For nearly a century, the German company has produced top of the line cans with a range of features and price points, all handcrafted in Heilbronn, Germany with extraordinary care and detail - from the aesthetics right down to the nuts and bolts hardware on the inside. Their newest offering is also their latest flagship model: a 3rd generation update of the T1 open back stereo headphone. Loyal T1 users will be happy to see that many of the designs and features they love have been retained, but there are also some key differences worth noting.
What’s in the Box!
The new T1 seeks to make an impression right off the bat, featuring a generously sized carrying case complete with soft velour exterior. The silvery metal badge on the front, which features the Beyerdynamic name and logo are also a tasteful touch that send a message to those parting with their hard earned cash in pursuit of aural excellence: you’re in good hands.
Along with the requisite paperwork, including warranty information and a quality guarantee, these gen 3s come with detachable two sided 3.5mm cable, as well as an attachable quarter inch adapter. The 3m ends slide into the earcup input at a 45 degree angle for a tight, secure fit.
Design and Fit
If there was one guiding principle that went into crafting the look and materials of the new T1s, I can only imagine that it had to be luxury, as the materials used in this new design are all top notch quality.
The 3rd gen model has switched over from a silver-heavy detail palette to a more monochromatic charcoal color, giving these cans a sleeker and more striking finish than their predecessor. The earcups are made of lacquered stainless steel and feature an elegant perforated design to facilitate the expansive acoustics that open back headphone wearers seek out. The extendable yokes are made from a brushed and anodised aluminum giving them a nice sheen and a smooth feel, once again highlighting Beyerdynamic’s unflagging dedication to using only the best materials in it’s designs.
The earpads themselves are replaceable, and for the most part extremely comfortable. The material is once again soft black velour, and the pads feature multiple layers of cushioning, one of which is memory foam that will gently form to the ear for a more custom fit and maximum comfort. Finally, the connector cables are encased in a coating of protective fabric and made from ultra high purity OCC7N copper for pure signal transmission.
As far as building materials, you’d be hard pressed to find much better than this ( I mean look at this - the headband is even topped with a strip alcantara suede - that kind of material is usually reserved for the interior of yachts and sports cars).
That being said however, the materials do undoubtedly add a bit of bulk to the headphone overall.
For one, these new T1s are fairly rigid, and aren’t foldable or collapsible. This combined with the relatively large size of the carrying case don’t make them the most portable option. These are probably going to serve you best at home, rather than on the go. The clamping force of the headband is also a tad strong for my taste, as it makes the earpads a little hot and less breathable, but this may be less of an issue if you have a different size head, like an extra snug fit, or just don’t wear glasses.
As far as differences from the last model, the key feature likely to turn some heads this time around is the impedance. The new model T1 reduces the signal output of its predecessor, which was a hefty 600 Ohms, all the way down to just 32 Ohms for the new gen 3s. This will be good news for anyone who wants to plug right into your tablet or computer without an amplifier to get a very large and full dynamic range, with good sensitivity and volume. Some others, however, may be left disappointed that there aren’t more high impedance options.
This electronic efficiency can be credited directly to the much touted Tesla driver technology, which is utilized again in this new version in order to push these larger sized drivers to deliver supremely high fidelity reproduction directly from virtually any portable player of your choice.
Seeing as these are an open back model, the new T1 is engineered with a focus on creating a large palette of sonic space - and boys does it succeed in this regard. The ear cups here are nice and large, with plenty of room inside the headphone to achieve a floating effect around the ear that creates a sense of spaciousness and facilitates large out of head projection - which is exactly what you want in a model like this.
The driver placement here is also crucial. They are slightly tilted toward the front for maximum spatial specificity. This creates a subtle forward facing quality to the sound that provides a wide open and vertical sonic image, as opposed to a more condense or closed in one, like you might get from the T5, the T1s sister model.
The biggest surprise here is just how present the bass frequencies come through in the mix. While this is not normally the domain of open backs, which typically offer a more distant and balanced response, the bass resonance here is quite deep and packs a larger punch than expected. That being said, the lows are still warm and smooth without any muddiness at all, maintaining a nearly pristine clarity that keeps head space open even in songs with heavy bass drone or rumble.
For example, a song with a particularly grooving and aggressive bassline, like Don’t Start Now by Dua Lipa, is right at home in the new T1s. The part has body and thickness to it that you can feel through the headphone, but the sound is still spread out enough to provide plenty of room for the other elements to breathe, without blending indecipherably.
The mids here are fairly crisp and clear, providing high levels of detail in guitars, synths, pianos and strings. Vocals also come forward nicely and are generally very clear and intelligible. There does seem to be a slightly lower cut in the mids, as the textures all feel a bit warmer and thicker, without as much shimmer in the high mids as some listeners may prefer. This gives the mid range a very rich and aesthetically pleasing tone, but may be less desirable for someone seeking a drier and more analytically minded mid range.
I have no complaints for the highs here, they just don’t particularly stand out in this iteration. Some of the more sparkly definition that the earlier model T1s featured appear to have been dialed back ever so slightly in favor of that generally warmer and rounder sound. In terms of spatial construction and imaging, the highs feel slightly less expansive than the lows and lower mids do, and they lack some of the fluidity of movement that the thicker frequencies are afforded. Regardless, these are still high resolution certified, so it’s more about preference than it is any kind of deficiency. By any standard, these are still crystal clear and provide an exceptional amount of clarity.
For true audiophiles looking for a sophisticated and detailed headphone made with real quality, and at a higher price point, there’s isn’t much reason not to recommend the T1 gen 3. If you love the generation 2 model, but wish there was a little more warmth and breadth to the sound, then this is definitely the purchase for you.
Sophisticated, luxurious design for aesthetic and comfort
Full dynamic range without any need for external amplifier
Robust and detailed low end that is unusual for an open backed headphone
Superior detail with respect to sound stage and imaging, due to open back design and tilted drivers
Large 5,000 hz to 50,000 hz frequency range for high fidelity reproduction
These may not be for you if...
You’re disappointed by lack of higher impedance option
You’re looking for something a bit more portable.