Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Studio Headphones
Build Quality & Durability9.5/10
For At Home/Casual Listening9.0/10
As Studio Reference Monitors8.0/10
- Bright & Lively Sound Signature
- Crisp & Detailed Highs With Good Separation
- Replaceable Headband/Ear Cup Padding
- Best Comfort In Its Class
- Durable & Quality Build
- Non-Removable Coiled Headphone Cable Can Be A Slight Inconvenience
- Requires Pairing With A Powerful DAC/Amp
- V-Shaped Sound Signature Isn't Ideal For Getting A Highly-Accurate Mix
These open back cans have received very mixed reviews – most people either love them, or hate them. What is it about them that seems to divide the crowd? Is it their comfort? Do they have a flimsy build? What do they sound like?
Are they better for studio use or casual listening at home? Throughout this review, we will do our best to help you understand both their best and worst features – as well as hopefully answering any questions you might have!
If you’re anything like us, you probably agree with the importance of having all the facts before you draw any conclusions! Keep reading our Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Review to see if they’re the right pick for you!
Our Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Review
Features & Technical Specs:
- Open back circumaural (over-ear) headphone design
- Features a built-in 3-meter coiled cable
- Includes 1/4″ adapter
- Driver Type: Dynamic
- Impedance: 250 Ohms
- Frequency Response: 5 Hz – 35 kHz
- Sensitivity: 96 dB
- Dimensions: 8.7 x 4.7 x 9.1 inches
- Weight: 8.81 ounces (w/o cable)
Before you move on, take a quick look at the links below that you can use to navigate our review. Each section will provide an in-depth analysis of each individual performance aspect.
Here are the 4 most important performance features you’ll want to consider before making your decision:
- Build Quality & Durability
- Comfort – Long-Lasting or Short-Lived?
- Sonic Performance – How Do They Sound?
- Who Are These Cans Perfect For?
Now that you’ve taken a quick look at the technical specs, let’s start by examining two of the most important features – build quality and durability.
1. Build Quality & Durability
These cans feature the durable and lightweight build that most Beyerdynamic headphones are known for (which is one of the reasons they’re a popular choice for studio use). The frame is all metal and the open back ear cups are made of polycarbonate plastic.
Ear Cups & Padding
Both polycarbonate ear cups have plush velour-covered padding. When you hold them in your hands, you’ll notice that they also slightly swivel and tilt to help adjust to the contour of your head.
The thick padding prevents the inside of the ear cups from rubbing against your ears which definitely adds to their overall comfort. They are also fully removable if you decide that you want to replace the ear pads for any reason.
Most people usually choose to replace stock earpads for one of two reasons.
- To slightly alter the sound profile
- To provide either more or less cushion
As you’ll see in the section below, the stock ear pads are more than adequate (in most cases) and do not need to be replaced.
Non-Detachable Coiled Cable
Attached to the left ear cup is a non-detachable 3 m (about 10 ft.) coiled cable. While the cable itself is sturdy and durable, it can be a minor drawback for some. You won’t have as much freedom to customize or replace it if you’re someone who likes to experiment with your cans.
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that if it does end up breaking for any reason, you’ll have to send your cans in to the company to get it fixed. If you can’t stand coiled cables, there’s really no way to work around it since it’s completely non-removable.
Some people prefer coiled cables over straight cables since they rarely get tangled. While they do add extra weight to your ‘phones – they are more durable and practical for studio use.
Replaceable Headband Padding
The headband padding is pretty thick and also fully replaceable if you decide you need more cushion. In order to replace the padding, all you have to do is unbutton the leatherette covering on the top of the headband.
After you remove the stock padding, you can slide your replacement pad inside and button up the leatherette covering. The included headband padding does not usually need to be replaced since it does a pretty good job at evenly-distributing the wearing weight.
Overall, these cans have a very solid build quality that’s both durable and reliable. Does the lightweight build make them more comfortable than other similar cans? Read the section below for more details!
2. Comfort – Long-Lasting or Short-Lived?
When it comes to comfort – Beyerdynamic almost always knocks it out of the park. Do these cans live up to that reputation, or fall short? Here are the most important features to consider in this area.
Headband Clamp & Adjustment
Aside from the actual headband padding (briefly covered above), one of the first things you’ll notice is the fairly light headband clamp. It’s far from being too flimsy or loose, and provides just the right amount of pressure.
When you consider the 9 ft. coiled cable and perfect clamp, you can probably see why so many people use them in the studio. If you like to have more freedom of movement and wiggle room – you’ll find that the cable/clamp combination is extremely convenient. Are there any drawbacks to the headband design?
One Possible Drawback To Keep In Mind
One possible drawback to keep in mind is the actual headband adjustment mechanism. It’s built in a way that makes them more difficult to adjust once they are on your head. Usually, you’ll have to take them completely off your head until you find the perfect adjustment. This is mainly because once you put them on, the headband locks firmly in place.
For example, if you hold both ear cups and pull them away from each other – you’ll see the headband lock. On the other hand, if you take them off and set them down on your table/desk when you come back to put them on – you will usually have to readjust them again.
In both cases, most people consider the semi-locking headband to be a fairly neutral feature. (Nope, the headband isn’t the main feature that divides the crowd – you’ll see more on that below.)
Room Inside The Ear Cup & Padding Concerns
There is plenty of room inside each ear cup and the plush padding provides adequate spacing between your ears and the drivers. This not only makes for a more comfortable listening experience but also ensures that your ears won’t rub against the driver on the inside. (One of the most notable complaints about the Grado SR325e, in terms of comfort, were issues with the driver slightly rubbing against some listeners’ ear lobes.)
The ear cups on the DT 990 provides a good amount of airflow and fit very comfortably over most people’s ears. So much so, that many people claim them to be noticeably more comfortable than many Bose headphones (which is a pretty big compliment considering their reputation for premium comfort).
Are There Any Major Comfort Flaws?
There really aren’t any major comfort flaws to point out, but if we had to highlight a single area of concern for some listeners, it would be the headband. After a few hours of continuous listening – the stock padding seems to be the only area of slight concern. That being said, most people experience no issues whatsoever with the headband OR ear cups becoming uncomfortable.
These cans are easily much more comfortable than other models that cost nearly twice as much. So far, you know that they have a lightweight, durable build and that their comfort rivals the comfort Bose is known for. Of course, premium comfort doesn’t mean very much unless they sound great too. Let’s take a closer look at how they actually sound!
3. Sonic Performance – How Do They Sound?
Before you use these cans as a studio reference monitor, it’s important to keep in mind that they do have a v-shaped sound signature. What does a v-shaped sound signature sound like? V-shaped headphones favor both the low and high-end frequencies. Does that mean that the mid-range is completely neglected? Not necessarily, but you’ll probably want to read our full detailed breakdown below!
Low End – Extended or Emphasized?
One of the first things you’ll notice when you’re listening to your favorite tracks to test your headphones is a slight bump in the low end. There is a pretty obvious emphasis on the lower frequencies but the response is never sloppy or muddy.
While the bass is one of the main focal points of these cans, there is fairly minimal bass extension. Instead, the bass response is clear, accurate, and powerful enough to cause a slight vibration around your ears. (That’s never a bad thing, is it?)
Mid Range – Are They Completely Neglected?
In the upper mid-range, a wide range of vocal styles sound fairly detailed and dynamic. The instruments in the mid-range have what most would consider average detail separation and don’t bleed very much into the lows or highs.
While the vocals are fairly clean, they are clearly meant to sit just under the lows and highs. Are the highs sharp or piercing?
Highs – Sharp or Piercing?
Even though words like ‘sharp’ and ‘piercing’ sound almost identical – when it comes to describing audio, they do have different qualities. For example, if you’ve ever listened to a pair of headphones that made it feel like there were musical daggers stabbing at your ears – that would be ‘piercing’.
On the other hand, headphones that produce an emphasized upper-frequency response to the point where they sound sharp (but don’t hurt your ears) would be considered ‘sharp’ by most listeners. So are these sharp or piercing?
Is There Any Noticeable Sibilance?
Sounds in the upper range are very detailed and crisp. There is no audible distortion but they do come pretty close to becoming ‘piercing’. A lot of the almost-piercing effect is likely due to the noticeable sibilance around 6 and 12 kHz.
(If you’re not sure what ‘sibilance’ means, it’s the term used to describe an overwhelming amount of ‘sssss’ sounds that are made when certain words are spoken or sung.) It’s especially easy to catch when you’re listening to alternative music or rock.
Depending on your personal taste, it may become a bit too sharp – especially if you’re ears are used to listening to extremely flat headphones like the Sennheiser HD 600. These cans are definitely not flat or neutral by any stretch of the imagination.
Are They Good Reference Cans?
This is one of the main reasons why they’re not absolutely ideal for use as a pair of critical reference cans. Their extremely noticeable peak in the upper range and obvious low-end emphasis create a sonic atmosphere that’s far from well-balanced.
If you’re looking for a pair of cans to use for mixing/mastering or critical listening, you would be better off trying the HD 600 (briefly mentioned above). In a way, these sound very similar to the HIFIMAN HE 400i, except the HE 400i are definitely more top-heavy than they are v-shaped.
These headphones are generally better for casual listening, gaming, editing videos, or watching movies. That is unless the genre of music you’re mixing/mastering calls for a v-shaped sound profile. How’s their imaging and detail separation?
Bright Sound Profile & Detailed Imaging
Without a doubt, these cans have an extremely bright sound profile with above-average detail separation (especially in this price range). They also produce fairly accurate imaging that makes it easier to pinpoint where each instrument would be (if the band was in the same room as you).
The crisp detail separation (especially in the low and high end) make this ideal for specific genre listening or mixing/mastering. Listening to genres like electronic, hip-hop, EDM, house music, and classical/soundtrack showcase the true purpose of a v-shaped sound profile.
Will You Need An Amp?
If you’re wondering whether or not you’ll need to pair these with an amp, the short answer is yes. Since they have a much higher impedance (250 Ohms) than average they will require an external amplification device.
Since they are pretty power-hungry cans, using them plugged directly into your laptop or smartphone will be pretty disappointing. The main reason it will be disappointing is that you won’t be able to crank the volume high enough to hear all of the nuances we mentioned above.
Unless you already have a powerful headphone amp that can drive high impedance cans, we recommend taking a look at our Audioquest Dragonfly Red Review here. The need to pair these headphones with a powerful amp could be considered a significant drawback for some.
For others, having a powerful amp on hand is one of the first steps to take if you plan on building a serious headphone/audio gear collection.
We’ve covered quite a bit of information here, so let’s take one last look at the main pros/cons to see who these cans are perfect for!
4. Who Are These Cans Perfect For?
These cans would be a perfect pick for you if you need a pair of open back durable headphones to use at home for gaming or casual listening. Their divisive v-shaped sound signature is by far the main feature that will make you either love them or hate them.
Since these cans are easily among some of the most well-built and comfortable – they’re great for wearing during extended studio or listening sessions. If you listen to (or mix/master) a lot of alternative or rock music – they probably won’t be the best fit since they do have an extremely bright treble.
On top of that, if you already have a quality DAC/amp that can drive power-hungry cans – these will pair very nicely and really come to life. As long as you don’t mind the built-in coiled cable or emphasis on producing extremely bright and detailed highs, you should be more than satisfied with their overall performance.
Take a quick look at the review table below to see the criteria we used to calculate our final rating out of 10. There, you can also see the most important pros/cons to consider before you decide if they’re the right pick for you.
Now that you’ve read our Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Review what do you think? Are they worth seriously considering? Do you prefer a v-shaped leaning sound signature or a flat and well-balanced response?
If you’d like to see more information such as customer reviews or star ratings on Amazon, use the link below!
Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below! If you have any questions about anything else we covered here, feel free to ask below! We always do our best to respond as quickly as we can! Thanks for stopping by to check out this review, we hope to see you here again!
Sonic Elevation: Ride The Waves.