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These DT 860s are fairly uncomfortable, and must be kept inside to be properly maintained.

Comfort, or lack thereof, is the one major drawback we found while testing these cans. Though Beyerdynamic has impressed in this arena in the past, the Beyerdynamic DT 860s seem to want to pop your eyeballs out of your skull if your head is on the larger side. If you’re lucky and can adjust the band to fit, they will grip your head firmly, but the plush padding will allay much of the force of the clamping effect.

Comfort, or lack thereof, is the one major drawback we found while testing these cans.

In terms of function, the s are fairly standard: dropping from the left ear cup is the 9.6-foot long cable of the Beyerdynamic DT 860, ending in a straight 1/8th inch plug. That plug in turn has a very thick rubber casing, making it sturdy enough to handle daily use. Included in the packaging is an adapter for home audio systems requiring a 1/4th inch connection.

These cans weren't made for walking, and that’s just what they'll not do. Seriously though, even though there is a carrying case, the 860s weren’t meant to brave the elements—even a mild outlier like high humidity could work its way into the ear cups via their open-back design. This is a huge problem, as the electronics of your Beyerdynamic DT 860s would be exposed to water. No good. Better to just keep them inside.

Great overall sound performance.

Here we see the beauty on the inside of the Beyerdynamic DT 860s. No, it’s not just a line these headphones tell themselves when they don’t snare their dream date: they actually deliver where it counts. For the vast majority of frequencies tested, they managed to maintain a response that was very flat. This is ideal, meaning they don't underemphasize or overemphasize anything too much (minus some higher harmonics) in your music.

They're not good isolators because they aren't meant to be.

Open-backed headphones—like the Beyerdynamic DT 860s—do not isolate well by design, and that’s no accident. With closed-back headphones, it’s possible to get tiny echoes of sound reflecting off the back of the casing, but with open headphones, this not only cannot happen, but the speakers can move more freely, and not suffer some of the impediments of a sealed chamber. They're not good isolators because they aren't meant to be.

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The DT 860s perform at a high-end level, despite toting a mid-range price.

Beyerdynamic makes some high-quality headphones, and the Beyerdynamic DT 860s are no different. While not perfect, they still heartily stomp out a lot of other headphones in the area of performance. With a great frequency response, even tracking, and low distortion, the DT 860s perform at a level higher than their price point would suggest. If you want a set of open-backed cans for home, the Beyerdynamic DT 860s are a great choice.

The science page exists as an in-depth resource for readers who want to learn more about our scientific testing and the details of specific headphone results.

The Beyerdynamic DT 860s are excellent open-back cans. The science page is here to tell you just how excellent.

The DT 860s top-notch in the most important area of headphone performance.

Our frequency response test is conducted to determine how well a pair of headphones handles various frequencies of Hertz across the spectrum of human hearing. Essentially, we want to see a flat line, meaning that the headphones in question do not under or overemphasize any bass, middle, or treble tones while playing back audio content.

The Beyerdynamic DT 860s tested with excellent frequency response results. They evenly represent the lowest frequencies (100-1000Hz), dropping and then boosting briefly at around 6.5-8K, which is the sibilance range (think cymbals and 's' or 'sh' noises). This means that you may occasionally hear mild shifts in volume when dealing with sibilance noises, but for the most part the DT 860s will sound pretty damned good.

Terrible isolators, but they were never meant to block out sound.

We run our isolation test to determine how well a pair of headphones attenuates outside noise. This factor determines how well a pair of headphones, like these Beyerdynamics, isolate their own produced sounds from the ambient noise around the listener. Most headphones attempt some degree of isolation, especially those meant for running or outdoor use. However, the Beyerdynamic DT 860s are fairly terrible isolators, but they are designed to be that way.

It's important to point out that any and all open-backed headphones are going to be geared towards inside use. They allow the speaker element of your headphones to move back and forth unimpeded, avoiding potential pitfalls of having only a small bit of air behind your speaker. The room you listen in becomes directly involved with the listening experience, in turn, producing a more realistic "chamber" sound. The drawback? You need things around you to be relatively quiet, or they're going to interrupt your music.

Meet the tester

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging

@cthomas8888

A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

See all of Chris Thomas's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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