Before trying these headphones my only experience with Beyerdynamic was recalling seeing “Darth Beyers” in various audio forums years ago. I knew that was a modification and not a stock pair of headphones, but very little beyond that.
After being used to how the V Moda M100s sounded, as well as my 11-year-old Denon AH-D5000s, my first impression of the DT 770s was that they had a very intimate sound, but were a lighter on bass than I was used to. I would quickly realize that it was a lot more complex than that.
I’ll be segmenting this review into a few sections, so feel free to skip around since there’s plenty to say about these headphones.
To gauge the experience in a variety of listening conditions, I plugged these headphones into the following throughout my testing:
- My Sound BlasterX G6 HD DAC and headphone amp
- Straight out of the headphone jack on my PC’s onboard sound
- My LG V50 smartphone with quad DAC
- The headphone output of my Harman Kardon HK3490 receiver (using its DAC)
Overall Impressions of the Beyerdynamic DT 770
These are a well-built pair of headphones. The headband and earcup arms are steel, with dense plastic earcups. They isolate sound well both directions, meaning you hear less of the stuff going on around you and those nearby don’t hear your music.
This creates a very intimate listening environment that I enjoy more than I thought I would. My other two pairs of closed back headphones do not have this level of isolation.
I was curious at first if the plastic backing on the earcups would be detrimental for bass and sound stage versus other cans that use wood. The DT 770s actually play deeper than anything else I’ve heard, the bass sounds tight, and the soundstage is surprisingly robust for closed back headphones. So we can tuck those preconceptions away, apparently, which is a nice plus since the plastic cups make the headphones lighter on your head.
Guitars sound lively and clear on a variety of genres.
On Dire Straits’ Sultans of Swing the bass guitar was clean and well represented, the lead guitar was articulate, and the vocals were easy to understand. That last observation might sound odd to you, but it wasn’t clear to me listening to alternatives like the V Moda M100s how muffled the midrange was until using these headphones.
Comparatively vocals are much easier to understand on the DT 770.
What really made that stand out for me was a couple tracks where I was always fuzzy on a particular lyric, and listening that time I had a moment of, “Oh, that’s
The bass is tight and clean in general, but actually goes well into the sub-bass territory which is refreshing for a pair of headphones. It isn’t bloated sounding and sounds great for rap and electronic music that frequently hits those low notes. But I was surprised how much that depth enhanced music like Pink Floyd that often has thick bass guitar — even versus other bassy headphones I own.
A little EQ’ing helps the other bass frequencies, making kick drums meaty and impactful.
These Beyerdynamic cans are definitely a bit hot around the 8k hz area. It was smoother and less grating using my Sound BlasterX G6 headphone amp, but it was harsher on stock headphone-out jacks. I find this brightness enjoyable on certain songs, but a -3dB EQ damping helps tame it a bit.
They are still a bit bright even with that damping, but I find it makes it less harsh.
The DT 770s are a very comfortable pair of headphones – probably one of the more comfortable I’ve worn. The lush pleather headband sits gently on the head and doesn’t dig in on longer sessions. That’s important anyway, but for a bald guy like me with no hair for padding, it’s noticeable when headphones don’t do this well.
How easy are the DT 770s to drive?
I’m using the 80 ohm version, which seemed like a good way to split the difference between the mobile-focused 32 ohm and studio-focused 250 ohm versions.
While the LG V50 phone has a better DAC and headphone out than a lot of other phones so your mileage may vary, I found the DT 770s fairly easy to drive straight out of the phone.
At ~60% volume it’s probably the limit to how loud I’d listen, and at that point is pretty jamming.
In two cases I turned the volume up loud — louder than I would normally listen — with very bassy music to see how they performed under intense sessions. No distortion, and the bass remained controlled. This is reassuring since some have expressed concern at the Beyer’s 100mW power handling and whether they could play loud. It really impresses upon one how loud headphones can get well before even 100mW.
Your ears will quit before that point.
Those who have claimed in other reviews that the Beyers distorted at high volumes with boosted bass — I suspect were running the headphones out of poor sources and it was the sources distorting.
They did ok from the headphone out of my PC’s jack, but required a fair bit of EQ damping at 8khz and gain around bass levels to sound decent. Overall I’d describe the experience as serviceable, particularly with some EQ. The headphones sound enjoyable, with some moments of peakiness.
With no EQ in this setting, such as my Surface Pro tablet, the sound is decent — certainly not too hard to drive — but flatter in the mids and low end and the brightness of the highs is occasionally grating.
Running the DT 770s out of my CreativeX G6 USB DAC/headphone amp is a real treat. The brightness of the DT 770 is smoother yet very detailed, and the bass is clean and equally articulate. The stereo imaging is excellent, and really complements the sound stage.
The DT 770 carry the details of Amazon Music HD tracks beautifully. I’d been able to use 24-bit/96Khz mode on my PC’s onboard chip in the past, but the DAC in the Sound BlasterX G6 feels like it’s taking full advantage of the source.
My LG V50’s DAC makes pretty good use of the HD audio as well. The sound stage seems a bit narrower to me on the phone vs. the Sound BlasterX, but otherwise as far as listening on a phone goes it’s solid.
The DT 770 vs. The V Moda M100
There are two immediate differences that will smack you in the face switching between these headphones: the sound stage and the bass.
To me the M100s have always had a narrow sound stage that creates a very “in your head” sound. Panning isn’t pronounced and you don’t really get a sense of where the instruments are in relation to each other. The Beyerdynamic cans are a totally different story.
The sound stage is surprisingly wide and open on the Beyers – especially for a closed design headphone. I can easily say these are the widest sound stage I’ve ever heard on a closed headphone, and are pretty close to several of the open designs I’ve used before by Sony and AKG.
It sounds great, and once you listen for awhile and get used to the way the Beyers sound, switching to the V Modas sounds claustrophobic.
Now, the bass…
The V Moda M100s are often described as a “basshead’s headphone” and while I’ve always agreed, switching between these two cans draws some important distinctions for me.
The M100s are definitely more overtly bassy, meaning that everything from probably 60hz to 200hz has more bloat and presence. Sliding on the DT 770s at first creates a sensation of less bass, but it’s cleaner and more detailed bass by a fair amount. And here’s something significant for a real basshead: the DT 770s go quite a bit deeper. I could clearly hear notes all the way down to 24hz on the Beyers, whereas on the V Modas those same low notes were either absent or quite muted.
On various rap songs, electronic music, and even rock with meaty kick drums, that actually makes a big difference in the sound (to me).
Comparatively I find the V Moda’s bass to be bloated in the upper bass and weak in the deepest bass, which is kind of the worst of both worlds. The DT 770’s comparatively clean representation and powerful sub bass make it a clear winner.
The DT 770’s do have some hot treble around the 8000hz area. Sometimes it sounds good, giving instruments a very distinct feeling, but other times it’s a little grating. I also found this varied depending on source; out of my PC I needed to EQ dampen 8k by roughly -5dB and it smoothed right out. Out of my LG V50 phone it sounded fine without as much fiddling.
I find vocals a lot easier to understand on the Beyerdynamic. The mid-range is still slightly recessed compared to the bass and treble, but to my ears far less so than the V Modas.
The detachable cord on the V Moda M100s and their ability to fold up for portability are nice features, and the DT 770s have neither of those going for them.
However, the DT 770’s lack of portability comes at the exchange of being vastly more comfortable. The V Moda’s headband digs into my head after awhile and starts getting uncomfortable, but I never felt that with the DT 770s even after hours of continuous use. And the large velour earcups on the DT 770s are fantastic versus the V Moda M100s – and that’s even with the XL earpad upgrade that to me are still too small.
I don’t have a large head or large ears, but I still find the earcups on the V Modas tight and rather hot after wearing them awhile.
There is a bit of clamping force on both headphones, but the velour earcups on the DT 770s mitigate that to a large degree and remain comfortable for long listening sessions.
In summary, the V Modas are a clear win for portability, but in my opinion are beaten by the Beyerdynamics at everything else. The Beyers seem to have more instrumental detail, the sound isolation is better, the sound stage is far better, the bass tightness and depth are better, and they are significantly more comfortable.
The difference in comfort alone would be a reason to make the switch if you’re an M100 owner; it’s that significant.
(Not to mention that the DT 770s are cheaper than the M100s.)
The DT 770 versus the Denon AH-D5000
At a glance the comparison may seem unfair since the Denons retailed for $599 when they were new, which would suggest they and the Beyerdynamics are two different classes of headphone.
However, since I’ve owned the Denons for many years and am very familiar with their sound I’ve always used them as a benchmark to test other headphones.
There are subtle ways with various instrumentation that it’s clear the Denons are the superior headphone. There’s more warmth to the sound and there’s more of that super fine detail in the mids particularly.
I mentioned in the above section that the DT 770s have deeper bass than the V Modas. I’m surprised to say that the Beyerdynamic DT 770s are deeper than even the Denon AH-D5000s. Similar to the V Moda comparison, the Denons have a very lush bass that sounds great to my ears, but definitely has more bloat to it.
In general that gives the Denon’s bass more presence and comparing the two you’d definitely say the Denons are bassier.
The Denons manage to sound cleaner despite being a bit bloaty there compared to the V Modas, but at those super low sub bass frequencies the DT 770s still give the sound more presence. It’s a fair tradeoff for the Beyers. And with a little EQ-ing the Beyerdynamic still have powerful, well-represented bass.
But even with the help of EQ the Denons rolled off on those really low notes, such as the low hit in Roddy Ricch’s “The Box”.
If you’re used to listening to music with a subwoofer that hits low in your car or house like me, the Beyerdynamic will create a more consistent experience in that regard. It’s a nitpick but it’s worth pointing out.
The Denons still sound fantastic to me, though.
The best way I can think to describe what they bring against the Beyerdynamics is more fiber in the sound. Sometimes it’s a subtle but appreciable difference. There’s more refinement to the Denon sound, but it’s certainly a case where to gain a somewhat modest amount of additional detail requires a large step in price tag. At nearly three times the price (when the Denons were new) the Denon AH-D5000s do sound better overall, but for some it’d be debatable whether the difference makes the price difference worthwhile.
I’ll say that impresses me a great deal, since I’ve long considered the Denons the finest I’ve heard personally.
In terms of comfort it’s pretty close between these two headphones. The Denon AH-D5000’s large earcups are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever worn, and have less clamping pressure than the Beyerdynamic.
The velour of the Beyerdynamic is nice, though, especially when the headphones have been sitting on a cold desk when you first put them on. Pleather can feel a bit brisk at first.
The headband is probably the weak point of the Denons, though. While it’s more comfortable for long sessions than the V Modas, both are easily beaten by the Beyerdynamic’s lush headband.
I’m bald and have no hair to cushion the headband, so to me this is an important comparison and certainly something I appreciate about the DT 770s.
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