Beyer Dynamic T70 Barely a Beyer?
Beyer Dynamic discontinued the older premium DT770, although it’s still available here and there, but they’ve kept their PRO series DT770’s available and their MX series headsets which are essentially the same thing, and then release the T70 which looks just like the DT770 does actually, with small differences, as their newest closed back headphone offering short of going to the high end tesla. The T70 is a tesla technology headphone, so it differs from the other DT series in sound quite a bit and efficiency. It also differs drastically in sound from the DT770, which is why I initially decided to get it to review: for the love of closed back Beyers. The T70 comes in two forms, a 250ohm version (T70) and a 32ohm version (T70p). So is it a typical Beyer? Let’s explore the T70.
- Closed back design; very good passive isolation
- Dynamic transducer; Tesla technology
- 250ohm impedance; sort of needs an amplifier (not a must)
- Micro-velour padding; very comfortable; very isolating
- Bright signature; Revealing; Anemic
- Not a bassy Beyer at all; shares no kinship with DT770
The T70 is a closed back dynamic transducer type phone that has excellent passive isolation and is relatively easy to drive, despite the 250ohm impedance rating (note there is a 32ohm version and it probably doesn’t need to exist). It has a long cable that is not detachable, like most Beyers, comes in a leatheresque carry case like all the other Beyers, and has micro-velour padding, which is a different feeling material from typical velour, it has a more swede-like feeling to it. The signature of the headphone is not a typical Beyer sound, it differs drastically from the previous Beyers, and is nothing like the DT770 other than it’s style/housing, which is nearly the same. Before even proceeding, note that this headphone is very bright and has very anemic, thin, nearly absent bass. This is not for someone who wants a neutral headphone, and especially not for someone who wants a bassy headphone. This is for treble-heads and mid-heads or someone who simply wants to pick out flaws in recordings or simply have extremely critical listening sessions.
What Comes In the Box:
- The headphone itself of course
- Beyer marketing pamphlet
- Carry case
- Foam insert
- 1/4th screw-on adapter (typical of Beyer)
Beyer’s Specifications: What’s written, not what is actual.
- Frequency response 5hz to 40,000hz (ignore this, more like 80hz to 20khz)
- Impedance: 250ohm (though you wouldn’t know it, it seems to operate very efficiently)
- Sensitivity: 104db/mw (and here’s why it seems so easy to drive, it gets loud fast)
- Isolation: Around 18db (similar to the DT770, good isolation)
- Weight: 330 grams (not heavy, not toy-like)
- Cable terminates with 3.5mm and comes with screw-on 6.35mm adapter
Construction, Material & Comfort:
The construction is sturdy, very Beyer in that aspect, and feels like it’s made of quality materials with a good thick feeling, and not a toy-like feeling you get from ultra-thin cheap plastic stuff. The T70 is mostly plastic, but it’s at least the more durable and thick plastic that you’re already used to from a Beyer. The style and feel is very much like the older premium DT770. The pads are a micro-velour, very swede-like, comfortable and very isolating. This material is also on the headband. Comfort is supreme, like most Beyers, but this one takes it even further and is simply luxury to wear. It’s not very heavy, the cord doesn’t weigh it down in an unusual manner, and it has a touch of grip to help seal the phones to your head, while not clamping hard (it does not clamp like the PRO series, it does however feel similar to the normal DT series). You can swap the pads with normal Beyer velours, or the other types they have these days if you can get your hands on the gels or others; you can also swap the micro-velour onto another DT series. Beyer has kept it fairly universal thankfully (though I have not found a way to buy the micro-velour pads individually from Beyer yet).
Source Equipment Used:
- Schiit Biforst
- Schiit Asgard
- Schiit Lyr
- Audio-GD NFB12
- Pioneer VSX1121 (AV receiver)
- Fiio E10
- Fiio E11
When I initially put on the headphone, I was expecting a rather neutral signature, or at least something similar to the premium DT770 which it essentially replaced, however that is not what I was met with. Instead, I was met with a sound that was foreign to me, something that I had yet to really hear from a Beyer. I had to try it from different sources to get an idea of what was going on, to see if it was a synergy problem with two conflicting house signature sounds from parts of the circuit. Ultimately though, my initial impression and my lasting impression after long usage were one in the same.
If you look at HeadRoom & InnerFidelity’s frequency response graphs of their measurements of the T70, it’s supposed to be a flat sounding headphone, with flat signal all the way down into sub-bass, flat all the way to 1khz, then it drives a touch, then a spike at 7khz to 10khz. The graph actually reads that this headphone should sound slightly bassy in the mid-bass area, with slightly recessed mids, recessed mid-treble, and really bright upper treble. This headphone does not sound at all like it’s graph portrays.
(Graph stolen from HeadRoom; all respect and rights go to HeadRoom)
If you look how it compares to the DT770 600ohm and the 32ohm, the 600ohm should have way less sub-bass presence, and the 32ohm should out right sound ridiculously bassy. The reality is that these headphones don’t sound anything like that. The 600ohm DT770 is quite neutral and has plenty of presence down into sub-bass, it doesn’t sound like it rolls off that steep. The 32ohm DT770 doesn’t sound like it’s blasting you with enhanced bass, it just sounds a little more bassy than pure flat. The T70 does not sound bassy at all, it doesn’t even sound flat, it sounds out-right anemic. I tested the seal and the only time I could hear really nicely controlled present sub-bass was when I pressed the cups in with force. Even then, it was still just in the background compared to the mids & spikey treble.
(Graph stolen from HeadRoom; all respect and rights go to HeadRoom)
For all your graph-kiddies out there, leave graphs out of it. They don’t represent every headphone well, and they completely misrepresent some others. The T70 is one of the ones that it simply does not represent well (nor the DT770 frankly for that matter).
This headphone comes off quite bright. That spike is definitely represented well from 7kzh to 10khz. Everything has an edge to it, it has a touch of sibilance, but it’s not utterly harsh like an Ultrasone, it’s actually quite like the rest of normal Beyer signature sound, simply being bright. The brightness is actually sort of mellowed out with the width of the sound stage, so it sounds bright, but it’s not like daggers from the left & right, but simply a cloud of brightness all around you. Instruments that peak into treble like some guitar, cymbals, some parts of vocals, piano, etc, all have an edge to them that can be great if you’re going deaf, or really bright and fatiguing if you have normal hearing, and outright painful if you have super sensitive dog-like hearing (which you don’t, but you get the idea). It has almost a grain to it, even. If anything has a noise floor, it’s going to be exacerbated. If anything has a lot of high frequency noise, it’s going to be exacerbated. This is a very treble-head sound, so if you’re sensitive to treble, this will be a problem (though you can equalize it down); and of course, this can be a good thing if you’re a treble-head.
The bread & butter of what you’re actually hearing the most of, the mids, are quite good. Everything sounds very present, forward and realistic. It doesn’t sound recessed, and it sounds like vocals for example and guitar for example are front-row and blistering when they’re supposed to, yet soft and articulate when they’re supposed to as well. Instruments have a very present and realistic presentation. Instruments in jazz and acoustic, and vocals, sounded incredibly realistic with a tone that seemed like it could be someone live. Someone seeking a headphone that has a lot of focus on treble and mids would do well with the T70. The mids do sound more lively than the DT770 cousin, however that could simply be because of the lack of bass that makes the mids seem more forward when really they’re not. The graph is not helpful here. But I suspect it’s likely that. Ultimately though the mids sound great, match well with instrumentation, vocals sound realistic, everything is articulate and clear, without anything bass bleed and with a slight crisp as it stretches into treble where the spikes come into play.
The biggest difference with the T70 when I initially put it on was the bass presence. I expected the brightness, that’s Beyer’s house signature. But Beyers tend to have neutral, if not slightly more than neutral bass that often bleeds a hair into mids, at least before you enter their high-end series. The T70 doesn’t have that problem at all. No bleed in, because frankly, there’s barely any audible bass as it is. It seems to roll off sharply around 100hz or so. The graph completely makes the T70 look flat from it’s neck to it’s toe nails, you would think a closed headphone with a flat sub-bass line would have a nice tight controlled tone that extended deep with a satisfying presence. But it does not. I figure at first that it must be the seal. And indeed the seal had a lot to do with that lacking bass. However, the headphone sounded like it was well sealed and was touching every where. I moved it around to get a better seal. The only time I could really get enough of a seal to hear the sub-bass come through with more body was when I pressed firmly on the cups to my head. The bass came out then, but it was still pretty shy compared to the mids & treble. I swapped pads to see if it was the micro-velour with some DT770 pads, but the effect was the same. Other reviewers also came to the same conclusion that this headphone simply lacked bass, and I have to agree, however I have to say that I am really disappointed here because they discontinue the DT770 and introduce the T70 to replace it. This is not for someone looking for a flat headphone. This has anemic thin bass. It really reminded me of the SRH940, however the SRH940 at least had really low sub-bass presence, but lacked mid-bass. The T70 lacks mid bass and the sub-bass just falls into the void and never comes back up. Bassheads, turn away. Someone wanting a neutral flat response, turn away. Someone wanting a bass shy headphone with good mids and bright treble, the T70 might be for you.
The sound stage of the T70 is rather good for a closed headphone, it doesn’t have that stereo trapped-in feeling like some headphones (M50 comes to mind), but rather, it has a cloud of audio around your head, much more like how semi-open air headphones sound like with presentation. You’re not absolutely front row, but you’re also not in the back looking through the smoke (K701 comes to mind there). Imaging is great, you can hear things in a position in space realistically, not just left or right, but well blended to appear somewhere in between.
The passive isolation of the T70 is great, it’s rated at 18db, like the DT770, however it just feels like everything is muted out from the world, and also, it doesn’t leak out very much either. When the micro-velour cups touch, the audio goes to a faint whisper. While wearing the T70, I played back music at around normal listening level and I was able to still clearly pay attention the music in the T70 and not be over-powered by the speakers. Vise verse, when the T70 was playing at normal listening levels and placed on something where the cups touched the surface, I could not really hear much coming from them from right next to them and definitely not from a few feet away without critically listening (which required turning off the AC and a fan to actually hone in). So isolation is great. This is why the seal and bass presence really confuses me.
Synergy & Comparisons:
Schiit Bifrost & Asgard - Plenty of voltage to push the 250ohms, and current. Very clear, crisp sound. Treble was absolutely crisp, spiked, and very controlled. Bass was still absent. Everything sounded clear and realistic.
Schiit Bifrost & Lyr - More voltage & current than will ever be required, but a more transparent sound, slightly warmer, but only slight, a little more weight in the lower mids came out, and the treble wasn’t so absolutely nail-biting, but only by a hair. Bass was still absent. Otherwise, very clear, very realistic, with a great sound stage, though there was a hint of noise floor.
Audio GD NFB12 - Loads of voltage and current. Everything was clear and sounded rather crisp. No added warmth, nothing really changed from the signature sound, except maybe a touch of roll off on the height of the treble, which took a hair out of fatigue.
Pioneer VSX1121 - Unknown output, however it has enough to drive a 250ohm headphone and it sounded rather good, albeit a little noisey compared to the BIfrost & NFB, though I find most AV receivers seem to sound a little noisey with headphones with spiked treble. There was an increase in warmth, but not substantial.
Fiio E10 & E11 - Just enough output to technically quality, however, it sounded great, better than everything else did; simply because the Fiio’s roll off the treble, so the spike is less fatiguing, and the bass enhancement options add +3 db to the bass line without distortion, bringing the T70 up to what was essentially just neutral to my ears. But that added warmth and increased presence wasn’t enough to really make you think the headphone was finally sounding right, it still was missing low end enough to seem like a complete headphone.
The T70 reminded me a lot of the Shure SRH940 and KRK KNS6400 which were very detailed, very bright, with anemic bass extension leaving you with a thin sound. Also shares similarities to the AudioTechnica AD700 in the sense of it having a nice sound stage, but very shy bass. It didn’t sound like Beyers to me at all. I did not have a T5p or T1 to test it against to see if it was just a “Tesla” sound (though I have read reports that the bass in the T5p is not very strong, even though graphs and description suggest it should be; this deserves more attention on my part as I really want to get my hands on a T5p for comparison).
The Beyer T70 beyerly sounds like a Beyer and I could beyerly beyer it. It made me sad even. I had high hopes for this headphone. At $599 retail MSRP ($569 at HeadRoom; ~$400 on Amazon new; ~$300 on Amazon used; ~$350 in the for-sale forums as of 9/13/12), it really leaves you wondering why anyone would ever even consider this headphone in the $600 range, where you’re competing with the likes of used headphones like the Hifiman HE-500, and Denon D7000, two high-end models that utterly outclass the T70, yet cost essentially the same. The T1 even goes for $750~850 used, so at $600 retail, you have to consider what you’re doing here with your money. At $300 used, it’s still not really attractive at all when you could be looking at the old premium DT770 for half that, the Denon D2000 for less, nearly a Denon D5000, and of course the rash of modded T50RP’s which are all generally superior to the T70. The T70 simply has no real niche to fit into it. All of it’s strengths are already very vastly covered elsewhere, and it’s weaknesses are so blazing that I can’t see very many people reaching out for this headphone for casual enjoyment listening with music. This sounds more like a headphone meant to chew apart flaws on recordings to ensure a high quality track is recorded that will sound great on a high resolving system. But pleasure listening with the T70 seems like it was never meant to be.
Verdict: Pass on this headphone. Let it be discontinued as soon as possible. What was Beyer thinking?
Edited by MalVeauX - 9/12/12 at 11:26pm