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Beyerdynamic DT990 250 Pro Review

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

 

Beyerdynamic DT990 250 Pro Review



As I read this forum looking for information before buying these headphones, I often wondered how to put the opinions here into perspective – I wasn't sure what standards different posters had for excellent sound and I wasn't sure how the subtle the differences in sound between different headphones and different amps would be to my own ears. To someone with a limited budget these are very important questions. I can't definitively answer them for you because the only way for you to really know how a piece of equipment sounds is to hear it yourself, but I can tell you how these headphones sound to someone who has no experience with more expensive gear. If you're someone like me, a young college age person who loves listening to music and wants the best equipment he can afford, then my perspective might be closer to your own than that of more seasoned audiophiles. This review might be able to tell you things that people with much larger budgets and fancier toys cannot. Nevertheless, take it with a grain of salt.

 

I decided to get the Beyerdynamic DT990 because it seemed like it had the most of the two things I wanted in a headphone – powerful bass and a large soundstage. There was much disagreement about the differences between the variant DT990 models on this forum, so trusting a few reviewers on Amazon who said the 250 Ohm Pro version sounds great unamped, I bought the 250 Ohm Pro version because it was the cheapest. It was an excellent decision.
 

 

Impressions

 

One of the chief criticisms of the DT990 is that they have boomy bass, recessed mids, and exaggerated highs. I can hear this signature, but it's important to describe it in more detail. These headphones do not have boomy bass like cheap “DJ” headphones, nor do they have harsh highs like my old Sony MDR-V6. They are so much smoother, tighter and more natural than anything I think of as “boomy” or “harsh.” For reference, I've owned the following following headphones: Sony MDR-V6, Sennhesier HD280, Altec Lansing IM716, and many crappier models.

 

Opinions are relative and I imagine that this criticism is in comparison to other similar or higher priced headphones, which I can't comment on. I just want to emphasize that “boomy” or “harsh” in this context doesn't necessarily sound boomy or harsh at all in the sense that someone used to cheaper headphones would imagine. To me, the signature sounds like tight, deep bass and clear, detailed, smooth highs that are both just a bit louder or bigger than the equally satisfying midrange. Everybody is different though, you may hear something else. You might also have higher standards than me. 

 

What strikes me the most is that I can hear so many parts of the music that I haven't heard before, like subterranean layers of bass, spaciousness, ways that sounds move around in the music, little details and effects, ways that instruments and sounds separate from each other. The soundstage is really great – listening to Skrillex I can hear effects zipping in and out and spinning around me, like every sound is coming from different parts of spheres layered around my head. Dire Straights on FLAC surrounds me. Sounds are located in a 3-dimensional space. The bass is massive and creates a sense of pressure, of weight and impact. My head vibrates listening to Prodigy's “Breathe.” If you want something that is deliberately lean and damped, look elsewhere. The bass anchors the music with these. The midrange does seem to occupy less of the sonic picture than the ends of the spectrum, but the imbalance is not that significant IMO. Voices and guitars are still easy to pick out and just as resolved as the rest of the sound.

 

128 Kbps MP3s sound veiled and lifeless, like a recording of a clock radio playing the music instead of the musicians themselves. 320 Kbps is very satisfying, and some FLAC gives a noticeable extra sense of clarity. Other FLAC doesn't sound much different from good MP3s.


 

Amping

 

While I can hear a difference between being driven directly by my ipod, being driven out of my soundcard, and being driven out of a NAD 114 preamp, I want to frame the difference like this: they sound pretty good, still better than anything I've heard before, out of the ipod and they sound even better with better amplification. The biggest difference is volume level. My ipod on max volume just gets them to a satisfying volume level, my laptop's headphone jack gets a lot louder, but not so loud that I don't turn them up all the way sometimes, and the preamp is the only thing I've tried that can get them significantly louder than I would ever listen to. To me, it sounds like these headphones have so little distortion that turning them up just makes the images bigger. They don't get shouty or clangy the way cheaper headphones do when they're turned up too lout. Perhaps it could be described as: more power makes the sound more fleshed out, fuller.

 

I should also mention that I'm running my laptop's headphone jack into the NAD preamp, so the laptop's amp is not entirely bypassed. Nevertheless, I think this does offer some improvement over the plain laptop because I can run the laptop's headphone amp at a lower level, so it doesn't clip or distort as much. Maybe it's shaving off some really fine detail, but I'm very happy. I can hear some hiss in the background during quiet passages. My next hifi purchase is going to be a usb DAC, and maybe an ipod LOD before that.

 

 

Overall

 

If you think you like bass and you want to make an upgrade into some substantial headphones, it would be hard to go wrong with these. I'm extremely happy. 


Edited by manbear - 8/22/11 at 12:02pm
post #2 of 30

Excellent review and you really explained everything well. I understood exactly what you meant. I am thinking of buying these and this review really pushed me towards them a lot more

post #3 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by evantfulop View Post

 

Beyerdynamic DT990 250 Pro Review


Amping

 

While I can hear a difference between being driven directly by my iPod, being driven out of my sound card, and being driven out of a NAD 114 preamp, I want to frame the difference like this: they sound pretty good, still better than anything I've heard before, out of the iPod and they sound even better with better amplification. The biggest difference is volume level. My iPod on max volume just gets them to a satisfying volume level, my laptop's headphone jack gets a lot louder, but not so loud that I don't turn them up all the way sometimes, and the preamp is the only thing I've tried that can get them significantly louder than I would ever listen to. To me, it sounds like these headphones have so little distortion that turning them up just makes the images bigger. They don't get shouty or clangy the way cheaper headphones do when they're turned up too lout. Perhaps it could be described as: more power makes the sound more fleshed out, fuller.

 

I should also mention that I'm running my laptop's headphone jack into the NAD preamp, so the laptop's amp is not entirely bypassed. Nevertheless, I think this does offer some improvement over the plain laptop because I can run the laptop's headphone amp at a lower level, so it doesn't clip or distort as much. Maybe it's shaving off some really fine detail, but I'm very happy. I can hear some hiss in the background during quiet passages. My next hifi purchase is going to be a USB DAC, and maybe an iPod LOD before that.

 

 

Overall

 

If you think you like bass and you want to make an upgrade into some substantial headphones, it would be hard to go wrong with these. I'm extremely happy. 

Trying getting a tube headphone amplifier for the DT990. you might like them even better.

 

The DAC Destroyer, USB-DAC, sells for around $60 on eBay.

post #4 of 30

i have this headphone for a while, if burn in exists, my pair must be fully burned in by now. as a matter of fact, im listening to mine now. ipod classic 160gb to fiio e17 to dt990, and i agree with you pretty much. the mid is not as forward as in most of other headphones i have though the mid is still very clear even with the bass being emphasized.

post #5 of 30

I had this headphone for almost two years, loved them from day 1, sound quality is amazing. I would consider this headphone to be the one to get for people that want good quality punchy sound from a proper headphone but who may not necessarily want to gamble £200 yet. In that sense these are wonderful 'entry level' headphones in my honest opinion. That's not to say that they're basic, no, it just means I feel these would be a spot on headphone for people curious about high quality headphones that want something good but don't want to spend lots of money yet.

 

Sweet spot pricing, good for pretty much everything, built like tanks. I just wish Beyer made the cable detachable as that is without doubt this headphones weak point.

post #6 of 30

My only gripe with any of the Beyer DT models (I have the 770 Pro 250 - love it) is also the lack of a detachable cable.  Makes them not as portable as they could be, with their otherwise very sturdy build.  

 

I'm looking forward to trying out the new Custom Ones, as they seem to address that issue, amongst other things. 

post #7 of 30

What new custom ones ? If you're talking about MANUFAKTUR then the cable still isn't detachable....

post #8 of 30

I have been so close to ordering these headphones, but I'm being put off by people saying the highs are extreme. 

 

From what I have read about these headphones, they sound amazing and probably exactly what I am looking for. The only potential problem could be if the highs are too high. I have quite sensitive ears, so this would be disappointing if it was the case.

 

I have an E11 amp. Would this help in controlling the highs if it became an issue for me? 

 

I really want to get these, but don't want to waste my time if the highs are too much.

 

thoughts?

post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dizzle77 View Post

I have been so close to ordering these headphones, but I'm being put off by people saying the highs are extreme. 

 

From what I have read about these headphones, they sound amazing and probably exactly what I am looking for. The only potential problem could be if the highs are too high. I have quite sensitive ears, so this would be disappointing if it was the case.

 

I have an E11 amp. Would this help in controlling the highs if it became an issue for me? 

 

I really want to get these, but don't want to waste my time if the highs are too much.

 

thoughts?

 

Well the only way you're going to know is if you try them.

 

What headphones do you currently have? Because the OP reviewer is correct these headphones aren't that bad when it comes to the 'piercing highs' and they're still smooth in the highs compared to some cheaper headphones. So there is that fact to consider as well. 

post #10 of 30

well the highs are not as bad as say my skullcandy inkd but its fatiguing from time to time. maybe try pair it up with a tube amp or something

post #11 of 30

I had the dt990 for a few years and found them to be to be a nice headphone but the treble is pronounced and at times and bit too forward. The rest of the sound is great with a wide soundstage, great bass and smooth mids. 

post #12 of 30

Thanks for the review.  I've been researching headphones for the past week or so and keep coming back to these.  I think I'm gonna pull the trigger on them thanks to your review.  Can't wait to hear them.

post #13 of 30

@pandastyle

 

you should actually pull your trigger on them. They might be a good entry set but once you get a good amp they shine .. I do not think that there can be more 'fun' sounding headphones for this price and a few rungs up although more 'neutral' can be found.  I wouldn't really say any Fiio in production really does it any justice. I believe that tubes might be the way to go with these. 

post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by evantfulop View Post

 

Beyerdynamic DT990 250 Pro Review



As I read this forum looking for information before buying these headphones, I often wondered how to put the opinions here into perspective – I wasn't sure what standards different posters had for excellent sound and I wasn't sure how the subtle the differences in sound between different headphones and different amps would be to my own ears. To someone with a limited budget these are very important questions. I can't definitively answer them for you because the only way for you to really know how a piece of equipment sounds is to hear it yourself, but I can tell you how these headphones sound to someone who has no experience with more expensive gear. If you're someone like me, a young college age person who loves listening to music and wants the best equipment he can afford, then my perspective might be closer to your own than that of more seasoned audiophiles. This review might be able to tell you things that people with much larger budgets and fancier toys cannot. Nevertheless, take it with a grain of salt.

 

I decided to get the Beyerdynamic DT990 because it seemed like it had the most of the two things I wanted in a headphone – powerful bass and a large soundstage. There was much disagreement about the differences between the variant DT990 models on this forum, so trusting a few reviewers on Amazon who said the 250 Ohm Pro version sounds great unamped, I bought the 250 Ohm Pro version because it was the cheapest. It was an excellent decision.
 

 

Impressions

 

One of the chief criticisms of the DT990 is that they have boomy bass, recessed mids, and exaggerated highs. I can hear this signature, but it's important to describe it in more detail. These headphones do not have boomy bass like cheap “DJ” headphones, nor do they have harsh highs like my old Sony MDR-V6. They are so much smoother, tighter and more natural than anything I think of as “boomy” or “harsh.” For reference, I've owned the following following headphones: Sony MDR-V6, Sennhesier HD280, Altec Lansing IM716, and many crappier models.

 

Opinions are relative and I imagine that this criticism is in comparison to other similar or higher priced headphones, which I can't comment on. I just want to emphasize that “boomy” or “harsh” in this context doesn't necessarily sound boomy or harsh at all in the sense that someone used to cheaper headphones would imagine. To me, the signature sounds like tight, deep bass and clear, detailed, smooth highs that are both just a bit louder or bigger than the equally satisfying midrange. Everybody is different though, you may hear something else. You might also have higher standards than me. 

 

What strikes me the most is that I can hear so many parts of the music that I haven't heard before, like subterranean layers of bass, spaciousness, ways that sounds move around in the music, little details and effects, ways that instruments and sounds separate from each other. The soundstage is really great – listening to Skrillex I can hear effects zipping in and out and spinning around me, like every sound is coming from different parts of spheres layered around my head. Dire Straights on FLAC surrounds me. Sounds are located in a 3-dimensional space. The bass is massive and creates a sense of pressure, of weight and impact. My head vibrates listening to Prodigy's “Breathe.” If you want something that is deliberately lean and damped, look elsewhere. The bass anchors the music with these. The midrange does seem to occupy less of the sonic picture than the ends of the spectrum, but the imbalance is not that significant IMO. Voices and guitars are still easy to pick out and just as resolved as the rest of the sound.

 

128 Kbps MP3s sound veiled and lifeless, like a recording of a clock radio playing the music instead of the musicians themselves. 320 Kbps is very satisfying, and some FLAC gives a noticeable extra sense of clarity. Other FLAC doesn't sound much different from good MP3s.


 

Amping

 

While I can hear a difference between being driven directly by my ipod, being driven out of my soundcard, and being driven out of a NAD 114 preamp, I want to frame the difference like this: they sound pretty good, still better than anything I've heard before, out of the ipod and they sound even better with better amplification. The biggest difference is volume level. My ipod on max volume just gets them to a satisfying volume level, my laptop's headphone jack gets a lot louder, but not so loud that I don't turn them up all the way sometimes, and the preamp is the only thing I've tried that can get them significantly louder than I would ever listen to. To me, it sounds like these headphones have so little distortion that turning them up just makes the images bigger. They don't get shouty or clangy the way cheaper headphones do when they're turned up too lout. Perhaps it could be described as: more power makes the sound more fleshed out, fuller.

 

I should also mention that I'm running my laptop's headphone jack into the NAD preamp, so the laptop's amp is not entirely bypassed. Nevertheless, I think this does offer some improvement over the plain laptop because I can run the laptop's headphone amp at a lower level, so it doesn't clip or distort as much. Maybe it's shaving off some really fine detail, but I'm very happy. I can hear some hiss in the background during quiet passages. My next hifi purchase is going to be a usb DAC, and maybe an ipod LOD before that.

 

 

Overall

 

If you think you like bass and you want to make an upgrade into some substantial headphones, it would be hard to go wrong with these. I'm extremely happy. 

 

1. The bass is not boomy/flabby/uncontrolled etc. There is more mid-bass here than sub-bass, and it gives a great amount of visceral impact without slowing it down.

 

2. Running them out of an Ipod or computer causes the bass to be extremely loose and the remaining spectrum to be sub-par than when actually amped by some good amp.

post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by pete4sound View Post

I had the dt990 for a few years and found them to be to be a nice headphone but the treble is pronounced and at times and bit too forward. The rest of the sound is great with a wide soundstage, great bass and smooth mids. 

 

Treble with the Dt990s is more of preference. To me it is not too bright(like sony mdr ex 60 lp), it also depends where you come from. For eg. I would call the signature bright but I find it bearable as my preference is bright headphones and I come from balanced armature earphones like the DBA-02/B2 and the mentioned sony above.

 

 the whole fr is near-perfect balance really and not 'V' shape, its rather a U with very good bass-mid-treble transitions. If you can get to hear old recordings from the 70s and 80s you can see how the DT 990s actually excel. 

 

Regards

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