While there may be a strong sense of familiarity attached to the new Beyerdynamic T1 (3rd Generation) headphones, the company has managed to evolve the recipe to keep these cans at the cutting edge of performance at their price level.
It’s been a decade since we first laid ears on the original T1 model, and they have since become something of a touchstone for us as far as premium headphones go. The main change between this third-generation model and its predecessor has been to make the new pair easier to drive for laptops and mobile devices. The old model had a 600ohm impedance, while this new one takes that down to 32ohms.
The result is a pair of headphones that is more widely compatible, even if we feel the need to add the proviso that they haven’t become any less transparent, and so a high-quality source remains vital.
Build and Comfort
Apart from the revised steel backing plate on the ear cups, not much else has changed on these headphones.
Type Open, over-ear
Frequency response 5Hz – 50kHz
Nominal impedance 32ohms
Max power 300mW
Weight 360g (without cable)
They’re comfortable enough for long listening sessions thanks to a nicely shaped, partially Alcantara-covered headband and generous velour-trimmed earpads.
Unlike most of the competition, these headphones don’t overheat our ears over extended use – something no doubt helped by their open-backed design. Their weight isn’t excessive at 360g (without cables), either.
These are intended mainly for home use, so we’re glad to find that the company has bundled a 3m-long, high-purity copper lead. It’s easily detachable, so if it ever does break or get damaged, swapping to a replacement will take a matter of seconds.
The lead has a 3.5mm jack on one end with a 6.3mm screw-on adaptor fitted. Another positive is that the cable doesn’t transmit much mechanical noise when we move around either.
We’re big fans of open-back headphones on sound quality grounds, but the inherent downside is sound leakage. So just note that when wearing these you will probably disturb someone sitting next to you, and furthermore you won’t be very isolated from the noise in your surroundings.
This is perhaps the perfect opportunity to point out that the T1 (3rd Gen)'s closed-back cousins, the T5 (3rd Generation), are worth considering if an open-back design isn't ideal for you.
Having enjoyed the T1 for much of the last decade, we’re pleased to report that this 3rd-generation model doesn’t let the lineage down. Compared to the previous version, they're a little cleaner and clearer – but only a little.
The differences are small enough that we don’t see any true value in updating from one pair to the other, unless you want to use them with laptops or portable audio devices, in which case the T1 (3rd Gen)’s ease of driving comes to the fore. They simply sound much louder for any given volume setting.
There are small tonal discrepancies, too, the latest version sounding less bright and a little more rounded in the treble. It makes them a bit more forgiving of aggressive electronics and recordings.
They’re still admirably even-handed and balanced, though. We’re pleased to report that Beyerdynamic hasn’t over-egged the bass frequencies in a bid to impress, with the T1 (3rd Gen) sounding as tonally convincing as ever.
These cans are wonderfully informative and able to track the multitude of musical strands in Massive Attack’s Paradise Circus with ease. We’re taken by the sense of control and organisation, but also the way in which these headphones entertain. They time well, rendering the song’s pulsating beat with confidence, and there’s plenty of kick at low frequencies. Vocals come through with nuance and clarity, too.
We switch to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and the T1 (3rd Gen) continue to shine by delivering the music with a palpable sense of power and authority. They don’t hype the music to make it more exciting; instead, they faithfully replay the signal they’re fed and, if that’s good enough, so the final sound will be too.
These Beyerdynamics don’t shy away from punching out huge dynamic swings; they stay composed with it, never hardening up or adding an unwanted edge.
These aren’t the kind of headphones that impress on a short listen. However, given a few days or even weeks, it’s hard not to fall under the T1 (3rd Gen)’s spell. We certainly have.
- Sound 5
- Comfort 5
- Build 5
Read our guide to the best over-ear headphones