This is a review of a pair of Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro 250 Ohm open-back headphones that I bought a month or two ago. Neither the store where I purchased these headphones, nor Beyerdynamic are supporting this review. This is my own opinion. I hope this review answers questions that others may have while shopping for headphones.
First, a tick list for those that aren’t looking for an in-depth review.
– Prominent representation of frequencies at and above 1000 Hz. These headphones clearly indicate when mid and high frequencies need to be adjusted. These are a good tool for making mixing decisions.
– Tight bass response that is full without being boomy, flabby, or muddy
– Comfortable to wear for hours at a stretch
– These 250-ohm headphones worked fine with USB audio interfaces and the 3.5mm audiojack on a laptop
– Prominent representation of frequencies at and above 1000 Hz. If you’re shopping for headphones for your hi-fi listening room, these might not be for you.
– The headband is a little small if you have an abnormally big skull, like me.
I bought this model instead of the DT880 Pro, which reviewers I trust rate quite highly, because it was on sale, in addition to their list price being less than the DT880’s. I figured the difference between the two models couldn’t be too severe, and the cost savings were considerable, about $100-140 USD (I don’t exactly recall). I use the Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro headphones as a supplement to a pair of KRK VXT 8 monitors for mixing, mastering, and critical listening. I want headphones with a flat frequency response that showed me where mixes and recordings are out of balance. I do not want a pair of headphones that alter the bass and high frequencies to make it sound “better”. The DT990 Pros fit this requirement very well.
I think of these headphones like an aural microscope: I get a very clear picture of the details in a mix with these headphones, but that detail doesn’t always make music sound “good” because they’re designed to highlight issues in a mix. This is why I list their mid-high frequency clarity as a possible drawback above. If you’re seeking a pair of headphones for your hi-fi listening room set-up, I wouldn’t buy these headphones, unless I also connected them to an EQ.
While researching these headphones, I read lots of questions from people asking whether these headphones would sound loud enough through a USB-powered audio interfaces. I have used these headphones with two USB-powered audio interfaces, a 2nd Gen Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 and a Behringer Uphoria UMC204HD. The headphones were plenty loud for my needs. I have also plugged them directly into the 3.5mm audio jack on a Macbook Pro, and they were loud enough there as well. I may have the volume level increased a bit more with these higher-impedance headphones than I would with a pair of 32-ohm headphones, but these headphones work fine for critical listening in all of the scenarios where other folks seemed worried these headphones might falter. However, it is not my goal to create high sound-pressure levels with these headphones. If you need to blast some death metal at a high SPL, you may need a headphone amp.
Some reviewers find the velveteen ear pads to be “cheap”. I’m all right with them. The ear pads are fluffy and comfy, just like they should be. In fact, I sometimes forget they’re on my head. I suppose they’re a plus, if you’re vegan because they aren’t leather. But if you want real leather ear pads clamped around your skull, you can buy after-market ear pads for these headphones.
The rest of these headphones’ build quality is good. The metal brackets holding the drivers are sturdy. I wouldn’t want to sit or step on them, but I feel like they’d survive getting dropped or banged against my mixing desk. I would feel confident travelling with them in a padded case.
The coiled cable is nice for my uses because I don’t have several meters of cable snaking around my mixing desk. But, as with the frequency response described above, this would be a drawback if I wanted to sit in a comfy chair in a listening room, several feet from the stereo receiver. I’d buy the DT990 “edition” headphones for that use case.
I would replace these Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro headphones, if they broke or disappeared. I like their frequency response: it helps me find and fix problems in my mixes. I wish my skull were smaller or the headband on these headphones had one or two more clicks in their ear piece adjustment. The build quality is good. I don’t feel like these will break with normal use. I’d recommend them to a mix engineer looking for a pair of headphones for critical listening.
(And if anybody has a pair of DT880 Pro they would loan to me, I’m very curious to compare how that model sounds to the DT990 Pro.)