s not just lush or liquid (like most headphones) and if you’re looking for some euphoria listening to your music, then you won’t find it in this one.
The high frequency or treble is slightly tilted upwards as a whole. The presence region is not emphasized in the same way as Grado headphones but there’s plenty of mid-treble and high-treble. It is definitely bright but not harsh or sibilant. I find the treble here to be really refined compared to my other set of headphones. It is also airy and has a rapid decay which helps greatly when listening to tracks that have busy passages. The one complaint I have is it has some tizziness to it which can be apparent on some genres of music.
The Beyer DT880 has a wide soundstage which gives you less of an “in-your-head” headphone type of music and more of “inside a small room listening to speakers” feeling. It definitely doesn’t have the biggest soundstage of all headphones but if you’re coming from a closed headphone or even Grado headphones then prepare for a treat with Beyer DT880.
Instrument separation is above average thanks to its wide-soundstage and good transient response. I did find that the overall brightness sometimes masks the details around the upper midrange area and gives a false sense of air but it’s a more of a minor quibble. If it’s not implied yet, I very much like how this headphone sounds as a whole but some people may find it a little dry and bright which is perfectly understandable.
If you’re looking for a competitive open-headphone and your preference in sound is neutrality with a hint of brightness and good soundstage, then I can’t find any other headphone to recommend especially for this price range. The DT880 in my opinion simply just nails it as a headphone that is neutral, airy, and fast-sounding. It’s a good monitoring headphone too for professionals!
Now if you’re used to a warm, fuller sound signature then you may find Beyer DT880 (perhaps every other Beyer) meh in this regard. It’s sub-bass and midbass simply isn’t ’round’ enough to please bassheads and the midrange is maybe a little drier than usual. Other headphones that you can look at within the same price range are the Sennheiser HD600/650 (more veiled but good balance), Philips Fidelio X2 (bigger bass response) or AKG K701/Q701 (edgier, drier-sounding, bigger soundstage)
We’re not sure stores locally sell this headphone but you can check out Amazon for some good deals. Tell us what you think about this headphone in the comments!