Targeting the gulf between two categories, the Solitaire T sets its own standard as a wired passive headphone, whilst also superbly implementing matched active electronics with ANC for Bluetooth wireless use.
“With the Solitaire P and P-SE we succeeded in producing a range of reference headphones, but with the Solitaire T, we set ourselves a new and exciting challenge,” says Conradin Amft, T+A’s COO, during the presentation of the new Solitaire T. “We began with the slogan “T+A wherever you are”, and then breathed life into the words,” Amft continues.
“We wanted to combine a great pair of passive headphones with the best electronic components possible,” explains Project Director Sebastian Kobelt. The Herford engineers began this challenge with the passive design. The basis of the system is a 42 millimetre transducer and a special cellulose diaphragm, whose stiffness and light weight generate an incredibly lively and dynamic performance, without prematurely degenerating into eigenmodes. With its carefully optimised low bass system, the Solitaire T combines airy trebles and clear mids with a distinctive bass which never sounds aggressive. To provide this level of sound quality outside the home, the designers equipped the digital circutary with the latest Bluetooth codecs such as LDAC and aptX HD and a Qualcomm QCC 5127 chip. Paired with an Esstech ES9218 Sabre DAC, the Solitaire T finally bridges the gulf between wired and wireless sound quality.
Development Director Jörg Küpper found that the primary challenge – apart from the sound matching – lay in the passive and active suppression of noise. “Careful selection of damping materials minimises
a major part of the unwanted noise in the mid / treble range without electronic assistance,” Küpper explains. However, an active noise suppression circuit can be switched on if required; this intentionally eliminates low bass frequencies which cannot be damped by passive means. The net result is that even loud background noise disappears completely behind the music.
The engineers of the Herford-based family business had a third primary concern: ease of operation. Every step, every interaction can be felt by the user, and is linked to unambiguous feedback messages. The headphones feature touch-sensitive buttons, a dedicated transparency field, which allows the environment to be switched on swiftly, and a large touch-sensitive interaction field. Further important points are spoken feedback messages which are spoken live by the brand voice which is familiar from T+A’s Engineering Emotion films, i.e. they are not generated electronically.
Like all T+A products the Solitaire T shares the design DNA of the Herford manufacturer, but still manages to demonstrate further development of those characteristic features. The housing is manufactured from high-quality aluminium, high-quality synthetic compound and Vegan artificial leathers, and is available in two colour schemes: the white / silver version gives the Solitaire T a look of restrained elegance, while the black / silver option endows the device with a self-assured presence. Design elements familiar from the Solitaire P, such as chamfered ear cups, are also featured by the Solitaire T in order to underline its close family ties with T+A’s celebrated reference headphones in a subtle but unmistakable manner.
Development Director Jörg Küpper says that the Solitaire T benefits from T+A’s strengths in hardware, software and transducer development: “All branches of our development team interact constantly, enabling us to fine-tune development in electronics, construction and transducers, with the result that all sides benefit from the latest findings from other related fields.”
In Conradin Amft’s view the Solitaire T “Constitutes a product which is more than just a pair superb closedback audiophile headphones, and more than just travel phones. They successfully bridge the supposed gulf between these two categories, by creating their own standard.”
Not without pride does Managing Director Siegfried Amft claim that: “Although we are treading completely new ground for the second time in just two years, the whole team has managed to produce an outstanding product which is the perfect embodiment of our philosophy in terms of sound and convenience.”
The new Solitaire T will be available as of July 2022 from specialist retailers at an RRP of 1300€/$1600/£1200.