Many audiophiles will be familiar with the T+A brand, which is probably best known for its audio systems and loud speakers. But they make a great headphone too, and recently, they’ve released their first wireless model, the Solitaire T. With this Bluetooth model, T+A has attempted to “to blur the distinctions between audiophile, working and travel headphones.” Let’s see if they have been successful.
In the Box
Solitaire T Headphones
Hard carrying case along with small hard case for adapters
4.4mm balanced cable
3.5mm unbalanced cable
USB-C charging cable
1/4 inch adapter
Warranty registration packet
Look and Feel
I was pleased to find that the Solitaire T folds rather than just swivels flat, which is the case with most of the high-end wireless headphones. Although not particularly heavy, these headphones have a very solid and luxurious feel. The leather ear pads and headband are extremely soft, plush and smooth. The yolk and ear cups have a strong aluminum and metal design, while the buttons and switches look sturdy and of high quality. The fit is one of the most comfortable I have tried at this price point; although the clamping force isn’t especially lose, the soft ear pads make for a very gentle, yet snug fit.
Design and Functionality
The Solitaire T employs 42 mm drivers and use a Quad SABRE HiFi DAC when in wireless mode. It offers three listening modes: ANC, Ambient and High Quality. The ANC mode changes the profile slightly, making the sound a little warmer. The active noise cancellation is effective without feeling too powerful (which can create a pressure against the ear drum).
T+A have designed the headphones with Bluetooth 4.1, which isn’t the latest version, but I didn’t experience any dropouts, even in a busy city environment. With respect to codecs, the Solitaire T supports SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD.
You can expect an impressive battery life, with 70 hours of use on a single charge and 35 hours when used in High Quality mode. The headphone takes 2 hours to fully charge.
The buttons and touch pad on the ear cup are intuitive and generally easy to use. Buttons/switches on the side of the ear cups include power on/off, Bluetooth pairing, listening modes and voice-assistant activation. The right ear cup allows you to tap and swipe order to control volume, play/pause, track skipping and call navigation. In addition, you can turn transparent mode on/off with a double tap. Finally, a couple of neat features are added, including a charging level indicator and a light that displays various colors depending on the Bluetooth codec being used.
If you choose to go the wired route, you’ll have a couple of options to choose from, including the standard 3.5mm unbalanced and 4.4mm balanced plug. In addition, the company has included a 1/4 inch adapter, as well as an airplane adapter. In theory, you can use the included USB-C cable to not only charge, but also listen at the same time. But my colleague mentioned that, in practice, the volume only reaches a very quiet level when connected via USB-C. So it’s advisable that charging be done separately.
One thing to note before moving onto sound characteristics, is the volume. I was a bit disappointed to find that there wasn’t a tremendous amount of headroom when listening in the wireless mode. It felt comfortable at near max volume, but if you tend to listen at louder levels or suffer from any minor hearing loss, you may find that it just doesn’t get loud enough. Of course, once plugged into a cable, the problem disappears. This is common issue with wireless headphones, so I wasn’t surprised. But for a headphone at this price, I was hoping for more volume capability.
You’ll hear a skillful soundstage for a closed-back wireless headphone. The separation is extraordinarily good, which makes the imaging feel super precise and spread out. I was especially impressed with the sense of height presented by these cans. And when plugged into a 4.4mm balanced output, the space seems to become even more multidimensional.
The Solitaire T reveals a conservative low-end, although, with the ANC on, you will get quite a bit more warmth. But listening at its highest resolution, while the bass feels tight and grippy, it may lack the impact and meatiness that one looks for when listening to pop tracks. That being said, transparency is top notch, as is the level of separation. Vocals revealed all the nuances in fry and breath. And listening to The Beatles’ “Come Together,” for instance, the bass intro has definite firmness and clarity, which is hard to achieve with a sound that thick. And again, once plugged in with a 4.4mm connection, the definition becomes even more impressive.
The mids present a very light and well separated feel. The Solitaire T has hit a good balance here. Though the high mids feel slightly favored, the lower midrange still gets adequate attention. So, although these headphones don’t convey a warm sound, there is a little body in this range. Percussion reveals a crisp, sparkly snap, while vocals, guitars and pianos have a luminous, floating character. And in general, the Solitaire T presents a refreshingly different sound signature from other wireless headphones of this caliber.
The highs have a great sparkle and airiness. Vocals feel breathy, yet smooth. And percussion instruments in this range have an undeniable shine and lightness. Strings perform similarly, with fantastic transparency, buoyancy and fluidity. The highest registers can at times feel a bit piercing. But unless you’re listening to Miles Davis or some very high soprano vocals, you should be saved from any discomfort.
There’s no question that the Solitaire T is a talented headphone. The fantastic separation and transparency makes for a great soundstage and a very realistic listening experience overall. Furthermore, the light and buoyant character of the sound profile is a welcome change from other headphones in this echelon. And using the balanced connection, the Solitaire T seems worth the price tag. My only criticism lies with the volume when using the wireless feature. I fear it may not be loud enough for some listeners. But if you plan to also make use of the wire, this problem is solved.
Frequency Response: 4-22kHz
THD: 1kHz / 94 dB
Noise Cancelling: Hybrid
Bluetooth Version: 5.1
Codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD
Battery Life: 70 Hours, 35 Hours in High Quality Mode
Weight: 326 g
You can pick up the T+A Solitaire T at Audio 46