Beyerdynamic T70p Around-Ear Portable Stereo Headphone review

Discussion in 'Headphone Reviews' started by dalethorn, Jan 2, 2016.

  1. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Youtube review:

    Photos:
    http://dalethorn.com/Photos/iPhone6sp/Headphone_Beyer_T70p_01.jpg
    http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Audioforge/Beyer_T70p.jpg

    Sources: iPhone6s+ with Oppo HA-2/Beyer A200p DAC/amps, various computers using the Audioquest Dragonfly-2/HRT Microstreamer/FiiO E17k/FiiO E07k DAC/amps.

    Review notes: My first impressions of the sound of the Beyerdynamic T70p are based on direct comparisons to other headphones - the Beyerdynamic T1, T90 and DT1770, the AKG K812 and K712, the FAD Pandora VI and IV, various Sennheisers, and notes that I've accumulated from many prior reviews. I'll describe how I relate to the T70p (i.e. my personal tastes and how I use the headphone) only after covering all of the objective issues.

    I've wanted a T70p ('p' = portable version) for a long time, but whenever it came up on sale something else got in the way. This time, at $270 from a reliable supplier, I finally got one. I actually expected it to be sharp and bright like other Beyer Teslas, but it didn't sound that way out of the box, undoubtedly because the large-ish midrange emphasis (6-8 db from ~300 to ~700 hz) masked the ~9 khz peak. My first impression was of a slightly shy bass, but again that was due to the midrange emphasis. Once I pushed that midrange down a few decibels and suppressed the 9 khz peak, glorious sound emerged. Some users will like the sound as-is for portable use without applying EQ or other tone controls, but portable use prefers a stronger-than-normal bass in my experience, so the default sound seems antithetical to me for the designated portability. Another possible ding against portability is the loss of even more bass when wearing glasses.

    The music tracks listed below have comments about how the T70p sounds with different types of voices and instruments, some natural and some artificial, but out of the box (and after some burn-in) the sound has a slight hollow quality, although it's not cavernous like the DT770-32 88th anniversary edition I had a couple years ago. The good news is, despite the criticisms above where I noted peaks and recesses in the sound, the sonic tuning is balanced well enough for most users (those who stick with the T70p) to not have to rely on tone controls or equalization to realize a hi-fi sound from this headphone. One music track (not listed below), David Chesky/Wonjung Kim - Girl From Guatemala, has an incredible burst of high-frequency instruments at 3:00, and it highlights the T70p's ability to reproduce the upper harmonics of these high-treble instruments with amazing tonality and sparkle. A good tube/valve amp will also do wonders with this headphone.

    Isolation is modest for a closed-back headphone, but the leakage is extremely low, so the T70p is good for offices, libraries, or on public transit, even at audiophile volume levels. The overall weight feels light for a full-size headphone, and thanks to the fairly light weight and how it's distributed by the headband and earpads, it feels very comfortable for extended use. The underside of the headband is soft and squishy, but for users who are bothered by any headband pressure, I'd suggest moving the earcups down an extra notch to carry more of that weight/pressure with the earpads. The T70p can be used as a portable headphone in that it can be pulled off the head when not in use and worn around the neck, although it crowds my chin that way. The range of adjustment for the headband is excellent - about 3/4 inch on each side larger and smaller than where it fits my average-size head. There's a carry case included, but it's big - too big for airline carry-on bags, and forget about backpacks.

    The 4-ft cable is single-entry but not detachable, and is terminated with a right-angled standard miniplug. In previous reviews I've included the following music examples with comments about how the headphones sound with each track. My suggestion is instead of reading each one as an absolute unto itself, you could compare my notes here to those other reviews and see how the T70p compares with each individual track.
     
  2. dalethorn

    dalethorn Active Member

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    Animotion - Obsession (1980's New Wave/Techno): The upper bass synth has excellent detail and tone, and both male and female vocals sound natural without favoring either. The T70p plays this extremely well.

    Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead (~1980): Strong midrange sound effects - this is a good worst-case test for resonant-type sounds in the most sensitive midrange area. Handled perfectly by the T70p.

    Beethoven Symphony 9, Solti/CSO (1972): Excellent overall sound. Of special note here are the bass impacts beginning around 10:30 of the fourth movement. Those impacts are soft and well in the background, but you can really feel the weight they carry with the T70p.

    Black Sabbath - Iron Man (Classic Rock): Very good instrumental detail and the vocal sounds very natural. As with most classic rock tracks, there is very little or no deep bass. The T70p plays this music very smoothly, and the lack of deep bass doesn't unbalance the treble.

    Boz Scaggs - Lowdown (1976): Great sound quality - this is a good test for any nasality in the midrange. Handled very well by the T70p.

    Cantus - Danny Boy (Traditional/Male Choral/Acapella): The T70p plays the voices with enough low end warmth and weight to sound very natural, yet there is no added emphasis of the lower register of the male voices on this track.

    Cath Carroll - Moves Like You (1980's New Wave/Techno): This track's percussion and voice are crisp and well-balanced, and there's a good sense of space or soundstage around the voices and instruments. The T70p reproduces the space and detail very well.

    Catherine Wheel - Black Metallic (~1991): Goth with industrial overtones - I like this since it's a great music composition and the sound effects are smoothly integrated into the mix. This may sound distorted or mushy with some headphones, but the T70p renders the deliberate instrumental distortions clearly.

    Chris Isaak - Wicked Game (Pop/Rock): The T70p plays this high treble energy recording very smoothly - the voice and instruments are very detailed but not edgy - very musical in fact.

    Chromatics - I'm On Fire (Synth-Pop, female lead): This track has a good amount of space around the voice and instruments, making for a very pleasant stereo image. The voice is excellent, and the tambourine sound is clearly identifiable.

    David Hazeltine - Fur Elise (Jazz): A very high-quality recording from HDTracks. The T70p reproduces the instruments smoothly with a spacious ambiance. The wire-brush-on-cymbal harmonics are very extended and detailed.

    Grieg (Beecham-Royal Philharmonic) - Peer Gynt-Solveig's Lullaby (Classical): This very old (late 1950's) stereo recording must have been made on the most expensive gear in the world, since the overall sound quality and especially Ilse Hollweg's amazing voice are as close to "being there" as I've heard with some of the better classical recordings made since the year 2000. The T70p plays this music perfectly.

    Hans Zimmer - Dark Knight-Aggressive Expansion (Soundtrack): The percussion in this track hits really hard, and the bass tones beginning around 0:45 have the ultra-deep "shuddery" kind of sound that indicates a solid deep-bass response. Overall, the T70p plays this music extremely well.

    Heaven 17 - Let Me Go (1980's New Wave/Techno): The bass instrument (guitar?) has excellent detail, and the voices and ambiance have a "you are there" quality that's uncommon in early 1980's pop music. The T70p plays this track perfectly.

    Hugo Audiophile - 15-16 (Electronic): I'm not sure what the 15-16 stands for - perhaps track numbers from a CD album. The deep-bass tones that start around 33-34 seconds into the track reproduce very well with the T70p. This is a great recording for evaluating whether a headphone's bass will be sufficient for most environments, since for many headphones that have a weaker bass, the deep bass gets absorbed and mostly lost when the environment contains a lot of low-frequency energy.

    Jimmy Smith - Basin Street Blues (early 60's): This track has several loud crescendos of brass and other instruments that don't sound clean and musical with some headphones. The T70p provides excellent reproduction. Listen particularly to the second crescendo at 15 seconds in for best-case detail. I'd like to emphasize that these crescendos are probably the worst-case test I have for instrument separation and detail, and the T70p does those very well.

    Kellogg Auditorium, Battle Creek Michigan, Aeolian-Skinner Organ (1933) - Pedal, 32', Resultant, Arpeggio: This 16 hz organ pedal tone differs from other music tones in that you won't "hear" the tone - you'll only feel it. Although most music tones have harmonics (including this one), the harmonics from this tone will be too weak to provide any "feel", so whatever you actually hear would not be part of the fundamental 16 hz tone. There are ~30 hz sounds in the outdoor environment in big cities, generated by large trucks, buses, and subway trains, and they have a quality of "rumble" that's similar to some deep-bass tones found in music. This 16 hz organ tone is easily distinguished from those sounds when compared on a headphone that has good undistorted response at 16 hz. The T70p plays this with enough weight and detail that you can hear/feel some of the 16 cycle per second "beats" of the fundamental tone.

    Mantovani - Sunrise Sunset (Easy Listening, ca. 1972): A master musician and conductor** who specialized in light classics and orchestral pop music, Mantovani's accomplishments were overshadowed by music critics who couldn't tolerate the notion of "light classics" or "semi-classical" music, even when those recordings were no threat to the classical music genres. In any case the later Mantovani recordings from the mid-1960's through mid-1970's had the advantage of being mixed for much better hi-fi systems than those which the music critics possessed at the start of the Long Playing (LP) record cycle. Here in 2015, at least some of those digital remasters have improved the sound further, although it's not always the case. This track as played on the T70p is a perfect example of the sheer musicality lurking in those later recordings, and is highly recommended for soundstage, instrumental tone, and musical balance.

    **Mantovani developed the "Cascading Strings" sonic effect circa 1950, a famous "Wall of Sound" effect for mono hi-fi systems that predated Phil Spector's own famous Wall of Sound effect by 10 years or so.

    Michael Tilson Thomas - Rhapsody In Blue (20th Century Classic): Great sound and soundstage, and terrific piano playing and tone. There are some very deep bass impacts starting around 38 seconds into the 17:24 length track, and the weight of those impacts is appreciable with the T70p.

    Pinback - Non Photo Blue (Pop-Rock): Crispy sound with "crunchy guitars and bashing drums" - the T70p renders this music as perfectly as I've heard an energetic pop-rock recording played with any headphone.

    Porcupine Tree - Trains (Pop-Rock): This track opens with some nicely-detailed string sounds and a forward-sounding male voice with a higher-than-average register. There are a series of "clip-clop" effects starting at 3:19 that should sound like they were made with wooden blocks of some kind. The T70p reproduces the 'clop' portion of that sound as accurately as I've ever heard.

    Richard Strauss (Mester-Pasadena) - Also Sprach Zarathustra (opening) (Classical): The granddaddy of bass is in the opening 1:50 of this recording, and I've heard it only once on a large and expensive loudspeaker system in Cleveland. For most people, that experience would be indistinguishable from being in a fairly strong earthquake. The T70p conveys as much of that experience as is possible on a more-or-less neutral stereo headphone. The tympani also have good impact here.

    Scarlatti-Kipnis - Sonata in E Major K381 (Classical, Harpsichord): The harpsichord here is fairly bright and highly detailed, and the T70p renders the tones and transients perfectly.

    Tiger Okoshi - Bootsman's Little House (Jazz): The trumpet here is recorded fairly close up and is somewhat bright with a significant "bite". The T70p's reproduction is near-perfect, and the close-miked piano is also a treat. For comparison, I have several Maynard Ferguson tracks that feature a similarly strong trumpet with lots of brassy bite.

    Trombone Shorty - Backatown (Jazz-Funk): The deep bass impacts here are strong and work extremely well with the horns and other instruments. The T70p delivers the impacts with great weight and detail, and the horns have the kind of bite that gives them a wonderfully realistic sound.
     
  3. marcusd

    marcusd Member

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    I prefer this over the T1
     
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