Beyerdynamic offers some of the best studio headphones on the market – one of these being the DT-990 Pro. If you are considering buying a pair, make sure to read this Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro review beforehand. After testing the DT-990s for a week, here are my unbiased, honest thoughts.
Alongside the DT-770, Beyerdynamic’s DT-990 Pro headphones are some of the most popular and recognizable studio headphones you can buy. They have been around a while now – since 2004, in fact – and remain a bestseller for most gear stores and websites.
You are probably on the verge of buying a pair. And, to be honest, you would not be wasting your money. When it comes to headphones, Beyerdynamic is a trusted name in the industry, used by bedroom producers and professional music recorders alike.
The German manufacturer came on the scene in 1924 and now stands shoulder-to-shoulder with other big names – including Sennheiser and Audio-Technica.
But if you are looking for an honest review of the Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pros, you have come to the right place.
Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro Review
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Review Specs Overview
First off, and for the sake of this review, let’s run through the main specs of the Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro studio headphones.
- Impedance: 250 Ohm
- Peak SPL: 96 dB
- Frequency range: 5-35,000 Hz
- Weight: 353 grams
- Cable length: 3 meters
- Cable connection: 3.5mm jack (includes 6.3mm jack adapter)
At a glance, you can see that the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headphones are open-back, circumaural, with a full frequency range of 5 to 35,000 Hz. You get a lengthy cable with the DT990s, as well as the choice to connect via a 3.5mm or 6.3mm jack plug.
As open-back studio headphones, the Beyerdynamic DT-990s allow sound to pass through the ear cups (behind the speaker drivers), preventing a “build-up” of sound within the headphones themselves. While this does allow external sounds in, this is meant to provide a clearer, more natural sound overall.
The 250 Ohm impedance does also mean that the DT 990s will require more power (than 80 Ohm headphones). Bear in mind: this makes them great for critical listening when producing or mixing, but at the cost of needing amplification (through a headphone amp, or sound card).
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Review
Out of the box, there is no doubt that the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pros look like a sleek, high-end set of headphones. The fact that the DT-990s are open-back is made clear by the grill design of the headphone cups, which, honestly, I prefer over the design of the closed DT 770s.
If you were not aware, these headphones are actually available in limited all-black, as well as partially white, designs, however, you might have trouble trying to find these editions.
All in all, the DT-990s look solid, comfortable, and more expensive than the actual asking price. The only downside (for some) might be how the cabling is intentionally left exposed between the headphone cups and the headband.
Despite the solid and sturdy build of the DT 990s, they feel light when held in one hand or both hands. The materials used (plastic exterior and metal support) feel high-quality, including the soft cushioning of the inner headphone cups and headband.
The Beyerdynamic DT 990s do not come with a case (this would have been nice, even at a higher price) but, honestly, I would not be worried if ever I dropped them!
The cable itself is thick, with thick rubber protection at either side (at the headphones themselves, and the end of the jack) to prevent bending or twisting. The headphone cups stay together when left alone, but are easily pulled apart (without fear of breaking) before use.
The Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pros are, without a doubt, some of the most comfortable headphones I have worn. While these are not for portable use, the DT990s can be worn for endless hours as studio headphones without discomfort or tight compression around the ears.
In fact, the DT 990 Pros are the kind of headphones that you forget you are wearing. This is very much due to the thick and soft cushioning (around the ear pads and headband), the light weight, as well as the size of the headphone cups themselves, which will fit perfectly over large ears.
The headphones can also be adjusted to fit small or large head sizes, which is done by adjusting how far the headphone cups extend out of the headband. For visual reference, there are dots on the inside if you want to make sure each side is adjusted symmetrically.
The DT-990s feature a default gold-plated 3.5mm jack, with a 6.3mm jack (provided in the box) that you can screw on over the top. This is useful for switching desktop studio use and laptop use, but, as mentioned, the DT 990s will benefit from being used with an amp.
The cable itself measures 3 meters. Depending on how and where you are using the headphones, this will be either a good or bad thing. In my experience, I ended up having to roll up and tie most of the cable (for tidiness), however, in my view, I do not see this as much of a problem.
Now for the main part!
On first listening, the Beyerdynamic DT-990s offer amazing clarity, both in spatiality and overall sound. These are open-back, 250 Ohm headphones, so make sure to expect more brightness in the upper-frequency range.
For hip hop, metal, and most varieties of EDM, you can hear and feel the bass resonating between your ears, with a solid kick drum punch around the 80 to 120 Hz range. Cymbals sound splashy and high-fidelity, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Vocals are clear but not overpowering, and instruments are well-spaced, which is more notable in orchestral pieces. If you are transitioning from regular earphones, the positional sound is something you will notice quickly.
As for the frequency range (5 Hz to 35,000 Hz), I don’t think Beyerdynamic have exaggerated. While it is impossible to hear below 20 Hz, you certainly feel it with the DT-990s.
Remember that the DT-990s are studio headphones, so what you are getting is a flat, unbiased, and accurate sound for mixing and producing. You will hear music or sound design as it was originally mixed.
Despite that, the Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pros are bassy, powerful, and enjoyable to listen to even if you consider yourself a strict audiophile.
At loud volumes, the DT-990s face no problem, remain flat, undistorted, and accurate in both frequency range and dynamics. While these are, of course, studio mixing headphones, I also found them enjoyable to use for gaming and watching movies.
Here is where the Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro headphones might turn you away. As open-back headphones, the DT-990 Pros allow sound to pass through the drivers, preventing the risk of a muddled build-up of sound within the headphone cups.
If you were to compare open-back and closed-back headphones one after the other, this is something you may or not notice. But for those of you who live in busy areas, or noisy households might find the DT-990s lacking when it comes to sound isolation.
Generally, open-back headphones naturally allow more sound to pass in (and out) through the back of the speaker drivers.
If you are looking for perfect sound clarity and external noise is not an issue, the DT-990s will not disappoint. However, if external sounds – or even if others hear your music late at night – is an issue, you might want to consider closed-back headphones.
Compared with the Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro headphones, as an example, the DT-990s offer more high-end clarity, but not as much sound isolation.
The Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pros have, believe it or not, been around for more than two decades. Despite that, they are still some of the best studio headphones you can buy, with most professional studios owning at least one pair to use for cross-reference.
Due to the age of the headphones, the DT-990 Pro headphones have seen a notable reduction in price over the years. And, to be honest, the asking price – which sits below the range of most entry-level and mid-weight studio headphones, is not asking too much.
For both first-time headphone buyers and lifelong studio owners – especially when taking into account the build quality, comfort, and overall sound – the DT-990s are headphones that are worth owning for the current price.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the DT 990 Need an Amp?
The Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro does not technically need a headphone amp, but don’t expect to get the best sound from these headphones without one.
As the DT-990 headphones are 250 Ohm, the high impedance of these headphones means they will benefit from extra power provided by a headphone amp (bought separately). Without an amp, expect quieter volumes and poorer overall sound quality.
Is 80 Ohm or 250 Ohm Better?
High-end headphones, such as the headphones in the Beyerdynamic headphone range, are available with 80 Ohm or 250 Ohm impedance. Which one is better depends on how you are going to use the headphones.
A higher impedance (250 Ohm) generally means you would need to use a headphone amp to power the headphones, which will also provide better sound quality. 80 Ohm headphones, however, can be plugged into any device, but will not sound as high-fidelity.
What is the Purpose of Open Back Headphones?
Open-back headphones, especially studio headphones used for mixing, are designed to allow sound to pass through the headphone speaker drivers. This prevents sound build-up within the headphones, providing increased clarity for critical listening.
At the same time, however, open-back headphones are not the best option for sound isolation. The open-back design also allows external sound to pass enter, meaning that open-back headphones are best suited to quiet environments.
Summary – Pros and Cons, and Should You Buy?
The Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro headphones are some of the most trusted and popular studio headphones on the market. They are made one of the biggest names in the audio industry, and it shows it in the appearance, build quality, and powerful, clear sound the DT-990 Pros have to offer.
DT-990 Pro Pros
- Solid and rugged in terms of build (durable), yet surprisingly are not heavy
- Comfortable – can be comfortably worn for long periods of time
- Clear, spatial sound with accurate lows, mids, and highs for mixing and producing
- Long cable for studio use
- Worth the asking price
- Easy connectivity – connect with either a 3.5mm jack or a screw-on 6.3mm jack adapter (provided)
DT-990 Pro Cons
- Open-back – while crystal-clear in sound, this is not ideal for loud environments
- 250 Ohm – the high impedance provides extra clarity at the cost of needing a headphone amp or sound card
So, should you buy Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro headphones?
Whether you are a bedroom producer or studio engineer, will not go wrong buying the Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pros if you are hunting for powerful, crystal-clear studio headphones and are not worried about external sound or having to use (or buy) a headphone amp.
If, however, you want Beyerdynamic headphones that can be used without a headphone amp (plug into your laptop and go), and in noisy areas worrying about loud external sounds, you might be better off setting your sights on the DT-770s. Check out our article for a detailed list of the Best Headphones for Music Production.