Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Review: Open-Back Studio Headphones

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 15600+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$159
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro Open-Back Studio Headphones

I Got 99 Problems (but this pair ain't one)

Audiophiles have a love or hate relationship with the DT 990 Pro. As a mix engineer, on the other hand, I think this headphone's treble emphasis exposes a lot about your mix. Is the "problematic" treble spike really a blessing in disguise for critical mix decisions?

Mixing on headphones is often seen as an inadequate way of mixing. However, over the years, I've grown accustomed to mixing with them. The trick is to have specific headphones to monitor a trait like sibilance or doing bass cleanup, instrument placement. It's similar to what a good set of monitors with a sub can do in a well treated room.

Beyerdynamic headphones have been on my radar for a long time. The first one I got was a Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro, which is a closed back headphone. While the 770 Pro had a wide soundstage and great bass for low frequency balancing, what it lacked is a sense of "airiness" that helps balance treble during mixing. I realized I needed an open back pair to complement the DT 770 pro and the DT 990 Pro fulfils that need.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO driver enclosure
The DT 990 PRO has a vented open back. It's not as open as headphones like the Sennheiser HD 600 where you see the driver directly

Specifications

  • Type: Open-back
  • Driver Size: 45 mm
  • Magnet Type: Not Specified
  • Frequency Response: 5 - 35,000 Hz
  • Maximum Input Power: 100 mW
  • Sensitivity: 96 dB
  • Impedance: 250 Ohms
  • Weight: 8.82 oz
  • Cable and Connectivity: 9.8 ft. coiled cable, 1/8" Gold plated stereo jack plug and 1/4" adapter

They provide pleasant bass and precise trebles when it comes to frequency response.

In addition, they come with a single-sided coiled cable with a gold-vaporized 1/8 inch (3.5mm) stereo jack plug and a 1/4 inch adapter, which is useful for switching from studio use to casual listening.

The sound signature is bright and clear. It has a treble spike around the 10khz that audiophiles criticize for being too sibilant for some recordings. However, I use that spike to my advantage to avoid sibilance on my own mixes.

Another good thing about the headphone is how uncluttered the midrange is. Paired with its relatively wide soundstage, it helps place elements in a dense mix; something that I find the DT 770 Pro can't do quite as well.

A feature I like is their robust and soft padded headband, along with their cushion ear pads that are washable and replaceable.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO driver enclosure
Like the pads, the headband of the DT 990 Pro is replaceable. In 5 years of using it, I haven't had the need to do so.

The bass frequencies have a focus around the 100hz to 200hz range which gives it a bit more thump than sub extension. This is good for balancing kick and bass guitar but because of the reduced sub frequency extension, cleaning up the lows is a task better suited to my DT 770 Pro.

On other notes, I find the DT 990 Pro more comfortable than the 770 Pro. Because of the open back nature, it is much cooler on the ears than the DT 770 Pro. One important thing to note though that the DT 770 Pro and the DT 990 Pro have different earpads. The size and density of the foam are different. I've experimented with swapping them around and it throws off the sonic balance of both headphones. So if you're looking to replace them, Be sure to get the one that is specified for the model you're using.

I had issues with the DT 770 Pro pads being plush because of their nature as tracking headphones where different people will be putting them on and off. The DT 990 Pro on the other hand will most likely see action on no one else's head but yours. It will still need washing when it gets dirty but not as often as a pair that's used every session.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO driver enclosure
The plush pads are comfortable for long listening sessions. My well loved pair however, is in need of a replacement set after 5 years of use because the foam has started to collapse.

Cons

  • Open back leaks sound by design
  • Non-detachable cable

Pros

  • Treble exposes poorly mixed tracks
  • Expansive, speaker-like soundstage
  • Excellent comfort and fit
  • Great Long term durability

Overall

Overall, the DT 990 Pro is an excellent choice if you're looking for a pair of mixing headphones to balance your high end and be more aware of sibilance. It's not the best for tracking as its open back so it's better as a supplementary pair than your main pair.

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About the Author

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.