For decades, Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headphones have been a top choice of audio professionals for monitoring and mixing in the studio. They’ve also proven to be extremely popular among discerning music lovers who demand a clear and balanced sound with a strong and well-defined spatial image.
The DT 990 Pro is actually one of a series of similar high-end Beyerdynamic headphones, also including the closed design DT 770 and semi-open DT 880 models.
These headphones are designed to be extremely comfortable when worn for long periods of time, with heavily padded ear cups and headband. If these components ever wear out, you can easily replace them with genuine Beyerdynamic parts. The DT 990 comes with a coiled cable that extends to nearly 10 feet, with a gold-vaporized 1/8-inch stereo plug. A 1/4-inch adapter is also included.
Beyerdynamic is a 100% family-owned business that has been producing top-quality headphones and microphones since 1924. And the DT 990 carries a full two-year warranty against material or manufacturing defects.
So let’s take a deeper look at these classic headphones and find out if they could be perfect for you?
DT 990 Pro headphones have an open back design that lets you hear background sounds clearly, even when you’re listening at a high volume. This design helps create the sense of a wide “sound stage.”
What’s That, You Ask?
“Sound stage” refers to the imaginary performance space that stereo speakers or headphones create. In other words, when you close your eyes and listen, how well can you visualize the vocalist standing out front, right in front of you, the drummer seated behind, and the guitarist to one side, the bassist to the other, etc.?
With the DT 990 Pro, you really can do that. There’s a transparency to the sound that makes the headphones seem to disappear, putting you right into the room with the performance. The construction of these phones adds to that illusion. They’re made entirely of a tough, lightweight plastic, except for a thin metal strip inside the heavily padded headband. And they weigh just 9 ounces (250 grams).
And for what it’s worth, the DT 990 headphones look sleek. They’re all black, except for the gray ear pads that show through the outside grill, and a gray Beyerdynamic logo.
The ear cups have ample soft pads of memory foam covered in velour, so they almost float on your ears. You can easily wear them for hours, completely forgetting that they’re on your head. In fact, many users claim they’re the most comfortable headphones they’ve ever worn, at any price.
They feel solidly built and will last a long time under normal use. However, if you plan to use them on the go, it’s probably a good idea to get the optional hard carrying case, which is sold separately. If the headband or ear cushions wear out, you can easily order official Beyerdynamic replacement parts at a reasonable cost.
The DT990 Pro has a coiled cable with a gold-plated 1/8-inch (3.5mm) plug and a 1/4-inch adapter. The cable has a total extended length of 9.84 feet (3 meters), but when coiled up, it is only about 1 foot long.
This design is ideal for a computer audio interface or stereo music system, preventing it from becoming tangled or caught on any nearby objects. On the other hand, the cable might yank your smartphone off the table if you move around too much.
The cable is hard-wired into the left ear cup. A molded strain relief helps keep it from fraying at the connection point. But it’s not detachable, so if it does wear out, fixing or changing the cable means disassembling the headphones.
Open vs. Closed Design
Open design headphones usually provide more even bass response and a more detailed sound stage than closed design models. However, there are two downsides to an open back design that are worth considering:
First, outside sounds leak in. This means the DT 990 Pro phones are best suited to a quiet home or studio environment, not for locations with a lot of background noise. In particular, they’re not a good choice if you’re a DJ or to wear on the daily commute.
The other issue is that sound leaks out. So they’re not ideal for listening in the library, or anywhere else where your music might bother other people. If you’re looking for a closed design, you should consider the equivalent Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro model.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headphones provide full-range audio reproduction, with a rated frequency response of 5 Hertz (Hz) to 35 kHz. This far exceeds the range of human hearing, but it’s fairly typical for high-end headphones.
As mentioned before, the bass response is smooth and solid. The DT 900 can reproduce all the power of a bass guitar or kick drum, without being too dominant. This means that they’re a good reference monitor for final mixing. However, if your musical tastes run toward amped, thunderous bass lines that make your eyes water, you might be disappointed.
At the high end, a slight boost around 7 – 8 kHz provides some extra detail to female vocals, high strings, snares, and cymbals. But the effect is quite subtle and not shrill. The midrange is clear and detailed, but not overly prominent.
These aren’t the loudest headphones you can buy, but they can still put out 96 dB, which is louder than a safe, sustained listening level anyway. This slightly lower output is due to the DT 990s higher 250-ohm impedance. It’s not an issue at all with an audio interface, although you might crave a little more volume from your smartphone.
By the way, the specification states that the drivers are .45 inches (11.5 mm) in diameter. This is about average for this type of headphone, and in any case, it’s not an important measure of quality or volume.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Headphones Pros & Cons
- Beyerdynamic reputation and build quality.
- Very affordable for the level of quality.
- Lightweight and comfortable.
- Nicely detailed mids and highs.
- Open and airy sound.
- Two-year warranty.
- Not suitable for noisy environments.
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DT 990 Pro headphones provide an enjoyable, realistic listening experience for any kind of music. They really shine in the studio or at home.
On the other hand, you probably won’t want to use these for your daily commute to work, unless your neighbors all enjoy listening to the same music as you? They’re also not the best choice for live DJ mixing, for which a closed design is more suitable.
Overall, with the DT 990 Pro, you get very comfortable headphones that sound amazing. The price is attractive, and the company has been making reliable pro audio products for nearly a century. It’s a combination that’s hard to beat.