• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

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
I voted great because I own them and use them every day since june 2017. Before that I mainly used custom made Beyerdynamic DT 990 Edition. Bought them in 2010 and they still work (had to change earpads and headband once). Also have the 990 Pro at work and I love them. I can compare them with ATH-R70x (boring and flat), AKG K701 (no bass, I hate them, worst buy I ever made), AKG K240 & K141 Monitor, Dan Clark Aeon RT closed back. Aeon RT are second best, after DT1990 Pro. I just hate closed headphones, maybe I should buy open Aeons some time. I'm a fan of these cans (DT1990). Never heard better headphones. YMMV. :cool:
 
Last edited:
The DT1990 Pro ($399 refurbished from Beyerdynamic-usa on Ebay) was my first foray into headphone upgrades about 5 years ago. I previously had a pair of Sennheiser HD598 ($169 new). The DT1990 were very nice and a step up from the HD598 but they only whet my appetite for better headphone sound. Listening to higher end headphones at the Florida Audio Expo began my next quest which ended with my headphone comparison (posted here) and my current Audeze LCD-3 ($850 used). I still love the LCD-3 and do not plan to replace them unless I fall into a pile of money.

I did not use EQ at the time but found the DT1990 a very competent midrange headphone. I found them on @solderdude's website.

Martin
I had a set of Senn HD598, and they were the worst-sounding headphones I had ever owned. The Beyers offered much better sound and build quality in direct comparison.
 
I had a set of Senn HD598, and they were the worst-sounding headphones I had ever owned. The Beyers offered much better sound and build quality in direct comparison.

I remember owning Sennheisers as a student, you know, one of their models that was plastic and had that yellow foam on the earcups (you may have to be "of a certain age" to remember that seemed to be Sennheiser's signature, at least around what I could afford)... and it was the best I'd ever had then. I am sure they still make amazing headphones.

I agree that for me the DT1990 Pro -as previoulsy mentioned- sound great out of the box, but that doesn't mean I disagree with the measurements at all. I find it equally interesting to find out which kind of emphasis and character I personally enjoy and find thoroughly enjoyable. And also, as mentioned before, I find the chest hair measurements about "how loud can you go" irrelevant to my personal listening preferences. :) That also goes for speakers, but I understand that's (a) personal stuff and (b) some may find behavior under more extreme performance considerations informative. Just like HP and top speed measurements in supercars. :)
 
Last edited:
Simple remark about true peeks in music. Peeks are in low and sub bass depending on instruments used and genre go down to low 30's and can be very pronounced in some. You don't push driver to do what it can't in the first place. You won't listen to 114 dB normalised but you can have a +20 dB peak @ 35 Hz to let's say 88 dB and you put +5 dB there for Harman complience so you have it as that's 113 dB. You don't need any bass boost on such SPL level that's fur sure. They get not terrible from me primary for build quality, bit boomy and rough in highs don't get them any favours from me. I don't blame them for level of bass response in generally, which is actually quite good for open back's with dynamic drivers.
 
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.
I went from the 1990s to a HiFiMan HE400se to the Shure SRH1540s and can attest how killer those Shures are! Damn they sound good, are super comfy, treated for sound deadening and the bass goes LOW. They're also voiced just like my speakers and have awesome resolution. Can't recommend enough!
 
I went from the 1990s to a HiFiMan HE400se to the Shure SRH1540s and can attest how killer those Shures are! Damn they sound good, are super comfy, treated for sound deadening and the bass goes LOW. They're also voiced just like my speakers and have awesome resolution. Can't recommend enough!
We probably should start or go to some existing topic on personal headphone preferences, but yes, I also find the SRH1540s sensational. Love their sound. I keep a pair at my GF's place, and they allow me to nod emphatically when she tells me about her day while in truth I enjoy some Bill Evans or such (but I can still hear her, wearing NR headphones would seem cruel). :) Also my fav office headphone (keep another pair there)..
 
Last edited:
Using Amir's EQ (which is surprisingly similar to the one that I made myself with a lot of graph research), I am yet to discover this plethora of distortion that is on the graphs and I don't only listen to bass-light music. So I am really interested what test track highlights this bass distortion that is so apparent and will even produce static.
This is my reference track for sub-bass that shows this problem (with EQ): (please listen to uncompressed one, not this youtube)

The sub-bass plays with almost no other sound. This means you can crank it up pretty high and not have it be loud since the threshold of hearing is very high in those frequencies. See my video on that:


Keep in mind that even at 104 dBSPL distortion in bass is literally off the charts:

index.php


And that is not much above threshold of hearing at 20 to 30 Hz:
400px-Lindos4.svg.png

You need over 70 dBSPL to hear anything at all at 20 Hz! Meanwhile 70 dBSPL represents 80 dB above threshold of hearing at 3 kHz.

For this reason, there is no such thing as listening at a single loudness dB.
 
Keep in mind that even at 104 dBSPL distortion in bass is literally off the charts:

index.php


And that is not much above threshold of hearing at 20 to 30 Hz:

You need over 70 dBSPL to hear anything at all at 20 Hz! Meanwhile 70 dBSPL represents 80 dB above threshold of hearing at 3 kHz.

For this reason, there is no such thing as listening at a single loudness dB.

I love this website and I am a committed supporter. But there is such thing as listening to a single loudness dB and it's called preference level. The measurements are very informative. I never ever dispute that. But perhaps for some of us that prefer to listen at a certain SPL, certain colorations are more important than listening at very high SPL and checking for extreme distortion. And 114dB SPL is extreme. I respect those that think it relevant to their preference, but I have doubts anyone listens for subtilities at such levels, and certainly their hearing shall not be able to do so for long.

100dB is a jet take off at 900ft. No one enjoys listening to that, I'd hope.

And from internet search: ".. At 40 Hz, listeners accepted 100% distortion before they complained .." - I get why we measure extreme stuff, but once we claim it is hearable we get into the realm of audio un-science, in my humble opinion. Just like we know there theoretically is more resolution if you can deliver 40kHz, but it'll only matter to your cat. And such people that claim to be able to hear a difference but can't ever prove it in controlled blind tests.
 
Last edited:
I love this website and I am a committed supporter. But there is such thing as listening to a single loudness dB and it's called preference level. The measurements are very informative. I never ever dispute that. But perhaps for some of us that prefer to listen at a certain SPL, certain colorations are more important than listening at very high SPL and checking for extreme distortion. And 114dB SPL is extreme. I respect those that think it relevant to their preference, but I have doubts anyone listens for subtilities at such levels, and certainly their hearing shall not be able to do so for long.

100dB is a jet take off at 900ft. No one enjoys listening to that, I'd hope.

And from internet search: ".. At 40 Hz, listeners accepted 100% distortion before they complained .." - I get why we measure extreme stuff, but once we claim it is hearable we get into the realm of audio un-science, in my humble opinion. Just like we know there theoretically is more resolution if you can deliver 40kHz, but it'll only matter to your cat. And such people that claim to be able to hear a difference but can't ever prove it in controlled blind tests.
The point that Amir makes is that not 114 dB of average level and for all frequencies are relevant but maybe for some at the loudest parts of the musical content. And if distortion sets in there, that might reduce the listening pleasure. As I mentioned, I also did own this headphone and never had problems with the distortion, but just knowing that is there in such a large amount, does leave a bad feeling at least. I prefer gear with headroom.
 
But perhaps for some of us that prefer to listen at a certain SPL, certain colorations are more important than listening at very high SPL and checking for extreme distortion. And 114dB SPL is extreme. I respect those that think it relevant to their preference, but I have doubts anyone listens for subtilities at such levels, and certainly their hearing shall not be able to do so for long.
114 dB is 44 dB above threshold of hearing at 20 Hz. No way that is too loud.

100dB is a jet take off at 900ft. No one enjoys listening to that, I'd hope.
Jet's sound spectrum is not focused at 28 Hz where the peaks are in that track. Here is one of many spectrums of jet engine noise:

Comparison-of-acoustic-measurements-of-aircraft-jet-engine-noise-with-that-of-model-jet.png


As you see, the bulk of it at 200 Hz. At 20 Hz, it is some 30 dB quieter. Unfortunately noise standards are very poorly done and are devoid of much psychoacoustics. And at any rate, deal with "noise" which is far more annoying due to its wide bandwidth than low frequency drums or effects in music.
 
@amirm peaks are as typical at 35 Hz in the test track at levels up to - 22 dB to female low (for female) 400 Hz vocal - 34 dB observed peeks that is. It was quite a tail and it pulses fading away, there is some background noise not to be mixed with purposely wind effect added. Did the analysis with JRiver (analyser) listening on Denon AH-D5200 EQ-ed to Harman at around 80 dB normalised and it whose a bit too much there. Probably because how it whose done (pulsing and all), but there are and tracks with more prominent peeks as low as that one without vocals to level it back. We are more sensitive to it because it's not natural as our threshold is low there and when it kicks in noticeably awareness instinct kicks in.
 
Engine noise, on top of the spectrum (similar-ish to A-weighting) is also a constant noise where as peaks in music are very short lived.
I would not want an electric guitar solo at 114dB on my ears either but low bass... I would not mind.

Yep , measuring frequencies below 100Hz at 114dB is valid as peaks can reach that easily without sounding 'loud'.
That would be 3V peaks to reach that... 20mW in this case. The driver is rated for 10x that power (200mW)
People that want to play 'loud' usually would complain if their amp was not rated to at least 100mW in 300ohm to avoid clipping.
Chances are Amir was listening to that deep bass at much higher SPL than 114dB ?

Granted, most DT1990 owners that use these headphones for listening pleasure at normal levels, not the solo piece from Erja with just the low bass with Harman EQ at loud level, but 'as is' at a level where one can also listen to the rest of that song/album at 'can listen all day' levels for sure won't be hearing a rattle.

To pull that off a Planar would be the best choice anyway.
 
I love this website and I am a committed supporter. But there is such thing as listening to a single loudness dB and it's called preference level. The measurements are very informative. I never ever dispute that. But perhaps for some of us that prefer to listen at a certain SPL, certain colorations are more important than listening at very high SPL and checking for extreme distortion. And 114dB SPL is extreme. I respect those that think it relevant to their preference, but I have doubts anyone listens for subtilities at such levels, and certainly their hearing shall not be able to do so for long.

100dB is a jet take off at 900ft. No one enjoys listening to that, I'd hope.

And from internet search: ".. At 40 Hz, listeners accepted 100% distortion before they complained .." - I get why we measure extreme stuff, but once we claim it is hearable we get into the realm of audio un-science, in my humble opinion. Just like we know there theoretically is more resolution if you can deliver 40kHz, but it'll only matter to your cat. And such people that claim to be able to hear a difference but can't ever prove it in controlled blind tests.
A headphone has a single driver. You are going to get a lot of distorted high frequency if it can’t handle the bass.
This is for example completely different with subwoofers for example. If they have a lot of distortion you would probably not hear that. So I am not sure what your internet search exactly measured or how relevant it is in this situation.
 
Amir - you will simply encourage those who use an actual subwoofer to enhance their headphone-listening experience with some real physicality.
 
A headphone has a single driver. You are going to get a lot of distorted high frequency if it can’t handle the bass.
This is for example completely different with subwoofers for example. If they have a lot of distortion you would probably not hear that. So I am not sure what your internet search exactly measured or how relevant it is in this situation.
I don’t think that’s correct: single or multiple drivers does not matter if the “generated” distortion curve vs. frequency is the same. The exception may be some IMD distortion. On the other hand, it can be easier to keep the THD and IMD distortions low with multiple, specialized, drivers but, in the case of headphones, there are apparently enough tradeoffs to not make that route very attractive.

A ‘super-tweeter’ reproducing 10kHz and above is probably a better example than a subwoofer: all the distortion harmonics are above 20kHz (inaudible)
 
I would not want an electric guitar solo at 114dB on my ears either but low bass... I would not mind.
Yep 114dB unweighted SPL at 40 Hz and at 4kHz is perceived very differently. It's why SPL measurements are using dBA units.

40 Hz 114 dB SPL is perceived as 79.5 dBA SPL
4 kHz 114 dB SPL is perceived as 115 dBA SPL

A-weighting is applied to instrument-measured sound levels in an effort to account for the relative loudness perceived by the human ear, as the ear is less sensitive to low audio frequencies.
 
Oh wow, I wonder if their DT 900 PRO X Model performs better of worse. If I remember correctly it was released after this one and is listed as Topselling in their Store haha
I've had the DT900 Pro X as well as have the DT1990 and I think the DT900 is the best one. They fixed the DT990 treble peak and kept it fun, but not as bland as the DT700 sounds. The DT770 Pro X is good if you EQ them, it's a must to get the best from them. I like the DT900 so much because out of the box I didn't want to change anything, like my Hifiman HE5xx daily driver.
 
Would be nice to see a follow up with dekoni elite velour pads, they provide a significant improvement to the balance of the sound and overall comfort.
 
Back
Top Bottom