The Historic Beyerdynamic DT 48 E (25 ohm)

Yes, historic. The Beyerdynamic DT 48 model has been in continuous production in a variety of forms since 1937. That's pretty historic ... I can't even remotely think of another headphone like that.

Let's take a look ...

Intended Application
The Beyerdynamic DT 48 E ($529 MSRP) is a full-size, sealed headphone intended for use as a monitor headphone in pro-audio studio and location applications. These cans are designed to take the rigors of the road, and they certainly will. There are two impedance variants of this model (25 ohm and 200 ohm); and there is an audiometry version, the DT 48 A.00.

Styling and Build Quality
These headphones have all the styling of a precision stainless steel, cap-head, shoulder bolt, which is to say, I love the way they look. It's not often that the discussion of build quality and styling are identical, but such is the case with the DT 48 E. Extremely sturdy nickel-plated spring steel bands for the headband, extension arms, and earpiece gimbals are firmly held together and pre-tensioned for use by a tidy assortment of bolts, screws, spacers, washers, and nylon-insert locknuts. This headphone is meant to be able to take a beating, and be repairable when over beaten. To see it is to understand it; its beauty is in its utility. If you have the fashion sense of a ham radio operator like I do, you'll love the look of these cans.

Ergonomics and Comfort
You WILL listen to these headphones. From the moment they apply their death grip on your head, and the suction cup-like seal around your ears is made, you know your dealing with a headphone that intends to be heard, and really doesn't care how you feel about it. I'm not saying these headphones were uncomfortable, in fact, I was surprised how comfortable they were considering how much clamping pressure they had. There have been warnings from owners to regularly check to drain sweat. I'd say they were very effective at sealing up your ear-holes with little collateral discomfort, but it did feel a bit claustrophobic to me.

I wasn't a bit surprised to hear for myself and see in the measurements that these headphones had great isolation. Among the best I've seen a sealed, full-sized headphone --- that's a good thing for a monitor headphone. Coupled with the rugged build quality, their ability to provide the listener very good isolation makes these headphones very good for portable professional recording applications where intelligibility rather than fidelity is required.

Fig 1 show the isolation from outside noise. This is a very good result; possibly best in class.

beyerdynamic Inc. USA
56 Central Ave.
Farmingdale, NY 11735
(631) 293-3200

dalethorn's picture

I found myself amused at several points in the text. I recall entering a discussion on Head-Fi for the first time, and stating that the DT-48 models circa 1974 sounded much like a string-and-can setup - more refined of course, but basically that. Which did not go over well. And I was astonished to find that they still make this headset, and that they updated the sound to near-hifi standards. Pretty amazing. I can scarcely wait to read the comments on the DT-48 forums. Did I say forums? As in plural? The mind boggles...

dalethorn's picture

Now that the engrams are coalescing, two things come to mind. One is the explanation for the sibilants - that's bothered me since day one and I couldn't understand why. Having used equalizers many years ago, where sometimes an adjustment had to be the reverse of what my instinct said, the explanation makes sense.

Two, in reading the "fully sealed" response graph, I see the main part of the midrange at -1 to -5 db approximately, then a gradual rise to approximately +8 db at 80 hz. I'm thinking that would make the headphones sound bassy - not deep-bassy with impact, but bassy nonetheless. Yet what I hear with the best seal I could get sounds like the opposite of that - more like a gradual dip of 10 db rather than a rise.

Edit: Would this mean that I can't get a seal on my head like the one that produced this response?

mward's picture

Very interesting history lesson. Thanks Tyll. Also enjoyed your brief comment about the current high-end kings from Sennheiser, Audeze, and HiFiMan. Hopefully you'll have more on the subject in the future?

svyr's picture

Thanks Tyll!

>Two, in reading the "fully sealed" response graph, I see the main part of the midrange at -1 to -5 db approximately, then a gradual rise to approximately +8 db at 80 hz. I'm thinking that would make the headphones sound bassy - not deep-bassy with impact, but bassy nonetheless. Yet what I hear with the best seal I could get sounds like the opposite of that - more like a gradual dip of 10 db rather than a rise.

+1. I always have to EQ up for 100hz down. (about 4db at 80hz, 6 for 60, 10 for 30)

>Would this mean that I can't get a seal on my head like the one that produced this response?

quite possibly. These are very sensitive on how you position them around your ears. If have to poke around at them for about 30 seconds making sure there's no channel imbalance because of how I put them on ...

>This headphone is meant to be able to take a beating, and be repairable when over beaten. To see it is to understand it; its beauty is in its utility.

Or you can beat someone up in public transport if they give you a hard time about how you look wearing a pair :D

>Among the best I've seen a sealed, full-sized headphone --- that's a good thing for a monitor headphone.

I think the only other HP I've seen with more Isolation is Pioneer Monitor 10. These had larger cups and about as much pressure on the sides of the head, so they may have provided a better seal. Plus the sound was a lot more humane and suitable for music...

lol... Denon D2000 for monitoring. That's.... And calling them sealed :D ...(bass heavy and next to no isolation)

other than that, very curious to see the 3-7k dip. and the 10k peak. I suppose that makes them bright and recessed in highs at once :D

Kool Bubba Ice's picture

Thank you for the review & measurements. I agree with a lot of what you said, but I obviously disagree with your comments on sound. I am a bit bewildered that you suggest the D2000 over the DT48 for professional monitoring. How long did you listen to these headphones? I posted your review on my DT48 Facebook page. I ask all those who choose to comment on my page, to do so in a respectful manner. I do know the DT48 is the industry standard for field recordings, as NAGRA fully endorses them. They are un conventional & do a lot 'wrong' in the minds of many 'audiophiles.' IMO, they are truer then life..

dalethorn's picture

At $379, about one fourth the price of the Sennheiser HD-800, I felt the DT-48 was a pretty good deal. I gave away an HD-600 and HD-650 recently, and both may have measured better than the DT-48, but neither one could touch the DT-48 on musicality and clarity from the lower midrange through the highs, given good quality recordings. It wasn't particularly subtle to me either - quite dramatic in fact. That is what I understand to be the consensus of many users of the DT-48 models.

Kool Bubba Ice's picture

Dale, IMO, the DT48 is on par with the 'ultra' high end headphones like the K1000 & HE6.. My 50's NAGRA was not embarrassed in anyway. Albeit, the other 2 are more audiophile friendly & is more conventional sounding. & the K1000 does better the DT48 in many areas.

iainmaitland's picture

Hello, I'm selling a brand new pair for $320!

200ohm version.


Leaffan's picture

KBI: Please keep your DT48 prosthelytizing off this site too....they might have sounded good back in 1937...but for crying out is 2011! The Ford Model T was a great car back in the day...but now...well, not so much.

The measurements are OBJECTIVE evidence of pretty poor sounding headphones...period. And my ears confirm this too.

Tyll is the REASON for our hobby and has heard pretty much everything out there....his comments on the poor sound quality of the DT48s mean a whole lot.

dalethorn's picture

Apologies if this seems unnecessary, but as a long-time audiophile and expert headphone reviewer, the DT-48E does not compare to a model T Ford - on the contrary, and despite weakness in the bass (which measures as strength ironically) the general impression I have of the midrange is that it's far better quality than anything else that sells at B&H etc. in or below its price range. Asking someone to back off on excessive posting may be a reasonable thing when arguments become repetitive, but suggesting that KBI and others are listening to 1937 tech is clearly wrong, as the DT-48 has been updated sonically on a continuing basis to this very day. I have no doubt having owned a few DT-48's that Leaffan and others *might* find the DT-48 sound to be weird or unnatural, having been conditioned to the more usual audiophile colorations in other headphones, and to that I say no problemo. But I do have a Sennheiser 800, I love the sound, I feel it's very close to a good and neutral signature, and I also believe that the DT-48 equals it with recordings that don't have strong sibilants or are dependant on a lot of bass impact. The specific comments that the article made about the sound (the sibilants and the light bass) were exactly what I and others have described previously, so we are hearing the same thing! But the measurements show a 10 db rise in the lower midrange to bass that neither Tyll nor I heard, since we did not hear increased bass, but rather decreased bass. When you read beyond the specifics to comments that "I didn't like the sound", you shouldn't give that sort of comment the same weight as the specific sound attributes like "bass light" and "exaggerated sibilance".

shamu144's picture

Thank you for those measurements Tyll !

Funny to see such an erratic behavior of the frequency response. I mean, going from -10dB at 60Hz to +10dB at 80Hz is pretty insane and should result very obvious to confirm in subjective listening test, still I can't recall anyone raising similar issues so far. The DT48 are rather heavy, could it be possible that the weight and clamping force combined together did excite some low frequency resonances of the head system ?

As reference, Beyer do facilitate a frequency response chart with each DT48A, and this 80Hz bump is absolutely non existant. However, the rest of the frequency response do indeed show a somewhat similar pattern (dip between 3khz and 7khz, then this peak at 10khz and later a new deeper drop at 15khz), but to a lesser magnitude degree.

If you have a few minutes, it would be very nice to read some comments regarding the other datas gathered and measured, for example the square wave reponse at 300Hz and 30Hz for the 120 ohms impedance output... What do they tell you?

Finally, I agree that the 120ohms output impedance won't make a big difference, but if you look carefully, bass response below 80Hz seem to increase by 2 or 3 dB... That is certainly enough to be noticed I would say. The square wave responses do also look much cleaner with the 120 ohms output impedance, or am I fooling myself here ?


dalethorn's picture

There was a guy in New York named Harry who used to walk around after Sep. 11 '01 with some handouts saing "History - don't let it be mystery." I like the slogan, which is pertinent here. For example, I hear 15 and 16 khz tones clearly and unambiguously on the DT-48E, but not so clearly on the Sennheiser HD-800. I'm not sure how that equates with the measurements, but I assumed it had as much to do with a possible irritation factor in sibilants as the "missing" lower sibilant info. Opinion?

dalethorn's picture

B&H, not known as a discounter, sells the 25 ohm DT-48E regularly for $379, which is a lot less than the $529 shown in the article.

Kool Bubba Ice's picture

I hope you don't find my response as defensive in any way.

I posted this on my page. I meant every word of it.

"Tyll is a true pioneer in terms of measurements, & is willing to measure any headphone. A true class act."

Kool Bubba Ice's picture

Hi dale.. The MSRP seems to vary.. I usually see them sell for 449.00. Beyers MSRP. A couple sites do sell them for a little over 500.00.. I never seen the DT48 sell for the price Tyll put in his review. B&H used to sell them for 313.00.. I hope I don't sound too narcissistic, but sometimes I think I'm the reason for the DT48's price increase. I do know many people bought the DT48 based on my recommendations & blogs. Around 25 or so since 08..

Frank I's picture

Your not serious are you. They way you used to post I really do not think anyone paid any attention to you.

dalethorn's picture

I hope someone else with a new DT-48E can confirm, using test tones such as the famous Mosquito tones, the response of the DT-48 from 15 khz on up. Given that the chart here shows anything above 11.5 khz as nonexistent, I'd welcome an explanation. I can see the tone files I have playing on Foobar, Winamp and others in their respective positions and amplitudes, so I'm confident of the frequencies I'm hearing. I don't have any particular concern for the DT-48 as an actual device or product, but given how much coloration and bad sound is being sold for big $$$ these days, I do have a concern about not being able to get decent sound for a reasonable price in the future. Right now I have a Senn HD-800, but when I'm old and destitute and living under the bridge, I may have to settle for a lower-budget headset.

svyr's picture

well noticed re: > 11.5k

dalethorn's picture

Scratch that goof - this chart apparently goes to 100 khz, which is unusual for a headphone. So apparently the DT-48 response dips and then goes back up around 15 to 16 khz, so that looks accurate. Now then, the bass. Unless I'm also reading this wrong, it looks like the response is down less than 5 db at 10 to 40 hz. That's interesting. By and large, the curve says "bassy" to me, with a maximum deviation of -11 to -12 db at 60 hz.

svyr's picture

mmm, it'd be good if learned to read the axis labels first :D ...
Oh well, yes, it looks like the second peak is around 15-7k...

maverickronin's picture

The link to the full pdf is broken right now and I'm sort of interested in the square waves.

svyr's picture

Tyll just copy pasted it in wrong ;)

maverickronin's picture

I missed that somehow. Its sure interesting though. The 30hz waves are about the funniest I've ever seen and from the impulse response the driver looks like it rings like a bell.

shamu144's picture

Note that the square wave response looks cleaner to me with a 120 ohms impedance output.

I am also quite convinced the dip and bump we see in the 60/80 Hz is a measurment artifact. It makes no sense and noone has ever reported such a behavior. Additionnally, Beyer provides a frequency response of the DT48A and the response is ruler flat from 10Hz to 1000Hz.

Finally, I believe Tyll you should use the Free Field HRTF correction provided by your equipment, and not the more modern one used. I can link you an AES paper where you will see the Free Field objective design goal for the frequency response of headphone and it looks damn identical to your raw measurments of the DT48E... I don't know how to insert images but if someone explains me, I will share it here.


svyr's picture

upload to head-fi and cross post using a std html image tag...

<img src="link to image"/>

shamu144's picture

There you go, thanks Svyr...

As you can see, absolutely no dip/bump in the 60/80Hz region... I really have no clue at to what induced this odd measurment in the lower frequencies, but it is certainly not the headphones.

Tyll says: "Here you can see that there is a return of bass energy when you do get a seal as noticeable in the curves below 60Hz --- better seal gave higher bass energy. But you can also see a resonant peak of some kind that moves between 80Hz (with a good seal) and 300Hz with a poor seal. Acoustic half-wavelengths at this frequency are roughly between 18" and five feet, so the cause of this feature is not likely acoustic resonances in the ear-cup. More likely is a mechanical resonance in somewhere in the physical headphone itself. "

Well, maybe just another clue that something mechanical indeed is not behaving properly, but that is not coming from the DT48. Just more food for thoughts.

shamu144's picture

Now, here is the raw frequency response of the DT48E measured by Tyll (grey lines):

And here is the design goal for a free field calibrated headphone, as shown in the AES paper and including an average of 40 subjects. Look at the right/bottom chart for open ear canal:

I see many striking similarities in both pattern above 1khz, with a 10dB bump in the 1khz to 5khz range, then a sudden big dip reaching -10dB followed by a sharp peak again around 10khz and so on...

For me, the DT48 appear as a free field calibrated headphone and measurment adjusted for the HRTF should apply proper correction to get meaningfull results.


inarc's picture


if you look closely, you will see noticeably differences between the AES paper's and Tyll's raw graph. AES' begins to rise at 1 kHz, Tyll's at 600 Hz; AES' peaks at less than +10 db, Tyll's at about +15 db; AES' begins to fall at 6 kHz, Tyll's at 3 kHz; AES' reaches the bottom (-10 db) at 10 kHz, Tyll's (-15 db) at 6 kHz; etc.. (All values approximate.)

Tyll Hertsens's picture
... in particular:

"I am also quite convinced the dip and bump we see in the 60/80 Hz is a measurment artifact. It makes no sense and noone has ever reported such a behavior. Additionnally, Beyer provides a frequency response of the DT48A and the response is ruler flat from 10Hz to 1000Hz."

It's likely they were using a standard coupler where you simply press an earpiece against it. In that case, the normal mechanisms of the headphones clamping pressure, seal, and positioning on the head do not come into play. I think the big artifact in the bass is a resonance of the whole headphones themselves vibrating, or just each earpiece as it sits on the ear, but in either case the headphones must be placed on a head as they normally would be then left alone. So, Beyer's curve being without the artifact doesn't surprise me at all because those devices have a little arm that clamps the earpiece to the tester.

This is exactly why I use a head --- so that the testing is done in a way that as closely replicates the actual use of the cans, and so that things like the actual seal against an actual ear become part of the measured performance.

"Well, maybe just another clue that something mechanical indeed is not behaving properly, but that is not coming from the DT48. Just more food for thoughts."

Yes, it absolutely is coming from the DT 48. It was quite repeatable. It doesn't exist on the other headphones data I took that day. The food for thought here is that you have to deal with the measurements ... they're real. What the artifacts mean is another story; that they're there is now established fact.

"Finally, I believe Tyll you should use the Free Field HRTF correction provided by your equipment, and not the more modern one used. I can link you an AES paper where you will see the Free Field objective design goal for the frequency response of headphone and it looks damn identical to your raw measurments of the DT48E..."

Free-Field HRTF models sound as it approaches your head from directly in front and in an anechoic environment. Music is designed to be played on speakers that are 30 degrees to either side, where the HRTF is substantially different from the Free-Field HRTF. Headphones are closely coupled to the ear and do not act at all like sound arriving from directly in front of you. Why would you want to use the FF HRTF? Those papers you quote are quite old, and there have been many competing ideas over the years. Why do you pick that one?

shamu144's picture

Thank you Tyll for weighting in.

Regarding those odd results measured for the low frequency, I hope you did not misunderstand me : I do not question your set of measurments and I am indeed convinced they are accurate and repeatable. I don't think repeating the measurments with another set of DT48E would yield different results. However, I do question how those low frequencies measurments "in the context of this dummy head and DT48" relate to real life experience with human heads, because even with a poor seal, I can't hear this "return of bass energy" mentionned, and I believe almost every DT48 owner will agree with me here. Are you indeed saying that you can hear a corelation between your measurments and subjective listening tests ?

The DT48A Beyer measurement reflect for me better what I am hearing in the 50Hz to 1000Hz range, even though I have to admit that their measurment below 50Hz do not seem to translate well to the subjective listening experience. Your hypothesis of standard couplers used by Beyer and non consideration of the seal effect might explain this.

Tyll says: "Free-Field HRTF models sound as it approaches your head from directly in front and in an anechoic environment. Music is designed to be played on speakers that are 30 degrees to either side, where the HRTF is substantially different from the Free-Field HRTF"

It was my understanding that the HRTF with such an angle of 30º would not be so different from the free field HRTF. Here follows the design goal for a free field response with an alternative angle of 22,5º (bottom/right), again, according to this AES document:

Basically, there seem to be some slight variations in the high frequency perception when comparing with the pure free field response.

If you look at the design goal for a diffuse field (bottom/right), you realize the theorical frequency response is then completely different as shown here:

We must consider at this point that the DT48 was engineered and designed more than 60 years ago... I bet you those new competing ideas on HRTF had not even been invented. Free Field and Diffuse Field was probably all there was to choose from. Why would you use a modern HRTF model for such an old headphone?

In fact, I feel this is a trully crucial aspect to understand the raw frequency response of any headphones: you must first understand what was their original design goal, be it free field, free field 30º, diffuse field, etc.... The raw frequency response measured will heavily depend on it.

I would go as far as to say that adjusting every headphones raw measurments with the same HRTF is leading to serious confusion, as people expect the "magical" HRTF adjusted frequency response to translate to their listening experience. Well, I understand this is simply not true. If a headphone was designed to recreate a diffuse field but that you apply a free field HRTF on raw measurments, you end up with a useless frequency response chart.

When I first looked at the DT48 frequency response, I was completely shoked by its aspect as the listening experience suggested a rather extremely flat frequency response... Now I really feel the free field frequency response comes very close to explain it.


dalethorn's picture

Myself, I have no doubt the measurements are as accurate as we see - once I got over my myopia on the high end cutoff point, I see that the measurement of the peaks beyond 14 khz agree completely with what I hear. But the low end seems mysterious - the DT-48E is bass-light even with the best seal I get on my head, sweaty earcups and all. Yet the response curve says slightly bassy. So here are my questions:

If the DT-48 measures more bass than we hear, does that mean the dummy-head seal is better than the best seal to our heads?

If the dummy-head seal is better than the best seal to our heads, could that "influence" the test responses?

Is there a way to measure the response, duplicating the seal to a real head, so the test bass response more closely duplicates what we all hear (i.e. that the bass response is weak)?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
... once told me that on one side of their head they had some hair around the ears and could put glasses on the head for measurements. So, yes, you could make measurements that had additional "real world" characteristics. Problem is that I'd really be opening a can of worms (as if I've not already).

To answer your question though, yes, the artifact seen may be not be repeatable on everyone since it has to have a very good seal, in which case the graphs with the poor seal would more correctly match what is heard.

My feeling is that I should do my best for an optimum measurement, which usually means as good a seal as possible. The DT 48 seems to measure pretty strangely in either case (which is why I brought up the case of poor seal measurements).

Bottom line: I can only use industry standard gear and report my findings. It does create at least a starting point based in some sort of objective fact from which to continue a dialog.

I suggest one way to go from here is for someone to send me another set of DT 48s and we'll do it again. Repeatability is step one in these kinds of things. Any takers?

Kool Bubba Ice's picture

using the rubber pads might make a difference in measurements.

dalethorn's picture

The round audiometric pads would make a huge difference, if anyone has a DT-48A with the hard rubber pads. OTOH, even if the measurement improved, it would correlate *less* well with actual hearing, which I noted in my original review at Head-Fi.

dalethorn's picture

This is too good, Tyll. I'm visualizing dummy heads with all sorts of 'do's - pompadours, afros, mohawks - a veritable fashion show of headphone measurement. Stop me if I say anything that doesn't make sense (heh).

iainmaitland's picture


I'm Selling a Pair Of these bad boys - 200ohm Versions.
Straight cable. Cable coming out of each Earpad.

I'm not a headphone guy per se, sound guy on film - but these are literally THE industry standard headphones for field recording, especially in the film industry.

Kool Bubba Ice's picture

Tyll, what makes you believe these headphones are very colored? The measurements or your listening experience?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
... very definitely, the listening. Compared to the HD 800, LCD-2, HE-500, Q701 (the cans I had handy) the DT 48 was very mid-range heavy, and had the funny sibilance.

So, KBI, relax, my opinion is different than yours. NBD. And since you have so many of these cans, maybe you'd like them measured some more?

C'mon ... it'll be good ... srsly. :)

Kool Bubba Ice's picture

If I came off as angry that was not my intent. I'm not. I was just curious. No need for more measurements. It would more then likely open up another can of worms & increase the debate. I do appreciate your offer. I can already see where this is going. This should not turn into a pro DT48 vs con DT48.. (Leaf)Just focus on the review & measurements. Maybe this should be taken into the forums.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
"No need for more measurements. It would more then likely open up another can of worms & increase the debate."

I don't see this as a zero sum, us vs. them, whatever ... at all. I think there's a HUGE need for more measurements. How in the world are we going to learn without laying groundwork with various types of information. Anecdotal information is fine, but I think stirring in a healthy amount of measurements is important too.

Srsly ... no need for more measurements? Look at what one little session has turned up. Much more to do.

You didn't come off as angry to me, just not willing to take in data without fighting it. It seems to me that you've got a lot invested in the DT 48 being "great!" and my data shakes that. The data I took is real; but the question is what does it mean. Just like with the break-in data, one experiment does not a conclusion make; in fact, usually the first experiment just sets the stage for numerous more to drill into the question. Having measurements of the DT 48 in it's numerous configurations may tell us a lot more about them.

Dale put his money where his mouth was and sent me some cans. Aren't you curious!? C'mon, send me an email ( and I'll send you my address, you send me a pile of DT 48, and we'll get some more data.

It'll be good for your inner-fidelity.

Kool Bubba Ice's picture

Measurements are good & informative.. I'm just not that into them regardless of the headphone. The DT48 could have aced your measurements, & that would have beeb nice, but I never got into the technical side of measuring headphones.. I just like what I hear, regardless of how the measurements read.. I'm not questioning your expertise. Your good at what you do, & am no way trying to prove your measurements wrong. I never even discussed the measurements in my post. I don't doubt your finding. You have no agenda. You just reported the facts that your measurements gave you. I have no investment in the DT48.. Would I like to work for Beyers, marketing the DT48? Hell yeah! But I'm just a Best Buy employee. The DT48 will always sound great (No parenthesis needed IMO..)) to me regardless of anyone's measurement. & I auditioned some of the best around. K1000/HE6, plus owned the SA5000/Sen 650/701/880/990 etc.

I'm just an advid & very out spoken supporter, (Which I paid for with harassing pm's, personal attacks, & insults from headfi & headcase.) who feels the DT48 is misunderstood by many in the audiophile community. Not an insult to anyone. Very unique in design, & very under rated & over looked. These headphones were never meant for casual listening or 'musical enjoyment.' Not a simple excuse, as I will elaborate on below. They are described as a professional tool by Beyers that meets the high expectations of NAGRA & their equipment, (Which NAGRA heavily endorses. If there were better headphones for NAGRA applications I'm sure they would be replaced by the HD800 or LCD2) & they are still the industry standard for ENG work. So, they don't fit the ideal audiophile headphone. & appeal to a very small group of listeners. They are an acquired taste, that takes many hrs to truly appreciate. I have over 10 blogs to view, a lot is opinion based, others are based on facts. Feel free to view them at your own leisure.

Sorry for the long winded response. In the end, I don't want to see this turn into flame bait or get off topic. I do have a target on my back so to speak, since I'm the face of the DT48.

A liitle tid bit. I was told by a Beyer manager that the company doesn't spend 1 cent marketing the DT48. Word of mouth is very strong being in production for 60 plus yrs.

dalethorn's picture

Good enough that Tyll is willing to measure - extraordinary even that he made additional measurements at 120 ohm output and the "plugged holes" scenario. I guess asking for the special hairdo test was a bit much, but then, why be shy when we've gone this far? Yeah - we're moving this along, but I would much prefer to get a fresh new DT-48A with the red/blue cups and new round cushions in for testing, since that's what people might be interested in buying for actual listening. We will see if my curiosity outweighs my common sense.

dalethorn's picture

I don't think the new DT48's are so much a specialized item - it's quite clear to me that the sound has been modernized to be more like a modern headphone, and the points where they didn't exactly achieve that are quite clear also. Light bass, less output in upper mids, and more sibilance due to (jury still out on exact cause). Not complicated at all. I can't wait to see what they do next - as long as it doesn't cost $1500.

donunus's picture

Kool Bubba Ice, I also believe it would really be cool if you sent your favorite dt48 pairs to Tyll for measurement. That would really be a big contribution to educating people about the dt48 mystery... Then have Tyll send them to me afterwards to double check on the listening part hehehe

Kool Bubba Ice's picture

That would be my 200ohm DT48e with rubber pads that were bundled with the NAGRA VL from 68-72.. The mid range is so prominent, instruments sound recessed..

dalethorn's picture

Actually, if the UPS or FedEx truck hasn't already left Tyll's with the DT-48E going back to me, I could send him the round audiometric cushions and he could do the DT-48A tests too. I went through all of this stuff back in the 1970's, and by the looks of my brand new DT-48E (i.e. identical to the 1974 version except single-sided cable), the same exact rule applies today - swap the cushions.

shamu144's picture

C'mon guys, it would be very nice to have the DT48A measured with the rubber pads and with the E vinyl pads :-)

Unfortunately, I am located in Europe and can't help, but I am eager as well to see the results.

donunus's picture

--double post--

donunus's picture

Sorry if I missed it but were these the new dt48s that you sent to Tyll or the 70s model? Also, didn't you say before on headphiles that the newer ones had slightly better bass because of the seal? Or maybe it was someone else.

dalethorn's picture

The DT-48 I sent Tyll and he measured was the 2011 version. And the 2011 version sounds dramatically different than the 1974 version. The 1974 model had highs and lows about like a small pocket radio played through its internal speaker. I suggested to people that the lows in the 2011 model could be explained in part (possibly) by a new earpad design, but I can't imagine how that would make such a difference in the highs. I am still leaning toward the idea that the DT48/2011's minor problem with sibilants is due to the stronger freq. response at 15 khz and above compared to the Sennheiser HD-800. I have spent many hours comparing them side by side. Some listeners may feel that the DT48 has missing info in the upper midrange, and other listeners may feel that the HD-800's response there is boosted somewhat compared to live music. I can't be sure myself due to so many variables. It would be interesting to go on location with the HD-800 and compare its sound directly to live music.

donunus's picture

But then you will also have to have a super accurate microphone and recording system to really know for sure. aaahhh the pains of being an audiophile :)

dalethorn's picture

On an old Stereophile test record or CD, JGH did a series of short talks, about one or two sentences each, into several different and highly regarded microphones. The differences in the voice alone, which is a very narrow range of freq's, was amazing! So yeah, we would need a really good setup for recording. But still, I would bet that we could learn something from that. If we could find out what mics were used in any given commercial recordings, and we also knew how certain 'phones like the HD-800 sounded in live recordings with different mics (before mixing and EQ), that could be extremely useful.

Ishcabible's picture

Hey Tyll, I have a DT48A from 1960 (the original rereleased production) I can send you when I send my orthos in for the contest!

Tyll Hertsens's picture
That sounds really cool. I know folks were a bit bummed with the measurements. But I'll tell you something: you see this motorcycle...

It's a 1985 BMW R80 G/S ... her name is Daisy. She rides like a friggen U-Haul ... goes about 80 mph tops ... and a current KTM will eat her lunch every day. But ... I love that bike.

So ... there's not a damned thing wrong with old gear that doesn't perform up to current standards ... but I sure as heck don't think Daisy can compete with modern gear. Not. Even. Close.

But that's okay, I still love her.

dalethorn's picture

The Beyerdynamic DT-48E not only competes with modern gear, but in its price range of approximately $400 it makes the competition sound like low-fi crud. I own and use a Sennheiser HD-800, which sounds better in most respects, but only slightly, and that's a $1500 headphone. The Sennheiser HD-650 OTOH doesn't hold a candle to the version 2011 DT-48E, which I think many people on Head-Fi have testified to. I have also owned a Beyerdynamic DT-1350, which has better bass, vastly inferior and hollow/dry midrange, and a smooth high end above 9 khz, which might be arguably better than the DT-48E. But the DT-1350's awful midrange, compared to the DT-48E's midrange which is one of the industry's acknowledged best, renders it (the DT-1350) a very poor choice compared to the DT-48E.

And although I've written two wordy reviews of the DT-48E, there's a single short review of that headphone on the B&H website here, which says it all (first review), better than my reviews:

Kool Bubba Ice's picture

Measurements didn't bum me out.. It was the lack of depth in the sound portion of your review.. When you reviewed the Q701/Sony 700, you really described the sound of the headphones, which was lacking in the DT48 review. & is the only headphone review I read where no positives were mentioned about the sound.

Kool Bubba Ice's picture

& by your analogy, modern wine best vintage wine. Any modern composer can better Beethoven. & I'm sure there is no way a 18th century Violin or piano could hold a candle to modern Violins & piano's. Some of the most thought after tubes are from the 50's. Some of the most highly regarded speakers are from the 50's & 60's. The best architects of today couldn't build a better pyramid. Sometimes technology isn't the all end.

The DT48 is still the standard for ENG work. & the DT48 is the only headphone that I know of which Beyer spends no money marketing for. Word of mouth, success, & 73 yrs of a quality product will do that. You should ask yourself why NAGRA doesn't endorse the HD800.. You feel they are the best headphones you ever heard. Wouldn't NAGRA want the best for their 4-20 grand equipment, & for movie sound track editing, etc..

dalethorn's picture

We do in fact have better technology today in cars, motorbikes, and headphones. Vintage items should be inferior. And the DT-48E does suffer somewhat due to the age of the design, despite modernization of the headphone by Beyer. Bass impact lacks somewhat, and would be a problem for a lot of perfectionists. The high end is somewhat erratic which contributes to the sibilants or whatever, although that's a minor issue compared to the bass and the requirements for getting a good seal. Now whether the electrostatics by Stax have stronger bass with good impact, I don't know. If they do then even the midrange of the DT-48E would not compete with the best headphones available. I think the midrange of the Senn HD-800 is at least comparable, and it wins easily on bass and high end.

But then we come down from the $1500 class to the $400 class, and what do we have? We have the Senn HD-650 and various other brands that offer tradeoffs compared to the DT-48E, but none that beat it all around, particularly in that glorious midrange. So we still have a genuine miracle here - an old design updated to compete with and in some respects better the competition in its price range.

But if that were the only issue - another headphone, and an old design that's tough to wear at that, competing fairly with other products in its price range - then no big deal, right? Except for one thing. If, as I believe and other experts believe as well, the DT-48E's midrange is superior to everything in or near its price range, then we really need to get these modern-day manufacturers on the stick and get them working on improving the quality of their $300 to $600 headphones, particularly in the all-important midrange. When I see so many postings by people who praise the horrible and wretched colorations of the DT-1350, I think our industry is in trouble.

Kool Bubba Ice's picture

Not always Dale.. There are some flagship Porshe models from the 70's that would embarrass most modern cars today.. Will they beat the best of the best of today, no.. But Tyll's analogy was modern technology, which means modern technology, not flagship type, state of the art technology. The DT48 can hold their own or better dynamics in the under 1,000 area.. The mid range, under 2,0000 IMO.. If people think the HP2 has a great, great mid range & sold for 500 in the 70's, then it's not off the mark to conclude the DT48 can also have a great mid range.

& according to Tyll's analogy, the 1350 betters both the R10 & HP2 since they are 22 & over 30 yrs old.. Substandard, old technology, compared to new technology. This was his point.

dalethorn's picture

I didn't have any major objections to Tyll's original review comments, since he did very little to describe the sound of the DT-48E, and none to compare it to the competition. I believe he did mention competitors in later posts, but those were obvious speculation that no serious recording engineer or hi-fi enthusiast would take seriously. As far as old cars go, and using the *same* analogy as the DT-48E (this is important), if the old car or motorbike were upgraded to modern performance the way the DT-48E was, then they could be judged on that basis instead of on the basis of their original design and performance. I feel it's in the best interests of the readers here, and any prospective purchasers of the new DT-48E (note that I am excluding collector items because I don't deal in those), to describe as exactly as possible how they sound, warts and all. And with all of the goodness of their sound, it comes at a price of long-term comfort and flexibility etc. I'm not going to compare the DT-48E comfort to others such as the HD-800 or even the lower-priced HD-650 or other such headphones, because everything is different. Comfort, sound, everything. I believe that the ultimate post and review concerning the new DT-48E is the top post at B&H where the user describes how the headphone "squished" his ears. That very short review has all of the negatives and positives a potential customer would ever need to know before buying a set of these. Now for buyers of the older collectible sets, they *may* be able to experience some unique audio pleasures *if* they have a good working set, or if they have the perseverance to get it to the right person who can restore it to perfect working order. But that's way beyond the scope of what was covered here. The contention here had to do with some vague attributes like "missing bits" and unspecified colorations. For those, and for other attributes of the new DT-48E's, I would refer prospects to that B&H "no holds barred" review.

prad's picture


I am a sound engineer and I always mix on Monitors but now I am away from my studio and want to mix a project on Logic Pro, Duet 2 on a iMac. Can you please suggest me which Professional headphone would be best for me to buy for MIXING? Please give me 2 options, 1. under $200 price range and 2. under any price range.

Waiting for an early response..Help!


stalepie's picture

Are they hard to find now? I don't see many for sale out there.