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[HELP]DT990 250Ω and DT880 600Ω: Amplifier requirements

infinityfine

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I've been creating reddit threads and Facebook posts across everywhere trying to decide which headphones to get and which amplifiers to pair them with(my current problem).

Out of all the recommendations, from the AKG K7s, Senn HDXXX line, Audio Technicas, HIFIMANs, down to the 73usd(local price i can get) HE400se, and due to a almost month long of mixed reviews I've read everywhere, It all came down to Durability > Imaging > Soundstage > Bass to me. (1month could be an exaggeration from me but it feels like it.)

So the best option would obviously the Beyers DT line(cant afford the DT 1990 which would be my target when I get richer!) according to my budget. And the Pro X looks like they have lesser(??) durability.

Now down to why I created an account here.
Per what I've read everywhere, the DT 990 600Ω would sound in deafening bass levels whereas the DT 880 250Ω would be "boring". Are these true?
So my first question is what are the "strengths" of the 250Ω DT 990 over the 600Ω DT880 and vice versa?


The next problem which I really want resolved is the amp requirements on each.
This is such a rabbit hole, reminds me of when I researched about "just wanting to get a nice keyboard".

My source would be my motherboard which is a MSI B450M PRO-M2 MAX(MS-7B84) - only has USB ports
I've been looking everywhere and here are the models which I believe would work(?). Please note that this is only my noob ass's result of ignorant research.

DT 990 250Ω - 150USD
  • Topping A30 Pro rated at 840mW x2(???) @300Ω - 249USD
  • Topping L30 II rated at 560mW x2 @300Ω - 149USD
  • Topping A50s rated at I don't know, too much technicalities, there's THD @1kHz and @20kHz and @2Vrms IN - could someone explain?
    • But it does say 90mW, 77mW, and 52mW x2 @300Ω - will the DTs benefit from a 6.5 or a 4.4mm cable?
    • 219USD
  • Topping DX3 Pro plus rated at I don't know again, there's two: THD @1kHz and THD @20kHz
    • does say 160mW and 250mw x2 @300Ω - so I guess this is also okay?
    • 175USD
    • Also says that is it partly a DAC - is the output good enough to power the DT 990 250?
      • How big of a difference would the L30 II have over it? the 840mW A30 Pro?
  • Fiio K5 Pro ESS
    • rated at 140mW @300Ω UAC/SPDIF IN - no "x2" like the others? what is UAC/SPDIF?
    • rated at 170mW @300Ω LINE IN - Line IN? difference between a Line in and UAC/SPDIF?
    • 170USD
    • Also says that is it partly a DAC - is the output good enough to power the DT 990 250?
  • Fiio K3 rated at 13mW @300Ω - 75USD
    • Also says it's a DAC
  • FX-Audio DAC-X6MKII rated at 200mW @300Ω - 62USD
    • Also says it's a DAC - real cheap compared to others but is 200mW enough for 250Ω?
  • ifi ZEN Air DAC - 105USD
    • Says it's primarily a DAC but can output 36mW @300Ω - is this enough to power the DT 990?
  • Schiit Fulla rated at 40mW RMS(??) @300Ω - 109USD
    • Also says it's a DAC for Gaming
DT 880 600Ω - 160USD
  • Topping L50 rated at 290mW x2 @600Ω - 170USD
  • Topping NX7 rated at 90mW x2 @600Ω - 160USD
    • Portable - will there be a problem if I use it as a desktop amp? my motherboard only has USB ports.
  • FX-Audio DAC-X6 rated at 90mW @600Ω - again no "x2"?
    • Seems to me that it may also power the DT 990 since its rated 180mW @300Ω
    • 53USD - so cheap, why?
  • Schiit Magni Heresy/3plus rated at 215mW RMS(??) @600Ω - what is mW RMS per channel?
    • 99USD - best deal? also rated 410mw for 300Ω
  • Schiit Vali rated at 200mW RMS @600Ω
    • 149USD - 50% more expensive than Magni, why?
I'm aware of other brands specifically Shanling, xDuoo, and Soundblaster, but it seems like they're sketchy(??) since their published spec sheets in their websites are lacking.
Other brands I have not listed are I have no idea if they exist. Any suggestions?

I would like to keep my budget below 200USD or cheaper for this Amplifier requirement.
Also, have no idea of the "ideal" compatibility of a dedicated DAC plus a dedicated AMP - apparently people call it a "stack".
Can I have a 50USD DAC and pair it with an expensive 150USD AMP?
Or a 250USD DAC/AMP 2in1? - Is this generally better? I want to make sure that the highest impedance level of the headphone will be reached via the mW spec it is rated on. I believe both headphones are rated at 90 to 96 mW?

I know that answering all of these could be too much to ask so I'm giving away all(less than 10) my giftable Steam games which would be real old games, some are not in Steam anymore.
Help a brother out will ya?
 
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twsecrest

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staticV3

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And the Pro X looks like they have lesser(??) durability.
Both the 990 Pro 250Ω and 880 Edition 600Ω have permanently fixed cables.
On my 990 Pro 250Ω, the cable was the first thing that broke after storing it in the official Beyerdynamic DT Hardcase once.
The Pro X line on the other hand has replaceable cables.
DT 990 600Ω would sound in deafening bass levels whereas the DT 880 250Ω
I assume you mixed up the impedances there.
cant afford the DT 1990 which would be my target when I get richer!
I wouldn't buy a 1990 even if I could. I don't know why anyone would tbh:
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 (oratory1990).png
So my first question is what are the "strengths" of the 250Ω DT 990 over the 600Ω DT880 and vice versa?
DT 990 Pro 250Ω vs DT 880 Edition 600Ω.png
990 has more treble (yikes) less upper bass and lower mids, but more deep bass.
From personal experience, the 990 Pro 250Ω sounds just awful. Fuzzy, grainy treble and lo-fi bass. Not even EQ could save it for me.
Haven't heard the 880 Edition 600Ω yet.
Other brands I have not listed are I have no idea if they exist. Any suggestions?
Here's how much Voltage you need for both:
990.png 880.png

The maximum safe input voltage for the two is
DT 990 Pro 250Ω: 5.0Vrms
DT 880 Edition 600Ω: 7.75Vrms

Taking my own motherboard audio as an example, it will output a maximum of 1.22Vrms via Line out.
That means that I'd need an Amp with 12dB gain for the 990 and 16dB gain for the 880 to Max them out.
Let's say you have a DAC with nominal 2Vrms out instead. If you don't, $40 will get you one (Ugreen 80583).
With 2Vrms, you need only 8/12dB of gain.

Here are some inexpensive, high quality headphone Amps with their respective gain:

Sabaj A10h 9dB
Sabaj A20h 15dB
JDS Atom Amp+?dB
Schiit Magni Heresy15dB
SMSL HO10015.5dB
SMSL SH-615.5dB
Topping L30 II16.5dB

Any one of them will work, so choose the one whose looks, features, and local price you prefer.
 

Doodski

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The Schiit Heresy is the best value for a basic barebones amp.
index.php
 

staticV3

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@Doodski "Distortion vs Power @ 33 Ohm" is irrelevant for either of the headphones OP is interested in. Not disagreeing though. Magni Heresy would be a good choice.
 

DVDdoug

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I found "sensitivity" specs on the Beyerdynamic website but it doesn't say how it's measured (volts or milliwatts).

The maximum VOLTAGE output from a headphone amp (before clipping) is what counts. There won't be any voltage-output difference with high-impedance headphones... If it clips at 9V with 250 Ohm headphones it will clip at 9V with 600 Ohm headphones. (The output may clip at a slightly lower voltage with regular low impedance headphones.)

Power (Watts or milliwatts) can be calculated as Voltage squared/Impedance. So lower impedance means more power which generally means louder but that's just a generalization because some headphones convert electrical energy to acoustic energy more efficiently than others. Or flipping that around, high impedance headphones usually need more voltage.

Since headphone impedance varies so much, the output power specs aren't that helpful. (With power amplifiers we are normally using 4 or 8-Ohm speakers and a wattage spec is more useful.) It's OK if the headphone sensitivity is rated in mW because as long as we know the impedance of that particular headphone we can convert to voltage.

The output from a laptop or phone or an "average" headphone amplifier may not go loud enough for you with high impedance headphones.
 

solderdude

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Per what I've read everywhere, the DT 990 600Ω would sound in deafening bass levels whereas the DT 880 250Ω would be "boring". Are these true?
So my first question is what are the "strengths" of the 250Ω DT 990 over the 600Ω DT880 and vice versa?

DT990-600 has a warm tone and is bassy but not well extended in the subbass. Elevated treble that some hate and others love (lots of fake 'hyperdetail')
The DT880 of old are neutral/cold/bass shy in comparison and also have elevated treble which stands out even more.
The current DT880 is much closer to the DT990 these days. There are many different DT880 iterations.

The next problem which I really want resolved is the amp requirements on each.
This is such a rabbit hole, reminds me of when I researched about "just wanting to get a nice keyboard".

200mW is more than enough. The 600 ohm versions require a higher output voltage and higher gain.

and here are the models which I believe would work(?). Please note that this is only my noob ass's result of ignorant research.

DT 990 250Ω - 150USD
  • Topping A30 Pro rated at 840mW x2(???) @300Ω - 249USD = O.K.
  • Topping L30 II rated at 560mW x2 @300Ω - 149USD = O.K.
  • Topping A50s rated at I don't know, too much technicalities, there's THD @1kHz and @20kHz and @2Vrms IN - could someone explain?
    • But it does say 90mW, 77mW, and 52mW x2 @300Ω - will the DTs benefit from a 6.5 or a 4.4mm cable?
    • 219USD = O.K.
  • Topping DX3 Pro plus rated at I don't know again, there's two: THD @1kHz and THD @20kHz
    • does say 160mW and 250mw x2 @300Ω - so I guess this is also okay?
    • 175USD = O.K.for 250 ohm
    • Also says that is it partly a DAC - is the output good enough to power the DT 990 250?
      • How big of a difference would the L30 II have over it? the 840mW A30 Pro?
  • Fiio K5 Pro ESS
    • rated at 140mW @300Ω UAC/SPDIF IN - no "x2" like the others? what is UAC/SPDIF? = O.K.
    • rated at 170mW @300Ω LINE IN - Line IN? difference between a Line in and UAC/SPDIF? = O.K.
    • 170USD
    • Also says that is it partly a DAC - is the output good enough to power the DT 990 250?
  • Fiio K3 rated at 13mW @300Ω - 75USD = avoid
    • Also says it's a DAC
  • FX-Audio DAC-X6MKII rated at 200mW @300Ω - 62USD = O.K.
    • Also says it's a DAC - real cheap compared to others but is 200mW enough for 250Ω?
  • ifi ZEN Air DAC - 105USD
    • Says it's primarily a DAC but can output 36mW @300Ω - is this enough to power the DT 990? = maybe avoid if you want impressive levels
  • Schiit Fulla rated at 40mW RMS(??) @300Ω - 109USD = maybe avoid if you want impressive levels
    • Also says it's a DAC for Gaming
DT 880 600Ω - 160USD
  • Topping L50 rated at 290mW x2 @600Ω - 170USD = O.K.
  • Topping NX7 rated at 90mW x2 @600Ω - 160USD = maybe avoid if you want impressive levels
    • Portable - will there be a problem if I use it as a desktop amp? my motherboard only has USB ports.
  • FX-Audio DAC-X6 rated at 90mW @600Ω - again no "x2"? = maybe avoid if you want impressive levels
    • Seems to me that it may also power the DT 990 since its rated 180mW @300Ω
    • 53USD - so cheap, why?
  • Schiit Magni Heresy/3plus rated at 215mW RMS(??) @600Ω - what is mW RMS per channel? = O.K.
    • 99USD - best deal? also rated 410mw for 300Ω
  • Schiit Vali rated at 200mW RMS @600Ω = O.K. but tubes, would avoid original Vali
    • 149USD - 50% more expensive than Magni, why? because of tube,


Can I have a 50USD DAC and pair it with an expensive 150USD AMP?

Yes.

Or a 250USD DAC/AMP 2in1? - Is this generally better?

It saves interlinks and an extra box.

I want to make sure that the highest impedance level of the headphone will be reached via the mW spec it is rated on. I believe both headphones are rated at 90 to 96 mW?

100mW continuous and about 300mW music peaks is no technical issue. Beyerdynamics start to distort before that.

The DT1990 with the treble peak filtered and A-pads fitted is a much better sounding headphone than DT880
The DT1990 with B pads is a bit muddy/boomy with sharp treble. The DT990 is more 'enjoyable' as it is... a bit more 'forgiving' and fun.
 
OP
infinityfine

infinityfine

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Here's how much Voltage you need for both:
View attachment 243555 View attachment 243556

The maximum safe input voltage for the two is
DT 990 Pro 250Ω: 5.0Vrms
DT 880 Edition 600Ω: 7.75Vrms

Taking my own motherboard audio as an example, it will output a maximum of 1.22Vrms via Line out.
That means that I'd need an Amp with 12dB gain for the 990 and 16dB gain for the 880 to Max them out.
Let's say you have a DAC with nominal 2Vrms out instead. If you don't, $40 will get you one (Ugreen 80583).
With 2Vrms, you need only 8/12dB of gain.

Here are some inexpensive, high quality headphone Amps with their respective gain:

Sabaj A10h9dB
Sabaj A20h15dB
JDS Atom Amp+?dB
Schiit Magni Heresy15dB
SMSL HO10015.5dB
SMSL SH-615.5dB
Topping L30 II16.5dB

Any one of them will work, so choose the one whose looks, features, and local price you prefer.
Hi man @staticV3 , thanks so much! This is helpful, but the technicalities and relationship of the Vrms over the dB gain metric still confuses me.
  • Also, the DAC nominal output(??).
It looks to me that the 250Ω 990 is easier to drive and could have more flexible options because of that.
Now comes solving the 600Ω DT 880.

"DT 880 Edition 600Ω: 7.75Vrms | DAC with nominal 2Vrms out |16dB gain for 880600Ω"
  • does this mean that only the Topping Topping L30 II could potentially reach the maximum(or Fairly Loud(?)level) rated SPL/mW of this headphone?
    • or are these suggestions only true for the 250Ω DT 990?
  • I'm also quite interested on the Schiit Magni Heresy but it'll cost me extra 43USD for economy shipping. Is this good for the 600Ω DT 880?
 

staticV3

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does this mean that only the Topping Topping L30 II could potentially reach the maximum(or Fairly Loud(?)level) rated SPL/mW of this headphone?
  • or are these suggestions only true for the 250Ω DT 990?
If you want to use the DAC that's built into your PC motherboard, and it has a weak output like mine does, then you will require 16dB gain to completely max out the DT 880 Edition 600Ω.
If the motherboard output is not weak and puts out 2Vrms like it should, or you buy an external DAC, then 12dB gain will be enough to reach the maximum safe input voltage of the DT 880 Edition 600Ω.

The question is do you really need to max out the headphone like this? It'll reach 112dB SPL peak if you do.

For me personally, the answer is absolutely not.
I listen at about 80dB SPL peak, and so even just the Apple dongle, or the headphone output built into the motherboard would be loud enough for me.
Apple-Apple-USB-C-to-3.5-mm-Headphone_417489_00.jpg.jpg
 
OP
infinityfine

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Hi man @solderdude ! I wish I could say better words than thank you. Short, precise, and on point! This is a wonderful forum.
The current DT880 is much closer to the DT990 these days. There are many different DT880 iterations.
  • is this the DT880 250Ω being compared to a DT990 250Ω?
The 600 ohm versions require a higher output voltage and higher gain.
  • what would be the minimal output voltage and higher gain metric for the 600ohm DT880 to reach its maximum rated SPL/mw?
  • Schiit Magni Heresy/3plus rated at 215mW RMS(??) @600Ω - what is mW RMS per channel? = O.K.
    • 99USD - best deal? also rated 410mw for 300Ω
  • I'm quite interested on the Schiit Magni Heresy, besides their website, are there other listing that could potentially ship them to Asia? The Amazon listing apparently does not.
Or a 250USD DAC/AMP 2in1? - Is this generally better? It saves interlinks and an extra box.
  • Would you have a suggestion of which 2in1 at maximum 250USD that could potentially power the 600Ω DT880's maximum rated SPL/mW rating?
I want to make sure that the highest impedance level of the headphone will be reached via the mW spec it is rated on. I believe both headphones are rated at 90 to 96 mW?
- 100mW continuous and about 300mW music peaks is no technical issue. Beyerdynamics start to distort before that
  • Would you have other AMP suggestions?
 

KR500

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My BD Pro DT-880 250 ohm phones are the best option out of my 4 different BD cans.
The other 3 are all excellent but the 880 pro is my go to daily. Plus my 600 ohm 990 Editions just stopped working on one channel despite only around 60 hours of VERY CAREFUL use and handling . Aargh .
I use an analog 31 band stereo ART graphic eq and either a Little Dot mark 2+ tube amp or schmitt magni. I also use a WHAMMY headphone amp.
The Little Dot is one of the early ones and very well made with quality parts and I selected tubes after a lot of tube rolling. Mullard preamp tubes and some NOS USSR power tubes. It sounds really good with the 600 ohm beyers. The magni sounds very good, but I REALLY don’t like the volume pot, scratchy when rotated,and tiny
 

twsecrest

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The DT990 has a strong bass/treble, which slightly overshadows the mids, but the mids are clear.
DT880, more balanced sound, than the DT990, but the DT880 is slightly bright sounding.
I own the DT880 (250 & 600) and the DT990 (250 & 600). they gather dust, I prefer the Soundmagic HP200.
 
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infinityfine

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The question is do you really need to max out the headphone like this? It'll reach 112dB SPL peak if you do.

For me personally, the answer is absolutely not.
I listen at about 80dB SPL peak, and so even just the Apple dongle, or the headphone output built into the motherboard would be loud enough for me.
View attachment 243606
  • Hmmm, what would be the difference of listening at a 80dB SPL on the 250Ω DT990 vs 80dB SPL on the 600Ω DT 880?
  • Or what does the DT990 250Ω do better over the DT880 600Ω and vice versa at 80dB SPL?

If you want to use the DAC that's built into your PC motherboard, and it has a weak output like mine does, then you will require 16dB gain to completely max out the DT 880 Edition 600Ω.
If the motherboard output is not weak and puts out 2Vrms like it should, or you buy an external DAC, then 12dB gain will be enough to reach the maximum safe input voltage of the DT 880 Edition 600Ω.
  • Now I'm quite interested diving into the DACs rabbit hole.
  • My motherboard has a Realtek® ALC887/ALC897 Codec
    • from what I've read online, this is not quite good, though I'm not sure what is its rated Vrms output.
    • This tells me that I would certainly need an external DAC
      • Which external DACs do you think that could output 2Vrms or higher? is higher better?
 
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infinityfine

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My BD Pro DT-880 250 ohm phones are the best option out of my 4 different BD cans.
The other 3 are all excellent but the 880 pro is my go to daily. Plus my 600 ohm 990 Editions just stopped working on one channel despite only around 60 hours of VERY CAREFUL use and handling . Aargh .
I use an analog 31 band stereo ART graphic eq and either a Little Dot mark 2+ tube amp or schmitt magni. I also use a WHAMMY headphone amp.
The Little Dot is one of the early ones and very well made with quality parts and I selected tubes after a lot of tube rolling. Mullard preamp tubes and some NOS USSR power tubes. It sounds really good with the 600 ohm beyers. The magni sounds very good, but I REALLY don’t like the volume pot, scratchy when rotated,and tiny
Interesting, I've read quite a lot of reviews, that would imply that Tubes aren't good with the DTs as amplifiers.
I've also read somewhere that the xDuoo MT-602 is good but didnt make my list since I dont see a spec sheet saying a stated metric for mW @300 or @600 ohms. Also, it says it;s a hybrid tube plus Solid State?
 

Doodski

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Which external DACs do you think that could output 2Vrms or higher? is higher better?
The JDS Labs Atom DAC+ has 5 minute auto shut OFF, 2V output and matches the size of the Schiit Heresy amp near perfectly so they can be stacked neatly when using this cable. I checked the JDS Labs website and they charge $38 for global shipping.
 
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infinityfine

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The DT990 has a strong bass/treble, which slightly overshadows the mids, but the mids are clear.
DT880, more balanced sound, than the DT990, but the DT880 is slightly bright sounding.
I own the DT880 (250 & 600) and the DT990 (250 & 600). they gather dust, I prefer the Soundmagic HP200.
If you were to rank all 4 Beyers. How would it look like? What are the strengths of each over the other? I just want to say you have too many headphones! man. And here I am just wanting to settle to one that would hopefully last me for at least 5years. I couldn't find any listing of the HP200. Also, per what the very few reviews I've read, there seems to be some QC issues(??). Reviews I've read dated old though, I wonder how they would punch with the newer iterations of the DT 880 and others.
 
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