Worth every penny

A Review On: Audio-Technica ATH-E70 Professional In-Ear Monitor Headphone

Audio-Technica ATH-E70 Professional In-Ear Monitor Headphone

Rated # 207 in Universal Fit
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Pros: Super bass, Super details, Super sound at a Super price

Cons: A bit big on bass; detail and instrument separation are not analytic level

Simple Man’s review – ATH E70 (Flagship model of ATH E series - 399 USD)

This is called a "simple" man’s review because they are based on how the earphones sound directly from my mobile phone (HTC One S9), using 320 Kbps mp3 tracks.

No expensive gears nor lossless tracks, no EQ, and all that hi-fi stuff.

 

Product Specs :

Driver: Triple BA

Frequency response: 20 - 19000hz

Impedance: 39 Ohms

Cable: Detachable 1.6 m (5.2') with A2DC connectors

 

Build – 5/5

Replaceable cables - check

Thick wires (durable?) – check

Neck Slider – check

The wires feel durable, and are flexible. The wire is quite long, and falls to my ankle when i let it drop freely. I need to roll the wires quite a bit when my mobile goes into my pocket. I’d have wished this to be foot shorter. Not a biggie, but an inconvenience it could be.

The ear loops are memory plastic with extra strain relief where they come in contact with the rest of the wire. This is really thoughtful, and I haven’t seen this elsewhere.  Great job, ATH!

 

Accessories –  4/5

A zipper case is provided, right size and quality, which can hold the earphones without any trouble. The case can go into a generous denim pocket. 4 sizes tips provided, excluding the medium ones in the earphones itself, and one pair of comply foam tips. Plus, a 3.5 to 6.3mm adapter as well is included in the box.

 

Isolation & Sound leakage – 4/5

Isolation is not bad, and sound leakage is almost zero.

 

Microphonics – 4/5

I couldn’t hear any sound  while walking with the music on. Maybe just a tiny bit. If any, it still doesn’t interfere with enjoying the sound from these earphones.  

 

Fit – 4/5

Around the ears only, and this can’t be worn down. Personally, I didn’t find an issue with the fit.  The housing rest, and stay, properly with a good seal. However, I remember an amazon reviewer wanted to “shoot” the ATH designer because they didn’t fit him at all. If you have regular ears like me, you shouldn’t have an issue here.

 

Before we get to the sound:

First, tips: This is a personal thing. I absolutely hate the ATH stock tips, they seem to make my music too bassy, with their narrow hole and short stems, which I don’t like. Each may have their favourite tips and mine are the SpinFits. I used to like the Spiral Dots before i was introduced to SpinFits. I’m using the spinfits on my E70s, and i would suggest any wide bored tip, like spiral dots as well. They sound fine with Sony tips too. However, i noticed not a very glaring difference with tip rolling. BA earphones don’t seem to be affected by tip rolling much (from my experience)

 

Second, Sound volume: they are easy to drive. I never find myself going above 60% volume on my phone. The impedance value just seems like a number here.

 

Alright now. Phew! I’m wasted already. But let’s get on with that which matters now.

 

Last, but important thing before we proceed. You must know that i don’t listen to trance, EDM, or bassy stuff, no metal stuff,  so, take my opinion about the extremes of the sound spectrum, and speed,etc., with a grain of salt, as they are just based on the kind of music I listen to- namely Jazz, blues, some progressive rock from the 70s/80s. However, to give a fair review, i include some of my favourite Daft Punk, Tool, NIN, and some Pop songs among my test tracks.

 

Sound –

Let me just say that they sound awesome, incredible, amazing, unbelievable, superb, excellent, fabulous, and all the like terms. These are my most expensive phones till date, and accordingly these are the best sounding. I’m a happy guy. Things are fair, and as they should be.

 

The signature seems to be mostly neutral, with a linear emphasis on the lower end of the spectrum.

Bass:

There is no bloat in its bass. Neither is there a mid-bass bloat, nor a sub-bass emphasis. Bass in general is a bit elevated. If the song has a bass line, you will hear it in all the definition. The bass quality is just unbelievable, and the quantity is there to show it. You are sure to hear some great bass details here like you’ve never done, possibly, in any price range. Definitely can’t see this below 500 USD. There is great rumbly feel to the bass when the song requires it, although you don’t feel the bass pumping air as in dynamic phones. You still hear nice rumble nevertheless.

Treble:

On the other end of the spectrum, things are pretty bright. Not splashy bright, but revealing with enough brightness to not make the earphones actually sound warm. Some have commented that these sound warm, very warm, etc.,  but these are in no way as warm as the JVC woodies, for instance. Treble details are amazing.  In general, the detail retrieval is just excellent. You hear extended shimmers of the cymbals, tiny delicate sounds are made apparent, with all the details.

The surprising part is that they are not at all thin sounding. For such a revealing phone which displays so much detail, thin-sounding is the last word you would associate with this earphone. Treble appears to be a bit laidback because there is no like elevation in the treble frequencies to make this a V-shaped sound.  Hence, you can’t call the sound very exciting. The treble is mostly in line with the mids, and shows its presence at all times. I never mentioned sibilance because there is nothing to speak of.

Mids:

Mids are full, no recession here. If anything, it’s a bit mid-forward you can say. Because, as I mentioned, the bass has a very linear elevation to it, the mids don’t seem very obviously forwarded.  The details in the mids are all present, and show themselves boldly.   

The vocals are amazing, and you hear all the details in the human voice, and can clearly distinguish between multiple singers.

 

Select comparisons

 


ATH E70 vs ATH E40

 

Why ? Because they are brothers, and i know those who own the E40 are curious about this comparison.

The ATH E40 itself sounds superb, with great clarity, instrument separation, timber and what -not. Moving from the ATH E40 to the E70, you directly perceive a vast difference in detail and clarity. If you initially thought that the E40 was very clear and awesome, moving to the E70 immediately afterwards will make you say that the E40 was muffled, and totally unclear. In this case at least, you would accept that increase in price is definitely worth every penny. (Whatever happened to the law of diminishing returns!) I would even go so far and say that the E70 sounds 4 times (atleast 3x) better than the E40! The change is simply surprising. Imagine playing ping-pong  against the best player in your school, and then immediately after you face the best player in your country (assuming your school champion is not a national player). Such is the difference between E40 and the E70.

The only comparable area would be the wideness of soundstage, and even here the E70 would edge out its sibling. Enough said, and this comparison was unfair in the first place.

 

ATH E70 vs Sony MDR EX800ST

Why? Both of them are called studio monitors, and they’re from the 2 giants in the industry, and because I don’t have the EX1000 this should suffice.

The EX800ST competes very well with the E70. And we must keep in mind that the Sony is a single dynamic which was made about 6 years ago. It’s just amazing that it can still stand in front of the E70 released just last year. Anyway, switching from the Sony to the E70, i see that all the notes have better thickness straight away. Where the details were faint, and i had to focus my attention to hear them, in the E70, they were just apparent and more obvious. The E70 has a bigger bass while the treble of the Sony were a bit higher. The highs of Sony gave me more satisfaction compared to the E70.  I feel, maybe, the slightly lesser note thickness also enables a slightly better timber going to the Sonys. Soundstage and separation were about the same. But overall, i must say the E70 are better with their triple BA setup from current technology. I still keep my Sonys because they have a certain magic to them ;-)  

 

ATH E70 vs Zero Audio Doppio

Why? Because both are TOTL. And Doppio is the only dual BA that i have.

We must note that the E70 is about 3x or 3.5x more expensive that the ZA Doppio. This is the best value for money product  that I’ve known.

Comparing the two, E70 has more bass in quantity, and consequently, i think, has lesser detail. Switching from E70 to Doppio, it is very obvious that Doppio shows more detail in music. The highs of Doppio are also higher, and vocals also more forward. There is no colouration with the Doppios. There is however a slight thickness missing in Doppio which can be enjoyed with the E70, but this at the cost of micro-detail. Instrument separation is also better in Doppio, where E70, i would say, sounds more musical with lesser separation.  Doppio is a better analytical phone. I can’t choose a winner between the two.

 

Overall Sound rating:

Vocals 4/5

Soundstage 5/5

Instrument Separation 4/5

Detail 4.5/5

Timber 4/5

 

If I have to nitpick, and I will, i would say that the one place where these earphones fall from grace is when the track has abundant bass, and with it also demands a clear mid section (possibly due to poor recording, or whatever) . For instance, in some progressive rock tracks with Sitars, I notice that i can’t enjoy the sound of sitar properly, and i see the bass intruding and demanding more attention. I don’t feel very satisfied with these earphones in this case.   

 

Conclusion –

Excellent earphones for the price, with amazing detail retrieval that is musical at the same time. If bass is important to you, and if you still need all the details that a monitoring phone demands,then this one is made just for you. If you want a strictly analytical earphone with no colouration, the E70 is not for you, and you can go the Etymotic way.

 

Please note that it is reported that the E70 improves in sound with better amplifier and DAC. Just so you know!

There goes my first review.

Thanks for reading.

23 Comments:

Good review! E70 deserves more attentions I think. Clarity is the signature that impressed me most.
Thank you for your review.
The E70 are very source dependent. They do not perform well with a smartphone for sure or with the source with low amplification, they need power. They shine with a proper source. Of course, not analytical like Etymotic ER4SR, they are just different.  The only problem I have with them is hissing in upper mids/ low treble with one of my sources on some records. 
Thanks, guys!
@qsk78 this is really good that you mention about source., and I will add this as a footnote to the review. For the ones with DACs and Amps, they would find this useful. Although i believe the general character of the earphones stay the same even with amping. (?), or would you say that it makes a significant difference?
Yes, they keep their character for sure. 
As far as I can tell, the source impedance affects the treble.  
Hmmm., it's very technical, and i scratch my head. But i remember one such graph, from here in headfi, which showed that with different impedance ratings the E70's treble showed more presence. I can't remember the numbers though, and i surely can't find that graph now. Maybe finding that right source would make this more detailed, and make it sound less bassy, making this the best IEM ever?.
More power makes them less bassy))
BTW, I'm a fan of Etymotic but sometimes even I need more body and weight in Low end - they give it )
Nice. I've ordered an ER4P-T, they're on their way.Can't wait to hear these mothers!
I disagree.E70 is worst in-ear I tried.Too big and uncomfortable! It´s sound is realy poor.
Interesting...my first review was Poor Man's Review of the Audio-Tech IM02.  Im02, being much better, though.
@pseudomagick - thanks for the comment. I'm sure there will be some who agree with you.
@thatonenoob - IM02 , from what i read, are really close to doppio's sound, and so i didn't get them.
At the back of my head i knew someone had done a " poor man ". Good to know now. I see the slight difference, yours being A Poor Man Review, while mine is a Poor man's review. Would you like me change this?
And, i've changed this to Simple Man's review. Hope no one's used this before ;-)
@thatonenoob - I own the LS200 (im02 successor) and the E70 in parallel. They both can live together. ))
I pair them with different sources though
@qsk78 - how would you compare the LS200 with Etymotic ? What's the most noticeable difference, apart from details? (i'm guessing the Etys have a little more detail to them ?)
Well, I think transparency would be the right word (SR). 
But the LS200 is my main pair of IEM today. They just much easier in day-to-day usage.
I use Ety with foam tips and with its specific form factor ...so I have not touched them for a month I think)
@qsk78 Oh, come on.. i guessed that already! 
Please check out Daft Punk's Burnin' with the E70, and you will know why this IEM is special. So much bass detail is quite impossible i think! It sounds quite unbelievable
$400 for bass that bleeds in the mids?
hmm.. yes, if there is a dominant bass line. It is going to interfere with the mids.