Both my wife and I were big fans of the original T1. My wife turned down my offer to buy a pair for both of us to enjoy. Her explanation began and ended with a $. The new one is roughly the same price, and while it still sounds great, its signature has changed.
The skinny is that it’s a bit too shouldery for fast electronic and trance, and nearly perfect for folk, soft jazz. Blessings, it is a very good match for Vivaldi.
Its shouldery midrange is larger than life, blending seamlessly with lows, but boxing somewhat abruptly against the upper midrange and highs. It is wide and deep, roomy enough that you might swear a breeze blew through the middle of the stage. The transition between highs and lows is a bit starker than before, with bass getting the smallest of upper hands. Next to my longtime, and much-abused DT880/600, the new T1’s bass is slightly elevated. It’s neither boomy, nor ruggedised. It’s just got a slight bit more sound pressure behind it. The difference isn’t huge, but both T1 owners and DT880 will notice it. The main difference is its midrange, which is wider and roomier, and which renders y-axis details in a wider, roomier venue. In that band, it’s like the venue was upgraded from a pub to a small auditorium.
Highs don’t stick out as much as they used to. The good news is that that high frequency is smooth, and extends well, with few, if any noticeable drop outs. But that immense sense of space closes suddenly in. DT880 treble heads probably won’t like it. But DT880 fans are a breed all their own. They like the peaky, the cranky, the jaunty. They scoff at easily mouthed platitudes. Sibilance, you say? My arse!
Well, the T1,2’s high range is better behaved than the DT880 – perhaps too much so. It’s not dull, it’s not dark. It’s still Beyer, and treble-bouncy, but it’s not susceptible to the same criticism the DT880 is. It is smoother, and fractionally less bombastic. It is an easier listening treble, and it can be tighter.
An electronic-head like me doesn’t dig that stereo-sensitive details clump more together, compressing some out-of-head psychoacoustics. Highs come out all right, but their lovely, panning (and sometimes wild) stereo image has been polited over.
But then, trance isn’t the only genre out there. It’s just the best.
Simon and Garfunkel. The Dire Straits. Whatever audiophile favourite female vocalist you desire. This is totally where the T1,2 stretches its legs. That shouldery midrange busts vocals forward and out, both against the bass and treble. It’s almost as if Mark Knopfler is sipping your pint. And of course, around the vocal band, there’s loads of space and detail.
The T1 is as speedy as the DT880. In fact, its upper midrange is far less prone to smear. Smooth. But shouldery.
It’s as if Beyerdynamic designed the T1,2 specifically for audiophile genres. Which, at its price point, is fine by me. But audiophilia isn’t all Nora Jones and smarmy jazz, not to mention the sickening piano stuff cued up at every headphone festival booth. Audiophilia is also peopled by music lovers. There are metal heads among us, and trancephiles among us, and hopped-up EDM fans looking for upper-edge bite. For them, the original T1 is, in my opinion, the more apt headphone. But for the audiophile that listens for the smack of his or her favourite singer’s gums, and spends evenings sussing the age of Knopfler’s guitar, there is the T1,2.
Sensitivity and amping
The T1,2 is more sensitive than the DT880, and a bit less sensitive than the Oppo PM-2. For example, a volume of 69 on the Grace Design m9xx and DT880/600 combo is roughly 8 full stops higher than I’d use for the T1,2. Which makes sense. The DT880/600 is sensitive to 96dB and the T1 to 102dB.
Volume-matched, I find a simple iPhone 4s to be every bit as good as a similarly-voiced desktop amp or DAC. I listen about 6 or 7 steps from the top with a variety of music. Of course, at normal listening levels, little to no benefit exists for either 24-bit audio, or hi-end DAC/amp/DAPs. If you’re in the habit of cranking it, the Grace m9XX will more than do ya. As will the Chord Mojo.
While the trance-lover in me prefers the original, I reckon that non-electronic, non-metal heads will probably prefer the new T1. Which I get. In fact, if the original came with the same handy box and used the same detachable cables, I’d jump on one right now. The new design is truly bullet proof. Well, except for the leatherette headband. That’s a shame.
If you love its robust mid-forward, mid-wide sound signature, the T1 2.Generation is a phenomenal choice.