Pros: Comfort, Soundstage, Genre Bandwidth, Detail
Cons: Ringing resonance (can be fixed with mod), Sometimes Awkward Treble, not the greatest ever for very demanding music
This is only my second review ever after my abysmal Momentum review, so be aware that I'm not that well versed in articulating my thoughts about a headphone like some others here.
When I first considered buying the Beyerdynamic T1 I was very cautious having heard a fair few negative opinions about this headphone. At the time I was coming from a Audeze LCD2rev2 and Hifiman HE-500 and did not know what to expect with a brighter headphone. Fortunately I was relived when I first heard them there was not a unbearable level of treble like the spike can suggest. When listening at home I was not first I was not wowed like you can be with many other headphones. However over time the T1 has grown to be my favorite headphone out of the TH600, HE500 and LCD2 I own. I consider its genre bandwidth truly impressive.
Before we get into the review, I should tell you a bit about my listening set up. I have listened to the T1 mainly through the Soloist and WA7. My dac has been the Audio GD ref 5.32. I listen to music for between 5-7 hours a day depending on other factors like work. I listen to a bit of everything, and I mean it when I say it. I listen to all my music through foobar2000, and all at least 320kbs if not flac.
Onto the headphones themselves.
Comfort, Design and Aesthetics
There is no beating around the bush, there are plenty of highly recommended headphones that for many fall down in terms of comfort, which being honest is one of the most important things in a headphone. The T1 passes the comfort test with flying colors. I can wear it for 7 hours with no trouble, discomfort or fatigue. It is not particularly heavy compared to some other ToTL phones.
The T1 is made of aluminum and seems to be durable enough not to be afraid of breaking it with regular use. This particular serial model #-50## has been going for 2 years now without any damage. This headphone is for home usage, so it is not designed to be a head turner, but you definitely won't be ashamed of yourself looking at it on a stand :P
The bass on the T1 extends reasonably so, they have a minor mid bass hump which can bring about a nice musicality to bass guitar and drums within many genres. The sub bass is not particularly impactful, so a serial basshead will need to look elsewhere for an ear rattling. The bass is nicely textured and never boomy, but I feel that it falls short of the Audeze LCD2 here as the LCD2 bass is more extended and better detailed. I prefer the T1's bass presentation to the HE-500 which I sometimes feel lacks clarity. The bass is most definitely not light in any way.
The mid range of the Beyerdynamic T1 is very very slightly lower on the spectrum compared to the mid bass, but never seems recessed or unnatural. I find that the Mid Range here is very smooth with no major irregularities. It certainly doesn't lack detail which is one of the strong suites of the Beyerdynamic T1. I simply adore listening to Acoustic material and classical with this headphone. YMMV of course, as I do not know much about the correct tone of acoustic instruments. Vocals here can seem very realistic and surreal. While listening to the Stax Space CD, the opening passage in the room with test head, I felt that the voices and sounds were unbelievably lifelike. This feeling was not conveyed equally by the TH600, LCD2 or HE-500. The T1 shone here.
While listening to a lot of well recorded rock music, I feel that the LCD2 can lack a bit of the attack that guitars truly have when witnessing them live. The T1 does well here, and I feel as a electric guitarist that I vastly prefer the bite of such music more for realistically than with the LCD2 which can be dull at times.
The Treble of the T1 is a strange one. It is rather laid back except for a large spike around 9-10khz. This spike can sometimes be troublesome with classical music. When high notes are hit sometimes a bit of glare/stridency can be observed. This is rare in other forms of music. Couple this with the ringing that can occur. The ringing is caused by a lack of damping in the back of the cups and can create a fair bit of feedback. This is quite annoying, but can be fixed by following the damping guide in the headfi fullsized headphone forum. Outside of this the treble is clearer and has far more detail than the LCD2, and is a little less hot overall compared to the TH600. The treble is not all rosey however, poor recordings that are brightly mastered or have sibilance can be very troublesome with the T1. I find sometimes untamed rock cymbal work can be exceedingly fatiguing.
Soundstage, Imaging and Detail
The Beyerdynamic T1 has a very large soundstage compared to what I'm used to. The LCD2 is very small indeed in this regard by comparison. It has superior width and depth to both the TH600 and HE-500. However the soundstage still falls short of the HD800 and K1000 among a few others. The T1 can make ambient, classical and other larger stages genres sound exceptionally airy and grand. I never feel out of place listening to live albums or orchestra's on these headphones. Not only that the even tonal balance and soundstage make great for listening to ambient/ambient electronic. Listening to binaural albums is an absolute treat, better than almost every other headphone I've heard.
The imaging of the T1 is great, but falls short of the HD800 again here. The T1 with slower and less demanding music shines and separates and places the instruments with fantastic air and clarity. I can always hear instruments being on different parts of stage or performance. In this case more believably than the LCD2r2 and HE-500. Where this all falls apart is in very fast or complex musical passages the T1 can start to lose its clarity. This is due to a slower impulse response (check out innerfidelity on this), which can definitely be heard on complex metal, electronic or rock tracks.
The Detail in the T1 is very pronounced and listening to albums can sometimes show up flaws not observed on other records. Listening to Robin Trowers song Bridge of Sighs, reveals a man talking in the background during the guitar solo, not only that but unlike every other headphone I've heard it with, he is now able to be understood. Similarly I began to hear crackles and clicks in the background of older albums that I never had before. The detail on many live recordings reveal many nuances of the crowd from glasses clinking, to people coughing that the other headphones I own do not reveal. The HD800 once again surpassed the T1 in this regard however.
The T1 is fantastic for video gaming and movie watching due to the impressive detail level and soundstage ability.
The Beyerdynamic T1 does well with a wide spread of musical genres. Genres which I found performed very well with the T1 were.
Genres that I prefered other headphones for
Extreme metal genres
The Beyerdynamic T1 is a superb all rounder, and does well with enough music to justify it as a very good high end headphone. It has definitely dethroned the LCD2 for me. I highly recommend it for people who have a widespread musical taste like me
Main albums used in listening
Alice in Chains Unplugged
Black Sabbath Reunion
Daft Punk Random Access Memories and Discovery
Girls Generation The Boys
Jack Wall Mass Effect 2 Soundtrack
Janelle Monae The Arch-android
Michael McCann Deus Ex Human Revolution Soundtrack
Metallica Black Album
Miles Davis Kind of Blue
Pig Destroyer Phantom Limb
Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon SACD and Pulse
Rage Against the Machine Rage Against the Machine
Rom Di Prisco Cryptidalia
Stax Test CD
Synthetic Epiphany Equalize
Ultrasone Test CD
V/A Starcraft Wings of Liberty Soundtrack
+ other various assorted tracks