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DT-48, Beyer DT-48E for music listening

Read more on the Beyer DT-48 in our home audio section

Dale Thorn2011-02-15 06:28

Having had the DT-48 (no extra designation) and the DT-48S in the mid-1970's, I was curious to see what changed with the more recent model, the DT-48E that some sites were listing as a hi-fi headphone. The 1970's models (both sounded the same with the oval circumaural cushions) sounded rather low-fi, with severely rolled off lows and highs. I experimented with a Soundcraftsmen equalizer in the 1970's, and got a pretty good idea just how deficient those headphones were for hi-fi listening. Today's DT-48E uses similar cushions, but they are thicker, which makes them comfortable to wear, which the 1970's models were not. The extra thickness of the DT-48E's cushions, plus the fact that they seem to be sealed to the driver units and non-movable (the 1970's versions were movable 360 degrees), is probably what accounts for the improved sound of the DT-48E, particularly in the bass.

Just saying "improved sound" does not convey the impression I have of the new DT-48E. I have a $1500 Sennheiser HD-800 headphone, and the differences I discern between the HD-800 and the DT-48 are:

The HD-800 is warmer and has less presence.
The HD-800 has a stronger bass response, particularly in the deep bass.
The DT-48, while having more presence, i.e. a more forward midrange, has none of the midrange colorations of most headphones in its price range and below.

In summary, I was not prepared for such a dramatic difference in the DT-48, and I found it difficult to believe that it could compare favorably to the Sennheiser HD-800. There must be something I'm missing that the experts in this field would notice. But so far, my impressions seems to be holding up.

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Dale Thorn2011-04-05 17:54

Addendum to review: I discovered that while the DT-48 has significantly less output than the HD-800 at 14 khz, it has much stronger output than the HD-800 at 15 to 16 khz. I missed this in my initial tests, because I thought my hearing cut off at 14 khz due to age. The "free mosquito tones" available on the Web are a good verification for these tests, since they are accurate as to frequency and loudness.

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