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The headphones are large, but comfortable to wear.

Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO review

Work hard, play hard.
By
December 6, 2021
8.1
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO
The bottom line
The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro is made for professionals, and remains a great choice for audio enthusiasts. Thsoe with cash to burn will get plenty of mileage out of this set of open-back cans.

Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO

The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro is made for professionals, and remains a great choice for audio enthusiasts. Thsoe with cash to burn will get plenty of mileage out of this set of open-back cans.
Release date

August 9, 2016

Price

$474 USD

Dimensions

7 x 4 x 8.5 inches

Weight

370g

Model Number

710490

Waterproof

No

What we like
Great sound quality<br>
Build quality is top-notch<br>
Comfortable ear pads<br>
Great lows and highs<br>
What we don't like
Ear pads are hard to swap<br>
Pretty much requires an amp<br>
Large and bulky, not for portable use<br>
8.1
SoundGuys Rating
8.5
User Rating
Rating Metric
Our Rating
User Rating
Sound Quality
9.2
8.3
8.0
Durability / Build Quality
8.2
9.3
9.0
Value
7.5
8.6
9.0
Design
8.0
9.2
9.0
Connectivity
6.5
7.8
8.0
Portability
6.0
6.8
7.0
Feature
7.0
8.6
9.0
Comfort
8.9
9.1
9.0

Not long ago I reviewed the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO, which is easy to recommend to anyone looking for an entry-level headset for audio mixing. But what if you’re past the novice stage and need to upgrade to premium pair of studio headphones? Enter the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO. This shares some similarities with its predecessors, but for the most part, the DT 1990 PRO is better in every meaningful way.

Editor’s note: this Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO review was updated on December 6, 2021, to expand the list of buying options, make note of the Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X, add a contents menu, and add context to the sound quality section.

Who is the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO for?

  • Professionals should get this headset. Whether you’re a freelancer or are employed at a big-time company, this will make your job more enjoyable.
  • Someone without a budget who values sound quality will get a lot of value out of this desktop headset.

What’s it like to use the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO?

The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro headphones are open-back.
The headset is large but comfortable to wear.

At some point in your life, you may have heard about the beauty that is German engineering, and the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO is a prime example of that. This headset is made almost entirely of matte black metal, with only the bare minimum plastic covering the wires. They’re also open-back and show off that fact with intricate offset cuts into the side of each ear cup. From a distance, it looks shiny and noteworthy, but getting close up you’ll see it’s just a small grille that separates the drivers from the air. It’s that attention to detail that you’ll find all over this headset.

It comes with two sets of ear pads for what Beyerdynamic says is for “balanced” or analytical listening. The ear pads slightly affect the frequency response (which we’ll get into a little later) and are wrapped in a plush velour that makes them as comfortable as they look. They come with the “balanced” ear pads pre-installed, but I’d recommend switching out to the analytical ear pads for no other reason than comfort.

The analytical ear pads (left) and balanced ear pads (right)
The headphones come with two sets of velour ear pads for balanced and analytical listening.

My one issue here is the convoluted method Beyerdynamic expects you to swap them out. Each ear pad has a small flap, which needs to be placed in a small notch on the ear cup. Rotating the ear pad should align the entire thing in place, and it works but takes a long time to get right (in my case, 20 minutes). As clever as it seems at first, there has to be a simpler solution to this problem.

Taking a step back, you can fully appreciate the overall build even further thanks to the padded leather headband and removable cable on the bottom of the left ear cup. You’ll get a 3-pin mini XLR cable that snaps into place and doesn’t budge afterward. Up top is the adjustable headband wrapped almost entirely in soft but firm leather. At 370 grams, this isn’t going to float over your head, but it won’t hurt either. The ear pads get a little warm after a while—as you might expect from giant velour ear pads like these.

How do you connect the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO?

The 3-pin mini XLR cable plug into the left ear cup.
These use a 3-pin mini XLR cable to connect, and come with two cables (coiled and straight).

Now is when we get to the fun stuff. Both cables have an impedance of 250Ω which means you’re probably going to need something to sufficiently drive this. Is it completely necessary? Usually, we’d say not really but here it might be necessary. Plugging the DT 1990 PRO into my laptop (and even iPad) let me hear what was going on just fine, but I had to crank to volume to 100% on those devices just to get to what would normally be around 70%. If you don’t want to deal with that annoying issue, picking up a decent amp will do wonders.

You’ll get two cables in the box, one 3-meter straight cable and another coiled cable that can reach 5 meters when stretched out. Both cables have a 3-pin mini XLR on one end and a 3.5mm jack on the other. Each cable also has its own screw-on 1/4-inch adapter.

How does the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO sound?

Using the analytical ear pads for mixing audio.
The DT 1990 PRO headphones are for audio production.

Depending on what you’re looking for, you can get two kinds of frequency responses out of the DT 1990 PRO when you switch the ear pads. The differences between them are subtle, but they’re there. The ear pads don’t change the way the drivers sound, but if you opt for the “balanced” pads (the one with a bunch of holes on the back) you will get a slightly more emphasized low end than the analytical ear cups. As I said, it isn’t too aggressive a change, but the headphones already have a decent low end without any help. I wrote this section with the analytical ear pads.

Related: The best studio headphones

Lows, mids, and highs

The low end on these is more or less neutral with a minor bump to the upper-bass notes. The bass notes in the song Moon River by Frank Ocean sound a little louder than the mids but not in a bad way.

The impedance level is printed on the inside of the headband.
The headphones might require an amp since they have an impedance of 250 ohm.

Mids still come through clearly, and vocals in the song Wait by the River by Lord Huron are easy to hear. Personally, I think it sounds fantastic. The open-back design and slight emphasis on the higher frequencies make hi-hats and cymbals sound damn near perfect but many people loathe Beyerdynamic’s boosted treble response.

We should also talk about soundstage because it’s actually not as great as I was expecting. It’s good, but it’s only slightly better than the DT 990 Pro headphones. I guess I was expecting more of an upgrade, but as it is with most high-end equipment, you can end up paying a lot for only a small upgrade. It should also go without saying that sound leakage is at a maximum here.

Should you get the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO?

The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro headphones don't fold down for travel.
The headphones aren’t the most portable and don’t fold or have any rotating ear cups.

If you have a budget of around $400-$600 USD for a pair of headphones and only care about listening to music, then yes get this. Beyerdynamic did a great job making the DT 1990 PRO practical for work and a great everyday headset. The build quality is top-notch and this is comfortable enough to wear for hours. But it should go without saying that this isn’t for anyone who wants to go portable.

The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro studio headphones against a white background.
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro
All prices listed in USD unless otherwise specified. Prices may change over time, and vary by region. Unfortunately, we cannot list Amazon prices on the site, as they vary greatly by currency.

Though this comes with a nice carrying case, it’s more a way to get it from one desk to another rather than taking it out for a quick listen on the subway. If you do decide to pick this up, you should also have a good amp to drive it, otherwise, you’re going to spend even more money just to properly drive this.

What should you get instead of the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO?

Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X open-back headphones on a wood table.
We have to really nitpick to find flaws in the Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X.

The Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X is a great alternative to the DT 1990 PRO because it shares a similar open-back build with lower power requirements. You can just as easily use your iPhone to power this as you would a desktop computer thanks to the 48Ω impedance. The DT 900 PRO X frequency response is almost completely neutral from the sub-bass through the mids, and the treble response, while boosted, is pleasant. Listeners who want excellent sound quality in a slightly more portable package that costs less than the DT 1990 PRO should get this. Alternatively, the closed-back DT 700 PRO X is a great option too.

If after realizing this, you don’t want to spend a ton of money and want a more portable studio headset, look into the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2. This explicitly takes after the wired Audio-Technica ATH-M50x and includes Bluetooth 5.0 with support for the SBC, AAC, and LDAC Bluetooth codecs. The bass and midrange response isn’t nearly as accurate as with the DT 900 PRO X, but Audio-Technica’s headset is half the cost.

Next: Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO review