HeadphonesMusic

Beyerdynamic Headphones Review: T51i, DT1770 PRO, T1 2.Gen, and A2

Beyerdynamic T51i when worn

My first experience with Beyerdynamic audio products was at Canjam Singapore in February 2016. Back then, I reviewed the DT 1770 PRO and T 5 p. Last month, Beyerdynamic contacted me and asked if I am keen to review more of their audio products. Initially I selected just one unit, but they told me to take more.
And so I ended up with 4 review units in a carton box.

Beyerdynamic review by musicphotolife.com

If you have not heard of Beyerdynamic, here’s a brief intro. Originated in Berlin Germany in 1924 by Eugen Beyer, the company is well-known for professional audio and microphone products as well as audio conferencing equipment. The brand is not as known as Sennheiser or Shure because the 2 have strong presence in the consumer segment.

( The spaces between the model numbers are how beyerdynamic wants them to be presented. Note also the brand is not capitalised. But in this review, I will write them in the conventional way for ease of reading.)

T 51 i

Beyerdynamic T51p unbox

Let’s start with the least expensive headphone. The T51 is a lightweight on-ear wired headphones of stainless steel structure and leather paddings, design specially for mobile devices. The T51i comes with in-line buttons that work with iOS, while T51p works with all other smartphones. Its retail price is S$529 and made in Germany.

Beyerdynamic T51i in-line control close up

The ‘T’ in the models stand for Tesla, the technology that Beyerdynamic uses on these headphones to drive the speakers. In traditional dynamic speaker drivers, neodymium magnet is used at the centre of the system, and its size was limited inside the headphones. The Tesla system uses a very powerful magnet mounted as a ring encircling the coil and this diverts more energy to the membrane, resulting in more precise, cleaner and detailed sound with a low degree of total harmonic distortion. (read more about Tesla technology here)

Beyerdynamic T51p close up

I would describe the T51i as a musical headphones that delivers detailed expansive audio across all frequencies without bias or overpowering. There is sufficient sparkle in the treble but not exaggerated like some consumer headphones. The bass is also slightly elevated yet not boomy. The mids are forward, which brings out the vocals. Each instrument can be heard distinctly, even the subtle triangle percussion in “Give Life Back to Music” by Daft Punk.

Perhaps due to the sensitive Tesla driver, the T51 headphones is more particular with the quality of the source and amplifier. The T51 sounds unimpressed on the LG G5 and the Neffos C5 Max, and I had to max out the volume. When I switched to the LG Hi-Fi Plus 32-bit DAC module, the details appear and there is better instrument separation. Similarly with my Sony NWZ-A15, the T51 is enjoyable and comfortable.

The ear cups offer adequate noise isolation though in public places I can still hear noises at higher frequencies (like utensils, kids screaming). There is no discernible sound leak, so you can turn up the volume without disturbing your neighbour.

Due to the relatively small speaker driver, the T51 is not ideal to listen at very loud volumes, as the music may sound crowded. And it certainly is no match with the bigger brothers when it comes to dynamic. But it’s a great pair of headphones to enjoy premium sounds on the go with a little nice boost on the bass to compensate for the ambient noises.

T 51 i/p Spec

Transducer type: Dynamic
Operating principle: Closed
Frequency response: 10 – 23,000 Hz
Nominal impedance: 32 Ω
Sound pressure level:111 dB
Power handling capacity: 100 mW
Max. sound pressure level: 131 dB
Sound coupling to the ear: Supraaural
Headband pressure: 2.5 N
Cable: 1.2 m, from both sides

Beyerdynamic T51i Audio Rating by musicphotolife.com

DT 1770 PRO

Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO in box

The DT 1770 PRO is the next pair of headphones on review. Its closed back design and single-sided detachable cable is best used for studio recording, mixing, mastering, monitoring. The headphones feel rugged with thick spring steel headband frame, dense plastic materials on the earcups and leather wraps on the headband. The headphone has a firm clamp on my head, while the soft ear pads offer good comfort. Because of the high impedance of 250 ohms, I use the Beyerdynamic A2 headphone amplifier to test its potential. The music source comes from my Windows desktop using E-MU 1820M audio interface PCI card with external dock.

Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO cables and accessories

The immediate difference compared to the T51 is the broader more spacious sound stage, the increased transparency at the high frequency, more open bass, mids and vocals are less forward. The benefit of a larger 45mm driver is that at high volume, there is room for music to breathe and not cluttered. The transparent quality shines when listening to Classical genre music. Turning the volume to over 80% on the A2 brings me closer to the performers and I begin to hear even more recording artifacts like breathing and string bowing noises. The headphones suffers no pressure under extreme volumes, making it great for immersive listening.

Due to its transparent audio character, the DT1770 PRO is my favourite among these headphones on review. It retails at S$1299 and is also made in Germany.

Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO

DT 1770 PRO Spec

Transducer type: Dynamic
Operating principle: Closed
Frequency response: 5 – 40,000 Hz
Nominal impedance: 250 Ω
Nominal SPL: 102 dB SPL (1 mW / 500 Hz)
Max. SPL: 125 dB SPL (200 mW / 500 Hz)
T.H.D: < 0.05% (1 mW / 500 Hz)
Nominal power handling capacity: 200 mW
Sound coupling to the ear: Circumaural
Ambient noise attenuation: Velours: approx. 18 dBA. Leatherette: approx. 21 dBA
Nominal headband pressure: approx. 7.2 N

Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO audio rating by musicphotolife.com

T 1 (2. Generation)

Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation in box

Saving the best for last, the T1 second generation headphones is the flagship model priced at S$1799. The design and build is vastly different from the DT1770 PRO as it is made for audiophiles to indulge in pure audio enjoyment. To maximise comfort and quality, the headphone cables are detachable and runs to both sides independently. There are even protective tubings to prevent cable damage at the connectors. The earpads are made of viscoelastic breathable materials for long-hour use, and the headphones have a much lighter pressure compared to the DT1770 PRO.

Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation interior

How does the T1 2nd Generation sound? Compared with DT1770 PRO, the T1 g2 is less bassy, less bright, cleaner mids. The distinction between the mids and highs are clearer, the sound is warm without muddy. Vocals are less forward and bright, primary instruments do not overly stand out. I can hear the tonal distinction of accompanying instruments better than DT1770 PRO, despite having less transparency. And because of the open back design, there is less sound pressure build up hence it is much more enjoyable to listen at loud volumes.

Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation and DT 1770 PRO

Certainly, the second-generation T1 sounds more natural and neutral, and such characteristics allow the listener to thoroughly enjoy each frequency range without over-emphasis. Simply-put, it delivers smooth and comfortable listening experience.

Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation side profile

T 1 (2-gen) Spec

Transducer type: Dynamic
Operating principle: Semi-open
Frequency response: 5 – 50,000 Hz
Impedance: 600 Ω
Nominal SPL: 102 dB (1 mW / 500 Hz)
T.H.D: < 0.05% (1 mW / 500 Hz)
Power handling capacity: 300 mW
Max. SPL: 126 dB (300 mW / 500 Hz)
Sound coupling to the ear: Circumaural
Headband pressure: approx. 2.8 N

Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation audio rating by musicphotolife.com

A2 Headphone Amplifier

The A2 Headphone Amplifier is the last piece of review item for this post. Beyerdynamic passed me the A2 because the T1 2Gen works best with A2.

Beyerdynamic A2 Headphone Amplifier in box

The A2 is constructed of aluminium body and glass top with the see-through Beyerdynamic logo to show the inside of the A2. The A2 supports 2 RCA inputs, 2 headphone outputs, 1 RCA output pass-through. At the bottom of the A2, there are receded knobs to select the headphone impedance (0, 100 ohms) and gain (-4, 0, +6 dB). Their purpose is to ensure you get the best settings to match the audio source and headphones. Although the A2 supports 2 headphone jacks, I find that when plug 2 headphones in at the same time, it affects the power output to both headphones.

Beyerdynamic A2 Headphone Amplifier

Using the T1 g2 to compare with my E-MU 1820M headphone port, the A2 delivers better audio imaging and overall dynamic response across the frequencies. Bass is tighter and more distinct even though the volume is identical. Similarly, vocals are more distinctively forward. Overall, despite at identical volume, the A2 achieves cleaner, less bloated quality.

Beyerdynamic A2 Headphone Amplifier rear

Next, I tested the A2 amp using the Philips Fidelio X2. Since the X2 impedance is 30 ohms, I compared the sound by switching the headphone impedance on the A2. At 100 ohm setting, the X2 sounds less compressed, more dynamic and certainly more musical. Compared to the E-MU 1820M, the X2 plays with better bass impact on the A2, and treble is less brittle. It is clear that the A2 achieves a much better headphone output and makes the X2 sound a lot better.

Beyerdynamic A2 Headphone Amplifier interior

Speaking of Fidelio X2, how does it actually compare to the other Beyerdynamic headphones? To put it simply, the X2 achieves clearer treble than the DT1770 PRO, and the kick bass is also stronger, though the bass tones have identical intensity. After comparing both, I certainly prefer DT1770 PRO as I thought it sounded less coloured. But the Fidelio X2 on its own offer a much more impressive listening experience.

The A2 is priced at S$2699.

Beyerdynamic A2 Headphone Amplifier top view

Final Words

The past weeks have been absolutely an ear-opener. I first got an exclusive invite to listen to the Sennheiser HE 1, dubbed the best headphones in the world. Then I got a box of expensive headphones that I would never have dreamed of trying, simply because they are out of my budget for what I would spend. I know it sounds odd that a music lover like me would not spend on audio gear. To be honest, I feel that the extra amount I pay for premium headphones does not justify for the increased in perceived quality I hear.

After I tried these Beyerdynamic audio products, I have to admit that you pay for what you get. The A2 amp is essential to bring out the best in your headphones. The DT1770 PRO is my favourite because of its clarity. The T51i is a fantastic compromise for portability. The T1 2Gen is an audiophile gem that delivers comfortable fit and detailed musicality.

Beyerdynamic products are available for testing at the Beyerdynamic showroom (66 Tannery Lane Sindo Building #01-04H, opening hours 9-6pm Mon-Fri), at online Lazada, and all reputable headphone retailers in Singapore.

Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation and DT 1770 PRO top view

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Beyerdynamic T51i, DT1770 PRO, T1 2.Gen Headphones
Author Rating
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