Here we go again, another terrific over-the-ear headphone from Beyerdynamic, the DT1990 Pro. The refreshed look, with slotted black ear cups is sharper than the grey mesh 'cups of previous DT Series 'phones. Comfort is still a strong suit, thanks in part to the memory foam-filled plush velour ear pads, and moderate head clamping pressure. The headphone comes with two detachable cables (9.8 feet/3 meter and 16.4 feet/5 meter), both cables are fitted with mini-XLR connectors that plug into the headphone's left ear cup. The nicely finished hard carry case will coddle the headphones when you take them on a trip.
The DT1990 Pro ($599, £471, AU$1,159) is an open-back design, so it doesn't hush external noise, but open headphones tend to sound better than closed-back designs. You get two pairs of user-replaceable velour ear pads, they look similar but change the DT1990 Pro's sound balance a bit. One pad is called "balanced," the other "analytical"; l listened to both and felt the analytical sets rendered a more neutral sound from the headphones.
The DT1990 Pro features 45mm Tesla drivers, impedance is rated at a rather high 250 ohms, so this headphone will perform at its best at home paired with a headphone amplifier or receiver. This made in Germany headphone weighs 13 ounces (370 grams). It's available on Amazon.
With either set of ear pads installed the DT1990 Pro sounded warmer and fuller than the DT880 Pro headphones I know so well. Where some Beyerdynamics 'phones' treble struck some listeners as unforgivingly bright the DT1990 Pro's top end is less assertive. The strings on Mica Levi's otherworldly score for the film "Under the Skin" sounded clear and tonally natural. This is the sort of headphone that doesn't push detail, the music, especially acoustic music comes across well.
That's not to say rock was overlooked, The Rolling Stones' "Miss You" had plenty of kick, Charlie Watts mighty bass drum was there in all its glory. Turning up the volume didn't reveal any undue harshness on my Stones tunes.
There was something about the DT1990 Pro's sound that reminded me of the AudioQuest NightHawk headphones so I went back and forth listening to them. The DT1990 Pro was a little less bright than the NightHawk, which was a pretty mellow sounding headphone on DJ Spooky's trippy, jazz infused "Optometry" album. The NightHawk was somewhat more open and spacious than the DT1990 Pro.
I also had a Beyerdynamic T 5 p (2. Generation) headphone ($1,099, £977, AU$1,829) on hand so I compared the two headphones. The T 5 p is a higher efficiency design, so it played a lot louder than the DT1990 Pro at the same volume setting on my Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL 2.0 headphone amplifier. After I set the volume the same for both headphones the T 5 p's dynamic impact and soundstage depth were superior to the more laid-back DT1990 Pro's. Then again, the T 5 p is a much more expensive headphone, and thanks to its more efficient design, it's suitable for portable music fans. When I plugged the DT1990 Pro into my iPhone 6S it sounded fine, but it didn't play as loud as I would have liked.
I enjoyed my time with the Beyerdynamic DT1990 Pro, they're definitely worth an audition by anyone seeking a high-end home 'phone.