Beyerdynamic T1 – The Detail Master
There isn’t much to lament over except the ultra high 600ohm impedance…this headphone eats amplifiers for breakfast and spits out the bones without thinking twice. The beauteous luster this headphone offers on the treble and the upper midrange is simply stunning…and highly addictive. I find this headphone to be one of the most useful and enjoyable headphones in this report due to the fact that it is virtually faultless with genre selection.
The headphone is supremely light and comfortable and when coupled with Beyer’s fantastic velor pads, the physical comfort of this headphone knows no equal in the Summit level headphone world. One thing that bugs me is the overall tone and house sound of most Beyer headphones, it just isn’t my thing and I find it immensely boring on the low end, offering a very dry and anticlimactic experience that isn’t very clean or precise, potentially even blurry on the edge work. It is almost as if the T1 doesn’t know what type of bass experience it really wanted to be and is in a constant state of flux and panic, undecided on whether it should be more reserved or more engaging. I find it severely out of place with the midrange and treble experience, both of which are on the brighter side ( a’la DT880 ) and offer excellent engaging qualities without being too harsh or too boring. Where the upper end excels, the lower end feels a bit fluttery with hazards and potential for warping slightly and loosing control where you want it most. The bass allotment is on the very lowest end of moderate, not lacking or thin but just barely out of reach of what it needs to be to fill in the lopsided feel to the entire spectrum. With the midrange and treble abundant, vibrant and highly engaging, the low end leaves the presentation a bit too lacking and unbalanced for me. Unfortunately, the T1 does not respond very well to bass enhancement and loses control very quickly.
On an technical level, this headphone offers some of the best micro detailing out there. I tend to find myself getting totally lost in translation somewhere in the void of space and time, floating freely in the equidistant space of the musical void. Looming and rooted somewhere between nirvana and reality, it isn’t until a track I dislike or exterior forces interrupt me that I ever desire to discontinue using the T1. This is a powerful statement for me, considering the overall clarity on the T1 is a step behind most of the others in this report. Despite lacking width and height, the stereo imaging quality and overall size and shape of the T1 presentation is beyond exceptionally well formed. The T1 retains excellent intimacy without feeling overly stretched, however the physical locale of the sound signature is one of being slightly recessed and closer to the Hifiman HE560 in physical setup.
It doesn’t matter what you do with the T1, it will perform admirably in almost any venue from musical instrument monitoring, to gaming, classical to rock and roll. It would be great to see Beyerdynamic revise this model with more efficiency, detachable cables and more solidity to the low end of the spectrum. As it stands right now, the recent storm of Planar headphones from Hifiman, Oppo and Audeze have really taken over the headphone world and positively flooded the old school titans like the T1 and similar headphones of yesteryear. Exceptional comfort with a well rounded flare to the sound signature makes for one of the best all around headphones on the market. Due to recent price drops on this headphone, it no longer qualifies as a Summit headphone, yet despite that it still retains shockingly gorgeous tone and detail and deserves inclusion with the rest of the popular Summit level models. It also happens to be the most accurate headphone on earth for pinpointing sounds and accuracy in placement of instruments in the stereo void, which is something FPS gamers and musical recording studios should be paying attention to. Nothing on this list is physically accurate to the physical layout of a track recording…and I mean nothing. Not even the HD800 compares to placement of sounds, which is a very upsetting event for me due to the lack of sound stage vastness in the T1. While the stage is relatively small and circular, what appears inside the void reigns supreme as the most physically accurate, most adept in ability to place sounds according to their actual location in the stereo void, a fact absolutely proven in online gaming environments. First Person Shooter gamers should not ever touch any other headphone in this report if they are buying and shopping strictly for Pinpoint Accuracy: The T1 slaughters all 11 other headphones in this report in that area.
The Most Interesting Comparisons
T1 vs Hifiman HE560
I do not believe the T1 can compete with the level of clarity of the AKG K812, nor the HD800 and Audeze’s in this report. However, I do find it to be more akin to the Hifiman HE560. Both seem to offer the same general set up: plentiful bass, softer than usual impact in the midrange and a bright flare to the treble. Both headphones also share a similar physical presentation, one of a relaxed and gently pushed back experience lacking stage width and separation qualities from left to right. I would rate these headphones equals, all be it with minor differences between them. As of this report ( 2014 ) the price of the T1 has dropped down to $650 commonly in used areas of the Internets electronics forums and even eBay. This is a hard deal to pass up.
T1 vs Oppo PM-1
The PM-1 retains a much darker backdrop, that jet black curtain all things in the void lay upon allows the instruments and vocals to pop more than the T1, in turn allowing for a much more yummy and intimate experience. The T1 is much softer in the midrange snappiness factor, the PM-1 is noticeably more impacting and more harshly presented. Despite the PM-1 offering more clarity all around, the T1 remains the better headphone to relax and enjoy everything with due to that softer approach in the mids and bass experience, as well as the mildly relaxed presentation. Unquestionably, the T1 bulls over the PM-1 with sound staging qualities and utterly destroys the PM-1 with depth of field and that realism factor.
T1 vs Alpha Dog
The most immediately noticeable difference here would be the overall coloration and tone differences between these two headphones: The Alpha Dog is sadistically, perfectly colored and musical in the midrange and bass, the T1 is more brightly colored all around the spectrum. Both headphones are power hungry and demand at least 2watts of driving force on high gain, however the Alpha dog seems much more needy with power needs on the low end. ( Most likely due to the Planar tech and how voltage affects bass with these headphones ) The more voltage fed into the Alpha, the better the bass sounds, however the T1 doesn’t really benefit much from excessive driving power. The Alpha Dog has a stronger sense of width and separation, the T1 a more intimate and relaxed presentation with more treble presence. It came to a shocking suprise to me that the Alpha Dog bested the T1 in all departments except comfort…an absolutely unfair battle from start to finish.
Rig Recommendations: The T1 does not mix well with forward signature amplifiers, so try to pick an amp that is known for a more relaxed presentation with a great deal of output driving power. This headphone should be right at home with the likes of the Oppo HA-1, Burson series or even the older Apex Butte and similar amplifiers of that style. If you wish to retain the brighter and softer sound signature the T1 naturally presents, aim for amplifiers with a neutral sound signature. Neutral amplifiers seem to keep the T1’s general sound signature in check, warm or overly bright sounding sources and amplifiers seem detrimental. However, if you do prefer a warmer low end, I would certainly opt for a warm source Dac and the warmest bass in an amplifier that is available. It is going to take a lot of coloration to alter the sound signature of the T1 to something I would consider highly musical.
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