These opulent cans are supremely comfortable—with the caveat that you can't take that opulence out of the house.
We’re fans of the simple, clean, industrial look of the Beyerdynamic Tesla T1s. Not only are they easy on the eyes, but they also have a more or less classic look to them that doesn’t scream: “Hey, look at me! I’m valued at well over $1,000!” These cans are also durable, there’s no question about it. Though they are open-backed (and therefore their electronics are less well-protected against the elements), their extremely robust cable and their metal casing make these cans more resemble a tank than a pair of sensitive electronics.
Though a bit cumbersome, the 9.6 foot cable of the Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 is extremely robust, as the cable itself is very thick, and the wire is enormous. This monstrous cable of the Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 ends in a straight, 1/4th inch plug, which should be fine, given that you’re going to need an amp to properly drive these monsters
For an MSRP of almost $1,500 you'd expect some very high-quality audio from these high-end music muffs, and Beyerdynamic delivers the goods.
The Tesla T1s tested with solid sound quality, showing off a commendable—though slightly odd—frequency response, super-clear analytical sound, and some imperfect, but imperceptible, channel favoring. The Tesla line makes use of some new audio technology, and it seems to under- and over-emphasize in a particular pattern.
One thing we didn’t expect to see when testing the Beyerdynamic Tesla T1s is the level of distortion we recorded over repeated tests. There’s a general distortion level that hovers just under the 1% mark; while you won’t hear it, it's very atypical of high-end, or even mid-range headphones, which have next to none.
The tracking was a bit wonky for the Beyerdynamic Tesla T1s, but nothing that ever reaches an audible preference in one channel or another. We typically don’t see this kind of tracking issue from the high-end flagship headphones, so this is a bit of a head-scratcher.
Due to the fact that these cans were made with a semi-open back design, it’s not surprising that they simply do not isolate you from the outside world. It’s quite alright though: this is intentional, as the semi-open backs give you an open soundstage, without any teeny tiny echoes that some closed-back headphones have the habit of giving you.
Such is the misfortune of the pioneer—that they are often not the ones to perfect their contributions.
While the Beyerdynamic Tesla T1s (MSRP $1,495) are certainly impressive in many regards, their distortion level, tracking issues, and price tag are a bit hard to swallow. Though the new type of dynamic driver brought to the table by Beyerdynamic is quite interesting (and certainly seems to live up to the hype that it enables the drivers to move quicker, and therefore produce clearer sound), it is very new and apparently not as polished as it should be at its price point.
The poor marks for distortion is fairly mystifying, as Beyerdynamic typically does not field models with much distortion at all. That’s not to say that it’s quite at the level of being audible, but it’s definitely not how a pair of $1200 headphones should sound.
Don’t take this review to mean that these are bad headphones (they’re not; their frequency response is great), but what we’ve seen from the Tesla line so far is that they perform well for the most part, but have several oddities in their audio performance that might give audiophiles pause in buying them. For the T70s, it was a strange underemphasis in the high end, and for the T1s, it was a somewhat higher than normal distortion level. Keep in mind that it will be very hard to hear these blemishes as a human, but having recording equipment allows one to see things like this.
Performance issues notwithstanding, it’s very easy to be harsh on headphones with a $1000+ pricetag, so we’ll leave our final conclusion at this: much like a huge number of other headphones on the market, you may want to shop around to see if you can get a better deal if you’re looking to buy these cans. It’s just the smart thing to do. Still, if you’re looking for a pair of mixing headphones, there are other headphones out there that are far more polished and durable than the Beyerdynamic Tesla T1s for only a few hundred more.
The Tesla T1s are very high-end cans from Beyerdynamic—you could perhaps call them Beyerdynamic's flagship product for 2011. While they manage some crystal clear audio, we saw a level of distortion and some quirky tracking issues atypical of high-end headphones.
A 1% level of distortion is atypical of headphones in this price range.
Headphone distortion is essentially the same error in audio quality that occurs when your radio is only half-tuned to the station you want. Granted, it's not nearly as bad or noticeable, but it is something that is still there for most headphones. Most high-end headphones have little to no issues with distorted sound.
Unfortunately, the Tesla T1s tested with more distortion than we were expecting. Across the full range of audible frequencies, there was a general distortion level just under the 1% mark. Repeated testing revealed this same result, which is wholly atypical of high-end cans like these. It's a shame to see this from Beyerdynamic's golden goose, but not quite enough to sink their scores.
The T1s showed off some slightly wonky tracking.
Our tracking test reveals whether a pair of headphones overtly favors its right or left channel—ideally it will remain neutral. While the T1's tracking shifts were practically inaudible, there were a lot of them over the frequency spectrum, more than we expect from high-end headphones. Thankfully each error is less than 2dB (they only start to become audible at about 3dB).
Commendable frequency response.
Before settling on these results, we tested the Beyerdynamic Tesla T1s several times, over and over again to make sure our results were repeatable and accurate, and like we found with another model in the new Tesla line, there are some oddities with the new drivers.
These cans seem to slightly emphasize the bass frequencies about 10dB higher than the mids, and the short range in the 8-10kHz area; it’s a common trait we’ve seen in many Beyerdynamic headphones, but the Beyerdynamic Tesla T1 stay well within our ideal limits here. You may notice some sibilant sounds and the attack on kick drums are a bit louder than the rst of your music, but they won’t be overwhelming.
Meet the tester
Staff Writer, Imaging@cthomas8888
A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.
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