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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. CarlosUnchained
    Anyone here can test the DT1990 pro with Mimby+Jot? The store I tested them doesn't have any Schiit product, so I used other amps.
    I read that the jot can be a fatiguing pairing for some cans.
  2. harpo1
    Beach Camera has the DT1990 pro bundled with the Beyerdynamic A20 amp for $699.  Is this a good deal?  Anyone know what the A20 would sell for in the classifieds?
  3. CarlosUnchained

    Can you link the bundle? I could only find the DT alone.
  4. wovenhand

    Thanks for your impressions, appreciate it. I actually went ahead and ordered both. I'll be listening extensively to them and pick one pair to have in the studio and the other one to have at home "for fun"/relaxed evaluation of work done at the studio. I'm sort of guessing it'll be the DT 1990 PRO for studio use and HD 600 for listening at home. 
  5. Sophonax
    I actually just bought this bundle -- should be arriving via FedEx sometime today. I had been looking for a decent deal on the DT1990 since I heard it at RMAF, and this one was finally compelling enough for me to bite. Separately, these components sell for $1100, so $700 isn't bad. They even had a coupon code when I bought for an extra $15 off.
    I'm not sure how the A20 would sell in the classifieds -- I don't see too many Beyerdynamic amps being bought or sold on Head-Fi. It's an interesting amp based on its specs -- it only delivers about 100-175 mW of power, depending on the headphone impedance, which is quite low compared to most offerings on the market. It also has an output impedance of 100 ohms, which is unique for a solid state amp, as most other solid state amps shoot for a low output impedance of 2 ohms or less. What this means is that the A20 probably isn't a particularly versatile amp, so when you combine that with the seeming lack of interest in Beyerdynamic amps in the Head-Fi community, my guess is that it wouldn't sell in the classifieds for anywhere near its $500 asking price. Maybe more like $200? (total guess)
    However, the A20 does have some nice features. It has pretty good THD and crosstalk measurements. It has an internal power supply (which I like -- I hate wall warts). I read that apparently the RCA output on the back is a passthrough of the RCA input, so you can insert the A20 into an existing audio chain without the need for Y-cables or other such annoyances. And last but not least, the 100 ohm output impedance suggests this may be a good match for higher impedance headphones, such as the 250 and 600 ohm Beyerdynamics or the 300 ohm Sennheisers. These headphones typically pair well with OTL tube amps largely because they have a higher output impedance, so I'm thinking the A20 might provide a similar effect.
    So in short, I went for this deal largely because I'm actually interested in trying out the A20, and it only cost an extra $85 beyond the price of the headphones. I'll post later with some impressions.
  6. CarlosUnchained
    Seems like a pretty good deal.
    By the way, I read that you have solid state and tubes by Schiit. Please, let us know your impressions with the three amps.
    Your review will help me to decide which path to follow: This bundle, Schiit tubes or Schiit solid. 
    I know for the versatility Schiit would be best, but I have to take $$$ in account.
  7. Sophonax
    I'll post some impressions today of the DT1990 with both the A20 and the Asgard 2. Unfortunately impressions with the Valhalla 2 will have to wait -- it's currently back at Schiit to repair/replace a buzzing transformer. Hopefully I should have it back in about a week or so.
  8. CarlosUnchained

    Fair enough. I need more time to save money too :)
  9. kman1211
    I have a Valhalla 2, I can say the DT 1990 pairs very nicely with the Valhalla 2, definitely the best pairing of the amps I have. I am curious how the A20 compared to the Valhalla 2 on the DT 1990.
  10. Subhakar
    A20, despite the high output impedance, is said to be working wonders for all beyerdynamic headphones from 32ohm to 600. I don't have an explanation, though. Solid build, however. And some say, A2 at $1100 is not so much of an upgrade from A20 at $499. So, those who get A20 for $85 in the Beach Camera deal must be lucky enough.
  11. Sophonax
    I've been listening to my newly-received DT1990 for the past couple of hours on both my Asgard 2 and my also newly-received A20. I've also given my DT880/600 and my HD598 a try on both amps. Here are some initial impressions:
    Beyerdynamic has always had great build quality, and the DT1990 continues that tradition. High quality plastics in the ear cups, beefy metal gimbals, a nicely padded leather headband, and velour pads with memory foam. They've improved their headband adjuster mechanism over the older DTxx0 series so that each click of adjustment gives a solid tactile feedback. My only minor complaint is regarding the swivel joint where the gimbals hold the ear cups -- it's a pretty tight joint with quite a bit of friction, so the ear cups don't swivel very freely. I swiveled the ear cups back and forth for a while to try to work the joints in and they started to loosen up -- so I suspect this will improve with age.
    About on par with the older DTxx0 series. I think I like the ear pads on my DT880 better -- the DT1990 memory foam pads are a little thicker and don't breathe quite as well, so heat tends to build up a little more. However, I like the headband on the DT1990 better than the DT880 -- it's got softer padding, so while the DT880 can bother the crown of my head a bit after an hour or so, I have no such problem with the DT1990.
    To be clear, these impressions are for the "balanced" ear pads that came pre-installed. Overall, I find the sound signature to be pretty neutral, with the bass standing forward in the mix a little bit over the mids and treble. It's a brighter sound than my HD598, but darker and meatier than the DT880.
    Holy bass, where did that come from?! Knowing my DT880, and having owned the DT990 and T1 in the past, I would not have expected this kind of bass from a Beyerdynamic. Very robust, forward in the mix, fast and impactful. It's restrained enough to keep these headphones in the category of "neutral" tonal balance, but it provides a strong foundation and excellent dynamic impact that lends to an exciting listening experience.
    The mids are a pleasant surprise -- they have more body (i.e. lower mids) than the DT880 and are probably a little bit more forward in the mix as well. Male vocals in particular sound a little chestier; female vocals are largely similar between the two models. Overall I find the DT880's midrange presentation is particularly suited for acoustic and classical music, whereas the DT1990 seems to be able to carry all genres with equal aplomb.
    The treble is typical of Beyerdynamic -- clean, clear, and well-extended. However, it is toned down just a bit when compared to the DT880, which is something I think a lot of Head-Fi'ers would prefer. I've always found my DT880 to be borderline sibilant -- it's riding that edge where it's almost too bright for me, but not quite. The DT1990 takes a nice step back from that edge. People who have tried Beyers in the past and found them to be a bit too treble-happy might want to give the DT1990 an audition.
    Soundstage and imaging is similar to the DT880, which is to say it is very good. Though Beyers don't present the biggest soundstage, it is nicely-sized and seems spherical in shape (e.g. equal width, depth, and height), which lends to a natural spatial presentation. Imaging is very sharp -- it's easy to pinpoint the location of various sounds and instruments.
    A20 vs. ASGARD 2:
    My impression is that these two amps are technically very similar (e.g. in terms of noise floor, detail retrieval, dynamic range, etc.), and that any differences in tonal balance mostly arise from the difference in output impedance between the two. The Asgard 2 is the more conventional amp with a roughly 2 ohm output impedance, whereas the A20 has a 100 ohm output impedance. The effect of this impedance difference will depend entirely upon what headphones you are using.
    First, a couple of notes about the A20. Continuing the Beyer tradition, build quality is excellent. The aluminum chassis is well-finished and very attractive, and the amp is surprisingly heavy (about the same weight as the Asgard 2, despite the Asgard having a beefier transformer). The volume knob is very smooth. While running, the A20 is just a little bit warm to the touch (contrast against the Asgard, which can double as a space heater or a hot plate). I think any worries about the A20 being under-powered are completely unfounded, at least if you're using dynamic driver headphones -- with the HD598 I could barely turn the volume knob past 9:00, maybe 10:30 for the DT1990, and 12:00 for the 600-ohm DT880.
    With the DT880 and DT1990, the difference between the two amps is slight but noticeable. The tonal balance is largely the same, but I'd say the A20 gives both headphones just a touch more bass -- so it comes down to a matter of preference which is better. I'd probably lean toward the A20 for these headphones, particularly for the DT880, which can benefit from a little extra bass IMO.
    With the HD598, the Asgard 2 is the very clear winner. On the A20, the HD598 has significantly more bass, and it starts to bleed into the midrange and muddies up the sound. The HD598 needs an amp with low output impedance, plain and simple.
    The effects of amplifier output impedance on headphone frequency response can be modeled with reasonable accuracy. Dynamic drivers (headphones or speakers) can be modeled with a simple passive circuit:
    Here RE1 is the electrical resistance of the voice coil, LE1 is the electrical inductance of the voice coil, RM1 is the mechanical damping of the driver suspension, CM1 is the mechanical spring force of the driver suspension, and LM1 is the mechanical moving mass of the cone, suspension, and air load. RM1 also incorporates friction and other losses. You can pick values for these parameters to try to match the measured impedance curve for a headphone.
    When the headphone is connected to an amplifier, the amplifier's output impedance will be in series with the driver circuit model. Since the driver's impedance changes with frequency, the amount of power that will be delivered to the driver will also be dependent on frequency. This power difference can be converted into SPL changes.
    I picked parameter values to match InnerFidelity's impedance curve for the DT880, and then modeled the effects of varying amplifier output impedance on the frequency response of the headphone. The plot below demonstrates the effects -- the black line corresponds to a 0 ohm amp output impedance (similar to Asgard 2), whereas the purple line corresponds to a 100 ohm output impedance (similar to the A20). As you can see, the differences in frequency response are fairly minimal -- just a fraction of a dB of increased output in the bass and treble regions. Some might argue that these differences are not even audibly noticeable, but I definitely heard a small difference when listening, probably a little more than is predicted by this model.
    I also did the same computation for the HD598, giving the plot below. You can see the A20's 100-ohm output impedance results in a nearly 6 dB increase in bass response, which is most definitely noticeable. Subjectively, the effect was not a good one.
    I'd do the computation for the DT1990, but InnerFidelity hasn't measured these headphones yet and I'm too lazy to do it myself [​IMG] 
    Mark R-S and CarlosUnchained like this.
  12. Sophonax
    I'll add that I just swapped over to the "analytical" pads, and I'm liking them quite a bit. Now the DT1990 almost sounds like a corrected version of the DT880, very neutral overall. With the analytical pads, the DT1990 loses some bass response, but it still has a little bit more bass than the DT880. Otherwise, the sound isn't much changed -- the DT1990 retains the meatier mids and the more restrained treble response compared to the DT880. Very nice!
    I could see myself wanting to swap back and forth between the two pads periodically to switch things up -- but unfortunately, the pad swap operation is a little bit tricky...
  13. kman1211
    I used to like the balanced pads more, but since I got the Valhalla 2 the analytical pads won me over. I found while the bass is leaner and treble a bit brighter on the analytical, the overall sound signature is smoother(including the treble, the balanced pads can be a bit spikey sounding at times) and the increase in soundstage is pleasant. The balanced can have a bit of an odd compressing effect to the sound. 
    The more you pad swap, the easier it gets to swap them. 
  14. Sophonax
    I get what you're saying about the smoother response with the analytical pads. While the balanced pads are more exciting and dynamic, I also think the sound might be a little bit fatiguing for me. The analytical pads tone things down for an easier listening experience that is still quite engaging.
    I just looked at the pad swap directions in the manual -- looks like I was rotating them the wrong way. Hopefully it's a little easier if you do it right! [​IMG]
  15. Wesbound
    Thank you guys for the impressions; what about 1770 pleather pads on 1990?
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