[Review] Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

As someone who owns both the 1990 and the 58X I have to say that switching between them is challenging. One makes the other sound bright and metallic and vice versa one makes the other sound dull.

The 1990 deviates quite a bit from what most people would consider neutral, but if you get used to the signature and don’t compare it to other headphones or speakers, the tuning is actually quite well thought out and coherent.

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yes the brain burns in and should not be bothered with constant changes - you are totally right

my IEMs(Tin Hifi T2 Pro+T3) and loudspeakers (KEF Q100 for nearfield) are comparable in points like brightness and soundstage to the 1990s

my old AKG K701s are also quite known for stage and brightness

after listening to some higher end cans… I stopped using for 1990s the “detailed, balanced and natural” but keep describing them as “FAST”

EDIT: male, 43years old and sure not the best ears on this planet from lots of years in my twens as “semi-roadie” for concerts in munich and as security on the door without earplugs, big car audio enthusiast… always listened way too loud music. Not the best source for neutrality

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I would say that the 1990 are not neutral but are tuned in a way that makes it easy to adjust them (via EQ) to your own personal taste. I would also say that they are very good at making it easy to be able to spot differences in recordings etc.

Without getting model specific, for many years Genelec (for home and studio) and Meyer Sound (for live purposes) have been my favourite speakers and I find that they, as with the 1990, can both have very harsh highs if the music being reproduced is also harsh in those frequencies. The thing I have found that I like with the 1990 (as with Genelec and Meyer) is that you can adjust the sound signature quite easily as there is nothing missing, nothing is hidden, therefore nothing needs boosting.

I do not think that the DT1990 are a great relaxing set of headphones, at least not without adjustment, but for mixing and producing they have grown on me very quickly.

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Great insight! The thing that still throws me about the 1990 is that it does timbre really well. Yes it’s really bright, but most instruments and voices still sound very realistic and believable. I think that means that it has a very well balanced mid-range despite the elevated treble.

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Yeah that’s my sense as well. They do one thing so wrong, but so many other things extremely well.

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DT 1990 PRO REVIEW

Written by Chrono

Review unit provided by Headphones.com

Introduction

The DT 1990 Pro, which retails for $599, is the successor to Beyerdynamic’s very popular DT 990 Pro. Like its predecessor, the DT 1990 Pro is a dynamic, open-back headphone that is designed for studio reference, mixing, and mastering. Since its introduction in 2016, the DT 1990 Pro has been repeatedly praised for its resolution and ability to highlight errors made in the recording and mastering process. In this review, I want to find out whether or not the DT 1990 Pro lives up to that reputation.

Sources and Music Used in Listening Tests

The Amplifier/DAC used in this review was the JDS Labs Element II connected via USB to my desktop computer. For the listening tests I used music from a wide variety of genres including Rock, Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Hip-Hop, and latin. I played tracks from my own FLAC library as well as from Tidal streaming service (HiFi/Master Quality).

What’s in the Box?

The DT 1990 Pro comes packed with what us guitarists call “case candy.” Included with the DT 1990 Pro are a plethora of accessories. For starters you get a hardshell case that can keep the DT 1990 Pro’s secure on-the-go. Admittedly, the case is very large, so I would not describe it as portable. However, I still think that it is a nice addition to the package that will at least keep the DT 1990 Pro safe should you find yourself traveling with them. Also included in the box are two sets of ear pads. The first set comes installed on the DT 1990 Pro by default, and are what Beyerdynamic calls “balanced” pads. The second set of pads are the “analytical” pads, and this is designated by the number of perforations on the pad’s reverse side. Lastly, you also get two sets of cables. Both cables are 3-pin mini XLR to 3.5mm, and they each include their own ⅛” to ¼” thread-on adapter. The difference between the cables is that one is a 5m coiled cable, whilst the other one is 3m straight cable.

Power Requirements

Thanks to the use of Beyrdynamic’s Tesla Magnet technology, the DT 1990 Pro’s are actually more efficient and easier to drive than its predecessor, the DT 990 Pro. Despite the boost in efficiency, I still find myself needing a discrete headphone amplifier to get the DT 1990 Pro to my preferred listening level. Without an amplifier there was not enough volume headroom, and the headphone’s dynamic range sounded a little compressed to me. Still, I think that amplifiers like the Liquid Spark and JDS Labs Atom will be more than enough to drive these cleanly.

Build Quality and Comfort

The DT 990 Pro was already a very well put together headphone with the durability of the tank, and thankfully, the same is true for the DT 1990 Pro. The new design that Beyerdynamic used on the DT 1990 Pro is very impressive. It is made almost entirely out of metal, yet the headphone remains fairly lightweight at a cool 370g. Additionally, all the moving parts on the headphone’s chassis feel smooth, and they do not feel like they will begin to rattle or loosen up any time soon.

Whilst it is not as comfortable as the DT 990 Pro, the DT 1990 Pro’s comfort is still outstanding. The headband provides ample padding for the top of your head, and distributes weight very well. Both of the included sets of pads provide plenty of comfort, and they use an unbelievably soft velour. However, the density of the foam used inside is slightly different on both of them. The “Balanced” pads seem to use a denser foam inside, which makes them a little stiffer; I think that the “Analytical” pads were more comfortable. The only complaints I have for comfort is that the clamp force on these is a little high out of the box, and it put a bit of stress on my jaw. It was not as high as on 600-series Sennheisers mind you, but it could still cause discomfort for some users.

Sound

I will start off by saying that I personally found the DT 1990 Pro’s sound signature to be pretty good. However, it has some pretty serious issues in the treble that do not make the listening experience particularly enjoyable, and I felt like it really needed EQ for it to sound normal. For this sound section I will go over the DT 1990 Pro’s tonality and technical performance. For the majority of my listening I used the Analytical pads, as I found them to be somewhat closer to my personal preference target than the Balanced pads. Still, I did also test the DT 1990 Pro with the balanced pads and I will detail how they affected sound. I will also be drawing comparisons to headphones like the Audeze LCD-1, Sennheiser HD 660S, and HiFiMan Sundara since they are all close in technical performance, and somewhat close in price.

Bass

For an open-back, dynamic headphone close to the $500 range, the DT 1990 Pro’s bass is actually fairly impressive. The DT 1990 Pro’s bass actually has very good extension, it only begins to gently roll off at around 40hz. This is a very significant improvement over the DT 990 Pro, which began to roll off in a very steep fashion at around 70hz. The DT 1990 Pro’s bass is also quite fast, making its bass almost as detailed as on the planar-magnetic LCD-1 and Sundara. Additionally, the dynamics in the bass are very good for the DT 1990 Pro; they have a very good punch and slam quality. The only issue I have with this region of the DT 1990 Pro’s frequency response is that there is an elevation in the upper bass that bleeds into the lower mids and takes away some of the cleanliness in the mix. When using the balanced pads, the overall bass level was raised by one or two decibels, but at the cost of some definition. I thought that with the balanced pads the bass sounded a little bloated, and it also emphasized the upper bass elevation. Regardless I still thought the bass was very good with the Analytical pads, and I struggle to think of another dynamic, open-back headphone in this price range that can reproduce bass this well.

Whilst the bass is very good overall on the DT 1990 Pro, I do make a few adjustments with EQ. The first one is that I add a peak filter at 30hz to alleviate some of the roll off. I also use a low shelf to raise the bass’s level as it was a little on the leaner side for my preference. Lastly, I reduce the area at around 250hz to clean up the upper bass and lower mids. Altogether, these changes increase the DT 1990 Pro’s bass’s presence, depth, and sense of definition.

Mids

The midrange on the DT 1990 Pro sees considerable improvement from that of the DT 990 Pro. For the most part, I think that the midrange on the DT 1990 Pro is very tonally accurate; especially when you EQ out the elevation in the upper bass. I find the entire midrange to have a very good tonal balance, it was full-bodied and had an adequate amount of presence in the region between 3k to 5k. There were no particular areas of the frequency response that really stood out to me on the DT 1990 Pro. However, to me it sounded as though 2.5k maybe had a little more energy than it should, making some singers sound nasally, and some instruments (electric guitars and brass instruments mostly) sound somewhat “honky.” The timbre of the midrange was also very good; it was very natural, and a great improvement over the DT 990 Pro’s slightly metallic timbre. For resolution I think that the DT 1990 Pro has fairly detailed mids. They are slightly more resolving in this region of the frequency response than the LCD-1 and Sundara, although they are not quite as resolving as the HD 660S in the midrange. Using the balanced pads actually seemed to reduce that 2.5k peak, but it also made the entire midrange sound far too recessed, so I personally did not like the way it sounded; especially when taking into account the elevation in the bass that those pads provided.

Highs

Without a doubt, the DT 1990 Pro’s highs are its frequency response’s most controversial region. There seems to be two different schools of thought surrounding the DT 1990 Pro’s highs. The first one is that the treble on the DT 1990 Pro is “very revealing of errors in recordings,” so much so that if anything sounds unpleasant in a recording, it is because of their “phenomenal detail retrieval.” The second one is that the DT 1990 Pro’s treble is “drastically over-sharpened,” giving it a “false sense of detail.”

My personal opinion after testing out the DT 1990 Pro supports the latter.

I find the highs on the DT 1990 Pro to be very problematic, and fatiguing to listen to. The biggest issue is a large peak in excess of 11dB at 8.5k. This peak has a couple of different effects in the overall sound of the DT 1990 Pro. The first one is that it adds what sounds like what I can only describe as shimmer to whatever you listen to. This “shimmer” is what I think contributes the most to the perception that the DT 1990 Pro is a highly-detailed headphone. The 8.5K peak also adds a sizzle-like quality to the sound, and it becomes very obvious when toggling EQ on and off. Lastly, it makes the consonants (S and T sounds in particular) incredibly sibilant and piercing to listen to. I actually find this very unfortunate for the DT 1990 Pro because this one peak throws off the headphone’s tonal balance completely. If this peak was not there, or if it was at least smaller in size, the DT 1990 Pro would actually be a pretty enjoyable headphone. What I find ironic is that, to me, this peak at 8.5k actually hides a lot of other elements in the mix, instead of revealing them. An example of this is that I was listening to Arne Domnérus’record Jazz at the Pawnshop, which is supposed to capture the energy of a performance because it was recorded live. Naturally, this would mean that you would hear ambient sounds, as well as the audience. However, when listening on the DT 1990 Pro, without EQ, those ambient sounds would sometimes be completely drowned out by the sizzle that was produced by the overly-elevated treble.

Now, the 8.5k peak is the DT 1990 Pro’s most prominent peak, but it is not the only one. There is also a small peak at 5.5k that adds some audible glare and also emphasizes some of the “honky” quality I mentioned in the midrange. Frequency response aside, the resolution in the DT 1990 Pro’s highs is not actually that bad. Still, it lags behind the LCD-1, Sundara, and HD 660S for clarity in the highs; all those other headphones are more resolving, and have a better tonal balance. The Balanced pads do not really affect the highs all that much. However, they sounded a little more forward to me because the mids sounded so much more recessed.

Soundstage and Imaging

Soundstage is an area where I think the DT 1990 Pro performs very well. It has a very spacious and evenly distributed soundstage. In terms of width, it easily outclasses that of the LCD-1, Sundara and HD 660S. The imaging on the DT 1990 Pro is also very good, as it makes it very easy to accurately discern the direction from which sounds originate. Like the DT 990 Pro, these two qualities in particular make the DT 1990 Pro an outstanding option for those looking for an open-back solution for gaming, especially for first-person shooters. Surprisingly I found instrument separation on the DT 1990 Pro rather unimpressive. Whilst its ability to image is great, the layering of elements in tracks was not always the cleanest; particularly when there were several tracks originating from the same direction within the soundstage.

Dynamics

Dynamics is another area where the DT 1990 Pro performs really well. The driver in the DT 1990 Pro actually has very good excursion, giving the bass an enjoyable, immediate impact. Micro dynamics are also very good. Listening to things like piano keystrokes, guitar string plucks or xylophone strikes, they all have a good sense of pressure and tension behind. In a way you can kind of feel the weight with which the instruments are played; it makes for a more engaging listening experience. In this category I think that they actually outperform the Sundara, LCD-1, and HD 660S.

EQ

I have mentioned EQ extensively throughout the course of this review, and it is because I sincerely think that the DT 1990 Pro both needs and drastically improves from it. As previously noted, the bass and mids really do not need that much EQ–for those regions it is mostly fine-tuning. However, the highs really need some adjustment before I can actually enjoy listening to them. Luckily the DT 1990 actually takes really well to EQ, and they do not retain too much of its original characteristics in the treble. This is my EQ for the DT 1990 Pro, which you can input into your EQ software of choice:

Peak at 30hz, +1dB Q of 1

Low Shelf at 100hz, +2dB Q of 0.7

Peak at 250hz, -2dB Q of 1.8

Peak at 2500hz, -3dB Q of 2

Peak at 5500hz, -6dB Q of 4

Peak at 8500hz, -11dB Q of 4

Conclusion

I will be completely honest and say that I actually quite enjoy the DT 1990 Pro after EQ. However, getting it to the point where I find it enjoyable and close to my personal target curve requires a lot of EQ. Still, I think that even after EQ, it does not really perform as well as other headphones in the $500 price range. Furthermore, at its MSRP of $600 it gets dangerously close in price to the Focal Elex and price-dropped HiFiMan Ananda; both headphones that handily outperform it in nearly every category. Now, you have to keep in mind that this is from the perspective of someone who is only listening to them with music-listening in mind. The DT 1990 Pro’s are aimed more for studio use, which I am unfamiliar with–they might be amazing for that application. Nonetheless, if you can find the DT 1990 Pro at $450 or under, I think it might still be worth considering. After all, it greatly improves with EQ, has incredible build quality, and it does provides good technical performance.

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Great review, as usual, @Chrono. Do you have this one yourself? There’s a lot of hype for this headphone.

But personally, I’d give the T1 a shot instead, i.e., pay the extra $150 and see what happens. :wink:

If you ever listen to one, let us know.

Cheers.

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Yes, I currently have the DT 1990 on Loan from Headphones.com, thought I would share my experience with it since it’s very popular! I have not heard much about the T1–I might try it out some day.

Thanks for checking out the review!

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Really great review @Chrono.

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another very good review @Chrono

Thank you for it. I also prefer the Analytical pads on “my wife’s” DT 1990 Pro. I bought it for me and now she uses it more. Compared to the 660s, the 6xx and the 58x it is more engaging. Though if you start comparing it to the Ananda, the Elegia or even the HEDDphone, it falls behind.
With a bit of EQ and the AKG 240 foam inserts, it is still far from perfect, though not that bad and a fun listen.

Sorry you and I did not have had the chance to listen to it via a Tube Amp :slight_smile:

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hahaha sory to hear your DT 1990 has drifted away from you :rofl:

Also, yes I thin that with EQ they are definitely enjoyable and engaging… I just don’t know if it is worth $600 (current price in the US).

At $400 it would be a very good alternative, at least I think so.

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Here in good all germany they get thrown after you for around 430- 480. Used you can get them for under 400 sometimes…

and they are build so well - one could :hammer: some thick badass nails with it into some hard wood- not that I would think anybody would come to the idea :no_good_man:
and I want to live in the rubbery case!! Feels so good

Agreed, the build is incredible on these! Also, I know it doesn’t matter that much, but I think they look very nice, too!

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I need it pretty and listen with my eyes by a big amount
My wife loves it’s look and she is a stylish person

She easily gets headaches and migrene… the clamp on these is not weak, though she also loves the comfort

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Have you ever heard the T1, Herr Martin?

PS.: Sorry if this is off topic.

I have, but it is very long ago - like 2 years or so … at our local store around my corner … not the best conditions … out of a Questyle CMA 400i, if I remember correctly - not the most analytical DAC/Amp, which could have helped both headphones

I was a huge fan of the T1 Gen2, but also was for the 1990 Pro, before I knew better - so take it with a grain of salt

If I remember correct and this is with the A-Pads on the 1990 Pro … wait! I have commented this somewhere else!
this is what I wrote a year ago - LoL:

“1990s are a tad less wide in soundstage. Imaging is perfect on both
T1 extend less at lows than 1990s with the “balanced pads” but are way better controlled
with analytical pads the lows are very good controlled and are maybe less “fun”… more real?
Midrange is superb on both
highs are Beyers Highs - what I like.
Timbre on both is excellent.
Both are very fast.”

so better ask someone else

I don´t get the design of the T1 Gen 2, they really could modernize it

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Thanks @MartinTransporter. That one is on my radar mainly for 2 reasons: it can be run balanced and it’s high impedance (even though it’s a rather efficient driver). Price would be a 3rd.


Back to topic, having seen a couple of Beyer FR graphs, it seems very easy to EQ them in general. I guess all one needs is a single low shelf knob (parametric) or two frequencies in a graphic EQ to remove the excess of treble – if needed.

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About the EQ part it’s kinda like yes, but also no. I mean, very literally yes, you can definitely just dip out the peaks with EQ. However, the changes aren’t always perfect. On the 990 Pro they were still a little sharp, they retained some of that edge in the highs. The DT 1990 Pro sounds a little odd after EQ, maybe a little too dark. It also has this effect that after EQ, vocals begin to sound very distant compared to without EQ and to other headphones. Before EQ vocals sound very present, but it’s only because their harmonics are blown out of proportion.

I guess I don’t know what I’m trying to say here hahaha. I suppose that it’s “EQ is good, but the effectiveness of the results vary per headphone.”

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Inspired by @Chrono’s review above, along with other opinions regarding this headphone, I stopped for a while to put this headphone into perspective and think about how I actually use the DT1990 Pro and what I think of it.

I have owned the Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro for approximately 18 months now and together with the Sennheiser HD6XX, they have become my reference point for over ear headphones, certainly not because they are perfect but because they are the headphones that I use mainly.

The sound signature of these two headphones,along with their strengths and weaknesses, are completely different between themselves, therefore I am not going to go into comparisons between them, I am going to focus on what I think of the DT1990 itself and the circumstances in which I actually use this headphone.

Let me start off by saying that my experience in the audio world has been extensive but not really headphone related until recently, where I finally moved over to listening to headphones due to changes in my personal life. Audio has been both my job for over 20 years and my hobby for far longer, starting out as a vocalist (I don’t think I can use the term singer as it was Hip-Hop music) and getting onstage for the first time at 16, although I remember getting my first “HiFi” system at a very early age of about 6 years old (which certainly wouldn’t be considered HiFi now).

Over the years I have worked mainly in the install of large audio systems for theatres and show lounges, while also working on live events, in studios and other smaller places. At the same time, outside of my main job, I was performing on stage until around 5 years ago when I decided that I needed more sleep, having moved from being a vocalist (or a fast talker with rhythm :wink: ) to a bassist, with a few years as DJ thrown in the middle.

Why am I rambling on so much about all this? Well, I think that it is important to put into context that my history in the audio field has been much more related to live and studio terms than it has been sitting back and enjoying recorded music. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved listening to music and have done since a child, but my music equipment purchases and experiences have been focused on equipment to be used as tools with the personal listening experience taking a secondary role. As an example, my home audio system until a few years ago was a 10.000W PA system that I would set up on my patio (needless to say I didn’t have neighbours then!).

So, on to the headphones… finally!

It has been a long time since my unboxing experience of them, so I can’t really give you a first impression, but I can say that the headphones were well packaged, with a nice selection of useful accessories in the box (such as a carrying case, two cables, two sets of pads) but packed in a way that is functional and simple.

The two cables included were one straight and the other coiled. Although I am probably in a minority, I actually like coiled cables, especially for studio use, as it saves a lot of “ooops” moments when turning around or reaching over to press something.

The carrying case is again very functional, it not only stores the headphones but also includes a space for the cable and adaptor, along with a compartment for the set of pads that you are not using. This is very handy to keep everything together and while I wouldn’t consider the DT1990 as portable, it makes it easy to grab everything together when moving between studios or similar.

As far as build, the DT1990 are a headphone that seem to have been built to be abused. I have not abused them personally, but they are certainly not headphones that I would be worried about handing over to anyone to use, I think you would have to really try hard to break them. They are practically metal in their whole construction, you have to really search to find anything plastic on them, and have a fair bit of weight to them due to this. At the same time, they are well balanced as far as comfort and the weight doesn’t really become an issue, at least for me.

Sound…

Here is where I might go off track in comparison to many of the other reviews regarding these headphones. That is mainly because I am looking at these from a tool point of view more than a enjoyment part of view (although I do enjoy playing around with music), I will explain a little more about this in a moment, but here is what I find in regards to the sound…

As mentioned, there are two sets of pads included with the DT1990’s, named “Analytical” and “Balanced”. I am not going to comment on the sound differences between the pads as it is so long since I listened to the “Balanced” set. When I first purchased the headphones, I spent some time going between them and settled on the “Analytical” pads that I have used ever since.

In regards to bass, I find that the bass on these headphones is very clear and detailed. They extend pretty low, maybe not into the rumbling territory, but at the same time manage to keep the bass clear and defined. Playing around with the layering of different bass related instruments, I find I can easily locate and edit each layer. However, if I end up layering too much in the bass area, I can end up with something that starts to get a little muddy and loses definition.

Saying this, when taking the same layered tracks over to bass heavy speaker set ups (which, let’s face it, is the majority of systems that normal people favour in this day and age), I haven’t yet found these systems to define these frequencies any better, they certainly don’t clean up the mess I have made and make it sound much better than on the DT1990.

Moving to the Mids, I find the mids to be very accurate and pretty neutral, except for a slight boost where the upper bass moves into the lower mids. This is something that I have come to find that I like, as long as it is not overdone, as it (when the overall timbre is correct) helps give life to stringed acoustic instruments, such as acoustic basses and guitars. When playing and recording bass guitar, both electric and acoustic, I find that the frequencies between 100Hz and 300Hz are where most of my attention is focused on, mainly because that is where the majority of the first harmonics of the lower bass lie, and the area were they are (usually) more distinguishable.

I have no issue following bass lines on even the busiest of tracks through the lower mid range, making it easy to spot mistakes (which is not always a good thing :slight_smile: )

Throughout the rest of the mids, I find that they are pretty neutral, maybe there is a slight boost somewhere right at the top of the midrange where the treble starts, but I find that it is very slight and not always noticeable unless something specific is happening in that exact frequency.

Moving up to the infamous treble…

This is where Beyerdynamic gets stones thrown at them from all angles, probably justified in a lot of cases, but again, it is a question of perspective.

As far as frequency response, I think that anyone who has ever heard the name DT1990 Pro knows that it has a treble spike at around 8.5kHz. This spike will affect some people more than others, however, there is no denying that the spike is there and it is rather large.

In comparison to other Beyerdynamic headphones, it is not as bad on the DT1990 Pro as other Beyer offerings. I have not had extensive periods with many Beyerdynamic headphones but this is something it is easily spotted even in brief listening sessions or quick tests. But, just because it isn’t as bad, doesn’t make it right, far from it. This peak causes sibilance in parts that are bright of their own nature, making “S” be extremely uncomfortable at times, in tracks like “Only Time” by Enya and “Hope Is A Dangerous Thing” by Lana Del Rey, it can take all the enjoyment out of the track, that is without even considering tracks like “China In Your Hand” by T’Pau, which can be torturous.

Some people actually say they like the Beyerdynamic treble, where as other think those people are crazy, or deaf, or both. All I can say is that there is no accounting for personal taste and if someone likes that peak, then I am sure that the DT1990 Pro is probably the best option for them in it’s price range without a doubt.

In my case, I need to clearly distinguish between work and pleasure. When I am listening to music for pleasure, I have an EQ preset in Foobar that is simply a a 8dB cut at 8.5kHz. This is because when I am listening to music, I am more of a person that tweaks EQ to taste depending on both the track/album I am listening to and my feelings at the time (there are times when I want more bass, others when I want less etc.), therefore the 8.5kHz cut is sort of a blank canvas more than anything else. Just to be clear, when I am listening to music for pleasure, I am listening to it for my own pleasure, therefore “how the artist intended it” is something that takes a back seat (if you want to know more on my thoughts about this subject of EQ, you can read this post: EQ? Anyone using one?)

When I am using the DT1990 Pro as a tool for work (I say work, but my audio editing and mixing is done solely for pleasure at home nowadays anyway, I just think that it is good to differentiate between the two cases in which I use the DT1990) my approach is different and I don’t actually add any specific EQ to the headphones. I have said before that it is possible to mix music on any headphone of speaker system (within reason) as long as you get to know and learn to read what you are using. Until I moved to the DT1990, I was using the AT-M40X for mixing at home, and because I had used them so much, I knew how they translated on to other systems. The same goes for the DT1990, which I have used extensively for a long period of time now, I do not need to compensate the treble in order to know how it will sound on other systems, as it is an automatic thing I now have in my routine. Basically, if I can get it to be on the verge of sibilance on the DT1990 Pro, then I usually find it to be about right on other set ups (at least the ones I get to try).

@Chrono mentioned in his review that there are two points of view, one is that it is “highly detailed” and the other is that it gives “a false sense of detail”. In my humble opinion, and remember that I am talking about this from a “tool” point of view, the DT1990 does not invent detail, in other words, for you to be able to spot something using these headphones, it needs to be there in the first place. However, due to the peak which is in question, I feel that the DT1990 moves the focus point on to a different part of the spectrum, highlighting (perhaps too much) this frequency range which causes it to seem incorrect to those who listen for pleasure while perhaps making it easier for someone who is working on the production of the music. That 8.5kHz frequency is right in the middle of where sibilance is found in vocals, which is far too easy to be overlooked if the monitoring system you are using does not cover that range well, and personally, I would rather remove to much from there than not enough (always within reason of course).

Other performance related subjects…

The soundstage of the DT1990 is wide without being overdone. It gives you a feeling that you have speakers off to the sides, however, it never makes you feel like you’re at the front of a large concert where speakers are way off to the left and right. As far as the imaging, again, I find that I can easily place instruments but without getting the feeling that I am amongst them, I always get the feeling that I am listening to them through speakers, I mean, I do not find myself immersed in the music surrounding me, I never lose the sensation that I am in fact sitting in front of the music and it is being played back to me.

With regards to timbre of instruments, I find that they are very realistic in 99% of cases, the 1% remaining is when the specific instrument has a lot going on in that area just where the high mids meet the low treble.

My conclusions…

The DT1990 Pro is not a headphone that I would recommend for someone to sit back and enjoy the music, for that, I enjoyed the Sundara much more, which has just as much detail as the DT1990 but presented in a different way (I referenced this in my Sundara review here: Hifman Sundara Open-Back Planar Magnetic Headphones - Official Thread)

The DT1990 is more about focus. It doesn’t invite you to sit back and relax, it makes you sit up straight and think about what is happening, and this can get very fatiguing if it is not something you want to do at that moment.

Whereas other headphones (such as the Sundara or the HD6XX) are similar to listening through a nice set of HiFi speakers, the DT1990 Pro is like listening through a set of very revealing studio monitors in a well treated space. Over the years, most of my experience has been with Genelec Studio monitors and Meyer Sound live rigs, which I have grown to love and have become my favourite systems but can both be overly hot in the treble, especially Meyer, if not used accordingly. I am not saying that the DT1990 are the equivalent of having 10.000€ of Genelec monitors set up in a perfectly treated studio, but I can say that they are something that I can quite easily use to get to know exactly how the music will sound on those Genelecs.

A large part of this is getting to know the headphones and the speakers, knowing how something will translate from one system to another is like learning a language, there is a difference between speaking a second language, being fluent in a second language and being bilingual. I would say that the DT1990 Pro place themselves in the fluent category in relation to high quality studio monitors, without getting to the point of being bilingual.

They are not perfect as far as studio level monitoring but are certainly a high quality option and, let’s face it, some of the most used Studio Monitors in history were far from being perfect, with some of them being pretty terrible as far as music enjoyment (cough, Yamaha NS-10, cough), but great music was made with them. I would put the quality of the DT1990 Pro way above almost anything that was available for studio use until 10 years ago (and that includes monitors) unless you were willing to invest tens of thousands in monitors and room treatment.

For music listening and enjoyment, they would not be on my go to list, and while they are my most used headphone, they are not my pick when wanting to sit back and relax to some tunes.

(This review / impression is also available in Spanish on my blog, link in profile).

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That’s a great and extremely well written review. Describing your use case and experiences conveys a lot. Thank you

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