Pros: Soundstage, accuracy , tonal balance, slight fun factor, build quality
Cons: bothersome treble for 8khz sensitive people, slightly too "common" compared to the best headphones
Please forgive my english. It's not my native language and the text below is translated frome the french Original feedback here
It's really hard to give up his own tastes in any objective consideration when headphones are tested. Much of the feedback made by enthusiasts on the web related implys that the author likes enough the headphone to take the time to put his impressions on paper. However, it is uncommon to see written feedbacks dedicated to a headphone that the author does not like. But it is the case for me: I do not like the Beyerdynamic T1. If I had tried it in a store, I would have probably & definitely put it down a few minutes later without ever touch it. It seems I'm very sensitive to the sharp 8 khz Beyer treble peak.
However, I made the choice to keep the T1 and force me to listen to it for a few weeks because I really wanted to compare the Beyerdynamic flagship to my current sedentary headphones, the HD800. And patience have taught me a lot about my own assessment on headphones ... But also on the T1 and HD800 itselves. The T1 definitely deserves better than a flawed listening and expeditious statements, necessarily unfair, that would have resulted.
During the weeks of testing this Beyerdynamic T1, I gave him about twenty hours of listening and I used only my current headphone Rig : Metrum Octave DAC + DNA Sonett 2 Amp. I have often read that the T1 was not as finicky as my HD800 and the DNA Sonett 2 is technically adapteed to both HD800 & T1.
Now you know the context of the impressions that you'll find below.
Discovery / packaging / comfort
The headphone is delivered in a beautiful metal box. It looks great and the box is filled with with dense foam. The T1 is properly positioned there: In two words: A serious and useful storage. The HD800 comes in a cardboard box with a more luxurious fabric "velvet" appearance, but ultimately lower quality.
The headphone itself looks solidly built - we feel Beyerdynamic's experience of professional headphones - and seems to "weigh" in hand. The 350 grams of T1 are there, and you do not feel like buying a toy. Metallic cups like leather of the headband are well crafted and exude quality. Nothing flashy here: T1 has a simple appearance. Special mention to the thick, non-detachable cable that also exudes German quality. Some see non-detachable cabele as a disadvantage. Personally, it mostly means that the cable is directly soldered to the drivers, thus limiting the number of solder points between the Jack and the drivers.
The Beyerdynamic T1 fits very naturally on the head (mine anyway) and I forget it quickly. If the headphone "weighs" in hands, it's not the case on the head. Comfort is excellent, I have not felt any painful pressure points over time. The overall balance of the T1 is good. Moreover, the cups are wide and deep. The velours ear pads have the perfect consistency (neither too stiff nor too soft). Of course, the T1 does not feel light and airy like the HD800 but it, unlike the Senn, doesn't infringe on my jaws. The HD800 still remains more comfortable over time. The insulation provided by the headphones is close to none. Don't expect much more insulation from the T1 against the HD800.
Remember my introduction... The first impression that strucked me listening to the T1 for the first time was the assault of the treble. When I discovered the HD800, I immediately noticed the treble too, but I never had this immediate urge to remove the headphone from my head. If you are, like me, sensitive to potential peaks at 8 kHz, flee the T1 like the plague: Your ears will bleed very quickly. Many owners of T1, however, have no problem with this peak. I've personally loaned the T1 to a friend who did not feel any discomfort. Conversely, many enthusiasts who have tried this or other Beyer headphones are like me: allergic to this Treble. So this is IMO primarily a matter of personal sensitivity.
After several hours / days / weeks, my brain has done its job of self-equalization and peak treble became much more bearable, even for an allergic like me. I then enjoyed as it should be the other characteristics of the T1.
The fact is that the T1 will grow on you. It offers by no means a 'wow' effect on first listen. It is in all aspects a significant improvement over the DT880 but not really impresses during first listens. The great qualities of T1 reveal themselves gradually, hence the importance of the long term test of a headphone that could quite easily be underestimated.
The absolute highlight of T1, is IMO the soundstage. This was the case on the DT880, but the T1 - and the T90 for that matter - offers uncommon precision and layering. The foreground seems close and forward - much more than HD800 - and the soundstage background is distant. All that sits between the two is perfectly layered and easlily audible. The most pleasant point IMO is yet to come. The T1 has a very specific way to make audible the left and right extremities of the soundstage. In fact, T1 seems to bend the soundstage stage and bring the left and right closer to the ears, creating a very precise "bubble" in which we can locate details with much ease. This is a very cool effect. Compared to the HD800, the T1 offers a more compact and less diffuse soundstage. It feels more consistent, but weeks of listening let me feel that this consistency is a bit artificial and tends to "beautify" the crappy mixes, while not doing justice to the better recordings whose ultimate goal is to reproduce accurately acoustic resonnance, the feeling of the room , the concert hall or the studio. In this matter, in my opinion, the HD800 is the King.
So, The second statement I really would like to share is I felt that the T1 instills a little extra energy in the music. It's a slight effect and not at all outrageous or too unnatural. I could feel sound movements from back to front. Very 3D effect. It's really fun to listen and I feel of kind of groove/swing added to the music. The presentation offered by the HD800 is more "rigid" : it seems that The Senn places the music in air as if it was paintings and let us comtemplate the sound. Both presentation are very enjoyable in my opinion.
Overally and before going into the details of the various ranges, we can estimate that T1 is neutral with a feeling of extra bass and treble. We are not yet in the U-shaped or V-shaped signatures with recesseds mids, but in the slightly saline. In general, HD800 and T1 signatures are close and I do not really think that one of the two is more neutral than the other, contrary to what I read here and there.
I used the T1 to listen to all genres I usually listen to with the HD800. I was quite surprised to find it extremely good for classical. I had assumed that the HD800 would be much better in this area but it's not so true. The Beyerdynamic is truly compelling for classical, although I always tend to complain about the same flaw, namely a slight metallic treble that can affect the perfect reproduction of acoustic instruments tone. I didn't notice any music where the T1 seemed downright uncomfortable, even if it does not seem much more forgiving than the HD800 with the quality of the recordings. I finally listened to some tracks whose style is better accorded with the T1: I am thinking of "Animal As Leaders" (progressive metal) that sounds good with the HD800, but frankly better - more impacting more cohesive and just as fast - with the T1.
Both headphones will shine on different music and differently designed recordings. The HD800 will be more oriented to the reproduction of music as a whole including its sound environment and atmosphere. The T1 will provide a more lively and sraightforward experience with a very high level of separation of the different components of music.
In detail ( vs HD800):
- Bass: The DT880 already dealt superbly this register but the T1 does better. Excellent extension and no lack of sub-bass be felt in demanding music in this area. bass are tight and fast and does not overflow on the mids at all. they are tight without being dry. Because of the presentation that offers the T1, Bass has this elasticity and dynamic projected character that does not offer the HD800. I think the impression of "more bass" from the T1 comes from that. The drawback is that bass are slightly more "one note" than HD800. Different components are less audible less detailed, less textured than those proposed by the HD800. According to different muusic or your tastes, you can prefer one or the other. For example, I found that the electric bass (Animal As Leaders) sounded better with the T1 although the different bass layers in my favorite EDM (Shingo Nakamura, BT or Burial for example) or Doublebass (Renaud Garcia Fons) are better with the HD800.
- Mids: A few month ago,I would have said that the HD800 is the king of the medium. That's not true. The medium of the HD800 lacks a slight bit of meat and body. The real King is the Stax SR009 and it needs a lot of work on the upstream HD800 rig to obtain a meatier mid with the Senn. T1 seems to be in the same boat: the midrange sounds very good, very clean. Neither hollow or pervasive. It has not, however, the slightly euphonic and refined charm of The King Stax. Overally, the T1 is not more euphonic than the HD800. The medium of the latter remains more detailed, richer, more textured, more appealing. The medium of T1 is very slightly "off" in my opinon. I listened and listened to a lot of voices (Norah Jones, Newton Faulkner, Andreas Scholl) and it seems to me that the HD800 offers a more refined level of restitution in the matter. But it does nothing to actually penalize the T1, since the HD800 is still a tough competitor.
- Treble: now we are going to reach points that annoy and divide. The high range of the HD800 as that of T1 can be problematic and show an excess compared to the strict neutrality. So we have two headphones who undoubtly tend to be slightly bright. I say slight, but a lover of darker headphones would certainly find that both T1 and HD800 have too much treble. Someone who loves brighter/lighter signatures (myself for example) will however appreciates the detail, the sparkle and the bite air brought by those slightly boosted treble. HD800 as T1 are moreover, one like the other, not short on details. I would say at first glance that the T1 is perhaps the best for foreground details location - see paragraph above - and the HD800 for the best reproduction of low-level detail - reverberation, resonance and acoustics of the place of recording - giving my opinion a greater sense of realism to the sound material ... When this material is present in the recording. As we say the measures (see measurements of two headphones on the web) the HD800 provides ongoing treble boost from 4 kHz to 8 kHz, with a max at 6 kHz. The T1 offers him a sudden peak at 8khz and keeps elevated treble in higher frequencies. Choose your poison depending on your sensitivity and your preferences. What's funny is that during A/B comparison between one and the other, I could hear very well the difference, and according to different tracks one or the other sounded brighter. The one and the other may show sibilances and both seem not so much forgiving for poor recordings. Personally, and my opinion has not changed in three months of T1 owning, I appreciate the HD800 treble, while T1's one is almost unbearable.
- Soundstage: Two beautiful soundstages, but - as I have already said - very different and thus the personal preferencs will encourage us toward the Sennheiser or the Beyerdynamic. Compactness, density, precision and sense of movement with the T1. Cloud of music with a strong sense of the different sound patches and a great feeling of the reality of the music in its environment with the HD800. The HD800 "deploys" the music. I have often thought in this roundup that eventually the T1 had the best soundstage. It's almost true. Almost, because from my point of view, although T1's soundstage is fantastic, but "headphone-like". The HD800 looses some of that accuracy to go to a more extraordinary way to reproduce the music. HD800 doesn't either offer this "Music in Motion" feeling offered by T1. The diffuse presentation of the HD800 can bother too. I also said that the T1 was ultimately more analytical than the HD800. This is not entirely true either, but the idea is there: the precision of T1 impresses.
I still do not like the T1, and I really had to force myself to keep on the ears since I have. However, I think I managed to be patient and try to be fair. this headphone deserved it. I have to say again that the T1 in reveals its strengths after many careflu and attentive listening. Certainly a very good headphone, so of course we are not allergic to Beyerdynamic like me.
The T1 offers its share of "fun", but can still not be considered deliberately calibrated for that. It shows very little color or added euphony and stays accurate. In Beyerdynamic family, for whis is seeking more fun and less accuracy, I sincerely think the T90 worthes a serious try.
Finally, T1 vs HD800 ... HD800 headphones keeps in my opinion its superiorité for a few specific reasons: Better mids, an overally more refined sound - with a blacker "background" - a hgher level of detail and resolution over the entire spectrum and especially a more "extraordinary" persentation, where T1 is still a great headphone, but only a great headphone. That said, I do think that the HD800 can demonstrate these qualities only with recordings who can highlight them and, so, although higher in absolute terms, it will not be always more enjoyable. In any case, I don't allow myself to state that HD800 will always be greater than T1 for YOUR listenings.
For my part, I'm ending this review while listening to Ane Brun and The headphone I've forgotten on my head is the HD800. I'll be a bit sad to see the T1 leaving the house though.