Disclaimer: this review was originally posted in French on Audiofanzine.fr. With their kind permission we translated the text to English and published here for you to enjoy.
The DT 770 Pro are surely the most popular home-studio headphones in their price range, according to a recent survey on your favourite website. This is a well-deserved outcome considering their noble performance and undeniable comfort. So it was with some interest that we welcomed the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro, the supercharged and obviously more expensive version of the DT 770 Pro.
Even though the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro are far from being the perfect headphones, for the price (around €150), they’re great for musicians and for use in home-studios, particularly because of their sound reproduction, comfort, robustness, detachable parts and sound insulation. There are only two flaws in the lower range (100/200 Hz) and in the upper range (4k/8kHz) to tarnish its name, but we really haven’t found anything better in this price range.
The DT 1770 Pro model that we review today is in an entirely different category, and at a price 4 times higher (about €600) than the DT 770 Pro, the manufacturer’s intentions are clearly to offer a “super” DT 770 Pro, in terms of assembly, construction, as well as sound quality.
1000 TIMES BETTER?
The design greatly harkens back to that of its ancestor, with fairly identical features, overall. Both models are closed, circumaural dynamic headphones with a 250-ohm impedance. Similarly, the DT 1770 Pro model is non-foldable, and is intended, like its predecessor, for musicians and sound professionals all comfy in their studios or live on a stage.
This first thing we appreciate is the spacious rigid case (the headphones do not fold, remember). This houses the headphones and their small accessories, including an additional pair of leather pads (the original ones are velour), which according to the manufacturer, provide better sound insulation (21 dBA vs. 18), and two detachable cables (a straight, 3-meter cable and a 5-meter coil, each with a mini-XLR connector). One of the DT770 Pro’s basic flaws is therefore corrected with these easily detachable, easily replaceable, cables. The additional pair of leather pads also lends itself to the feeling of having a slightly more upscale product.
As for their construction, it must be said that Beyerdynamic has done very well, as the materials selected provide a very robust feeling (there’s no plastic in these headphones like there is in the DT770 Pro) and they weigh slightly more than their little brother (388g vs. 270g). They are slightly more comfortable than the 770, which are already very comfortable, because of a thicker, softer headband. Let’s finish with the headphone’s general appearance, which is much classier and refined than the 770, now showing their age a little. For a first attempt, this is flawless. Beyerdynamic was able to retain some of the 770’s visual identity, while improving their comfort, robustness and appearance. Things are off to a great start!
Since testing AKG’s K812, we have created a new protocol when performing classical comparative listening. With the valuable assistance of our partner Sonarworks (remember, headphone calibration), we are thrilled to be able to provide you with accurate frequency response curves and harmonic distortion rates tested by professionals, who do this in their laboratory everyday. And since they have a wealth of experience, we will also share their valuable opinion about the headphones with you. Isn’t life great?
Let’s begin with the DT1770 Pro’s frequency response followed by that of the DT770 Pro:
At first sight, it is obvious that both headsets are related. They have roughly the same features, including a highly-developed upper range from 6 kHz, a large drop at 4 kHz and a slightly less pronounced drop at around 200 Hz, followed by a peak at 100 Hz. What’s most surprising is the 1770 Pro’s lower range, which follows the 770s lines, only accentuating them a bit more. There is an almost identical peak at 100 Hz, as well as a dip at 200 Hz that drops even further. Yet, the peak between 400 and 700 Hz is more pronounced, which results in a more jagged frequency response curve than with the less expensive DT770 Pro model. This result is fairly surprising, as we would have anticipated a flatter frequency response curve when climbing the range, but this isn’t the case. In the upper range, it’s about the same, with only a minor difference around the 3 kHz mark, which climbs a little more in the DT 1770 Pro’s left ear (!), and a slightly less noticeable dip at 4 kHz on the 1770 Pro (-6 vs. -8 dB).
In terms of distortion, the result is also surprising. Even though the DT 1770 Pro asserts its superiority in the lower range, particularly at 93 dB (and 55 Hz), its distortion is much more pronounced in the upper range, especially at 4 kHz, when compared to the DT 770 Pro which performs very well in this range.
To conclude this series of benchmarks, we note that there are mixed results, where the new model performs better in some places, but not as good in others. For headphones costing 4 times as much as their predecessor, we would like to have seen better performance in all areas. Let’s take a listen to see if this is true.
The opinion of Sonarworks
One of the best Beyerdynamic headsets in terms of construction quality, even if it doesn’t provide much better sound quality than a DT 770 Pro. The sound is fairly typical of dynamic studio headphones with a large peak in the upper range intended to improve sound details. In mid-range, the timbre is problematic when working with these headphones. We hope that the manufacturer will implement the use of detachable cables on its DT770/880/990 headset series.
Johnny Cash – Hurt
In this song, you can tell immediately that both headphones are from the same family, behaving similarly at both ends of the range. The DT 1770 Pro has a slightly sharper focus due to a more noticeable 3 kHz frequency. The most obvious difference was found in Cash’s voice, being more nasal sounding on the 1770 and more guttural on the 770. The fact that the 1770’s curve is more jagged gives the impression of having a bit more of “everything”, including the low and high midrange, but at the expense of linearity and a slightly more natural presence on the DT 770 Pro. For what it’s worth, both headphones are very close, and keep in mind that there are sometimes notable differences between the same comparisons of headphones.
Gorillaz – Feel Good Inc.
We continue with a song that has a little more substance. It’s funny, because if you really listen, you can hear a faintly more distinctive sub-bass on the 770 Pro compared to the 1770. The balance compared to the low-midrange (400-700 Hz) is also probably a factor. At the 3 kHz level, the DT 1770 wins the battle with a vengeance, with better presence and proximity, even gaining more aggressiveness. At the top of the spectrum, both Beyerdynamic headphones are essentially the same, and in terms of dynamics, it’s also very close, to the point of not being able to tell them apart.
Michael Jackson – Liberian Girl
We conclude with this cute pop song, which confirms our initial impressions. The synth infused intro proves that the two headphones have very close upper ranges. However, whether in the upper midrange or the lower midrange, the subtle differences are noticeable, with more discernable sibilance on the 1770, a more developed extreme low on the 770 and fuller lower midranges than on the 1770.
In general, suiting up with the DT 1770 Pro seems to trigger a “focus” mode, as they provide better detail and aggressiveness. These headphones have more of an “in your face” sound than the DT 770 Pro, which would be beneficial in certain situations when you need to hear very intricate sounds, but it comes at the expense of linearity and fidelity. At any rate, the 1770 model performs relatively similarly to its predecessor, and while they bring something slightly different, they aren’t necessarily better in our point of view. This is a little disappointing considering the 4X price difference between the two headphones.
Even though our tests of the DT 1770 Pro started off on the right foot, particularly because of the very good build quality, improved comfort and appearance, two detachable cables and an attractive case, we must admit that from a purely sound quality point of view, we were a little disappointed. With a price four times greater than the DT 770 Pro, the DT 1770 Pro will never be able to overshadow its predecessor, which, although a benchmark in the €150 range, still has a few flaws to correct, particularly in the midrange. These flaws, which are also somewhat present in the DT 1770 Pro, become much less tolerable considering their €600 price tag. If you are intentionally looking for a “luxury version” of the DT 770 Pro with all the options, yet aren’t too concerned with cost, the DT 1770 Pro may interest you.