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beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Headphones

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #190 in Headphones

Posted

Pros: Wide Sound Stage, Open Back Design, Up Front & Involving, Instrument Separation, Clarity, Bass, Imaging Placement

Cons: Slight Mids Recession, Slight Clamp, Fairly Shallow Ear Cup Depth, Fatigue Once Amped Over Extended Sittings

Okay I'll start by saying I'm a budding audiophile, only been in the scene for a couple of years and in that time made minimal purchases so my experience isn't ideal. Figured I'd mention that straight away, that being said I'm typing this review for and from the perspective of fellow budding audiophiles or even folks totally new who want to upgrade but don't know which way to turn....

 

So the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro, is one of the best built headphones in the business at the price it sells for. The black arms that connect to the cups look plastic but they're of a metallic material, that same material goes under the fake leather headband (pin button topped) and criss-crosses at the top of the headphone to reinforce the durability. Even the plastic feels surprisingly quality to the touch - also where it says 'DT 990 Pro' on the ear cups from the pictures it looks like paint but it's not it's actually raised hard plastic! They have soft as silk velour ear cups too - even the  inner foam of the cups feels plush. In short they're built rugged like tanks but look and feel more like a 5 star hotel bed. They're a real treat.

 

As for how they sound, well, if you want a headphone that does extremely well for mainstream music that most people listen to (rnb, dub step, hip hop, rock, pop, dance/rave, d&b etc) but can also double up as a blu ray behemoth and gaming goliath all for little over 100 notes of your currency then these are the headphones to purchase honestly....they scream quality, they are quality. How exactly ? Read on....

 

First and foremost they get the bass right. It's definitely not lacking in any respect but it's also not overly dominant. If the song is supposed to be bassy (for example The Prodigy chart topping classic Breathe) then these headphones will outright refuse to be found wanting in that respect and really let you have it, but the cool thing is you will still get extreme clarity and fine details locked away within the song, why ? Because the treble is so good and the bass placement is perfect - because of the up front and involving nature of these headphones plus the wide sound stage and the excellent instrument separation basically the bass plays away throughout the song in the middle of the head while the rest of the song/spectrum plays their melodies and notes completely freely all around the bass.

 

Blu ray movies and these headphones together are simply a match made in heaven! It's got a theatre-like  presentation but super clear and enveloping sound. You will truly feel like you're in the movie when that T-Rex stomps the ground causing the water in the cups to vibrate and you can feel the thud and hear the drip of the vibrating water and as well at the same time also hear all the raindrops striking the glass sunroof as the characters are having a conversation it's simply amazing! 

 

Another great thing I noticed was speaking of blu ray movies I was watching Lethal Weapon on blu ray and in the funny scene where Riggs & Roger are at the shooting range dropping 1 liners on each other as they're firing at their targets down range - so good was the imaging and sound stage of these headphones that I'm wearing that without even trying or focusing (again was actually watching the movie :P) I could actually pinpoint the exact location width and depth of sound to where the bullet shell casings landed! 

 

For someone skittish about spending lots of money but who wants quality headphones that feel expensive & robust and also sound awesome from everyday equipment right out of the box and only sound better given time then I cannot recommend these highly enough for that person. I defy that person to honestly not think it was money well spent. They are the gift that keeps on giving. A true marvel. 

Posted

Pros: Meaty and detailed in lows and mids with very good bass quality, good highs for acoustic music, and some EDM

Cons: Requires better equipment than you would think from the going retail price of under $200. Gets annoying with pop, rock, distorted guitar, cymbals...

Background: I've had these for over five months and put at least 200 hours on them.  They still have a lot of energy in the highs, yes, and taming them is an essential part in enjoying them. They are super comfy and super well-built, with lots of real metal. 

 

Important Note of Preference Regarding Gear: All parts of the chain matter here: dac, amp, interconnects and the recording itself. Sibilance appears in vocals on MP3 tracks, but not with WAV files and above usually, especially of your DAC can use an ASIO filter. (I know it's controversial scientifically, but these phones seem to highlight the harshness of other output modes to my ears).  They can sound great out of good CD player's headphone jack, as in the old Denon and Marantz ones especially. They are also good with integrated receivers, which have analogue EQing possibilities.

 

Strengths: These are very rhythmic headphones with raised lows and highs that can be too much for many genres but means they shine on nearly all good acoustic recordings, including choral music and, up-tempo classical, bluegrass, and world or folk music that is very acoustic oriented.

 

They do amazingly well on orchestral works, and can make sense of very complex music.

 

With the right amp and source, the mids are very good, in my opinion.

 

Highs might be seen as a strength to some, because they give some air and realism to violins, female voices, and this is a plus on good recordings in my opinion.

 

In addition, solo music that is meant to represent real instruments like classical guitar, piano, harp, cello and other instruments that need a bit of beef in the lower section sound more realistic than any other headphones I've tried. They also add clarity to spoken or sung lyrics, but the mix doesn't bring vocals to the front like some phones. 

 

They are fantastic for movies and gaming, especially if you watch actual DVDs.

 

Weaknesses: The problem is that the highs are truly exaggerated right at the point that is generally higher than the human voice and most acoustic instruments. So in most systems, you may have trouble with many rock, pop, and electronic genres. Even hip-hop can be annoying because of sibilant vocals, making guys sound like they have a lisp, particularly on less than amazing recordings, which is 90% of all hip-hop, anyway. I have listened to Green Day, Neil Young, Nirvana, the Rolling Stones, and some others (not a huge rock collector, actually), and while I particularly like what these phones do to punk rock, ska, and complex songs, they generally get fatiguing very fast. Most of these genres boost the treble anyway to compensate for the poor systems found in cars and the average home stereo or stock IEMs. 

 

I found that even with higher resolution tracks, such as Peter Tosh's "Equal Rights" 24/96, by HDTracks, the cymbals really get on my nerves very quickly. Strangely, Wav files from 16/44 Reggae recordings typically bother me less. It could be with certain mainstream "remasterings" of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, they really cook the treble to sound better on inferior speakers. Lesser known albums such as Culture's "Harder than the Rest" sound great with lots of layers of percussion, but still grate after a while. 

 

I personally do not find them perfect for EDM. The highs get annoying very quickly with this genre, even though the spacing, imaging, layering, and bass is very good. Probably you would want to go with one of the Hifiman orthos if this is your gig. I liked Daft Punk's Random Access Memories album almost better with my Sure 425s, due to their speed, flat bass, smooth mids, and rolled off highs.

 

Older jazz recordings can also come up short under the microscope of these cans, even if the overall enjoyment might be there. They are just too unforgiving of the slightest distortion (at least when heard through my solid state Lehmann Rhinelander, or the Schiit Magni (major earache)).  Newer jazz recordings are generally good with these phones, but it depends on how many electronic instruments are being used, and how they mix the percussion. If it's too hot, you're probably going to find these a bit tiring for some jazz recordings as well.

 

I find myself having to adjust the volume sometimes, even for acoustic music, due to the imbalance of the highs. For this, as the 6moons review noted with the DT880 600ohm (which they also recommend for jazz and classical), you need a good volume pot that can be adjusted ever-so-slightly within tracks, between tracks, and certainly between recordings.

 

They also don't do justice to many older recordings, due to the exaggeration of flaws, pops, clicks, and tape hiss. This is very unfortunate for me, and one of the reasons I'm thinking of moving on to a more forgiving headphone.

 

***Some say you can EQ these phones to have smoother highs, but my experience is that EQing doesn't help much. I don't think I'm the majority opinion here, but I feel that the acoustic features of this phone are hard to override without getting negative side effects such as distortion.

 

Comparisons and a note on Value:

 

The absolutely crazy thing is that I bought them for $150, and I bought my Fiio E10 for around $60 a couple of years ago.  With literally nothing else, you have leapfrogged over the vast majority of low-fi and low-mid-fi set-ups costing three times this much. Not only that, you would have to spend many times as much to get a full room set up that sounds even close to as good. No I use the HRT HD and the Lehmann Rhinelander with Chord interconnects. It sounds very, very good, but a bit too much energy in the highs for most non-acoustic music. The good thing is that I'm not worried that I'm missing any details. I'm sure some very pricey cans, such as the T1 or HD800 can pull up more micro-details, but honestly, more detail is not the problem here, but rather the slightly less-than-smooth sound that results from the extended highs.

 

Nothing else that I know of in the $150-250 range will clearly beat these in terms of accuracy, meat in the low-mids, and ability to scale up to a very serious mid-fi sound system.

Posted

Pros: over all sound quality and signature

Cons: put my more expensive headphones to shame, coiled cord(not a big deal)

A great can, esp considering the price.

 

Fit, and comfort. these things IMO cannot get more comfortable. it's like your head is being hugged by the softest stuffed animals in the world. yes literally, after about a minute you dont feel them at all. A firm not tight clamp keeps them in place. The headband nestles the crown of the head nicely.

 

Build quality. These things are built solid. Plastic, but the durable kind, with a metal headband, and yoke.

 

Sound quality. These sound great, with deep lows, engaging mids ( I dont know where people are getting this recessed mids thing) highs that sparkle, but not screech. They do need amping to make them shine, however I find them being powered ok directly from iphone 4s ( wouldnt recommend doing it for long) they excel at female vocals. I;ve honestly have not yet heard headphones this good yet.

Posted

Pros: Plenty of bass, excellent clarity, wide soundstage, detailed and very affordable, awesome build quality

Cons: piercing treble and can sound thin in comparison to smoother cans, recessed midrange, non-detachable cable, clamp a little too tight

I got these on Amazon for just £68 (sterling). Ridiculous right?

Let's get the bad out of the way first.

They sound thin and a little shrill because they have prominent treble. While they sparkle and sound very exciting first, the piercing highs become irritating and if your volume is high enough, you start wincing in pain as those high frequencies wreak havoc on your poor eardrums.

The clamp is fairly tight and after a few hours, you'll start to feel it. The midrange is pushed back. Combined with the wide sound stage, vocals can sound distant. When listening to vocal dominant music like soul and r'n'b, this can really take away from the listening experience. A more forward sounding can would really wow you! 

 

The cable is not detachable but it's built rather well. Aside from that, I think the headband is replaceable and so are the pads. If you take good care of it, it'll last for several years. 

Now to the good.

The bright side (no pun intended) is that you catch a lot of detail, especially with the instrumental side of things. There's just so much sparkle - it's an exciting headphone.

The trump card is the bass. Most open cans don't reproduce a great amount of bass, but this is the exception. For comparison, I also have an XB700 which is about as much bass as you'll ever get out of a CLOSED headphone. While the DT990 PRO isn't a match for the ridiculous XB700, the bass rich, extends low and even packs some mild impact. Where the XB sounds muffled, like listening to music with a towel over your head, the DT990 PRO is clear and the bass is definitely powerful. Drums hit hard and possess a satisfying thump (I listen to hip hop mainly). It's a fantastic can.

Also, the expansive soundstage makes music so interesting. Instruments come from every direction where other headphones reproduce a more linear sound. These are far more dynamic.

I've since sidelined my DT990 PROs with Philips' Fidelio X1. A very similar sound signature with smoother treble and a more forward midrange. The perfect headphone in many ways, but for £68, the DT990 PRO is 80-90% as good as the X1 which cost £150. Then again, the X1 is one sexy looking can!!

Still, my DT990 PRO is a cherished can which has its place in my collection. It was my first fully open headphone and it introduced me to a new level of sound. Now I can barely stand my XB700s and my ZX700s due to their closed nature. I just don't enjoy that kind of sound anymore. I have been spoilt!

Posted

Pros: Very comfortable, non-harsh vocals, fun, soundstage, almost grain-free, excellent bass extension, value, build quality,

Cons: Needs a tube amp, slightly dipped mid range, very bright, cringeworthy treble before burn in, slightly thin upper bass (bottom heavy)

I bought the DT990s for use with bass music such as hip-hop, drum and bass and electronic dance music to compliment my AKG K702 65th Anniversies, which I have since sold. 

 

Build and comfort: the build on the DT990s is excellent like most Beyers, and is made in Heilbronn, Germany. It is made from high impact plastic for the cups and spring steel for the headband and bales (yolks), with replaceable velour ear pads and a replaceable vinyl headband pad. The headphones are very grippy and tight, so that may be an issue for you guys who are sensitive to caliper pressure. It is not an issue after about 5 minutes of wearing. The pads have plenty of space for your ears. I have a badly (seemly) disproportionate left ear, so the back of the left pad slightly touches the back of my left ear, so sometimes it is a little irritating if I pay attention to it. Otherwise I don't have a problem. The yolks are metal and the headband is made from spring steel, so don't feel afraid to bend the yolks and headband out slightly to loosen the grip. This will keep the ear pads from collapsing and causing the drivers to touch the ears. Headband comfort is not an issue whatsoever. Keep in mind that these have a non-field serviceable hard wired 3 meter coiled cable terminated to a 3.5 mm plug with a screw-on 6.3 mm adapter, which is a must to use since these need a desktop amplifier.

 

Treble: Bright? Yes. Grainy or overly metallic? No. The treble on the 990 Pros is strong and very present, yes. I would call it more revealing than colored overly bright. But at the same time it isn't what I would call overly harsh. It is only harsh when a song is sibilant or badly mastered, and that is noticeable in the 8-10,000 Hz range. Thankfully, the 990s are very responsive to EQing, so all you have to do is turn the treble on the 8 kHz range down a decibel or two below flat, and that will take the bite off the treble nicely. But what I like most about the treble is that it isn't crunchy, metallic or grainy. Grain is the number one cause of ear pain for me, and it is why I hated the way the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 and the Beyerdynamic DT880s sounded in the treble region. I would say that the DT990 Pros have even less grain than the so-called laid back Sony MDR-MA900s.

 

Mids:  The midrange is much smoother and has a warmer, dynamic sound without being harsh. These are not the most mid centric headphone for the price, though (the AKG K612 Pros for 199 US dollars are better for mid centric music), as there is a u-shape to the sound signature. Mids are still natural sounding though. 

 

Bass: One word: Authoritative. The bass on the 990s hits hard, but it is not overly boomy so it doesn't give me an earache like on the DT770 Pro 80s. This is a great headphone for drum and bass, electronic dance music and hip-hop. The only downside I have is that the upper bass is a little thin, so bass signature is more of a rumbly, mid to sub-bass-centric sound. Unlike the AKG K240s or Sennheiser HD25s, which have more upper and mid bass than sub bass, and as a result, have a more punchy, visceral, warmer bass which is a little more suited for rock, some dance and jazz.

 

Source and burn in: When I first plugged them into my Maverick Audio A1 amplifier, I immediately had tinnitus from the ringing, overly splashy treble and boomy bass. After giving them about 20 hours of burn in, they settled down nicely and that harsh bite to the treble and overwhelming bass were taken off. These headphones still remain bright whether they are on a solid state or tube amplifier, but they are MUCH more dynamic on a tube amp. On a solid state, they will sound harsh and mechanical. Tube amps I recommend are the Maverick Audio Tubemagic A1, Little Dot amps, and the Woo Audio WA6 and WA7 are both supposed to be excellent matches for the 990 Pro. 

 

I think that for the price, these headphones are a steal considering what you get for your money. Just keep in mind that you need to get a desktop amplifier for these to sound their best, preferably tubes. You can get a Maverick Audio A1 or Little Dot MKII for around 200 dollars. So you can have a serious listening rig for under 400 dollars. Highly recommended.

beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Headphones
Description:

Beyerdynamic once again sets the standard for reference headphones with the DT 990, an open headphone that captures the dynamism and excitement of an audio signal like no other. The 250 ohm DT 990 makes high frequencies sound analytical, clear, and distinctive, while reproducing deep frequencies with a powerful resonance. As a result, everything from classical music to hip-hop to big-budget movie soundtracks sound rich and immersive, with three-dimensional acoustics that overwhelm even the most discerning audiophile. The phones also offer an eye-catching aesthetic, with lamella optics that are sure to appeal to fans of sophisticated design. And thanks to the padded headband and soft removable ear pads, listeners can wear the headphones in all-day comfort. Other features include a modular construction that makes it easy to replace all serviceable parts, a gold-vaporized 1/8-inch mini stereo jack plug, a 1/4-inch adapter, and a high-quality carrying case. The DT 990 headphones, which weigh 10.22 ounces, carry a two-year warranty on parts and labor.

Details:
DetailValue
BindingElectronics
Brandbeyerdynamic
EAN4010118406577
FeatureGolf-vaporized 1/8-inch mini stereo jack plug; weighs 10.22 ounces; 2-year warranty
Height8.5 inches
Length7 inches
Weight0.11 pounds
Width4 inches
LabelBeyerdynamic
List Price$389.00
ManufacturerBeyerdynamic
Material TypePlastic
Material Type Set ElementPlastic
ModelDT 990
MPNDT 990
Package Quantity1
Product GroupCE
Product Type NameHEADPHONES
PublisherBeyerdynamic
StudioBeyerdynamic
Titlebeyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Headphones
Batteries Included0
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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