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Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250 Professional Acoustically Open Headphones 250 Ohms
- Open, diffuse-field studio headphone with single-sided coiled cable and 250 ohm drivers
- Extremely lightweight diaphragm for superb impulse performance
- Excellent sound reproduction
- Comfortable fit due to rugged, adjustable, padded headband construction and soft velour ear pads
- 2 year manufacturer warranty only when purchased from an authorized beyerdynamic dealer.
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From the Manufacturer
It all started with the talkie: electrical engineer Eugen Beyer started his own company in Berlin in 1924 to build cinema speakers. Today, beyerdynamic is the the world leading manufacturer of headphones, microphones and conference systems.
DT 990 Pro Open Back Headphone
Professional acoustically open headphone for monitoring, gaming and studio applications.
- Open diffuse-field studio headphone
- Extremely lightweight diaphragm for superb impulse performance
- Excellent sound reproduction
- Velour Ear Pads for luxurious comfort
- Made in Germany
Why Open Back Headphones?
Open or Closed Headphones refer to the ear cup. Typically headphones are closed and the ear cup is sealed. Sound does not get in or out of a closed headphone much. With our DT990 the ear cups are 'vented' or 'ported' allowing sound to escape and sound in the room to get in. This feature creates a very 'open' sound allowing sound energy to interact with the outside environment. We recommend to you try some for your critical listening, gaming or studio monitoring applications. It is a very unique experience.
Made-to-Measure from Germany
The 'Made in Germany' quality promise applies to product development and manufacture: the designs of beyerdynamic engineers and designers in Heilbronn are then built by approximately 180 highly qualified employees in Germany – mostly by hand.
All products and key technologies are developed in Germany at the company headquarters in Heilbronn. Instead of outsourcing design assignments or purchasing finished solutions from third-party manufacturers abroad, beyerdynamic retains the know-how of its personnel in-house.
The DT 990 PRO 250 by Beyerdynamic is an acoustically open dynamic headphone of exceptional quality, suitable for the most demanding monitoring and studio applications. The reduced weight of the diaphragm and moving coil results in similar pulse characteristic as electrostatic headphones. The carefully tailored frequency response offers a natural and balanced sound. Soft velour ear pads and adjustable, sliding, earpieces combined with a very flexible coiled cable ensure listening comfort during extended periods of use. The DT 990 PRO 250 features 250 ohm drivers and a gold plated stereo jack with 1/4" "adapter. Since 1924 Beyerdynamic has remained a German family owned company committed to continuous research and innovative developments for the audio market. All over the world, Beyerdynamic is known for the use of the latest technologies and a high quality standard. All Beyerdynamic products are made in Germany.
Top Customer Reviews
There are two versions of this headphone. The "Pro" model which is obviously marketed toward studio use and the "premium" model which is a slightly different design marketed for consumer use. Assuming you compare similar impedence models (i.e the 250 ohm model in both cases) then they are exactly the same headphone except for the pro having a coiled cable and slightly higher clamping force (and cosmetic differences).
For over $100 less, I went with the "Pro" model and I am truly impressed. Let me break it down:
Build Quality: 9.5/10
Before I knew these were made in Germany I suspected it. Even though the cups are plastic, it's a VERY rigid plastic that's carefully cut and molded in shape. You could probably stomp on these and they'd survive. There's a very substantial aluminum "fork" that connects the cups to a steel headband structure that allows for quite a bit of articulation so that you can obtain a precise fit. My only complaint is that the coiled cable is... a little annoying sometimes. It can catch on basically any angled surface with ease. In studio use I can imagine a coiled cable would be invaluable in preventing accidentally ripping a piece of equipment off the shelf so I won't penalize it too much.
These headphones are like having stuffed animals cuddling with your ears. They feature these really nice velour earpads that make you feel like you're wearing earmuffs. The reason that I took .5 off is because the "Pro" version has a really high clamping force. That is, initially you feel like they squeeze your head too much. Thankfully, this is very easily remedied by stretching them slightly with some books. Since the headband is high quality spring steel you can adapt the headphones perfectly to your head using this method. Oh... I should mention that if you live in a tropical climate or anywhere warm those velour earpads will make you sweat a ton. For most people I envision this isn't really a problem.
Sound Quality: 10/10
Let me start by saying that these are not really suited for "monitor" headphones. They do not have a perfectly flat response curve and do colour the sound a little bit. That said, for mastering headphones in a studio or for listening to music this "colour" lends music a wonderful vibrance that other headphones just don't do. They do have quite a bit of EXTREMELY detailed trebble and deliver a wonderful detailed but voluminous bass. With these every cymbal sounds crystalline, I can hear the rosin of a violin bow when it's playing, and every electronic synth is delivered with detail that not even the recording engineer thought was there.
This headphone NEEDS an amp to perform properly. They sell portable battery powered amps that drive them well, but in all honesty you want to listen to these in a quiet room for them to truly shine. Paired with a good amp you will be very pleasantly surprised.
Another note: Since these are open air headphones sound DOES leak out (and in). If you work in a cubicle/library or plan to use them outdoors you should instead look at closed-back headphones. If not, the open-air design allows for a very spacious soundstage that you'll grow to appreciate.
Review Update (2.5 years later):
I still love these headphones quite a bit. They're still in incredible shape (I've replaced the velour earpads, however) and sound even better than when I first got them. Having now sampled many different headphones in that time-span I'd like to add some new notes that I think will be helpful to potential buyers.
If you're a die-hard 'audiophile' that cares about 'reference quality' sound then stay away from these cans. If you prefer a 'softer' sound then stay away from these cans. These headphones exaggerate every detail (or lack thereof)... but in a good way. In a euphoric way. If you really want a more laid-back and 'realistic' sound then try out the Beyerdynamic DT880's.
That aside, let me start off with the build quality: The DT990-Pro is made entirely of ABS plastic, save for the headband and the forks holding the cans, which are made of metal (aluminum, I'd say, from the weight of it). The head-band is covered with a soft black plastic material held in place by four small clasp-buttons. The DT990-Pro is surprisingly light and extremely comfortable (in this it rivals the other "most-comfortable" headphones I have here, the Sennheiser HD-598). Overall I'd rate the build quality as top-notch, save for the somewhat under-designed cable strain relief (located on the left can). The cable is about 3m log, it is coiled and it ends with a 1/8in jack. A screw-on 1/4in jack is also provided. The strain-relief of the cable at the can attachment point seems (to me) a little too small because the coiled cable is very heavy and with use (given sufficient time) I can see it failing and leading to cable/connectivity issues. Also (this is just a minor personal quibble) the silver velour pads may seem dirty depending on how the light hits them (but again, no big deal, especially since black-velour or leather pads for it are available on Amazon or elsewhere).
On to sound quality: Computer/audio gear used during my listening tests:
MacBook-Pro w/ Mac OS X 10.6.8
XMOS USB 2.0 Audio Reference Design Asynchronous DAC (44.1-192kHz/24bit),
HiFiMeDIY Sabre USB DAC (32-96kHz/24bit),
Matrix M-Stage Headphone Amp,
FiiO E12-Mont Blanc Headphone Amp
Beyerdynamic DT990-Pro Open Headphones (250 ohm, 96dB/mW)
Audio-Technica ATH-A900 closed-back headphones (40 ohm, 101dB/mW),
Superlux HD-681 semi-open headphones (32 ohm, 98dB/mW), and
Sennheiser HD-598 open headphones (50 ohm, 100dB/mW).
Playback software: Audacity, iTunes, VLC
Source quality: standard CD 44.1kHz/16bit, and native HD 88.2-96kHz/24bit
Audio cables: 3.5mm to RCA (3ft), and RCA-to-RCA (3ft), AUVIO and Monoprice brands
The Sound (overall conclusion both DACs/HP-Amps): Good dynamics, detail and clarity, well staged and with good imaging. In terms of frequency response these headphones are tuned such as to emphasize/boost the low and high ends. Perhaps the best way to summarize the DT990-Pro sound by comparison with the other three headphones I have here would be this: The DT990-Pro nearly matches the Superlux HD681 in bass impact without sacrificing dynamics, it easily matches the Sennheiser HD598 in mid-range sparkle, staging, and imaging, and gives the Audio-Technica ATH-A900 a good run for the money in terms of highs extension.
The closest of my other headphones in terms of overall SQ would be the Sennheiser HD598. However, despite the slightly more neutral presentation of the Sennheiser's, I find the DT990-Pro sound far more preferable. The DT990-Pro has a much better low end, and has smoother, more extended highs without that slight veil characteristic to Sennheiser headphones (clearly the Sennheiser HD-598 are decent cans but somehow I could never get too excited about their sound, hence my search for a different pair of open-back headphones). Also, the DT990-Pro manages to present the high end with what I'd call more "precision" than the ATH-A900 without sounding as grainy, and with just as much aplomb as the Superlux without sounding as (excessively) bright. Note: The DT990-Pro are both high impedance (250ohm) and relatively less efficient than the other cans I mentioned here (they only manage 96dB/mW) and thus amping is a must for anyone wishing to get the most out of them. For instance, my iPod Shuffle 1-st Gen (max output: 0.57Vrms) cannot drive them to any reasonable listening level (without severe clipping) and only manages a lifeless, distorted, garbled presentation, while the MacBook-Pro sound card (1.4Vrms) drives them to sufficiently loud levels but with pretty obvious distortions (for an overall harsh, fatiguing presentation.) Based on my experience with such sources I would not recommend these cans for use with portable devices without a proper amp. Also to note: the DT990-Pro do require at least 8-10hr of initial break-in to start sounding right (before that the sound is overly bassy, and somewhat unfocused/cloudy). As of this writing I have 30-35hrs on it and for sound quality I'd break things out like this:
Bass Extension: 6/10
Bass Impact: 7/10
Bass Texture: 7/10 (solid)
Mids Quality: 7.5/10
Highs Extension: 8.5/10
Highs Quality: 8/10 (vivid)
Highs Texture: 7.5/10 (soft)
Detail/Transparency: 8/10 (clear)
Dynamics: 8.5/10 (natural)
Isolation: 2/10 (open design)
Design/Aesthetics: 9/10 (classic Beyerdynamic design)
Build quality: 9/10
Portability: 5/10 (fairly large size)
Improvement w/ Amplification: 8.5/10 (Note: Amping is recommended!)
Value at MSRP: (9/10) [I gave it a 9/10 here only because, by comparison, the $30 Superlux HD681 is still a better bang for the buck!]
To conclude, the Beyerdynamic DT990-Pro are near reference headphones which sacrifice some neutrality for the sake of a more natural sounding, or rather, a more fleshed-out acoustic presentation. As far as I'm concerned, it suffices to say that the DT990-Pro is the only headphone I have here that I can listen to (with any kind of music) without EQ and not feel that I might be missing something (and that, I think, says a lot). All in all, a remarkable offering from Beyerdynamic, highly recommended!
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