Appearance, Accessories, Build and Comfort.
As you can see very professional looking headphones, nothing about them looks cheap, and while not exactly a fashion accessory they hardly look ugly either.
The only thing to note inside the box other than the headphones themselves is a 3.5mm to 6.3mm jack, the jack itself is gold plated and feels of good quality and rather than plugging on the end of the headphone cable, the adapter is screwed into place. When attached it’s not possible to tell a 3.5mm jack lies beneath and gives that studio look to the headphones yet again, only a minor detail but it all makes an impression.
I mentioned before all parts are replaceable which had me worried that it would mean the components are of low quality and would need replacing regularly, well I can honestly say this isn’t the case! My initial reaction to holding these was how solid they feel, the headband is sturdy, ear cups are hinged onto a metal bracket and the back of the cups feel like they could take a few knocks. The cable is thick and strong so should prove nearly impossible to break, and being coiled gives you 3m of cable in a 1.5m package to make it perfectly suited to both portable devices and hi-fi.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and being study is all well and good but the thing that really matters with headphones is the sound quality, and coming in a close second, in my opinion anyway, is comfort. So before I go into how these sound I’ll talk a little about how these headphones feel when being worn.
Initially: With a padded headband and velour ear cups initially the headphones feel really comfortable; there is padding everywhere it matters. Over clamping, which seems to be more and more common, isn’t apparent here but they aren’t loose on my head either. Weight wise they aren’t the heaviest headphones on the market and do feel a bit weighted in-hand, when being worn seated or walking they don’t feel too out of place though. I’m not sure how long they’ll remain comfortable for though…
1 hour use: Currently no issue, all very comfortable and I’ve frequently forgot I’m wearing them.
5 hour use: Absolutely no fatigue normally associated with awkward headphones. For those who like to listen to music for extended periods this will be, excuse the pun, music to your ears…
Sound Quality :
So how do they sound? Well after plopping these on my head and putting on some Natalie Walker (as is my tradition when trying some new audio equipment) I had a stupid grin on my face which never really left. The first thing I noticed was how amazingly clear the audio was, it’s only when hearing something this clear that you realise how muffled other equipment is! It’s hard to explain but briefly the instruments sound more individual, more separate, there are details you’ve never heard before such as you can hear the strings being plucked, can hear instruments in the backing orchestra you’ve never noticed before and it all sounds much more open and realistic. The soundstage is pretty good too, I can clearly tell where most instruments are in my mind and nothing is coming from within in my head.
The frequency range is rated at 5 – 35,000hz, it should be noted that the average human hearing range is around 20-20,000hz making anything outside of this range largely useless. The bass is extremely rich and deep, the cans make use of an elliptical dish of sorts to reach those incredibly low frequencies, but the thing that sticks out most to me is how clean and clear the bass is, you can hear every detail in the low frequencies and will easily begin to notice sounds you’ve never heard before; extra rhythms in the low frequencies that don’t appear on other equipment. The mid range is detailed, vocals are clear and unobtrusive while the highs are concise and, you guessed it, clear. To my ears these are pretty neutral sounding headphones, the bass can be boomy the highs too bright sometimes and together they can occasionally overwhelm the mids however for me with the wide sound stage everything stands out and everything sounds even, I have no issues hearing quiet vocals in bass heavy music for example. One issue to note though is due to the treble sometimes audio can sound harsh and tracks which previously sounded fine now show recording artefacts both of which are attributed to recording quality or low bitrate audio.
Running the DT770s with an amp only increases the joy that these cans bring, the sound stage is wider again and more accurate still, the bass is still deep and rich but seems more distant and less overwhelming, the trebles less harsh and more descriptive, and, dare I say it, the sound clearer over all. Each instrument becomes a totally separate entity and nothing seems to be left out or left behind. As mentioned above the mids were never a problem and didn’t appear recessed to my ears, however amping gives the mids more precedence than before.
From both my Sansa Clip+ and iPhone 2G the volume is rather low even at the max end, something typical of more expensive headphones, it’s not by any means too low to hear but for anyone who likes a little oomph a portable amplifier such as the FiiO E5 or CMoy might be an idea. The headphones are still incredibly detailed considering what is driving them and I have absolutely no qualms in using them with my Clip+ around the house.
A neutral sound isn’t for everyone though; some people will prefer a more coloured sound signature and no doubt some will find the bass too powerful or the trebles to sharp, it’s something to bare in mind.
Isolation is fantastic in both respects, when worn I hear no ‘daily life’ droning noise what so ever and outside noises such as TV, conversation and so on are a distant muffle. With music on even at a low volume I’m deaf to the outside world. In respect of sound leakage as expected for closed cans very little sound can be heard when worn, at my average volume no sound can be heard and I have to pump the volume up to ear-hurting levels to hear much at all.
For £140 these headphones seem a bargain and really do fit in both the studio and the home, they look and feel like a professional set of cans and the sound quality is exceptional. If you’ve £140 burning a hole in your pocket and just happen to be looking for some closed back headphones for extended use then honestly look no further! If you’re looking for something more portable or something coloured then there are better choices out there for the price range, but if clean and crisp sound is the most important and you want to hear music as it was intended to be heard without breaking the bank then you’d be hard pressed to find a better use for your cash.