Beyerdynamic T 51 i and T 51 p On-Ear Sealed Headphones

Beyerdynamic T 51 i ($299) and T 51 p ($289)
Quite a few years ago now I reviewed the Beyerdynamic DT 1350 ($289) quite positively. This headphone is sold into Beyer's pro audio distribution channel, primarily to DJs. Subsequently, Beyer produced a T 50 p to sell into their consumer channel that looked quite similar, but didn't have the split headband. It didn't sound nearly as good, either...I was bummed. Then, a couple of years ago, Beyer updated the model to produce the T 51 i, which I heard at a show and thought sounded quite a bit better than the T 50 p. After years of hounding them at every show they finally sent one my way. (Still hounding for the T1 V2!)

Build Quality, Styling, and Comfort
The Beyerdynamic T 51 i and T51 p are on-ear, sealed headphone intended for personal mobile use. The only difference between the two headphones it the i has a cord mounted iOS compatible remote, and the p is without any remote. Construction is largely metal with some apparently good quality synthetic materials used appropriately. Styling is, of course, a personal subjective thing, but I found the T 51 i with its "modern steampunk" utilitarian chic look (if there is such a thing) quite appealing.

The headband is a single piece of arched metal with the center cut out causing it to be visually similar to the split-band DT 1350. Two thin protein leather pads cover the central spans for most of its length. Headband adjustment arms are detented with a series of short slots, and slide through plastic clamping mechanisms on the headband ends. Adjustment is easy to effect and remain securely in position when set.

Ear capsule yoke is attached to the adjustment arm with what looks like a specialized rivet around which it swivels. Ear capsules swivel up and down around the yoke attachement points front and back on the capsule. These seem to me very simple and reliable methods. The headphone very quickly and naturally adjust to the the head reliably.

The 50" cable is thin and flexible, and is terminated at the player end with a 90 degree angle 3.5mm TRRS plug. The Y-split 14" from the headphone is a nicely implemented molded part with a metal decorative insert on either side; cables are permanently attached to the ear capsules. The T 50 i has an Apple iOS device compatible plug and remote/mic on the cable leading to the right earpiece; and the product includes a 3.5mm adapter for compatibility with non-iOS compatible 3.5mm jacks. The T 50 p does not include a remote on the cable.

Also included is a firm sided clamshell case with Velcro closure, 3.5mm to 1/4" adaptor, and an airline adaptor.

On-ear headphones can feel less than comfortable and quite confining at times. I found the T 51 i with its light weight and modest caliper pressure surprisingly comfortable. Fitting it to my head was fairly easy, but some fidgeting with the exact position did net some improvements for treble response.

All told, I really like this vibe of this headphone. I'm a geek that likes gadgets, and I tend to beat the hell out of things. The T 51 i wears its functionality proud, and feels built like a tank. All it has to do is sound really good and I'm all in.

beyerdynamic Inc. USA
56 Central Ave.
Farmingdale, NY 11735
(631) 293-3200

Impulse's picture

For portable on-ears that's a deal breaker for me.

Impulse's picture

The newest ER4 iterations are still missing from their respective list btw.

jpelg's picture

Was sad to not see a Beyerdynamic booth at this year's CanJam in NYC a few weeks ago. Not sure why, as their oofice is local & Peter has supported the smaller NY/CT-area meets in the past. Would have liked to hear the new-ish Amiron models, as well as the newer DT1770/1990 Pro models for comparison.

Beagle's picture

A headphone review that starts out like it's going to be great, but when you get to the sound, well it's not...but recommended anyway. It also reads like the sonic comparison is against the absolute, rather than others in a given price range. It used to be that a headphone with as many "flaws" as the T51i seems to have would get a pass.

Impulse's picture

I never viewed recommended as a high honor, and Tyll doesn't tend to review any really awful stuff (and he's expressed why several times)... If you go back thru reviews there's loads of 'Recommended', even Buyers own DT-880.

If you put it in context, it's 'Recommended' but he still has like three other similar cans within the same price point that made it to the WoF over it. That says it all for me really...

The Federalist's picture

I think Tyll is dead on with this. Contrasted against the stuff Tyll is "probably" usually listening with (i.e. Utopia, Elear, Ether, HD800 etc...) the T51i sounds congested and closed in with a lackluster treble.

But its not trying to be a reference product. Taken on its own terms, for a small portable headphone that sells for less than $200 it really is a fun headphone with an enjoyable tone and is great for when you are out and about. It's indestructible, works with an iphone right down to controlling playback, and gives you a good warm tone with plenty of body to sink your teeth into.

I actually spilled a cup of hot coffee on mine. Took the cups off the gymbals and did my best to cotton every last drop of moisture out of them that I could.... Let them dry for a day, fired it back up... Disco! Kept on trucking like they didn't miss a beat.

I had an Audeze Sine that in audiophile terms sounded better. More accurate, more detail and treble. But it was high maintenance.

It was too hard to drive, felt too fragile and I never felt comfortable taking it out of the office. I throw the T51i in my backpack everyday without a 2nd thought because I know it won't break.

Sold the Sine, still use the T51i nearly everyday.

Adam Qs's picture

Totally agree. Despite shortcoming they are probably the most enjoyable cans I owned.
It's sometimes really hard to say what's better in this hobby.
There are so many cans that are 'technically' much better than what I use but they left me completely unimpressed.
I think the best example is Oppo PM3 which I could not get to like despite amping them with the best stuff.
Still, I respect Tyll's opinion more than any other as it guided me to few very good purchases (and away from some terrible ones )

gibtg's picture

Thank you Tyll for this mid-fi review. This review is far from a waste of time despite what some others may be saying and I've been awaiting your feelings on this headphone for quite some time!

On a side note, has anyone heard the DT1350 with the T51 pads installed? Good 'ol Dale Thorn reported that give the DT a sub-bass boost which it likely can benefit from.

Also Tyll, could you please add the DT1350 measurements to the resource list on the website? It has been lost in the shuffle somewhere. Thanks,

happiness_ur's picture

for me,I like T 51 i better.

Steve Levey's picture

I've had a pair of these really comfortable headphones for a year and a half and my experience showed me that these cans need quite along break in period for an appropriate bass to treble balance to occur. Yes, they are initially simultaneously, quite vibrant but with an over bass voice. However it does "recede" or simply loose it's emphasis over as they break-in. Terrific headphones. Initially I bought these as recommendation of What-hifi mag, who thought these were best cans in it's price range. Again, from my experience, this is a trustworthy mag. And while the review was also a bit mixed, still their comfort and clarity do them justice.

stalepie's picture

It's strange to read this. I thought you'd passed up reviewing it years ago. I got it as a Christmas present but never quite liked the sound of it. It seemed pop-oriented, but not very versatile. I think I've discovered monitors are more my thing, because I read your review (and plenty of others') of the older DT1350 and got that and have been happy ever since! The T51i was more comfortable though (less clamping pressure, softer pads), but I also like the single wire which has a stronger plug, too, and (if you want) a headband that splits at the top (I don't know why they would provide the same style for T51 but not allow it to split). To my ears the DT1350 is much more even and smooth sounding, while the T51i is bumpy and doesn't provide nearly as strong of sound when amped.

Reticuli's picture

Both the DT1350 and the T51i are superior to the Sennheiser HD25-1 II and all cost about the same price, yet the former two are not on the Wall of Fame but the HD25 is, even though the HD25 Aluminum is also up there already. Hmm. Fishy.