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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Headphones

Dangerously good: The Beyerdynamic T5p headphones

Truly high-end headphones don't sound their best with portable music players, but the T5p is the exception to that rule.

It didn't take too long to feel right at home with the new Beyerdynamic T5p (2. Generation) headphones ($1,099, £977, AU$1,829) because the look and feel of this hand-crafted in Germany headphone isn't so different than most of the full-size Beyerdynamic headphones I've reviewed over the last few years. The T 5 p stands out from the pack because it's the rare high-end headphone that can be used at home or on the go. It's available on Amazon.

Beyerdynamic T5p headphones.

​Beyerdynamic

My takeaway after listening to a few tunes: There's an irresistible genuineness to the sound of the T5p. It's a closed-back, over-the ear design, and does a very decent job reducing external noise. Comfort was good, and impedance is an easy to drive 32 ohms. Cables are user-replaceable, and the T5p comes with a sturdy 4.6-foot (1.4-meter) cable, and a spiffy looking fabric-covered hard-shell carry case. The headphone is supplied with a five-year warranty, most competing headphones make do with one- or two-year warranties.

I hit a snag when I first tried to hookup the T5p to my iPhone 6S, the headphone cable's 3.5mm plug's body was too wide, so it thwarted my attempts to fully insert the plug into the iPhone 6S jack, because the jack was recessed within the case. The problem I encountered will likely be repeated with other phones with cases that limit access to the area surrounding the smartphone's headphone jack. The solution was easy: remove the iPhone case. After that, no problem, but Beyerdynamic should offer a replacement cable with a skinnier plug body.

The T5p may be a closed-back design, but it sounded more like an open back. Sound stages were big and spacious, at least on par with my Oppo PM-1 open-back headphones. I selected the PM-1 for comparisons because it has a reputation for being easy to drive, and it was, but the T5p was easier so it played louder at the same volume setting on my iPhone 6S. The PM-1 had a richer/warmer tone, the T5p sounded clearer, with livelier dynamic contrasts. There's more going on with the T5p's, it's a more exciting ride than the PM-1 plugged into a smartphone

Beyerdynamic T5p headphones' large plug body makes it challenge to fully insert into a recessed smartphone jack.

Steve Guttenberg/CNET

Bass was really, really deep, so my ears felt like they were getting a massage when I played Alarm Will Sound's "Performs Aphex Twin" album! I use this music all the time for reviews so I know it well, and yet here with the T5p I felt like I was hearing more deeply into the mix. Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong's "Foreverly" Everly Brothers tribute album puts their voices upfront, and their band's easy flowing country feel could do no wrong.

The T5p may have been designed for portable use, but I also spent some time listening to it at home with my Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL and Oppo HA-1 headphone amps. No surprise, all that's good about the T 5 p indeed sounded even better hooked up to first class amplification. Over long listening sessions the T 5 p's sound just got better and better, and the sound appeared to come from around my head.

Continuing at home the T 5 p had a fuller and bassier sound than my old T 1 headphones (not the current T 1 (2. Generation). As I listened I felt my T 1 was significantly more transparent and clear, but it lacked some of the T5p's warmth. If you do the bulk of your headphone listening at home get the T 1, but if you listen on-the-go and at home get the T5p. Both headphones are superb, but do different jobs.

The Beyerdynamic T5p (2. Generation) is a true state of the art headphone for portable music fans.