Beyerdynamic has earned a reputation for superb closed-back headphones over the years, so it’s safe to say we were looking forward to reviewing the T5 (3rd Generation) ever since we learned of their existence. Back in 2012, we called the preceding model the best closed-back headphones we’d heard at their price.
Due to those wired over-ears’ more compact size, Beyerdynamic introduced them as its ‘first high-end mobile headphones’. But in a headphones market where untethered wireless connectivity, charging on the go and noise-cancelling are in vogue, size alone is no longer enough to warrant such a label.
These flagship T5 (3rd Gen) are, like their T1 (3rd Generation) open-back siblings, designed for home use. You wouldn’t want them simply connected to your mobile, at least not without a decent DAC in the middle.
No, the T5 (3rd Gen) are serious headphones aimed at those who value serious sound quality – and their design suggests as much. While they may look relatively unassuming next to the more extroverted Focal Elegia and refined Audio-Technica ATH-AWAS Zakura, there’s no mistaking their luxurious handiwork.
Encasing their tilted Tesla drivers are brushed, lacquered aluminium housings, complemented by matching, anodised yokes, a classy strip of Alcantara on the headband, and replaceable ear pads made from protein-coated leatherette that have a multi-layer filling to, Beyerdynamic says, help fine-tune the sound.
The German manufacturer has also chosen copper conductors for the 1.4m fabric-covered, double-sided cable in a bid to ensure optimum signal transmission.
This amounts to a pair of headphones that not only look the part but feel it too – both in the hand and on the head. The enveloping pads clasp just right, providing decent noise isolation, while the headband is cushioned to take the relatively modest burden of the headphones’ 360g weight. If you are determined to venture into the outside world with the T5, they are relatively compact as high-end over-ears go.
Those acquainted with previous versions of the T5, or indeed the T1 (3rd Gen), which are nigh-on identical save for the perforations on their open-back ear cups, won’t be surprised by the Beyerdynamics’ familiar aesthetic. Nor should they be taken aback by their sound signature.
While the open-back nature of the T1 (3rd Gen) predictably means they have an airier soundstage, the T5 (3rd Gen) have a remarkably spacious presentation for a closed-back design. While you don’t get quite the breadth of sound as you do through their sibling, we’d still describe it as ‘expansive’, with a pleasing tonal neutrality and engagingly punchy temperament.
Music isn’t boldly shoved in your face, nor is it overly distant, instead given room to evolve. The result: a comfortable and engaging listen.
Beyerdynamic T5 (3rd Gen) tech specs
(Image credit: Beyerdynamic)
Type Closed-back, wired, over-ear
Cable 1.4m (detachable)
Output 3.5mm (with 6.3mm adapter)
Frequency response 5Hz – 50kHz
Impedance 32 ohms
Max power 300mW
Weight 360g (without cable)
We play Arab Strap’s The Turning Of Our Bones, and the Beyerdynamics lap up the track’s looping guitar hook and infectious dance groove, kicking hard and sharp with the beat and tightly choreographing the voodoo-inspired instrumentation that dances around it.
The T5’s tight rhythmic organisation means there’s a natural synergy between each musical strand as Aidan Moffat’s Scottish brogue comes through the middle thick and fast. In comparison, the (cheaper) Focal Elegia, while compelling through the midrange, aren’t able to tie it all together with as much cohesion or musicality.
We switch to a Tidal Master of Joni Mitchell’s emotionally charged Both Sides Now, and the T5 (3rd Gen)’s faithful rendition is brimming with subtlety, determined not to allow you to make it to the end with dry eyes. Paying shrewd attention to the dynamic dips and lilts of Mitchell’s vocal and the instrumental accompaniment, they are as dutifully delicate and demanding as the track commands.
But the Beyerdynamics’ considerable talents are at risk of being wasted or undermined if used with a lacklustre source. We expect the natural home of the T5 (3rd Gen) to be a hi-fi system’s headphone outputs, but portable music players of the calibre of the Astell & Kern A&futura SE100 would make a suitable match too. Music libraries and streaming service catalogues on laptops or smartphones, meanwhile, should be fed into a decent DAC, such as the Chord Hugo 2. Plugged directly into a phone or Macbook, these Beyerdynamics simply don’t fulfil their potential.
High-end wired over-ears may not command much of the headphones market’s limelight these days, but their importance is unquestionable. For those who listen at home, who want a discreet performance from their headphones that’s good enough to rival a decent pair of speakers, they are ideal.
The Beyerdynamic T5 (3rd Gen) are important players in this field, building on their predecessors’ talents to deliver a level of transparency very few pairs of similarly priced rivals are capable of. Beyerdynamic’s trusty flagship T5 lineage lives on, then, and long may it continue to do so.
- Sound 5
- Comfort 5
- Build 5
Read our guide to the best over-ear headphones
Read our Focal Elegia review