I've done a comparison of 600ohm DT880 & 600ohm DT990

The 990s win across the board. I’ll elaborate more a bit later. Ive got to get errands done at the moment because I’ve been spending all the past 3 hours doing this comparison.

Ok so I don’t understand how these can sound so different. I got the DT880 600ohm first specifically to run on my TA26. However I was disappointed with that combo due to audible distortion. I know now just to go no higher than 1 oclock on the TA26 volune knob. Still there wasn’t the magic I wanted to hear. I then bought a Topping A70. Bingo! Once I plugged them into the A70 Pro I thought they were fantastic. The stereo image, the midrange claity, the low end, detail of room ambience & decay of notes & instrument textures all get the box checked. My default test music is usually Holst: The Planets. The Telarc or the Warner Brothers version but both with Andre Previn.

Out of curiosity I got the 990 600ohm. As soon as I got them out of the box I plugged them into the A70 Pro but I thought they were lacking in performance so I switched them to the TA26 & they put a smile on my face. The 880s have had a lot of play though so I let the 990s just play while I went out on errands. Later in the day im back & i put the 990s on & the magic is there. The smile is even bigger. Everything I heard earlier in the day was now just a bit better after hours of burn in. Now the 880s sound veiled. Now the 880s sound small. Now the 880s sound weak on low end.
The TA26 with the 600ohm 990s really makes them shine more across the board than the A70 Pro. Somehow the bass is more present on the TA26 than on the A70 Pro. I’ll have to check to make sure I had the A70 Pro on high gain. I’ll report back later.

I need to amend something. The A26 isn’t better in the low end presentation vs the A70 Pro. It is different. What I first thought was greater bass presentation is actually what I think is called “tube bloom” in the TA26 & it doesn’t just affect the low end, but the entire mix. The TA26 smooths over the entire mix of whatever music is playing & some fine or minute detail is lost in the presentation with the separation of string or horn instruments playing simultaneously. The sound is nevertheless lovely to hear. The only exception is if that volume is a smidgen too high. If so the crescendos will have audible distortion. I can’t stand much of that, but here I am just listening to the music. I’m listening on the TA26 & 990s as I write this. By no means is the detail of the music completely lost. I still hear the room the orchestra is in. I hear pages being turned. I hear the clicks of bows or the conductor’s baton. I hear the strike on the chimes & bells. I hear the entire mix. It’s just softer in presentation.

Once I was able to get both amps volume matched, which took about 20 minutes playing the same part over & over, it then only took a few switch backs with the 990s to figure it out. The A70 Pro isn’t lacking at all in any frequency spectrum. It just doesn’t have the tube bloom for obvious reasons. The clairty & separation of instruments is exceptional. The crescendos don’t distort at all even at high volume.

Although this is supposed to be about the 600ohm 880s vs 600ohm 990s, I ended up being able to evaluate the amps too. The 600ohm 990s can definitely be used to evaluate amps. In doing so I have discovered the TA26, when not driven to audible distortion sounds absolutely lovely, however, it has nowhere near the detail & seperation of large very dynamic orchestral arrangements compared to the A70 Pro; but I don’t think its supposed to. It’s apples to organes.
The 990s are winners over the 880s & that is unanimous to my ears. If I’m going to evaluate the quality of a recording or a DAC, I would use the A70 Pro. If Im going to listen to music for relaxation I’d use the TA26.
When I’d written this part, neither of my Singxer amps were hooked up.

I’ll just put this bit here. I’m not sure what my problem was with the 600ohm DT880 before. I don’t know why it sounded small compared to the 600ohm 990 on the same source, same amp same volume. It may have been that I was using the Xduoo TA 26 & the 880s just don’t like it that much. Maybe the 880s didn’t then have enough burn in. I’ll have to check again later.

Today my girlfriend’s 880s arrived. Tonight I put an optical cable in the TV audio output & into the Topping E50 opticalinput. Then I hooked 1 Singxer SA1 up balanced & the other unbalance from the E50. Using both of the SA-1 with the volume pegged listening to movies tonight I thought that the 600ohm 880s sounded fantastic with the E50 at 0db. Even as low as -10db on the E50 the sound of the 600ohm 880s are very satisfying to my ears with the SA1 volume at max & on high gain. I was not as pleased with the 880s sound run on the Topping A70 Pro. The Singxer is a fuller/warmer sound. The Topping A70 doesn’t sound bad at all, it’s just so neutral of a sound signature with movies that it doesn’t help the 880s sound as good as the SA1 makes them sound on movies. Granted to volume match by ear, the SA1 to the A70, the SA1 is at max & the A70 at -10db or -12db.

I do know that the 600ohm 990s really like the A70 Pro & the TA26 when I’ve streamed HD & UHD symphonic music on Amazon in LDAC through my iFi Zen Blue V2.

Anyway tonight was the very first time Ive connected up a wired DAC & listened to anything. I’m liking it a lot. I’m using the E50 remote for volume control keeping the SA1 volume wide open. I’m not hearing anything I can complain about with this setup while listening to movies. Watched Independence Day in full & I can say that the 600ohm 880s never gave a hint of surrender. Watched a bit of The Fifth Element too before settling on Independence Day. Currently watching Ghost in the Shell 2.0 as I write this. It’s all good. The 600ohm DT880s really like the Singxer SA 1.

I’ve noticed this about the dt880 600 with the ta-26. Anymore I use my ta-26 as a pre amp into my iha-6, for some color, for them and other hard to drive headphones.

After my initial firing up of the amp I later realized that the TA26 can only go so far before it distorted. I was asking too much of it. Then I turned it down until it only distorted on crescendos. Turning down the volume just a smidge more I found the sweet spot where it produced plenty of volume on normal listening sessions for musical enjoyment, like listening to an entire album start to finish. That sweet spot for 600ohm headphones is about 12:30 to 1:00 on the volume of my unit. I discovered this with the 600ohm 990s though. What I don’t understand is why the 990s sound huge & the 880s not so huge with everything else the same. Same DAC, same TA26, same volume level. I think I need to do another comparison to double check.