If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Beyerdynamic has been producing the DT 990 PRO for over 15 years. And they remain some of the most popular headphones today, as they were when first released. They are open-back headphones for professional studio use but also make a great set of cans for critical listening at home.
High-quality sound normally comes with an expensive price to pay. But every once in a while, a product comes along that bucks this trend. The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO is one of those products.
We thought it was high time to take a trip down memory lane with this Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Review to see exactly what makes these headphones’ popularity so enduring.
Design and Build Quality
Out of the box, the DT 990 PRO looks more functional than stylish. They are a mostly plastic design, the only metal part being the thin steel headband. The large earcups are certainly big enough to cover the largest of ears. The open-back grilles are the most striking part of the build.
It’s a pretty minimalistic look…
Matte black being the predominant color. The grey earpads offset the black nicely, adding the perfect amount of flair to the otherwise basic color scheme. An all-black version is also available that comes with a straight rather than coiled cable.
It’s a tried and tested design that Beyerdynamic uses for all DT range headphones. Despite being very lightweight at only 250 grams, they are extremely durable headphones. They are decently flexible in all the likely directions. It’s no stretch to call them some of the most durable headphones you can buy.
That being said, we don’t think they’d fare too well under weight. Don’t accidentally sit on them, or you’ll likely be looking for replacement parts before you know it.
But replacement is easily done…
Just about every part of the DT 990 is replaceable. You can find all the spare parts on Beyerdynamic’s website. Hopefully, you won’t need to go looking. But it’s great to know that if anything breaks or malfunctions, you have the option to replace the part rather than buy a whole new unit. This takes potential longevity to a whole new level.
It’s a shame that this design ethos doesn’t extend to the cable. It’s a captive cable, meaning it’s not detachable from the headphones. What that means is that if something happens to the cable, you will have to replace the entire unit.
It would be nice to see Beyerdynamic change this going forward, especially since cable malfunction is one of the leading causes of headphone failure. Other than that, the coiled design is a nice touch. It stretches up to three meters and doesn’t get in the way when coiled up.
These are some of the most comfortable studio headphones on the market. Designed primarily for extended use in studio settings, it’s like having mini pillows attached to your ears. The velour-covered ear pads that Beyerdynamic uses are so incredibly soft that you can almost forget you’re wearing headphones.
The headband is also well-padded with a leatherette covering, and it spreads the weight evenly over your head. Furthermore, a wide extension range means they will accommodate the largest or smallest of heads with no issues. A decent amount of horizontal and vertical axis movement allows the earcups to adapt to any head and jaw profile with no problems.
As mentioned, these are lightweight headphones considering their size. This certainly helps with comfort levels. Less weight equals less pressure on your head.
All relatively standard here. The cable terminates in a 3.5mm jack. A gold plated ¼” adapter can be screwed on for when you’re plugging into higher quality gear, which is really what these headphones are designed to be used with.
Does the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO need amplification?
If you want to get the best out of the DT 990, then you should use a good headphone amplifier. When compared with other higher-end models such as the Audeze LCD-2 Planar, they are relatively hard to drive due to an impedance level of 250 Ohms.
You will be able to listen to music on certain smartphones. However, you will have to max out the volume, and even then, it won’t be very loud.
This is really where the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO shines. The overall sound profile is very neutral, with no overemphasis in any part of the frequency range.
There’s excellent resolution with good balance across the lows, mids, and high frequencies resulting in a very pleasing experience. As a result, these are some of the best studio reference headphones you can buy.
Bass is not over-pronounced…
For example, when listening to “Silent Shout” by The Knife, a very bass-driven track, you can feel the bass, but it’s not over accentuated. These are not as hard-hitting as other headphones. If huge bass is your thing, then you probably won’t appreciate the lack of thump on offer here.
The mid-ranges are beautifully articulated and sound very natural. There’s a lot of nice detail, and a real smoothness to the way vocals come across. Nothing sounds too harsh or bright. Lead instrumentation is well presented with excellent separation and a wide-open sound stage on offer.
This is especially important if you are going to be using these in a studio setting for the final assessment of the mix. Everything needs to be heard in its own space, and the DT 990 PRO certainly makes such critical listening possible.
One small critique…
If there’s one area where the DT 990 can’t quite compete with more expensive open-back headphones, it would be in the treble range. There’s good detail on offer with nothing in the way of distortion, even at high volume.
It’s just that the higher-end models have that extra level of clarity and crispness. The question is whether it’s worth spending twice or three times as much for a small boost in detail. For many, the answer will be no.
That’s why the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO offers such good value for money and why they’re some of the best entry level audiophile headphones on the market. It’s extremely difficult to find this level of neutral sound quality across the frequency spectrum at such a relatively low price point.
Another nice thing…
The DT 990 is forgiving when playing low-quality music files. You don’t have to worry about making sure all your music is lossless. These headphones do a great job of playing even lowly MP3 files generally scorned by your average audiophile.
Being open-back headphones, there is a lot of sound leakage going on. These are not headphones you’ll be able to use in the office or around other people in general as you will receive instant complaints. No, these are for studio or domestic use only.
We almost forgot to mention…
These make excellent gaming headphones due to the incredibly wide-open sound stage and high comfort levels. Playing FPS becomes an incredibly atmospheric experience with amazing 3D audio. You can place footsteps and sound effects in the exact direction they came from. The DT 990 PRO is literally a game-changer in this regard.
- Dynamic open-back headphones.
- 5 – 30,000Hz frequency response.
- 250 Ohm impedance.
- 3-meter coiled cable.
- 250 grams.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Review – Pros and Cons
- Fantastic value for money.
- Beautifully balanced/neutral sound.
- Spacious soundstage.
- A comfortable pleasure to wear.
- Replaceable parts.
- Captive cable.
- Unexciting look.
Looking for Something Else?
We have an ever-growing selection of reviews of quality audio and music equipment. So, check out our in-depth Sennheiser HD1 Free Bluetooth Wireless Review, our UE MEGABOOM 3 Review, our Bowers & Wilkins PX5 Review, our AKG K240 Studio Review, and our SteelSeries Arctis 7 Review for awesome audio you can buy in 2021.
Also, take a look at our comprehensive Monolith M1060 Headphone Review, our Sony MDR-7506 Review, our JLab JBuds Air Icon Review, our Sony WH-CH700N Review, and our AKG Perception 220 Review for even more amazing headphones currently available.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Review – Final Thoughts
There is very little to dislike about the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO headphones. Even in the face of stiff competition from numerous brands, they remain a firm favorite in the studio. And as an entry-level pair of critical listening headphones for budding audiophiles. This is a pretty amazing achievement, considering how long they’ve been around.
For a remarkably reasonable price, you’re getting supreme levels of comfort and a level of sound quality fitting of headphones in a far higher price bracket. They aren’t necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing cans money can buy, and a detachable cable would very much be appreciated.
But frankly, these are minor complaints that you will quickly forget once you appreciate the audio performance these classic headphones are capable of.
Until next time, happy listening.