One of our favorite headphone brands of all time is at it again, this time with a very high-end open-back pair of studio headphones to enter the top-tier price-point, build and sound quality area of the audio world. We were given a pair of the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO to compile the following in-depth write-up on the pair of headphones today, and without getting too excited to try a new pair of their legendary DT series, were very happy in the end to say the least. If you’re one to need a an open-back pair of headphones that pays attention to nearly every detail of a pair of cans and have a decent budget to spend, these are a beautiful solution to add to your studio gear repertoire. Let’s get into the details.
Features of the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO
- Over-Ear, Open-Back design
- Single-sided, interchangeable cables (comes with two)
- 45-mm dynamic Tesla neodymium driver
- Replaceable ear pads (comes with two)
- Hard-shell carrying case included
- Weight: 13 ounces
- Frequency response: 5 Hz to 40 kHz
- Impedance: 250 Ohms
- Nominal SPL: 102 dB SPL
- Maximum SPL: 125 dB SPL
- Nominal Power Handling: 200 mW
The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO’s build
The first feature we’ll highlight when it comes to the overall build of the DT 1990 PRO is of course the open-back design. As you can see on the back of the ear cups here, we have numerous openings guarded by the back plate with a mesh-like protective cover underneath to keep our circuitry safe while at the same time giving us that required leakage of sound. For those unaware of this particular type of headphone, open-back headphones allow some sound to leak out through those openings for a reason — as compared to their closed-back competitors, it entails we suffer less ear fatigue and decreases the chances of frequency build-up (closed-back does so usually with the low-end). We prefer open-back headphones in the studio setting for just about everything except recording, regardless of what it may be (yes, even leisure listening and enjoyment if we can).
The DT 1990 PRO are very durable here with zero signs of any plastic anywhere. Beyer did a great job with every nook and cranny of the overall build, and included aluminum end pieces and ear cup covers, metal yokes, as well as a ‘smart headband’ that contours to our head yet is also padded with a very soft, leather-like material. Lastly, we can’t forget about the ear pads of these things. Studio headphones are typically hit and miss with their ear pads, and we’re ones to prefer fatter and thicker pads when it comes to comfort. Not only with how they feel, pads can actually affect the sound of our mix as well. The entire DT series has been legendary when it comes to pad make, and their thicker-than-average and soft, plush material feels like a fancy bath towel if we had to compare to any everyday item for your measurement. Putting these on had a bit of a tight grip but it made sense — the headband’s padding, thick ear cups and metal skeleton all combine for an extremely comfortable and personal fit, a necessary feel for those hard at concentration on the look out for audio detail. The ear cups fit over our entire ear and once we were able to adjust the headband to our big noggins, we had a very intimate listening and production experience when using the DT 1990 PRO in our home studio.
The cables here give us versatility, although first noticeably have a thicker-than-normal build as compared to some cheaper headphones out there — it isn’t the stereotypical slick cable many are used to but instead has a rougher, yet smooth and sturdy feel to it. On top of that, we have some versatility for switching out our cables — one 3 meter straight as well as a 5 meter (when stretched) coiled for some wiggle room in the studio while we record. Beyer also gives us a standard 1/4″ adapter just in case, although we have more of these scattered throughout our studio than pens.
Lastly, the build of the case isn’t necessarily the ‘hardest’ we’ve ever come across, so if you let’s say run over this with a car, it won’t hold up. However, most accidents in this setting, such as dropping some heavy gear on it by accident, will definitely keep the headphones protected. Most noticeably we love the size of this case to fit not only our DT 1990 PRO but cables and replacement ear pads as well. It even has a space for ear pads as you can see. Very impressed with the overall build as well as size of this carrying case — we definitely don’t recommend carrying these headphones around by themselves considering the price.
Sound of the DT 1990 PRO headphones
As excited as we were to get to actually using these things, we weren’t sure where to start when it comes to describing the overall experience and sound here. The most noticeable feature to write about first is the spatial reproduction. Although a pretty subjective term and will depend on the actual person’s experience, when listening to a variety of genres as well as mixing our own music, we felt something many lower-end headphones just don’t give — a better sound environment that began to mimic the spatial information and acoustic location of some of the instruments in the mix. For example, the hats sounded as if they had an actual location in our highs, coming in at the ‘top’ of the mix, while the bass drum in the ‘lower’ parts of our tracks. This is when higher-end studio headphones start to dominate lower-end models that just can’t hold up. Engineers will know what we’re talking about here and those who are still new to the mixing realm, you’ll see for yourself once you start to use a pair of headphones like this. It starts to separate the wannabes from the hard hitters, and this is all due to the design and driver make, which we’ll expand upon a bit later.
So how about the overall mix? Let’s first talk highs, and keep in mind the two different replacement pads will alter this a bit, so we tried the default ear pads for this section. The highs weren’t over-the-top bright but as previously stated in our spatial reproduction test, had a very nice presence and their own say in the song. They come off as a bit warmer that some other studio headphones we’ve tried. Next, the lows rested on the bottom-end of our mix typically, and although warm, weren’t thumpy or crunchy at all to overtake the mix as a whole. No embellishment here for a very accurate and flat response. The mids also had a say in the overall picture the DT 1990 PRO’s painted, and in particularly testing some female vocal tracks came in quite clear to us.
The 45 mm Tesla drivers of the DT 1990 PRO here are a special type, and although we’re not ones to bring driver size into the mix of analyzing headphones and their value, we have to at this end of the spectrum when it comes to price and quality, especially open-back pairs of headphones. The 45 mm does give us confidence we have some extra wiggle room and air flow inside, and the fact that we have the larger number in our favor doesn’t hurt (especially with that ultra-wide frequency response). However for the DT 1990 PRO, the Tesla driver technology is what’s key here. Of course, the padding you ultimately choose to go with (permanently or at least for a particular setting as you go) will also affect the sound, and in particular tuning overall.
To understand, think of what “Tesla” actually means, and no, isn’t the company that produces electric cars. It’s the unit of measurement to gauge magnetic induction (or magnetic influx) in the SI system. Fancy, right? We’ll skip the further technical jargon and spell it out — the driver’s have a cleaner and more advanced magnetic drive that ultimately aids in the reproduction of sound, especially with a lower degree of total harmonic distortion. The voice coils are a bit more responsive than normal to help with detail richness while the utilization of energy increases so we can play music louder without distorting or affecting the clarity of our mix. This is of course explained in a nutshell. However, combine this technology with the driver size, extra wide frequency response, power handling and we have confidence with its technical and internal build, especially for audio production purposes, in particular mixing, and mastering.
Additional standouts of the DT 1990 PRO
The interchangeable cables here are big for not only longevity of life but versatility in the studio as well. More noticeable is the actual locking mechanism for the cables themselves. Whereas many ‘studio headphones’ indeed come with interchangeable cables that simply ‘snap’ in place, Beyer has a higher-end, three-pin connection that mimics XLR cables in needing a perfect fit alongside a locking piece. To take the cable out, you’ll have to actually press on the smaller locking piece and pull on the cable simultaneously to get them out, which helped us in the long run never worry about the cable falling out. It took us a few minutes to get the hang of replacing the cables but to us this was ultimately a good sign since what’s hard to get in will be hard to take out.
A big plus with just about every Beyer headphone is the fact that nearly every component of these headphones are replaceable. From the cables, headband, yokes, and of course, ear pads. The fact that the DT 1990 PRO already comes with two replacement ear pads in the box was lovely; however, there’s a bit more advanced use of them. As stated previously, you can change them out depending on your sound needs, since one is tuned to analytical sound (dark grey) and the other balanced (light grey). When using the pads to test the sound, it was relatively noticeable, with the balanced pads showing a slight bass boost and the light grey sound a bit more flat and neutral, in our opinion.
Concluding the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO review
All in all, we were extremely happy with what these headphones bring to the table, not only due to the extremely nice build and longevity we’ll be attaining when buying them, but also with the very neutral, flat, balanced and spatially-aware sound we’ll attain for our music endeavors. As compared to some other open-back headphones or even studio headphones in general, not many come close to the combination of features the DT 1990 PRO bring, especially within this price-point. The only con here would perhaps be the price, but for those who are actually in need of a pair of open-reference studio headphones this high in quality, you’ll most likely need to be saving up some cash to invest in one of the most important parts of audio production — how we hear our mix.
The overall sound here is what’s key — if you’re serious about mixing, mastering or even producing (as we stated previously, open-back is the way to go when making beats, instrumentals, etc.), this could perhaps take your music to the next level. While other, cheaper headphones can be fine for making music or even mixing with, being able to create a spatially-secure sound and balanced mix for our audience goes a long way and can make or break a song. Especially with these new Tesla drivers Beyer has been including in their latest headphone releases (such as their Aventho Wireless we just reviewed), we love the overall experience the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO bring, even if you just want to take your leisure music enjoyment to the next level. We didn’t want to take these off and send back to Beyerdynamic, but reluctantly did so when the time came. We’ll be keeping this in mind when it’s time to upgrade our current open-back setup, or perhaps add these to our toolbox when the time comes.