Disclaimer: The Massdrop X beyerdynamic DT 177X GO sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank the team at Massdrop for giving us this opportunity.
To read more about Massdrop collaborations we have reviewed on Headfonics click here.
Beyerdynamic and Massdrop have partnered to produce a Massdrop variant of the…well…still relatively new Beyerdynamic DT1770. It is so lovely to see such a new headphone get a release, yet also, one that is so well regarded. You won’t see me complain, I enjoy it, that is for sure.
The Package and accessories
Nothing really to gawk about here, the packaging is relatively basic. The $380USD DT-17xx GO comes in a standard cardboard box with Massdrop’s branding. I would have loved to see a very nice hard case with this one since the headphone is so portable friendly and likely will be used often by audiophiles on the go, as well as in the studio. But, I digress.
The headphone has two sets of earpad types that will be available: leather and velour. I have some issues with the cut of the velour pads. Let me just say this quickly, the installation of the velour pads is a blessed nightmare.
It takes me a solid 10 minutes of fiddling to get the material to shift into the cup slots of the DT17xx. Perhaps, my cut was shorter than expected? I can’t seem to get it 100% slotted in, it is always missing the last 5% that just sticks out.
The leather pads are too large to slip into the slots with ease. Although, they are much easier to adhere than the velours. There is too much material and too much slack, so they tend to free float around a bit.
Neither of these are major concerns, they don’t really affect the sound quality at all. I prefer locking mechanisms instead of a slotted fitting, so at least I can know for sure that pads are installed properly and not torn somewhere, because you will need to pull the pad exterior rear material a little to slot them into the earcup and that scares me every time I try. I worry about just ripping and shredding them. Or, stretching them over time to the point that they fit too loosely, which happened to me immediately.
Legendary Beyerdynamic comfort at its very finest. This set is a damned pleasure to use and listen to for indefinite periods of time. If you are in a cool environment, the leather won’t ever really get too warm. The velours remain lovely forever for me. I’ve used them for gaming sessions that lasted 8+ hours without any issues at all.
The older DT series from beyerdynamic is notorious for having supreme comfort factor and nothing has changed, thankfully. They understand headband design. Hell, even modders of headphones like Grado will toss a DT series replacement headband on their headphones just to improve the comfort experience.
The DT17xx headband is perfect, retaining excellent arcing to the human head shape, without jetting out oddly in a weird position. I don’t want to stick my hand through a gap on the side of my head. Beyerdynamic understands that and I am so happy to not have that extra space that makes me look like a radar dish.
Weight and Clamp
While on the hefty side, the DT17xx is not at all an issue for prolonged usage. As mentioned, I can use this headphone, well, indefinitely. A stark contrast to the JVC SZ2000, which rests oddly on my head and puts lead weight pressure right on the top of my head and nowhere else. Once again, that lovely headband design is just perfect.
On the subject of clamp factor, the DT17xx feels yummy and soothing, you’ll likely never have to rub your ears or the areas around them from soreness. The headphone does not clamp much and does not require a supreme seal to sound excellent.
The velours pads breathe a ton, the leather pads obvious do not, though, do they require a better seal overall to retain bass impact. And no, covering the vent port will not add any additional bass, it will remove it.
This set requires air to be moved through the innards to keep the bass thickness. Yep, no doubt about it, this headphone is one of the most comfortable I currently have on hand. The DT series headphones already always were exceptionally comfy, so this is not a shock to me.
I am going to twist up this format a little and introduce the Media usage potentials of this headphone first and foremost. The reason being is because, when it comes to overall general usage, the headphone is the best I’ve ever experienced in the sub $500 tier. You can go straight from recording in the studio, to playing Borderlands or CoD online and not even remotely feel unjustified to continue to use it.
This is what I call a Primary headphone. It is great at everything, a fantastic generalist. If you don’t want a smaller portable closed back of like the Audeze Mobius, and if you prefer a larger one like this DT17xx, then you don’t really have much else to opt for if you are an audiophile who wants a well-rounded headphone.
Film, TV, YouTube – Tonal Substance
As a casual headphone, one to be used while watching movies or via YouTube podcasts, which is something I enjoy a lot of, then just stop what you are doing if you are shopping sub $500. You won’t find a smoother closed back that is comfortable enough to be used for hours. The Massdrop Dt17xx has that covered.
Voices are portrayed in a sense of style and substance factor that far exceeds the older DT series. So, if you liked the substance in vocal density factor of the older DT series, you will go nuts for this DT17xx. Beyerdynamic really improved that area of listening and that is something I really recently started to pick up and require in my experiences.
Planar headphones usually offer that and Audeze’s similarly priced Mobius is also a great generalist. But, even though it is a Planar, the dynamic DT17xx sounds more weighted, dense and solid in the presentation.
Tonal density lays the foundation for excellent realism in stage depth of field when listening to voice work and I couldn’t be happier. I recently watched a 7-hour stream from Rooster Teeth on YouTube of the remaster of Borderlands. I loved every moment of it.
The not so good audio quality of YouTube and podcasts is improved due to the excellent tonal density factor of the headphone and I am vividly thankful for it. I can now finally have really good quality while watching Streamers online and through movie usage on Netflix (3.5mm TV out > RCA amp is being used for that) in the sub $500 tier.
Gaming and Dynamic Impact
Similarly to how nice media experiences are with this headphone, so too, gaming potential really shines with it. If you are a binge gamer such as I, you’ll be wearing the headphone for a solid chunk of the day. No doubt.
In doing so, you’ll likely never get annoyed by physical impact level and engaging factors that are too much. The experience is soft for the most part, as I’ve found explosions and bullet firing to never cause me to wince or panic, frantically looking for volume down controls somewhere. Again, I don’t know of any other $500 and under headphone that does it this well.
Dynamic and physical engaging impact level is generally a problem with overall neutral headphones and ones that remain uncolored for the most part. Lately, designers are finally paying attention to treble factor impact and bass slam. Sometimes, neutral headphones do this too much and end up sounding harsh. Neutrality in tone doesn’t need to equate to harsh physical slam. You can get a neutral tone and response while not receiving a painful snap factor.
The DT17xx does this really well. As a gamer, I am very impressed with the ability to remain uncolored overall and not boosted anywhere, but also to never sound gross or painful. I am totally fine experiencing tons of explosions and grenade impacts, even sudden shouts of gamer’s online. I can’t do that with my Focal Elear and I can’t do that with my HD800.
The problem? The DT17xx pinpoint accuracy isn’t good enough for pro gamer’s who play FPS online that require accuracy in location spotting. The headphone does just okay in this regard, better than most, but not as good as something like the AD700 or even the older T1, which is my pick for the best location spotter headphone ever.
For the price, the experience is generally fantastic and as long as you aren’t using it for pinpointing sounds in a competitive field, don’t worry, you can still play CoD and Battlefield and spot sounds accurately enough to do well.
Sound Fidelity – Bass
Differences to the Original
In the sub $500 tier, you have a lot of options for bassy headphones. The truth of the matter, at least to my ear, is that the Massdrop variant of the DT17xx is tuned down on the bass experience a bit over the stock version. Why?
I feel like I am always adding more than +3dB to get a better sense of bass depth. When EQ is inactive, I consider the experience a little lacking on the bass side, but more than plentiful on treble and midrange. Thankfully, even adding a +5dB in there will never touch the lower midrange and will never bleed poorly into it. This is why this model is so good at monitoring and recording, as well as why vocals are portrayed as lovely as they are.
The entire bass and lower midrange are fully separate and sound of their own natures. This is very rare with a headphone of this type. If you want a ton of bass with equally great quality, grab an SZ2000 used online from JVC. If you want a low-end of moderate bass quantity, this DT17xx is an excellent choice.
Vs the JVC SZ2000
To answer the question, I am going to compare the DT17xx with the singular tippy top best bass headphone ever produced: the JVC SZ2000. And the answer is yes, the JVC sounds more pure, cleaner and reaches significantly deeper.
When compared with other great midrange tier headphones in the price bracket, the DT17xx might be the best there is for bass fidelity factor. It is super clean, super smooth and lacking a strong sense of dynamic impact.
As a bass enthusiast though, I wanted more out of it in physical quantity. I run with a +5dB boost at all times, so I can feel more of a deepness sense to the bottom end. Without it, I feel the experience overly lacking quantity on the low end.
Sound Fidelity – Mids and Treble
While on the subject of the lower midrange, again, the headphone is leaps and bounds superior to a number of other models in this tier. Why? Because the lower midrange and upper midrange are bloody brilliant and hitting all the right plot points.
The lower mids are dense and focused, which lend credibility to staging depth of field and a sense of realism with deeper vocal experiences. So too, the upper midrange is also lacking a sense of nasalness, while retaining density factor, the experience overall ends up feeling lovely with female vocals and certain instrument cues in orchestral processions. I call it addictive.
The reason being you don’t see or hear of many dynamic headphones with a spot-on tonal density such as this, especially not in the midrange. Usually, only found on the low end, or the top end in a dense sparkly nature. Here, the DT17xx has that in the midrange, which makes the purchase that much more profound for general usage.
One gripe? The physical placement of the presentation is a bit relaxed and not forward. But, then again, it sticks to beyerdynamic House Sound and not Audio Technica or Audeze. It remains its own entity and I am happy for that. The headphone is very relaxing. Everywhere. Including the top end, which is presented in a softer than usual experience that lacks sibilance and again, lacking the dynamic impact that is wince-worthy.
The treble experience is purposely relaxed, just as the rest of the presentation is. With regard to the fidelity factor, the treble portrayed is well into the excellent tier. It reminds me a lot of the Hifiman HE-500, which offers up also excellent treble overall. Side by side, they felt the same to me and that is an absurdly great thing.
Massdrop bats a home run again. This one will sell out fast. At a lower price than the already nice current price of the DT1770, the Massdrop variant retains exceptional value and price to performance of the original.
The headphone is a fantastic generalist, without sounding overly warm or icy. It falls right in the middle as what I’d consider a neutral beast. But, oddly and thankfully, only in tonality. Physical dynamic impact levels are less than moderately setup, which means the headphone is a pleasure to listen to without harsh wince factor and slam.
Beyond that, the headphone is only 32ohm and powered easily by a portable music player. This headphone now becomes one of the best overall $500 and under headphones on the market and perhaps one of the best generalists as well. It doesn’t lack anywhere. If you want more bass, it can support a bit more via EQ and not lose control or sound muddy even at +5dB. If you want to record in a studio, this is a brilliant option.
If you game a lot, you’ll also love it. This headphone turned out to be shockingly useful, able to be toted from a walk outside with a lot of EQ in my music playlist, to listening to a podcast on YouTube, to then being used to mess with some guitar recording I tried out. Considering also it is one of the most comfortable headphones out there.
My only real gripe is the included stock cable, which is just a bit too long and bulky. I’d really have loved a shorter cable with an extension included, instead of what I was given. Beyond that, this is a fantastic headphone that I regard highly as easily one of the best, if not the best of the larger closed backs out there sub $500.
DT 177X GO Specifications
- Massdrop x Beyerdynamic
- Closed-back principle Circumaural fit
- Driver: 45mm Tesla neodymium technology
- Frequency response: 5 Hz–40 kHz
- Impedance: 32 ohms
- Painted aluminum ear cups Spring steel headband Metal yokes Dark blue stitching
- Cable: Straight, detachable Connector: ⅛ in (3.5 mm)