Before choosing a pair of headphones, it is important to determine in what situations they will be used. For example, mixing orchestral tracks in a studio would suggest that you use an open-back over-ear (circum-aural) headphone with a detailed soundstage in the high end – such as the Grado RS1e. Mixing in the studio means that there is no worry of bleed-through from the sound of the headphones into the recording. Open ear headphones, in this case, are serving to provide a super close and accurate listening experience in order to make precise mixing decisions. Similarly, if you are monitoring a session from an isolation booth, or listening at home, a non-isolated headphone might be suitable, if you demand accuracy overall and don’t mind some ambient leakage.
About the Beyer Dynamic DT770 Pro 80
For any kind of long-term sessions – mixing, pure listening pleasure, or monitoring (location recording, studio sessions, DJing), over-ear headphones (with huge variations amongst models) win out for comfort. Closed-back headphones are most useful for when you need isolation. Some closed-backs emphasize certain frequencies – because of the resonance of the closed container around the speaker. So again, if you are mixing an orchestral track without reference monitors, best go with an expensive pair of Grados.
If you need a high quality isolated headphone for long listening sessions, the Beyer Dynamic DT770 Pro 80 ohm closed-back headphone (note that this model also comes in 32 Ω, 240 Ω) is, I think, uniquely excellent across multiple functions. Comfortable, pleasant to the ear, and at a mid-range price point, these headphones have been a life-saver for me as a frequently traveling recordist.
The Beyer Dynamic DT770 Pro 80Ω are lightweight (270g), closed-back dynamic headphones with a frequency range of 5-35,000Hz, rare to find in headphones other than super-expensive electro-static reference sets. They are excellent for any purpose that requires isolated listening – such as making music in the box, listening sessions, and monitoring field recordings, location (film) recordings, and for musicians in studio sessions.
Transducer type: Dynamic
Headphone type: Circumaural
Removable (with effort) velour ear pads
Adjustable steel headband clamp
Durable (but not removable) 3m single-sided straight-connecting cable with gold plated mini-jack plug and ¼” adaptor
Power handling capacity: 100mW
Ambient sound attenuation: 20 dB
Frequency Response: 5 – 35,000 Hz
Impedance: 80 Ω
Nominal SPL: 96 dB
Includes drawstring bag casing
Power & Frequency
The impedance rating of 80Ω means that you may need a headphone amplifier with some portable players. The 240Ω version will need an amplifier.
If you add too much power, over the 100mW recommendation you are will ruin them. Also, consider that the more power you add, the muddier and less defined the bass. More power tends to amplify the upper bass range, detracting from the relative perception of the deeper tones. I have used these phones without issue directly from my Macbook Pro, from a Motu MK3, and from a Zoom. I did have an issue with loud-enough monitoring without an amplifier from a Sound Devices 744t. The 32Ω edition of the headphone is a new release for personal players without amplification – I have not tried it, but apparently the bass under 40Hz is nowhere near as deep and defined.
Both of the higher impedance versions, including the 80Ω focus of this review, have the definitive bass response that marks these headphones out as exceptional. This makes listening to field recording and making music an exciting experience if you like the sub-tones, rumbling thunder and heavy drums. (There is also ANOTHER version, which has even more ambient attenuation, the DT770 Pro M, which is especially for drummers!). DJs might like this too, but these models do not have easily swiveled cups, which means you have to slide them a bit across your head to expose one ear. However, this also means that you can hear tones on these headphones that many consumer speakers and reference monitors are unable to reproduce. You can think you are making an awesome, heavy mix, and then play your sounds back without a subwoofer (or even worse on your computer speakers) to be sadly disappointed.
The steel hand-band clamp provides an absolutely perfect pressure, never uncomfortably tight or flopping off your head. The removable, soft leather pad that snaps over the steel clamp is also extremely comfy, with no sharp, hard lumps. The snaps are on top. The velour earpads are more than comfortable – they are so soft that they are as comforting, yet less hairy, than rabbit fur earmuffs. They fit completely over the ear and can be worn for hours at a time. Although they are less drippy-sweat causing than vinyl pads, they can be warm and might absorb the sweat in hot weather. So clean them. These headphones have a rich bass response, but otherwise are fairly even, and do not fatigue the ears with an excess high end.
Listening all alone
The other benefit of the comfy earpads is the high level of ambient attenuation they provide – marked at 20dB, but I’ve seen measurements of 32dB on the DT770. These are ratings for the sound that the headphones KEEP OUT To put this in perspective, shooting range ear protectors have an ambient attenuation rating of 30dB. So if you are making recordings, which require you to hear everything around you and quickly adjust your listening perspective, or respond to somebody asking you a question, you might want something that lets more sound inside. I have found them useful because I know I hear JUST what I’m recording when I monitor through these. If I lift off an ear pad to listen outside and realize I am missing something, I can adjust the microphone and put this back on. It’s kind of like having a mini-isolation studio on your head.
This high level of attenuation makes the DT770 80Ω ideal for sub-mix monitoring in studio sessions. You can be sure that you are not going to get leakage… unless you turn them up loud with an amplifier. At 96 spl, you could easily blast your eardrums out if you don’t take care.
The ear pads are supposedly replaceable, but they look difficult and perilous to remove. The flimsy drawstring nylon bag they come with does not befit the quality of these headphones. Luckily, they are rugged and can be slammed about a bit (I know from experience). The cable is durable but not removable, which means you are stuck with a very long 3m cable. This is great for studio sessions but can be inconvenient for field recording when you have the recorder right next to you. Keep some Velcro tape handy to keep the cable tidy. The style is clunky – but it’s also professional. These headphones are built for quality listening. These are not headphones made to look good with your outfit, or easily slide from your bag to your head while you are waiting for a bus. That said, they don’t look that expensive. The steel headband is wrapped in a removable comfy leather pad, but the plastic cups make them look cheaper and crappier than they are. Looks are deceiving. The bass response that some listeners love is too heavy for others. Some reviewers say the highs are harsh, but to be honest, I have found them to be balanced in listening to bird song, the Beatles, Ligetti, and Jo Ann Garret.
Final Thoughts – Are they worth it?
If there is a large budget available, you may able to purchase a variety of headphones for different uses, such as studio monitoring, post-production mixing, and location recording. However, even if your budget and storage space are unlimited, the DT770 Pro 80Ω is an excellent all-around choice for a wide variety of listening applications within a comparatively low price range for professional gear.
The balanced sound range with a high level of detail, wide soundstage, and extremely comfortable earpads and padding, make listening sessions through the Beyer Dynamic DT770 Pro 80Ω an absolute pleasure. This makes them a staple of almost every professional studio I have ever visited. I would hands-down recommend these headphones for location recordings of all kinds and making music at home.
Design – 7
Sound quality – 9
Durability – 9
Frequency range – 9.5
Price – 9.5[easyazon_infoblock align=”center” identifier=”B0016MNAAI” locale=”US” tag=”allsoundlab-20″]