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First-Class Fidelity


My normal process for reviewing audio gear is about a two-week routine: Listen to a wide range of music, take notes along the way, and then bang out a pithy review. When I put the Beyerdynamic T5p headphones on, I knew that the normal routine wouldn’t suffice. Give these cans back after a mere two weeks? Fugetaboutit. One summer and fall later….

The T5ps reek of quality right out of the box. There’s the high-grade, sturdy aluminum frame with slick design details throughout. The cables are perfectly supple. The super-cush leather earpads and headband feature intricate stitching that’s done by hand in Germany. Did Mercedes-Benz start a headphone factory?

In a nutshell, the T5p is a luxurious full-size, high-quality headphone that can handle portable music devices such as iPods and iPhones, but also performs great as an everyday headphone for home or office use.

With just about any type of music you put on, the first thing you notice about the T5p is the outstanding midrange clarity.

The T5p comfort factor is as good as any headphone I’ve put on, and the pressure is perfect — enough to give you a tight seal, but not too much that it causes fatigue. With the closed-back design, the T5p also minimizes audio leakage, and helps filter out ambient sounds. It won’t compare to a noise-canceling rig, but does the job in most cafes and outdoor spaces. The accessories include a compact felt storage case, gold-plated mini stereo jack plug (3.5 mm), a ¼-inch adapter, and a 10-foot extension cable.

With just about any type of music you put on, the first thing you notice about the T5p is the outstanding midrange clarity. In particular with acoustic music, the separation between instruments and transparency is remarkable, even when an iPod is providing the power. When you throw on something more demanding — say a Radiohead or TV On the Radio album — the T5p is able to perfectly control the balance between instruments so that nothing is overemphasized or lost in the mix.

If you want to nitpick, the T5p might a touch bright for some tastes, favoring the treble and high end. But this clarity and transparency is also an attribute — it helps bring out the depth and detail in music, and adds to the vividness that these cans have in spades. The bass is good or great, depending on the source — hooked into my home amp, the T5p produced some deep, tight bass response, whereas with the iPod it was solid, but not quite as impressive.

In short, you will be hard-pressed to find a better all-around headphone than the T5p. Hooked into your home system, it brings out the full expression in most any type of music, and makes it sound more realistic and compelling with its convincing soundstage. On the road, you get high-quality sound, comfort, and the feeling of being awfully spoiled when you’re surrounded by earbud nation.

Now here’s the rub: The T5p will set you back a cool $1,300. I know, I know, you’re saying, “For 1,300 bills, I could buy a used El Camino, possibly one with a cassette deck.” True enough. But serious hi-fi gear never comes cheap, friends, and the Beyerdynamic T5p is most definitely a serious set of cans. Given the build quality, it wouldn’t surprise me if this set of T5ps lasted a good 10 to 15 years before showing its age, whereas most cans start to fall apart after five years of use. And given the state of the stock market these days, maybe investing in high-end stereo gear isn’t such a crazy idea after all.

WIRED In a class of its own for portable cans. Build quality is top notch — these will be durable for decades, not just years. 32 ohms of impedance makes them plenty loud on portable rigs, so there’s no need for a headphone amp.

TIRED Errrrm, uh, the carrying case isn’t gold-plated?

Photos by Jim Merithew/Wired

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