Beyerdynamic has earned a reputation for superb closed-back headphones over the years, so it’s safe to say we were looking forward to reviewing the T5 (3rd Generation) ever since we learned of their existence. Back in 2012, we called the preceding model the best closed-back headphones we’d heard at their price.
Due to those wired over-ears' more compact size, Beyerdynamic introduced them as its ‘first high-end mobile headphones’. But in a headphones market where untethered wireless connectivity, charging on the go and noise-cancelling are in vogue, size alone is no longer enough to warrant such a label.
These flagship T5 (3rd Gen) are, like their T1 (3rd Generation) open-back siblings, designed for home use. You wouldn’t want them simply connected to your mobile, at least not without a decent DAC in the middle.
The T5 (3rd Gen) are serious headphones aimed at those who value serious sound quality – and their design suggests as much. While they may look relatively unassuming next to the more extroverted Focal Elegia and refined Audio-Technica ATH-AWAS Zakura, there’s no mistaking their luxurious handiwork.
Encasing their tilted Tesla drivers are brushed, lacquered aluminium housings, complemented by matching, anodised yokes, a classy strip of Alcantara on the headband, and replaceable ear pads made from protein-coated leatherette that have a multi-layer filling to, Beyerdynamic says, help fine-tune the sound.
The German manufacturer has also chosen copper conductors for the 1.4m fabric-covered, double-sided cable in a bid to ensure optimum signal transmission.
This amounts to a pair of headphones that not only look the part but feel it too – both in the hand and on the head. The enveloping pads clasp just right, providing decent noise isolation, while the headband is cushioned to take the relatively modest burden of the headphones’ 360g weight. If you are determined to venture into the outside world with the T5, they are relatively compact as high-end over-ears go.
Those acquainted with previous versions of the T5, or indeed the T1 (3rd Gen), which are nigh-on identical save for the perforations on their open-back ear cups, won’t be surprised by the Beyerdynamics’ familiar aesthetic. Nor should they be taken aback by their sound signature.
While the open-back nature of the T1 (3rd Gen) predictably means they have an airier soundstage, the T5 (3rd Gen) have a remarkably spacious presentation for a closed-back design. While you don’t get quite the breadth of sound as you do through their sibling, we’d still describe it as ‘expansive’, with a pleasing tonal neutrality and engagingly punchy temperament.
Music isn’t boldly shoved in your face, nor is it overly distant, instead given room to evolve. The result: a comfortable and engaging listen.
Type Closed-back, wired, over-ear
Cable 1.4m (detachable)
Output 3.5mm (with 6.3mm adapter)
Frequency response 5Hz - 50kHz
Impedance 32 ohms
Max power 300mW
Weight 360g (without cable)
We play Arab Strap’s The Turning Of Our Bones, and the Beyerdynamics lap up the track's looping guitar hook and infectious dance groove, kicking hard and sharp with the beat and tightly choreographing the voodoo-inspired instrumentation that dances around it.
The T5’s tight rhythmic organisation means there’s a natural synergy between each musical strand as Aidan Moffat’s Scottish brogue comes through the middle thick and fast. In comparison, the (cheaper) Focal Elegia, while compelling through the midrange, aren’t able to tie it all together with as much cohesion or musicality.
We switch to a Tidal Master of Joni Mitchell’s emotionally charged Both Sides Now, and the T5 (3rd Gen)’s faithful rendition is brimming with subtlety, determined not to allow you to make it to the end with dry eyes. Paying shrewd attention to the dynamic dips and lilts of Mitchell’s vocal and the instrumental accompaniment, they are as dutifully delicate and demanding as the track commands.
But the Beyerdynamics’ considerable talents are at risk of being wasted or undermined if used with a lacklustre source. We expect the natural home of the T5 (3rd Gen) to be a hi-fi system’s headphone outputs, but portable music players of the calibre of the Astell & Kern A&futura SE100 would make a suitable match too. Music libraries and streaming service catalogues on laptops or smartphones, meanwhile, should be fed into a decent DAC, such as the Chord Hugo 2. Plugged directly into a phone or Macbook, these Beyerdynamics simply don’t fulfil their potential.
High-end wired over-ears may not command much of the headphones market's limelight these days, but their importance is unquestionable. For those who listen at home, who want a discreet performance from their headphones that’s good enough to rival a decent pair of speakers, they are ideal.
The Beyerdynamic T5 (3rd Gen) are important players in this field, building on their predecessors’ talents to deliver a level of transparency very few pairs of similarly priced rivals are capable of. Beyerdynamic’s trusty flagship T5 lineage lives on, then, and long may it continue to do so.
- Sound 5
- Comfort 5
- Build 5
Read our guide to the best over-ear headphones
Read our Focal Elegia review
Some feedback from a long term BD headphone owner:
BD's headphone emitters get clogged up with fluff over time, it doesn't mention this anywhere in factory furnished information but they need to be periodically taken apart (every 18-24 months) and swabbed with an alcohol pad, re-assembled with glue..
The pad material that sits between the emitter screen and your ear is not durable, it will rot after a few years, particularly if you sweat while wearing them (that will greatly speed up their decay).
You can order replacement parts for the things that tend to break, this is another thing BD doesn't tell you. Not all of the headphones they sell have replacement parts available through BD or a third party.
Despite lacking documentation, most of it does come apart easy enough, be sure to document the wire layout if you decide to repair or modify it.
BD's headbands typically don't have much of any adjustment left for different size heads than what you see on the picture and they can pinch your head a little, depends on the model.
You can get better headphones in the 300-1200 range than these, particularly when it concerns sound quality and long term wearer comfort. The latter being a priority for any who wear these on the job.
Some of the better choices range from cheaper than these to slightly more like Focal Celeste, AKG 702's, Hifiman Sundara, Neumann HD20's, etc..
Hifiman Sundara is 349 USD average and either curb stomps the T5 for both value and quality or breaks even.
AKG 702 much cheaper than the T5, priced similarly to the Sundara. It does a good job in the fit and sound quality department.
Neumann HD20's don't have as good a sound as the T5 IMO and some of the others mentioned (but it's damn close!), they do rate very highly for long wear comfort and build quality.
Focal Celeste priced similar to the T5 and some other products, Sound is very good with high marks for build quality and wearer comfort.
You may find yourself wanting to modify your headphones for min-xlr use.
There are Youtube vids on modding various pro level headphone types for what I view to be a higher quality connector option than what the factory typically chooses. You are taking your product's warranty and future functionality in your hands when you do this but it's not a complicated procedure. There are also vids on how to convert to a balanced cabling setup too, these require some knowledge of soldering iron usage.
So while you may disagree with me, don't make your comment look like it's not just a matter of your personal liking, but the actual truth. It isn't. We're talking about preferences here and not everybody shares the same preferences as you do.
The Sundara is an excellent value and hits way above it's price. It's also better built and more comfortable than I expected. I still like the K712 Pro more though. Something about the staging of the K712 is just addictive.
I haven't heard them but the 3rd gen T1 and T5 are generally considered to be a step backwards in sound quality from the 2nd gen.
In case it is not clear, the official review this thread is based on, is not mine.
The only negatives I have to say about the Sundara so far is the audio connector design is not very sturdy and should be some type of mini-XLR or at least a connector on the headphones with a retention nut to keep them from popping out. Some of the more expensive headphones have this as a feature I've noticed.
All I did was offer a contrasting view and some in depth information from my own perspective. I spend a lot of time thinking over my purchase choices before I commit to them, and an equal amount researching it.
I hope to rebuild my old DT 770's when or if parts become available again but I do not plan to buy another new BD headphone for quite a while.
I also included some information I would have liked to have known when I first started shopping for high end audio headphones, like availability of parts and that they can be repaired by anyone if the parts are there.
DT 770/880/990 series build quality isn't anything special, nor is it bad. My DT 990s that are over 5 years old work still without any of the nonsense maintenance you claimed they supposedly need. The only things I replaced were the pads and the plastic slider (which is what most likely breaks in Beyer headphones over time, but easy to replace). T1s are noticeably better build quality than the cheap DT line up. Hifiman is trash quality and the sound is over rated big time. There's very little bass in Sundara and HE400S. When I compared then to my DT 880s theres very little differences between them actually. Sundara is the most over hyped trash headphone in existence currently. Doesn't even compare to T1 that has proper bass that extends very low while Sundara sounds like weak fart, much like DT 880 which is also bass light.