Beyerdynamic DT-1770 Pro Around-Ear Stereo Headphone review

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, Nov 22, 2015.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Jul 3, 2011
    Charleston South Carolina
    Youtube review:


    Sources: iPhone6s+ with Oppo HA-2/Beyer A200p DAC/amps, various computers using the Audioquest Dragonfly-2/HRT Microstreamer/FiiO E17k/FiiO E07k DAC/amps.

    Review notes: My first impressions of the sound of the Beyerdynamic DT1770 Pro are based on direct comparisons to other headphones - the Beyerdynamic T1 and T90, the AKG K812 and K712, the FAD Pandora VI and IV, various Sennheisers, and notes that I've accumulated from many prior reviews. I'll describe how I relate to the DT1770 (i.e. my personal tastes and how I use the headphone) only after covering all of the objective issues.

    The DT1770 Pro (DT1770 hereafter) is unique for me in two respects: One, it's one of the rare headphones I can fully enjoy and appreciate on my favorite music tracks with no tone controls or equalization. Two, and no doubt due to the use of Tesla 2.0 drivers, it resolves upper harmonic details nearly as good as the best-resolving headphone I've ever heard - the Sennheiser HD800. And I say 'nearly' only because I don't have the HD800 on hand for a direct comparison. But regardless of the ultimate resolution, the DT1770 sounds extremely good on nearly all tracks I've played on it, and 'nearly' in this case excludes only the worst of my music that I've kept for historical or technical reasons, i.e. this is the best performance I've gotten from any headphone to date. It's easy to say in a review that "This is the best thing yet" etc. etc., but if I run down the list of headphones that I've reviewed (and equalized for measurement purposes), I can see from the EQ curves which headphones are fairly close to neutral.

    Those near-neutral headphones are:

    AKG K553: Value, great - sound, very good.
    Audeze LCD2 (Fazor): Value, meh - sound, good.
    Beyer DT1770 Pro: Value, great - sound, excellent.
    Brainwavz HM5: Value, great - sound, good.
    FAD Pandora VI: Value, OK - sound, very good.
    Senn HD380 Pro: Value, good - sound, good.
    Shure SRH840: Value, good - sound, good.

    And that's the list. There may be a few others not listed because I don't have measurement/EQ curves for them, but the only likely contender for that list is the Sennheiser HD800.

    Onto the sound: The bass seems nearly ideal to me - strong with great impact when music tracks contain real bass, but not the least bit bloated, boomy, muddy, etc. And BTW, not just "strong, but...." followed by the usual caveats - it's the real deal. The midrange is excellent - I tentatively measured a tiny broad emphasis around 450 hz, but it's not enough to be certain at this point in time. The treble seems very slightly shy from about 1.5 to 4 khz, making voices and a few instruments sound a tad more distant than ideal, but in switching the test equalizer off, the sound is barely different, suggesting to me that it's not important to the overall experience. The upper treble is more interesting, in that I hear a slight peak around 9 khz and slight recess at 10 khz, but it's way, way less of that than the T1, T90, or DT770 Pro that I've had. So to the extent that this is a "Beyer signature", I'd say "More of the same, please".

    The upper treble, or even the 'air' frequencies above 10 khz, reproduce upper harmonic detail like no headphone I've heard since the Sennheiser HD800, which I owned for 4 years. I can't say it's just like the HD800, but it's so much better than other $600-$1000 headphones I've had that I'm very pleased. Perhaps the Tesla 2.0 drivers are responsible for that tonality. The DT1770's isolation is better than average for a full-size closed headphone, and the leakage is very low, so the DT1770 should be good for use in offices, libraries, or on public transit, even at audiophile volume levels. The DT1770's weight feels average or less for a full-size around-ear headphone, and thanks to the fairly light weight and how it's distributed by the headband and earpads, it feels comfortable for extended use. The underside of the headband is soft and squishy, but for users who are bothered by any headband pressure, I'd suggest moving the earcups down an extra notch to carry more of that weight/pressure with the earpads.

    For this review, I've been using the included 'pleather' earpads only, which produce a nearly flat sound as described above. I have not used the velour earpads that are also included, but I would expect them to produce a different sound with a lighter bass and less isolation. Since the pleather pads are very comfortable, I see no reason to bother with the other pads. The DT1770 can be used as a portable headphone in that it can be pulled off the head when not in use and worn around the neck with little bother, but since the included cables are quite long (~10 ft.) you'd probably want to detach the cable when carrying the headphone that way. There is a carry case included, but it's pretty big - too big for airline carry-on bags, and forget about backpacks etc. The range of adjustment for the headband is excellent - about 1/2 inch on each side larger and 3/4 inch on each side smaller than where it fits my average-size head.

    The cables are single-entry and detachable with mini-XLR connectors - one is straight (10 ft.) and one coiled (stretches to 15 ft.). I suppose these are appropriate for professional use, but I need to get a shorter (~4 ft.) cable to be able to carry the DT1770 around with me, since sitting down in a coffee shop and playing tunes through this headphone is a great way to enjoy it. In previous reviews I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to those other reviews and see how the DT1770 compares with each individual track.
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Jul 3, 2011
    Charleston South Carolina
    Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth has excellent detail and tone, and both male and female vocals sound natural without favoring either. The DT1770 plays this extremely well.

    Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled perfectly by the DT1770.

    Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound. Of special note here are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts are soft and well in the background, but you can really feel the weight they carry with the DT1770.

    Black Sabbath - Iron Man (Classic Rock): Very good instrumental detail and the vocal sounds very natural. As with most classic rock tracks, there is very little or no deep bass. The DT1770 plays this music very smoothly, and the lack of deep bass doesn't unbalance the treble.

    Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Great sound quality - this is a good test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled very well by the DT1770.

    Cantus - Danny Boy (Traditional/Male Choral/Acapella): The DT1770 plays the voices with enough low end warmth and weight to sound very natural, yet there is no added emphasis of the lower register of the male voices on this track.

    Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice are crisp and well-balanced, and there's a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The DT1770 reproduces the space and detail very well.

    Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the DT1770 renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

    Chris Isaak - Wicked Game (Pop/Rock): The DT1770 plays this high treble energy recording very smoothly - the voice and instruments are very detailed but not edgy - very musical in fact.

    Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): This track has a good amount of space around the voice and instruments, making for a very pleasant stereo image. The voice is excellent, and the tambourine sound is clearly identifiable.

    David Hazeltine - Fur Elise (Jazz): A very high-quality recording from HDTracks. The DT1770 reproduces the instruments smoothly with a spacious ambiance. The wire-brush-on-cymbal harmonics are very extended and detailed.

    Grieg (Beecham-Royal Philharmonic) - Peer Gynt-Solveig's Lullaby (Classical): This very old (late 1950's) stereo recording must have been made on the most expensive gear in the world, since the overall sound quality and especially Ilse Hollweg's amazing voice are as close to "being there" as I've heard with some of the better classical recordings made since the year 2000. The DT1770 plays this music perfectly.

    Hans Zimmer - Dark Knight-Aggressive Expansion (Soundtrack): The percussion in this track hits really hard, and the bass tones beginning around 0:45 have the ultra-deep "shuddery" kind of sound that indicates a solid deep-bass response. Overall, the DT1770 plays this music extremely well.

    Heaven 17 - Let Me Go (1980's New Wave/Techno): The bass instrument (guitar?) has excellent detail, and the voices and ambiance have a "you are there" quality that's uncommon in early 1980's pop music. The DT1770 plays this track perfectly.

    Hugo Audiophile - 15-16 (Electronic): I'm not sure what the 15-16 stands for - perhaps track numbers from a CD album. The deep-bass tones that start around 33-34 seconds into the track reproduce very well with the DT1770. This is a great recording for evaluating whether a headphone's bass will be sufficient for most environments, since for many headphones that have a weaker bass, the deep bass gets absorbed and mostly lost when the environment contains a lot of low-frequency energy.

    Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has several loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical with some headphones. The DT1770 provides excellent reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in for best-case detail. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrument separation and detail, and the DT1770 does those superbly.

    Kellogg Auditorium, Battle Creek Michigan, Aeolian-Skinner Organ (1933) - Pedal, 32', Resultant, Arpeggio: This 16 hz organ pedal tone differs from other music tones in that you won't "hear" the tone - you'll only feel it. Although most music tones have harmonics (including this one), the harmonics from this tone will be too weak to provide any "feel", so whatever you actually hear would not be part of the fundamental 16 hz tone. There are ~30 hz sounds in the outdoor environment in big cities, generated by large trucks, buses, and subway trains, and they have a quality of "rumble" that's similar to some deep-bass tones found in music. This 16 hz organ tone is easily distinguished from those sounds when compared on a headphone that has good undistorted response at 16 hz. The DT1770 plays this with enough weight and detail that you can hear/feel some of the 16 cycle per second "beats" of the fundamental tone.

    Mantovani - Sunrise Sunset (Easy Listening, ca. 1972): A master musician and conductor** who specialized in light classics and orchestral pop music, Mantovani's accomplishments were overshadowed by music critics who couldn't tolerate the notion of "light classics" or "semi-classical" music, even when those recordings were no threat to the classical music genres. In any case the later Mantovani recordings from the mid-1960's through mid-1970's had the advantage of being mixed for much better hi-fi systems than those which the music critics possessed at the start of the Long Playing (LP) record cycle. Here in 2015, at least some of those digital remasters have improved the sound further, although it's not always the case. This track as played on the DT1770 is a perfect example of the sheer musicality lurking in those later recordings, and is highly recommended for soundstage, instrumental tone, and musical balance.

    **Mantovani developed the "Cascading Strings" sonic effect circa 1950, a famous "Wall of Sound" effect for mono hi-fi systems that predated Phil Spector's own famous Wall of Sound effect by 10 years or so.

    Michael Tilson Thomas - Rhapsody In Blue (20th Century Classic): Great sound and soundstage, and terrific piano playing and tone. There are some very deep bass impacts starting around 38 seconds into the 17:24 length track, and the weight of those impacts is appreciable with the DT1770.

    Pinback - Non Photo Blue (Pop-Rock): Crispy sound with "crunchy guitars and bashing drums" - the DT1770 renders this music as perfectly as I've heard an energetic pop-rock recording played with any headphone.

    Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some nicely-detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are a series of "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that should sound like they were made with wooden blocks of some kind. The DT1770 reproduces the 'clop' portion of that sound as accurately as I've ever heard.

    Richard Strauss (Mester-Pasadena) - Also Sprach Zarathustra (opening) (Classical): The granddaddy of bass is in the opening 1:50 of this recording, and I've heard it only once on a large and expensive loudspeaker system in Cleveland. For most people, that experience would be indistinguishable from being in a fairly strong earthquake. The DT1770 conveys as much of that experience as is possible on a more-or-less neutral stereo headphone. The tympani also have good impact here.

    Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Major K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is fairly bright and highly detailed, and the DT1770 renders the tones and transients perfectly.

    Tiger Okoshi - Bootsman's Little House (Jazz): The trumpet here is recorded fairly close up and is somewhat bright with a significant "bite". The DT1770's reproduction is near-perfect, and the close-miked piano is also a treat. For comparison, I have several Maynard Ferguson tracks that feature a similarly strong trumpet with lots of brassy bite.

    Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Jazz-Funk): The deep bass impacts here are strong and work extremely well with the horns and other instruments. The DT1770 delivers the impacts with great weight and detail, and the horns have the kind of bite that gives them a wonderfully realistic sound.
  3. dalethorn

    dalethorn Obsessive Auditor

    Jul 3, 2011
    Charleston South Carolina
    Followup: I got a 1.5m replacement cable (Cardas) made for my DT1770 Pro by Charleston Cable Company, who build custom cables from quality name-brand stock. My requirement wasn't to change the sound, but rather to make it more convenient to carry around. Nevertheless, the sound changed slightly as follows: The midrange gained a little in openness and clarity, the highs above 10 khz became more extended without changing the treble balance, and the bass tightened up without losing strength and impact. I listen to a lot of jazz with upright bass playing, and the tonality and realism of those plucked strings is better than anything I've heard in memory, including this year's sessions with the Audeze LCD2 planar headphone.

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