Beyerdynamic DT 990 Premium 600 Ohm Review
Hello everyone; welcome to Rhinofeed's second headphone review! I'm using these headphones right now as I write this review, and they continue to impress me every day.
Let's start by talking about sound quality, the most important factor when deciding what headphones to buy.
When you first get them, they're going to be insanely bright. You'll wonder why you bought them as the music pierces your eardrums. Luckily, you can hear the sound change within the first hour. Wait few days and they will start to break in and sound excellent. I like listening to them change, so I dealt with the bright sound at first, but you may want to just play sound or music through them unattended to break them in without dealing with the initial harshness.
After they've broken in, depending upon how the music you listen to is recorded and mixed, the trebles can still be a little bit sharp. With most of my music this is not the case.
All in all, throughout the entire frequency spectrum, the Beyerdynamic DT 990s are extremely fun to listen with. You can hear quiet things like a high-hat far in the background that was simply being closed by the drummer's foot, or a Cabasa underneath loud clapping. The upper mids are lightly recessed but not lost completely. The lower mids are where things start to get really nice. And then you get to the bass. That's the best part. For me it's perfect — fast, snappy response, not too boomy or overpowering, just right. Because of the open design, the 990s offer a little bit more bass than the 770s, or even the 880s, which are closed back and semi-open.
If you're a gamer, loud explosions and gunshots have a nice thud to them because of the bass. The open sound stage helps tremendously; you can really hear where things are coming from. People will have a hard time sneaking up on you.
Comfort and design.
The open back design is great. With closed-back headphones my ears get tired faster. With these, because they are open back, they just allow everything to breath better and I can listen to them much longer. I feel like there is less sound pressure, especially from the bass, if that makes sense.
However, the sound does bleed through to anyone in your vicinity, especially if you like to listen to your music loud. You are also going to hear a lot of outside noise, so you'll want to make sure you're in a quiet environment. I'm glad I have Noctua's famously quiet fans.
If you don't want to be mean, you can get the closed back version, the 770s, or the semi-open version, the 880s. Each one has a slightly different sound, different ohm rating options, and a different look to them, but they are all good choices.
The large circumaural ear pads are made of a plush velour material that is extremely comfortable, and with the looser headband found on the Premiums, makes for the most comfortable headphones I've ever used. The only downside to this material is it's kinda gross to be sharing them as they are nearly impossible to clean. I will never allow anyone to use my headphones. If you need to share, you have the option of getting leather ear pads which would be cleanable. However, they will affect the sound, giving you even more bass. I wouldn't recommend this pairing unless you absolutely must share as the 990s already have a good amount of bass, plus I find the velour material to be like pillows on my ears. I would miss it. You can always replace the velour ear pads if they get too dirty.
On the premiums, the headband is made of a leatherette material over top of a surprisingly flexible aluminum band. You won't be turning the ear cups 180 degrees or anything, but if you have an oddly shaped head they will still conform quite nicely. With many headphones, the head band is the part that bothers me most, but these are light enough at 290 grams, and the headband is comfortable enough. I barely notice the headband even after several hours of use. On the premiums, the headband is looser than on other models. They are even more comfortable than my 770 Pros.
Other than that you have a 3 meter non-removable 3.5mm straight cable, which I wish was coiled. It's too long when I'm just sitting at my desk. They also include a gold plated twist lock 1/4" adapter. It's a very elegant solution for an adapter that feels like a part of the cable after you secure it.
Finally, there are three impedance options available with these headphones: 32, 250, and 600 ohm. Why did I go with 600 ohm? Because I can, and they were on sale. Seriously, a simple explanation of different ohm levels is this: power requirement. 32 ohm headphones require the least amount of power to drive, and are generally well-suited to portable devices such as your phone or laptop. I personally wouldn't get 990s for this purpose, though, as while your device may be portable, these headphones are not. This option may make sense if you never intend to buy a headphone amp, and you will be using them with a desktop, or a laptop at home or in the office.
The 250 ohm headphones are a good middle ground. I have this level on my 770s. I was able to use them with my old iPod when I was desperate (at 60% volume level), and with my computer before I had a proper headphone amp. And, they will open up further if you decide to buy an amp.
The 600 ohm option requires the most amount of power. I'd stay away from anything but a headphone amp that's made for delivering this amount of power. Using under-powered amps will affect the sound in a detrimental way. Bass won't be as prevalent, background noise will start to appear as you turn up the volume to be able to hear anything, and your experience will generally be lackluster. That being said, with a proper amp, the 600 ohm version sounds the best of the three options.
To get the 990s to the volume level I like/need, the headphone output of my PreSonus AudioBox 44VSL is set to 75 mW. It seems to be doing the job quite effectively with minimal noise, despite the power demand. The amp actually goes up to 120 mW, but I only need the 75 mW with most mastered music and sound files coming from my computer with the volume set to only 20%. With unmastered or less compressed music I find myself raising the volume on my computer to around 60%, keeping the headphone output the same. I also do this if I just really want to tune the outside world completely out.
I love the 990s, and I'm a big fan of Beyerdynamic. I haven't tried many other headphones to compare them to, but being that they're made in Germany... that should tell you something. The sound quality is the best I've heard, especially as I slowly convert my music library to 320 kbps and up. And the quality construction, replaceable ear pads and headband, comfort, and overall design make for a great set of headphones indeed.
Thanks for reading my review!