Astell & Kern AK T5p 2nd Generation Review

Astell & Kern AK T5p 2nd Generation

In this article we’ll be taking a look at the $1,199 USD Astell & Kern AK T5p 2nd Generation headphone.

 

 

Astell&Kern’s Australian distributor, Busisoft A.V, kindly loaned a review sample with us for our review. We’ll be sending the AK TP5 2nd Generation back their way post-review along with our thanks for the opportunity and ongoing support. 

The AK T5p V2 is the second-generation variant of the portable, premium headphone collaboration between German headphone manufacturer Beyerdynamic and South Korean Digital Audio manufacturer Astell&Kern. The AK TP5 V2 is currently available for $1,119 USD, and its production run is limited to only 1000 units worldwide. We managed to get a hold of one to take it through its paces to share our impressions with Headfonia readers. Does the prospect of a top-of-the-line portable headphone created by two of the best in the biz sound appealing to you? Well, you’d better read on!

 

A cross-continental collaboration

Astell&Kern ought to be a familiar name for returning Headfonia readers, and for fans of personal audio more broadly. Renowned for creating some of the best digital audio players in the business, their players are highly sought after and are a common sight on our Best Gear list. Determined to help extract the best performance out of their gear, A&K teamed up with German headphone heavyweights Beyerdynamic some five years ago now to help craft the perfect IEMs and full-sized headphones to perform at their peak with A&K’s series of DAPs. 

Featuring a range of bespoke cosmetic and design tweaks to differentiate them from their Beyerdynamic donor models, the A&K + Beyerdynamic series (including the AK T81e, AK T1p, and AK T5p) were also optimised to perform at their best without requiring desktop amplification thanks to their far more sensitive drivers, which are specially-tuned for optimum performance with A&K digital players. 

Meet the Astell&Kern AK T5p V2

Based on the Beyerdynamic T5p 2nd generation portable over-ear headphones, the Astell&Kern AK T5p is now in its second iteration and features a range of aesthetic tweaks that set it apart from its predecessor, but carries across the same 45mm, 32-ohm ‘Tesla’ drivers. And from what I understand, the AK T5p V2 is somewhat of a rare beast with only 1000 units having been produced out of the Beyerdynamic factory in Germany. That might seem like only a short production run, but when you consider that the AK T5p V2 retails for a not-inconsiderable $1,199 USD, it’s aimed at a very discerning and very specific audiophile: those looking for a full-sized headphone who are inclined to take their music experience with them, out of the house. And to narrow-in on an even more niche audience, we’re talking about the on-the-go-audiophile with a penchant for Astell&Kern portable audio players. 

Astell&Kern AK T5p V2

Astell&Kern AK T5p V2

The audiophile headphone spotter will notice two key features that distinguish the AK T5p V2 from the Beyerdynamic T5P: a dark, patterned metallic cover on the outside of the cups sporting the Astell&Kern logo, plus as a detachable braided ‘Litz’ style cable, angled forwards about 45-degrees beyond perpendicular and terminated in a 2.5mm balanced connection at the end of its 1.4m length. 

So what’s it all about then?

While it’s not outwardly marketed as a ‘portable’ device, the AK T5p’s ‘AK’ nomenclature, lower impedance/higher sensitivity rating, detachable cable configuration as well as its spiritual pairing with Astell&Kern Digital Audio Players all infer that this model is one designed to be taken out and about with you. Now as I’ve already mentioned, the AK T5p V2 isn’t exactly cheap, and so sits in a very unusual place among high-end headphones when it comes to evaluating it. As portable headphones go, it’s not exactly small – it’s still very much a full-sized pair of headphones and they don’t collapse like the Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 or Cascade, or fold flat like the Audeze Sine. So just how wieldy and usable are they as a portable set of cans? And, if you’re planning on spending good money on them, how versatile are they? I wanted to see how they stood-up to desktop use and to also put the claim to the test that they perform at their best with stablemate Digital Audio Players from Astell&Kern. Let’s see how they fare. 

Head over to Page Two to continue our review, just CLICK HERE.

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Matty's a musician, music-fan, and 'gear-phile' from Sydney, Australia. Outside of his day-job in creative advertising, Matty enjoys live music, lawn bowls, craft beer, and spending far too much money collecting vinyl.

    8 Comments

    • Reply June 22, 2020

      ArieLext

      Are you sure they use real leather?

      • Reply June 22, 2020

        Matty Graham

        My understanding is that they use sheepskin.

    • Reply June 22, 2020

      EmpeirosAudio

      If you have the chance, you should try the Astell & Kern T5p 2nd Generation with the Dekoni Audio Elite Sheepskin Replacement Ear Pads… to my ears they became a different beast altogether.

      • Reply June 22, 2020

        Matty Graham

        That sounds interesting – did you try the standard of fenestrated ones? How did it affect the sound? I did mention in the article that I thought that these might benefit from a pad swap.

        • Reply June 23, 2020

          EmpeirosAudio

          The standard ones.

          More precisely, these ones: https://dekoniaudio.com/product/dekoni-audio-elite-sheepskin-ear-pads-for-beyerdynamic-dt-series-headphones/

          I also ordered the fenestrated ones but they made the A&K T5p 2nd Gen sound too airy and thin, killing the low-end altogether.

          The main benefit of the standard ones for me is that they got rid of what I can best describe as a plasticky resonance which I attributed to a poor seal I had with the original pads.

          To my ears, they literally transformed a pair of unacceptable headphones in this price range into the best closed-back headphones I ever had, beating Campfire Audio’s Cascade which have been my all time favorite.

          • Reply June 24, 2020

            Matty Graham

            Ok, consider my interest piqued. I’ve contacted the local distributor for Dekoni and I’m getting the fenestrated sheepskin, elite velour, and the hybrid pads in so that I can do a follow-up with the AK T5p V2. I have a hunch there’ll be some intersting results. Watch this space!

            • Reply June 24, 2020

              EmpeirosAudio

              ‘Looking forward to your impressions — you didn’t want the standard ones or the dealer didn’t have them?

    • Reply June 23, 2020

      Joe

      I’ve got these phones, which I pair with the AK A&Norma SR15. Curious to know whether you applied AK’s EQ. While I agree with the majority of your assessment of the AK T5P2s, I find the character of their sound is altered substantially with the EQ engaged.

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