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Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO - Beyer's open-back mastering headphone

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by xero1, Jul 19, 2016.
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  1. Darksoul
    I managed to audition the SRH1840, I wouldn't call them dull, more like...restrained. They don't blow you away on either side of the spectrum, they just do their job without flair. The DT1990 have sizzling highs and a buttery smooth low, the highs might be even called wild. But I prefer to tame the highs than to add where it's not possible, if I want more out of the DT1990 I can remove the EQ and have all their sparkle, with the SRH1840 that's all your going to get; wich is nothing to scoff at. Also, bear in mind the price point.

    Another thing I prefer about the DT1990 over the SRH1840, is the build. The Beyers have a heft that I just love, they ooze quality, pick them up and without being an afficionado, you know you're picking up something high end; or at the very least, of a higher "breed." The first time I picked up the STH1840, I felt they were...flimsy, not light, flimsy. I was like: "Wow, they expect me to pay 500 USD for this?" Do not be confused, the SRH1840 have a respectable build, but I was expecting more for what they are asking for.

    One thing the SRH1840 have over the the DT1990: factory ready balanced connection. Just get the cable, no need to jury rig the SRH1840 to make them balanced, good luck doing that with the DT1990. You may not think balanced cables do anything for the sound, but...I was wrong. After years of using my SRH535 unbalanced and then going balanced, I was blown away. I rediscovered my headphones, these little things have never sound this good. I'm still wrapping my head around what happened.

    So that's that, if you want hazzle free, balancend transition, go SRH1840. Want better build and overall sound performance? go DT1990.
  2. Hyp0xia
    I'm actually surprised that some people have come to the defense of the SRH1840. It's just one of those headphones I never hear anyone discuss. I thought it was because others, like me, find them boring. I guess I am glad someone out there is enjoying them.
  3. audiobomber
    I bought a pair of Amirons and requested return authorization the next day. I was annoyed by the fat bass that strayed into male vocal range. A friend loaned me several headphones to try over a weekend: Hifiman HE-350, Sennheiser HD 6XX, Audeze LCD-2, Grado RS-2e. I found all unsatisfactory for one reason or another.

    The Amirons had satisfied me completely except for the fat lower range, and comfort was in another league compared to the rest. Research indicated the DT-1990 Pro might just be the ticket. This time I scored a bullseye. A bit clampy, so I stretched them a little. I can wear them comfortably for many hours. Sonically, the DT 1990's are faultless with the Analytical pads. The boosted bass with the Balanced pads is fun with some music, less so with other music, but definitely not worth the penalty of excess sibilance. Treble is significantly smoother with the Analytical pads. Ancillary equipment is an iFi Audio iOne DAC and Magni 3 and some nice cables. Great phones!
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
  4. DavidA
    @audiobomber, just curious as to why you didn't care for the HD6XX, LCD-3 (fazor?) and RS2e? Also, what amps or DACs are you / were using to drive these headphones and what genre of music do you primarily listen to. I have a HD6XX, LCD-2f, RS2e and a few other headphones but was considering the Amiron and DT-1990 as something different from what I currently have. While I have a few friends here in Hawaii that love audio none have gotten the Amiron or DT-1990 and there are no stores here to audition them so trying to do a bit of research before committing to either.
  5. audiobomber
    Hi David. My music taste is wide ranging, primarily Rock (Clapton, Van Morrison, Santana) and classic Jazz (Coltrane, Miles, their various band members). Here are my findings:

    The Hifiman sounded OK, but tizzy, artificial highs. More significantly, the ear cups were too small in diameter and *very* uncomfortable, pressing on both the top and lobe of my ears. I struck the Sundara from my potential purchase list because the earcups were the same size as the 350.

    The 6XX was reasonably comfortable, a bit clampy, but the fat bass and muffled lower treble (Sennheiser veil) meant no sale. It was very disappointing to hear a favourite guitar solo fade into the background.

    The Audeze were spot on tonally, but the music just laid there, it wasn't compelling. Poor pace, rhythm and timing (PRaT) is the cardinal sin for me. The Audeze were my least favourite of this bunch. Quite a surprise, I was expecting a lot better given the cost and reputation. Mechanically I found them too heavy and clunky, with slightly too small cups that caught the bottom of my ears. I never thought of my ears as large. Apparently I was wrong. At least they don't stick out from my head. :)

    I liked the Grado Reference best of the loaners, but I was not satisfied with it either. The on-ear cups were bothersome. Had I chosen these, I could have tried cup replacements, but in the end the sound wasn't enough better than my old SR60's to justify the cost. The DT-1990 sounds quite a bit better IMO.

    I did most of my auditioning through a Korg DS-DAC-10R DAC with internal headphone amp. The DAC was powered via dual head USB cable and 5V iPower or power bank. I also used an iFi Audio iOne with Topping TP21 chip amp, but it was not as clean as the Korg.

    I have since added a Magni 3 and Sabaj D3. The Korg DAC is better than either of the others. The internal headphone amp is not quite as clean as the Magni, but had more than enough power. The 6XX were the least efficient of the phones tested, but the level control on the Korg never exceeded 3/4. HTH!

    PS I'm not quite sure which Audeze I was lent. I assume LCD-3 because they are the lowest priced. They likely came from Massdrop.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
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  6. DW75
    The Amrion Home has overemphasized mid bass and slightly recessed mids right out of the box. However, this headphone improves greatly after burn in. It takes about 50-60 hours for the mid bass to calm down, and for the mids to become more forward. With saying that though, after burn in, there is still a bit too much mid bass. If you ever get to try the Amiron Home again, I suggest trying my EQ that I created for it. It makes the Amiron sound amazing.

    Pre-Amplifying: - 2

    63Hz: + 0.5
    100Hz: - 1
    125Hz: - 1
    160Hz: - 1
    200Hz: - 1
    250Hz: - 1
    315Hz: - 1
    1kHz: + 1
    1.25kHz: + 1.5
    1.6kHz: + 1.5
    2kHz: + 1.5
    2.5kHz: + 1.5
    3.15kHz: + 1.5
    4kHz: + 2
    5kHz: + 0.5
    8kHz: - 0.5
  7. audiobomber
    Thanks for bringing this up. Your findings regarding break-in match mine exactly. I held on to the Amiron after receiving return permission because I wanted to compare it with the DT-1990. After two weeks of heavy use, the sound was much improved. If I had had to keep the Amiron for whatever reason, I would not have been unhappy. I liked it better than the other phones, but the 1990 with Analytical pads is ideal for my ears, sonically and physically.
    cardeli22 and DavidA like this.
  8. DavidA
    @audiobomber, Thanks for the quick reply and good details.

    I don't think you listened to an LCD-3 or LCD-3f since they have never been offered on MassDrop IIRC and would have been the most expensive of the bunch ($1500+). Agree that they are large, clunky and heavy.

    The HE350 is a MassDrop variant but its not a planar driver but the ear pads are about the same size as the Sundara so I can see the opening in the ear pad being a bit on the smaller side for some.

    I can see some not liking the bass of the HD6XX but I've found that it takes a decent amp (most like OTL amps) to bring the bass of the HD6XX/HD650 under control so for those that don't want to invest in a decent amp for the HD6XX/HD650 I usually suggest the HD660S or the HD58X (just got a pair) since they are fairly close in sound but don't need an amp to drive them and sound quite good with SS or even phones/DAPs.
  9. jarnauga
    Hi, it's for me a bit too soon to clearly say what they are capable of. I bought them few days ago and I can only play like less than 3 hours. Here are my findings, so far.

    It's Linn Akurate CD player >> Lehmann Audio Linear >> DT1990Pro

    The company around are K501, K712 Pro (Austrian) and DT770-250. There were others, including, briefly HD650.

    First in a short demo at the shop: Violin tone and colour, fabulous. So I bought them straight away (I always buy the unit I was trying, no excuses).

    Bring them to home and play Bruckner: dark, boomy but not too much, just after a short home demo of a new pair of HD650 they sounded somewhat similar. Yes, there was clarity, no sibilance or problems in the treble for me with that record (vinyl remaster on CD). Next day I changed to the A pads and they stay that way.

    Tried again (same record, Karajan 1971 Bruckner 7 EMI remaster): no boomy, more taut bass, instead of HD650 bass-like, now is more K712Pro bass-like. I found it better for my records and my music. Maybe more clarity in mids, only maybe, and sharper treble but at the moment to issues.

    But I noticed something weird: shouty, as in LOUD, in your face forward sound, not dynamic big swings, only a binary dynamic level: LOUD and low background music a bit far away. Loud and soft, separated spatially in distance a bit. And a narrow soundstage. It sounded really like a closed headphone with leaky closed soft cups (thin wood or similar). But I trust my ears and the tone colour, the timbre of the violin was there in the shop. And violin is something I struggle to get right on digital recordings.

    So third day of tests: I bought Hahn/Salonen Sibelius Violin Concerto. I didn't know the quality of the record but I know the quality of the performers. Ok, good things and bad things. The good ones are the right ones: emotion, strength, holding my breath in two passages (really), music message passing through, feeling of intentions of the performers and the music is there. Gestures, tempi, articulation. Those things can't be 'restored' or 'repaired' by amps or cables. Or sources. But they can easily be destroyed by them. So far so good. Amp is a slightly cold neutral detailed SS device suitable for high impedance headphones. In the long past they were the default option from Sennheiser for their HD600-HD650 in their booth at HiFi shows. I'm not happy at all on how they drive any AKG and I think the pre-amp section is crap. But it works. Source is from Linn, 11 years with me and going strong. CD only device if you want to indulge yourself with a very good sound. If you try DVD-Audio or SACD in this device you will be disappointed.

    But again the sound physical features I heard before are there: narrow soundstage, rumble in the bass passages, undefined fuzzy rumble, no definition (that was a bad surprise). Exactly like a closed headphone with no tight control of the resonances. Checked and rechecked the pads: firmly in place. And then again the two level dynamics: LOUD on your face upfront violinist, low volume, far away, hidden orchestra. Larger than life performer and an orchestra that appears mostly on the sides of the main performer like a pick-a-boo game, Snowwhite and the seven dwarfs. It can be the recording: there is a long modern tradition of closed miked soloist against an orchestra in the background, instead of mixing and balancing them together as it happens in the real performance on stage. But there are no reports or reviews on that account in this recording. I can test the record with the K712Pro and check what is in there.

    I want to close my first report here with this: the nuances of Hahn playing, the emotion and tone of her violin and her own choices on how to play the Sibelius are clear. And there is no sibilance but the highs are close to be there, just a notch below, and you press your jaws in expectation of a pain that never happens.

    I don't know if that Tesla 2 driver thing needs one hundred or more hours to develop. Please, if someone here listen to classical music, can you report your findings? Thank you.
  10. kman1211
    They do take a while to fully break in, but I honestly always found the DT 1990 Pro and narrower, more upfront, and more closed-in sounding than it's sibling the Amiron Home. While I found the Amiron had more bass, I also I found the Amiron's soundstage bigger and the sound to simply be more open. I also found the Amiron Home more nuanced than the DT 1990. Those are the reasons I ended up choosing the Amiron over the DT 1990 when I had both, I owned both for many months and I've heard multiple pairs of both, impressions stayed the same across different units. I actually swapped the drivers of the DT 1990 and Amiron Home, they sound different, the upfront sound is actually a tuning difference in the driver themselves. The Amiron driver just sounded more open and nuanced regardless of housing, pads, or dampening.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
    DavidA and jarnauga like this.
  11. jarnauga
    For a professional monitor tool this sound signature is surprising. They already have the DT1770 as well. Narrow and upfront is not very compatible with orchestral music. I don't know, I'm confused at this moment. I will try to put hours on them in an automatic mode somewhere and then reassess them with more concertos and recordings.

    I try to avoid non-professional tools nowadays because there are current trends in sound signatures that I dislike and the mobile market is pushing things in a direction incompatible with my tastes in music. So really neutral and full range when possible are my goals with enough room for a detailed account of instruments on stage. I enjoyed so many years of a Sony CD3000 until it felt apart and then changed to funny closed ATs. Many Sennheisers later I decided I have enough and AKG saved my hobby, and they are still with me. And then a DT770-250 in my workplace added joy to my music. When I try other things, now and then, I didn't feel I'm improving at all (with my music and my goals in listening to music).

    I tried the HD650 twice: an old pair with years in its back from a friend (for fun, looking for more expression and drama) and a new pair that I just bought and return back in a day. And then instead of money I changed to the DT1990 (my excuse was: it is for my enjoyment at work, not at home). I was expecting a little bit of the K712Pro seriousness with a bit of more joy. What I didn't expect from the makers of the DT770-250 is a headphone with challenges in the dynamic aspect of the signal. Come on! These are the guys that help me to discover how to use a pianissimo while singing a complex melody and then raise the music with more complexity and layers of wonderful sounds! How?

    I like that they produce the drama and strong feelings that I want from the music, instead of a doctored 'lecture' of a K712Pro (that it is still my reference). That objective is covered. Narrower soundstage than an open AKG is fine but it is too much at the moment. And the dynamic constraint plus aggressive upfront presentation are really challenging.
  12. Genoa1893
    I do listen to classical, besides other genres, and I do like them really a lot. I feed them with several digital sources and the phone output of my Accuphase pre.

    They sound really really well to my ears, at a point that they reveal the tiniest detail, yet in the big picture, if I can say. For sure, they are pityless with bad recordings, but I love them exactly becaues of this capability.

    Our fletcher-munson ear response curve shows a reversed U shape, so the headphones U output profile makes a lot of sense to me.

    I think it's always better to let any device play some hundred hours before attempting to "critically" judge it. But I do 100% agree with you, they convey a true emotional experience and this is worth a couple of minor drawbacks (if any).

    jarnauga likes this.
  13. kman1211
    Honestly it is, I like the DT 1990, I found it very fun with the balanced pads, but it has some issues and I let go of it for those reasons, it's not as bad as the HD 660 S in terms of being upfront and lacking dynamic range. I did find swapping to the analytical pads changed things, but that just made it sound like an inferior T1.2 imho, the T1.2 has better dynamic range and nuance, etc. than the DT 1990 and that imaging the T1 had. I found the balanced pads did mask the dynamic constraints some, but I found the analytical pads actually revealed it's problems with dynamic range and I could never enjoy the analytical pads much.

    I honestly feel like the DT 1990 is tuned more to appeal to a larger audience, like how the HD 660 S is. AKG's were honestly the first headphone I loved the sound of. The K712 is a great headphone. The AKG K7 series has some of the best drivers I've come across with the K712 Pro being the best I've heard of the bunch. My reference is my DT 480, if I want to hear all the nuance, layering, and detail I put those on. I've owned and let go of the HD 650 more times than I can count, I finally figured out they aren't as good as they make themselves seem, they use their tuning and housing to make them sound the way they do, once I noticed their true nature I couldn't unhear it.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
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  14. audiobomber
    Sorry for the sloppy post. You're right, I tried the LCD-2, not LCD-3. I had written it correctly then second-guessed myself. I've corrected my original post to minimize the confusion.

    I'm sure the 300 ohm HD 6XX would sound better with a better amp, but then so would the 250 ohm Beyerdynamics. IMO the Amiron sounded quite similar in style to the 6XX, but better in virtually every way (once the Amiron's fat bass was fully broken-in). It was the lower treble suckout that bothered me with the Senn. The bass I could live with.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018
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  15. DavidA
    I think you heard the LCD-2C and not one of the many other variants like the 2.1, 2.2 or 2F since I've never found any of them to lack PRaT in any way but since we all hear differently all that matters is what you or I hear.
    Looks like I'm going to have to find a way to get a listen to the DT-1990 and Amiron one of these days, might have to go the Amazon buy and return route since no store carry them locally and none of my friends who have high end audio have considered them enough to try them.
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