Easily the most attractive thing on your desk
If you've shopped around and looked at more than one set of Beyerdynamic cans, you probably noticed right off the bat that the DT 880s look... well... pretty much the same as any other set of cans from the famed German manufacturer. It's not a bad thing, and in fact it's a great design—those huge ear cups distribute weight very well, and every point of contact with your skull is well-padded and soft. These are built for long listening sessions.
The major tradeoff of this set of cans is that they aren't indestructible, so don't roll over that long 9.84-foot cable with your chair. If you manage to break the plug, cable, or other easily-destroyed part of these headphones, you're out of luck (unless you're a competent soldersmith).
For those of you using serious audio equipment, look into buying the 250Ω or 600Ω versions—that 1/4 inch adapter that threads onto the plug won't really see much use unless you're using your cans with a high-power system anyways, so those of you with the 32Ω version of the DT 880s will probably forget this attachment even exists.
If the simple metal aesthetic isn't enough for you, buying your DT 880s through the Beyerdynamic website will lead you to its MANUFAKTUR option—giving you a world of new possibilities in terms of aesthetics. We're seeing more companies allow their consumers tailor high-end headphones to their liking, but this is probably the most extensive set of options I've ever seen online!
Real velour, Zapper approved
All that being said, users of the DT 880 will find that plush velour ear pads are not only very comfortable, but pleasurable to wear. I can best describe it as cupping your outer ears in one of those cuddle blankets you see in the mall.
High comfort means a great match for those of you who really just like to kick your feet up on the desk and listen to high-fidelity music. You can listen for hours without discomfort—long periods of blissful listening. If you often watch movies at the computer, these are a great pickup.
If you think these are a good fit for the office, I caution you to reconsider. Because the backs of the DT 880s are semi-open, they leak sound like crazy. If you think your chattering coworker is bad, everyone else around you will absolutely lose their cool after you subject them to distortion-y versions of your music for hours on end. Additionally, your DT 880s wil not block out much sound at all, so definitely leave these at home if you want to get the most out of them.
In this case, flat is a good thing
Novice users may not like the "flat" sound of the DT 880s. That's okay, but Beyerdynamic gave these cans audio performance close to the actual "studio sound" that many companies claim, but rarely ever deliver. If you were to mix with these headphones, the result might not be ideal, but it'd be orders of magnitude better than using Beats. Don't ever do that. That's an awful idea.
As with most of the other Beyerdynamic high-end offerings, the DT 880s offer super-good audio quality—there are no audible flaws, and these cans perform on-par with higher-priced competitors. However, just because they're expensive doesn't mean that they're automatically the best choice for you. If you're someone who needs extreme emphasis on bass notes and you don't know your way around an equalizer, look elsewhere.
It's hard not to be effusive in praise for these headphones when the distortion is so low; and they treat most sounds equitably, too. There's a very slight bass bump, but overall most notes very evenly emphasized outside of a range commonly associated with high harmonics. As a human listener, you'd be very hard-pressed to find a fault with the performance of these cans without taking matters of taste into account.
Despite the option for a 32Ω set of headphones, nobody should really be considering the DT 880s—or any open backed headphones—for mobile use. However, if used in the right situation, these cans are gold—despite the silvery exterior.
If you're looking at buying the Beyerdynamic DT 880, chances are good that you're looking for something to sit by the computer or home hi-fi system, so audio quality and comfort will be the most important factors in your buying decision. Should that be the case, give these cans a good, hard, look—they certainly live up to their hype online, and should stand up to even the worst critics.
I'm a grump, so my word is basically iron-clad—try 'em out: The numbers speak for themselves. You may balk at the price, but these are a set of headphones that'll last, feel amazing to wear for long periods of time, and perform extremely well. They definitely give you a decent return on your investment, and that's a prized commodity when talking about high-priced equipment: The prices (and claims) can get a bit silly, but with this set of cans you're getting a tangible return on your money.
Okay, so we've gushed a bit over these headphones, but it's time to back it up. It's fine and well to just tell you what we think, but we'll let our data do the talking for this page.
Ahhh, what a pretty response. For the most part, no audible sounds will be overly emphasized or dampened in comparison to others, and this type of response will appeal to audio nerds everywhere—even if there's something about it you don't like, a relatively flat response like this lends itself well to equalizing, so this is a set of cans that are definitely geared to enthusiasts.
There is a tiny bit of a dip around 2-4kHz, but otherwise this response is very close to that of Beyerdynamic's high-end headphones, and these should sound fairly similar as well. You shouldn't notice anything sounding odd or inaccurate unless you're used to headphones tailored for the mass-market that boost bass to a silly degree.
In the lowest of the low frequency sounds, the DT 880 actually does have a surprisingly high amount of distortion; however, it's still inaudible. Really, unless it's reaching 3% above 100Hz, you shouldn't be able to hear anything, and even then it'll only be audible if you really crank it.
Speaking of which, you'd have to blow out the speakers in order to make the distortion reach 3%—don't test the limits of these. Cranking tunes to dangerous levels can happen when you have a lot of noise around you to drown out, so I caution you to keep your listening environment quiet—do that, and your ears stay golden.
If you still don't believe me, we found in our labs that the distortion at normal listening volumes never exceeds 0phon above the masking threshold at any point, meaning that any distortion present is completely drowned out by your music.
If you were to ask a young enthusiast if open-backed cans will block out any noise, the response would likely be some iteration of "LOL no." Honestly, you shouldn't expect that from the DT 880s because they're not designed to block out noise. The backs of their ear cups are open intentionally so that the speaker can move back and forth unimpeded—leading to increased performance through lower distortion etc.
So it's no surprise that these cans both leak sound like crazy, and let a bunch in as well. Definitely do not take these outside with you, as your listening experience is going to be severely impacted through no fault of the headphones.
At-home podcasters/musicians may also want to put their plans of using these as monitor headphones on pause unless they're only going to be near the boards. Leakage from these cans can be picked up by microphones if your gain settings are too high, so it's best to use closed-backed headphones in that situation.
Meet the tester
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
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