When Beyerdynamic introduced their T1 top-of-the-line headphones earlier this year the company captured the attention of the Playback staff. In our review we said that, “the T1s are the best combination of midrange neutrality, vividness and transparency we’ve heard.” That’s saying a lot and isn’t one of those highly qualified “the range from 100-102 Hz is extremely accurate” kind of comments. We think for many listeners the T1 is a must-hear contender for king-of-the-hill even though several new planar magnetic headphones have come along to challenge it.
Given the mobility allowed by headphones, the dream of some would be to have the sound of headphones like the T1 in a package drivable by an iPhone or with a portable amp at least (whereas the T1, along with most other state-of-the-art headphones, needs a powerful desktop amp). Beyerdynamic has obviously been listening, the result being the new T5p. Beyerdynamic positions the T5p as the first high-end mobile headphone.
Priced at $1295, the T5p is a full-size, closed-back design that aims to minimize audio leakage and to maximize ambient noise attenuation. The T5p resembles the T1 in several ways, starting with appearance. More importantly, the drivers are also placed at an angle to the ear, a strategy we've seen with the Ultrasone Edition 8 and the Sennheiser HD800. The idea expressed by those manufacturers is to capture some of the outer ear reflections that one experiences with live music and loudspeaker. But in the case of the T5p, interestingly, Beyerdynamic’s engineers say their objective in the offset driver placement was to avoid creating reflections from the outer ear—the opposite of the objectives of other offset designs, it would seem. Other objectives are also carried over from the T1, as well, including a powerful magnetic system and a low-distortion diaphragm.
The T5p has an impedance of 32 ohms and a sensitivity of 102db with 1 mW input. That should make the T5p suitable to be driven directly by portable devices. We tested the T5p directly connected to the iPhone 4 as well as when driven by the NuForce Icon Mobile amp/DAC and the Qables iCube V2 amp/DAC.