Today I’m zoning in on two sets of Beyerdynamic DT Pro headphones: the DT 990 Pro ($179 MSRP) and the DT 1990 Pro ($599 MSRP) respectively. These are true ‘cans’ as the slang would have it, big, bold ear covers that enrapture your head in a contemporary sound universe. I’ve got a slew of new sounds to test out and these sets seem like the type that will stand up to my tone test and the unusual nuances of a musical spectrum. Perhaps you caught our last trio of reviews of this brand back in March, but if you missed it here you go. These are acoustically open sets that already have a reputation, and I am looking forward to popping them on and diving right into the music, so fire away…
MODEL: DT 990 Pro
COST: $; exceptionally decent price for a high quality pro headset
DESIGN: Clean and simple linear design on the big round cans, durable plastic and metal body and only slightly bulky, but this choice feels purposeful. They sport cushy comfy gray velour earcups and a soft pleather headband. The coiled cable gives these a slight retro vibe, and I appreciate the flexibility in cord length.
- 250 ohms
- Professional version of the many times awarded “DT 990”
- Extremely lightweight diaphragm for superb impulse performance
- Excellent sound reproduction
- Robust, easy serviceable construction as all parts are replaceable
- 3.0 m (9.8 ft.) coiled cable (single sided)
- Including drawstring bag
COMFORT: These have a reasonable weight and medium pressure though feel fairly light. You will be aware of having them on your noggin at first but after about ten minutes their presence becomes impressively part of your natural motion, kind of like wearing a ballcap, even while wearing glasses.
EXTRAS: Ear cushion velour; Gold plated stereo jack plug (3.5 mm) & 1/4″ adapter (6.35 mm); drawstring bag.
SOUNDTEST: I recently reviewed the latest from BLK w/BEAR, though a bonus EP disc (// TH E AB YSS STA RE S BA CK AT Y OU //, 2018) was available to special subscribers, so that is first up. I chose this short set because there are incredible complex layers of understated electronics and minimal effects. These ‘phones capture many minor yet distinct qualities in the crackle, hiss, and open air atmosphere. Sonny Stitt‘s Cherokee (The Complete Roost Sonny Stitt Studio Sessions, recorded 1950) sounds fantastic here too, clear and robust with every solo (bass, piano, brass, percussion) nicely defined. The bareness of the recording and its hipsway jazz style is direct and earnest, and the sound is crystal clear and one step short of the real deal live feel. These come really close to the best sounding set for jazz I’ve placed upon ye olde cranium.
I’m rocking out to Blondie‘s Pollinator (2017) now. And stop to notice that when the volume is up there (75% or more) that the sound clearly bleeds some into the room, as to be expected. But when these are on my ears I notice how less twee Debbie Harry’s voice sounds when brought closer to my ears, and how much more dynamic Clem Burke’s drumkit bangs out the beats. I’m in a happy place just as she sings “Are you happy? Does it take a long time, does it make you upset, does it make you feel everybody wants to be your friend….” from the single Long Time. The clarity is midrange, but I was unable to get too much excess volume, so for that I feel the sound is somewhat contained. Mind you, I do not own a headphone amp, which I think may further benefit the overall braod range these may offer. It could also possibly be the computer, my hearing (to a limited extent) or other alien tech spec particulars (MP3 vs WAV vs crappy download), so I don’t want to blame these for sounding so good. You will most certainly retire your crappy Creative computer speakers ( I should) after one spin on these Beyerdynamics.
So I throw on a few tracks from Ron Trent from his collection Scientific Methods Of Storytelling Vol. 1 (2011, Future Vision) – and a happy medium has been found. Here, the beats take over in an acid-y Detroit house classic style, the highhats, the synthy breaks, his Pressure Release is all but that, a fine funky concoction. And aided by these headphones I’m lost in the music, right where I want to be. The dance beats meets fusion vibe here need to be crisp like this to notice every last tweak and overdub. It’s all there, all the acoustic love a brand can muster.
Last up is a new video just out from the upcoming release by indie duo Lost Under Heaven and their track Bunny’s Blues (on Mute). While wearing these its hard to ignore the edgy rock showcased with a paced guitar, a bump n’ grind attitude, all cemented by the velvety female vocal snarl and b-movie effects. The audio here generated a literal buzz almost throughout, which translated into a visceral experience but a minor loss in clarity and dimension. However the serrated edge of the band’s sound was firmly provoked by these headphones.
MODEL: DT 1990 Pro
DESIGN: Slightly heavier than the other pair but only by a nominal skosh; headband has a very soft lambskin leather-like material (I think it’s one of those special vegan leathers); there have a nice ratio of metal to high quality plastic; all parts are replaceable. The kit comes with a really nice hardshell protection case (sadly minus a handle of some kind) with a sweet cut out for the set and both a coiled and straight cable for those who require options.
- Open-back studio reference headphones for mixing and mastering
- Handcrafted in Germany
- 250 ohms, 45-mm dynamic Tesla neodymium driver
- Single-sided, detachable cable with mini-XLR connector
- Soft, replaceable ear pads and headband for long, drawn-out studio sessions
- Included accessories: two pairs of velour ear pads with different sound characteristics (analytical and balanced), two pairs of cables (3 m straight and coiled cable), premium hard case
COMFORT: I have small ears, but even a larger set would feel in total comfort in thee earcups – once you set the spring steel headband in place the velour covers feel quite cushy on your head. These seal away so much ambient noise, and are preferred by sound mixer/masters for the purpose of recording in a studio environment – but these are awesome for just sitting in your den, or office while listening to your favorite tunes for hours on end.
EXTRAS: For the lockable cables you have two: a 3 m / straight cable or 5 m / coiled cable (stretched), each detachable with a 3-pin mini XLR cable connector, single-sided; the connections consist of an old-plated mini stereo jack (3.5 mm) & 1/4″ adapter (6.35 mm) for both sets of cables. These come with a nice carrying case (mentioned above) that has a separate zipper pouch built in as well as a bonus set of replaceable earpads too.
SOUNDTEST: These circumaural open reference studio headphones feel like you are donning a true boutique headset like a pro. For starters I am playing something from Cologne, Sonae‘s latest record I Started Wearing Black (2018) because it is chock-full of beats and a bevy of subtle electronic wizardry. This is where these cans show off their dynamic range and bit of burrowing bass without extra boost buttons or apps. You hear the sizzling crackle and range of playful effects, and simultaneously it seems as though you are in the same room as if in a small to medium range room (an installation-like feel), somewhat contained. The experimental aspects stand out more than on some decent speakers here, the creaking percussion and atonal piano play on White Trash Rouge Noir is unique and funky.
Norwegian electronic duo Pjusk makes expansive flowing ambient and minimal techno sounds, and I’ve got the Shibuya ep (2016) on next. The fiesty beats of Hiro sounds as if I am listening to this few year old disc for the first time. I hear the highs and the lows and vocal impressions on a level playing field instead of the percussion taking center stage. This is an important distinction in electronic music, because there are often layers of drone, and other funk and circumstance to break down — these ‘phones make those distinctions more evident allowing you to appreciate subtle fleeting samples and such.
Germany’s Karlrecords has recently released an epic compilation that pays homage to Karl Marx’s 200th! (2018) while showing off some wildly original sound artists, pioneers and other noise wielders. The thing with recordings that are bathed in effects, field recordings and things that go bump and make you go hmmmm, is that again, it’s all in the most subtle of details. So when you are listening to a buzzsaw, open ended feedback, drill, drone, someone pounding away on metal like Guido Möbius here, you sense the entire mishegas. Schneider TM masks his sources on his completely quirky Hand in den Mund which has stops/starts and spaces of minimal crackle between. In actuality it is made from “samples of sounds of the mouth (the title translates as “from hand into mouth”, a German phrase for having little income / savings and as money comes it goes straight away again to cover the bills etc.” The range is stunning here, I hear all the see-saw hijinks and contorted tape reversals. The contact mic that picked this up now can shine sweeter as delivered through the DT 1990 Pro.
Now, for the everyday typical spin. On Stanley Turrentine‘s Let It Go (Impulse, 1967) his sweet sax is nicely complemented by Shirley Scott’s funky jazz organ and Mack Simpkins’ cooly backlit drums. You can hear every key, chord and cloud of breath. And when a little volume is added to fill your headspace these do not disappoint delivering with clarity and sweet separation. I’m unsure if it’s just my body heat or physical response to the music, but these warm my ears a lil’ not to the point of sweating, but if these were my regular pair I think I’d need to likely replace the earpads on an annual basis. I’m quite hot headed and warm blooded if that is any consolation. And these headphones rev me way up. A serious contender for top fistful I’ve tested, worth the price of admission.