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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
At 220Hz (where there is still a lot of energy in music) the 1% is breached when 3V is applied (12mW) in the R70X
At 220Hz the 1% is breached at 1V (4mW).
This means the R70X can literally play twice as loud before it starts to distort.
Add to that there seems to be cone break-up (my conclusion) in the DT1990 that is much higher than that in the R70X.

So yes, the R70X can play at least twice as loud as the DT1990 before they distort about the same amount.
 
@solderdude what is cone break-up? Can it cause sudden loud crackling sound? Does it permanently damage driver?
 
@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. ..

I'd guess since one (DT1990) digs much lower than the other, the demands on it are much higher, hence the distortion when those sub-bass frequencies are played louder and louder. The other headphone doesn't bother to play them, hence no distortion. You don't get a lower frequency that's below the spec of a headphone (or speaker) to magically play via EQ, you just play that lower limit louder - but the limit remains, and it won't play a lower frequency.
 
Cone break-up is when the inner part of the membrane and the middle part or edge of it does not vibrate in the same direction (piston-like over the entire audible range).
This can happen at frequencies above a few kHz already.
How severe (audible) that is depends on the membrane itself as well as its rear and front damping.

Ole Wolf has nice (exaggerated) simulations:
Comsol_mode_3D.gif
 
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At 220Hz (where there is still a lot of energy in music) the 1% is breached when 3V is applied (12mW) in the R70X
At 220Hz the 1% is breached at 1V (4mW).
This means the R70X can literally play twice as loud before it starts to distort.
Add to that there seems to be cone break-up (my conclusion) in the DT1990 that is much higher than that in the R70X.

So yes, the R70X can play at least twice as loud as the DT1990 before they distort about the same amount.
I think I am getting a grasp on what you are trying to say - could you tell me on 30Hz-35Hz what would the difference be?

I'd guess since one (DT1990) digs much lower than the other, the demands on it are much higher, hence the distortion when those sub-bass frequencies are played louder and louder. The other headphone doesn't bother to play them, hence no distortion. You don't get a lower frequency that's below the spec o a headphone ((or speaker) to magically play via EQ, you just play that lower limit louder - but the limit remains, and it won't play a lower frequency.
I see, thanks for explaining.
 
could you tell me on 30Hz-35Hz what would the difference be?

They will be quite similar in that range but bass notes usually have higher harmonics than fundamentals and these harmonics are what creates the 'tone'.
These harmonics are in the 80-300Hz range and the R70X simply goes louder there.

At these frequencies break-up is not an issue, linearity of the 'motor' (voicecoil + air-gap) is the biggest issue at the lowest frequencies.
 
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Okay so finally I got around to do the listening test - With Amir's EQ I had to go up to 73-75 volume in high gain on SMSL C200 for the driver to start falling appart at the test tone. What I heard was litterally crackling and distorted sound to the point I thought I'm probably damaging the driver. One thing to note is that low gain was safe all the way through (which in my case means that 2V didn't cause anything of concern).

With the preamp set to -6dB (to offset the EQ boosts but with Amir's EQ still applied) -> it was somewhere between 85 and 90 volume on the C200 in high gain where the same happened.

Needless to say I'll never listen to anything that loud (not even this test tone, were I not curious) - I usually listen to music 60-70 in low gain and it's perfectly fine. When gaming I have to go up to 90ish in low gain or 65-70 on high gain if the dynamic range setting is set higher depending on the game.

Anyways thanks to everyone that helped me gain a better understanding of the topic, I really appreciate it!

EDIT: This is not to say that nobody should listen at these levels or above - I ceartainly didn't feel I was doing some damage to my hearing by conducting this test with the sub-bass tone but it was still a bit unpleasant because it was way higher than I would ever listen. If someone prefers to listen to specific parts of the music at these volumes they would definitely run into distortion at the points I mentioned above (in sub-bass at least), but I think there are people (myself included) that would not listen at these levels or that even bother to turn up the volume for specific sequences.
 
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@DeDovla that's with DT 1990 and not R70x right? Did the crackling sound came very suddenly without much other slight signs of distortion? What frequency was the test tone?
 
@DeDovla that's with DT 1990 and not R70x right? Did the crackling sound came very suddenly without much other slight signs of distortion? What frequency was the test tone?

DT 1990 was used (I don't have an R70x) - Crackling sound came instantly as I started playing the sound at the volumes and the settings I posted above, before that I didn't notice anything that would be apparent and out of the ordinary that would make me say "Okay, this sounds bad/broken". The sound got louder but I didn't hear anything that would make it sound broken. The test tone was the one that comes around at 0:04 in the song that Amir posted (Terje Isungset - Fading Sun) which is probably around 30-35Hz as someone mentioned.

I forgot to mention I used a 16bit 44.1kHz FLAC file of the song loaded through Roon through which I applied the EQ and Preamp settings.

EDIT: Also to further clarify, I am not going to 100% say that there isn't any distortion introduced before the crackle (obviously the measurements say otherwise and I am not the one with "golden ears" that is going to refute objective data). Maybe with some other tracks at the volume above of what I'm usually listening at there would be cases where you can hear something doesn't sound right. But in this case nothing really stood out as sounding distorted with that 30-35Hz tone except when I reached those limits I posted above where the headphone became unusable and started crackling.

EDIT2: I tried Zero REDs as well they sound sounded similar to DT 1990 with the test tone when it was not crackling (I would not dare to play the Zero REDs loud though - headphones I can easily remove, IEMs not so much - I was just checking if something I've heard with DT 1990 might be distortion). However, now with Amir's EQ applied and no preamp when I crank up the volume on low gain and really high volume (90ish and above) I can notice distortion (maybe the driver got slightly damaged in the process of testing...). However with EQ and -6dB preamp there's no distortion and it's still above the level's I'd listen to regularly so even if I damaged it - it's still okay with EQ applied (preamp or no preamp).
 
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However, now with Amir's EQ applied and no preamp when I crank up the volume on low gain and really high volume (90ish and above) I can notice distortion (maybe the driver got slightly damaged in the process of testing...). However with EQ and -6dB preamp there's no distortion and it's still above the level's I'd listen to regularly so even if I damaged it - it's still okay.
Preamp prevents digital clipping (another form of distortion). You are better off using negative preamp if you boost anything with EQ.

What I do when testing limits is playing bass heavy track and turning up volume slowly until I hear distortion or it becomes uncomfortably loud. With any sign of trouble can just quickly turn volume knob down. I use +10 dB low shelf on sub bass (on top of Harman target) so I could hit the limit with most headphones and Amir's measurements generally align with what I experienced. For example DT880 measures poorly in distortion and it's the one headphone I have where when I want to listen a nice bass heavy part of a music loud it just can't do it.
 
@DeDovla that's with DT 1990 and not R70x right? Did the crackling sound came very suddenly without much other slight signs of distortion? What frequency was the test tone?
The AT you mention have less bass and also seem to distort heavily at higher volumes. Nothing new under the sun. I think the reason you didn't hear distortion is merely because the AT's can't produce a lot of subbass to begin with. The 1990s extension is also its downfall at loud levels. So it just comes down to picking what suits your listening habits best.
 
What I do when testing limits is playing bass heavy track and turning up volume slowly until I hear distortion or it becomes uncomfortably loud. With any sign of trouble can just quickly turn volume knob down.
Yeah I think I might've caused some damage with those crackles due to pushing it way too high (but I was not hearing any distortion until those crackles). As long as it doesn't impact my regular listening levels it's fine - otherwise I'd be shopping for a new headphone as we speak haha.

EDIT: Forgot to mention that with EQ I usually always use the preamp, I just wanted to hit the limit faster - see what happens in both cases.

I think the reason you didn't hear distortion is merely because the AT's can't produce a lot of subbass to begin with. The 1990s extension is also its downfall at loud levels. So it just comes down to picking what suits your listening habits best.
That was exactly my thought process about it.

Small edit to my original comment about testing (as I can't edit it anymore):
One thing to note is that low gain was safe all the way through (which in my case means that 2V didn't cause anything of concern).

Low gain (2V output) was safe on the C200 with Amir's EQ and -6dB preamp applied all the way through to max volume (no noticeable distortion). In high gain there was a bit more volume to be gained without distortion with the first anomaly (a slight pop in the right driver) started happening at 80-81 volume in high gain, at 83 the distortion was even more prominent and at 85-90 loud crackles can be heard (as described in the original comment).

Without -6dB preamp and EQ applied we encounter digital clipping - as such this is most probably not a fault of the headphone as we have digital clipping in play as well.

As far as if I damaged my headphone or not in the end I think I didn't as the driver is rated at 200mW and my C200 in high gain can at best pump out 6.1V-6.8V which at worst case is 184mW. It only seems I wasn't progressive enough with the volume knob and as such I hit the scary crackles before I heard distortion - but now I know better.

These are my definitive test results (I don't think I'll be editing any of my comments further). I'll go back now to enjoying my setup with the EQ and preamp applied :)

I am really grateful for Amir's testing and EQ settings it really helped me a lot to understand the data I'm looking at better and also to bring out the best possbile fidelity out of the gear that I have.
 
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Preamp prevents digital clipping (another form of distortion). You are better off using negative preamp if you boost anything with EQ.

What I do when testing limits is playing bass heavy track and turning up volume slowly until I hear distortion or it becomes uncomfortably loud. With any sign of trouble can just quickly turn volume knob down. I use +10 dB low shelf on sub bass (on top of Harman target) so I could hit the limit with most headphones and Amir's measurements generally align with what I experienced. For example DT880 measures poorly in distortion and it's the one headphone I have where when I want to listen a nice bass heavy part of a music loud it just can't do it.
Ha, that is a LOAD of bass you've got there! But for sure you'll be finding out the limits of headphones pretty easily with that bass boost!
 
Im fine with the flatbass, the treble peak that is troublesome but very easy to fix
 
This one seems has the most accurate subjective reviews, almost all reviews I read says it's good but too bright.
 
BTW the single biggest problem with these 'phones is the wretched little cables running from the top of the cups to the headband. I HATE anything that rubs against my ears and those cables surely do. Easily cable tied down but why should anyone have to do basic mods to a $500 headphone?
 
7 years ago I may have accidentally started the Dekoni elite velour measuring thing.

dt1990-3-usable-pads.png

tonally between the supplied pads. The 5kHz area dip/resonance appears to be pad related.
On this page you have a CSD waterfall for the DT 1990 Pro with the Dekoni Elite Velour pads that you say is "almost ideal." I'm considering purchasing the DT 1990 Pro with the Dekoni Elite Velour pads as well as the TYGR 300R acoustic-fleece discs to tame the treble (as you have commented that the DT 700/900 Pro X discs don't do enough). Have you done measurements with these two together? Would you happen to still have them on hand to measure if you haven't? Very interested to see how the acoustic-fleece discs might affect the CSD.
 
On this page you have a CSD waterfall for the DT 1990 Pro with the Dekoni Elite Velour pads that you say is "almost ideal." I'm considering purchasing the DT 1990 Pro with the Dekoni Elite Velour pads as well as the TYGR 300R acoustic-fleece discs to tame the treble (as you have commented that the DT 700/900 Pro X discs don't do enough). Have you done measurements with these two together? Would you happen to still have them on hand to measure if you haven't? Very interested to see how the acoustic-fleece discs might affect the CSD.
DT1990pro user here (with Dekoni Pads). Back then "solderdudes" review (amongst others) encouraged me to buy the DT1990pro.
It's a great sounding extremely informative headphone when EQed (and when listening to reasonable volume levels).
Personally I wouldn't use the fleece disc because - IMHO - the DT1990pro responds extremely well behaved to EQing.
Simply beacause a fleece disc is a broad correction while EQing can be more specific.

I wonder whether or not the over 100 "not terrible" voters actually listend to this headphone ;)
 
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