Pros: Amazing comfort, revealing detailed sound, great bass response
Cons: no detachable cables, 32 ohm impedance still needs amping to drive from a phone
As a disclaimer, this pair of DT990 was a review unit from Beyerdynamic.
Arrived in a rather large box, beside a high definition picture of the headphones and a detailed technical spec, I always appreciate how Beyer guys honestly describe the sound signature and talk about the comfort without any hype or exaggeration. A lot of other companies write a flashy phrases to artificially boost their product, but with every Beyerdynamic product I reviewed in the last few months - the description was always spot on. Inside of the box you'll find a pleather case with a foam form fitting interior for storage and carrying of DT990. The only other accessory is screw-on 1/4" adapter. Out of the case, the first thing that jumped out and grabbed my attention was the velor earpads. These earpads could be considered as a luxury upgrade to bring the comfort level of these full size over-ear headphones to the best I have tested in a very long time. One of the biggest complains with over-/on-ear headphones is typically about earpads and how hot and sweaty they get after an extended listening period. Here, the breathable soft microfibre material wraps your ears in a comfort of two plush pillows. As a result of a perfect clamping force and a soft padding of spring steel headband, you get a super comfortable fitment that also feels very lightweight. The headband itself is adjustable, and has a soft click action with dots indicating the length of the extension. The earcup is attached to a headband through a brushed aluminum Y-fork construction which is typical for most of the Beyer headphone designs. This construction allows a decent angle of tilt to adjust the angle as well as a limited rotation of earcup to fit any shape/size head and ears. The earcup itself is made out of aluminum and hard plastic material which compliments design very nicely.
DT990, being a full open back, has a unique design where back of earcups has a shutter-like opening for a wider soundstage at an expense of more sound leakage. Makes me wonder if maybe one of these days they could follow a route of Custom One Pro and make this shutter adjustable to completely close the back - now that would be a fun sound tweaking! ;) Another thing that worth mentioning is single side cable used on the left side which makes it convenient to unclutter cable management as well as helping to identify L/R when in the dark. Cable itself has a heavy duty shielding, but it's still flexible enough. Unfortunately, cable itself it not removable, but hopefully future updates will take care of that. Other design detail is an aluminum tab on each side of the headband which I found to have no functionality other than a cool look. One final thought, both earpads and headband padding are removable and replaceable, which is great when you have to take care of wear'n'tear in the future.
DT990 ended up sounding more revealing, brighter, and airy with a stronger bass representation (in comparison to DT880 I just reviewed as well). By stronger bass, I don't mean to say a dominating basshead type of delivery down to a rumbling sub-bass. This is still very intelligent bass delivery with a great control and tight isolation from the rest of the spectrum, but with more impact and a slightly higher quantity. With mids, those were detailed and clear but a little more upfront and a bit harsher toward upper mids. They actually reminded me of some of the analytical IEMs I heard in the past, and with a few of my sibilance test tracks it was getting a bit too close to a comfort level. Of course, everything could be corrected with EQ, but I do have to point it out as part of a default sound signature. Treble had a great sparkle to it and was detailed enough. With open back design, the soundstage expanded wider and deeper, and the sound became more airy and 3D. But at the same time, more outside noise was being let in and more sound was leaking out. These are definitely not suited for private listening. Low impedance of 32 ohm rating in this case was also not favorable to be driven directly by my Note 2 without using A200p external DAC. Pairing it up with A200p added an amazing level of details, even edging out the performance driven directly from X5. Another interesting phenomenon, while comparing 32 ohm versus 250 ohm pricing on Amazon, 32 ohm version was $100 cheaper - another example of how you can shop around to save money since impedance rating might no longer be a deciding factor driving these cans from your phone.
Here are the pictures.