Top positive review
218 people found this helpful
Unbelievable Sound, Comfortable
on July 24, 2011
Before buying these headphones I compared them to offerings from Grado (the Sr325i) and Sennheiser (HD595). As soon as I heard music through the Beyerdynamic Dt990's the other headphones suddenly seemed like a distant afterthought.
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.