Review - Drop Cavalli Tube Hybrid (CTH)

Review - Beyerdynamic DT1770 Pro (vs DT1990 Pro & Custom Studio)

(para ver esta review en español, haz click aquí)


The Beyerdynamic DT1770 Pro have been loaned to me by a friend (and follower of the channel) who actually owns 3 sets of these headphones for a radio studio. I actually had all three sets in my posession for a while before I sent them on to him and did try them out briefly (about a year ago) but didn’t really do any in depth listening or comparisons at the time, so he has kindly sent them my way again to dive a little deeper.

Intro…

The Beyerdynamic DT1770 Pro is a closed back headphone that is stated (by Beyerdynamic) to be a studio reference  headphones for mixing, mastering and monitoring. The headphones we released a few years ago and were supposedly the upgrade of the original DT770, a very well known set of headphones.

The current price of these headphones is around 400€, which is not a premium price but is not on the cheaper end of the bracket either.

As you may know if you follow the channel and blog, one of my main sets of headphones is the DT1990 Pro. The 1990 is basically an open back version of these headphones, at least on paper and in looks, and has a love or hate following by most people in the headphone world.

I did a review of the DT1990 Pro on the blog here: Review - DT1990 Pro. Unfortunately I didn’t make a video at the time, so there is no version to watch on YouTube, however, I will be making some comparisons (as is expected) throughout this review). 

Another Beyerdynamic headphone I own and has seen a lot of use (and still does) is the Custom Studio. While the Custom Studio is a much cheaper alternative to the DT1770 Pro, coming in at around 130€, it is another closed back set that is aimed at mixdowns, mastering or recording sessions (again, according to Beyerdynamic). I will also make some brief comparisons to this cheaper alternative to see what differences there are, other than price of course. You can see the full review of the Custom Studio here: Review - Beyerdynamic Custom Studio.



Presentation…

The DT1770 Pro comes in a large box, with a flap that opens to reveal some details about the quality of the evolution in their Tesla 2.0 drivers. There are plenty of photos of the product and details all over the packaging but the interesting part is inside.

Inside the box we receive a large semi-rigid carrying case containing the headphones, two cables and two sets of pads (one pleather and one velour). There isn’t much else we could ask for.

The DT1990 Pro actually arrived with the exact same contents, except that the pad types are different. The Custom Studio (I’ll refer to them as CS from now on) are obviously not on a par, including nothing except for a carrying bag (other than the headphones and cable of course).



Build and aesthetics…

First let’s get the comparisons out of the way. The CS are built well, with plenty of metal, but the DT1770 and DT1990 are in a totally different league.

If we look at the DT1770 and the DT1990 side by side, they are identical except for the openings on the outer cups of the DT1990.

The headphones are almost all metal, you really have to search to find any visible plastic parts. I believe I said in my review of the DT1990 that these headphones seem to be built to be abused, they are literally the most robust headphones I have ever held. All of the parts (at least all of the ones I know of) are also replaceable, so they really are built to withstand studio use.

The included accessories are just as robust also. The cables are well built, the connectors are of good quality, the pads are very comfortable (at least the velour ones) and even the carrying case is of a good quality.

Of course, all this robustness does come with an increase in weight. They are not ridiculously heavy but they are certainly no lightweight. Luckily the comfort of the headband, and the headphones in general, counteracts the weight and I do not find them to be tiring for long sessions.

The aesthetics are nothing special but there is some beauty in their simpleness which, along with the good build quality, makes them look like a set of headphones that are not cheap.



Sound…

When I reviewed the DT1990, I did it more from a tool point of view, as they are headphones that I have used a lot for mixing and working on music. In the case of the DT1770, I haven’t really had a chance to work on any music so I haven’t put them through their paces as a tool, I have used them more for listening. As I have said on other occasions, I believe that almost any headphones (within reason) can be used for music production, as long as you get to know them and learn how they translate on other systems. In the case of the DT1770, I haven’t had the time to do this, so I will not go into their performance as a studio tool, I will just stick to my impressions of sound as a listener.

As mentioned, there are two sets of pads included with both the DT1990 and the DT1770. In the case of the DT1990, I have always used the “Analytical” set as I prefer the overall sound. In the case of the DT1770, I briefly tried both the pleather and the velour pads and opted for the velour set which is what I have used throughout my time with these headphones. There are differences between these pads and the pleather version but again, due to lack of time and the fact that a lot of my listening time has been done while working, I have stayed only with the velour option.

The bass extension of these headphones down into the sub-bass frequencies is very good. Even the lowest notes are presented and I don’t get the feeling that there is any information missing down there, as far as quantity is concerned. 

The same goes for the remaining bass frequencies, there is plenty of presence and they are not shy on bass quantity at any time. But… I find the bass to be a little loose and undefined at times. In fact, I find them to be a little loose and undefined most of the time when listening to songs with detailed bass. In comparison, I find the bass on the DT1990 Pro to have much better definition and while the extension may not go quite as low, the bass frequencies in general are much more coherent.

The bass of the CS is obviously dependent upon the position of the bass slider, going from rolled off to very present, but even when in the “bassiest” position, swapping over to the DT1770 appeared to be more present. I don’t think it is a case of the DT1770 having more bass but more of a bass that is more noticeable, the bass sort of jumps out at you. 

A good way to explain the “bass jumping out at you” would be if we tie this in to the lower mids and how it transitions. There is what seems to be like a large dip around 200Hz which sort of separates the low frequencies from the mids. This causes a sensation that anything below that point is coming from one source and anything above it is coming from another.

My main experience in the audio world has been working with live event set ups, some touring rigs and others permanent installations. One of the main “tricks” of getting a system to sound correct is the set up of the crossovers, especially between the subwoofers and mid drivers. This is obviously an important part of any speaker and room set up but the point I am trying to make is that, in order to get a smooth response and transition between speakers/subs, you need to place the subs correctly, and you need to set the crossover at a point that is beneficial to both the sub and the speaker, at a frequency point that is below positional hearing and close enough to not leave out any frequencies in the transition. 

The reason I am saying this is that the DT1770 leaves me with the impression in the lower end that someone has purchased a set of speakers and a subwoofer and just randomly hooked them up to a crossover, making no attempt to set it. It is as though the subwoofer is set to low pass at 180Hz and the mid drivers are set to high pass at 220Hz. This is obviously not the case as these headphones only use one driver, so there is no crossover point, but that gap at 200Hz leaves me with the sensation that we have a subwoofer and a mains speaker that just don't play well together.

After that gap, there is a rise that avoids all of this having a negative effect on the lower end of deep male vocals but it does play havoc with the tonality of my favourite instrument, the bass guitar!

Another problem I find is that as the mids start to approach the higher end, there is another roll off that creates a dip around 3kHz and removes a lot of presence from voices and other instruments that need that frequency range to bring them to life. If we add this dip to the large boost that is somewhere around the 80 to 100Hz mark, it gives a very dark overall signature.

In themidrange, while the details are decent and well presented, the overall signature detracts from their presence, leaving me feeling that not only do I much prefer the DT1990, but that the CS is also more preferable to me personally. While the CS does not have the speed and detail that the DT1770 does in the midrange, due to it being a more neutral signature, I find I appreciate the midrange more.

Moving into the high frequencies, there are the typical Beyerdynamic peaks, however, these do not come across as harshly as on the DT1990, especially the infamous 8.5kHz peak. With the DT1990, when I am purely listening to music, I have a rather large reduction of that peak by using EQ (I don’t reduce it when using them for mixing, but you can read more about that in the DT1990 review). In the case of the DT1770, I don’t feel the need to reduce the peak, in fact, it is nice to see some light in a very dark room.

I say this because as soon as we pass that peak, the treble starts to roll off pretty quickly, adding even more to the dark sound signature that are these headphones. I personally find that there is much more extension in the DT1990, offering much more air and brightness, adding a sense of breathability that I just don’t find on the DT1770. Even the CS seems to have more extension in the treble area, or at least not such a pronounced roll off (which could all stem from the issues we find at the bottom of the frequency range).

The soundstage is at least decent, not amazing but respectable for a closed back. There is a little bit off to the sides where the pencil that is writing “Letter” seems to get stuck but the image placement across the majority of the soundstage is pretty good.

As far as detail, speed and definition, I think that I have already mentioned the problem. I feel that the driver is capable of all of these but suffers greatly from the overall tuning of the headphone. In fact, I believe that the DT1990 uses exactly the same driver (I could be wrong, please correct me if I am) and is capable of great detail and speed.


Conclusion…

As I said at the beginning, the person who loaned me these headphones uses the for a radio studio, to monitor what is going on and to hold conversations with guests etc. I can understand that these headphones work very well for that situation, when almost everything is mid frequency focused, eliminating that bass that seems to interfere. With just spoken voices, there is plenty of clarity and everything is very intelligible.

However, when using these for listening to music, there are too many things getting in the way of enjoyment. I find it hard to focus on the midrange, due to the bass attracting too much attention to itself and then not being very good at what it does. I would say that people who enjoy lots of bass may enjoy these headphones but anyone who is looking at spending 400€ on a set of headphones should really be expecting better performance no matter how much bass boost they want. The bass is just not that great.

The treble is also not a strong part, again lacking detail and definition, although I feel that it is all due to the general sound signature and tuning of the headphones, not because the drivers aren’t capable. If these were mine (which they aren’t and I have no plan on getting a set), it would be interesting to experiment a driver swap with the DT1990 and see the result. If they are exactly the same drivers, that would certainly open these up to some open back modding which could give some very surprising results.

I can’t come to a conclusion about using these in a studio because I haven’t tried them in that situation, however, based on my listening experiences, I would much rather mix and master on the DT1990. If they were to be used solely for self monitoring while singing to avoid bleed into the mic, then I would just save money and grab a set of Custom Studio (or K371 or various other models that will work fine for less money).

As far as for listening purposes, I would certainly not swap my DT1990 Pro for these (even if I do have to reduce that Beyerdynamic peak) and would opt for the Hifiman Sundara or HD6-- series for more enjoyment at a better price point. In fact, even though the Custom Studio are not the most detailed of headphones and have various weak points, as far as overall tonality and sound signature, I prefer them to the DT1770 Pro.

My apologies to the person who very kindly loaned these to me, but look on the bright side, at least you don’t listen to music through them ;)

SenyorC