Mention the word 'Tesla' to people lately and they'll probably think of the fully electric two-seater sport cars made by Tesla Motors. Fewer realise that the unit of measurement of magnetic intensity, named for electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, also describes the acoustic pressure generated by headphones.
The comparison between the sporty little number from the USA and the new high-end T1 headphone is actually quite apt. The audio device, scheduled to be presented at the upcoming IFA exhibition in Berlin, features newly redesigned transducers that can produce an extremely high drive power of over one Tesla—making them the new top model at Heilbronn-based audio specialists beyerdynamic. That is roughly double the strength of normal headphone transducer systems.
The result: The diaphragm can be designed to be extremely filigree and nevertheless achieve a high degree of efficiency. That lets the T1 to reproduce every nuance with extreme precision, with a sound that is absolutely transparent, spatially realistic and distortion-free.
As the flagship of beyerdynamic's Premium Line programme, each headphone is individually finished by hand in Heilbronn. Together with the A1 headphone amplifier, the T1 represents a dream team for hi-fi enthusiasts.
When it comes to signal processing, the radically re-engineered drive magnets and whisper-thin foil diaphragm leave the competition in the dust just like the Tesla Roadster, which drives circles around not just other electric vehicles, but most petrol-powered ones as well. Yet unlike the street vehicle, which bumps against its limits when it comes time to show off its power, the new, especially finely crafted beyerdynamic headphones can play almost twice as loud as standard headphones. They are also significantly more efficient. That allows the new high-end headphones to offer greater performance reserves for dynamic, undistorted sound, making no compromises as its converts the electric signal into acoustic vibrations. Visitors to the international consumer electronics exhibition in Berlin, where the T1 will soon enjoy its world premiere, will have the chance to enjoy the especially airy and detail-rich sound with extraordinary reproduction of both fine and pulse tones.
It took an incredible effort by beyerdynamic's engineers to achieve those objectives using the extra-light 600-Ohm coils that the company prefers for their lightness yet perfect sound fidelity. Traditional extra-filigree drives tend to suffer from low efficiency rates. That prevents them from achieving real loudness when faced with underpowered headphone outputs, especially the popular 32 Ohm headphones that have become common in this age of the MP3. Yet the engineers didn't completely re-develop the driver just to increase its efficiency. They also achieved higher maximum volumes compared with previous 600 Ohm models – an impressive 7 decibels.
That master achievement comes thanks to a new magnet system. The neodymium magnet had previously been positioned in the centre of the coil, which severely limited its size due to the flat design of the earpieces.
The developers have now repositioned the magnets into a ring around the coil, allowing for a more than doubling of the magnetic flux density to approx. 1.2 Tesla. Even crossing the magical threshold of one Tesla for a pair of headphones would have been an admirable feat.
At the same time, the new configuration of the magnet system enables a central ventilation hole through the pole cores to prevent sound-disrupting resonances and cancellations.
The diaphragm has also been redeveloped. It consists of a two-ply compound foil. The material is light-weight yet capable of high interior absorption of break-up vibrations, making a significant contribution to the transparent, nuanced and distortion-free sound of the T1.
For improved front positioning of the imaginary sound stage, as well as to increase the outside-the-head localisation of the overall playback, beyerdynamic's engineers curved the earpieces such that acoustic baffle follows the contour of the human ear cup. This better accommodates the wearer's individual acoustic "fingerprint" than transducers that sit directly on the ear and point into the ear canal. All of this serves to create a signature feel for the new flagship product from the tradition-rich Heilbronn company, the sensation of sound in space in the way that loudspeakers provide – yet without relinquishing the fundamental benefits of headphones, namely finer resolution and reproduction of detail.
The high-quality, symmetrical 6-pole cable brings even more sound improvements. It possesses two parallel sets of identical twin wires, each separately insulated. That lowers the cable capacity even while providing greater immunity from interference fields and crosstalk. The result: more of the original signal can be transmitted to the headphones.
The casing is also designed to satisfy the highest expectations. The open earpieces, covered through an elegant metal grate, are shielded from disruptive sonic reflections and protected against moisture through Acoustexx, a high-end acoustic mesh. As with all premium products from beyerdynamic, the new T1 is produced by qualified craftsmen who even in this age of globalisation continue to work from their headquarters in Heilbronn. Attention is given to even the smallest details, such as the hand selection of transducer system pairs to ensure not just top production quality, but also audibly better balance for the left and right channels.
Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA), Berlin:
4 - 9 September 2009; Hall 1.2, Stand 102.
In stores starting mid-November.
MSRP: 890.- euros
Where to buy:
In qualified specialty shops and at the beyerdynamic online-shop: www.beyerdynamic.com/shop
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