There are a few brands that could be considered a powerhouse in the world of audio and headphones and Beyerdynamic is without a doubt one of them. beyerdynamic has been family owned since its founding in 1924 and are regarded as one of the best when it comes to headphones. The original T1 was released way back in 2010 and received much high praise as well as firmly planting itself in the position of one of the best to ever grace the ears of avid listeners. Today I’ll be looking at the latest iteration of the top of the line Beyerdynamic T1 2nd generation.
“I WANT TO BE THE BRIDGE TO THE NEXT GENERATION.” MICHAEL JORDAN
This product was loaned to me as part of a southeast Asian tour for the purpose of an honest review. All opinions and observations are my own, based on my experience with the product.
We start off with the typically styled beyerdynamic box with a large profile shot of the headphones on the front with another photo along with some features and specifications on the rear. The anticipation is palpable at this point, especially if you have seen the aluminum protective case that came with the previous iteration of the T1. But then…oh 🙁 Well, it seems the 2nd gen comes with a rather uninspiring but admittedly more practical and portable hard case with a suede-like covering.
Inside we find the headphones, a 3 meter textile braided, removable cable and a screw-on 6.35 mm adapter. A detachable cable was one of the most requested features of the original T1 and here beyerdynamic have delivered. The cable feels very robust and high quality but it also means that now of course it can be easily swapped out for a shorter or balanced cable which should please many enthusiasts.
Build, comfort and isolation
Physically these headphones are built almost identically to the original version with the large, beyerdynamic style brackets and that gorgeous metal grill on the ear-cups giving them their semi-open designation and making them look exquisitly premium in the process. The leather on the headband of the original has been replaced by pleather and of course the cable is now detachable but everything else is much the same – handcrafted in Germany, and reassuringly sturdy.
The drivers are decentralized, angled and are in a position which leaves plenty of room for even large ears (like mine).
Isolation is pretty poor with these, yeah semi-open so you’d expect that but it means ideally you’ll need a quiet environment to get the most out of your listening. Another thing to consider is the noise leakage which might disturb others around you.
PC/MusicBee > JDS Labs Element (high gain) > T1 2nd gen
Shinrico D3S > Arcam irDAC-ii > T1 2nd gen
FiiO X1ii > Bravo Audio Ocean > T1 2nd gen
Music used for testing (all .flac files)
Philippe Jordan, Wiener Symphoniker – Schubert symphonies 7 & 8
Run The Jewels – Run the Jewels 3
Jeremy Soule and Julian Soule – Guild Wars 2 soundtrack
Earthside – A Dream in Static
Unfortunately, I never got a chance to hear the original T1 but from what I’ve learned the 2nd generation hasn’t strayed too far from its roots but has had some tweaks. beyerdynamic say:
The second generation of this high-end model impresses thanks to a new, even further enhanced tuning with a touch more warmth and musicality that will delight audiophile listeners. Moreover, a carefully intensified bass gives fans of contemporary music, in particular, the low-frequency foundation that they are looking for.
Obviously, I can’t do a comparison with the gen 1 to see if they’re right but I certainly can try to convey what my ears are telling me. An impressive soundstage is immediately apparent, not ultra wide but there’s a great sense of depth which gives a more palpable feeling of the recording space.
Right off the bat, these didn’t sound as analytical as I was expecting but richer and more musical, with plenty of warmth and overall balance, albeit with some added weight in the bass. There’s transparency and detail but its driven in a way to make music enjoyable, not so much for mixing and mastering.
Bass notes have a solid edge giving kick drums some nice punch and driving power. Mid-bass has been given a bit of elevation while sub-bass digs deep but control is tight. “Down” by Run The Jewels from the Run The Jewels 3 album showcases the strength of the T1’s bass with it’s driving beats edged with lashings of sub-bass.
Though elevated the bass takes nothing away from the mids, in fact, the vocals come clearly to the forefront in this track. From the gentle beginning to the rousing crescendo, Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero” by Valery Gergiev and the London Symphony Orchestra is a joy as the T1 2nd gen flexes its muscles with a wonderful balance throughout its dynamic range which along with the soundstage and imaging puts you right in the concert hall with aplomb.
Vocals get some special attention with the T1. They’re raised out of the din to be presented front and centre but they’re surrounded by tasty detail. From warm male voices like Jonas Renkse from Katatonia to the busy pop-driven tracks by Utada Hikaru they’re handled with a confidence and striking tonality.
The treble is slightly boosted but stays behind the upper mids. There’s a little bit of sparkle and airiness there but I didn’t come across any hint of sibilance. If anything I found the upper midrange to be more likely to cause fatigue as treble finds the perfect level of shimmer without causing irritation.
Comfort and fit are very similar. Both headphones have the same relaxed clamping force and similar overall shape. The T1 is a little more aggressive in the bass, particularly mid-bass while the treble has some extra emphasis as well.
Transparency and resolution are superior on the T1 making it more revealing and detailed. In contrast the Amiron Home has a more relaxed presentation and for me would be better suited for longer listening sessions as the T1 assaults your senses with more of everything, which is fantastic but demands more from the listener. The T1 also demands more from your source gear and amplifier- you’ll need something with a bit of grunt to get the most from these 600 ohm headphones.
Physically the T5P is very similar to the Beyerdynamic T1 2nd generation all the way down to the cups. Both headbands share the same materials and characteristics but the T5P has the slightest extra bit of clamping force which makes sense since they’re designed to be portable so you’re more likely to be moving around with them. You can tell that Beyerdynamic’s engineers put a lot of thought into the entire design process that goes further than just optimizing the sound.
Unlike the T1 the T5P is a closed back system so they lose some of the airiness and soundstage in comparison. They both share angled, decentralized drivers to improve the soundstage but because of its semi-open traits, the T1 comes out ahead in this department though the T5P is still impressive for a closed set.
The ear-pads are different too with the T5P having pleather covers in place of the T1’s velour which means they get warmer on your ears but also improve isolation and reduce sound leakage. These two headphones share a similar bass signature that is slightly north of neutral with the T5P having a slightly crisper edge.
The treble on the T1 is superior in sound in my opinion as the T5P can get edgier and titter on being sibilant. Overall I prefer the sound and comfort of the T1 but for listening on the move the T5P is a great alternative.
Beyerdynamic T1 2nd generation Conclusion
After hearing the Beyerdynamic T1 2nd generation I have an understanding of what made the gen 1 so popular. Knowing my personal sound preferences I’m pretty sure that if I were able to directly compare the two I’d prefer the 2nd gen due to having extra weight in the bass and warmth in the lower mids.
Comfort is top notch with angled drivers and plenty of depth in the cups to prevent your ears from touching the baffle combined with a low clamping force. Then there’s the spacious soundstage, fast and accurate bass with a hint of elevation, a sub-bass that extends really well and treble that’s detailed and airy without any nasty peaks. If you want top of the line cans, these fit the bill and if you have the money to spare then I’d heartily recommend them.
The Amiron Home shares similar characteristics and is roughly half the price so would be a good alternative if you want to save some cash but if you can afford it (currently available at $1,099 on Amazon) the T1 takes things to another level again.
You can buy the Beyerdynamic T1 2nd generation on Amazon HERE.