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Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO
July 19, 2004
March 2022: $155 USD
Good sound quality usually means you’re going to be spending a little more than you want—just glean our list of the best headphones under $1,000 USD. But every now and then you find something that doesn’t cost too much and sounds great, and the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is one of those headsets. It might not be the prettiest of cans, but if you can look past that, you’ll find something new to enjoy from your favorite tracks.
Editor’s note: this Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO review was updated on March 8, 2022, to include a content menu, expand the list of buying options, add an FAQ section, include a disclosure box about testing, and add an Alternatives section.
Who should get the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO?
- Audiophiles who want a reasonably priced pair of open-back headphones can get the DT 990 PRO for around $150 USD.
- Anyone who wants to upgrade their headset can enjoy how the DT 990 PRO sounds.
What is the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO like?
The build of these DT 990 PRO is almost entirely plastic save for the metal band that suspends the ear cups. This may sound cheap but it keeps the headset light and comfortable. With the velour-wrapped memory foam padding, I can wear this headset for hours and hours on end. The velour padding also happens to be great for listeners with glasses because the material leaves minimal gaps around glasses frames. Of course, the downside to a predominantly plastic build is that it’s not the most durable.
Everything has a downside, and luckily there are only a few here worth noting on this Beyerdynamic headset. There are no hinges, so you can’t fold this up for transport. Oh, and the thin steel headband doesn’t feel too durable either. Its only reinforcement is the thin pleather wrapping that doesn’t exactly scream quality. So even though I love how comfortable this is to wear, I feel the need to baby it at times. Seeing how this is a pair of open-back headphones, its home should be at your desk anyway.
The audio cable is another point of concern. It’s a 1m coiled cable that extends to 3m, but it’s pretty heavy. The weight comes close to pulling my phone clean off my desk when I move the wrong way. Not a problem if you’re plugging into an audio interface or computer, but not good news for smartphones or portable players. Again, this shouldn’t be an issue for most listeners since the DT 990 PRO is meant for desktop listening, but some readers may be interested. The cable isn’t removable which is a huge bummer, and means that if it frays or breaks, you’ll need to buy a new headset.
Whether you’re a professional or a secret goth, black just looks cool
But let’s end this section on another positive because toughness aside, I love how Beyerdynamic designed this headset. It’s all-black which is already a plus in my book because whether you’re a professional or a secret goth, black just looks cool. The only accent of color is the name of the headphones (which I can do without but isn’t a deal breaker) and the gray memory foam ear pads which you can see from the outside of the open-back design. Again, adding the perfect bit of flashiness to the minimal design.
How to connect the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO
The coiled cable ends in a 3.5mm and you can screw on the included 1/4-inch adapter if you’re plugging into higher-end gear. Of course, it’s worth mentioning the cable on this model has an impedance of 250Ω, so even though I can listen to music on my Pixel 2XL (#donglelife) without an amp, having one to drive this will help since you won’t have to max out the volume on your phone.
Does the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO block out noise?
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO doesn’t really block out noise due to its open-back design. If you want a headset that blocks out noise, then you’ll need a pair of closed-back headphones.
Hold up! Something’s different:
This article’s frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this review (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements and isolation performance plots. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white).
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
How does the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO sound?
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO X sounds great and straddles the line between a consumer-friendly and studio frequency response with how it gently amplifies bass notes. There is some sub-bass under-emphasis due to the open-back design, and if you’re a basshead, you’ll want to look elsewhere or take the time to EQ this headset.
Lows, mids, and highs
When it comes to the low end this is right up my alley. The light bass bump makes the bass hits on the song Phone Calls by Jessie Reyez sound great (0:39). The sub-bass immediately following the chorus normally has enough power to make your eyes shake, but that isn’t the case here. You can still hear it, but the headset doesn’t render it so loud that it becomes hard to hear vocals.
Mids, with instruments and vocals, sound perfectly emphasized regardless of the genre. This is apparent to me while listening to Vanish In Our Sleep by Rob Roy which has such loud bass that it usually makes the vocals sound quiet in comparison, but not here. The bass is kept in check letting the vocals come through loud and clear. The highs are also great with no distortion. The cymbal hits and hi-hats in You Only Live Once by The Strokes have a good amount of clarity too.
Should you buy the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO?
Though the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO won’t give your music the Beats treatment, it’s an enjoyable pair of headphones for audio enthusiasts and consumers alike. I have no problem jamming out with this at my desk or walking around my apartment.
As open-back headphones, this isn’t meant for commuters, but if you like to hear a lot of detail in your music and don’t mind sacrificing some range, the DT 990 PRO will do you justice. Not to mention that the ear pads are next-level comfortable. Again, the high impedance leaves you a bit limited on where, when, and how you can use the DT 990 PRO, but if that doesn’t bother you, go for it. Overall, it’s hard not to recommend the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headphones to anyone looking for headphones that prioritize sound quality and comfort.
What should you get instead of the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO?
The Beyerdynamic DT 900 PRO X is the natural alternative to the DT 900 PRO. With the DT 900 PRO X, you get a mini-XLR input and an easy-to-repair design. The DT 900 PRO X costs quite a bit more than the 900 PRO and with that extra cost, you get a frequency response that closely follows our studio curve. Another great option is the Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX, which is basically the Sennheiser HD 650 but cheaper. You get a removable cable, unlike the DT 990 PRO, so you can extend the life of your headset.
Frequently asked questions about the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO
The Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X is a closed-back headset with a lighter build and new driver set (.45 STELLAR drivers). The DT 700 PRO X has a low impedance of 48Ω, making it easy to power on the go. The DT 700 PRO X is also easy to repair yourself, and without any tools, making it a great option for eco-friendly consumers.
The DT 990 PRO X is still a great option for professionals who don’t need the slightly more travel-friendly design of DT 700 PRO X, though, and it costs about half the price of the newer headset.