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beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro Headphone Review

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 39 19.1%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 113 55.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 39 19.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 13 6.4%

  • Total voters
    204

amirm

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This is a review, listening tests, EQ and detailed measurements of the beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro open-back headphone. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $529.
Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro Headphone Review.jpg

The feel of the metal cup holders is not great but you forget about it the moment you put the headphone on your head. It is light, has large cups and very comfortable. It nicely comes with two cables, one coiled and one not.

I put the headphone on my GRAS 45CA headphone measurement rig and initial seating was perfect! I suspect this provides good consistency for different listeners.

beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro Measurements
As usual we start with our headphone frequency response measurements:
Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro Headphone Frequency Response Measurement.png

I was pleasantly surprised by the good compliance with our target from 100 Hz to 4 kHz. Bass is flat/drooping a bit which some people like. The main glaring deviation is around 7.8 KHz. Here is the deviation for equalization development:

Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro Headphone relative Frequency Response Measurement.png


Since we need to boost bass, I was disappointed by the rising distortion there and driver limiting at 114 dBSPL:

Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro Headphone Relative THD Distortion Response Measurement.png

Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro Headphone THD Distortion Response Measurement.png


Impedance is close to rated 250 Ohm but rises rapidly in bass indicating you need good amount of voltage to drive the headphone:
Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro Headphone Impedance Response Measurement.png


Especially since sensitivity is below average:
Best bright headphone review 2024.png


Group delay is uneventful:

Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro Headphone Group Delay Response Measurement.png


beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro Listening Tests and Equalization
First impression was pleasant indicating that the content I was listening to didn't have a lot of spectrum around 8 kHz. The sound was light due to lack of bass so I EQed from left to right:
Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro Headphone Parametric EQ.png

With all the filters in place, performance was surprisingly good, sounding excellent on most of my clips. Sadly, sub-bass and high-playback levels in general brought out static and other types of distortion indicating driver limiting. For everyday playing it is fine but for the few minutes you may want to crank it up, it is going to sound poor.

Conclusions
If I am not mistaken, the DT1990 Pro has the most target compliance of any beyerdynamic headphone I have tested and it shows. Deviations is only at the extremes of frequency response so out of performance is not bad. What is wrong with it, can be fixed with EQ but the dynamic range is not there to handle more bass. Comfort is there so good for "everyday listening" with equalization.

I can't recommend the beyerdyanamic DT 1990 Pro. I would have with EQ if it didn't get so distorted.
------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Attachments

  • Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro Headphone Frequency Response Measurement.zip
    33.5 KB · Views: 62
Oh boy, Amir, get your helment on.....
Precisely what I was thinking as I was typing the review. :) What is the buzz around this headphone?
 
It's my fav headphone ever fed off a JDS Labs Element 3 without any EQ correction (even though I could). This one and the Shure SRH1540 cater to my personal preference. The 1990 definitely is extra extrovert, but in a way I like a lot. I only and exclusively listen to it on the JDS Labs, the SRH1540 (I own 3) is a more versatile in different places due to its closed nature. I'd never wear the 1990 outside my (very quiet) home office.

PS: I'd never ever listen to anything ever at over 100dB SPL. Modern life noise levels are bad enough.
 
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What is the buzz around this headphone?
Is says “Pro” on it! :cool:

A trifecta weekend. Wow, gardening and your knitting project must be taking a scheduling hit. Thanks for all the wonderful reviews this weekend. ;)
 
The popular headphones, measures poor- didn't expected this.
 
I voted "Fine" due to the similarity with, and emotional attachment to, my 30 year old 1994 DT 990 (600 ohm) model. I wouldn't dare measure it, in case I find something not quite perfect :) There's my daily dose of subjectivity.
 
Here are some thoughts about the EQ.
Please report your findings, positive or negative!

Notes about the EQ design:
  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
  • The resolution is 12 points per octave interpolated from the raw data (provided by @amirm)
  • A Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the EQ.
  • The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve (and other constrains) with a fixed complexity.
    This will avoid weird results if one only optimizes for the Score, start your journey here or there.
    There is a presentation by S. Olive here.
    It will probably flatten the Error regression doing so, the tonal balance should be therefore more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF and maybe at HF).
  • The range around and above 10kHz is usually not EQed unless smooth enough to do so.
  • I am using PEQ (PK) as from my experience the definition is more consistent across different DSP/platform implementations than shelves.
  • With some HP/amp combo, the boosts and preamp gain (loss of Dynamic range) need to be carefully considered to avoid issues with, amongst other things, too low a Max SPL or damaging your device. You have beed warned.
  • Not all units of the same product are made equal. The EQ is based on the measurements of a single unit. YMMV with regard to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.
  • I sometimes use variations of the Harman curve for some reasons. See rational here and here
  • NOTE: the score then calculated is not comparable to the scores derived from the default Harman target curve if not otherwise noted.

Great L/R match.

I have generated one EQ, the APO config file is attached.
Adding 3 biquads only improves the score by less than 1 point.
The high scores are explained by the absence of the usual trough at 8-10kHz.

Score no EQ: 74.7
Score Amirm: 99.3
Score with EQ: 108.4

Code:
Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro APO Redux EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz
June032024-102234

Preamp: -4.80 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 33.1 Hz Gain 4.78 dB Q 0.44
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 198.8 Hz Gain -2.72 dB Q 1.12
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 2149.4 Hz Gain 2.24 dB Q 3.22
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 4763.0 Hz Gain 5.00 dB Q 3.44
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 8082.2 Hz Gain -10.52 dB Q 3.53

Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro APO Redux EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz.png

And the "Over The Top" version i.e. probably not reasonable...

Score no EQ: 74.7
Score Amirm: 99.3
Score with EQ: 108.4
Score with EQ OTT: 109.4

Code:
Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro APO Redux EQ OTT Flat@HF 96000Hz
June032024-104647

Preamp: -4.70 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 34.6 Hz Gain 4.71 dB Q 0.44
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 202.3 Hz Gain -2.75 dB Q 0.97
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 1210.6 Hz Gain -1.16 dB Q 2.13
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 674.7 Hz Gain 1.01 dB Q 1.71
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 2135.8 Hz Gain 2.20 dB Q 2.58
Filter 6: ON PK Fc 4758.9 Hz Gain 4.66 dB Q 3.39
Filter 7: ON PK Fc 8014.1 Hz Gain -10.82 dB Q 4.13
Filter 8: ON PK Fc 12277.5 Hz Gain -6.81 dB Q 5.00

Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro APO Redux EQ OTT Flat@HF 96000Hz.png
 

Attachments

  • Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro APO Redux EQ Flat@HF 96000Hz.txt
    335 bytes · Views: 42
  • Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro APO Redux EQ OTT Flat@HF 96000Hz.txt
    488 bytes · Views: 44
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Murder treble, high distortion. and hard to drive. I know a lot of people like them, but that's a Trifecta. Sometimes it's just time for a classic design to cross the Rainbow Bridge.

Thank you for this review, Amir. Make sure to wear a good helmet for the next few days. Gotta wonder how they're gonna take this on Head Fi.
 
I almost voted fine, for being fairly easy to get good sound out of at moderate volumes (such as my own listening preferences), but settled on fair instead. You just get too high a level of distortion at this high a price.

I will say that they have a reputation for longevity, but so does Sennheiser. The HD 600/650 and the HD 560s are all much better tuned out of the box as well, while being less expensive.

The two Beyerdynamic sets I'd love to see reviewed are the closed back DT 770 Pro and DT 700 Pro X. They might have lower distortion since the closed back design would help with bass, and no closed Beyers have ever been reviewed here. I just wish they were big enough for my ears (approximately 63mm tall ears don't feel comfortable in 56mm diameter cups).
 
Thanks Amir
Interesting

What about a 4.5dB peak boost around 50Hz, with a Q keeping boost at 0 at 20Hz instead of 23Hz +6dB ?
Wouldn't that work for bass while avoiding statics ?
Content below 40Hz is not that frequent.
 
This is a review, listening tests, EQ and detailed measurements of the beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro open-back headphone. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $529.
View attachment 372841
The feel of the metal cup holders is not great but you forget about it the moment you put the headphone on your head. It is light, has large cups and very comfortable. It nicely comes with two cables, one coiled and one not.

I put the headphone on my GRAS 45CA headphone measurement rig and initial seating was perfect! I suspect this provides good consistency for different listeners.

beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro Measurements
As usual we start with our headphone frequency response measurements:
View attachment 372842
I was pleasantly surprised by the good compliance with our target from 100 Hz to 4 kHz. Bass is flat/drooping a bit which some people like. The main glaring deviation is around 7.8 KHz. Here is the deviation for equalization development:

View attachment 372844

Since we need to boost bass, I was disappointed by the rising distortion there and driver limiting at 114 dBSPL:

View attachment 372845
View attachment 372846

Impedance is close to rated 250 Ohm but rises rapidly in bass indicating you need good amount of voltage to drive the headphone:
View attachment 372847

Especially since sensitivity is below average:
View attachment 372848

Group delay is uneventful:

View attachment 372849

beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro Listening Tests and Equalization
First impression was pleasant indicating that the content I was listening to didn't have a lot of spectrum around 8 kHz. The sound was light due to lack of bass so I EQed from left to right:
View attachment 372851
With all the filters in place, performance was surprisingly good, sounding excellent on most of my clips. Sadly, sub-bass and high-playback levels in general brought out static and other types of distortion indicating driver limiting. For everyday playing it is fine but for the few minutes you may want to crank it up, it is going to sound poor.

Conclusions
If I am not mistaken, the DT1990 Pro has the most target compliance of any beyerdynamic headphone I have tested and it shows. Deviations is only at the extremes of frequency response so out of performance is not bad. What is wrong with it, can be fixed with EQ but the dynamic range is not there to handle more bass. Comfort is there so good for "everyday listening" with equalization.

I can't recommend the beyerdyanamic DT 1990 Pro. I would have with EQ if it didn't get so distorted.
------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

These headphones come with two sets of stock pads in the box that the user can choose from, the ' Analytical' and the 'Balanced'. Do you know which ones are currently installed? The bass and treble performance are impacted based on this choice.
 
Distortion profile wise it seems like same Tesla driver fitted as in previously tested Beyerdynamic Amiron Home. Thanks to Amir now anyone can see which one has better out of box FR tuning. Six Beyers reviewed so far and all had high distortion rise past 94db..

One more thing that intrigues me is how much higher magnetic field the Tesla drivers expose you to in comparison with "standard" dynamic headphones, had someone measure that publicly? In present world where RF energy bombs you 24/7 in towns especially, I think it is wise to think about sources you have control over, at least.

I mentioned in other post that Ultrasone advertises some tech to suppress the field:

"THE SPECIAL TECHNOLOGY OF ULTRASONE ULE (ULTRA LOW EMISSION)
These headphone drivers create a low-frequency magnetic field when you convert an electrical signal into an acoustic signal that we hear in the form of music. ULTRASONE has developed a special MU metal shield called ULE (Ultra Low Emissions) to reduce this radiation by up to 98% compared to conventional headphones. This technology passed the test of the international review. ULTRASONE originally developed ULE technology for professionals, as they spend half their lives in headphones. As consumer demand grew, ULE health technology has been included in all Ultrasone products.!"
 
Six Beyers reviewed so far and all had high distortion rise past 94db..
All Beyers have high distortion in the bass. It is inherent to the drivers. Also the closed ones (DT770/700ProX/1770) b.t.w. but have more 3rd harmonics.
The DT1990 has lower distortion than DT990.
The newer 'STELLAR' drivers (DT700/900) are a tiny bit lower in distortion as well.

The higher magnetic force is in the air-gap. There are many other drivers these days too that have 1T or more in their air gap.

These headphones come with two sets of stock pads in the box that the user can choose from, the ' Analytical' and the 'Balanced'. Do you know which ones are currently installed? The bass and treble performance are impacted based on this choice.

Analytic pads is what it looks like.

analytical-vs-balanced-pads.png



Below the effect of the impedance hump on the tonality of the DT1990 with output resistances of 0.2, 10, 32 and 120ohm
dt1990-120-ohm.png


There is no audible influence up to about at least 50 ohm but with some integrated amps and (AV)Receivers you may get a bit more lows/warmth.
output R of some headphone outs can easily reach 300ohm and sometimes even more.

In the end.... for $ 550.- one can certainly find better measuring headphones these days.
Build quality, after market support are excellent for most Beyerdynamic products though.
 
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