Beyerdynamic T 51 i and T 51 p On-Ear Sealed Headphones Page 2


Sound Quality
You know what's weird? A headphone that falls short in a number of ways, but still ends up being an enjoyable listen.

Mainly, this is a warm, somewhat veiled sounding headphone. Bass is boosted quite a bit and is somewhat loose and mildly distorted sounding; bass boost intrudes on the mids somewhat to about 300Hz. The midrange is on a mild warm tilt throughout, but is otherwise smooth and well behaved. Midrange to treble transition is a bit abrupt, and the treble doesn't seem to continue the warm tilt but rather seems to flatten out allowing the headphones to have a modicum of detail and sparkle, though it's still somewhat low in level relative to the midrange.

Treble clarity is rather poor, with detail being somewhat obscured by graininess. Treble tonality, however, is fairly good suffering only a bit from too much energy at about 10kHz. I did find that treble response was fairly sensitive to the position of the headphones on the ear; careful placement can yield somewhat improved treble response and clarity.

Marco-dynamics are fairly good, though suffering a bit in the bass from some looseness, and can be a tad hard sounding in the upper midrange. Imaging is about average in width and depth.

I also pulled out my DT1350 for a comparison and found the newer T 51 i quite a bit more even sounding. Hmm...wondering if the older model has changed over the years.

Here's the thing, despite a fairly lengthy laundry list of stuff that's a bit out of whack, I ended up enjoying these cans quite a bit. There's probably a couple of reasons for that. I tend to like a warm headphone much more than a bright or U-shaped response, so if it's going to err in any direction that's the one I'd likely prefer. Though the treble is grainy, it's never harsh and annoying, which is something I just won't tolerate. The sound overall reminds me of decent Old School mid-fi gear, which is what I grew up with. So it took very little time for me to accomodate to these headphones.

Boy, I really like the look, comfort, and utilitarian chic of the T 51 i. It pushes all my geekly buttons. And while I find it's overly warm tilt, somewhat loose bass, and indistinct treble response underperforming in light of more current offerings in this category, I also find the overall sound comes together in a far more pleasant way than one summing its errors might expect. I have no problem cuddling up to its old school, upper-mid-fi sound.

It's not going to make the Wall of Fame—in fact, it managed to knock its poorer sounding older sibling DT1350 of the Wall—but that won't stop me from recommending it to those, like me, who are turned on by its styling and comfy warm sound.


Beyerdynamic home page and product pages for T 51 p and T 51 i. reviews and thread.

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.