Semi-open headphones often don’t get the same attention as fully open or closed headphones. But they occupy a niche that is very appealing to many people. In this review, we take a closer look at the DT 880 Pro to see what this semi-open pair of cans has to offer.
Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro
Beyerdynamic is one of the most dependable brands in the headphone market, and the DT 880 Pro is another fine example of why that is the case. While not perfect, these are among the best semi-open options you can pick up today.
With a great feature set and an acceptable price, the DT 880 Pro is a serious set of headphones worth exploring. Let’s dive into the details.
The outstanding sound quality is the first thing that springs to mind when assessing the DT 880 Pro. These semi-open headphones offer a delectable sound profile that is engaging, accurate, and full of life.
Let’s start with the low-end. An area where open and semi-open headphones often fall short. The DT 880 Pro offers a rich low-end that isn’t washed out or lifeless. But equally, it doesn’t hit those smooth sub-bass regions that some closed options provide.
The mid-range is the true star of the show. Amazingly accurate and rich in detail. An accurate mid-range is critical for serious studio work, and these don’t disappoint. Excellent tonality with precise delivery that is a joy to listen to.
The DT 880 Pro delivers exceptionally detailed sound.
The top-end does suffer from some of the same issues other open and semi-open headphones present. Due to the airy nature of the sound profile, it can come across as a little bright. If you work with treble-heavy tracks, these can be fatiguing. But this will also depend on your sensitivity to that frequency range.
The response is tight across the entire 5Hz-35kHz range, and it hugs the baseline aggressively without any peaks and dips to warp and color the output. If you demand accuracy, these will deliver it in spades. A fantastic choice for serious analytical work in a studio setting.
The soundstage is also spacious and generous despite the semi-open design. If anything, I’ve seen fully open headphones perform worse. The spatial positioning is fantastic, and these deliver the feeling of listening to music in a room instead of two speakers strapped to your head.
Despite a slightly bright top-end, there is little to fault regarding the DT 880 Pro. The spectacular sound is ideal for studio work and equally enjoyable for casual listening.
The feeling of putting on a pair of Beyerdynamic headphones is a journey into exceptional comfort. They consistently top our lists when it comes to comfort level, and it’s an approach that I appreciate since I spend a lot of time with headphones on.
The velour ear padding is the biggest highlight. They are plush and generously sized to envelop your ears. I’ve come across the same padding style throughout the Beyerdynamic line, which brings a smile to my face each time. No complaints in this area.
The DT 880 Pro features super soft velour ear padding.
The headband padding is equally fantastic. It is soft and durable with superb weight distribution. And for headphones that weigh 0.65 lbs. (295 grams), even distribution is critical.
Clamping force is also worth mentioning. These are noticeably less forceful than other options in the Beyerdynamic lineup. Relaxed and forgiving, these are an excellent choice for long sessions in the studio. But as you would expect, the loose grip does come at the cost of stability. You can’t make aggressive head movements as these will easily slip off.
These headphones also don’t trap and accumulate heat thanks to the semi-open design. Another element that makes long sessions in the studio a comfortable experience.
If you need a relaxed and comfortable set of cans for serious work, these should be high on your list of options.
At first glance, there is nothing overly remarkable about the appearance of the DT 880 Pro. The design philosophy will be familiar to anyone who has seen Byerdynamic headphones before. The greater emphasis on silver does draw the eye, but I prefer the look of other options in the lineup.
The grille is ordinary and doesn’t offer the unique appearance of other Beyerdynamic headphones. But I do appreciate the restrained approach to branding.
Moving beyond looks, there is plenty to talk about. The most important is the high impedance rating. At 250 ohms, these are not easy to drive.
Premium components and slick styling.
A good audio interface shouldn’t have many issues, but a dedicated headphone amp is still ideal. Driving these from a smartphone displays a noticeable drop in performance and volume. And with a nominal SPL of 96dB, it is even more apparent when these don’t get adequate power.
The design choice for the cable is also a little puzzling. Premium headphones tend to offer detachable cables. This gives you freedom and choice to work with the cable style you prefer. But with the DT 880 Pro, you’ll have to make do with the hardwired 9.8 ft. (3m) coiled cable.
The exposed cables are also another element worth highlighting. While in most situations these are fine, there is always the underlying risk that these can catch on something leading to damage.
By design, these will leak some sound and don’t have the best isolation. Better than open options, but if you need to close yourself off from your surroundings, you’ll need to look at fully closed cans.
This is another area where the Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro scores top marks. These are headphones with close attention to detail and premium components throughout.
These are headphones that will survive a lot of use. If you are a working professional, you’ll have these on your head daily. You need a dependable set of cans that can handle the occasional drop or knock. And these can handle that type of punishment.
The DT 880 Pro semi-open headphones are durable and reliable.
The headband is sturdy and reliable and doesn’t creak and groan under pressure. The ear cup enclosures feature metal components for added durability.
Ear padding and headband padding are fully replaceable, saving you money in the long term. I expect high quality at this price point, but these exceeded even my lofty expectations. The cable quality is also excellent though I would have preferred it if it was detachable.
Reliable and durable cans are an investment but one that is worth every dollar. You could quickly go through hundreds of dollars worth of lower-quality cans, and these would still be kicking along.
Value can be a little subjective. These are not cheap headphones; there are many other great options with more affordable price tags. But when you look at these through the lens of how they perform, there is no denying these are a good buy.
The included pouch is okay, but I have seen better.
The high build quality and impeccable sound set a high bar for competitors. In this price range, these are among the absolute best.
I will admit the range of accessories is a little light, and it would have been great to get a better-quality pouch or case. Plus, a spare set of ear pads would not have gone astray. But even without these inclusions, the DT 880 Pro offers long-term reliability and dependability that justifies its price tag.
The Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro’s reception has also proven overwhelmingly positive. Endless four and five-star reviews litter every retailer that offers these. Even among the critic community, these score highly.
Does A Flat Response Sound Boring?
Whenever I look at other people’s reviews of studio gear, I often come across two distinct camps. People who appreciate a neutral response and those that consider it boring. So which one is correct? In some ways, they both are, and perspective is crucial to understanding why.
For a working professional, a neutral set of headphones provides them with accuracy they can trust. This allows them to make confident decisions in their work, and it saves time and helps ensure a great result. For them, flat response is essential.
Studio headphones are great for serious work and casual listening.
When you look at the casual crowd, they often have come from consumer-level gear. These headphones often feature a smiley-faced curve that enhances the low and high end of the frequency range. It makes music sound great but can often mask details.
Both styles are fine for their respective purposes. But just because a pair of headphones has a flat response doesn’t mean they always will sound bland. In some cases, like the DT 880 Pro, it is quite the opposite.
High-quality studio headphones like the DT 880 Pro deliver a neutral response while retaining life and vibrancy. Yes, some poorly produced tracks might lose their sparkle under the harsh light of flat response cans. But well-produced music will sound spectacular. You’ll experience details in the music you love like never before. And that is an experience I can recommend to everyone.
Semi-open headphones are an area that many manufacturers don’t explore. The choices are not as broad as open or closed, but there are still some enticing alternatives worth highlighting.
AKG K240 MKII Review
The AKG K240 MKII is a fantastic pair of semi-open headphones. It offers exceptional sound and good build quality while retaining a relatively modest price.
- Neutral delivery and high accuracy for serious studio work.
- Two cables and a spare set of ear pads add to the value proposition.
- The smaller drivers do struggle to deliver a satisfying low-end.
AKG K240 MKII
AKG K240 Review
Moving further down in price is the affordable AKG K240. It is essentially the same pair of headphones as the MKII version except they offer an attractive gold finish and it doesn’t come with the extra accessories.
- Excellent clarity and detail in the sound profile with a superb midrange.
- The adjustable headband ensures a comfortable fit for long sessions.
- Much like the AKG K240 MKII, the bass response is a little lacking.
Samson SR850 Review
The Samson SR850 is another ultra-affordable pair of semi-open headphones. While the price might be low, the sound quality is very impressive.
- It features a refined sound profile that is balanced and neutral. Ideal for studio work.
- The semi-open design delivers an exceptional soundstage for an immersive listening experience.
- The comfort level is not the best with heat build-up and shallow ear cups.
Should You Buy?
It is always a joy to review a pair of headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro. Finding fantastic products that I can easily recommend is not always easy. But when it comes to these, I can confidently give them two thumbs up.
The exceptional sound quality stands out. Ultra accurate and tight for serious work while still enjoyable for lazy afternoons listening to your favorite music. Supporting this is high-quality craftsmanship and superb comfort. These are a fantastic choice if you want a premium set of semi-open headphones.
Beyerdynamic DT 880 Pro