My humble gamer review of Beyerdynamic DT990 600ohm headphones

A Word Before We Begin

If you're looking for an audiophile's review of these headphones, you can find many opinions from your preferred search engine. I am reviewing these as somebody who is fond of beautiful audio from all mediums and genres. I have used many headphones from friends and owned some high-end IEMs (earbuds) in the past such as those from Sony's MDR line and Ultimate Ears from a few years ago. I gave up on IEM's for fear of hearing loss and decided to upgrade from the cheap-but-good Koss KSC75 Clip-On Headphones. I bought the Beyerdynamic DT990 600ohm version from Amazon for $250 shipped, but it has since increased to $330.

The Setup

This is a Tritton AX720 Control Box I got from eBay for $18. It converts Dolby 5.1/7.1 audio to Dolby Headphone. The in-line remote cost me $30. Instead of buying the complete AX720 package for $130, it makes better sense to get it cheaper piece-by-piece if you already have a stellar headphone. To hook up my PS3, 360, and Xbox 1 simultaneously, an optical audio switcher with 4 optical cables can be bought for around $20 shipped from Amazon.

There are alternatives to the AX720 control box, such as the Astro MixAmp or the control box from Turtle Beach EarForce DSS. These are slightly more expensive than the setup I described.

The Sound

Unbelievable. Speaking as a former gadget freak, I am very hard to impress. The bass is strong and present, but not overpowering the subtleties of delicate instruments. Highs are quite high and may be too high for some. They were perfect for me. If highs were any higher, vocals would sound artificial. Fantastic headphones are a double-edged sword because any poorly ripped media you were once content with will have flaws that stand out much clearer even to laymen ears. When I first used these headphones with Dolby 5.1/7.1 in games, I was in utter shock. Initially, I bought a Denon 7.1 receiver with all the bells and whistles, but I ended up sending that back for a refund.

PS3 and 360 games take on a whole new life of their own. Granted, some games do surround sound better than others. While everything sounded fantastic, here's a list of what blew me away:

  • Mass Effect 3 Demo
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 Intro and first gameplay before getting to control Serah
  • God of War 3
  • Eternal Sonata PS3
  • Otogi 2

That's just a small sampling. As you can see, this setup has inspired me to replay original Xbox games. Also, I've yet to hook up my PS2 and try games like Okami.

The 600ohm version is said to be very difficult to drive, but they sound exquisite even without a "required" amplifier. The decoder box arguably acts as an amplifier already, and I didn't hear much of a difference when I borrowed a FiiO E7 to use with my laptop audio. Maybe someday I will try a good dedicated amplifier to pair with these headphones, but they are more than adequate for now.

Conclusion

There's something to be said about headphone gaming that puts it in a separate tier from home theater surround gaming. Among parties, you'll wow your guests with bowel-dumping bass and positional audio from a dedicated speaker setup. But when you're gaming on your own, headphone gaming becomes a very personal affair. I strongly urge you to at least try a phenomenal pair of headphones from any brand you can get a hold of (Sennheiser, Grado, hell even the expensive Monster's Dre Beats).

If you already own a high-end pair of headphones, you probably won't see a worthwhile difference by getting the DT990. I will say this: You owe it to yourself as a gamer to at least give this setup a try. Minus the cost of the optional switcher, the cost of entry to auditory gaming nirvana was a meager $300.

It will change the way you experience games, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

5 Comments
6 Comments
Posted by Lunar_Aura

A Word Before We Begin

If you're looking for an audiophile's review of these headphones, you can find many opinions from your preferred search engine. I am reviewing these as somebody who is fond of beautiful audio from all mediums and genres. I have used many headphones from friends and owned some high-end IEMs (earbuds) in the past such as those from Sony's MDR line and Ultimate Ears from a few years ago. I gave up on IEM's for fear of hearing loss and decided to upgrade from the cheap-but-good Koss KSC75 Clip-On Headphones. I bought the Beyerdynamic DT990 600ohm version from Amazon for $250 shipped, but it has since increased to $330.

The Setup

This is a Tritton AX720 Control Box I got from eBay for $18. It converts Dolby 5.1/7.1 audio to Dolby Headphone. The in-line remote cost me $30. Instead of buying the complete AX720 package for $130, it makes better sense to get it cheaper piece-by-piece if you already have a stellar headphone. To hook up my PS3, 360, and Xbox 1 simultaneously, an optical audio switcher with 4 optical cables can be bought for around $20 shipped from Amazon.

There are alternatives to the AX720 control box, such as the Astro MixAmp or the control box from Turtle Beach EarForce DSS. These are slightly more expensive than the setup I described.

The Sound

Unbelievable. Speaking as a former gadget freak, I am very hard to impress. The bass is strong and present, but not overpowering the subtleties of delicate instruments. Highs are quite high and may be too high for some. They were perfect for me. If highs were any higher, vocals would sound artificial. Fantastic headphones are a double-edged sword because any poorly ripped media you were once content with will have flaws that stand out much clearer even to laymen ears. When I first used these headphones with Dolby 5.1/7.1 in games, I was in utter shock. Initially, I bought a Denon 7.1 receiver with all the bells and whistles, but I ended up sending that back for a refund.

PS3 and 360 games take on a whole new life of their own. Granted, some games do surround sound better than others. While everything sounded fantastic, here's a list of what blew me away:

  • Mass Effect 3 Demo
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 Intro and first gameplay before getting to control Serah
  • God of War 3
  • Eternal Sonata PS3
  • Otogi 2

That's just a small sampling. As you can see, this setup has inspired me to replay original Xbox games. Also, I've yet to hook up my PS2 and try games like Okami.

The 600ohm version is said to be very difficult to drive, but they sound exquisite even without a "required" amplifier. The decoder box arguably acts as an amplifier already, and I didn't hear much of a difference when I borrowed a FiiO E7 to use with my laptop audio. Maybe someday I will try a good dedicated amplifier to pair with these headphones, but they are more than adequate for now.

Conclusion

There's something to be said about headphone gaming that puts it in a separate tier from home theater surround gaming. Among parties, you'll wow your guests with bowel-dumping bass and positional audio from a dedicated speaker setup. But when you're gaming on your own, headphone gaming becomes a very personal affair. I strongly urge you to at least try a phenomenal pair of headphones from any brand you can get a hold of (Sennheiser, Grado, hell even the expensive Monster's Dre Beats).

If you already own a high-end pair of headphones, you probably won't see a worthwhile difference by getting the DT990. I will say this: You owe it to yourself as a gamer to at least give this setup a try. Minus the cost of the optional switcher, the cost of entry to auditory gaming nirvana was a meager $300.

It will change the way you experience games, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Posted by NoCookiesForYou

I can vouch for Beyerdynamic. I have Tesla DT1350's and they sound amazing.

Posted by rflx

I have the DT990 Pro. They're pretty great.
Or, they were, up until the left speaker started rattling at low bass tones, and the wire sometimes cuts out when wriggled.
But then again, I'm not particularly gentle with my headphones.

Posted by HorseFactory

I use DT990's for mixing & mastering in Ableton Live & Logic.

Ideally, I'd have a pair of Grado RS1i's.

Posted by Bael

Glad to see you put up a review of these! Definitely worth considering when I have some cash. You didn't really mention comfort level in the review; how comfortable are they for you?

Edited by RedRavN

I was thinking about getting a pair of these but going with the 250 ohm version. I was wondering what the real difference is between impedances? I know it takes more power to drive a higher impedance but what are you really getting out of it in terms of sound quality? Also, anyone have any thoughts about portable headphone amps? I think the fi00 models seem like the default choice but I'm no expert.

I think the extremes in the high frequencies should mellow out a bit after they break in and they will sound even better.