The only area of disappointment was the soundstaging. It was slightly better than the HD 650, in my opinion, but nowhere near the clear placement of instruments and vocals that my Martin Logan speakers can deliver.
Perhaps that will change when I assemble and audition the Bottlehead Mainline amp.
Thats the area I am most disappointed about as well. I heard people say soundstage of T1 is amazing and imaging the best they've ever heard from a headphone. So the fact that the soundstage felt small, almost like on a closed headphone compared to K701's for example was disappointing, and imaging is nowhere near as good as on Ultrasone HFI-2400. Even though that headphone is not as good as T1 in any technical way, and the sound is quite colored, I can hear where backing singers are standing in relation to one another on that headphone on some live recordings, while with most others (including T1) I just get a general sense of whether the sound is coming from left or right.
As for the improvement over the HD650, that is going to wear over time. T1's, and many other neutral-bright headphones like all Beyers are really impressive when you're used to HD650's. I know that when I got the DT880 600 ohm after owning a HD650 for a year, I was amazed by the clarity and airiness of the sound, but as time went by, I realized its not actually better sound, its just a unnaturally thin and bright sound. The headphone that for me is THE best dynamic up to HD800 is AKG K701. Maybe its not as "technically good" as the T1 or HD700, or any other more expensive dynamic headphone, but I'm telling you, comparing it side by side to T1, without ever listening to either of them before, and only knowing one is more expensive than the other, I'd probably say the K701 is that headphone. It just comes closer to simulating REAL sound than T1's do. It sounds more like a live performance, it has a stronger ability to transport me to another place. T1's to me sound like a engineering tool, something to be used in a studio, because what they excel at is detail, transparency, letting every single nuance of the recording trough, but that is irrelevant. It fun for a few days, but after some time, you realize that you don't give a damn whether you can hear someone in the 49th row of the theater fart during a classical piece. I have a cheap speaker setup by speaker standards, only Kef Q300 paired with a entry level Onkyo amplifier. That pair of speakers + amp is considerably cheaper than T1's, but T1's, or any other headphone can never even begin to dream about sounding as realistic and musical, there's just no way. The way how with a speaker setup (even a cheap one like this) you imagine the singers mouth in an area, in mid air, the size of a palm of your hand, you can strongly feel that the sound is coming from that single spot. Or the way you hear an instrument BEHIND the speakers, and behind the wall at which you're looking at...plus the visceral impact you get from speakers. That is something headphones cant match. The longer I listen to headphones (and I've tried pretty much everything minus Audeze, Hifiman and Stax) more the analogy of headphones = motorbikes, speakers = cars is true. Its fun and exciting to ride a bike, but ultimately, traveling in a car is more pleasant and if I had to chose one of the two, I'd take a decent car over the best sports bike in the world. True, a bike will get you more performance at a lower price (like headphones offer more detail and resolution), but a car will give you everything else, which most of the time matters much more.
Also, the longer I listen to headphone, less I buy the whole "high end" thing. Before I got the T1's, I was really expecting a huge improvement over my current headphones. Reading the reviews I was very excited. But soon after getting the headphones I realized its mostly over-exaggerating. Yes, T1's are ultimate better, technically better at least, than cheaper headphones, but does that really matter? HD650's, HD600's, K701's, DT880/990, etc. have plenty of resolution and technical ability already, they're already getting you sound quality way past the quality of most recordings, so usually all you get with T1's are errors or pops, clicks or distortions in recordings that you cant heard with those other headphones. Its not like a vocal sounds soooo much better on T1's than on HD650's, or an instrument sounds totally different. No, its pretty much identical. What matter most, and what HAS to be improved in order to really achieve a high end sound with headphones (in my opinion) is a soundstage and imaging. HD800 has an amazing soundstage, in headphone terms. That same amazing soundstage of the HD800 is easily beaten by a pair of 200 dollar bookshelf speakers placed properly in relation to your listening position. And some may laugh at that, but sorry, that is a fact. Any speaker setup, at almost any price range, will throw a better and more precise soundstage than any headphone at any price.
That is why for me, as time goes by, the whole headphone high end thing is less and less appealing to me. I just don't connect hi-fi to headphones anymore. Once you hear a proper speaker setup, like the one you have, you can get the Stax SR009 with the best amp in the world for it, and you still wont enjoy it nearly as much. But of course, speaker setups have their own downsides as well....space, cost, etc. Either solution is not ideal, whether you chose headphones or speakers, you're not getting perfection, ever, no matter how long you seek for it. Some audiophiles spent their lives in hi-fi, only to die without ever finding what they were looking for.
Edited by derbigpr - 8/15/13 at 12:51pm