I've found an audio equipment shop that had quite a few Beyerdynamic and Senns and I had a chance to try about a dozen headphones total in a quiet environment. I really like the Beyerdynamic' spacious, clear, detailed sound. I've tried the DT 990, DT 880, DT 660 and DT 440. All were 32 ohm versions. The songs I listened to were:
Julian Bream playing Cantos de España Opus 232 (classical guitar)
Ludovico Einaudi - Devinire (solo piano)
Ludovico Einaudi - Ritornare (piano and orchestra)
Norah Jones - Turn Me On
Eric Clapton and BB King - Riding with the King
The source was my Cowon and all files were in FLAC format.
I absolutely loved the 990's while listening to Bream and Einaudi. The sound was clear and detailed. Very wide soundstage. However, when listening to Norah Jones I could hear sibilance in her voice. Things got worst with "Riding with the King". The highs were strident to the point of hurting my ears if I pumped up the volume too much.
The DT 880 were less strident but still unpleasant with the aforementioned songs. The soundstage was perhaps a little bit less wide but in truth I wasn't able to tell that much difference. All in all, the 880 were very similar to the 990's with a bit less sibilance and stridency.
The DT 440 were much more pleasing. No sibilance, no strident highs. Very balanced from classical to rock. However, the 440's soundstage was not quite as wide as the 990's, the guitar and the piano not as detailed and clear. Albeit, a much better all rounder.
The guy at the store insisted that I also listened to all of these on a Marantz and on a Cambridge Audio CD players. The sibilance was gone. So were the strident notes in Ridding with the King. I also listened to the Senns. Definitely not my cup of tea.
The seller's point was: with an MP3 player or laptop as sources there is no point going beyond 150 Euros headphones, i.e. the DT 440, because an MP3 player is a crappy source for that class of headphones. He then them told me that if I was looking for a real sound improvement or getting the best of the DT 880 or DT 990 I should consider buying an USB DAC and plug it to my laptop. He suggested the Nuforce Icon (190 Euros) or the Arcam Rpac (170 Euros). He told me to come back in 2 days time with my laptop and try both DACs (he was waiting for the Arcam to arrive).
Truth is, I will be using my new headphones with the laptop only. I ran into this shop by chance and my Cowon MP3 Player was all that I had at hand.
What do you guys think of all this? Is a DAC really going to make that much difference? If so, is any of these two the way to go or are there better alternatives?
I loved the Beyerdynamic's sound and comfort. I'm going to buy one of them, the question is: which and will a DAC be worth it or not?
This is new territory for me. Kindly advice. Thank you.
Last edited by katabatik; 06-25-2012 at 07:18 PM.
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