This impression is long overdue. I said it would arrive in a week, but it took months lol.
I finally found time to write about this after a hectic start of the school year.
Audio Technica ATH-AD700
Tadaaa! My first (considered) audiophile calibre headphones. Also my first "full-sized" headphones.
Reading all the reviews about it, I was really curious about how a BIG soundstage would sound like.
I decided to get it when I found a need for gaming / computer headphones at night when everyone is sleeping.
When I picked up the phones from the FedEx office, I was surprised of 2 things.
1) The box was HUGE. I was kinda wondering what I had gotten myself into. lol I couldn't picture how big it actually was in the package.
2) The box was totally light! It was weird carrying something that big, but feel like it only contained bunches of paper and packaging nuts. I was hoping there actually was something inside.
I couldn't wait to get home and open it.
Opening the box, I thought the phones looked great! I didn't mind the Gold/purple combo. Seriously. It looked kinda funky lol.
When I first touched them, I instantly realized that the build quality was something I haven't seen before. These felt strong! The plastic was solid and almost metal feeling (is it plastic? or aluminum?), but the whole thing felt so light. Audio Techica (AT) really did a good job of making it feel "Airy". The cable was the strongest cable on a pair of headphones I've seen (compared to D1001, HD238, Bose, and Skullcrushers). I also loved that the packaging could be used as a headphone stand (i made it work).
Here's the important part. How does it sound?
I will admit, I don't have a high-end source. This is why this is called a "Casual Impression", and not a full review.
This is my experience with the phones.
The first song I played on it was Sootballs - Joe Hisaishi since I heard alot about how well the AD700s sound with classical/orchestral music. This piece has alot of pizzicato (plucking violin), bass strings, winds, and brass layers.
The piece just CAME ALIVE! I've never heard music like this before. While my surround system does something similar, this was like being blanketed by music everywhere. Like being in a circle of instruments, while they play around you. It sounded much more intimate than listening to speakers.
I tried it with some Feist, and again the same feeling took over. What really please me though is that her vocals were full and up front. She sounded alive, and there was texture in the tone.
I was having so much fun with the soundstage, but there was a nagging thing that was missing.
I didn't get enough bass. There was bass, but it wasn't prominent enough, or I couldn't hear some bass notes I heard in my other phones. It didn't disappoint me, but it was a little nagging. I knew this was going to happen though, because my previous headphones all had lots of bass. So, I allowed myself to get used to this new sound. I wasn't put off. It was more like I was disoriented.
After a while, I've gotten used to the bass. Not that I perceived that there was more of it, I just became familiar with where the bass is, and what it does to songs. After seeing "The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires" performance by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, I realized that the bass in classical pieces as reproduced by the AD700s was more accurate than my other headphones. There wasn't really that much when listening live. It was just right on the AD700s
Using the headphones for my computer was a totally different type of experience.
The main thing I noticed was that because the AD700s sounded so smooth, all the sounds became less fatiguing.
Gunshots, beeps, lazers, and yelling voices became easy on the ears. But what a HUGE difference in experience!
The first game I tried it out was Red Dead Redemption. This game takes you to the wild west in the early 1900s, as a former member of an outlaw gang attempts to redeem himself by taking down his former gang leaders.
I put on the phones and I was instantly immersed in the sounds of the western desert. I could hear crows and buzzards caw above me. The galloping of my horse sounded weighted. I was warned early from attackers when I could hear the faint galloping of a gang member's horse coming from half a mile away. It really brought some realism to the whole experience!
I then tried them on a first person shooting game. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (MW2) is a fast paced arcade shooter than relies on fast reflexes and use of cover. The most important part of competitive playing was predicting, and scouting enemy position. With the AD700s, I could hear footsteps and know where it's coming from or going to! I could tell that an enemy was around 10 paces to my right, moving towards his 10 o'clock position. I was able to intercept him and catch him off guard. I noticed, however, that I could only hear what the game is set for my to hear. I couldn't hear the faintest footsteps of an enemy 150ft away, because the game wouldn't play the sound of footsteps until a certain distance away. However, I could hear the footsteps of enemies even if they had the "quiet footsteps" ability. It was definitely an advantage.
For immersion's sake, there was a drawback. In military games like MW2, the cinematic style relies on alot of impacts and explosions. These are lessened by the AD700s because they are such smooth phones, plus the lack of bass power. A grenade exploded in front of my face, and it sounded like a pop. A very detailed pop, but no impact. This is a disadvantage in experience, but a big advantage for competitiveness. I was able to hear enemies even when everything was exploding in Battlefield Bad Company 2. I survived the mortar strike, and was ready to counter enemies who were approaching, who I wouldn't have detected if I had bassy headphones.
Whether it's good for gaming or not, you decide. I like them because they're easy on the ears, and allows me to hear everything around me.
The issue of burn-in is always in debate. While I am impartial to claims of phones sounding best after x number of hours, I have noticed some headphones relax their sound a bit while using them. So, I like to play a "burn-in" playlist for a few hours just to let the parts settle.
For the AD700s, however, there was little to no change in sound. The bass "appeared" to sound tighter, but it was too vague to tell. I would leave it as not important.
THIS HAS BEEN A LONG POST
Like the header said, this has been a long post, and my fingers are tired. lol
I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Look forward to hearing your thoughts