The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is a high-end, open-back headphone that offers a clear, balanced sound with a wide frequency range. The DT 990 Pro has been around since the start of Beyerdynamic’s venture into headphones in 1953 and has become one of their most popular models.
Let’s get into the detailed review of these headphones.
1.0 Power Requirement
I found the DT 990 Pro to be pretty difficult to drive. It’s definitely harder to drive than the HiFiman Sandara and Sennheiser HD-6XX. They’re the only headphones I’ve tried that had me use the high gain mode on my amplifier. By the way, I use a JDS Labs Element 2, which has plenty of power.
2.0 Build Quality and Comfort
Despite being very lightweight, they are definitely very durable. I’ve never had any issues with headphones using this design, whether the DT 770 Pro or the previous DT990 Pro. The only complaint I have on DT 990 Pro is the cable is non-detachable and basically, what that means is that you know, if something happens to the cable, you’ll have to replace the entire unit.
I want to mention that just about everything on the headphones is replaceable. You can find the spare parts on their website. So, as far as built quality and longevity are concerned, DT 990 Pro are fantastic.
The comfort in the headphone is genuinely amazing. I mean, they are basically ear pillows. But, as I mentioned earlier, these are very light. They weigh 250 grams, and the Velour pads Beyerdynamic uses are incredibly soft. I mean, it’s one of the few headphones I forget I’m even wearing.
The padding on the headband is also good, but now and then, I get a bit of a hotspot at the top of my head; if I put them on a little awkwardly, that rarely happens. So I have to adjust them a little, and the problem is solved.
3.0 Sound Performance
The sound profile is what most people are likely here for, so let’s move on. So, I’ll start by saying that I have both very positive things to say about the sound on the DT 990 Pro, as well as negative things.
As I usually do, I will start by talking about the bass. So the bass for the DT 990 Pro has the potential to be very accurate and detailed. However, out of the box, the bass has some significant roll-off that starts at around 50 Hertz.
Then the elevation at 150 Hertz makes the bass come across as a little bloated with a slight booming and overpowering of the other frequencies in the mix sometimes.
Most people will find the bass level enjoyable just because it’s a fun-sounding bass. Also, it has a fantastic slam and punches quality, which is pretty impressive for open-back dynamic headphones that come in at around $150.
For comparisons, the bass sound for DT 990 Pro is better than on the Sennheiser HD-6XX. Although I don’t think it’s as good as the Hifiman HE-4XX or the DT 770, they both had better extensions than DT 990 Pro.
The mids are pretty interesting because I think they have some of the best resolutions, such as detail retrieval and speed in this price range.
But their tonality is a little off; there’s a dip at around 700 Hertz, which takes away some of the body out of instruments like guitars or vocals, and just a lot of different instruments in the lower Midtone range. There’s also a bit of a peak at around 3000 hertz, making the upper midrange sound slightly forward to me.
However, it might not be a problem for you as I recognize that I’m a little sensitive to that range. So while I find them a little forward, you might not have any problems with that at all.
Lastly, I should mention that the treble for DT 990 Pro is a little off. First, it sounds somewhat metallic and then gets accentuated by the travel, which I’ll discuss further in the review.
So to wrap up on the mids criteria, they’re probably some of the most detailed and fastest mids in this price range. I think that in terms of resolution, they are better than the HD-6XX and HD-5XX. Maybe even on par with the Sundara, but in tonality, they’re not as good as any of those headphones I mentioned.
3.4 Highs and Peak Issues
So now, moving on to the fun part, which is the highs, I know that this is an area of contention for the DT 990 Pro, but I have to say that, at least to me, there’s too much treble. I have three peaks in my EQ; I lower two of them. I lower by upwards of 10 DB.
And then there’s another peak that I lower by a lot. So, the first peak is at 6 kHz, which adds a fair bit of glare and sibilance that is pretty audible. The second peak is at 8.5 kHz, which has an excess of 12 DB, adding a lot of sibilance and sizzle to DT 990 Pro headphones.
I heard that it’s not just consonants in vocals being piercing; it’s also instrumented whose overtones are in that range that just come across as very harsh. Then there’s also this massive peak at around 13 kHz that adds some ringing noise.
I find this weird because, like in pretty quiet songs, you’ll randomly hear this ringing noise playing in the back along with the sizzle from the 8.5 kHz peak. So when you put all these together, they make the highs of the DT 990 Pro quite fatiguing, and they also like accentuate the metallic timbre that I mentioned earlier. However, you can mostly fix these issues with EQ, but they still retain some of that sizzle.
The issue improves significantly, but that’s only if you use EQ. If you don’t have any EQ, I suggest you look at other headphones because DT 990 Pro is mainly the most relaxing pair of headphones to listen to or at least that was my experience.
3.5 Soundstage and Imaging
The sound stage for DT 990 Pro is probably the best for under $200. The DT 990 Pro are wide open and just spacious, much wider than any of the Sennheiser’s and broader than the HiFimanSundara actually, and almost as wide as the DT 1990 pro. The imaging is also fantastic.
No other headphones come to mind that image this well under $400. There are no gaps when going from left to right, and it’s just exact, which brings me to one of the things that I think the DT 990 Pro is best at, and that is for gaming.
It’s not their intended use, but when you think about it, sound stage and imaging are some of the essential things for games, especially for competitive online shooters who are identifying the direction where your enemies might be at is very important.
And oddly enough, the slightly elevated midrange and the very hot treble are a fantastic frequency response for games because they do a tremendous job of isolating footsteps and gunfire. So for online FPS games, these headphones are amazing. If you have a discreet mic or want to put a mock mic on the DT 990 Pro, I can’t think of any other headphones or headsets that would perform better than them.
If you’re looking for an open-back gaming headphone, I can’t think of anything better than the DT 990 Pro. I highly recommend them for that because for gaming; they are excellent.
The dynamics for DT 990 Pro are outstanding, and they have a fantastic punch and slam quality. And not only that, the micro-dynamics are very good, especially for the price range. They do an excellent job recreating how soft or hard instruments are being played.
For example, you can feel the tap behind piano keystrokes, like palm mutes on guitars. So overall, the dynamics on the DT 990 Pro are fantastic.
3.7 EQ for DT 990 Pro
So lastly, I’d like to talk about EQ because the DT 990 Pro respond pretty well to EQ. The only problem is that these require significant EQ, and the adjustments are pretty drastic.
However, I think that they cool down quite a bit, especially in the highs, the timbre improves a little bit, and they just become significantly more enjoyable for music listening. I’ll be leaving my EQ for DT 990 Pro below, and to emphasize, EQ is highly recommended for these for best performance.
Low Shelf at 50hz, +2dB Q of 0.7
Peak at 150hz, -4dB Q of 2.41
Peak at 700hz, +3dB Q of 2
Peak at 3000hz, -3dB Q of 1.8
Peak at 6000hz, -10dB Q of 4
Peak at 8500hz, -11dB Q of 4
Peak at 13000hz, -7dB Q of 6
High Shelf at 14000hz, -1.5dB Q of 7
They don’t eliminate the sizzle, but they significantly improve them. The sound also gets more refined and detailed.
4.0 DT 990 Pro Versus DT 770 Pro
I’ll try to explain to you what are their strengths and weaknesses. What are the differences, and which ones should you get depending on your daily use requirement? So, let’s start with the comparison and the similarities.
4.1 Similarity Features
Both of these headphones are made by the same company, which is Byerdynamic. They both feature straightforward and functional designs, which soon won’t win any design awards.
But I don’t think they need to because they are pro audio tools. They’re supposed to be staying on your head and making beautiful noises. But, uh, you don’t wear these as fashion accessories. So if that’s your cup of tea, you’re probably looking for a different pair of headphones.
They don’t have a stylish look, but they compensate in terms of sound because both headphones sound good. Something else that’s good about these headphones is the build quality because both feature heavy-duty plastic that makes up ear cups, and both feature metallic head fans.
And the headband cushioning is also made out of better-than-average material. So, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that these will last you a long time. And even if something happens to them, it’s straightforward to find spare parts from Byerdynamic directly, which is pretty cool.
The next best thing about them, in my opinion, is how comfortable they are, because both features some huge ear cups and some Valour ear pads that are very nice.
The headband cushioning is also lovely and soft, and all these things together make for a very comfortable set of headphones that you can wear for hours, even while wearing some very thick eyeglasses as I do.
Both headphones feature some very nice coiled cables about five feet, and they terminate in the 3.5-millimeter jacks that get adapted to one-quarter of an inch.
And the only issue here is that this cable is fixed to the left ear cup. And this means that if it breaks, you will have to do some soldering to replace it. But honestly, this is quite heavy-duty, and it looks like it will take a lot of beating before giving up.
Given their 250 Ohm impedance rating, they will be harder to drive. Not extremely hard, but harder. If you are relying on some old built-in sound card, you will probably run into issues with volume and distorting low base notes, but if you’re using anything decent, you shouldn’t have any significant problems.
4.2 Differences between DT 990 Pro and DT 770 Pro
4.2.1 Frequency Spectrum
Of the frequency spectrum, they are looking at the highest. It’s straightforward to see that both headphones are very bright between them. The DT 990 Pro are a bit more piercing given that they have a massive spike around the 10-kilohertz area or as it goes towards it.
Both of them are very revealing and full of detail. This is a double-edged sword because if you’re enjoying a lot of classical vintage recordings, these will highlight all of the shorter comings of these records.
Going down to the mid, the frequency response graph shows precisely what’s easy to hear with your ears while wearing these headphones, which is the fact that the DT 990 Pro have more mids.
This means that on the DT 770 Pro, snare drums, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, vocals, and other acoustic instruments will sound better. On the other hand, unfortunately, on the DT 990 Pro, they’ll be overshadowed by the great highs and then very nice significant low-end response.
Speaking of which the low end, the bass is a lot more pronounced on the DT 990 Pro, surprisingly, because usually, it’s the other way around with close-back headphones, having a much easier time producing a better low-end due to the design.
But Byerdynamic has managed to turn these into bass-sy headphones that are fun to listen to. The bass is nice and thick. It extends well down in the frequency spectrum and blends well with the rest of the frequencies.
On the other hand, even though the DT 770 Pro has the same bass quantity around the 100 Hertz area, it feels a lot more punchy. But, again, I think this is primarily because of the resonance you get when you have closed back ear cuffs, and due to the scoop, that’s a little bit higher in the bid base sound stage is one of the areas where open back headphones shine.
But the DT 770 Pro are exciting because even though they’re closed-back headphones, they have a very friendly and decent sound stage.
I would even dare to say that there’s not that huge of a difference between DT 990 Pro, which is open-back and has an excellent sound stage, and DT 770 Pro, which are closed-back headphones.
4.2.2 Noise, Isolation and Sound Leakage
Noise, isolation and sound leakage will be very different between DT 990 Pro and DT 770 Pro, given their other characteristics. However, the DT 770 Pro are excellent at isolating outside noise and preventing sound leakage, which means that you can wear these wherever there’s a lot of noise around you.
You won’t get distracted as you’ll only hear your music, and people around you won’t hear what you’re listening to, which is also good. If you’re, for example, listening late at night, it’s someone sleeping next to you or in the same room as you, for example, or maybe gaming next to a very noisy computer.
The DT 990 Pro will be great for a silent room at home where you don’t have a lot of ambient noise that could creep through the open back ear cups and where you don’t have anyone trying to sleep next to you.
Because if you crank these up, they’ll leak a lot of the sound you’re listening to. But, again, because they’re open back. But, overall, both headphones are amazing, especially for the price, if you enjoy a bright sound with an excellent space response.
4.2.3 Ideal Applications
I would say some pretty decent mids; they could make you happy. A lot of people, though, seem to believe that the DT 990 Pro are plain better than the DT 770 Pro, and I don’t think I agree with the statement because, first of all, you’re not comparing apples to apples. After all, these headphones are pretty different, and they have different strengths and weaknesses.
22.214.171.124 Gaming and Music
So it depends on your use case and what you plan to do with your headphones. If you’re going for a set of headphones that you’ll be using at your computer for gaming or casual music listening, then, by all means, go with the DT 90 Pro because these will be a lot of fun. They have a solid base that will make your head bop to the rhythm of the music.
Listening to music or games will be very immersive because of the extra sound stage because they’re open back. Also, they are very detailed, so you need to ensure that you’re not overly sensitive to high frequencies, but if you’re not, you’ll love DT 990 Pro headphones a lot.
You’re going to make your music sound good. They work with old styles of music. I think they work with rock, electronic music, jazz, pop, hip hop and even 80’s music.
Of course, if you listen to a lot of vintage music that wasn’t recorded, as well as music that’s recorded today, then you might find them a little bit too revealing because they’re going to shine a spotlight on all of the shortcomings of the recordings.
So if you’re listening to a lot of classical, jazz, blues, and that sort of thing, maybe you want to stay away from DT 990 Pro. They might be too revealing, but you will be thrilled if that’s not the case.
126.96.36.199 Mix and Master Music
However, if you plan to mix and master music, this will go against the consensus that you should go with open-back headphones for mixing and mastering.
I would recommend you get the DT 770 Pro. Let me explain why that is the case. In general, you want open-back headphones for mixing and mastering because open-back headphones offer you a more natural listening experience and experience that better mimics. I was listening to some monitors inside a room.
In general, open-back headphones tend to be flatter compared to closed-back alternatives, but in these two headphones, this is not true just by listening to both headphones and comparing them inside to side. So it’s easy to see that in the case of these two, DT 770 Pro are flatter.
When mixing and mastering, you want your sound source, studio monitors or headphones to be as flat as possible. So, you can take the best decisions for your mix, and when comparing these two headphones, DT 770 Pro are more balanced, and them being flatter, in my opinion, weighs a lot more than DT 990 Pro, has a better sound stage.
Yes, they offer you a more natural experience, but you don’t lose that massive amount of sound stage when you’re going with DT 770 Pro. In addition, they are flatter and weigh slightly more than DT 990 Pro, which has a wider sound stage. So that’s why I would recommend DT 770 Pro.
Furthermore, they also have some other strengths, which is, first of all, they don’t leak noise. So, when you do some tracking, and you’re going to be using DT 770 Pro, you won’t get any metronome spill into your microphone, which could be crucial.
Adding frequency correction to these headphones shifts the comparison. And I would, in that case, say that DT 990 Pro are indeed a better choice because they become flat, which is, in my opinion, the most important thing when it comes to mixing.
And then the different sound stage that you get weighs more. So, in that case, if you plan on using some frequency correction for your headphones, DT 990 Pro would be a better choice compared to DT 770 Pro.
There’s no black and white. There’s no; these are better than these, or these are just plain better. So the answer is that it depends on your scenario and application.
5.0 My Verdict on DT 990 Pro
There are a couple of conclusions that I’d like to talk about for the DT 990 Pro. For music listening. I have a hard time recommending the DT 990 Pro because if you’re not going to use EQ, they can be a little aggressive, intense, fatiguing and piercing.
A different conclusion is that if you’re looking for a gaming headphone or headset and already have an amplifier or maybe a discreet mic, I cannot think of a better headphone, especially for FPS shooting games, than the DT 990 Pro. So I highly recommend it for that application.
And lastly, if you use EQ, these get a pretty good tonality, but of course, you know, the caveat is that you have to use EQ to get that sound.
That is all for me for the review for DT 990 Pro. I hope you guys enjoyed this review or found it helpful if you did, do consider sharing or liking it.