Beyerdynamic T1 (3rd Generation) Review: Audiophile quality for the mainstream

Beyerdynamic's flagship offering makes it easier for mainstream users – kind of.

by Justin Choo

The venerable Beyerdynamic T1 is in its third incarnation and interestingly enough, it’s taken on a new shade of black. Lest you have been following Beryerdyanmic’s lineup through the years, you’d be forgiven if you did not recognise it as the new T1. Aside from a visible shift from silver to noir, the ear cups are aesthetically different. They now sport an updated grille pattern; it’s as though Beryerdynamic want to convey the idea that this is an entirely different headphone altogether. Which it is (in my book anyway).

Headphones tend to have a signature – if you pick up iconic headphones from the leading brands and listen in a blind test, there’s a good to fair chance you can tell which brands they are just as the first notes pass through your ear. With Beyerdynamic, the high end of the spectrum is always a defining trait – what made the T1 great was they could push that envelope without sounding harsh, which would sound phenomenal on the right recordings. And paired with the appropriate amplifiers to taste, it offered listeners a refuge of sonic bliss. That is until the significant other finds out that you’ve added another headphone rig to the five that you already have.

The downside of not having a new version of something looking identical to its predecessor is that its hard to hide clandestine purchases in plain sight. Some things remain largely the same: the build quality is impeccable and befitting of a headphone in this price bracket. Marry quality materials with good ergonomics, and the result is a headphone that wears comfortably for hours on end. The tension of the headband feels perfect. The sponges and the synthetic leather are a little different, but they all work very well in minimising fatigue on your ears. Unfortunately, the obvious bits are, well, obvious.

The new Beyerdynamic T1 3rd Gen gets a new look

The new Beyerdynamic T1 3rd Gen gets a new look

But times have changed even the most traditional vestiges of the headphone world. If the low impedance (32 ohms) wasn’t a clue that this was going to be a significant departure, then I don’t know what is. Sound-wise, you could say that the T1 was closer to the Amiron in spirit than the older T1.

If I’m honest, my first impression of the T1 3rd Gen wasn’t great – I had an idea of what it should sound, and it subverted my expectations. But like all headphones that sound different from what you are used to, you need a bit of time to get used to their characteristics.

So what has changed? For one, the sound signature is slightly warmer. At the risk of being reductionist (OK, I very well am), the new T1 was made for a modern studio sound. These headphones come well and truly alive when playing music produced in the last two decades. It’s still tight on the high end, but it is more subdued and subtle – more rounded on the edges. What surprised me, was how ‘big’ and ’loose’ the sub-bass is, and yet the low mids are quite responsive. It bounces along quite happily – for lack of a better phrase – which is rather surprising for an open-back headphone.

I noticed the bass feels a little uneven or overbearing sometimes if the amp pairing doesn’t quite work, so you might have to spend some time matching them if you intend to get the best out of the T1. I don’t expect this to end well for your wallet. On the flip side, it’s relatively easy to drive, so on paper at least, you will have no shortage of options, and in a myriad of use cases.

The Beyerdynamic T1 is much more compatible with portables, but you wouldn’t bring this out, would you?

It’s much more compatible with portables, but you wouldn’t bring this out, would you?

I’m particularly impressed by the soundstage (the spacing and virtual placement of the instruments), though admittedly this is a personal bias. There’s a strong emphasis on front and centre – the vocals are pushed to the forefront, while the rest of the instruments occupy their spots albeit in a slightly diminished manner. For whatever reason, it feels like the highs are a little subdued in this respect. But in the grand scheme of things, it is still a pleasant presentation. You no longer have the unabashed highs you would associate with a Beyerdynamic headphone, but this new revision sounds engaging, especially for live cuts and fast-paced, percussive tracks.

The audiophile world is a heady blend of nostalgia and tech, and the T1 sits firmly in the latter camp in almost every conceivable way. These headphones are so easy to drive that they sound decent even when listening straight off a smartphone. But I’d imagine you didn’t spend all that money just to do that.

Beyerdynamic first introduced the uber-efficient Tesla drivers in 2009, and we’ve passed a decade with them. The new T1 feels like a logical milestone for the company and an increasingly tech-leaning world, where people are more likely to pick up a DJ console than they would a violin or guitar. But like all transitional tech, the public response can be rather polarising. So, if you appreciate music enough to find better quality sources, but at the same time you appreciate the convenience that tech brings (and money is no object), the T1 3rd Gen is pretty sweet. However, if you are an audiophile, then you would probably need some time with this headphone to see if it fits a niche in your collection.


Price $1,499

Headphone type Over-ear, open-back, dynamic
Frequency response 5-50,000 Hz
Impedance 32 Ω
Nominal sound pressure level 100 dB (1 mW) T.H.D. <0.05% (800 Hz / 1 mW)
Power handling capacity 300 mW
Max. sound pressure level 124 dB (300 mW)
Cable 3 m, double-sided with 3.5 mm jack
Weight without cable 360 g


Beyerdynamic T1

Features – 7/10
Value Proposition – 7/10
Performance – 9/10
Design & Build Quality – 9/10

An audiophile-grade headphone optimised for modern digital devices. Rather pricey for casuals but they can enjoy it on its own. But to get the most out of it, a good amp pairing is necessary.

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