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December 6, 2011

Recabling a Pair of Beyerdynamic DT880 Headphones

Beyerdynamic is a family-owned audio equipment manufacturer based in Germany that produces headphones, microphones and wireless audio systems. The headphones produced by Beyer are very solidly made, I'd imagine the rugged designs have the travelling DJ in mind. Still, the sound produced by Beyerdynamics top-tier headphones is something the discerning audiophile can really appreciate. The DT770, DT880 and DT990 models are ideal choices for the listener on a budget, and if one likes what they hear, there are pricier Tesla-based models that Beyer has recently introduced, namely the T-1, T-5p, and T-70.

The Beyer DT770, DT880 and DT990
The differences between the 770, 880 and 990 are surprisingly not subtle. The DT880 tends to be the most chosen for neutral listening, it is a semi-open design and has the most well-balanced presentation of the three headphones. The DT770 and DT990 are much more bassy, with the heaviest bass response coming from the closed DT770. The fully-open DT990 seems to have slightly less bass and a wider soundstage than the 770. I personally think that the 770 is the ideal movie and gaming headphone, the 880 is the best for analytical listening, and the 990 is good for audio enthusiasts who need a fun-to-listen-to headphone that matches a typical speaker system's bass response. 

While the sound of each headphone varies, the process of recabling them is nearly identical. Aside from the driver and cup design, the headphones appear to be identical inside and out. For this post, I will be recabling the Beyerdynamic DT880 headphones. Below is a stock DT880.

The Beyerdynamic DT880 Headphone

The wire for recabling a Beyer and still keeping the single-entry look takes a little bit more care than a typical headphone cable. When braiding, the wire should go from a litz braid to two twisted pairs about 2 and a half feet from the end. One of these pairs is nearly trimmed off, only leaving enough wire to get to the driver within the cup. The other twisted pair will be run through the headband. 

The braided Beyerdynamic cable
The wire is then sleeved and the long twisted pair gets some heatshrink to distinguish each side. 

Sleeved Cable

Then a four pin Neutrik connector is attached for balanced operation. If you are interested in reading more about 4 pin balanced connectors, please check out my post creating a 4 pin to TRS adapter cable

Cable terminated with a Neutrik 4 Pin XLR

Now that the cable is ready, the first step to getting inside the headphones is to remove the velour pads. These pads stretch over the frame of the cup, so there are no screws to remove, etc. You will notice a number of perforations on the inside of the pads, these holes make a big difference in the sound, covering them adds unwanted reverberation. If one replaces the velour pads with leather, it is preferable (in my humble opinion) to get the leather pads with the perforations inside. 

DT880 pads removed from the cups

The next piece is removed using a typical envelope opener to pry the plastic ring out of the cups. The plastic ring retains the driver and driver surround. Once it has been removed, one has access to the driver terminals. 

DT880 driver and driver terminals

There is generally a marking on the driver to determine the positive side. In this case it is a yellowish gold mark. I take the time to use a multimeter and verify this is the case before snipping off the stock wires. The left driver has three terminals, the center is the right signal which is not electrically connected to the driver but the wire that runs across the headband is connected to this terminal. The ground is also run from the ground of the left driver to the right driver. This is all removed and ignored as dedicated wires will be run directly to the drivers in the recable. This will remove unnecessary solder joints in the signal path and isolate the ground for balanced operation. Below is a photo of the shell of the DT880 stripped and ready for the recable. 

Beyer DT880 Shell

The latest models of the 770, 880 and 990 have a square opening that the stock wire is fed into, This square hole needs to be dremelled out so that it is round, then heatshrink built up on the new cable for a perfect fit. A custom retaining system is set in place to keep the cable from being tugged out of the cup. 

Wires soldered to the DT880 driver

The wire is soldered to the driver terminals with the assistance of engineer helping hands. The wire is then fed through the little grommet to the other cup. The headband is now placed over the wire and sealed back up using the zip-lock bag type mechanism. 

The wire is fed through the little grommets in the cups
The second driver is soldered on the same way, and we have a complete headphone!

Completed headphone

This headphone also has a balanced to single ended adapter so it can be used with both types of amps. 

Another angle
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. If you'd like your Beyerdynamic headphones (or any other headphones) by an experienced recabler with some excellent sounding cable, contact Zynsonix. Since the 770, 880 and 990 are all quite similar on the inside, each can be modded / recabled the same way. Here's a Beyerdynamic DT990 PRO with a recable with both a standard mini and a Pono output to maximize utility out on the road. 


Beyerdynamic DT990 modded with new cable, mini and pono connectors


The Fine Print:
The above steps detailing the recabling of a headphone are for entertainment purposes only, and not to be performed under any circumstances. The owner of this blog and all associated parties can not / will not be held responsible if you attempt the process posted and cause physical harm to yourself, your surroundings or your property. Please keep this in mind.

 


12 comments:

  1. Hi,

    I think you may have made a slight mistake in the introduction. The DT880s are semi open, while the DT990 are completely open.

    May I know if it is possible to improve the soundstage and imaging of the DT880 by removing the white thing between the driver and the aluminium housing?

    I have the DT880 but I find that the soundstage is rather narrow and lacks depth. It fails to project the sound in front and around me. In fact, it is worse in this respect than the much cheaper Audio Technica AD700. Perhaps I should have gotten the completely open DT990 instead and live with the recessed trebles.

    To those considering the DT880/990, don't get the 32ohm version. The 250 and 600 are much better sounding according to many reviews. Some even say that the 600 is much better because the base is more well controlled and the music sound more alive. I personally can't comment on this because I have the 250ohm version. Sort of regretted my purchase to be honest...

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  2. Good catch, the post has been revised to reflect the correct info.

    I actually received someone's DT880s for recable that did not have the white plastic and felt housing around one of the drivers. I requested one from Beyer and replaced it, but the differences between the piece on and off were hard to distinguish. Perhaps with a bit more time and testing the differences would have been more apparent.

    The 600ohm version is indeed the most well rounded to these ears. You can always purchase the drivers from Beyer separately if you have the desire to "upgrade".

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  3. Hi highflying,

    I'm the anonymous person who wrote the first comment.

    I guess I have to live with the less than satisfactory soundstage of the DT880 then... It simply does not give a 3D sound that the AD700 is capable of. The DT880's soundstage is quite a bit narrower and sounds more "in-your head" - it does not envelope me. As a result, it fails to make the music "come alive" and is not "involving" in any sense of the word. What a pity; I would have considered the DT880 a perfect headphone for me if not for this issue.

    Is it too much to ask for a headphone which has the same great soundstage as the AD700, but with the excellent frequency response of the Beyers? Do I really have to buy a Beyerdynamic tesla T1 or Audio technica W5000?

    I ought to mention that I'm not using terribly low end equipment. I have a TubeMagic D1 DAC.

    PS: Thanks for the quick response!

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  4. Back when I owned a DT880 I didn't really have a problem with the soundstage. I remember it being wider than Grados and the Sennheiser HD600 / 650 headphones. You may try taking your DT880s with you to a meet to try them with some other amp / DAC combos before you give up on them. If they still don't do anything for you, you might want to save your sheckles for a pair of AKG K1000s, they are widely known as the king of soundstage ;)

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  5. Can you reuse the original cable to convert to balanced?

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  6. Unfortunately not, there are only three conductors in the stock cables.

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  7. What wire gauge do you typically use for headphone re-cables? I'm thinking about re-cabling my 250ohm DT770's and was also wondering what wire manufacturer you recommend to match with those?

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  8. I typically find that 24 gauge is the most ideal compromise between size and flexibility. I have used other gauges in particular circumstances, as low as 19.

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  9. With reference from the diagram DT880 driver and driver terminals - Can I use
    a silver cable to connect at the driver terminals for one drive unit and still use original cable for the other side drive unit. If so how do I connect them ?

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  10. Yes, you certainly could, however it's not very difficult to run the wire through the headband and I would recommend that for the sake of the sound quality. Otherwise you will end up with one driver with a solid connection, and one with X number of feet of silver wire, then the solder terminal on the first driver, then thinner enameled copper wire for another two or so feet before it reaches the other driver. Your ears may pick up on that disparity.

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  11. Buenas tardes. Soy de Brasil, y estoy en duda en cuanto a los modelos DT770 DT880 Pro y Pro. Quals estos es lo mejor para una producción musical de estudio? Gracias
    paredes Vilma
    Mogi das Cruzes-SP-Brasil
    casinhaperfumada@outlook.com

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  12. I believe you're asking the difference between the standard and the pro models of the Beyers. The only difference that I am aware of is the clamping force of the headband, so you get more isolation from the pro models as they clamp a little harder.

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