Design, Build, Fit and Finish
The DT990’s were made for people who look for quality in the money they spend on some cans. The headphones are made of high quality materials all the way around. The outer ear casings are made out of aluminum as are the portions that connect up to the headband. The headband is made of an incredible soft piece of leather with great amounts of padding within. These headphones have a single cable design where the cable comes down from the left ear and the cable is thick and sturdy. The outer shell of the headphone also has a louvered look that is unique and interesting looking. To finish things off, the ear pads are made of a high quality, soft velour – more on that in the next section. One final note is that these are Open headphones meaning that they let sound in and out. This is by design to create a wider, more open soundstage.
Wow – that pretty much sums up the comfort. I’ve never put on a set of headphones that was the perfect balance of weight, ear comfort, clamping pressure like the DT990 Premiums are. A lot of thought and planning went into creating headphones that you could literally wear all day. With the velour pads, your ears will never sweat and it feels like pillows gently hugging your head. The clamping pressure on the DT990’s is absolutely perfect – not too tight as to give you a headache and not too light to have these slipping off your head. Also, worth mentioning is the head band – extremely soft and padded to the hilt. The interesting thing is, you notice that these are on your head – not in an annoying way that many headphones are “there” but rather they are so comfortable and cool (temperature) that you’re just aware of how very comfortable they are! Fantastic
Being that these are Open headphones, there is very little isolation for keeping noise in or out. These headphones are made for listening in private. Turning up the volume even to moderate listening levels will have those around you enjoying (or hating) what you’re listening too. Also, you’ll find that outside noises will distract you from your listening experience. So again, it’s best to keep these for when you’re alone and can really kick back and enjoy the music.
The version I evaluated was the 32 ohm set of headphones. These are perfect for listening on portable media players such as an iPod, iPhone, Android phone, etc. On their own paired with a portable media player, they will play moderately loud but you might be pushing the limits of the built in amp of your device. I would recommend, even for the 32 ohm version, to pick up an amplifier such as the Fiio E11, Fiio E17 or the Fiio E10. All three of these amplifiers would work great for both the 32 ohm and 250 ohm versions of the DT990 Premiums. If you opt for the 600 ohm version of the headphones then you’d need to step up to an amplifier with more power, notably a desktop headphone amplifier such as the Fiio E9 or E09K.
The DT990 again didn’t fail to please in the bass department. The bass is slightly boosted in the DT990’s – not obnoxiously so, rather to a degree that most people will appreciate. There was plenty of impact and oomph when pushed on a flat EQ (no bass boost) from the media player. I had no problem picking out each distinct note in any genre of music I tried (and I tried them all) and there was plenty of presence and detail in each and every note. The one thing I will say, is if you are a bass head, then these probably won’t fit the bill so much. I hooked these up to the Fiio E11 and tried out the various levels of bass boost and the DT990 Premiums really don’t like to be EQ’d up on the bass. Again, they do a wonderful job without EQ’ing so that was just a test on my part, but I thought I’d point that out for all you bass lovers out there.
The midrange on the DT990’s just steal the show – in a word – amazing! Seriously, and this is no joke – these have some of the richest, smoothest mids I’ve ever heard on any set of headphones in this price range. Female vocalists sounded flat out incredible in these headphones. I point out female vocalists because these are the ones that can become difficult to listen to if the midrange is overblown. Adele, Rebecca Ferguson – if you listen to these women in the DT990 Premiums, you’ll be absolutely floored. You’ll literally feel like you’re getting a personal audition from these two vocal powerhouses and you’ll yearn for more. I don’t want to discount how well these do the male vocalists though. Men like Josh Groban, Michael Buble and the like sound incredible in these headphones as well. If you are a fan of horned instruments, vocalists, guitars or anything that takes advantage of that frequency band we call the midrange, then you really need to check these out.
The DT990’s again did a nice job on the treble but it’s just completely outclassed by the midrange. When you notice something that’s done so perfectly, it’s easy to pick on the things that aren’t quite so. This is not to say that the treble is bad – as a matter of fact, it’s far from it. It’s better than most I’ve heard, but it’s lacking a touch of detail such as a person’s fingers sliding along the fretboard of a guitar, or the sound of a bow running across the strings on a violin. It’s that bit of airiness that’s missing that keeps the treble from being on par with the flawless midrange. One final closing thought on the treble – the one thing that I love about it is that it’s not lost in the bass and midrange – the sound is perfectly balanced throughout the volume range so you always hear it clearly and without any sibilance or harshness.
I hope by the time you’re reading this conclusion (assuming you didn’t just skip down here) that you already know how much I enjoyed these headphones. For the price they’re going for on the street (less than a set of Beats Studios), you’re getting a truly high end set of headphones. This is the Mercedes Benz E-class when you’re talking headphones for much less than what I’d expect to pay for this kind of quality in both build and sound quality. This is one of the best sets of headphones I’ve listened to – and believe me, with comfort like this you can listen to them a LONG time! Just keep in mind, depending on which ohm version you’re looking at, you’ll need to consider which amp you’d like to pair with these, and then you can kick back and close your eyes for extended and truly involving one on one listening sessions with your favorite musicians.