On October 1, for SoundStage! Solo, Brent Butterworth reviewed Beyerdynamic’s T5 headphones. He wanted to review this model, a closed-back design now in its third generation, for several reasons, one of which was: “So much attention in the audiophile headphone biz is devoted to relatively young companies, such as Audeze, Dan Clark Audio, and HiFiMan, that we tend to overlook the three German brands -- AKG, Beyerdynamic, and Sennheiser -- that were making good headphones before the founders of the aforenamed upstarts were even born.” He admitted that he’d “still never spent enough quality time with some of the high-end models from that classic Teutonic trio.” Even Brent had some catching up to do.
The T5s cost $999 (all prices USD) and come with a travel case, a 4.6’ cable terminated with 1/8” connectors, and a 1/8”-to-1/4” adapter. That’s not many extras for $999, though Brent did point out that the T5s are “assembled by hand in Germany, from mostly German-manufactured parts,” and that the “earpads are especially nice, made from multiple layers of mushy stuff (including one of memory foam), and covered in protein-coated synthetic leather.”
“There’s nothing outwardly distinctive about the T5s,” Brent wrote. What makes the T5s different from most of today’s headphones, Brent thought, is their “old-school dynamic drivers,” which he described as “miniature versions of conventional speaker drivers. The drivers are pushed to the front of the earcups and angled toward your ears, more like a set of speakers would be.” Though Beyerdynamic doesn’t specify the diameter of the T5s’ drivers, to Brent it “looks like 40mm, and the middle 30mm of the drivers is covered with (and tuned by) an unusually thick layer of damping material.”
Brent reported that Beyerdynamic specifies the T5s for “30-ohms impedance, with rated sensitivity of 100dB/1mW, so they should be easy for portable devices to drive.” Brent measured the T5s and got an impedance of 32 ohms and a sensitivity of 102dB -- close to Beyerdynamic’s claims, and confirming that any portable device, including smartphones, should be enough to power them. (Of course, you can always use a standalone headphone amplifier.)
It didn’t take long for Brent to get a handle on the T5s’ sound quality: “Right on my first listen to the T5s, after giving them my requisite ten-hour break-in, I knew they were very good. I heard little coloration as I flipped through various tunes on my phone, and I ended up using them to monitor some jazz recordings and mixes I’m doing.” He listened to “But Beautiful,” from Diana Krall’s This Dream of You (24-bit/44.1kHz FLAC, Verve/Qobuz), and noted that “the balance of bass to mids to treble seemed just about perfect,” the sound of Krall’s voice was “natural” and “uncolored,” and “the size and space of the big studio” seemed accurately portrayed.
With “Time Machine,” from Alicia Keys’s Alicia (24/44.1 FLAC, RCA/Qobuz), Brent explained how he “was especially impressed by the T5s’ reproduction of Keys’s voice, which sounded full and clear, with no sibilance at all, no chestiness, and no edge.” Turning to “The Ocean,” from a 2014 remastering of Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy (24/96 FLAC, Atlantic/Qobuz), Brent described how he thought that, through the T5s, this recording’s overall “balance [was] as it should be,” and that Robert Plant’s vocals “sounded as clean and clear as I can ever remember hearing them sound.”
Brent compared the T5s with a group of headphone models diverse in both price and technology: two other Beyerdynamics, the T1 ($999) and Amiron Home ($599); Audeze’s LCD-X (original price $1699, now $1199), with Dekoni Choice Suede earpads ($59.99); HiFiMan’s Sundara ($499); and AKG’s K371 ($149). But when all was said and done, Brent found that, “Overall, the T5s were my favorite of all these headphones, mainly because they sounded the most balanced. For example (and sticking with this review’s theme of extremely complex productions), all of them sounded good on the Seals & Crofts classic ‘Summer Breeze,’ but I felt the T5s delivered the most neutral presentation, neither coloring the instrumental and vocal sounds nor elevating any element of the mix above any of the others.”
The T5s “sounded so great and so flawless that I have to think they rank up there with the best,” Brent concluded, adding that they’re “as comfortable as anything else on the market, and as easy to drive as mass-market headphones.” All of that contributed to his thinking the T5s are “a pretty great deal.”
We feel that Beyerdynamic’s T5 headphones are even more than that. Brent Butterworth’s praise of the T5s’ sound earned them a Reviewers’ Choice award when his review was published; now we recognize the T5s as a Recommended Reference Component -- the first Beyerdynamic headphone model to appear on this list. We’re sure glad Brent decided to catch up with what this venerable maker of headphones is doing these days.
Manufacturer contact information:
Beyerdynamic, Inc. USA
56 Central Avenue
Farmingdale, NY 11735
Phone: (631) 293-3200
Fax: (631) 293-3288