(EU) Upgrade from zen stack & DT 880 600 ohm?


Below is my current setup, a zen stack with an fx-audio tube pre-amp using a balance modded DT880 600 ohm, with Dekoni choice suede pads iirc.

I’m not necessarily going to upgrade but we are slowly approaching the end of the year and I do kind of want more bass, so I figured I’d explore my options. Let’s keep it in a budget of 1000$/Euros and it would need to be a noticeable upgrade.

As for my listening preference I don’t have much to go on besides this setup but here goes. I like the DT880s and they sound perfectly fine to me on the zen stack, I’m really just missing some oomph. The highs everybody complains about in the beyers did not bother me even on stock, but the dekoni pads were more comfortable, with more bass. Also making the sound overall a bit richer/warmer, though it did come at the cost of some clarity. The tube pre-amp barely adds anything but it changes the sound signature just enough to be more enjoyable, more…real?

I mostly game, but not competitively and the Soundstage and imaging of the DT880 are nice. Also using the redscape audio head tracker for immersion and surround, which it does really well, even if it means sacrificing some bass. Which btw is also nice and crisp, they still make my head rumble. It doesn’t grip me in my belly though. Like it “sounds” good, but I want it to “feel” good.

I should probably also mention that I tried the DT880s on the ifi go blu and while they sounded better on the stack, I found the difference to be rather minor. I also got to compare some hi-res recordings vs mp3 quality on qobuz and I honestly can’t tell if I heard a difference or if I heard one simply because I expected to. They sounded almost identical to me. So I guess I don’t have the most analytical ears, hence why I’m not sure an upgrade is really going to do all that much for me.

I’ve read all sorts of opinions about the DT880 and amps needed to power them. There doesn’t seem to be any real concensus? I’m not hellbent on keeping them, but the most sensible to me seems to be to increase bass on the DT880s. I’m not opposed to trying a different pair of headphones though.

For bass increase, people seem to mention lakepeople a lot, but from what I can tell, it would have to be at least a G111. The Tor Audio balanced amp, though expensive, seems like it might offer a significant change. On the cheaper end, there is the custom cans mod kit that seems to increase bass only, which I could use in conjunction with a cheaper option. (Waiting for feedback on the extent of that in another thread). There is also the newly released IFI IDSD 2 which would replace the entire stack, but I would get me more levels of X base and space, both of which I would appreciate, though I am questioning the whole “5 times stronger” thing.

But maybe a better solution would be to try a different pair of headphones altogether? That keep/improve the imaging/sound stage but add bass, but they cannot be less comfortable. Definitely also can’t be bothered with EQ or tinkering too much with tubes. Some amount of tinkering is fine, but I’m not down with the Linux experience of getting my EXACT custom setup and loosing my sanity along the way. The xDuoo XD05Pro in that sense looks really interesting too, not sure I can get it though, or the AUNE X8 (?)

Anyway, about time I wrap this up, sorry for the wall of text :smiley:


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I’ve had them a few times and really like them. The best result was the DT770 silver pads which are a different part number than the 990/880 pads which adds a little bass. A shelf EQ below 225hz of -3db with a preamp reduction and it was a simple and comfy way to make them bassier without losing detail. I’ve powered them with everything from a Soundblaster X1 up to full tilt Topping A30Pro which was nice to have headroom to equalize more. They do have a bass distortion if you push them too hard though, so I wouldn’t boost unless you have the power for a preamp reduction.

I’d upgrade the transducer first before the stack especially if had $1k (s/h?) to :fire: the Zen stack’s solid…I’d be I have this stack what HP’s are an upgrade to the 880 600’s… Interested to see what you go with pls keep us updated :+1:

Well that is the question isn’t it lol. I don’t know what is supposed to be better. Hell, according to the sages of the internet, the DT 880s on the zen stack is the bare minimum to make them sound good and they could sound way better. Although I can’t say I put much faith in that given it should be “impossible” to drive them on the go blu, which to my experience is far from true. But who knows…maybe I am totally missing out and both the stack and blu are peasant mode compared to their true potential (I doubt it).

I tried asking Zeos for a deep dive with balanced DT880s, but it’s been a month without a reply. I would put some of that money for him to do that since he is what got me to get them in the first place lol. I seriously doubt he would be willing to that for any amount of money though, he’s done parts of it, but unbalanced.

I looked (not listened) at the Sennheiser 600 to 800s and those seem worse to me. I had a pair of sennheiser, I dunno…over a decade ago? I remember them having weak bass and not being as comfortable as the Beyers, but obviously I could be wrong, and it would have been like a 300 series or below so not necessarily comparable even if correct.

But reviews seem to confirm they struggle with bass and/or sound stage and given I want more bass, those don’t seem like they would be an upgrade. The 800s apparently have awesome sound stage but the same issue with bass, so I don’t see the point. DMS compared them to the DT880s as well, so to me, this would be a sidegrade at best and definitely not worth the price for that.

The other Beyers seem to have similar issues in that you want a ton of power, but if that’s the case, we’re back to amp comparisons. Because why switch headphones if it means I am only halfway there with the current setup. (assuming that is true). The Zen Can does 300 something mW with like 15 V or so, but it seems most people raving about these are listening to something closer to 600mW.

A pair of used fostex th900s is probably the way I’d go and keep your zen stack. You’ll get that bass bump and take very well to pad rolling/headband mods if you want more comfort.

Those are twice the budget though at 2k lol

Hm before pumping more money into a stack for the 880 I would go looking for some other HP to complement those instead
Some HP for cheap I would call dirty bass w**** are Phillips xr2 or fostex tr20 with 1860 pads :wink:
I personally like bio drivers so some fostex th 600 or a Denon 5200 or 7200 could give you better bass with a good v shape without the amp pickiness of the 900 or 909

Lol that is why I said a used pair.

Ok I couldn’t see those fitting in the budget even used, but apparently they are on ebay for under 600 ?? Is that normal? Seems low even for used.

Yes that’s normal, I see nice sets go for 750 to 800 all the time.

Also make sure they are mk2 as you’ll want the swappable cable.

Just to point out that the G111 would not really add bass, it would probably improve bass quality slightly but it would not add more bass.

The lake people line are more for studio use and thus are more neutral. If you would want bassier/warmer amp, you would have to go for violectric (maybe used v200?) and price wise would be overkill.

The best route would probably try some biodyna that others here have suggested.

Edit. Many average hifi stores probably have denon 5200 or 7200 that you could try if you have any close to you.

Hmm, the “cheap” ones all seem to come from japan, not sure I want to deal with customs. Things can get lost there for months -_-, nothing but bad experiences. Sometimes they straight up don’t even tell you… There are some MK2s from germany; unfortunately I don’t see any under 1000.

They do sound very promising but I would really prefer getting one closer to 600-700. I’m not in a hurry mind you, so I can keep an eye on it. Can’t say I don’t like the custom connector, but they seem like a great point of comparison and do everything the beyers do but better.

As for the vio electrics, given I balance modded my DT 880s it seems I would need at least the VIOLECTRIC HPA V222. Even used it’s above 1000. I’m not opposed to going above that a little bit, but I somehow doubt that would be worth it? Certainly not over a different set of headphones.

Checked out the denons, they also seem like a good candidate and I could probably get the 9200 for the same price as the 7200 but used. To my understanding, the 9200 are better for rock/metal, which I like, they also have a more similar FR to the Beyers. I think I would miss the highs; the xbass could make up for the lack of bass compared to the 7200s, either way they have quite a lot more than the beyers.

What worries me is that these are closed back, and every closed back pair I ever had became uncomfortably hot after a while. I would be wearing them for hours on end.

I don’t want to sacrifice quality for more bass. I’ve had BASS!?! headphones before and that was pretty much all they were good for. Don’t want to go back to that.

I’ve had friends that have bought them from Japan. It wasn’t a bad experience for them but I’m not sure where you are located and they are in the the US.
Definitely focus on the headphone before the stack cause you’ll have to drop some decent coin to get a significant upgrade from the zen stack.
Oh another fun but detailed headphone that has some great bass is Audeze lcd2 closed back. Being that it’s closed it retains the highs better than Audezes open backs but still has a wide accurate stage. They are on the heavy side but they’ve never bothered me wearing them for hours on end.

I think I have the dekoni fenestrated pads on my 7200 and a what I would call a headband sock on them and now I can wear them for hours
Without the bit of extra padding many, me included, have some problems with the padding of the new Denon headband after having them on the head for some hours

LCD 2 is a good option but would definitely try them in person before buying them because I heave friends try them and the weight did bother them massively
Or you go to some metal concerts and headband a good while to strengthen the neck muscles XD

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I had a pretty heavy pair in the past that had multiple drivers in them, don’t remember what they were called…medusa? You actually had to connect the various channels physically. Some of, if not the, heaviest bass headphones I’ve owned. Seems they changed a lot over time. They physically shook my head, it was more than a rumble.
Must have been these: Medusa 5.1 Surround Headset SL-8790

I can’t find anything about their weight but I remember them being heavy as sin, but also quite comfortable. Now, granted, that is over two decades ago so take that with a grain of salt ( man I’m old :O). Seems they might a bit under 400 g. The LCD-2 being close to 600 then…aah,…yea…naw, I’ll skip thanks lol

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Oh yeah before I forget a pair of focal clear for that bass Puch :face_with_head_bandage:

reading up more on the th900s and denon 9200s, it seems more people prefer the 9200. The Bass seems to have some issues on the Th900s if you don’t mod it, but it doesn’t seem like there is any clear winner? Like you would have to tinker a lot, which is not really what I’m looking for.