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T+A Solitaire T or Mark Levinson No. 5909?

  • The world’s most expensive active noise cancelling headphones? As recently as December 2021, we’d have pointed our fingers at the Apple AirPods Max which in Germany sell for €629. However, in January 2022, Mark Levinson kicked open the high-end Bluetooth headphone floodgates with the No. 5909 (€999, podcast review here). Later that year, Bowers & Wilkins followed suit with the PX8 (€699, video review here), just after Focal announced the Bathys (€799, video review here). Flying under this commentator’s Munich High-End radar in May 2022 was German manufacturer T+A whose Solitaire T could be used as an ANC headphone wirelessly via Bluetooth (or wired via USB) and as an all-analogue passive headphone with no battery power required. Price? €1300.

    At the time of writing, the Solitaire T are not the most expensive Bluetooth headphones on the planet – that title goes to Audio Technica – but they are the most expensive active noise-cancelling headphones you can buy right now. And the Mark Levinson are the second most expensive.

    With the No. 5909 still on deck here in Berlin, a side-by-side comparison presented itself. Not just a day of quick-fire A/B testing but a longer-term comparison: I have spent the last three months going backwards and forwards between the Solitaire T and the No. 5909 and this video brings together my findings.

    Oh — a word on T+A pronunciation. Americans say “Tea Plus Ayy” (or “Tea And Ayyy”). Germans say “Tay Plooss Ahhh”.

    🎥 Camera: John Darko / Olaf von Voss
    🎬 Editor: John Darko
    🌈 Colour: Olaf von Voss
    🕺🏻 Motion GFX: John Darko
    💰 Ad segment: Jana Dagdagan

    🎵 Song IDs? Playlists of all music heard in this video – and other videos – can be found on PATREON:

    Further information: T+A | Mark Levinson

    T+A Solitaire T

    Mark Levinson No. 5909

    Shanling M3 Ultra

    Streaming platform by Roon

    All cables and power products by AudioQuest

    Hi-fi furniture and speaker stands by Solid Steel

    Room treatment by Vicoustic

    Darko.Audio may earn a small commission from items purchased via affiliate links, which are indicated with a ‘🛒’.

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts 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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