Music, Reviews, Technology

Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation Review

August 8, 2017

Introduction

I purchased the Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Gen headphones from Amazon Canada for $1,101 (before tax) a month ago. The price for these T1s has gone up on Amazon to $1,604 before tax (Regularly priced at the time of this review.) An audiophile can still purchase these headphones for the same price as I did on Beyerdynamic’s Offical Website. A real bargain, indeed.

Along with the T1s, I bought a portable USB headphone amplifier, and DAC called Apogee Groove from Amazon Canada for $350.

This review will focus exclusively on the Beyerdynamic T1s 2nd gen which is accompanied by the rather surprising power and sound of the Apogee Groove Portable USB Headphone Amplifier/DAC.

The total cost for these high-end luxury professional audiophile items after tax was around $1,670. Not bad. That is relatively cheap in contrast to the Sennheiser HD 800 S Reference Headphone System which has always retailed for $2,199 in Canada.

The T1s (1st and 2nd gen) have always been direct competitors to the Sennheiser HD 800S and are considered to be in the same league. The T1s serve tremendous merit, especially for its current price point. As I illustrate in this review, the T1’s quality matches its price. The T1 2nd gen and HD 800S are the Lamborghini of headphones. Hence, it’s not surprising to find these high-end audiophile headphones to be in the same top tier category of exceptional sound and quality.

Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation Review

Compared to the T1 1st gen, these newer released second generation T1s come with removable cables and an enormous redesigned case.

The removable cables are the biggest improvement of the T2s in my opinion. The first gen T1s lacked this option which severely weakened them in the cable department when directly compared to the older Sennheiser HD 800.

Sound

Ignore the smiley faces.

Okay, this is the part what everyone wants to know: How is the sound on the Beyerdynamic T1 Second Generation Audiophile Headphones?

My answer is simple: Brilliant IF paired with a capable amp and DAC like the Apogee Groove.

Let me describe the sound to you for a second here. The second gen T1s produce crystal clear background music and vocals. When you are listening to an artist, you feel like you are in the same room as they are. In fact, it feels as though the artist is in front of you thanks to the sensational central sound imaging of the artist’s vocals. By this, I mean the vocals are ideally aligned in the center for the listener’s pleasure.

With the T1s, you can hear the smallest details in the music you’ve never heard from any headphones in your life before. Whether it is the artist’s breathe, a background instrument, or a background singer providing back vocals. It’s all there for you to listen to, provided you choose the appropriate amp and DAC capable of driving this high impedance 600 ohms headphone.

With a burn-in of the T1s, the depth and width of the sound signature broaden. Accuracy in sound detail increases.

The T1s do reveal the flaws of a recording. Hence, if the music recording you are going to play is poorly recorded, expect to be disappointed.

Beyerdynamic T1 Second Generation With Apogee Groove

You can’t just plug in these bad boys directly in your devices like computers. I tried, and it sounded atrocious. When you plug in directly, you can’t witness the glory of the T1s, the headphones’ sound signature, details, and soundstage. Hence, if you ever consider purchasing these, you must buy a decent amp or prepare to be disappointed!

The surprise of the century.

The Constant Current Drive™ output technology in the Apogee Groove provides plenty of power, and the Groove has absolutely no problem driving the T1s! The T1 gen 2 is not considered a bass-heavy headphone, yet the Groove is able to furnish a broad soundstage and exceptionally great imaging for it’s miniature and portable size. One is capable of hearing nuances with the combination of the Beyerdynamic T1s and Apogee Groove which are generally reserved and discovered in higher-end desktop systems. The DAC/amp combined in one package is worth its price.

What makes the T1 2nd gen exceptional is the mere fact that it is not as amp picky as another top tier headphone like the HD800S which requires thousands of dollars to be spent on a high amp/DAC system. You can just spend $350 on a portable AMP/DAC without sacrificing sound quality and listening experience on the T1s. While the Groove is considered to sound great on the HD800S, it makes little sense to not invest in a drastically more expensive amp system given the HD800S reputation as extremely amp picky. The amp picked for the HD800S can make or break the headphones’ sound signature and listening experience. Whereas, the Groove is less limiting in this area which provides it with an advantage over its competition.

The synergy between the Apogee Groove and Beyerdynamic’s T1 Second Generation flagship headphones substantiates to be remarkable.

Musical Disappointments, Strength, Courage, Genres, Personal Preferences and Tastes.
Take That Treble

One of my criticisms of this audiophile headphone is that NOT all of your favorite music will sound great with the T1s. For instance, one of my favorite recently released pop songs by the British band Take That called Giants is less pleasant sounding, especially in the chorus. While the background instrumental and beginning vocal performance by Gary Barlow is promising, the chorus, in my opinion, sounds dreadful. This is partially due to the word “Giants” being sung which you can clearly hear the annoying “sss” accompanied by the word “Giant.” This is extremely annoying, and the T1s simply produces too much treble in the song that it stings my ears, diminishing my appreciation, enjoyment, and patience for the song. And Patience which is probably one of my all-time favorite Take That songs is a disappointment with the T1s. A lack of balance is evident. Though Flaws by Take That sounds amazing on the T1s and Lucky Stars by Take That is a properly balanced adventure.

Wow

The 2nd gen T1s shine in particular genres such as acoustic and instrumental only music. Wanna know who sounds extremely good on the T1s? Shane Filan, one of the former lead singers of Westlife. Filan’s vocals perfectly display the capabilities of the Tesla drivers in the T1s which some have become grown suspicious of due to its gimmicky appeal. Particularly, Filan’s cover of Heaven (originally sung by Bryan Adams) is ridiculously good. The vocals in the center accompanied by the subtle background instrumental is purely fascinating and spot on. The recording is reflective of an acoustic performance which may partially explain why this specific recording sounds tremendously great. Acoustic recordings simply rock on the T1s. The flute near the end and the last chorus feels very real. Indeed, it feels too real. This is an angelic performance by one of the best underrated modern British pop singers. And Unbreakable, the latest single by Shane Filan off his newest album Love Always is a joy to listen to on these T1s. Filan’s angelic vocals soar into a new reality.

Live With Sting

A live performance of Sting‘s Roxanne from the 2001 album All This Time displays clear center vocal imagery with the instruments being positioned precisely where the listener feels “just there” in the performance. With the audience cheering and clapping, you’re very much “living the moment” of the “past.”

Jazzlicious

Another artist that sounds phenomenal is Norah Jones. Her vocals perfectly complement the Tesla drivers on the T1s. There isn’t an overwhelming burst of tremble on the tracks she sings on that exists with some of my other favorite artists. Don’t Know Why is a classic. Young Blood from the album The Fall For you jazz lovers, it’s a joy to listen to Jones on these headphones.

Say You Won’t Let Go

No, I’m not crazy. I’m talking about James Arthur‘s lead single Say You Won’t Let Go from his album Back from the Edge. Arthur is smooth on the track. Not surprisingly, Arthur always shines with his unique artistry and sound. Arthur excels on the track Can I Be Him which is one of my personal favorites off the album. He always sings with emotion, and the T1s make the sound and emotion Arthur is conveying into further realism. You can genuinely feel the struggle of life on these high-end headphones. You feel that you are experiencing these emotions with the artist at the same time.

R&B/Hip Hop/Rap

The genres of R&B, Hip Hop, and Rap truly shine on the T1s. Keri Hilson on the track Knock You Down featuring Kanye West, and Ne-Yo sounds surprisingly good. In fact, all artists on the track sound real good. The underrated Hilson is a joy to listen to on the T1s. Smooth, relaxed and easygoing vocals of Hilson is a hallmark that’s strengthened and enhanced by the T1s. Ne-Yo, the tremendous artist, and performer is stunning on the track. Kanye West with his rap greatly complements the other artists on track. I’m not joking. You can repeat, listen to this track, and not grow tired of it on the Beyerdynamic T1s.

Light It Up, Light It Up, Everybody Light It Up

Kardinall Offishall & Kerri Hilson bring an epic performance on the John Holt‘s The Tide Is High aka Numba 1. The Toronto rapper Offishall’s enthusiasm is clearly evident on Numba 1. He is a leader “main voice” on the track, yet he doesn’t overpower Hilson with his strong presence and vocal support on the track. The T1s made this obvious and Hilson has the opportunity to let her talent soar on Numba 1 while Offishall goes “Oh, Oh, Oh, Hey, Hey, Hey, Everybody Light It Up, Everybody Light It Up, Light Up, Everybody Light It Up” and the T1s do not render Offishal invasive to the listener. Rather, all epicness is revealed. The headphones solely illustrate two talents together on a well-known and epic well-made track. Suddenly, it feels great to be a Torontonian!

The bottom line is that these aforementioned genres sound way better than one might come to expect on the T1s.

Green Light By Lorde

The track Green Light by Lorde serves as another example that the T1s can deliver accurate, balanced bass, and clear vocals without distortion at all. The beauty of Lorde’s musical performance is an absolute “sight to hear” on the T1s. Details are presented accurately without overwhelming and presenting the listener with complexity that a headphone like Sennheiser’s HD 800S typically reveals. It’s important to note that there is no compromise on the T1s either.

Paramore & Hayley Williams

The latest and dare I say greatest Paramore single Hard Times sounds sensational. The song is entirely there for you to listen and enjoy on the T1s. Oversimplification doesn’t exist. Hayley Williams’ vocals always sound fantastic, and she sounds even greater now thanks to the 2nd gen T1s. The ending instrumental in the track has always been my favorite part of the track, and the T1s simply enhance the listening pleasure of the track. You can keep repeating this track, and you’ll never grow tired of Paramore and the T1s.

We Are The World

It’s important to listen to a track on the T1s where many artists collaborate on. The modern We Are The World remake released in 2010 is an ideal example. More than a dozen of voices can be heard. No matter the differences in vocal styles, the star-studded Artists for Haiti all sound brilliant. The choir in the track and chorus do not overwhelm the lead vocals. There is no compromise in sound and experience.

Eternal Flame By The Bangles

Whats the point of reviewing a high-end headphone without listening to a beautiful renowned classic track like Eternal Flame by The Bangles? The T1 2nd gen brings out this classic track on to another level. Susanna Hoffs, the lead singer of The Bangles, soars by simply singing the song and the instrumental along with the backing vocals are brought to life. The purity and simplicity of the song are conveyed to the listener. Male backing vocals toward the end of the song bring back that 80s nostalgia feeling that is lacking in our modern times. It’s the kind of feeling that is unique to that era. Things created in the past are simply and never will be the same as today. Whether the listener was a witness of that era or not, he or she can certainly witness by reliving the audio experience through the T1s.

Instrumental Music

The instrumental genre is certainly one of the top three genres where the T1s shine the most in. Music without vocals and merely musical instruments showcase the depth, wide soundstage, detailed sound of the T1 2nd gen. For instance, I listened to Lindsey Stirling‘s epic Crystallize, and the T1s convey that song’s beauty accurately without any distortion whatsoever at any volume. Another example relates to Ramin Djawadi‘s Prison Break track called Special Agent Mahone. The T1s simply point out the curiosity, genuity, and prodigy that the instrumental track always sought to achieve and deliver to its prime time television audience. Who knew a 1 minute and 24-second track could speak and be so powerful simultaneously? Listening to the instrumental genre through these headphones is an affirmation that the T1s are truly a lifelong worthwhile purchase.

TayTay

The 2nd T1s are still a semi-open headphone which means that a lot of sound will still leak out. People around you can hear your music. Therefore, you might not want to play Ricky Martin‘s She Bangs out loud! Or some Taylor Swift song.

Speaking of Taylor Swift, the song Style sung by Swift showcases the T1s ability to produce a wide, accurate sound. The bass is not overpowering, and Swift’s vocals recorded in the studio do wonder to the listener. Easily put, she sounds wonderful on this track.

Some people do not find the T1s appealing at all due to them perceiving the T1s as producing too much treble. And there are those that appreciate the T1s unique sound signature and even prefer them over the HD800S. In life, people have different tastes. It’s basically the same thing as liking someone that another person wouldn’t like ever. It all comes down to personal preferences and tastes.

Design

Each Beyerdynamic T1 comes with a unique engraved serial number attached near the hinge area which indicates how many were manufactured as each of these are handmade in Germany. The serial number I received was in the range of the 31xxx which is considered exceptional as earlier numbers especially the first 1000 had alleged sound issues (As reported by some people). The 30xxx serials have an improved butterfly hinge mechanism which makes it a bit easier to adjust the headphone’s headband size.

Now on to the adjustable hinge which at first I disliked because it was extremely hard to adjust them. With time, it became considerably easier to adjust them. I guess I rather have them harder to adjust since a headphone that is initially easy to adjust can be perceived as a cheaply made product.

The construction of these T1s is excellent. After all, these are handmade in Germany and come with a 5-year warranty. The headphones just feel very well made and are extremely solid. They feel like they can survive a moderate beating. When you hold on these pair of headphones, you immediately know this isn’t a cheap headphone. It’s a pair that is individually tailored and made with lasting materials.

The ear cushions of the T1s appear to be quite difficult to take off, and I don’t recommend taking them off unless you really have to. The HD800S have the benefit of easily replacing the ear cushions.

The New And “Improved” Huge T1 2nd Generation Storage Case

Q-tips sold separately.

The new headphone case for the 2nd gen T1s is rather interesting. Why? Because the case is enormous! It would look extremely odd to carry the T1s in this redesigned case through Airport without drawing attention from security.

No, the Razer products do not come with the T1s.

Am I a fan of this new headphone storage case? I’m on the fence for this. While it’s bulky, it does provide substantial protection for these expensive, well-made German headphones. But in a way, it does look a little bit absurd and silly. The old case for the 1st gen T1s was made of aluminum and was a bit smaller.

Would I store these headphones in the new case and travel with it? Yeah because I don’t have anything else to store these T1s and these headphones aren’t exactly cheap. After all, the case has a purpose which is to protect the T1s, and it does it well while looking a bit funny. The case’s bulkiness is an advantage when it comes to absorbing bumps and hits. Ultimately, the case serves its purpose well. Protecting your newly German made investment is imperative. Heck, it would be even more important if it was made in China. Hence, I don’t really have any complaints.

Comfort

What’s great about the T1s is that once you put them on, you forgot you had them on in the first place! Even after several hours of listening to your music or videos!

The headband is made of a high-grade protein-coated leatherette. Moreover, the breathable, super-soft ear cushions are made with memory foam.

Conclusion

As a person who holds exceptionally high standards, I found these headphones to be phenomenal, notably when accompanied by an amp that can power these effortlessly. Arguably, one would expect to be stunned at this price point.

If I purchase something I’m not satisfied, I simply return the item. Have I done this before? Yeah, a lot. I have like a 90% return rate for electronic item purchases. I simply aim for the best.

While the HD800S has a better soundstage than the T1 gen 2 or any other headphone (except the Orpheus HE 90/1), the T1s is a better choice for casual listeners that just love to listen to music daily without having to encounter the over-analyzing serious pricey HD800S that are also extremely amp picky. The T1s don’t have these potential issues that HD800S has long been thought of presenting to the listener. Again, we arrive at the different opinions and tastes of different people. For instance, one person is insanely attracted to another human being while other individuals feel nothing toward that entity. Peoples’ preferences and needs vary.

The T1s don’t need to pretend to be the HD800S because it’s entirely distinct. The T1s have sound characteristics and design features that separate it from the HD800S. In other words, the T1s make a nice complement to the Sennheiser HD800S.

The T1s don’t merely sound good, they feel good too. Although your wallet might not.

Nice work, Beyerdynamic and Apogee!

I’m keeping these.

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