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ATH-W1000X Review *UPDATED*

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
Hello All!

This is my second review, and given the class these headphones exude, I will do my absolute best to do them justice with the quality of my review.
I plan on doing more reviews on my various headphones, so please do comment as to how I could have done better, what more I could have included etc, or even if you have any specific questions regarding this headphone vs another one I own.

The photos are courtesy of TheOtus and his thread can be found here: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f4/my-...w1000x-473696/
He is lucky enough to have this as his first high end headphone! Wow, what a leap.



Source: Asus Xonar STX with Stock OpAmps
Amp: Little Dot MKV
Headphones: ATH-W1000X, the rest are in my signature
Tweaks: Passive AC line filter, Dedicated AC line for my computer and amp

Background info: The purpose of buying this headphone was to try and find a headphone that might better the mighty MDR-SA5000 in a few areas

1) Bigger soundstage
2) More bass, thicker bass
3) A tad more musical
4) More detail

The real challenge was that I did not want to sacrifice detail, rather I also wanted more detail. Depending on the trade off, slightly less detail might be acceptable.

I have been into the hi-fi hobby for almost 4 years now, almost exclusively for headphones. I am young, and I take care of my ears!

Also, this is not my first closed headphone, but it is my first wooden headphone. What this means I don't know haha. It is also the first Audio Technica headphone I have had some quality time with other than a fling with a ESW9.

Now, with all that aside, lets get to the juicy stuff!

Sound:

Let me just say right away that this headphone is a combination of the many strengths different headphones I own. I will not say it is the ultimate headphone, but it definitely is an amazing all rounder.

The highs, especially cymbals are nice and explosive with just the right amount of sizzle and decay a la Grado -very detailed. The hi-hat on some recordings is a tad too present, but so are rides... but I love a nice dry ride driving the music. I find the highs have much of what Grado has going for them, minus what I perceive as piercing and fatiguing. At higher levels the balance between the highs and lows is a bit out of proportion, but at low and mid levels it is coloured but oh so seductive.

The mids, are very dispersed and spread out without ever sounding overly airy or thin, like I did not enjoy with the K702. Again, I cannot stress how rich this headphone sounds. The backing vocals are very much a new aspect of music that not headphone has presented to me in quite this way. They seem very accurately projected from a certain place, instead of just appearing. I got shivers down my spine from a few tracks. The last time I appreciated backing vocals this much was when the Pro 750 exposed me to all kinds of things in my favorite recordings I was completely unaware of.

The mids are perhaps not perfect. There are a few songs that just do not sound "right", although they do sound good. I initially found this a little off putting, but the more I listen, the more I feel I understand these headphones. They are soothing, relaxing, not entirely right, but oh so good.

The soundstage is large and 3D, much like what I experienced when I switched to a pair of HD 600 from a pair of SR-325i. However, since I heard the Pro 750, I am much more aware of Macro Detail. The whole, and not simply the sum of the parts. While I used to constantly lust for a larger soundstages, I recognize I do not enjoy this as much as I though I would as if a sound is too disperse, it looses its positioning and weight, it's texture. So, I find 3D to have the best of both worlds. It certainly has depth, and space, but not airy pockets or thin-sounding areas that some overly horizontal soundstages do, or that smearing effect that the HD 600 seem to have... where one sound takes up much more space than it should.

What I appreciate the most is that the soundstage is not as layered as the SA5K. I found the SA5K, while there was immense detail, had too small of a soundstage for the wealth of information it would present you with. I constantly found myself focusing very finely on one aspect of the music, but never able to quite grasp all of it... think water dripping down the side of your face when you try and drink too much, too fast after a run. You want it all, but simply can't fit all of it in. With the W1000X, I have similar amounts of detail, but a much more 3D and deep soundstage that can house all of the information properly, in a manner that it is easily accessible.

This headphone also sounds balanced in the sense that the sound is not bottom or top heavy. All frequencies seem to sing in harmony and come at you evenly. Where as most headphones seem to have bass low down on the Y axis, and highs well... high up on the y axis. An example is I can have a bassline going, and Tom drum roll going on from left to right, higher up in the soundstage, and the bass from the drum hits at the same level. So the bass doesn't all come from the same area in the headphone. This explanation is a little weak and I will try to touch it up when I have more time.


The bass is quite present and punchy without being fat and bloated, much like a my pro 750. The bass is certainly not as punchy as my pro 750, not as finely etched as on my SA5K... but somewhere in between. I think the SA5K has the best defined bass of any headphone I have tried, but no weight and richness behind it. The W1000X has rich, wholesome, smooth bass with just enough punch and bump to drive the music while enough detail to satisfy me. The pro 750 would be a prodigy...someone who knows hes good and always looking to impress people, the SA5K an elitist snob who thinks he is perfect... and the W1000X someone who is wiser... humbler... and over a nice contrast.

The speed, while not quite on par with the SA5K is quite quick. Like the SA5K it performs outstandingly with percussion. Perhaps a bit better as it has more punch. High praise indeed.

The tone, VERY nice, especially on drums. It reminds me very much of a HD 600 , but with more detail and weight. It does sound very whole some and rich, which is something new to me. While it does not capture all the tone the SA5K does, it is that much richer and smoother... easier to listen to, and thus easier to appreciate.

Listening Levels: This headphone is probably the only headphone I have that I truly enjoy at low listening levels. Like a Grado, I find the highs rather overdone at louder volumes. Not as much or as piercing as a Grado, but it stops me nonetheless.

Comfort

Fit: I find the 3D wing support a tad on the loose side, a tad more than how loose the K702 are on me. They simply disappear when you wear them though, most likely my most comfortable headphone... although I really do enjoy the hug my head receives from my HD 600. I would enjoy it more if the wings were stiffer. If you are going to headbang and rock out or go outside, these are certainly not what you are looking for. If you are doing computer work, or in a chair listening they will simply evaporate.

Aesthetics: These headphones are gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. They are more of a golden caramel colour than they are in the photos I have seen online. Very nice wood. I will say they look hideous if you just put them on a desk though... they really need to be worn, held, or on a stand for them to be in all their glory... otherwise the metal rods holding the two earpieces together looks a tad too otherworldly.

The cable is nice and think... it is rubber, but a much nicer and stiffer rubber than the kind found on common headphone cables... it is much more dense and stuff and thus the cable is hard to tangle. While the gleam of a rubber cord is not something I find appealing, the feel and functionally of the cord is top notch.

The wood part on the TRS jack is a very nice finishing touch... other than that it could have come with a nice stand to match it, like my SA5K.... For the price its really not asking much either.

Verdict: Overall, I am very impressed with these headphones. They have a GREAT, 3D soundstage, one that remains black when areas aren't being used. They are very rich and full sounding. While they are not the most neutral headphone, they are very good at most I have thrown at it. The fact lower listening levels are satisfactory is a huge plus too. All these positives combined with the stellar looks and amazing build quality make for one very good purchase. I hope the mention of other headphones gives people with a bit more knowledge something solid to work with. For people with less experience, hopefully the review in it's entirety has helped you.

At the beginning of the review, I mentioned these headphones are a combination of many strengths other headphones have individually. As my final compliment, I will say they sound more like my full speaker set up than anything else. While my speaker set up is not uber high end by any means, it is extremely engaging, balanced, and musical. Triangle Haliade ES, Muse 100 amp (stereophile recommended), McCormack ALD1 preamp(Stereophile recommended too IIRC), MAC silver interconnects, with Blacksand Z1 power cables.

These headphones receive my highest of recommendations, even more so if you are a fan of the Audio-Technica house sound.

AT THIS POINT IN TIME, I HAVE MAYBE 15 HOURS ON THE HEADPHONES. I WILL BE RETURNING TO POST IMPRESSIONS AFTER MORE TIME HAS PASSED, AND TO TOUCH UP THE REVIEW.


***UPDATE***

So, I have had the headphones for almost three weeks now, and they have been thoroughly run in and evaluated.

Since my Ultrasone Pro 750, I have believed in burn in. Whether or not it is psychological, or hardware related, or both, I know not. All I know is I perceived a noticeable difference between the first week, the second week, and now.

W1000X:

The first week they were very spacious, well imaged and articulate, but a bit congested and confused at the same time. Contradicting, I know, but the inadequacies of language to describe sound are not new to people here.

The second week they were really starting to focus and tighten up - Bass response, in terms of being able to differentiate bass drum punches and bassline has drastically improved, the highs were tamed a bit, but are now very refined, and the mids are seemingly endless in their space and depth. No frequency is smudged, or smoothed over by another. A first for me to hear.

In the third week, I have come to the realization that these are by far my best headphones. My other headphones offer some very nice takes, but none, not even my mighty SA5K can claim to be on par, overall with the W1000X. They are supremely accurate, quick, detailed, very refined, and the closest to perfect I have every heard or imagined. The SA5K are perhaps still more detailed, but the W1000X is on par, if perhaps slightly less detail wise, and outclasses it in every other area. To those who have experienced the SA5K, or have read my opinion on the SA5k, this is extremely high praise indeed.

I was debating looking into the D7000, T1, or pro 900, but I am now going to be upgrading my source and amp, as the transducer in the W1000X is more that worthy of upgrading those components.

Let it be clear that while the W1000X are indeed very sexy and classy looking, the wood housing and looks are merely the cherry on top of the best cake you could imagine. You pay for the sound first, and Audio Technica are nice enough to throw looks like this in with the package.

I did not pay the retail price for these, as I was lucky to snag a pair on ebay, but I would have been more than satisfied paying 799,99 at audiocubes for their level of performance -although it is unfortunatly steep, and will prevent many from enjoying this headphone.

Lastly, to those still caught up about it being a closed can, look at the open cans it is being compared to and rest assured it is not a con

Thanks to all those who took the time to read my review.
LL
LL
post #2 of 41
A very thorough review sokolov91, well done. Could you elaborate upon what's "not entirely right" about the mids?
post #3 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by iponderous View Post
A very thorough review sokolov91, well done. Could you elaborate upon what's "not entirely right" about the mids?
Thanks very much! I am not entirely done, there is some stuff I will add tomorrow, but the vast majority is there.

The only thing I can think of right now, because most of it seems to be disappearing is in the track "Combat" by Flobots. The vocal part "No known beat that can keep me lonely" gets the the first two words cut out when the second vocal part "Combat to get you to bomb back" comes in. Between the bassline and that part, the two "no known" words mysteriously disappears. But that is one recording, and I can't find anything else at this point.

So, hopefully burn in will get rid of this, if not I really won't be let down ahah. two words in one song is not going to even put a nick into how good I think they are.

On the plus side, the more I listen, the more I notice how totally right these headphones are tonally.

Anyays, I am off to bed!
post #4 of 41
I would expect some pictures to be the cherry on top of the nice review
post #5 of 41
Sounds like you got 3 out of 4 upgrades. The sound stage and information over load got me thinking about the DT48. A lot is going on in a small stage, with a soundstage about 10%-20% smaller, and closed.. I'm sure not sure a bigger sound stage would fix that perceived problem. Each instrument still gets their own space, and the locations audible wise feel correct or 'just' right.. I believe the real benefit is having a 3d sound stage with the 3d imaging, instead of having 3d imaging on a flat 2d playing surface like, imo, the DT48 has. I think thats the ideal situation. I don't think a bigger sound stage automatically gives you proper instrument placement, this is where the coherency of the sound stage and transparency of the headphone comes into play. Allowing the depth and width to grow depending on the micing, and where the recording took place. Just my 2 cents.. The W1000Xs look like a winner. Your review put it on my watch list for sure.
post #6 of 41
Excellent review there man... =D I don´t have (and haven´t had) much phones to compare to, and not much of experience in the first place, but your descrptions sound right to me too.
post #7 of 41
Great review!
I just listened to the W1000x, A2000x and W5000 today at the Audio Techinca Demo store with the HA-20 amp. I'm not so impressed with the W1000x actually..

First is the fit, I have quite a big head, and somehow it doesnt covers my ears properly, with slight pressure on the top of my head.

Second, I find the soundstage to be quite small and flat, comparing to my K701s and side by side with the A2000x and W5000.

I'm not sure if the W1000x I listend to is fully burned in yet though..
post #8 of 41
sokolov91, be sure to let them burn in a whole lot more. Audio-Technicas are known for needing very lengthy burn-in periods. My AD900 didn't open up until after 150 hours or so.
post #9 of 41
Great review, thanks. I like the mids of my AD2000 so it seems like I may also like the W1000X. Sharp-looking, too. Anybody wanna sell their used ones, let me know...
post #10 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwang411 View Post
Great review!
I just listened to the W1000x, A2000x and W5000 today at the Audio Techinca Demo store with the HA-20 amp. I'm not so impressed with the W1000x actually..

First is the fit, I have quite a big head, and somehow it doesnt covers my ears properly, with slight pressure on the top of my head.

Second, I find the soundstage to be quite small and flat, comparing to my K701s and side by side with the A2000x and W5000.

I'm not sure if the W1000x I listend to is fully burned in yet though..
Kwang411,

You don't have to always defend yourself with things like "they may not be fully burned in". If they were at a demo chance is they had some time on them. If you didn't like them, well, you didn't! Mine only have about 20 hours on them...

The improper fit might have had a lot to do with the poor impression though, and that really can't be helped. I am happy the system works well for me, it is on the loose side, but the weight is barely noticeable. I could see how this may pose a problem. I would very much suggest for people to try a model with the 3D wing support at a store if possible before dropping a lot of money. Supposedly the system is better than it was on the W5000.

The soundstage is smaller than the K702, but like I specifically stated in the review, I do not believe that is necessarily a bad thing. Imaging in the W1000X is really top notch... deep and things are very well positioned. I find the K702 to sound too large and thin at times. I find more often than not it gives sounds a very unnatural feel. For a while I really liked it, and it is still fun at times, but after really being impressed with the ultrasone style soundstage and imaging I don't think I would go back. The soundstage sounds much like a small stage classical concert than anything else. Everything blends well, but everything is easily perceived and placed.

I went on and on about the soundstage and imaging in the review for a reason haha...

After hearing this Audio-Technica, I am interested in the A2000X, simply because they are so damned good looking... but alas audio technica has too many good looking headphones to count so I will just appreciate these as much as I can, not to mention I broke the bank hoping these would be the one.

I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on how the W5000 and A2000X compared. Do be completely honest too, no need to worry about offending people :P. Also, I would also wonder what your impressions at your home set up would be like, as it is somewhat similar to mine.
post #11 of 41
The 701 sound stage is un natural big.. & is one of it's biggest flaws, even though it's fun, & adds a wow factor to new listeners..
post #12 of 41
Ouch! I don´t have the money for it in the near future, but it seems like the ticket to a fuller sound than the w1000 without loosing the wing system that I love!

Curse you Head-Fi!!!!!
post #13 of 41
How is the isolation?
post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by kool bubba ice View Post
The 701 sound stage is un natural big.. & is one of it's biggest flaws, even though it's fun, & adds a wow factor to new listeners..
I totally agree, an amp with a large soundstage + K701 is fun for a couple of minute then it become rather unnatural.


About W1000X, interesting review. Seems like a good choice for layback listening. My uber energetic AD1000PRM can become tiring sometimes.
post #15 of 41
Yeah, another review that everything is perfect...... Shoot me if you want.
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