beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Headphones

General Information

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.

Latest reviews

Pros: Lots of bass
Cons: Super fatiguing
there are only treble and bass and no mids
Can suck out the life of your music
Just recently purchased these babies having had the DT 880s for the longest time and loving them so I thought it might be fun to compare them

The build quality of the 990 Pro is somewhat improved over the 880s editions they are somewhat less flimsy but my biggest bugbear with Beyerdynamics headphones is still here.. The headband adjustment... It is really really awful

impossible to adjust it exactly the way you want and on my 880s it has worn out completely
Compare this to my sennhesier 598s which i have owned for years and the headphone adjustment is just as good as when I bought it that headphone is also a lot sexier than anything I seen from Beyerdynamics

Though the 990 pro is a good looking headphone in my opinion better looking than the 880s edition which is the version I got.. I have the 880s 600 ohm version

My dt 990 pro is the 250 ohm version

Comfort is an area were my 880s win they quite a lot less clamping force might it harder to have them stay on your head but they are more comfortable

pro 990s have quite a lot of clamping force this might lessen with more use though I will have to see overall though i feel i can almost forget im wearing headphones with the 880s with the 990s i can feel a good amount of pressure on the side and on the top of my head

My 598s wins even over the 880s they feel lighter on my head and overall they are the most comfortable headphones that i own and a lot better than the pro 990s

Okay so be careful with the headphone adjustment cause it is crap and will wear like crazy they are decent but not great when it comes to comfort you cannot disconnect the cable which is also true for the 880s this is just really dumb and i see no reason for this

but how do they sound!

its important to stress that fundamentally the 990s and the 880s are the same headphone i would not be at all surprised if they have the same driver this is not to say they don't sound different cause they do but its obvious that the 990s is just a spin off from the 880s

With this in mind the 880s is my favorite headphone i absolutely love my 880s so is there anything that the 990 has improved? No... it might in very specific genres be a bit better but overall it actually does the opposite and worsens the sound considerably

The 990s can make a recording that on the 880s were delivered with a lot of emotion and heart that gave you goosebumps it can turn this recording into an ugly mess you be amazed how a pair of headphones can butcher a song so badly

For music that relies mostly just on vocals the 990s is a bad idea bad bad idea it really does destroy the music in its entirety and makes it sound like total crap

For pop music it is a lot better suited and the genre it really likes is heavy rock type of music were you can even argue the 990 is a better fit than the 880s but then there are prob better headphones than the 990s that fit that type of music already

The 990s has a treble that is insane i have no idea what they were thinking the 880s already has a treble that is a bit accentuated and it works quite well i only noticed that they had a bit more treble when i compared them to my 598s

but the 990s has such an insane amount of treble it hurts the entire audio presentation its completely insane what were they thinking?!

I could only find one genre av music were this insane amount of treble actually benefits its really badly recorded material from like 70 80 years ago otherwise in every genre of music the treble of the 990s is just inane and i don't know what beyerdynamics were thinking

The bass of the 990s is more interesting in a way i never felt my 880s were bass shy but compared to the 990s they lack the same impact when it comes to bass that kick that feeling of power so in that case the 990 wins

sadly the 990s has way to much of it and it actually drowns out other parts of the music

For me the 990s bass aint quality its quantity over quality its sounds quite " dirty " its not particularly detailed and is somewhat muffled though again there is a lot of it impressive for an open pair of headphones? Maybe

The mids there aint any the 990s are treble and bass and that is it there is nothing holding it together there is no body to the sound its just treble and bass

Soundstage the 880s are overall somewhat bigger in soundstage which surprised me so the sound is more outside of your head

So let me go through a couple of recordings and describe what they sound on the 880s and 990s songs that stood out to me when i compared them

Bob Dylan - Girl from the North Country

On my 880s this song is gorgeous there is a feeling of space bob dylans voice has a body to it it sounds really really good
Hearing the 990s Bob dylans voice is disembodied its nasal it sounds tinny the sound is more in your head this song sounds like total crap on the 990s and it sounds amazing on the 880s

Chess anthem

this song dont sound bad on the 990s but with my 880s the voice is in the middle of a big space there is endless space the instruments and the voice exists within a real actual space when it gets loud the sounds opens up something fierce on the 880s it sounds like im listening on speakers its amazing

The 990s are much more inside your head and there is no sense of space it never takes off and when he sings real loud and the instruments go up and up the 880s just opens more and more and more while the 990s are just playing inside your head with no sense of space or air

This recording is out right amazing on the 880s and just very very meh on the 990s

Walter Wanderley - Summer Samba

There is a lot going on in this track.. okay decent amount of stuff going on... the 990s sounds less congested and the 880 sounds " busy " the treble boost aint as offensive in this track either amazingly enough

So for more congested pieces of music with a lot going on the 990s does a better job but i only noticed this when directly comparing them but hey it its a thing with the 990s

The 990s lays out everything clearly so you can hear everything the 880s make it sound a bit chaotic even though the presentation aint actually chaotic

Jussi Björling - Sverige
Old recording tons of tape hiss the voice is hiding in this tape hiss wanting to get out!

the 990s makes the imperfections the hiss more apparent but the voice is still center stage the 880s almost seems to forget there is any tape hiss the voice takes much bigger center stage though i think the treble of the 990s might benefit the song a little bit

So its a tie if i am feeling generous i might give the nod to the 990 this song makes me emotional when using both headphones which is a good thing the 990 dont butcher this beautiful song yay

Martin Solveig and Dragonette - Hello

The 990s has much more bass so much it starts eating up the vocals the portion of the song were multiple hellos are being said going from left to right quickly is closer to the ear cups on the 990s

The 880s dont sound anemic but something feels like its missing when going from the 990s at the same time the voice gets to be left alone and dont have to be worried about being eaten by the bass

but..but it dont have to be this way! the answer lies somewhere between the 990s and 880s the bass on the 990s is also quit fatiguing like having a subwoofer in your ears but there is def a lot more of it

Joss Stone-"The Chokin' Kind"
This is prob the example you should use if you want to know why the treble on the 990s is a bad idea its so sharp it makes my ear bleed whenever joss stone sings the letter S my ears hurts this is a song that on the 990s dont just sound bad it hurts your ears

on the 880s its a fantastic track a great song i love this track but not on the 990s

There are distortion inherent in this song so when she goes loud in one portion of the song it sounds bad no matter what but it sounds a lot worse on the 990

The way the 990s sounds when she sings the letter S shudders like seriously beyerdynamics!

So would i recommend the 990s?

Not really no the 880s are much much better headphones if you love bass though you might want to look for another headphone though i still dont think the 990s should be your first or second choice if that is what you want the shure 840s have much better quality bass for example and still has more of it than the 880s


the 880s are amazing headphones having heard the 990s im now even more convinced of the fact
Chess anthem on the 880s sounds so freaking good oh my god

check it out on youtube! when it goes loud it becomes eargasmic the 598s cannot do what the 880s do here either so i think what the 880s do here is something special on the 990s its just meh to be fair the 598 was also meh on this track only the 880s could make it truly shine

That is what has impressed me the most how the 990s can make a surprising amount of songs either unlistenable or just completely lose all of their emotional impact as if someone took all the heart all the life in the recording and sucked it out its quite depressing actually the 990 vampire!

I dont know if the 990s editions sound better i only have the 250 ohm version my 880s are the 600s which i heard is the best sounding version of the 880s

Best way i can describe it is this take the 880s sound but put it inside a small box increase the treble and bass 10 fold that is the 990s

I use an aune x7s as my headphone amp and the x1s dac from the same company plugged into my computer with usb with my aune x7s im using the external linear power supply they sell as a separate
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Pros: Adds sizzle and pop to older recordings; might be the best bargain in headphones on the planet
Cons: coiled cord on Pro version is too short for home use; needs a good amp
There are several versions of this headphone.  I am reviewing the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro, 250 ohm version.  This is one of 3 headphones I currently own.  I also have the Sennheiser HD700 and Sennheiser HD600.  My HD600 is 20 years old and might sound different from more recently manufactured units.  I listen exclusively to classical music and opera, so my opinions should be taken in that context. 
 
I have to say I originally purchased the DT 990 because it was selling at a discount from a marketplace reseller (not an authorized reseller) for a very low price.  Right out the box it sounded good and I enjoyed the sound for almost a year before I bought the HD700.  At the time I was just using the headphone output on my Onkyo C-7030 CD player and I stopped using the HD600 and the DT 990 and I was using the HD700 exclusively.  
 
I decided the upgrade my system by purchasing a Marantz 6005 CD player.  There was a slight improvement, but it was minimal.  Then I bought a Schiit Asgard 2 headphone amp so I could listen to opera on Blu-ray while watching it on television.  There was hardly any noticeable improvement in the sound quality on the HD700 but there was a huge improvement in the sound quality on the HD600 and DT 990.  Since I added the amp, I probably use the DT900 more than either of the Sennheiser headphones.
 
While some people seem to be pursuing a quest for the holy grail of headphones, I do not believe such a thing exists.  I use all 3 of my headphones and choose which one to use based on the quality of the recording.  
 
The HD700 is my choice for top quality recordings which have little or no flaws.  They have the extended bass and treble and amazing imaging that can only be reproduced from the best modern recordings.  On lower quality recordings or older recordings, they do not hide compression or rough treble or overzealous remastering.  These are my first choice when I watch opera on Blu-ray or listen to modern recordings of Handel opera.
 
The HD600 is good for recordings that have a harsh treble or a loose, warm bass.  The HD600 is known to sound good with a tube amp but even using a solid state amp like the Asgard 2, it makes recordings made on tube equipment sound lush.  My old recordings of George Szell with the Cleveland Orchestra sound especially good with these phones.
 
The DT 990 is good for older recordings that have the highs rolled off due to aggressive noise reduction (used to remove tape hiss) and for compressed recordings that lack punch.  This makes up the majority of my orchestral recordings.  Mahler's Resurrection Symphony conducted by Otto Klemperer and the Verdi Requiem conducted by Fritz Reiner are examples of recordings that sound magnificent on the DT 990's.
 
Overall Signature:  The DT 990's have a classic V signature with a significant dip in the lower midrange and upper bass.
 
The highs:  Some people say the DT 990's are too aggressive in the treble but for me it depends on the recording.  On the right recordings, the highs are clear, extended and detailed without any grain.
 
The midrange:  Some people say the DT 990's have a shallow midrange.  I used to hear a depressed midrange on some recordings when I was using the headphone jack on my CD player but ever since I switched to the Asgard 2, the midrange is clear and transparent.
 
The bass:  I have read mixed things about the bass on the DT 990's.  Some say there is too much and others say there is too little.  It really depends on what is on the recording.  The DT 990 has a fully extended bass so if there is lower bass frequencies, it will reproduce them.  This is something that many headphones will not do.
 
Dynamic Range:  Dynamic range is the difference between soft and loud and it is very important in Classical Music and opera.  Something like the Mahler First Symphony of Beethoven Ninth has parts that are whisper quiet and then get extremely loud.  Some headphones cannot reproduce the quiet parts accurately and others start to distort when they get loud.  The DT 990's have excellent dynamic range and sound great at both extremes.  Many headphones only sound good at loud volume.  The DT 990 can be played at moderate volume and it still sounds good.
 
Imaging:  Imaging and soundstage are very good but do not match the HD700.  On the HD700 you can locate every instrument and singer.
 
Comfort:  The DT 990's are the most comfortable of all the headphones I own.  They are lightweight and the earpads are soft and plush.  I have a bald head and and glasses and some headphones tend to slide around when I move.  I wish all my headphones were as comfortable as the DT 990's.  My only complaint is that the coiled cord is too short and it is not replaceable.  Beyerdynamic makes a "premium" version of the DT990 with a longer cable at a slightly higher price.
 
Build quality is excellent.  I am not the most gentle person in the world with my headphones and I use the DT990's almost everyday.  They seem very rugged.
 
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 ohm is the least expensive headphone I own by a significant margin but I use it more than my other 2 headphones.  When used with a high source input and a good headphone amp, they can make some flawed recordings sound amazing.  I don't believe a headphone exists that can make all recordings sound equally good but the DT 990 has a synergy with older recordings that really bring out the best.  
 
Anyone who listens to older Classical and opera recordings should add the DT 990 to their headphone collection.  We live in a world where Bose and Beats outsell all other headphone manufacturers combined and we should feel very fortunate that we have so many fine headphones to choose from.
Chuck Canada
Chuck Canada
I own a pair of DT 990- 600 ohm ''not pro'' headphones and I love them. I too listen to a lot of classical and opera both modern and classic-classical, I really like the open sound stage on my headphones. They have great build quality like you mentioned and only after three years of almost daily use has anything gone wrong and it was a simple fix, I just had to put on a new cord. I ordered the cord right from Beyerdynamics website and it shipped out quick. I also got a new pair of ear pads just because ''why not'' although it wasn't needed it is nice to have new ones.
 
You did a very nice review thanks and well done. 
Pros: Open, airy, uncongested sound; fantastic detail; controlled bass; superb build quality; comfortable velour pads and tall ear cups
Cons: treble can get a bit harsh depending on the song
A truly fantastic headphone, especially at its price point. The sound is very airy and open while providing superb, detailed imaging (jazz and blues really shine on these). It's really amazing how easy it is to pick out individual instruments. Bass, mids and treble are well behaved, although the treble can get borderline harsh depending on the song you're listening to. 
 
Build quality is also fantastic on these. While they are plastic, it's a high quality, durable plastic that is built to last. Metal headband is a very welcome feature (especially coming from the SRH940 which is notorious for its cracking headband). Velour pads are soft and comfy with sizeable cups to fit medium-large ears. 
 
Overall, a top recommendation. 

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