Review: Beyerdynamic T50p headphones
One of the perks of running Ask Dave Taylor is that I get to see a lot of cool hardware, ranging from laptops and set-top boxes to iPhone cases and headphones. I regularly rotate between four or five pairs of headphones and have favorites for flying (Audio-Technica and Bose), a favorite pair of bluetooth headphones (Nokia) and more earbuds than you can shake a stick at. Why you'd be shaking at stick at my earbuds I don't know, but that's the subject of a different blog entry!
Beyerdynamic T50p Headphones
Seems like there isn't much evolution in the headphone space, though. I mean, how much electronics, how much music reproduction capability can you jam into an oval space that's not much bigger than your ear?
Still, every year our team attends the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and scopes out everything fun and interesting coming out, trying to figure out what's going to be of most interest to you, our fabulous readers. It was at CES that I bumped into the team from beyerdynamic and had a chance to hear their "tesla technology" headphones for the first time. And was darn impressed!
If you've never been to a really big tradeshow, there's no way to convey just how loud the environment is, a pretty terrible situation for auditioning headphones. But the beyerdynamic line sounded great, and the T50p was the star of their show, a small, portable premium headphone that featured the tesla tech.
According to Mario Gebhardt of beyerdynamics: "In beyerdynamic headphones, "Tesla" stands for our latest system technology that is distinguished by a very powerful magnetic drive and clean reproduction with a low degree of total harmonic distortion."
What this means in practical terms is that these headphones can get really, really loud because they're so efficient. Far more importantly, however, they have truly beautiful, crystal clear sound. Kick up the volume on some jazz or a studio album and it's like you're sitting in the room just a few feet from the musicians. Crank a concert track and you'll swear you're in the mosh pit, just without the sweaty, drunk guys.
They're so loud that I can't handle the volume even at 75% on my MacBook Pro, and I like listening to my music loud!
The specs list the T50p as having 10-23,000 Hz frequency response, 32 ohm impedence and a nominal SPL of 107dB (max SPL of 127dB). They're light too, plenty comfortable for a few hours of listening on a plane flight, train journey or even just in an office or busy café when you want some privacy.
On the other hand, I do find all over-ear headphones fatiguing and the T50p units, for all that they're carefully designed and lightweight, still have the characteristic of pushing on your ears. That's good in that it helps mask the ambient noise in your environment, but I want my cake and eat it too, as they say: I would love a pair of over-ear headphones that somehow made the proper acoustic seal and sounded great while not pushing on my ears themselves. Still, compared to the big "studio" style headphones, these are definitely more comfortable.
The bigger issue with the beyerdynamic T50p, however, is that they're only somewhat portable. By making the decision to have them be strong and durable, the company opted not to have them be collapsable or foldable and as a result, the headphones plus (included) case are rather large, bigger than your favorite paperback. Here's a picture of the headphones in their case vs. an LG cellphone:
T50p headphones case vs. an LG cellphone
As you can see, they're big. I also worry about how the connectors on the bottom of the headphones are pushed against the bottom of the case when they're stored: over time I anticipate that might well make the connection a bit flakey, as has happened with other headphones we've auditioned.
Finally, none of the headphones in the beyerdynamic line are inexpensive. The recommended retail for these T50-p headphones is $320, though you can find them on Amazon for about $300 even.
Having said all of that, there's no question in my mind that these are astonishing headphones, with superb music reproduction in a small, comfortable design. I can listen to music loud, clear, with great dynamic range, and people sitting adjacent have no idea what's being pumped into my head. And when it's that one favorite song that just begs to be cranked up, these headphones are more than up for the task.
If you can afford them and you have a discerning ear that can tell the difference between $40 Target specials and a truly audiophile headphone, then the beyerdynamic T50p might just be a match made in heaven.
Disclosure: As with all review products, beyerdynamic corporation sent us the T50p headphones without charge. Does that change how it sounds in our ears? Of course not. But now you know. :-)
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