High above the streets of Manhattan, I look out from the corner review office where I work. Despite it raining cats and dogs outside, I’m far from feeling down. With some Barry White playing in the background, I open a bottle of wine. On my review desk, the Beyerdynamic T1 Impacto Universal bundle waits to be reviewed. But at $1299, is this the kind of sound you can fall in love with? Or will my listening session be a one-time fling? And for folks who already love their T1 headphones, does the Impacto merit trading up?
Beyerdynamic T1 Impacto Universal Review
The Beyerdynamic T1 Impacto Universal consists of two parts: the $999 Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Gen headphones, and the $379 Impacto cable DAC/amp. Together as a bundle, the whole kit will run you a neat $1299.
While the T1 includes only a cable and carrying case, the Impacto includes a lot of different cabling accessories. Four different cabling options allow the Impacto to work with devices that use USB-A, USB-C, Lightning, 5-Pin Micro USB audio outputs. Thus, compatibility extends from PC and Mac computers to Android and Apple operating systems.
Offering playback controls in addition to a Sabre reference DAC, the Impacto allows complete control over high-end audio regardless of device.
But the Impacto doesn’t just work as a high-quality DAC – it also offers amplification via the removable battery pack.
Both the Impacto and the T1 offer the kind of design and engineering you would expect from Beyerdynamic. As such, this cable DAC/amp looks and feels solid..
In contrast, the T1 Gen 2 has been around a lot longer, but this top-of-the-line headphone continues to hold its own. With rich velour padding and a soft headband, the T1 offers a comfortable listening experience. And you’ll need to take your time, as you can spend hours on end drinking in the T1’s level of fidelity.
Instead of listing too few specs or a giant block of technical jargon, I’m not listing all the details here. There are only a few things to keep in mind here:
- The T1 Gen 2 sports an impedance of 600 ohms. It needs amplification, so don’t hold back on the juice
- The T1’s frequency range appears fairly large, with no shortage of detail.
- The Impacto Universal delivers enough juice to drive the T1.
- The Impacto Universal offers compatibility with Windows, Apple, and Android operating systems.
Now, if you’re a gearhead and need to read about all the nitty gritty details, you can follow the links below for more mechanical minutiae.
The overall performance of the Beyerdynamic T1 Impacto Universal bundle borders on nearly flawless. From a cursory listening session, it’s evident that this DAC has been specifically honed to accent the best qualities of Beyerdynamic sound.
The low end of displays a rich warmth – far more than I remember hearing on the T1 in previous encounters. However, despite that deep, resolving low end, Beyerdynamic doesn’t withhold any attention from the high end, keeping things equally detailed as you climb up through higher frequencies.
This sweeping precision leads to an immaculate sound that reveals as you revel in it. Tiny nuances nestled in each track surface and disappear again, showing the limits of my benchmark setup.
Paired with the Impacto, the T1 becomes capable of greater tonal accuracy (not that the T1 was ever lacking in this area, but the Impacto improves the performance). Spamming the volume control to deliver more power to the headphones, the energy and punchy sound of the T1 further improves.
Compared to Other DAC/Amps
Shy of using the Beyerdynamic A20, few alternative DACs can compare to the Impacto. Really, the Impacto gives the impression of a less power-hungry and infinitely-more-portable A20 – albeit without the ability to drive two headphones at once.
That being said, the fact that Beyerdynamic could take the quality of sound found in one of their best desktop DAC/Amps and boil it down to a cable seems nothing short of amazing.
Compared to portable options from brands like FiiO, IFI, and Sony, the Impacto sounds better. But this is no real surprise, considering the Impacto was designed with the T1 and other Beyerdynamic models in mind. Instead, the biggest benefits of this setup can be seen in comparing it to the T1 with slightly higher-end DAC/amps. Sure, if you drop $2695 on the Chord Hugo 2, it’s going to sound a lot better than the Impacto Universal at $379. However, the Impacto definitely competes with DACs like the Chord Mojo and the others.
The only real contender up to $600 would probably be the IFI iDSD Micro Black Label – and here it’s simply a case of how you use the headphones. If you don’t mind being tethered to a bulky source with a brick of an amplifier – and you can afford to spend more – the Black Label may be horse to bet on. That being said, if portability and mass-compatibility appeal to you – along with saving a chunk of change – the Impacto wins out.
For the price, the Beyerdynamic T1 Impacto Universal bundle offers a sumptuous listening experience that just keeps on delivering. And while the savings alone might recommend this combo to any casual listener, the sound quality definitely appeals to audiophiles. However, the T1 Impacto Universal setup is more than just a bundle. This combination is the perfect portable HiFi setup for the crowning achievement of Beyerdynamic headphones.
Get the Beyerdynamic T1 Impacto Universal bundle for the best price here: