Open Back Headphones

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Studio Headphone Review

The Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro is a pair of professional headphones, with an open back design, well-balanced spacious sounds, an exceptionally comfortable fit, and an inexpensive price tag, typically between £110 to £140.

DT990 PRO BEYERDYNAMIC

I have owned my pair of Beyerdynamic DT990 Pros for 15 years and they are still going strong. After 15 years of daily use, here is what I think of them.

What is the sound quality like on the DT 990 Pros?

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros have  exceptional sound quality and for the price, they are in a league of their own.

Overall these headphones present beautiful deep bass,  well-balanced mid-frequency tones and great clarity in the high-end frequency range. 

From an audio engineering point of view,I have found the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros to be incredibly accurate at representing sound and true to its original recorded form. This makes these headphones a great tool for professional mixing and mastering of audio.

There is a slight bass boost designed into these headphones which may not be to the taste of a few, however I personally really enjoy this bass enhancement as it gives a lovely depth and warmth to the sound .

Personally I have found that the quality of the headphone amplifier or audio output device has a great impact on the sound quality of these headphones.

These headphones have an impedance of 250ohms which is pretty high if you are planning to use these as “general listening” headphones. 

Therefore,  to get the most of these headphones you will greatly benefit from using a headphone amplifier. Of course they will still work with your phone or MP3 player,  but you will find that you will have to turn them up quite high. In a nutshell, you won’t hear the true quality that these headphones can produce if you don’t drive them  with enough power.

If you use a headphone amplifier or a device capable of driving these headphones with sufficient power, you will get a totally different experience! As well as really great bass that you can feeling your chest, exciting mids and high clear frequencies with great clarity, the sound quality is superb – and even more superb given the price!

 Overall 5 out of 5 for Sound Quality.

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How comfortable are the DT 990 Pros?

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros are one of the most comfortable pairs of headphones I’ve ever worn.

They have soft cushioning over-the-ears and a very soft band over the head that allows for long studio sessions without dis-comfort. 

It is worth noting that the headphones themselves have quite a tight clamping force when first worn.  This means that you feel the pressure of the headphones on the side of your head.

The headphones are deliberately designed to do this in order to seal around the ear as much as possible which allows for a better mixing and mastering session for audio engineers.

Personally I do not find the clamping force a problem at all and given that I have a small head, it means that these headphones fit me really well. If you have a particularly large head, this may be a problem, but when working with high-end headphones designed for critical listening, a strong clamp force is a good sign. 

If the tight clamping force is a concern or problem, you could always opt for the home listening version of these headphones which is the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Edition. 

According to Beryerdynamic themselves, the DT 990 Pro & DT 990 Edition are identical when it comes to sound however, the DT 990 Edition have a softer headband for enjoying music at home, plus a straight cable and not a coiled cable. 

dt 990 edition for home listening

The DT 990 Edition is identical in design to the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros  i.e. they produce the same listening experience and acoustic response, however the DT 990 Edition have lighter head clamping force for the average listener making this version more suitable for general listening experiences as they don’t press on the head as much.

The open-back design means that these headphones have excellent ventilation so for long mixing sessions in the studio, they are not sweaty or uncomfortable.

 Overall 5 out of 5 for Comfort.

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What is the build quality like on the DT 990 Pros?

In true German engineering style, the build quality of the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros is excellent.

The headphone cups are made from a durable strong plastic which is strong but lightweight. The headphone cups are connected to the soft headband via a metal interface which is durable and strong.

The headband itself consists of a plastic band but is insulated with a soft PVC or faux leather material for excellent cushioning and comfort.

In addition, the quality of the cushion pads that surround the ear are excellent and are made from a soft “felt type” material

I can’t say exactly what this material is but it is exceptionally comfortable and of high quality. I have been using these headphones for 15 years and the soft felt material has still retained its spring and softness. 

In a nutshell I’ve owned these headphones for 15 years and use them every single day and I have had no problems. They are an excellent build. 

The only sign of wear and tear is showing on the interior headphone cups where the soft foam liner has ripped with use. This is to be expected given the abuse I have given these headphones!

wear and tear on dt990

That said, this has not impacted the sound quality. 

 Overall 5 out of 5 for Build Quality

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Important features to consider when buying the DT 990 Pros:

In contrast to other headphones there are very few downsides with the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros but here are some things that you should be aware of.

Manufacturing Concerns

When I first bought these headphones, they arrived with a fault in the right side. Basically one side of the headphones sounded muffled and I was really upset as I was super broke at the time and had spent my food money on headphones!

It was a tough fault to identify as it was not really obvious. If I was not trained in critical listening I may not have picked it up. 

Plus, I did listen to these headphones before purchase at a friends studio so I knew exactly what to expect. 

I gave Beyerdynamic a chance (based on the listening experience at my friends studio) and asked for a replacement. 

My second pair of Beyerdynamic DT 990s arrived and they were perfect. That was 15 years ago and they are still great! 

While reading reviews of these headphones, I have noticed that a lot of people have had mechanical or technical problems with these headphones on a first purchase.

It is worth bearing this in mind in case you get them and they don’t sound fabulous. Firstly I would ask for a replacement instead of a refund and give Beyerdynamic DT 990s a real chance. 

I took this gamble 15 years ago and it paid off! 

Open Back Design

It’s important to remember that these are open back headphones. This means that when listening to music some sound will leak out and into the surrounding area.

Therefore if you buy these headphones for personal use and, for example,  you want to use them on the bus or in a busy office it is worth bearing in mind that everyone is close proximity will hear what you’re listening to.

High Impedance

When buying headphones it’s important to keep an eye on the impedance value. This is a technical specification which tells you how much “power” is required to run the headphones.

Technically “power” is the wrong word here, but it is the best word to explain what is going on.

If you want to get into the nitty gritty of headphone impedance, check out this great article from Headphonesty

Most professional studio headphones have a high impedance (60ohms or higher) and these Beyerdynamic DT 990s headphones have an impedance of 250ohms,

This means that they need a headphone amplifier in order to work to their maximum capability and sound awesome! They will work with average portable devices such as phones and MP3 players however you will have to turn up your device quite loudly and you will miss out on the real impact and power that these headphones can produce. 

Impedance Value

Comments

50 ohms or lessDesigned to work efficiently with portable devices such as MP3 players or phones. 
50 ohms or higherNeed a high voltage source or amplifier to work at their optimum level. Typical of professional studio headphones. Will still work on portable devices but will not be sounding their best without sufficient power. Depending on the headphones, they may even sound rubbish. 

What is a good headphone amplifier to use with the DT 990 Pros 250ohm?

To get the most out of what these headphones can do, you need to drive them with an amplifier.

To be honest, if you are not a crazy audio geek and are generally happy with audio products, you personally may feel that you don’t need an amplifier, however to get an amazing sound, use an amplifier.

Personally, I recommend the FiiO E10K Headphone Amplifier.

There are lots of other headphone amplifiers on the market to suit different price ranges.

If you find that the FiiO E10K amplifier is out of your price range, check out Gear4Music, pick a headphone amplifier in your range and ask Gear4Music their opinion on whether your selected headphone amplifier is good with the DT 990 Pro 250ohm headphones.

The following headphone amplifier from M-Audio, The M-Audio Bass Traveler Headphones Amp, also looks promising.

M-Audio Bass Traveller Headphone Amp

From experience, Gear4Music staff are great to work with and whenever I am stuck on a technical specification, I just ask them for their advice.

Their prices are usually great too.

Are the DT 990 PROs good for gaming?

Beyerdynamic DT990 Pros are an excellent pair of headphones for gaming. When used with a good headphone amplifier, great bass and sound precision can be heard in gaming soundtracks

To test my pair of Beyerdynamic DT990 Pros for gaming, I connected them to my PlayStation 4.0 controller without using a headphone amplifier.

Even without an amplifier, these headphones sound good, however if you really want to feel the benefit of these headphones, then use them with a suitable amplifier.

dt-990 pro for gaming

Final thoughts…

Having owned my pair of Beyerdynamic DT990 Pros for 15 years, and using them daily for professional audio production, I can say with confidence that I 100% recommend them.

They sound great, are built well and are exceptionally comfortable. 

If you are a creative or streamer looking for a headphone upgrade for your studio, or just a music lover looking for a comfortable pair of headphones, then the Beyerdynamic DT990 Pros are seriously worth your consideration. 

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