Current testing methodology is v1.2
August 9, 2016
7 x 4 x 8.5 in
This Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro review shows that the 1990 are still owning it.
Beyerdynamic first sent these DT 1990 Pro to me to review a few years ago when they were due for release. For some reason, I was distracted with other things happening at the time and it took me some time to get to really listening to them. Silly me.
I had been spending a lot of my time travelling with my Bose QC 35ii Noise-cancelling headphones and time in the office with my Fostex TH-X00 Massdrop edition closed-back headphones.
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro
These are the closest I’ve come to end game headphones. Superb audio reproduction and a range that sits so well and balanced I love it every time I put these on. Audiophiles will delight in these solid performing pro wired headphones.
- Headphone Type: Open Back
- Driver: 45mm Tesla Neodymium Driver
- Frequency Response : 5Hz – 40kHz
- Detachable Cable / Type: Yes – mini XLR Plug
- Cup style: Circumaural
- Impedance: 250 Ohms
- SKU / EAN: 710490
What’s in the Box?
- DT 1990 Pro
- Two Velor ear pads (choose between a well-balanced sound or deliberately analytical sound tuning)
- Coiled Cable
- Straight Cable
- Jack Adapter 6.5mm
- Hardcase Pro
Stuff I like
- Lightweight and comfortable to use
- The sound stage is perfect
- Frequency response is gapless
These were both solid go-to headphones for a noisy plane or busy work environment. As the DT 1990 Pro is an open back headphone (I’d almost call them semi-open back as they do have quite a solid exterior) one must have the right environment to listen to them in. That ideally would include the following:
- A studio where it’s likely you’ll be mixing or mastering with these on (and you should be if you are not)
- A home office environment with some peace and quiet – although they isolate quite well
- A headphone amp, power unit or mixing desk that can give a 250-ohm headphone what it needs to perform well.
The first thing I would say is microphone companies (Beyerdynamic included) should be grateful for headphones like the DT 1990 Pro. Their ability to represent and reproduce audio, especially audio, is sublime.
Whether it be husky vocals, a lilting hipster mix or rocking scream core – the DT 1990 can deliver. It’s so rare these days that I get to say things like ‘I heard things I’d never heard before’ but with the DT 1990 I did, and mostly in the nuances of vocals. A breath, a crack in the voice or a well-held note. It was like I was suddenly in the studio with the vocalists.
As a musician myself, it’s hard to enjoy a headphone completely until you stop your mind trying to play along and just listen to it. Stop and just focus on the music. With all the hundreds of hour I’ve spent in recording studios, I can honestly say these headphones are as close as you’re going to get to being in the booth with the band or vocalists.
The sound stage is perfect – not too wide and not too tight. This makes them very versatile in my opinion.
The frequency response is gapless. There is no bandwidth where you feel these don’t represent. The bass is big and full, the mids delightful and the treble all there. No frequency outplays another and everything is in its place.
These are comfy enough. There is a good vented feel to them so your ears should not feel atmospheric pressure or too much heat. The foam pads can get warm if you’re in a hot environment but they are soft on the skin.
The headband overall is OK but there is pressure to it. If you have a small head, no problem. If you have a big head, then you might not want to use these for an 8-hour session without any breaks.
I managed about 2 hours with them no problem.
There are two sound profiles available to the DT 1990 Pro. These depend on the earcup foams you choose. You get two sets with these reference headphones. In Beyerdynamic’s words, these are either a well-balanced tuning or an analytical tuning. You can choose what you like for general listening and what you might prefer for reference or professional work.
DT 1990 Pro use
There are a few things that you don’t want to use these headphones for.
- Commuting – these are too open back for a loud commute. I could picture them in a quiet mode of transport but they are open back so not perfect for shutting out the world.
- Quiet office – the audio spill is going to annoy your office mates. Especially if you like it loud.
- Travelling – unless you have plenty of suitcase space these are not a small or portable headphone.
Starting at 5Hz is a solid frequency to give you maximum bass impact. The 45mm Tesla drivers effortlessly Reach far and wide and deep to make all the bass notes and lower midrange absolutely flow from the 1990 Pro.
The opening notes to Damien Rice’s 9 Crimes is always a starter for my listening – both for the vocals but also the audio. What sounds like timpani or a large floor Tom that goes boom boom a few times in the first 60 seconds of the song is wonderful on these.
Another track that benefited was Dermot Kennedy’s cover of Heartless. Again not only do his vocals soar but the surrounding deep notes are supersonic.
While there are plenty of tracks these headphones helped Elevate another testing track used is the opening notes of Stormzy’s track Big for your Boots.
Jazz, rock and acoustic. All went deeper than I’m used to but they never got unbalanced. The bass always stays in the right place, at the right depth that the mixing and mastering planned.
Normally I listen for vocal clarity in the higher frequencies. It’s sometimes hard to find a headphone than represents the quality of voice in the midrange. Not so with the DT 1990 Pro.
The midrange on these doesn’t push out too far or sit back out of reach. It’s perfectly and powerfully placed in the middle. Remember you’ll want a headphone amp for these to really work for you if you are listening to them for listening pleasure and not professional work.
These cans eat genres for breakfast. Acoustic, Jazz, Rock, Hip Hop, Ambient, Dance. All the midrange and instruments sat in the perfect space on the soundstage.
Treble and I have an ongoing battle. I like it but can never find it.
With the DT 1990 Pro, The treble isn’t cutting or dialed up. The clean edges on vocals and notes is all there, its just not overly sharp or cutting.
I notice this most in mid-Electronic snare sounds on artist tracks like NF or Machine Gun Kelly. Often their mid-range is painful, but not with these cans.
The vocal frequencies are well represented in the Mid-range frequencies but so nicely topped off with the higher-end frequencies.
The top-end piano notes and guitar treble sound awesome.
Classical, acoustic, jazz, and even rock music are more enjoyable as the treble concludes a full range of Bass to Treble frequencies in a 5Hz – 40khz range.
A really full sound with a perfectly balanced soundstage.
Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro Review Summary
It’s hard to fault these Beyerdynamic headphones. The earcups can be a little tight for long listening but everything else is sonically wonderful.
If you are using these for professional work then your customers and clients will benefit from a better mix and mastering output.
If you are merely listening to enjoy your music better then I am confident you will be able to enjoy their ability to treat everything with the utmost respect.
There was not a piece of music I could throw at this to make them falter. From Damien Rice to Halsey. Stevie Ray Vaughan to Jimmy Hendrix. Ice Nine Kills to Oh Sleeper. Dianna Krall to Wynton Marsellas.
They are without a doubt my new go-to professional headphone and a reference headphone for reviews moving forward. I won’t take them on planes, or use them in my open office but for every other moment I get to enjoy my music, these get first place.
Questions or comments. Put them here.
Endless hours of experimentation, professional work, and personal investment in Home Theatre, Hi-Fi, Smart Home Automation and Headphones have come to this.
Former owner of Headphones Canada, a high-end headphone specialty retailer.
This post was last updated on 2022-12-11 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.