Go into any top recording studio and the chances are that you'll find not one, but numerous pairs of Beyerdynamic DT100 headphones. DT100s are tough, they're loud and you can replace almost all the parts in the field, but to be honest, they aren't the best sounding headphone on the market. They're fine for musicians monitoring while recording, but less good for making value judgements on a mix. In recent years, Beyerdynamic has extended the DT series considerably, each time bringing about an improvement in sound, and the latest in that illustrious line is the DT770 reviewed here.
Like the DT100, the DT770 is a closed headphone, but there the similarity ends. This headphone is designed for optimum listening quality in situations where open headphones would be inappropriate, and a new lightweight diaphragm, which is around one‑fifth the mass of that used in other current designs, is claimed to give a high‑end transparency that challenges that of electrostatic headphones. That's equivalent to building a dynamic mic with the high‑end performance of a capacitor model.
The DT770 features circular, fully sealed acoustic chambers with foam‑filled velour ear cushions that fit over, rather than resting upon, the ears. Inside is a ported bass reflex system and the frequency response is quoted as 5Hz to 35kHz, though the roll‑off limits are not specified. A 3m coiled cord is fitted to the phones and terminates in what appears to be a gold‑plated quarter‑inch jack plug — but unscrew the barrel and there's a 3.5mm stereo jack inside. However, unlike that of the DT100, the cord doesn't unplug so replacement will involve some disassembly. Each phone is supported in an anodised aluminium yoke and these are in turn supported by a well padded, adjustable headband.
In use, these phones are a comfortable, snug fit and offer a useful amount of isolation from outside sound. The headband grips the yokes tightly, so there's no tendency for the size adjustment to slip once the phones are in place. The overall weight is 270g, which though not featherweight, is reasonably low for a quality closed phone.
Soundwise, the DT770s don't display any of the boxy characteristics of earlier closed models and they present the mid and high frequencies extremely clearly, responding well to dynamic transients. Similarly, the low end doesn't disappoint, with more than adequate low‑frequency extension and a good balance between the bass and the mid/high part of the spectrum. The nominal SPL is around 96dB, with 100mW of power equating to 116dB. A typical safe monitoring level for moderate periods is around 90dB.
Of course listening on headphones is a different experience to listening on loudspeakers, but the overall tonal balance is surprisingly close to that of a pair of top‑flight monitors. You don't get the same physical impression of bass because only your ears are involved, whereas with speakers it's your whole body, and the stereo image always seems to exist inside your head rather than in front of it, but for track laying late at night or for scrutinising a mix for imperfections, the DT770s are hard to fault. Other than the lack of an unpluggable cord, these are fine studio headphones. Paul White