Good sound quality usually means you’re going to be spending a little more than you want. Just take a look at the Focal Clear headphones we recently reviewed that will run you $1,499. But every now and then you find something that doesn’t cost too much and sounds great. This is one of those times. The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headphones might not be the prettiest of cans, but if you can look passed that your ears will be treated to a spa day every time you put these on.
There isn’t much that comes with these headphones. In the box you’ll get the headphones with a soft carrying case and a ¼” adapter. That’s it unless you count the box itself (which I don’t).
Build & Design
You know how everyone who wears Crocs swear by them? This is a similar situation, although I admit not as hideous. The build of these headphones is almost entirely plastic save for the metal band that suspends the ear cups. But man, are these comfortable. Thanks to memory foam padding wrapped in velour, slipping these over your ears removes them from your head and places them into an alternate reality where everything is fluffy and plush. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. It’s more like slipping your feet into Crocs (or so I’m told I refuse to wear them). Whatever Beyerdynamic did to these, I love wearing them.
Everything has a downside, and luckily there are only a few here worth noting. The main one, which I already mentioned, is the build quality. As these are mainly plastic they’re not the most durable of cans. Sure they’re fairly flexible and I had no problem flexing them to relatively regular angles, but if you throw these in your bag and sit on them the wrong way I wouldn’t bet that they’d come out fine. There’s no hinges to be found here so you won’t be able to fold them down for easy transport, and the thin steel headband doesn’t feel too durable either. It’s only reinforcement is the thin pleather wrapping that doesn’t exactly scream quality. So even though I love the build in terms of comfort, I almost feel like I should baby them at times. They seem to be best for leaving on my desk which to be fair, as a pair of open-back headphones, is basically where they were made for.
My other biggest concern when it comes to build quality is the audio cable. It’s a 1m coiled cable that can stretch to longer if necessary, but it’s also pretty heavy. More than once the weight of it almost pulled my phone clean off my desk just because I moved the wrong way. Not a problem if you’re plugging into an interface or computer, but not good news for smartphones or portable players. The attachment point at the bottom of the left earcup also doesn’t woo me, and because the cable isn’t interchangeable if it frays or breaks you’re going to have to cough up the cash for a whole new pair.
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 these were designed. They’re 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 their open back design. Again, adding the perfect bit of flashiness to the minimal design.
As far as connection goes there really isn’t anything too crazy worth mentioning here. The coiled cable ends in a 3.5mm and you can screw on the included ¼” adapter if you’re plugging into higher end gear. Of course it’s worth mentioning the cable on this model has an impedance of 250 ohms so even though I was able to listen to music on my Pixel 2XL (#donglelife) without an amp, having one to drive these a little more definitely helps since you won’t have to max out the volume on your phone.
If we were fairly mediocre about these headphones, it ends here. Sound quality is where these headphones shine and although they won’t blow you away, we were really impressed when we remembered their price tag.
When it comes to the low end these are right up my alley. They’re not overblown and super powerful, but they definitely bump and give the right amount of attention to the bass hits 0:39 seconds into “Phone Calls” by Jessie Reyez. The low sub-bass immediately following the chorus normally has enough power to make your eyes shake, but that isn’t the case here. You still get some of the punch with none of the bruising afterwards to ruin the experience.
Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to you, but I prefer it this way. That lack of depth doesn’t the case when it comes to mids, with instruments and vocals sounding perfectly emphasized regardless of the genre. This was very apparent to me while listening to “Vanish In Our Sleep” by Rob Roy which has such a powerful bass that it usually disturbs the vocals, but not here. The bass was kept in check letting the vocals really flourish on their own. The highs were also great with no distortion to speak of any levels. The cymbal hits and hi-hats in “You Only Live Once” by The Strokes had a good amount of detail and the perfect amount of presence.
Though these won’t give your music the Beats treatment, these are still an enjoyable pair of headphones to listen to. They don’t particularly emphasize any one area of sound (and even de-emphasize the sub-bass to be honest) but I still had no problem jamming out to these at my desk or walking around my apartment.
As open-back headphones these aren’t meant for commuters, but if you like a higher amount of detail in your music and don’t mind sacrificing some range to get it these will do you justice. Not to mention that they’re next level comfortable. It’s worth mentioning again that these do have an impedance of 250 ohms so if you really want to push them a decent amp wouldn’t be a bad idea, unless you have a phone like the LG V30 that can handle it already. Overall, it’s hard not to recommend the Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro headphones to anyone looking for headphones that prioritize a clean and precise sound.