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Beyerdynamic DT 990 Premium 600 ohm HiFi headphones
- The famous DT 990 Premium, 600 ohm version; Stereo Headphone for high power requirements, headphone amps, home audio applications. Connectivity Technology: Wired
- Made in Germany, innovative "Bass reflex" system for excellent audio performance
- Open design, includes carry case, 11 oz light weight. Frequency Response- 5 Hz - 35,000 Hz. Sound Pressure Level- 96 dB
- Gold vaporized stereo 3.5 mm mini-jack & 6.35 mm adapter
- 2 year manufacturer warranty only when purchased from an authorized beyerdynamic dealer.
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From the manufacturer
DT 990 Premium Edition
The cult object - tried and praised by music lovers.
The DT 990 Premium Edition is a headset that countless hi-fi and music lovers since the 1980s in the heart have closed. For many years he convinces with his lively and natural sound, which is suitable for many styles of music.
He has been part of the beyerdynamic portfolio for over 20 years and continues to enjoy great popularity. All components are available as replacement parts, making the DT 990 Edition a long-time companion.
Music felt in your fingertips
The DT 990 Premium Edition is an open headphone. In other words, background noises outside the headphones remain clearly noticeable even at higher volumes. This design gives the music a broad stage, a sense of space that comes close to listening to music with speakers. The sound is spectacular: pronounced highs and intense bass pair up to a full sonority. This is especially appreciated by rock and pop friends.
The supple headband and velvety-soft ear cushions ensure excellent wearing comfort. The ear cushions are known for their breathable and skin-friendly velour, so that even after prolonged enjoyment of music there is no excessive development of heat.
The combination of a comfortable headband and ear pads as well as the aluminum forks give the headphones a stable appearance and a comfortable fit for long listening sessions.
Difference from the DT 990 PRO version
The DT 990 Premium Edition headphones for the home and the DT 990 PRO for the studio: Sonically, both are identical. The identical sound transducers are used. However, the edition models have a slightly softer handle for enjoying music at home while the Pro listeners sit a bit more taut on the head to stay there even with faster movements in the studio everyday. Also, the PRO version comes with a coiled cable and the Edition version comes with a straight cable.
Variations for different listenters
The DT 990 Premium Edition with 250 ohms was developed for use at home on the stereo.
The version with 600 ohms is suitable for hi-fi systems with particularly powerful headphone outputs or for use with special headphone amplifiers.
For versatile use, also on mobile devices (tablets or smartphones), the version with 32 ohms is recommended.
|DT 990 Premium Edition||DT 880 Premium Edition|
|Design||Open (ambient sound penetrates freely in and out||Semi-open (low attenuation of ambient noise)|
|Application||Music enjoyment at home||Music enjoyment at home|
|Sound Quality||Strong bass and trebles, analytical, very spacious, voluminous bass, transparent||Neutral, relaxed, relatively spacious, deep but lean bass, transparent|
|Impedence||32/250/600 ohms||32/250/600 ohms|
|Scope of Delivery||Transport bag, 3 m connection cable, 3.5 mm jack plug & 6.35 adapter||Transport bag, 3 m connection cable, 3.5 mm jack plug & 6.35 adapter|
The famous DT 990 Premium, 600 ohm version; Stereo Headphone for high power requirements, headphone amps, home audio applications Made in Germany, innovative Bass reflex system for excellent audio performance Open design, includes carry case, 11 oz light weight Gold vaporized stereo 3.5 mm mini-jack & 6.35 mm adapter Analytical and high-resolution audio reproduction
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** FOR MUSIC TRACKS TO TEST BASS RESPONSE AND OTHER DYNAMICS OF THE DT990 EDITION (32 Ohm), SCROLL DOWN TO SEE MY TEST PROCEDURE AND MUSIC SELECTIONS **
INITIAL IMPRESSION: The miracle of these headphones is their smooth but strong detail, taking good clean signals and effortlessly conveying a panorama of sound and imagery. It is impossible to say, "These are bright!" or "These are boomy!" or anything like that. If they have a personality, it is that they do everything well, without complaint or coloration. Listening to the DT990 headphones, I want to personify them, admire and respect them. They seem to know what they are about and don't need to be told what to do because it knows more about itself than you or I ever could. Don't educate it, don't direct it, don't admonish it, don't teach it. It doesn't need your help. It is already light years ahead of you, but is polite enough to not rub it in your face. They are like a British double-agent that can lay waste to 10 thugs in the kitchen, brush himself off, and walk unperturbedly and perfectly groomed into the dining room to greet a lady. These headphones sound and feel that composed, that sophisticated, that powerful.
Well, enough of that. Before I go any further, let me tell you that the equipment in my audio chain includes a Windows 7 PC, an Audioengine D1 DAC, a Carver C-4000 preamp, and a Sony Dolby Pro-Logic IIx headphone amp. I did most of my critical listening through the Audioengine D1 by itself. ** See below for test music I used and how I configured my audio chain for critical evaluation. **
SO, WHICH VERSION TO BUY? 32 OHM or 250 OHM (600 OHM not considered): The differing impedances made me question sound quality. If the 32 Ohm was for portable devices, then did that mean they had dumbed it down? Would the 250 Ohm leave me stuck with something I couldn't use because it required more powerful headphone amps than were in my audio chain already? So, I consulted the engineer who refurbished my Carver preamp a couple years ago, asking if the headphone amp in my C-4000 was powerful enough for the 250 Ohm version, or if I would be better off with the 32 Ohm version, that my aim was to not sacrifice sound quality but nonetheless not be stuck with headphones my equipment could not power strongly enough. As well, I got the opinions of some members of the Audioholics online community. Regarding sound quality, everyone I asked said the 32 Ohm version would sound great for any kind of listening, that there would be no discernible, real-world difference between the 32 Ohm and 250 Ohm versions. Even Beyerdynamic's website indicates, "In general, it can be stated that the resolution and precision of the high mids and highs is slightly better at higher impedances.... The sound differences between the various impedances are very slight and most people can only actually hear them when the sounds are compared directly.... The low-resistance, 32-ohm headphones are also an absolutely high-quality variant with excellent transmission characteristics that match the best competitors in the price class." More importantly, Beyerdynamic's website, and the individuals I contacted above, all said it was the ability of the amp to power the headphones that mattered. So, in my case, the decision to buy the 32 Ohm DT990 really came down to what my equipment could drive. Since my current headphones were 24 Ohms, it was a cinch to go with the 32 Ohms. Plus, I didn't want to end up with 250 Ohm headphones, run into a situation where they could not be used, and find I'd have to buy 32 Ohm headphones anyway. See more about impedance in the next paragraph.
TECHNICAL INFORMATION REGARDING IMPEDANCE: In my research I discovered what appears to be the main concern regarding headphone INPUT impedance. It is related to an amp's OUTPUT impedance and how the amp achieves optimal damping of the speaker. Called the "damping factor," this indicates how well the amp controls the speaker motor assembly and diaphragm so that the speaker's movements accurately replicate (i.e. track or resolve) the electrical waveform. It also concerns how ably the amplifier limits the voltage created by the speaker's own movement, achieving this limiting by allowing current to pass from the speaker back into the amp unimpeded, or almost so. (Sort of like shoving somebody, and when they try to shove you back, their arms pass through you.) Let's stop for a moment and think about this in terms of wires and magnets, volage and current: remember in school, when you took coiled wire and turned it inside an array of magnets? You produced electricity, right? When a speaker moves - even if you do it by hand, because its voice coil is in a magnetic field it will PRODUCE electricity and send current out to whatever is connected to it. If that current coming from the speaker goes back to the amp while it is operational, and meets any meaningful impedance, voltage back at the speaker then rises and interacts with the speaker's magnetic field, thus introducing unwanted additional movement in the speaker itself. Not good. But how do engineers fix it? Again, good damping is needed. To optimize damping, the first rule is that the INPUT impedance of the speaker should be 10 times (some say 8) the OUTPUT impedance of the amp. The second rule is that an amplifier must have output impedance below 1 Ohm for best performance. Sounds like that could be a problem, causing every potential headphone consumer to track down the output impedance of any headphone amp before making an informed purchase, right? Well, not really. Since the OUTPUT impedance of solid state amps is almost universally very low, it is fairly easy and safe to make headphones with low INPUT impedances which allow for excellent damping by just about any decent amp. Another way of putting this is that low impedance headphones can sound great if solid state amps are designed with the above rules in mind - and practically all of them are. How can you be sure? Well, just check the manufacturer's amp specs for the lowest impedance headphones the amp will drive, regardless of whether they publish the output impedance of the amp. (Publishing the output impedance of a solid state amp is like being a tire manufacturer and publishing that your tires hold air.) That spec will as a general rule reveal the underlying design approach, which should be very low amp output impedance. For instance, my Audioengine D1 has no listed specs for its amp output impedance, but they do publish that the D1 accepts headphones as low as 10 Ohms. With the above in mind, I was confident both that the D1 effectively drives and controls (i.e. dampens) headphones with impedances down to 10 Ohms, and that the internal amp is at or below good design criteria for an amp's output impedance, which is 1 Ohm or lower. Decision time: the 10 Ohm minimum headphone input impedance stipulated for the Audioengine D1 amp is below the DT990's 32 Ohms - with plenty of room to spare. Furthermore, the DT990 has low enough impedance to be easily driven to loud volumes, which I desire. Problem solved! Let me grab my wallet.
OPEN vs HALF-OPEN vs CLOSED-BACK: I chose the open-back DT990 Editions because I actually wanted the room ambiance that bleeds through with open-back headphones. (I adopted this preference after I got a pair of Koss Porta Pro headphones over 25 years ago.) Aside from overall preference, the specific reason I wanted the open-back DT990 Edition is that I mostly watch movies. The added sense of space via the room's subtle ambient noise coming through the back of the headphone cups, and the better bass extension, form an appealing approach to movie watching. Plus, I am confident of Beyerdynamic's electrical and mechanical driver damping. I do not worry the diaphragm is going to get sloppy because it is in free air.
LOW FREQUENCY EFFECTS IN MOVIES (MUSIC IS REVIEWED BELOW): I put in the Telarc "The Great Fantasy Adventure Album" CD to demo five tracks which Telarc says have low frequency content all the way down to 5 Hertz. I wanted to see how the DT990 headphones would stand up to those five tracks, how the cans would handle the thunderous T-Rex from Jurassic Park, the arrows being shot into a wooden target in Splitting Hairs, and the more traditional fantasy/techie The Anvil of Crom, Cybergenesis, and the Terminator Theme. After listening to these with the DT990, all I can say is, "Wow... and ouch!" While such low frequencies can't be heard, with the DT990 you will feel lots of pressure, and the ear cups may seem to move a bit, producing something akin to an itch or buzzing sensation on or around the ear. Hold the cups in your hands while playing an extended low frequency selection from the above, or from John Wick, Total Recall (2012), or the first five minutes of Prometheus to see what I mean. What I listen for when evaluating low frequency extension, aside from amp clipping, is the rattling and slapping of headphone driver diaphragm breakup. However, with those kinds of low frequencies the DT990 headphones were clean and smooth no matter what I threw at them. The bass is so strong, I find I have to turn down the bass to 10 o'clock below 40 Hz for nearly all of my movie listening. For music, I put the bass back to 12 o'clock, except for those musical pieces which are truly bass heavy (see below). Please be aware that because the DT990 plays frequencies as low as 5 Hz, there is a potential risk of harm to your hearing. (NOTE: If you are using a Windows computer as your source, and you are not getting the low frequencies you expect to hear, make sure your audio playback device is configured for "full range/large speakers" instead of "satellite/surround" speakers, which is the default.)
COMFORT: Mine felt a bit tight. I believe others said the Pro versions were tight. That makes sense. But I don't recall any reviews which said the Editions were tight. Well, mine were tight. But, it was an easy fix: I did a bit of anxious (un)bending of the headband to get them to loosen up a bit, and now they are fine. I do agree that these are quite comfortable. Neither did they make my head or ears feel warm.
MAINTENANCE AND CLEANING: I keep a handkerchief on the headphones when they are in their Luxa2 E-One headphone stand I got from Amazon (see link above). I do this to keep dust off them, and because it looks nice. I do plan on buying a set of replacement ear cushions. For, while the velour of the ear cushions may be cleanable and could last a long time, I read that the foam deteriorates more quickly. For interim cleaning, I think I will just use a wash cloth dampened with a diluted alcohol and water solution to get the oil off the pads.
FINAL COMMENTS: These are superb sounding, extremely well built headphones, that are easily-driven to very loud levels by amps with output around 2 volts. They are engineering marvels in one sense, art in another, fiscally responsible investment in yet a third. Overall, they are completely satisfying and seemingly impossible to regret. Continue reading below to do some testing of your own. I think you will agree these are outstanding headphones! Highly recommended!!
** DT990 TESTING PROCEDURE AND MUSIC SELECTIONS BELOW **
SOURCE MATERIAL: All songs ripped from purchased retail CD/DVD media and saved as lossless .wav files with bit depth=16-bit and sample rate=44.1/48KHz (CD/DVD quality)
SOURCE EQUIPMENT: IBM-compatible PC, Windows 7 SP1 (x64), Microsoft Generic USB Controller (Driver: 6.1.7601.18208)
- VLC Media Player (x64), ver. 2.2.1, surround=off, otherwise all settings at default
- Audioengine D1 Digital-to-Analog Converter Headphone Amp and Preamp
---- D1 Input used for testing: USB
---- D1 Output used for testing: Headphone jack
---- D1 Settings in Windows Playback Devices: Exclusive Mode (direct stream from VLC to D1)
- Beyerdynamic DT990 Edition, 32 Ohm version
- All hardware/software configurations at default or as above
- All volume settings at 65%-70%
BEFORE YOU TEST YOUR HEADPHONES: If using Windows, make sure Windows is not treating your playback device as being connected to "satellite/surround" speakers, which is the default. Be sure to configure your output device as if connected to "full range/large" speakers!
MUSIC USED: The music below highlights the Beyerdynamic DT990's ability to faithfully and forcefully reproduce bass and sub-bass (200Hz to below hearing) while remaining dynamic and composed across the entire audible spectrum. REMINDER: Do not listen at high volumes. Some low frequencies cannot be heard, but rather felt as pressure on the ears and head. As well, bass you can hear in these songs may have a much lower, indiscernible harmonic which itself poses a risk to your hearing.
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra w/Jesus Lopez-Cobos conducting, Bizet Carmen Suite Symphony No. 1 CD (Telarc)
- Carmen Suite for orchestra, No. 1, Act 1, Prelude: from the Telarc CD, this is a challenging test for any headphones... rich and very powerful
Korn, Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 CD
- Another Brick in the Wall, Pts 1,2 & 3: very heavy drums and bass guitar... meaner, darker than the original
Hayley Westenra, Celtic Treasures CD
- Let Me Lie: powerful, deep, poignant... listen for composed presentation, her voice should not break up
- Summer Rain: rolling bass at 0:45 is more felt than heard... the low bass contrasts nicely with her soaring voice
Ramsey Lewis, Boston Acoustics "Music for Bottom Feeders" CD
- People Make The World Go 'Round: prominent and sultry bass, sharp drums, smooth piano
Alanis Morissette, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie CD
- UR: bass is heavy, stompy... song builds around it nicely
Megadeth, Countdown to Extinction CD (Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs)
- Symphony of Destruction: torture test for punchy bass and low, crunchy guitar
Dave Weckl, Boston Acoustics "Music for Bottom Feeders" CD
- Heads Up: probably my number 1 demo track for demonstrating lively and tight dynamics... drums and bass are stellar
Extreme, III Sides to Every Story CD
- Cupid's Dead: phenomenally precise and punchy w/awesome vocals... a relentless groove
Dave Matthews Band, The Central Park Concert DVD, Disc 1
- Crush: superb recording, kick and snare drums are out of this world
Tool, Lateralus CD
- Reflection: hypnotic, percussion-laden track... one of a kind
Harry Gregson-Williams, Total Recall (2012) Soundtrack CD
- The Tripping Den: deep bass that sounds/feels like a wrecking ball has just dropped to the ground
Le Castle Vania, John Wick [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] CD
- The Drowning: it starts out very low, but then steps down... and down... and down
Build quality is otherwise excellent except for one area. The sliders holding the earcups on suck. Neither side stays reasonably locked in place, and I find myself re-adjusting the headphones every time I put them on, because their own clamp force pushes them back in. They are hard to pull out in a reasonable way as well. I always feel like I am putting unnecessary wear or torque on my nice cans. I solved the problem by putting them in place then putting a thick wrap of electrical tape around the stem to block it from sliding in. It works great. So a cheap Beyerdynamic headband and some tape and boom, very solid and high wear headphones.
Beware, if you get the 600 ohm version of these, you better mean it, because these babies take SERIOUS power to truly drive properly. The 600 ohm/80mW capable amp in my Sound Blaster ZxR took them to listenable levels for youtube and they sounded decent for games and movies. Music, however, was an entirely different matter. The ZxR really strained with pretty much all sources and couldn't really maintain a listenable volume for a lot of stuff. Also, the overall fullness of sound in all music was very lacking. I upgraded to a Schiit Asgard 2 headphone amp with over twice the power output of the soundcard at 600ohm/190mW. The sound quality was much improved. However volume was not a large jump, so turning it to near max for 24/7 use was still a requirement. Not for cranking them but just for basic listening. The poor Asgard could barely do it despite its great power with the rest of my headphone collection.
I eventually moved up to a Schiit Valhalla 2 OTL tube amp with over twice the output of the Asgard 2 at 600ohm/450mW. It was finally enough to power these babies at full tilt, and they handled the power beautifully. These are by far some of the best high volume headphones I've ever listened to. It wasn't worth the cost of learning their needs, but dang do they put that power to good use! Awesome sound pressure and articulation. Indescribable at higher volumes. Their titanic power handling ability is an immense asset with a truly capable amp to back them up!
Treble response is incredibly sharp and detailed on these cans. When I moved to the tube amp it had the side effect of taming the frequency spikes somewhat. I still had to use a very minor(-1 or -2dB) EQ change to drop their upper treble to comfortable levels. I don't think there's any real sibilance or screech but they are just incredibly sharp and emphasized. Definitely worth noting that the source makes a huge difference here. Some of my warmer vinyl recordings require no EQ at all. Likewise really well produced music is less likely to have huge issues. Gaming and movies as well really benefited from the extra treble response and detail, and I could generally get away with leaving the EQ off. Modern pop though, and metal, and a lot of other noisy, trebly music was just a little too hot on these without EQ. Not a major issue as there are plenty of fast, easy, and reliable EQ methods out there. However, the real saving grace is that the unpleasant spikes are in a very small range, and were very easy to tune out on both the SS and Tube amps. I prefer not to EQ headphones when I can help it, so it was great that they needed so little. Detail is uncompromising in the extreme. Absolutely revealing and resolving with superb precision! The timbre, response, and quality of it are incredibly pleasing to my ears. Like actual physical pleasure. Their tone is just awesome and energetic. I can handle the slightly hot treble because the amount of nuance and texture these reveal is astonishing! Simply amazing. I have never heard the like in any other headphone.
Mids are a little recessed and dry but are nearly as fast and energetic as the treble. Very flat with a little growl. Not particularly smooth or refined but excellent detail and nothing is ever lost to the other frequencies. Vocals are perfect and instrument reproduction is near lifelike. Well produced music sounds INSANE on the DT990s. Their lack of warmth helps the mids maintain composure in exceptionally challenging music. However, there is always that glossy sheen on the incredibly bright treble hanging over the mids. The DT880s, AKG K712s and other headphones of this class handle mids with a more natural tone.
Bass response is exceptional but nowhere near as overpowering as others seem to imply. Very snappy and tight response. Extension is good and deep without trying to reach too low. A little flubbiness on the lowest notes but otherwise great texture and definition. They give a satisfying thump, but their real strength is in the audible spectrum; mid and upper bass. Just incredibly full and well-defined low end. These are great for following bass guitar tracks, or for movie soundtracks, and work amazingly for classic rock. These aren't the fastest cans out there, but they are energetic and musical. A good amp helps with their bass response and quickness a bit. As far as open headphones go these probably have the most bass emphasis I've heard. Maybe not the most articulation or detail but plenty of oomph.
Despite their intense energy and power, these can get pretty fatiguing after long listening sessions. I can use these fine for hours as daily headphones, but they can very quickly make my ears tired if I am not careful with the volume. I would more readily recommend these if they didn't basically require you to be a treblehead to get real enjoyment out of them. Their stock treble always has that potential for harshness, despite the incredible detail. For me, that's a blessing. For others, it maybe a curse.
I would recommend the large majority of users steer clear of the 600 ohm and 32 ohm versions of these headphones. They both present challenges to driving them. The 250 ohm is enough and just about any proper amp will drive them with ease. The 600 ohm may have slightly better overall response and tone at high power, but the difference in usability is huge. I have since sold my 600ohm model and moved down to the 250ohm, and am much happier.
Most recent customer reviews
-good for music
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