I've never really gone through the effort to write a review while A/Bing headphones for the purpose of writing a review. For this review, I actually spent several hours on several songs trying to pinpoint some minute differences that I hope would be helpful for any readers.
I'll get straight to the point. I am a major vocal lover and I pick my headphones according to how well they make vocals sound. Audio Technica woodies coincidentally have done it for me, but before I discovered Audio Technica woodies to be so good with vocals, I really liked what AKGs did. Then I heard the W1000 and I was sold. The W1000 may have had lower treble resolution, weaker bass response, and overall more congested sound, but the way they portrayed vocals immediately persuaded me to head the ATH upgrade route. I think you probably understand my preferences by now. XD I have heard headphones like the Sennheiser HD800 and Beyerdynamic T1, but they do not give the intimacy of vocals that AT woodies give. The closed design and mid richness are probably the biggest aspects that make the AT woodies so good with vocals.
The W11R was released in the year 2000 and Audio Technica had limited it to only 800 units, making it the most elusive Audio Technica W-series headphone yet. Unfortunately, it is a bit of a shame, because, in my opinion, it is the best model (I have not tried the L3000, but I have been told the sound character is very different from the W11R). The "R" in the name seems to refer to Reference.
Woo Audio 6SE w/ Sophia Princess
This amplifier has worked very successfully for me with Audio Technica woodies. The W1000 and the W11R definitely benefit from a transformer coupled tube amp. Both the W1000 and the W11R sound very dry on a solid state amp. My Sophia still makes them sound a bit on the bright side, but it is a major improvement than on a solid state. Transformers are also important to drive low impedance headphones as I have heard.
I only have an Ibasso D10 as a source and my impressions may not be representative of these headphones on a better source. A better DAC may improve on instrument separation, sound stage, and clarity.
The two W11 headphones have leather pads but they are soft. The W1000 and the W2002 have very similar pads like those on Denon D7000s. It's a matter of preference here, but I prefer the W2002 pads. I think the W2002 is probably the most comfortable of these 4 headphones. The polished cups on the W2002 and the W11JPN are gorgeous. In my opinion, the W1000 looks the cheapest and the W11R follows. The gold colored plastic on the W11R just doesn't look flattering.
The W11R has incredibly rich mids. Vocals have the most clarity out of the other headphones I'm reviewing and all these headphones are some of the best headphones for vocals you can find. Guitars have incredible energy and clarity reminiscent of Grado signature.
I'm using high quality versions of the songs, but I'll upload the youtube versions so you have an idea of what I'm talking about. I only mention small aspects of each headphone in each song comparison, but they all translate into other songs as well. They are just more easy to discern on certain songs.
Day And Night
The W11R was the most spacious sounding out of the other three headphones. It is a bit difficult to explain how the W11R sounds exactly because it sounds so natural to me. The W11JPN, on the other hand, sounded a bit overly warm. Sound stage was definitely not as wide as the W11R and the music doesn't envelope the listener in a spacious environment like the W11R does. The W2002 and W1000 soundstage is similar to the W11JPN in that they are feel a lot less "3-D" in comparison. On the W2002, the bright percusive clacking noises are a bit emphasized too much. On the W1000, the cymbals sounded very tiny and timbre was completely off. The timbre for cymbals is the best on the W2002. (Even tambourines sound the most accurate on the W2002) The soundstage on the W11R is remarkable and is very familiar if you have heard the W5000 soundstage. Cymbals on the W11R edge on tininess, but doesn't really get bad. Honestly, I haven't heard a headphone do cymbals well without recessing the sound of cymbals and I think many would agree.
All Out Of Love
Again, it is difficult to describe the W11R with this song. It sounds effortless and natural. The sound of the guitar sounds remarkably natural. Vocals sound as if you are there in the room listening to her. There isn't an excess of bass. The song is a bit bright but doesn't sound off in one bit. The other headphones just are not spacious enough to sound "real."
There are many "S"s in the song, but no sibilance with the W11R. The vocals remain clear as day and are upfront. The drum is very impactful and textured. On the W11JPN, the drum has more impact. The vocals are warmer and sibilance is also not a problem. The W11JPN overall sounds warmer and bit of treble detail is faded back. The guitar solo around 2:00 sounds veiled compared to the W11R. On the W2002, the soundstage is again much less wide compared to the W11R, but clarity is very similar to the W11R. Guitar solo and vocals has the clarity of that on the W11R but presented a bit differently with the percussion sounding closer than it is on the W11R.
Leave Me (video is fan made. Just ignore the video =/)
The W11JPN had a prominent bass response and an upfront soundstage. The W11R was more spacious. The tapping in the beginning of the song had bigger out of head experience than the other headphones. Vocals have the most clarity. Bass was extremely extended and textured.
Stay With Me and Just Like You
The W11R captures the grain from Rie Fu's microphone with the most resolution. The other headphones tended to blur the grain a bit together. With the W11R, Rie Fu's music was kind of a revelation for me as I didn't hear the grain this clearly, even from the bright W1000 and W11JPN. As always, the vocals sound very natural, but the vinyl-ish sound character of the recording came out the most obvious on the W11R showing it's resolving ability. The bass has plenty of impact and vocals are warm. The W2002 has brighter vocals and the grain in the recording is not reproduced as well.
Audience of One
The W2002 had a weaker bass impact than the W11R and the W11JPN had more. The male voice lacked some weight on the W2002. THe bass drum hits hard on the W11R is very enjoyable to listen to. The guitar has a lot of clarity and energy. Male vocals also sound more natural and balanced. The W11R is surprisingly good with rock music and jazz. The W11JPN is the warmest sounding but it made guitars a bit too warm. Drums hit harder on the W11JPN. The W1000 is too bright and simply sounds weak with rock music.
Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
In Fate's Hands
The W11R was clearly the winner with this song. The bass drum hits incredibly hard with so much texture that you can clearly see a picture of the bass drum being kicked and the tom toms being pounded. Once again, the guitars were magical.
Map the Soul
W11R- The bass drum is strong. Snare drums have a lot of impact. Male vocals sound very natural. The natural warmth of the male voice is reproduced very well. There is a VERY slight sibilance heard on the strongest S's in the lines "No reason to live without you." The sibilance happens on the "you." It may have been due to the recording.
W2002-Vocals are a bit more upfront. Vocals seem more impactful if that makes any sense. Bass drum is quieter but is just as punchy. Spaciousness is small compared to W11R. The sibilance on the "you" in the same line as above is slightly less strong.
W11JPN- Gave a different presentation that the W11R and the W2002 which were bright. The warmth of the W11JPN made this song more pleasant to listen to.
One Minute, One Second
The W11JPN had the best presentation for pop songs. This song is no different. The W11JPN makes me want to listen to this song the most. The bass kicks, vocal emphasis, and clarity makes this headphone one of the best pop headphones I've ever had.
W11R- It sounds exceptional with natural accoustic music and vocals. The sub-bass extends very low and is the most textured of the four headphones. The treble also extends the highest compared to the other three and it has the highest detail retrieval ability. Mids are the highlight of this headphone, though the headphone is generally on the brighter side.
W11JPN-This headphone sounds better than the other headphones with pop. For other genres, it is still comparable to the W11R and W2002, but it truly excels in pop where the other two don't do as well. It doesn't have the treble resolution like the W11R, but it is close. It is only at the highest highs where you can hear the difference. Bass is more pronounced and vocals are warmer.
W2002-The clarity on this headphone is comparable to the W11R. There is excellent detail retrieval. The sub-bass doesn't seem to extend as far as the W11R, but it still punches. The bass response is also a bit lower than the W11R. The W2002 is similar to the W1000 in sound character, but it is a 100% upgrade over the W1000. The soundstage is larger, vocals sound more natural, and cymbals have a far more accurate timbre. It is just in a completely different league rivaling that of the W11R and above the W11JPN. For certain music, such as heavily electronic pop music, it is a better pop headphone than the W11JPN. It is a more exciting headphone but less accurate/balanced-sounding than the W11JPN.
W1000-This headphone brought me this far in my hobby. It has its problems such as weak sub-bass, congestion, and low treble resolution at the highest frequencies. It's mids and vocals are excellent.
From what I heard, I'd roughly rank them as this: (There's alot of 2nd places because I couldn't find them to be as versatile as the W11R. However they all excel in different aspects)
2) W2002- >clarity
2) W1000X- >soundstage (IMO this is Denon D7000's arch rival, but a better headphone. There may be comfort problems compared to the Denons.)
2) W11JPN->bass impact
All the negatives that I pointed out from these headphones were from being picky. You'd be hard pressed to find other headphones that perform as well as these do with vocals. I will be keeping the W11R for sure and I don't think I will ever be selling them. I would really LOVE to keep the W2002 too, but I do not know if I can. I will most likely be selling them or the W11JPN in the forum some time to make funds for a better source. Anyways, I hope you found this interesting at least and I hope Audio Technica comes out with a new woodie for the coming 50th anniversary.
If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask!
P.S. I have also tried the W1000X and W5000 headphones. I strongly prefer the W11 brothers and the W2002 over those two.
Edited by wind016 - 1/23/11 at 4:00pm