It was four years since I last reviewed the Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation headphones. It has an impedance of 600-ohms, literally impeding any casual consumers from playing them over their portable audio players. Four years later and a revamped logo, Beyerdynamic has redefined their flagship Tesla headphones with the T1 3rd Generation.
The overall design elements are still retained from the legacy series, but it looks more contemporary. The headband still carries the leather and Alcantara combo, while the yoke takes from the DT-series. The velour ear pads are my absolute favourite as they are breathable, comfortable and durable. Like all premium headphones from Beyerdynamic, the T1 is handmade and assembled in Germany.
During the Singapore launch event, I tried both T1 g3 and T5 g3, the differences are that T5 is closed-back, uses leather ear cups, and a shorter 1.4m cable. The sound is also quite different, with the T1 g3 open-back design which allows unhindered release of sound pressure from the back of the speaker drivers, thus achieving a more open sound. Despite open-back, the sound leakage is actually not very excessive, at similar levels as Sennheiser HD 650.
The new T1 g3 headphones have only 32 ohms of impedance, which translates to a very efficient headphones to drive. It will basically play with any normal audio player and does not require a headphones amplifier. In fact, when I plugged it to the Burson Playmate, the volume is already moderately audible from level 1, and I only needed to go to level 18 when I would need about level 50 for DT 1770 Pro.
The last I reviewed the T1 2nd Generation, I noted down that the tuning is “less bassy, less bright, cleaner mids”. On this new-generation, Beyerdynamic continues this track while putting some emphasis on the lower frequency and midrange. Listening to Classical genres, I do not hear the scratchy violin sections, but more on the cellos, brass and woodwinds. On modern pop genres, the vocals exude more warmth and adequate clarity, but they seem to be fighting for air-time with the other instrumental arrangements in the midrange and bass sections. On retro pops from the 70s (like Bee Gees, ABBA), the T1 fits like a glove as it counters the excessively sharp treble while enhancing the overall details. On jazz, the bass might come across as a tad too distinct, but well-sustained.
For sound staging, the T1 3rd Generation sounds more compact but not pushy. Instrument positioning is less focused, while on the DT 1770 Pro, the instruments are more layered and directional, and I can hear the details a lot better. Because on the T1 3rd Generation, the strong lower frequency could cause a bit of a cloudiness. The upper treble is less outstanding, the hi-hats and cymbals are buried in the mix, and the overall sound is less airy. It nevertheless offers a laid-back musical warmth that grows in you, only for the spell to be broken once you switch to a more “neutral-bright” cans like the Sennheiser HD 560S.
If I were to cup my hands to cover up the open grille covers, I get a much clearer treble, tighter bass. Remove the hands and the high frequency energy escapes and the lower frequency resonates more. Essentially, it makes the T1 sound more like the T5, but the reason for the attempt is that I wanted the T1 g3 to sound a little clearer highs, cleaner bass, while retaining the open sound. I managed to achieve only the first two. The other option would be to apply EQ, but I would advise against. If you prefer more outspoken treble towards the Sennheiser HD 800S, then you should not even consider the T1 3rd Generation.
The Beyerdynamic T1 3rd Generation headphones are designed for comfort with a cushy bass presentation, controlled treble, and a warm midrange. It puts musical focus on the lower range, offering sufficient clarity on the treble without outshining. The T1 3rd Generation may not sound as brilliant and transparent as most of the audiophile headphones I have reviewed over the past years, but I believe there is a demand for such sound signature.
Coincidentally, one of my friends shared with me today that he preferred the Google Home audio quality (with 2 midrange speakers) over the Nest Audio (with a woofer and tweeter), as he felt the former sounded “more warm and full body”, while the latter’s vocal was too prominent and lacked warmth from the bass. I think he would love the Beyerdynamic T1 3rd Generation.