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This is the 20th in a series of reviews dedicated to the concept of 32Ohm Audio as embodied by the store of that name in downtown Portland/Oregon and described here - Ed.

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 1TB iMac (AIFF) via FireWire into Weiss DAC2; iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF) via Peachtree Audio iDecco as DAC; Raysonic Audio CD228
Amplifiers: Woo Audio Model 5 with EML 5U4G, Synergy 6SN7 and Shuguang Black Treasure, EML 300B XLS or Synergy Hifi 300Bs; Trafomatic Audio Head One; Burson Audio HA-160 [on loan]; Meier Audio Corda Concerto [on loan]; HifiMan EF-5 [on loan], Peachtree Audio iDecco, ALO Audio Rx
Digital cables: Firewire 800 - LaCie; USB - ALO Audio and Entreq
Headphones: Rewired - AKG K-702 & K1000, Sennheiser HD800; stock - Audio-Technica W-5000, Grado PS-1000, HifiMan HE-5LE [on loan]
All other cables: ASI Liveline
Stands: 2 x ASI HeartSong 3-tier, 2 x ASI HeartSong amp stand
Powerline conditioning: 1 x Walker Audio Velocitor S, 1 x Furutech RTP6
Review Component Retail: $1.250 stock, $1.496 recabled as reviewed

Clash of the titans? Batman vs. Spiderman, Predator vs. Alien. That's the stuff of adolescents, not old goats. But don't ageing men buy Corvettes and 20-something trophy wives to feel young again? Hifi reviewers can play the same game. Having already acquired the best current headphone efforts from AKG, Audio-Technica, Grado and Sennheiser to fill my headfi tool chest with the sharpest latest weapons, there still were gaps. beyerdynamic's DT880s and I didn't hear ear to ear. Ownership was short lived and they passed to a friend. But when headphone freak Ken Ball of 32ohm Audio casually mentioned in an e-mail that his rewired beyerdynamic T1s were personal favorites, the seeds of curiosity were planted.

He assured me they were nothing like the 880s. Already agreed that Grado's SR60 remains best value, Sennheiser's 800 a bit compromised unless rewired but then SOTA, the rewired AKG K-702 sonically rather close to the luxo elite and Audio-Technica's W-5000 the most comfortable and elegantly crafted of the bunch, I trusted Ken again and bought an ALO Audio-rewired T1. "At a quick glance I tend to give the nod to the recabled T1 over the Audeze LCD2s, then the 800s. Mind you, there is a lot of overlap. None of these is the best, period. More like quasi best. If it were not for the weight of the LCD2s, I'd probably crown them my quasi kings. Alas they're quite heavy."

In the absence of a replacement for AKG's discontinued K1000 top dog, a bout between HD800 and T1 would be my clash of the titans. Seeing Mr. Ball had already rewired my Sennheisers, an equivalent cryo braid for the Beyers was logical and mandatory.

"I must give props to Beyer. After analyzing their stock wire, I concluded that it was the best I'd seen on any production headphone yet. My 18-gauge cryo-treated braid is admittedly on the extreme side but our modifications go after activating the last degrees of performance potential."

Where Sennheiser's boasting card for the HD800 was the mondo 2.205" diaphragm—the biggest dynamic driver thus far bequeathed on a headphone—beyerdynamic's T1 retaliates with breaking the 1 Tesla barrier of magnetic flux density for a headphone transducer. In their voice coil gap, the T1 posts a monster 1.2T figure. Why is that impressive? Driver response is a function of magnetic force and moving mass. The higher the former and the lower the latter, the more responsive a transducer becomes to better track the smallest of voltage swings. Conversely, it outputs more loudness for the same input signal. By boosting magnetic force, Beyer could apply a lighter 600-ohm voice coil to the T1 driver which further lowered its moving mass. Beyer claims twice the flux density of its closest competitor and a truly superb impulse response. Their driver is then mounted on an angled baffle like the HD800 and W5000 from the German and Japanese competition to simulate a more natural sound wave arrival at the ear.

In typically understated style, the T1 adopts Beyer's familiar cosmetics of plush velour pads and circumaural ear cups which are finished in a woven wire mesh on the back. The color scheme is anthracite and burnished silver. Hefty aluminum bails with swivel mounts connect those cups to an adjustable and padded leather headband.

For mobile MP3 use, Beyer just launched their second T model called T50p.
Ken Ball's Audeze and beyerdynamic references above
32ohm Audio store below

: I love listening to headphones. So I do a lot of it. As a rule, ear speakers are more linear than room-plagued loudspeakers. Their high-impedance loads and low gain requirements make them ideal for relatively simple amplification circuits including valves. Costs to participate at the highest level are a mere fraction of in-room systems. Higher SPLs without concern for time of day or night are possible whenever the mood strikes. Even listening to music in the bed right next to the sleeping wife is possible. Then I use fully sealed ear-canal versions like these Jays q-Jays.

iPod & Co. have liberated music listening. No more basement sweet-spot chair. People now do it on the tube, in the park, on the exercise bike, during lunch break - and always over headphones. Hi-tech mobile audio sources have exploded the headphone category. While many are more fashion statement than serious hifi, widespread use and solid sales enable companies like beyerdynamic to sink money into R&D for big statement cans. Those further the state of the art while being priced to appeal to old goats mostly. But as Beyer's €230 T50p shows, trickle-down isn't a mere euphemism for hand-me-down rejects by older brother. Trickle-down is real and attractive. It's within reach of the many. It's occasionally simply subsidized by the low-volume reference stuff. That also doubles as proof of concept and company engineering prowess. Look what we can do!

Hence my ongoing coverage of statement headphones. It's a very vibrant scene with real progress. Results can be stunning. With beyerdynamic in business since 1924 and the T1 their best headphone yet, stakes were high. How would it compare against Sennheiser's best?