Review: T+A Solitaire P-SE

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tonatona
Posts: 65
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:58 am

Review: T+A Solitaire P-SE

Post by tonatona »

headphone from the future

Hi,

today i’d like to review this headphone from sound designer’s point of view. I was so tired of switching between studio monitors and headphones because they sounded differently so i replaced my Geithains RL 933K and Sennheiser HD800 for HEDD Type 30 and HEDD HEDDphone. The HEDD Type 30 use AMT, Air Motion Transformer drivers for the highs, the HEDDphone uses full range Air Motion Transformer drivers. But unfortunately the didn’t sound similar enough.

In front of a free weekend with a lot of time and bought two headphones, T+A Solitaire P (4800 euro) and T+A Solitaire P-SE (2800 euro). As i first heard the Solitaire P-SE i thought: „What an expensive piece of shit, what a waste of time, pack it today, send it back tomorrow and forget it.“ After my first disappointing impressions i thought: „Why i don’t like the sound?“ The sound was shrill and sharp, extremely sibillant and ear hurting. Thank God i realized that this headphone performs unbelievable transients and is very high frequency noise sensitive. This sensitivity destroys the unbelievable transient reproduction. I checked all cables and all gear causing HF and EMI again. After a treatment with ferrit rings and ferrit foil the Solitaire P-SE started to sound impressive. No matter what i tried to improve the cabling and the DA conversion the Solitaire P-SE said just „OK“ as if it was not enough for its majesty.

This is the first ever headphone i heard that sounds like the very best studio monitors. It sounds so high-resolving and complete that i often compare it with studio monitors with separate drivers for lows, mids and highs.

The most concise impression of the sound of Solitaire P-SE is: Every frequency is different. It doesn’t sound like different shapes and expressions of the same source. It sounds like every even so narrow frequency range is from a different source. It allows a very authentic and distinguishable reproduction of instruments and voices. Men voices and women voices are different. Men voices among themselves are different. The voice pitches of the same person are different. Compared to another headphones the impression on this headphone is that even different words of the same person in the same sentence are played from different sources. So far i can judge a headphone construction the Solitaire P-SE has a first class electrical and mechanical damping allowing it to play the “useful signal” even more.

It sounds like Geithains which are legendary for their fast dynamics and transient reproduction, but additionally with a fidelity and musicality known only from magnetostats and electrostats. So the Solitaire P-SE is very fast, high defining, unforgiving and at the same time clean, non-fatuiging, pleasant, allowing to work with it the whole day without a break, without hearing and skin irritations, without any psychoacoustic and psychological tiredness.

The Solitaire P-SE is not just neutral. Because it is a planar-magnetic magnetostat it’s frequency response is not dependent of the impedance of the headphone amplifier. This bad behavior is known from the traditional cone drivers. It makes it easy to find a great headamp companion. In terms of dynamics also a planar-magnetic magnetostat is dependent of the impedance of the headphone amplifier. The headphones impedance is 45Ohm so you need a headphone amplifier with a much lower impedance.

Many testers said that the human voice reproduction is superb. I say that all frequency ranges are superb, we are just paying more attention to the human voices. The voices are so real that there is no better choice for professionals working with human voices, be it music, film, theater, journalism. You will never make an error with deessers because this headphone delivers hundred levels of sibillancy. Of cause hifi enthusiasts and amateurs will perceive the Solitaire P-SE as sibillant, but the more professional and well-made a recording is, the better it sounds on the Solitaire P-SE. If you feed this headphone with sibillant shit or lossy music shit or bedroom mixing shit or cheap microphone shit, it will shit this shit directly into your years without regrets. But if you feed it with recordings made with skill and passion, you unintentionally start to move and dance with the music.

Also if you are analyzing a lot DVDs, Bluerays, recorded TV or Youtube content at faster speeds than normal you will admire this headphone for its ability to deliver clean understandable voices.

The great transients with a great stereo field separation means also great separation in binaural or 3D recordings. You need every bit separation and location in a busy mix.

Thanks to the real-life transients the reproduction of real life recorded instruments is first class. I’m especially looking forward to brass instruments in a symphony. They sound as loud, sharp, suddenly and conrasty compared with the strings as you are hearing them in a real concert.

The Sonic Core Modular IV may be the main reason for such a headphone. You are diving for hours into sounds which are often distorted, ugly, unnatural, inharmonic, unheared, difficult to assess. This headphone will reproduce them as they are, but never in a tiresome or tedious manner. You can spent days on researching every sound a single modular patch can deliver. This is priceless. You can dive for hours into sounds without disturbing your roommates or neighbors. This is also priceless. Some modular researches sound so weird they would think you are totally crazy.

To sum up: This expensive piece of shit is best buy ever concerning audio gear. What a blessing to use the same gear on everything, music, mixing, television, streaming, video and audio platforms. It helped me to learn Modular IV deeper and to a degree i will never unlearn. It invites to play with modular modules no matter how unmusical i feel at the moment. I interpret SE as Studio Edition. I’m so thankful for this timeless master piece so i bought the mobile solution Solitare T from the same developer too.

I’m using the Solitaire P-SE with the litz-copper nylon-sheath cable from Custom Cans in the UK. They did a Solitaire P-SE version of their cables after i sent them a painting with plug measurements. Many thanks for that.
The DA conversion and the headphone output provides a heavily modded Steinberg AXR4T. Used also on RME BabyFace Pro for comparison. The headphone output of the Xite-1 is not good enough.


There are some downsides of course.

1. The Solitaire P-SE is so clean, fast and distortion-free at higher volume levels that you don’t notice if you reach the loudness harming your ears. You always have to control the volume level and use a limiter in your DAW or in Scope or in the audio interface.

2. With this high-end precise sound you may tend to make modular patches differently. You may prefer repeatability of your knob and slider adjustments instead of spontaneously jam-sessioning with your mouse or MIDI controller. But many knobs and sliders in the modular world don’t have any text fields for a precise value input.

3. If you mix with a planar-magnetic magnatostat your music will translate best to planar-magnetic magnatostats. You will be always surprised how your mixes or sound effects will sound on a different kind of gear most music lovers are using.

4. The ear pads of the Solitaire P-SE are very convenient and non-fatiguing no matter how long you wear them. They are very durable and even washable (i washed them), but they are not as enjoyable as the alcantara year pads of the more expensive brother Solitaire P.

5. The Solitaire P-SE need a lot of power and cannot be used mobile. It is open construction, cancels almost no environment noise and the technology is not compatible with active noise cancelling. It is best in a very quiet environment when nothing distracts you from sound details. If you must use a mobile headphone you must switch and adjust again and again.

6. The plastic holders of the ear cups does not look trustable for my taste, especially in comparison with the Solitaire T.

7. This headphone is from the future. It leaves behind most sources and the demands on a high-end and high-frequency-noise-free signal are high. Using ferrit on audio cables is a no go, so you have to find a way to transport a high quality audio signal over more than two meters.
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valis
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Re: Review: T+A Solitaire P-SE

Post by valis »

Link and image, perhaps?
tonatona
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Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:58 am

Re: Review: T+A Solitaire P-SE

Post by tonatona »

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valis
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Re: Review: T+A Solitaire P-SE

Post by valis »

🙏💪
tonatona
Posts: 65
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 11:58 am

Re: Review: T+A Solitaire P-SE

Post by tonatona »

https://www.ta-hifi.de/en/headphones/so ... aire-p-se/

The RRP is unfortunately higher now, 3100 euro for the Solitaire P-SE and 5100 euro for the Solitaire P.

https://customcans.co.uk/

Great cheap cables made from copper and nylon with textile feeling. They made custom versions if you kindly ask them.
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