Published on May 28th, 2014 | by Greg0
beyerdynamic T51i: Tesla On-Ears, Now Apple-Certified
Finding the right headphones can be incredibly challenging. The task includes narrowing down from three basic styles- in-ear monitors or earbuds, on-ear headphones, or over-ears. While the first category is perfect for travel, they tend to be a bit uncomfortable, and the laws of physics prevent them from offering truly impressive audio for the most part. That last category is great for DJs and audiophiles who only want to listen to things at home, where size doesn’t matter and complete isolation, blocking all outside sounds, is a good thing.
Most listeners want something fairly portable, but often don’t want to sacrifice bass or audio range. Not long ago, we checked out the beyerdynamic T51ps, a lovely mid-level on-ear set from this renowned German manufacturer. One of our only criticisms was that they lacked a remote and mic, something we traditionally find quite useful for on-the-go music. Now, beyerdynamic has added a cute three-button iPhone-compatible remote and microphone, leaving us with little to say other than our heartiest recommendation for anyone near this budget. The beyerdynamic T51i on-ear headphones take their Tesla drivers, typically available only on very expensive models, and build them into a compact, sturdy frame perfect that manages to be stylish and classy without compromising sound quality.
In fact, we didn’t hear or feel any major differences between the two pairs, which is only to be expected. And the build quality was the same as well- as we said in the prior review, the memory foam cups and metal construction balance between comfort and durability. They come with a two-year warranty, and slide to fit nicely on the head with an adjustable band. The earcups themselves can swivel independently, allowing them to lay flat or bend to adjust to your ears. And while not the lightest set we’ve tried, they quickly faded into the background, and certainly won’t weigh you down at 174 grams. They aren’t made for really active use- they will slide around a bit- but are ideal for the business traveler who doesn’t need sound cancelling and just wants superb music from their portable device, whether it be an iPad or smartphone. We watched a couple of movies with these, and they are delightfully responsive, with very forward lows and a little brightness- they aren’t neutral so much as snappy, detailed and crisp.
Included in the carrying case are several adapters including one for 1/4″ plugs, non-Apple mini-jack, plus an airplane adapter as well (though we haven’t seen an airplane that needs one in quite a while). You won’t need to turn the volume up on these in order to hear clearly- even vocals and clear and distortion-free without having to pump them up. It might be nice if they could completely collapse, like some portable headphones, but we often find the folding joint in the headband breaks pretty easily. These are hardier and still handy, and the addition of the iPhone remote and microphone are well worth the slight bump in price (about $20 or so). Available now, online and in stores, the T51i headphones run about $299. And we definitely suggest a DAC or amp for these; it will add plenty to your music- and we’ve got just the ticket, their new A2 amp, review coming shortly.