Pros: Lightweight, feels solid, confortable; speed of attack & decay, instrument separation, 3D imaging; outstanding on acoustic instruments and vocals.
Cons: Slightly creaky frame at times; lettering wears off on the cups, but is that really a con?! More display of the beautiful striped ebony wood!
I tried a few Grado's —didn't like the Grado house sound—, a few Senn's —HD650 left a good impression—, a few lower-end AT's —I thought the AD700 were impressive for the price— and after reading Head-Fi and other audio forums for a long time, I thought the W5000 would suit me and my listening habits well.
For over three years I'd waited for a good deal on a used set sold in Europe —to avoid custom duties— and an opportunity finally came around.
Now, at first I didn't have any decent amplification to run them from, and but I could certainly fathom they were the best I'd ever heard from the headphone output of my Onkyo integrated amp or from my Sony Hi-MD Walkmans —playing PCM of course .
Only a year later with my acquisition of the iBasso DX100 Reference DAP did I truly realise the potential of these headphones, and how amazingly good they sound.
I can only imagine what they must sound like paired with a full-size dedicated high-end desktop headphone amp!
Bending of the metal headphone bands is important to get a good seal and experience how good the bass is. Those who have complained about the W5000 lacking bass just haven't dared bending them. For my feeling, the W5000 are certainly not bass-light; in fact more bass would be too much for me. They deliver just the impact and slam that is required to reproduce the music as it has been recorded.
What more can I say, I'm now in the process of acquiring my second set! I love to share with a good friend the experience of loosing oneself in exquisite sound !
• Review in progress - more after the break.
Update: I payed a visit to the Parisian AT Concept Store past weekend and got the opportunity to plug into the HA5000ANV headphone amp, and wow, it brought the W5000's another notch up, even more articulate, more authority, more bass, fantastic! Pure bliss, with every musical genre I tested.
Saving up for that amp, or rather the non anniversary one, I certainly am now.
Also, I fully appreciate the importance of burn-in and bending those metal bands. Between my second pair of W5000's, my first, and the one in the shop, there was a clear difference, and no doubt did my heavely used W5000's sound the best. More fluid, better bass, more musical, less harsh, everything was better.
Also, compared to the W3000ANV's, the W5000's are the better headphones if you are looking for more neutral. The bass on the W3000ANV gives the feeling of being heavier, but it is only the mid-bass that are accentuated. The W5000 extend actually lower, and are more linear overall in the low end. Not denying that the medium range sounds particular, or special, on both those woodies, and the AD2000X fare better in that respect being a tad more balanced, i.e. even more neutral, but the W5000's are definitely still AT's flagship and the best technically. Treble extension also.
The W1000X just don't compete, resolution/detail, soundstaging not as grand, and frequency bandwidth also a bit shorter. Can be less fatiguing though.