Beyerdynamic T 51 p Tesla Headphones Review
Pint-sized luxury: Who knew on-ears could be this comfortable?
First impressions are important. With Beyerdynamic's T 51 p Tesla headphones (MSRP $289), one thing is sure to strike you as soon as you pop them on: These on-ears are extraordinarily comfortable.
The happy fact is, Beyerdynamic struck a rare balance in the T 51 p, with sleek design, quality parts, and a comfortable fit. And the final, finishing touch? Great sound to match. Be sure to check out the brand-new T 51 i model (MSRP $313.99), as well, in case you're an iPhone user.
You won't want to take them off.
Unpacking the Beyerdynamic T 51 p on-ear headphones, I tried to emotionally prepare for the hours of probably uncomfortable listening I was about to experience. For a moment, though, the smart design captured my attention: A matte-finished metal band traces a delicate arc and falls into sleek, industrial limbs; cool, robotic-looking ear cups with soft leather pads finish the look.
I put them on and experienced a shock: These little things are so comfortable. Plush, comfortable on-ears? Who knew such a mythical creature existed? The fit is very steady, yet the band somehow clamps so lightly, and the pads are so incredibly soft, that these headphones are an absolute pleasure to wear. These are far and away the most comfortable on-ears I've ever worn.
Of course, it isn't all fanfare and shooting stars—there are a few drawbacks to be aware of. To begin with, although the lightweight form and fully pivoting ear cups make the T 51 p a comfy travel companion, some of its other design qualities do not: The band doesn't collapse and the carry case is just silly—a fellow reviewer looked at me quizzically and asked if I was carrying a CD player. Commuters won't find such luxuries as a remote or removable cable, either, and that's too bad. For nearly $300, these conveniences should be included. Beyerdynamic doesn't skimp on all the goodies, though, treating users to a gold-plated stereo adaptor and airplane variety.
Robust, balanced sound
For a slew of reasons, many listeners are sure to enjoy these Beyerdynamics. That's right: "many," not all. If you're looking for a "clean," "light" profile with tons and tons of space for each note—maybe something ideal for classical listening—keep browsing, prepare your wallet for a harder blow, and consider an over-ear form factor.
Still, this is some quality sound. The T 51 p on-ears provide hefty bass support, while tasteful balance everywhere else retains softer musical details, too. Basically, instead of clumsily boosting bass, these Beyerdynamics instead drop the volume a bit throughout the middle notes; in other words, it's not so much that bass notes are amped up, it's that mids are a bit quieter. But don't worry—notes in the midrange are still plenty audible, as are very high notes. So bump to that bass all you want, you won't be robbed of overtones on guitar, piano, and the like.
Even better, these little guys tested with zero audible distortion, and the volume in the left and right speakers is near-flawlessly balanced, too. They won't help you much in terms of blocking rumbling, grumbling outside noises of the bassy sort, but the T 51 p headphones did hush the everyday clatter and chatter of my office. On the whole, these pricey on-ears perform to a high standard.
The Bottom Line
A+ comfort is very rare for on-ears. The T 51 p offers that and much more.
Beyerdynamic impresses with its T 51 p Teslas. Not only are they almost decadently comfortable—which is practically unheard of for on-ear types—they also offer tasteful, balanced sound quality. To be clear, these are quite bass-forward, so don't bark up this tree if you're searching for a "roomier," flatter profile.
Many will point out the tall price tag, of course: $289. And if you want the T51 i version for iPhone, it'll cost you even more. Still, if you're a commuter who wants it all in a musical travel companion, consider what the T 51 p brings to the table: no perceptible distortion, edgy, feather-light design, top-to-bottom comfort, and detailed sound in a compact body. In combination, that's a very tall order—and Beyerdynamic fills it.
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