Beyerdynamic DT990 (2005) Headphone Reviews

Manufacturer Beyerdynamic Model DT990 (2005)
Headphone Type Open Circumaural Headband Type Single
Weight (g) 290 Driver Type Dynamic
Enclosure Material Aluminium Isolation (dB) 0
Impedance (ohms) 250 Cable Length (cm) 300
Frequency Response (Hz) 5 - 35000  
Connector 3.5mm with 6.5mm adaptor Street Price US$320
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Average reviewer scores
Bass Extension 8.0 Bass Impact 8.0
Bass Quality 8.0 Mids Quality 6.7
Highs Quality 8.0 Soundstage 8.0
Detail 7.3 Portability 3.0
Isolation 0.0 Comfort 9.0
Durability 9.0 Improvement With Amplification 6.7
Value for Money 8.0    
Overall Score 8.0 Total Reviews 3

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Reviews by our members

Review by Senior Member NA Blur on 14 Nov 15  15:00
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality8
Mids Quality6
Highs Quality8

First let me say that I own many great headphones including the ATH-M50 and AH-D2000. I also use a Grace m903 for most of my headphone testing as I find it a neutral sounding amp.

I was looking for a headphone to compliment my AH-D2000's both in design and sound signature. The D2000 being dark, slightly bass heavy, and closed made me want something not as dark, more imaging based, and open. I tried Grado SR225i's, Grado RS-1i's, and the Beyerdynamic DT990.

The Grado SR225i's are too bright and have the same comfort issues as all Grados using bowl pads. The frequency range according to the Gradolabs site only goes from 20 Hz up to 22 kHz. The SR-80 goes from 20 Hz to 20 kHz so the 225i really only gains 2 kHz on the high end. This and the bowl pads add to the brightness. So I moved onto the RS-1i's, which are a great sounding headphone with both an extended bass and high range. The RS-1i goes from 12 Hz up to 30 kHz making them much more balanced sounding and certainly less bright. The bowl pads once again allow the driver covers to rest on my ears which after 30 minutes made my ears hurt. I simply cannot justify a headphone that does not fit perfectly.

Enter the Beyerdynamic DT990 ( 250 Ohm ). The frequency response is bass boosted, but there is also a nice upward and wide peak at the 6 kHz to 11 kHz range. This makes the DT990 not only slightly bass boosted but brings the highs into balance with the bass. Add in some amazing comfort with velour pads and a well thought out headband and I was ready to test these puppies.

Out of my iPod they DT990 sounded nice and airy, the bass was impactful, and the sense of space was tremendous. I did have to turn up the volume to 80% to reach a satisfactory listening level, but it worked.

Since I do 90% of my headphone listening at home near my PC I really intended to use these amped which is why I chose the 250 Ohm version. It seemed to be a happy medium between the 32 Ohm portable option and the 600 Ohm hi-fi option.

Amped the bass was a little more controlled. The soundstage increased 10% and the highs brightened nicely. The DT990 is really a nice compliment or perhaps supplement for a D2000. You really get a ton of air and separation without too much boom.

Although the sound was not as direct as the D2000 it was very upfront and clear. No part of the frequency range seemed left out. The highs had a pleasant downward tilt making the DT990 bright enough without being annoying like the lower tier Grados.

I had no issues with comfort and could wear these for hours. They are not as light as some other open cans, but it did not affect the comfort.

The design is just about flawless. The swivel engineering is nicely executed and the headband padded. The ear cups surround the ear and the cable terminates from the left ear so there is no Y-cable fuss.

I recommend these to anyone. If you plan on using them more on a portable device get the 32 Ohm version. You get all of the same sound characteristics without having to drive them very hard.

With my AH-D2000's I was unable to hear the difference between 320 kbps and 128 kbps, but I sure could with the DT990.

The DT990 is a truly amazing can at its price point.

Review by Senior Member wilashort on 17 Jan 08  15:28
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact9
Bass Quality9
Mids Quality7
Highs Quality9

I had this headphone for more that 8 months.
All that i have to say is that this headphone have a beautiful look and a very good Quality of materials, and sound that exceed that of the nice "Hifi" sound system of my father and my other headphones (the Beyerdynamic DT770pro/80) for a very good margin and in all the areas.

What i like more about this headphone is the Bass and Treble
The midrange too is very good but it lacks a little bit of air (but only slightly) and as the other reviewer said that is not as lifelike (as i would like to be) and is true. But it's nice anyway. It has very good detail (i can hear clearly the lips when it to be touched among themselves and the saliva (is as realistic that is somethimes disagreeable to hear)
The mids in this headphone excells more with female voices than with male voices (i don't mean it didn't sound good with them). The Female voices sound refined and delicated that they are delicious to hear and the male voices have an very good timbre too.

The bass is very nice, refined (a lot more than the DT770pro) and controled. Has very good extension and Slam (For me it is a little bit stronger than my DT770pro in the midbass and highbass zone), is tighter and never bloathed (as with my DT770pro), faster and had a very good feel of it (is more speaker like). Never sound muddy (inclusive with fast music), is deeper (almost as my DT770pro) and is stronger with good weight (it lack weight slightly in the deepest zone).

The treble is airier, very well extended, with an sparkle that add realism to the sound that it facs, never is sibilant and harsh or simply annoying.
With movies, Anime series, TV programs and documentals, the water splash sound lifelike, the same is the grass when is breaked and fall to the ground, the same is the sound of the blades, and some voices with a high pitch (female voices is his majority) and The birds singing and other sounds too.
The only minor drawnback is that it has a litle bit ssh ssh tone in the upper treble with some male and female voices but isn't a major drawnback in reality.

The soundstage in this headphone is fantastic and huge. Is airier, spacious and 3D Like.
In a movie i can hear when an helicopter is up and in what distance are, the same with the other sounds i can easily distinguish in which direction the sound is from/come.
In music i can hear clearly where the instrument is in the soundstage and the voices.
The image and instrument/voices separation are excelent too. I can distinguish various instruments and voices in a recording.
The headstage is bigger too for an headphone, is surreal. (i don't known if there is another headphone That equals or exceed it, but i believe that it is one of the biggest out there... )

In isolation, i put 4,5 because it doesn't leak near the same amount as other open and semi-open headphones that i had tested in the past and read (Grados, Akg, Audio Technicas, etc); thanks to those venetian blinds (and the black (with micro-holes) material that is between the blinds), that prevent and reduce the amount of sound that the drivers expel to the exterior. My father can't hear clearly the sound of the music that i am playing (and that is from a moderate distance, (more than a 1.3 meters)).
And besides of that, i difficulty can hear the sound of the telephone (in medium high to higher volumes) or other normal sounds as external voices (i can't hear the voice of my father from a distance of a meter and more) even in medium to low volumes (not very low).
The isolation is outstanding and incredible for an open headphone (that noirmally doesn't had any).

The comfort is near perfect for me. I can use the headphones all the day, without feel discomform. And i use glasses.
Sometimes i forgot that i have put it in my head.

The Durability as with my other Beyerdynamic headphone seem to last for various decades.
It has very good quality materials that i don't experiment in another headphone and the same is the build quality; in one word, superb. And without counting its appearance. they are very nice.

A very good amp (portable or desktop) and powerful is really necessary to make it sound his best (or near), and bring his bass strenght, and with an louder volume level.

For the price, you get a very versatile headphone and very good sounding, with excelent comfort and excelent build quality (that is something lacking even in some high end headphones).
It's a real champion.

My Ratings are:
- Bass Extension: 8
- Bass Impact: 9
- Bass Quality: 9
- Mids Quality: 7,5
- Highs Quality: 9
- Soundstage: 9
- Detail: 7
- Portability: 5
- Isolation: 4.5
- Comfort: 9.5
- Durability: 10
- Improvement with Amplification: 7.5
- Value for the Money: 8

Review by Senior Member Iron_Dreamer on 01 Jul 07  12:35
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact8
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality7
Highs Quality7

The new and improved Beyerdynamic DT990, complete with shiny metal grilles, tackles the high-end headphone world with a fun sound that is yet relatively less compromised by coloration than the most commonly known "fun/rockin'" headphones, Grados. They retain the typical high standards of comfort and build quality for a moderate price, that Beyer users have come to expect over the years.

The bass is the strong point of the 2005 DT990's, as it goes very deep, and has slightly more volume than I'd consider neutral, which makes for the foundation of their very fun sound. Bass notes hit hard, but even very fast bass sounds are still clearly delineated and details are not left behind.

The DT990's are not quite as lifelike or sublime in the midrange as some of the other top performers, but midrange is not exactly a weakness either. It's a performance I'd consider solid, as it does everything needed to present a recording, but without the wow factor that makes a truly world-class listening experience. These limitations are only really noticeable if compared directly with transducers that give a sublime midrange. On its' own the midrange is full and satisfying.

The treble is also pushed a bit forward of neutral (more significantly than the bass), resulting in a sound that highlights effects in the upper end (what some would call "sparkle"). Sibilance is only noticed on the most sibilant of recordings, so it is safe to say the DT990 is not adding undue harshness to the recording. Some may find the highs a bit too prominent for their taste, but the headphone is not overbearingly bright.

Soundstaging is mostly confined to the left-right domain (typical of non-angled driver headphones), though there is enough depth to make out layers fore and aft. The soundstage is quite large and airy, if not the most pinpoint. This results in a sound that can be very impressive, especially given a recording mixed to sound large, but which is not the most analytical or critical.

As one would expect from Beyerdynamic, the headphones are very well put together, with a combination of solid metal pieces, hard plastic, and a fairly tough straight cord. The metal vents on the sides of the earcups are very eye-catching and serve to make the DT990's quite a bit more visually appealing than many others. Considering the solid built, the DT990 is still very light and exerts very little pressure on the head, making it extremely comfortable long-term. An amplifier will be useful with these headphones, as they require quite a bit of voltage to get to useful volume levels.

All in all, the 2005 DT990 is a very enjoyable headphone that gets the listener involved in the music, while also providing a detailed window onto the recording. This is another winner for Beyerdynamic, combining very nice sound, looks, build quality, and comfort, making an excellent competitor in the sub-$500 headphone market. While not for the most chilled-out listener, nor the most anal sound engineer or technician, they certainly have a niche for the active music lover.

My Ratings:
Bass Extension: 8
Bass Impact: 8
Bass Quality: 7
Mids Quality: 7
Highs Quality: 7
Soundstage: 7
Detail: 7
Portability: 3
Isolation: 0
Comfort: 9
Durability: 9
Improvement with Amplification: 7
Value for the Money: 8

Beyerdynamic DT990 (2005)