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T+A Solitaire T – the world’s most expensive Bluetooth headphones?

  • Spying the €1300/US$1600 asking price with blinkers on, it would be easy to label the Solitaire T from T+A as ‘the world’s most expensive Bluetooth headphone’. However, according to the German manufacturer (pronounced “Tay oond Ah”), the Solitaire T aims to bridge the gap between high-end home headphone listening and the go-anywhere portability of Bluetooth.

    The design challenge here is to ensure that the Solitaire T sound as good when operated passively – with outboard amplifier and DAC – as they do once Bluetooth is engaged and internal bespoke amplification and (optional) DSP correction come into play.

    Inside each earcup and running in Bluetooth mode, the Solitaire T runs a Qualcomm QCC 5127 chip that handles incoming LDAC and aptX HD streams – and presumably AAC streams for iOS users – before handing off the digital signal to an ESS 9218 Sabre DAC chip for conversion to analogue; an in-built amplifier then uses that analogue signal to move the drivers.

    At the heart of the Solitaire T is a 4.2cm driver with a cellulose diaphragm whose stiffness and low mass, according to the press release, “generate an incredibly lively and dynamic performance, without prematurely degenerating into eigenmodes.” An eigenmode refers to self-oscillating behaviour that isn’t too dissimilar to the build-up of standing waves in a room at certain frequencies. For closed-back headphones like the Solitaire T, we can think of the earcup as a room next to the ear.

    T+A reportedly built both cups with damping materials that seek to minimise the intrusion of mid-to-upper frequency noise by passive means before leaning on DSP-powered active noise cancellation circuitry in order to tackle low-frequency disturbances. Per many consumer-grade ANC headphones, the T+A feature a transparency mode but the feedback ‘voice’ messages aren’t computer-generated. Battery runtime has yet to be specified.

    On fit, finish and design language, the Solitaire T reportedly borrows heavily from the passive-only Solitaire P (£5000) where the housing is made from aluminium, plastic and vegan-friendly artificial leathers.

    Your choice of white-silver or black-silver finishes. Shipping begins in August 2022. Colour me very interested in a review sample.

    Further information: T+A

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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