Should I return my Ultrasone Pro 900's and get a pair of Beyerdynamic DT880's?

Discussion in 'Full Size Headphones' started by tigersinacage, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. tigersinacage

    tigersinacage New Member

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    Good afternoon fellow Hifi-Headphoner's. So, here is my dilemma…

    After reading a ludicrous amount of threads on here (No really, it was getting quite ridiculous) I finally bit the bullet and went for a pair of Ultrasone Pro 900’s. Received them a few days ago and have been burning them in since. (They’ve had around 100 hours so far) While I LOVE the sound they give for certain types of electronic music, I find the lack of mids a real problem. I like their bass, but wouldn’t necessarily call myself a bass-head. I just like to feel that it’s there, if that makes sense. I’ve come to the conclusion that their sound signature isn’t going to change drastically, even with more burn in time, so that’s why I’m thinking it might be best to return them while I still can.

    My music taste is pretty varied, I listen to a lot of electronic and a fair amount of ambient stuff (Bonobo, Flying Lotus, Mount Kimbie) Along with hip-hop, I also love post-rock, acoustic (Andy Mckee, Justin King) Also love me some alternative-rock (Radiohead, Brand New etc) I‘ve just started producing electronic music in Ableton live, so I’m thinking more of a neutral, flat response would be best. Although, my auditory pleasure comes first in this, production second. Whether my mixes will translate to monitors is just a bonus, not a necessity.

    How would the Beyerdynamic DT880’s compare?

    Currently have a Fiio E11 amp (Could be exchanged if there was a better pairing for the recommended cans) I was looking at the 32 and 250 ohm versions, but again, not sure which one to go for. I will mainly be using them with my Macbook and Fiio E11. Occasionally bringing them on the train with an iPod/iPad.

    I can quite easily return the Pro 900’s to Amazon, but I’m really just stuck as to which headphones to get. I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Denon AD200’s. While I’d love the D500’S, unfortunately my budget just can’t allow it. I’m really at the top end of my budget and looking to spend around £300 ($466)

    Any other recommendations?

    Without babbling on too much, I’m looking for a closed set of headphones (Or semi-open, like the Beyers) with a nice amount of bass, more mids than the Pro 900’s and a sparkly, but not so harsh treble. Minimal sound leakage would be a plus, but not a deal breaker.

    Also, they don’t have to be Beyers, I’m willing to try anything, as long as it stays within my budget.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Denon 2000 would be good. AKG K550 would be good. The Shure 940 is very good but some find it a bit bright, although probably not much different in that respect from the Pro 900. Going way down in price the AT M50 and GMP 8.35D are really very good also.

    Closed Back Headphones
     
  3. tigersinacage

    tigersinacage New Member

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    Hey, thanks for the reply! The headphones I had before the Pro 900's were the ATH-M50's... which I returned. Really wasn't a fan of the sound of those things. Pretty good for the price though.

    I've heard the Shure's are a little lacking in bass, which is not really what I'm after. I did have my eye on those AKG's though.

    How would the Denon's compare to the Beyerdynamic DT880's? (250ohm) I don't think I've found a negative review of those yet! Any hands on experience with them?
     
  4. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    No direct experience with either, but my instinct says the Denon will give the most even sound and be satisfying if you want the midrange to be more or less even with the bass. Myself, I would pick the Beyer since I like the better drama they provide. Sorry I can't be more specific - maybe I could make a very imprecise analogy with the Denon being an improved Shure and the Beyer an improved M50.
     
  5. tigersinacage

    tigersinacage New Member

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    Thanks again, went for the Beyers in the end, paired with a Fiio E17.

    Here's to hoping I've got the right combo this time!
     
  6. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Keep me posted on your experience when you get the new gear. I'm using the E17 and the sound is very good.

    Edit: Needless to say, give 'em a good break-in.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2012
  7. tigersinacage

    tigersinacage New Member

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    Will do.

    Quick question - Not sure if it makes a difference, but should you turn up the volume more on your Macbook/iPod etc and have the Fiio turned down, or have the Fiio turned up more and the Macbook/iPod down?

    Does it make a difference?
     
  8. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    It does make a difference, and the difference can be freq. response or even phase shifts. Now if you're running from USB on the laptop or desktop, set the system volume to maximum and make sure the sound settings recognize the full resolution of the E17, then set the E17 volume the usual way you control volume. With ipod or iphone, use a LOD cable and that way the ipod or iphone volume is not in the circuit at all. If you have a volume window open on the computer, close it after connecting the E17, then reopen it and set it to maximum.

    What fooled me with the ipod is using the LOD dock connector with the LOD cable, the EQ settings were still active, but not the volume control. There are some technical reasons for that, but not to worry - set EQ to off and then the EQ stays out of the way, unlike pure analog systems.
     
  9. tigersinacage

    tigersinacage New Member

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    Perfect, thanks. Is the LOD cable just the one that comes with the Fiio's, or something you have to buy separately? (Maybe I'm thinking of the dock connector)

    Speaking of which, would you recommend buying a LOD connector for use with an iPad, since it doesn't have USB?

    I'm guessing that by running the E17 by USB to the Macbook, that would be enabling the DAC, where as if you were just to use the E17's battery power and the LOD cable on the laptop, it would purely be the amplifier running a digital signal?

    Sorry for all the questions haha, new to all this amp stuff!
     
  10. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    The LOD cable works only with ipod/ipad/iphone, from the dock connector's analog signal to the E17's analog input. You would not use LOD to connect an i-device to a computer - you would use the Apple USB cable. But that's just for transferring songs, videos etc.

    Those people who have a special i-device DAC like the iStreamer would connect the Apple USB cable between the i-device and the DAC, then connect the DAC to a headphone amp. But so far as my listening tests tell me, I don't get significantly better sound using the iStreamer as compared to the E17 connected to an i-device such as ipad/ipod.

    I think the reason for that is partly the extra devices (DAC and headphone amp and extra cables), and partly Apple's "pure digital" scheme they license to i-device DAC makers. It's proprietary, take-it-or-leave-it, so I can't recommend it. The very best sound should be a 96 khz track running on a computer feeding the E17 DAC from the computer USB, and plugging the headphone into the E17.

    You'll lose some of that detail running the E17 with ipod or ipad alone, because you're not using the E17 DAC, but mostly because you can't get the full 96 khz that way. The sound of ipod LOD to E17 is still so good you would never hear a limitation in portable use, and on most average CD quality tracks, you wouldn't hear much if any difference at home.
     
  11. tigersinacage

    tigersinacage New Member

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    Nice! Little update: Just received the Beyers and the E17. I've tried it through USB and I have to have the volume on my Macbook and the Fiio both at full to have it at a reasonable loud?

    Is it supposed to be that quiet.. Should I charge it fully before using it? I'm liking the sound I'm getting, but it is pretty quiet, considering I'm using an amp. The Fiio E11 and Pro 900's were WAY louder. It is louder if I set it to 12db (Currently set at 6db) but even then, the volume still has to be at 55 on the Fiio. Full on laptop.

    Also tried it using the 3.5mm cable into aux and it still has to be set to 60. I'm sure there's a simple solution, but I can't find it!

    Any ideas?

    EDIT - Just tried the Beyers with the E11 and they are a lot louder. Although, they do start to peak as it gets turned up near to max. (Something which it didn't do with the Pro 900's)
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012
  12. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Which impedance did you get? I assumed you would get the 32 ohm, is that right?

    I did tests with E17 only and then Apple Macbook Air and E17. I used a Shure 1840 headphone which is very inefficient compared to others I have.

    With the E17 alone I got fairly loud volume at 60 on my quietest tunes, and ear-blasting volume on most tunes. With the Macbook Air it was much louder - ear-blasting with even the quietest tunes.

    I set the Macbook Air's System Preferences setting for Sound to select the E17 and to make sure the volume on that screen was maximum. I also set the regular volume button to maximum, but the System Preferences/Sounds screen is the most important.

    Then selecting input as USB on the E17, everything worked. I don't have the Sennheiser HD800 now, but its efficiency even at 300 ohms is about the same as the Shure, so the Beyer should not be way outside of that.
     
  13. tigersinacage

    tigersinacage New Member

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    I have the 250 ohm version of the DT880's. set to 96000.0 Hz/ 2-ch-24 bit on the Macbook, via USB. Volume is turned up to max on the E17 and on my laptop. The volume is okay, definitely nowhere near ear blasting volume. It's at a comfortable level at the moment, but I would like it to go louder. Trouble is, it's maxed out on both the Fiio and the laptop.

    When I try to add some bass E.Q past 4, it starts to peak. Do you think the Beyers are faulty? Or would you say it just doesn't have enough power with the E17 to drive them properly?

    I also tried the Beyers with the E11, and it was a little bit louder than the E17. Although, when I turn it up to max, it just peaks horrendously.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012
  14. tigersinacage

    tigersinacage New Member

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    Just tried the Fiio with just the Macbook's audio out (Don't have the USB plugged in) and it's definitely a LOT louder.

    Is that just the nature of DAC? I'm at level 55 and it's nice and loud. Level 55 with the USB would be adequate, but not really that loud.

    EDIT - Just switched it to 12db and it seems to be driving the headphones a lot better. I'm only at 48 volume and it's a nice listening level.

    I'm guessing that was the issue then, wasn't enough juice to drive them!
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012
  15. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Based on what your experience is, I doubt that the headphone has any defects - no way to know actually. But I would add that either your music tracks are very much lower in volume than mine are, or the 250 ohm 880 is 10 to 20 db less efficient than the already inefficient Shure 1840. In fact it would seem to be far less efficient than a Sennheiser HD800, which actually plays at a reasonable volume on an iPhone alone with no amp.

    My music tracks range from lo-fi MP3's to 96 khz WAV and FLAC files I play on a PC in Foobar usually. But I did some tests with the Macbook Air and 320k MP3's I converted from the WAV and FLAC files (same volume BTW).

    If I were in your exact position now, I think the first thing I would do is compare at least 2 other headphones with the same gear to see if the 880 is really that much less efficient, or if there is some other factor that's responsible for low volume. There's no point wasting time and money making changes until you get a handle on that.
     
  16. tigersinacage

    tigersinacage New Member

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    All the music I'm playing is FLAC, at around 1000kbps, the lowest I've tried out is 320k. I have to say now though, just by switching the gain setting on the E17 to 12db, it's like night and day. Nice, loud volume, with extreme clarity and detail. No peaking whatsoever.

    These DT880's are simply magical to listen to. There's actually no comparison to the Ultrasone Pro 900's. They sound awful compared to these. The lack of mids was such a problem. The DT880's are so much warmer.

    This is also my first open (Or semi-open, but they might as well just call it open) headphone and I'm loving the soundstage. Again, it's all I can really compare it to, but the Pro 900's sound really boxed in, in comparison.

    Lovin' em! Would definitely recommend them paired with the E17.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012
  17. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Funny thing about the E17 menu - I was frustrated by the volume resetting to minimum each time, so I finally got that set to stay with the last setting. Much better now.
     
  18. tigersinacage

    tigersinacage New Member

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    Oh yeah, definitely. Would be beyond frustrating if it didn't have that feature. That's what I had to put up with the E11. Except you had to manually turn the volume pot to the setting you wanted each time.

    I think I know these are the cans for me, with the Pro 900's, I got them and was thinking... well, at least they might sound a lot better with a burn in. Even after 100 hours-ish, I was still hoping they would get better.

    With the DT880's, they sound great out of the box. If they sound this good now after less than an hours music playing on them, I can't wait to hear them after 300+ hours!

    P.S - Just wanna say thanks again for all your advice, you've been a great help!
     
  19. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Although I haven't had the 880, I've been buying Beyerdynamic headphones for quite some time. The quality and precision they put in, plus the way they work with musicians and producers etc. is nice to see. I post occasionally on their Facebook page - it's the one named "Beyerdynamic Product/Service".
     
  20. quadpatch

    quadpatch New Member

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    Hi tigersinacage & dalethorn :). This is my first time in this forum. I just wanted to comment here because I recently bought the Beyerdynamic DT880 myself. I got the 600 ohm versions and they sound very similar to drive as tigersinacage's 250 ohm versions. They certainly don't seem any worse. My Fiio E17 drove them OK at 6dB and better at 12dB. The Arcam rPAC seemed a good pairing. There is no gain control there, but probably almost as loud as the Fiio at 12dB. I also tried it off of powered DAC/amp's like the Yulong U100 and it has tons more power. That was loud at about 50%, ear splitting at 75%, but the Epiphany Acoustics EHP-O2D was a little less powerful, even though it's also mains powered. Loud at about 90%.
     
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