I have been trolling Head-fi for many years now to glean insight from the sea of collective wisdom to guide me in headphone and related equipment choices from an almost maddeningly diverse range of options. Part of the fun of this hobby is not being able to buy every single thing that catches your fancy but to make difficult decisions and hope that your choice pays off in terms of striking the right balance between price and perceived value. I learnt that from hard experience when I went through a phase of what I consider extreme self-indulgence and ended up with what is in hindsight rash purchases that were subsequently traded off at steep discounts, i.e. PS1000 and Edition 10.
What prompts my posting today is the recent discovery of a product that fascinates me in terms of the spirit of experimentation that so enthuses me about his hobby.
The product I am writing about had been introduced to me by non-other than Singapore’s headphone godfather, Uncle Wilson of Jaben. This peripatetic and avuncular man has been an indispensable spiritual guide in my journey from a pair of Beyerdynamic Galaxy to the Beyerdynamic T5p, the modified version of the latter of which I am sharing about today.
The context of the observations I am relating here is based a side by side comparison of the stock and modified units of the T5p. I understand that the modification transforms the T5p into a balanced headphone and an adaptor was used to re-convert into single ended mode for use with any source that is not balanced.
The listening session took place at Jaben Singapore’s premises using an iBasso DX100 as source. I cannot recall the title of the song used but it was an acoustic recording in an unplugged setting.
The result of my listening session has made one thing clear: do not offer the modified balanced T5p for audition if you want to sell the stock version. Sonic improvements from the modification were not at all subtle. The modification added nothing but removed a veneer of artifice from the sound. Very appreciable improvements in transient decay and a sense of airiness/bloom in vocals were hard not to notice.
What really takes the cake for me is the nature of the modification. Jaben offers some very expensive cable options the apex of which is the Crystal cable Piccolino. I am the owner of a Piccolino iMod dock that cost slightly less than half the actual iMod itself. I had in the past considered re-cabling my Edition 8 using Piccolino cables but found it hard to stomach the cost and the realization that at such rarefied levels of this hobby the law of diminishing returns begins to apply in a very financially brutal way. The cable used in the T5p modification is the cable from the T1! How counter-intuitive is that? I can imagine executives from Beyerdynamic scratching their heads about this.
If you are in Singapore or happen to be so, drop by Jaben and do the comparison yourself. I would be interested to know if you share my observations. And if you are in luck, the specially tuned matching amp that Uncle Wilson told me about might have arrived.