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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
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)
Yes it really does matter. Bass really needs big cone movements. And yes in practice when you hear buzzing it will often follow the rhythm of the bass. And yes there is this thing called intermodulation distortion and indeed having multiple drivers helps.
 
7 years ago I may have accidentally started the Dekoni elite velour measuring thing.

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tonally between the supplied pads. The 5kHz area dip/resonance appears to be pad related.
 
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. :)

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I had a pair of them in my early 20's. I thought they sounded great at the time.

Martin
 
HD414 .. its amazing what most people thought sounded fantastic back in the days.
It was the best sold headphone ever AFAIK (> 10M copies).
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high distortion as well:
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There are also those who reverse this and use DT100 with the newer DT150 pads :) Are the ones you are referring to (faux) leather or velour?
velour
 
Yeah, basically. In this case don't turn up the bass...turn down everything else.
(Like I said, it doesn't matter which way round you do it).
 
I got mine in about 2017 when I wanted some very accurate headphones for my keyboard and a little mixing. Always came away from practicing or listening with my ears hurting. Then one day I discovered oratory1990's measurements and EQ settings, which I put into an EQ plugin in my DAW and instantly discovered how much better they sounded. Since then I can't listen to them without EQ. They're so harsh at the high end and not quite enough bass without it. Crinacle's EQ settings work even better for me.

Retrospectively I think my reason for preferring them over my second choice at the time - HD600 - was probably just that the big treble bump cut through all the noise in the shop and sounded 'revealing'. I don't think the HD600 would fare better for the keyboard though - even less bass on those.

Rated 'not terrible' as I've never had them up at 94dB or higher to notice the distortion, so they're ok for me with EQ. EQing a live instrument with no latency required extra gear though.
 
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Retrospectively I think my reason for preferring them over my second choice at the time - HD600 - was probably just that the big treble bump cut through all the noise in the shop and sounded 'revealing'. I don't think the HD600 would fare better for the keyboard though - even less bass on those.

Rated 'not terrible' as I've never had them up at 94dB or higher to notice the distortion, so they're ok for me with EQ. EQing a live instrument with no latency required extra gear though.

I recall thinking the HD600 sounded "lean"...

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In comparing the two, seems to me the bass is the main difference, other than that they seem to have the same quirks and jumps (there isn't a headphone that doesn't unless EQd some, it seems, so for those of us that don't EQ clearly it's about "which flavor do you want" :-D) and I am not sure why I thought the difference was marked. And maybe I am also partial to that bump in the 8kHz region, while the HD has a little peak in the presence region.
 
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.
All right, I listened to this track with my DT 1990, my Aeon RTs and my ATH-R70x's. If I crank the volume high enough, the first two distort equally. The ATH-R70x's show almost no distortion at all, even at full volume on my HPA V100. So they best both the Aeon RT and the DT 1990 in this regard (without EQ).
 
All right, I listened to this track with my DT 1990, my Aeon RTs and my ATH-R70x's. If I crank the volume high enough, the first two distort equally. The ATH-R70x's show almost no distortion at all, even at full volume on my HPA V100. So they best both the Aeon RT and the DT 1990 in this regard (without EQ).
There is none when I listen to it the loudest I do - but then again, I never even once have driven the JDS Element III into high gain. So zero issue for me. But YMMV etc. :)

Might also be because I don't listen to FX stuff, I listen to stuff like this as a personal reference... has everything I am interested in listening to in music, a great voice, percussion, acoustic instruments (well, there's a jazzy electric guitar solo) etc...

 
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There is none when I listen to it the loudest I do - but then again, I never even once have driven the JDS Element III into high gain. So zero issue for me. But YMMV etc. :)

Might also be because I don't listen to FX stuff, I listen to stuff like this as a personal reference... has everything I am interested in listening to in music, a great voice, percussion, acoustic instruments (well, there's a jazzy electric guitar solo) etc...


In replying to myself, I also find it hard to listen to distortion in sub-bass, because it sounds like a rumble I have little reference for. Guess it'd bother me if it impacted separation and muddles the rest of the frequencies, but that didn't happen, as the sub-bass played, the rest of the stuff was clean.
 
As they are on-ear I also use an 'ear shaped' adapter to get a little closer to the truth for on-ears.
But yes, the 3kHz hump is there and not caused by an ear canal simulator.
The response is very 'smooth' though ... but bass shy and 'colored' (too much 'clarity')
 
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In replying to myself, I also find it hard to listen to distortion in sub-bass, because it sounds like a rumble I have little reference for.
That's not an issue. Listen at modest level and keep increasing the volume. If there is sudden change, then you know it is not supposed to be there.
 
Some just say Beyers' headphones are just hard to push. They'd sound great with right amps.
But I never push them right.
 
How can one push a headphone ?
Well... maybe... when it is in a real world shopping cart you could :)
 
How can one push a headphone ?
Well... maybe... when it is in a real world shopping cart you could :)
It's just my bad English.
When a headphone requires certain kinds of amp to make good sounds. We say "it's hard to push" in Mandarin.
 
All right, I listened to this track with my DT 1990, my Aeon RTs and my ATH-R70x's. If I crank the volume high enough, the first two distort equally. The ATH-R70x's show almost no distortion at all, even at full volume on my HPA V100. So they best both the Aeon RT and the DT 1990 in this regard (without EQ).
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ATH R70x hits 1% at 70Hz (at 94dBSPL), DT 1990 hits 1% at around 40 Hz (at 94dBSPL) so how is it possible that it doesn't distort while the DT 1990 does? It also peaks to 3% at 30Hz, while DT 1990 is at 2% at the same frequency. Not to mention if you add Amir's EQ to both that the ATH R70x needs 30Hz 10dB Q1.0 while the DT 1990 needs 23Hz 6dB Q0.68 which means that the R70x has worse bass extension into those low frequencies.

EDIT: Just to add - since the comment claims no EQ. Does this mean since the bass extension on the R70x is worse, and apparantely it's a bit harder to drive than the 1990 that the playback level at the frequencies in question was lower and thus less distortion was present? If so, the testing methodology from the comment is not accurate.

If someone could explain this phenomenon that would be great, I am just really curious about this topic as I can finally correlate the measurements to my own personal use case/preference.

P.S. Thanks Amir for providing the test track and the explanation on the topic (I've watched the how loud is loud video way back as well), I've been a bit busy so I have not yet conducted the listening test but I will report back at some point.
 
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@DeDovla if you look at the DT 1990 distortion you could perhaps see that there is much bigger jump in distortion from 104 dB to 114 dB than 94 dB to 104 dB. Perhaps the loudness limit is much more apparent and violent sounding than with R70x. I have experience with Sennheiser HD660S with metal drivers and they sound scary when reaching limit, suddenly starting clicking like they are broken. But HD560S with plastic drivers is much more gradual and you can drive them so low frequencies start slowly intermodulate higher frequencies which lets you know to back down on volume.

DT 1990 marketing material says their drivers have titanium-coated acoustic fabric.

Also, Amir's test track low frequency tone is between 35 Hz and 30 Hz, which is where DT 1990 struggles according to measurements.
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if you look at the DT 1990 distortion you could perhaps see that there is much bigger jump in distortion from 104 dB to 114 dB than 94 dB to 104 dB. Perhaps the loudness limit is much more apparent and violent sounding than with R70x.
R70x at 40Hz is already sky high (6% or more) at 104dB, as we only have 6% at the top of the graph we can't really say where they land at 114dB but an increase is there for sure. However following the previous trend it should still be lower on the DT 1990 at those frequencies (but of course no data past 6% anyways).

I have experience with Sennheiser HD660S with metal drivers and they sound scary when reaching limit, suddenly starting clicking like they are broken. But HD560S with plastic drivers is much more gradual and you can drive them so low frequencies start slowly intermodulate higher frequencies which lets you know to back down on volume.

DT 1990 marketing material says their drivers have titanium-coated acoustic fabric.
It is not impossible that it's the flaw of how it's constructed but I wouldn't give any thoughts on that without data to back it up.

Also, Amir's test track low frequency tone is between 35 Hz and 30 Hz, which is where DT 1990 struggles according to measurements.
The R70x struggles even more according to the THD+N graph - as I said previously if we only look at graphs, the only logical answer that I can think of is that R70x can not reproduce the same levels at those frequencies without EQ and thus distortion is less apparent - which makes the original comparison made by the person that commented flawed. Of course, Amir stated in the R70x review that with 30Hz +10dB Q1.0 EQ for the R70x there was also static - to quote the R70x review:

Alas the bass boost caused static sounds at higher volume levels. Normal listening is fine but just know that you don't have much headroom here.
 
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