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Enter Beyerdynamic's T5p. As my personal Ask Dr. Ruth headfi guru, I'd recently contacted Ken with an SOS. I do a lot of late-night grooving over headphones on the downstairs big rig. Trouble is, 'cept for the W5000 which still leak, my luxo lot is open-backed. Because of two cats and ventilation, we leave the door to the upstairs bedroom open. And, my wife is a very light sleeper. Doing the deed at 1:00 in the morning or earlier while she still meditates is a no-no if any sound leaks. For domestic tranquility and consideration I had defaulted to running premium headphone amps of ModWright LS-100 and Schiit Lyr caliber over my in-ear Ortofon eQ7. See the problem? I'd acquired these very good Japanese ear plugs from Ken for my travels or occasional lakeside sessions. That's because I won't wear full-size cans in public never mind that my portable amp can drive them fine. My hifi dorkiness has its limits. But the enforced downstairs habit was plain silliness - like using a kilowatt amp for cheesy computer speakers.

Downstairs I can use a stunning €30.000 universal player with valve outputs, a nearly €4.000 DAC for up to 384kHz high-resolution files, a $3.500 tube-hybrid headphone amp and a €3.000 fantastic DAC/headphone amp. Driving ear-canal jobs with such a chain is definite overkill, misallocation of resources and not getting from the electronics all they can deliver. What I needed was a premium but sealed can which would really keep mum outside its pads. As his top choice Ken recommended the T5p. Trusting him and his hardwired cable mods implicitly—all my can purchases from Ken come with braided tails—I placed my order.

iMac with PureMusic 1.8, Antelope Audio Zodiac Gold/Voltikus, Metrum Acoustics NOS Mini DAC Octave
Esoteric/APL Hifi UX1/NWO-M, ModWright LS-100

Whilst looking deceptively like a color-shifted T1 with finally—bravo!—smooth leatherette rather than dust-magnet velours pads, this 32Ω circumaural design really is sealed. It keeps to itself so well that Ivette couldn't hear nada with me standing right next to her (neither could I hear her confirmation with tunes going on until I took the Beyers off, affirmative gestures notwithstanding).

Benefiting from the same 3-layer compound diaphragm with Neodymium ring-magnet structure as the T1 to achieve a claimed 1.2 Tesla of magnetic field strength, this scheme allows for a lighter thinner voice coil and high 102dB sensitivity (1mW, 500Hz) which here is copasetic with the meager output voltages of portable players. And yes, my iPod Classic does get it up straight with the T5p for my needs. For true raves you'd still need an amp though. Claimed frequency response is a colossal 5Hz to 50.000Hz and weight is a comfortable 350g.

Beyerdynamic T1 with ALO Audio chain-mail cable at left
T5p at right, XLR-to-mini pig tail between them

Ken's replacement harness is an immaculately woven 4-strand silver affair that's nicely thin and flexible and terminates in a 3-pin locking XLR plug. Attached to this get swappable 6-inch leads with either 6.3mm or 3.5mm plugs for convenient portable/home conversion. Beyerdynamic's bicycle seat lookalike felt pouch with zipper neatly protects and packs the lot for a carry-on bag. Stock accessories from Germany include an airline adaptor and a mini-to-big plug adaptor.