Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro X & DT 900 Pro X review: studio staples get a major refresh
Beyerdynamic’s trusty closed- and open-backed studio headphones get a makeover, a detachable cable and new drivers
⊕ New drivers impress in almost all respects
⊕ Trusted build quality and detachable cable (finally!)
⊕ Low impedance means they work on lots of different playback gear, driving well at even low volume levels
⊖ Tonal balance issues detract a little
⊖ Currently more expensive than the models they succeed
Since their release way back in 1985, Beyerdynamic’s DT 770 and DT 990 Pro headphones have become indispensable favourites in countless recording and broadcasting studios. The closed-back DT 770 headphones are famed for combining great sound and isolation from spill whilst mics are live, while the DT 990s have proved crucial in critical listening in mix sessions with its open-back design. Beyerdynamic’s long-established reputation for reliable build quality shines in these headphones.
The new DT 700 and DT 900 Pro X headphones are the natural successors to the stalwart DT 770 and 990s but, while they look very similar, some new technology and design decisions mean this is a bigger overhaul than it first seems.
Fans of the brand will be pleased to learn that the new headphones are still proudly made in Germany. Inside are Beyerdynamic’s proprietary STELLAR.45 drivers, which offer an upgrade to their predecessors. Familiar circular earpads apply increased clamping pressure in comparison to the 770/990 and, true to form, the earpads and the headband pad can be replaced by users when they get worn or grubby.
To the relief of loyal followers, a detachable cable is finally included in the specification, and connects using a 3-pin mini XLR connector. Two different lengths of straight cable are supplied in the box (1.8m and 3m) along with a drawstring carry case. Stickers and a festival-style wristband bearing the Pro X line’s branding are also thrown in, for those who really want to flaunt it. Overall weight is slightly up from the earlier models, presumably due to more hefty driver magnets and the cable hardware.
The closed-back DT 700 Pro X is a superb choice for tracking and private listening, offering near-perfect isolation from headphone spill whilst still remaining relatively comfortable. Head clamping pressure is increased from that of the DT 770, which helps raise levels of isolation to a new standard. Tonal tuning is pleasing on the whole, with a high-frequency shimmer on the top that’s not fatiguing, and bountiful bass even at low volumes. Sub-bass here is a little too overbearing for our liking – clearly evident in tracks such as Naughty Boy’s La La La – but this may appeal to those listening to and monitoring music that needs such a prominent bass presence. Having said that, there is still plenty of articulation in the bass range from around 80Hz upwards.
In comparison to the DT 700 Pro X, AKG‘s closed-back K271mkIIs sound thin in the low-end and far less phase-coherent in the mids. Admittedly, these sit in a slightly lower price bracket than the DT 700 Pro X.
The new drivers pack a serious punch and the relatively low impedance works well for us, but might prove problematic in a studio with higher-end, higher impedance headphone amplifiers. High-mid frequencies are a little forward in the voicing and, whilst this would help snares and kick beaters cut through during a tracking or DJ session, it can make programmed drum sounds cut through too sharply at times. The aforementioned La La La demonstrates this well.
The 900 Pro X pair excels in mixing and mastering applications. Whilst leakage from the open-back design precludes them from private listening and various recording situations, it is not excessive or distorted for the casual bystander, unlike competing headphones in the same price range – a real plus point. A firm fit on the head and around the ears means there’s lots of clamping pressure – brilliant for reproducing strong low frequencies but not as comfortable for extended listening as the softer clamping and memory foam pads of the Austrian Audio Hi-X65 we reviewed recently. That said, the firm fit does help you feel immersed in the music, combined with really pleasing stereo imaging. They sound fantastic in almost every respect.
The tonal balance in the 900 Pro X is certainly more impressive than the 700 Pro X. The highs are clear but not excessively sharp as other high-end models, such as the aforementioned Austrian Audio Hi-X65. A favourite reference track – Aja by Steely Dan – revealed silky highs on piano and crispy stick attack on drumheads. Bass frequencies were well articulated and controlled throughout, evident in Jamie Woon’s Sharpness, where the multiple sub-bass elements are tight and full. Like the 700 Pro Xs though, there’s a revealing high mid component that is a little too prominent. Indeed, it makes clap and snare layers in Sharpness strike the listener hard.
All in all, both sets of headphones are powerful performers at their price point, giving us a great sense of immersion in the music. They also offer a trusted build quality that users can invest in knowing that parts can be replaced, and that they aren’t going to be flimsy. The 700 Pro X achieves a near-perfect balance of isolation and great sound (they put our own closed-back cans to shame) and would be fantastic for music on the go. The caveat is not everyone will enjoy the thunderous sub bass. The 900 Pro X are a solid choice for making critical mix and master decisions, sounding open and full but, on some music, suitable allowances need to be made for their overly eager high-mid voicing.
- Over-ear, closed-back DT 700 PRO X / open-back DT 900 PRO X
- New STELLAR.45 proprietary drivers
- 48 Ohms
- 5Hz-40kHz frequency response
- Made in Germany with replaceable parts available
- Weight 350g (DT700 PRO X) / 345g (DT900 PRO X)
- Comes with detachable cables in 1.8m and 3m lengths; jack adapter; soft carry case
- Buy – DT 700 PRO X: Thomann, Sweetwater
- Buy – DT 900 PRO X: Thomann, Sweetwater