Best DAC/AMP for DT990 PRO in 2021 (Beyerdynamic High Impedance Headphones)

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro. has been a staple in Beyerdynamic’s line of professional headphones for several decades. It has been around the market since 1985 and has been the go-to pair for musicians, producers, video editors, etc. The DT 990 Pro’s popularity has recently skyrocketed and is now being used even by professional gamers. 

Its immense popularity is due to its accurate sound reproduction and enjoyable sound signature. It is leaning towards a V-shaped sound where the bass and highs are more emphasized, which can help the DT 990 Pro sound less dull and boring. And, since these are open-back headphones, you get a wide soundstage, making them a very good pair for gaming.  

Beyerdynamic 459038 DT 990 PRO open Studio Headphone
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro (Image: Amazon)

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The DT 990 Pro comes in several versions. It comes in  32 ohms, 80 ohms, 250 ohms, and 600 ohms. The main difference between each one is their impedance. Basically, what this means is that the higher impedance versions will require a more powerful headphone amplifier while the lower impedance versions will work with just about anything.

You can learn more in our Headphone Impedance FAQ

To maximize the DT 990 Pro’s performance, you can opt to pair it with higher quality sources such as DAC/Amps. The 32-ohm and 80-ohm models do not necessarily need one, but they will have a discernible improvement to the sound quality. 

Our top pick is the iFi Micro iDSD Black Label and the MayFlower Arc Mk2. But of course, we still have plenty of options for other users, such as professionals and gamers. Keep on scrolling to learn more about them. 


Top DAC/Amps for DT 990 Pro 

If you prioritize music listening with the DT 990 Pro, then these are your best options: 

iFi Micro iDSD Black Label – High-End Transportable

iFi Micro iDSD Black Label DAC/Headphone Amplifier/Preamp with MQA and DSD. for Smartphones/Digital Audio Players/Tablets/Laptops, Via USB/SPDIF/Coaxial/Optical / 3.5 AUX/RCA (Unit Only)
iFi Micro iDSD Black Label (Image: Amazon)

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Our top pick for the DT 990 Pro is the iFi Micro Black Label. This transportable DAC/Amp is one of the best products in its price range due to its driving power, robust build quality, sound quality, and features. 

In terms of power, the iFi Micro can easily match most desktop amplifiers. It can comfortably drive headphones with an impedance of 300 ohms. It can also drive up to 800-ohms but won’t be as good as higher-end desktop amplifiers. But those are still impressive numbers, which means the iFi Micro BL can easily drive any of the DT 990 Pro’s variants. 

Aside from its amazing power output, it also has many options that can help shape the sound. These features are the bass boost function and the 3D+ Holographic mode. The bass boost is very well implemented and can tighten up the low end of the DT 990 Pro. 

The 3D+ Holographic mode, on the other hand, is designed to simulate a “3D feel” by widening the soundstage. The DT 990 Pro already has an excellent soundstage, but this can help further enhance it. 

In terms of the sound quality and sound signature, the iFi Micro BL has a neutral and accurate sound. It is also extremely good with detail retrieval, which maximizes the DT 990 Pro’s full potential.

And lastly, its transportable nature allows you to pair the iFi Micro BL to devices outside of your desktop. You can potentially use this with your smartphone, laptop, or game consoles that support digital audio output. And if you decide to use this with your desktop setup, you won’t have any battery issues since the iFi Micro BL automatically stops charging when it is full. 

Overall, if you are looking for a high-end and versatile option for your Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro, then you should check out the iFi Micro Black Label. 

iFi Nano iDSD Black Label 

ifi nano bl size

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If you are looking for a more affordable alternative to the iFi Micro BL, and using a lower impedance variant of the DT 990 Pro, then the iFi Nano iDSD Black Label is a great choice. You lose some of the great features of the iFi Micro BL, but you still get the excellent build quality and sound quality of its bigger brother.  

Some of the highlights of the iFi Nano BL are its sound quality, robust build quality,  IEMATCH port, and portable size. It is significantly smaller than the iFi Micro BL, so it is easier to carry around or position on your desk. It also has the IEMatch, which can be useful if you are using the 32-ohm variant of the DT 990 Pro or if you have IEMs. 

In terms of the build quality, the iFi Nano BL feels a lot better than most of the budget and mid-range category offerings. The metal build feels more premium than the generic feel of models like the FX Audio DAC X6. The volume wheel, which also serves as the on and off switch, also feels premium and satisfying to use. Due to its form-factor, it can be easily used both as a portable and desktop DAC/Amp.

Now, let us talk about the main attraction, the sound quality. The sound signature of the iFi Nano BL is generally neutral, with a slight hint of warmth. It shares many characteristics with the iFi Micro BL, but it isn’t s good in terms of detail retrieval.  

The power output has also been downgraded. However, it can still comfortably drive headphones up to 300-ohms. So as you aren’t using the 600-ohm variant of the DT 990 Pro, you’ll be fine. 

There is, however, one significant downside to the iFi Micro BL. It only features a digital USB input. This won’t be a problem with PC and MAC users. However, if you have a DAP or a device that supports digital audio output, then you’re out of luck. 

But overall, if you are looking for a solid DAC/Amp that shares a lot of similarities with the iFi Micro BL but at a more affordable price point, then the iFi Nano BL should be a top contender. 

Chord Mojo – Portable Pick 

Chord Mojo Black DAC/Headphone Amplifier
Chord Mojo (Image: Amazon)

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The Chord Mojo is one of the most popular portable DAC/Amps in the market. The main reason for this is its power output. Chord claims it can power headphones with an impedance of 800 ohms, which rivals many desktop headphone amplifiers. And of course, that is more than enough for any of the DT 990 Pro’s variants. 

The Chord Mojo features a good amount of options for connecting with other devices such as smartphones and a DAP. Furthermore, it isn’t strictly a portable device. It can act as a small desktop DAC/Amp thanks to its form factor. 

And while the DT 990 Pro is not designed to be a portable headphone due to its open-back design, the Chord Mojo’s portable aspects can still be useful since you can transport your entire setup easily to other places, and you can use the DT 990 Pro with any type of source. 

However, there are some downsides if you want to use the Mojo as a desktop DAC/Amp. The volume control utilizes buttons instead of a volume wheel, making volume adjustment a bit more difficult. The Mojo also doesn’t automatically stop charging when plugged in, so using it on a desktop setup may damage the battery over time. You can easily remove the battery, but that isn’t the most straightforward or convenient option.  

As for the sound quality, the Mojo has a warm and detailed sound signature. It can tame some of the treble spikes of the DT 990 Pro, which is great for those who are sensitive to highs. The mojo does this while preserving the fine details in the mix. 

It is noticeably less airy compared to the Micro BL, and the soundstage isn’t as wide. However, this will come down to your personal preference. Overall, the Chord Mojo is an excellent portable and desktop DAC/Amp for the DTR 990 Pro. 

FX Audio DAC X6 – Budget Pick 

FX-Audio DAC-X6 Mini HiFi 2.0 Digital Audio Decoder DAC Input USB/Coaxial/Optical Output RCA/Headphone Amp 24Bit/96KHz DC12V (Black)
FX Audio DAC-X6 (Image: Amazon)

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If you are looking for a more entry-level option, then the FX Audio DAC X6 is a great choice. And despite not coming from a big name brand like SMSL or Fiio, the DAC X6 still manages to pack more features than its competitors in this price range. 

The FX Audio DAC X6 has a lot of available options for connecting to a source. It can connect via USB, optical, and coaxial. These can be selected via the switch in front of the device. The DAC X6 also has a quarter-inch jack for headphones.

In terms of the design and build quality, the DAC X6 has a very minimalistic design. This can be a bit bland since it looks similar to every other DAC/Amp in this price range. However, the build is very acceptable and is easy to take apart in case you want to mod this device since there are several community mods available. 

In terms of power and sound quality, the manufacturer claims it can power headphones with an impedance of 300 ohms. Most users, however, find the volume to be inadequate for 300-ohm headphones like the Sennheiser HD650, but other headphones like most of the DT 990 Pro’s variants should be fine. The DAC X6 is relatively neutral in terms of sound quality and does not introduce coloration to the sound. 

Overall, the amount of connectivity options and sound quality is unbeatable at this price range. The FX Audio DAC X6 is a good option for anyone looking for a budget DAC/Amp for their DT 990 Pro. 

Gaming Options 

If you primarily use your DT 990 Pro for gaming, then these options will suit you better: 

Schiit Hel 

Schiit Hel High Power Gaming DAC/Amp - D to A Converter and Headphone Amplifier with Microphone Input
Schiit Hel (Image: Amazon)

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Schiit is a company that is often associated with two things, its quirky name and the excellent price to performance ratio on its products. And with the success of their products aimed at the audiophile community, Schiit is looking to expand their product lineup to cater to gamers with the Schiit Hel.

The concept here is simple. The Hel is a DAC/Amp with a powerful headphone output to drive more demanding headphones such as the high impedance variants of the DT 990 Pro. But it also has a microphone input for voice chat. 

In terms of sound quality, the Schiit Hel truly delivers the goods. It is utilizing the AKM 4490EQ DAC that is also found on the highly acclaimed Schiit Modi 3. The Magni and Modi 3 stack is, of course, one of the best sounding combos, so having one, the same DAC helps it outperform the rest of its competition. 

Of course, since it isn’t utilizing a dedicated headphone amplifier, the driving power won’t be as good as the Schiit Magni 3. However, it can still comfortably drive 250-300 ohm headphones.  

One downside is that there isn’t any type of EQ, surround sound or digital features implemented on this device. This means that you won’t be having the same kind of flexibility as its competitors. However, you arguably don’t need them since the Schiit Hel already sounds great and synergizes wells with the DT 990 Pro. The only time when this becomes a problem is if you aren’t satisfied with the DT 990 Pro’s signature in the first place in which you can use third-party digital EQ anyway. 

The build quality is also amazing and easily holds up with the rest of Schiit’s products. It is mostly made of metal with a red finish that makes it fit with other gaming products. The volume wheel is smooth and does not have any audible static when adjusting the volume. Switches and connections also feel premium and will likely last for years. 

One odd thing, however, is that it requires two USB connections. Schiit could have easily opted for a simpler solution by using a power outlet instead. 

But despite the great sound quality of the Schiit Hel, its microphone implementation isn’t the best. It is decent and very much usable. However, it lacks the refinements found on products with better microphone input implementation. 

The biggest issue with the microphone input is the noise level. Dialing the mic gain or tweaking the Windows setting does not seem to alleviate this problem. This issue is more prominent on some microphones, but it seems to always be there regardless of which one you use. 

And also, there is no low latency hardware monitoring for the microphone input. This is a feature that is often used by streamers and closed-back headphone users. It would have been nice since other gaming-oriented products have this feature. 

If you are solely using the microphone input for in-game chat, then these issues won’t be a problem. However, if you plan on doing voiceovers or streaming, then this may prove to be inadequate. However, you should take note that most 3.5mm microphones are inadequate for these kinds of applications, so most gaming DAC/Amps are not meant for these in the first place. 

Overall, if all you want is a great sounding DAC/Amp to pair with the DT 990 Pro for gaming, then the Schiit Hel is a great choice. However, if you want a better-sounding microphone input, then check out our other picks. 

Mayflower Arc Mk2 

ARC Mk2 - Headphone Amplifier & DAC
Mayflower Arc Mk2 (Image: Amazon)

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The Mayflower Arc Mk2 has the same concept as the Schiit Hel but adds some features and manages to pack everything into a smaller package. It is also designed to have a great DAC/Amp section while providing a better microphone input. 

Just like most audiophile-grade equipment, the Mayflower Arc Mk2 is driverless. It can work with most platforms as well as consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One. You will be missing out on sound-shaping options that are possible through software, but you are getting a bass boost option that works well with open-back dynamic headphones like the DT 990 Pro. 

The Mayflower Arc Mk2 is bus-powered, which makes it a portable and versatile solution. Take note, however, that if you are going to be using the optical and AUX input, you will need to use an AC adapter (which is not included in the packaging) or power it via USB.

The microphone input of the Mayflower Arc Mk2 is excellent. It sounds better than other options such as the Schiit Hel. It has a more power output, which allows microphones to sound clearer and cleaner.

A low latency mic monitoring option is still, however, not present on the Arc Mk2. This is an important tool for streamers. This feature is already available in gaming and professional alternatives, so it would have been nice to see it here as well.   

In terms of sound quality, the Mayflower Arc Mk2 is exceptional for the price. It can power almost anything you throw at it, from low impedance gaming headsets to high impedance audiophile headphones such as the DT 990 Pro. It has a darker presentation than other DAC/Amps like the Magni and Modi combo, but it still has a clean and detailed presentation. 

One unique feature is that the Mayflower Arc Mk2 has is its bass boost switch. It works well with tightening up the sound of open-back dynamic driver headphones or any headphones with weak bass response. It is nice to see a hardware bass boost, which sounds more natural than a software solution that tends to muddy up the sound and sounds artificial. 

Overall, the Mayflower Arc Mk2 is a compelling value. It is well built, it has a lot of power output for headphones, it has an excellent sound quality, it has a clean and good sounding microphone input, it has a lot of output options, and it is one compact package. 

If you don’t mind the slightly darker signature, then the Mayflower Arc Mk2 is potentially a better option than the Schiit Hel.  

Sennheiser EPOS GSX 1000

EPOS | Sennheiser GSX 1000 Gaming Audio Amplifier / External Sound Card, with 7.1 Surround Sound, Side Tone, Gaming DAC and EQ, Headphone amp Compatible with Windows, Mac, Laptops and Desktops.
Sennheiser EPOS GSX 1000 (Image: Amazon)

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Our last gaming pick is no other than Sennheiser’s GSX 1000 DAC/Amp. This one is a bit different. Unlike the Mayflower Arc Mk2 and Schiit Hel, the GSX 1000 aims to compete against gaming DAC/Amps rather than traditional audiophile DAC/Amps. 

The form factor is similar to DAC/Amps, like the JDS Labs Element II and Sound Blaster X3. It lays flat on your desk and has all of the buttons conveniently placed around the volume wheel. 

In terms of the build quality, the Sennheiser GSX 1000 uses plastic for the main body and aluminum around the volume wheel. The build still feels great since Sennheiser is using high-quality plastic just like in their high-end headphones. 

The inputs and outputs of the GSX 1000 are not as strong as its competitors. There is a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 3.5 mm microphone input, a 3.5 mm line out, and a micro USB for power. It is apparent that this unit is designed for headphone use as the options for speaker output is limited. 

In terms of the GSX 1000’s power output, it, unfortunately, falls short compared to its competitors. It can still comfortably drive the 80-ohm variant of the DT 990 Pro, but it will surely have a rough time dealing with the 250-ohm and 600-ohm versions. 

However, the main appeal of the GSX 1000 is its sound quality. Sennheiser uses a driverless approach meaning all of the features and Virtual Surround Sound options are being processed in the device. Everything can be accessed using the capacitive touch screen, which we have not seen from other manufacturers. 

There are several options such as EQ presets, but the highlight feature is the Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound. Once it is toggled, several options, such as the amount of reverb, can be customized. 

The Virtual Surround Sound on this unit is surprisingly well-executed. It manages to expand the soundstage without altering the sound signature of headphones. All the micro details are still preserved, and imaging is not affected.

Unlike other gaming DAC/Amps, the surround sound engine is not hit or miss. It works well with most games, especially open world and competitive titles. 

Of course, the GSX 1000 is not perfect. The EQ presets, for example, are not great and should mostly be turned off. And the other main downside is its driving power. It would have been nice to experience this excellent Surround Sound implementation on higher-end headphones. 

However, the good thing is that the GSX 1000 can be stacked with a more powerful headphone amplifier to achieve better results. The Monolith Liquid Spark is a great option if you want to use the Virtual Surround features with the DT 990 Pro’s 250-ohm and 600-ohm variants. 

Overall, if you want something slightly different from the standard DAC/Amp formula, then the GSX 1000 is a great device. It arguably has the best 7.1 surround sound implementation, which will surely transform how the DT 990 Pro performs. 

For Producers, Content Creators, and Streamers 

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2/Scarlett 2i4/Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools | First
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Generation (Image: Amazon)

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If you are looking for a DAC/Amp that is more suitable for professional work or live streaming but still maintains a good sounding headphone output, then the Focusrite’s 3rd Generation Audio Interfaces is a good fit for you. Those who are specifically looking for an alternative to our gaming options will find the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and the Scarlett Solo to be great alternatives. 

The headphone output of the 2i2 and Solo features great power output and a flat sound signature for accurate monitoring. It can reliably power headphones up to 150 ohms, making the 80-ohm variant of the DT 990 Pro a great fit (we also tested and confirmed it with the 150-ohm Sennheiser HD660s). However, it may struggle with the 250-ohm variant, which strictly needs a headphone amplifier. 

But the real advantage of going with the Scarlett Series is its microphone preamp. You can use professional microphones such as the Shure SM7B to achieve a cleaner signal. It is far cleaner and better sounding than the 3.5mm microphone input of any of our gaming DAC/Amp picks. 

Additionally, there is a gain knob that has LED lights that indicate your volume level. It turns red when you are clipping. It also has 48 Volts phantom power for condenser microphones. 

Another average of the Scarlett series is the zero-latency mic monitoring option. This feature enables you to directly hear your instrument or microphone. This is a feature that is notably missing on all of our gaming picks. 

Overall, the Scarlett 2i2/Solo’s class-leading mic preamp makes it the best option for streamers, professionals, and content creators. And when you are not using it for work, it also doubles as a great sounding DAC/Amp for the DT 990 Pro. 

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