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Brief Impressions of ATH-W3000ANV vs HD800/T1/LCD2

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Today, I decided to pop down to a friendly headphone store near my place to try out a couple of headphones that are possibly the "flagships" of the various popular headphone brands. In this exciting new journey, I briefly listened to the following headphones and thought that maybe I could give a short to provide some brief impressions of how they sound. 

 

Disclaimer:

First and foremost, I have to explain that I only used approximately 15-20 minutes on each headphone and thus could only provide a brief description of the sound signature of each headphone. In this case, I would only like to highlight what was my first impressions of these headphones in this short listening session.

Secondly and most importantly, this is the first time I am attempting to write an impression so do go easy on me!(:

 

Comfort:

Comparing the different headphones, I would definitely say that W3000 is by far the most comfortable headphone that I have worn. The design is so exquisite that it provides just the right amount of clamping force and sits nicely on your head without needing to adjust the sometimes overly stiff headband. That's because it doesnt have an adjustable headband which is the best part of it.

Next up would be the T1/HD800. I would rank them both equally in terms of comfort with the T1 having a slightly tighter clamping force then I would have liked and the HD800 being too large such that it tends to slip down as I try to wear them. 

The last would be the LCD2 which I find having too tight a clamping force and fitting awkwardly on my head. It feels as if the headphone pads are just compressing on the edges of your ears to make them sit there. The adjustable headbands are also hard to adjust since it has these metal hinges that needs to be pushed manually.

 

Sound Quality:

W3000: Having only these headphones on my head for a brief 15-20 minutes, the first word I have for it is amazing. But I think the word amazing does not really suit head-fi lingo. So in another word, I have the say that it sounds very detailed and analytical. It is able to push the details of each song to a 3-dimensional space surrounding you. It does not have a very wide sound stage like some of its fellow flagships but it does produce a very good sense of space around you. In a way, I would say that the instrumental separation is very very good as it is able to retrieve the details of each song and bring them "closer" to you. 

In a word, I would say that it is a mid centric and slightly bright headphone. Although it is not overly bright (coming from grados). I feel that it has just the right amount of balance in the mids and the highs to complement each other. 

In the bass department, I feel that it does not sound anything like a dynamic headphone. The bass is impactful and accurate (for a lack of a better word). In the realm of IEMs, it feels closer to a BA type of bass then a dynamic type of bass which has plenty of sub-bass and bass quantity. However, it is precisely because of this reason that it does not have the bass quantity and depth of the LCD2s.

On the whole, it produces the whole frequency spectrum in a very balanced manner in which no range of frequencies overwhelm the whole song. (Ie. Not overly bright or dark) Which to me is extremely important since I like to listen to all the instruments in the song at the same time and at the same volume. However, I have to say that it does not come across to me as a neutral headphone. I find it slightly colored with the mids and highs being just slightly forward and the bass being quite prominent.

 

HD800: As I put the HD800 on my ears, I immediately noticed that the HD800 sounds harsh and overly bright for my tastes. As for the level of detail, I believe that it is on par with the W3000 or maybe even more analytical. However, because I find it overly bright, the treble and high-mids tend to stand out more then the low mids and the bass. In this area, I had to listen attentively in order to pick out the micro details in the lower frequencies department which is tiresome so to say. The HD800 is also able to produce a very good sense of space and has an extremely wide soundstage. However, I feel that it seems more like sitting in a large concert hall and listening to a live performance as compared to the W3000 where you are sitting in a indoor lounge where there is a slight sense of intimacy and the music is flowing to you from all directions in a 3-dimensional space.

 

LCD2: Initially I wanted to try out with the LCD3s but sadly, the headphone shop that I went to didnt have the LCD3. It was at another outlet on display. So I had to settle for its little brother. When I first put on the LCD2, the first impression I had was that it was extremely planar or linear. It has a relatively larger soundstage as compared to the W3000 but the music sounds very linear to me. Instead of having a 3-D type of instrumental separation, it has a planar instrumental separation in which you can feel that the instruments are far from you but does not create that sense of space or airiness. 

However, the LCD2 has a very deep bass which is their utmost strength I would say. The bass is also very impactful but not as accurate and crisp as the W3000 from my ears. 

 

T1: Lastly, I tried to T1. Honestly, the T1's sound pretty close to the W3000 in the sense that it has a similar sound signature that is mid-centric. It is also quite detailed but I would say slightly less than the W3000 and the HD800. However, I found that it has a very dynamic type of bass typical of a dynamic headphone. It also does not have an extremely wide soundstage nor is the instrumental separation phenomenal. All in all, I think that it seems to have a very beyerdynamic type of sound signature which is pretty balanced and mid focused but does not have any overwhelming strength that makes you so fondly addicted to it unlike the above 3 flagships. At least it didnt made me addicted. Needless to say, it is also a very excellent headphone, just that it didnt suit my taste!

 

Conclusion:

After trying these headphones, I think that it really boils down to personal preference. To be honest, I was so set on buying the LCD2 initially but as I heard the W3000, it immediately made me change my mind. I cant possibly describe the sense of space and uniqueness in its presentation that made me so addicted to this headphone.

I really want to recommend the W3000 to you guys out there but since there are only 2000 of these in the market, I DO NOT recommend them to ANYONE! (Until I have saved up enough money to get one of them of course!) 

Cheers and hope you enjoy the read! Feel free to pop in on any comments!(:

post #2 of 14

Very nice write up. I've been looking for more discussions on the lcd-2 and comparisons to others.

post #3 of 14

I agree with your description of the 3000ANV.  I just got mine a few days ago and have compared them to the HE-500s with similar results.  I'm glad I grabbed a pair while I could.

post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by MLee View Post

I agree with your description of the 3000ANV.  I just got mine a few days ago and have compared them to the HE-500s with similar results.  I'm glad I grabbed a pair while I could.

Can you tell me more about the W3000ANV compared to the HE-500?

post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatpooh View Post

Today, I decided to pop down to a friendly headphone store near my place to try out a couple of headphones that are possibly the "flagships" of the various popular headphone brands. In this exciting new journey, I briefly listened to the following headphones and thought that maybe I could give a short to provide some brief impressions of how they sound. 

 

Disclaimer:

First and foremost, I have to explain that I only used approximately 15-20 minutes on each headphone and thus could only provide a brief description of the sound signature of each headphone. In this case, I would only like to highlight what was my first impressions of these headphones in this short listening session.

Secondly and most importantly, this is the first time I am attempting to write an impression so do go easy on me!(:

 

Comfort:

Comparing the different headphones, I would definitely say that W3000 is by far the most comfortable headphone that I have worn. The design is so exquisite that it provides just the right amount of clamping force and sits nicely on your head without needing to adjust the sometimes overly stiff headband. That's because it doesnt have an adjustable headband which is the best part of it.

Next up would be the T1/HD800. I would rank them both equally in terms of comfort with the T1 having a slightly tighter clamping force then I would have liked and the HD800 being too large such that it tends to slip down as I try to wear them. 

The last would be the LCD2 which I find having too tight a clamping force and fitting awkwardly on my head. It feels as if the headphone pads are just compressing on the edges of your ears to make them sit there. The adjustable headbands are also hard to adjust since it has these metal hinges that needs to be pushed manually.

 

Sound Quality:

W3000: Having only these headphones on my head for a brief 15-20 minutes, the first word I have for it is amazing. But I think the word amazing does not really suit head-fi lingo. So in another word, I have the say that it sounds very detailed and analytical. It is able to push the details of each song to a 3-dimensional space surrounding you. It does not have a very wide sound stage like some of its fellow flagships but it does produce a very good sense of space around you. In a way, I would say that the instrumental separation is very very good as it is able to retrieve the details of each song and bring them "closer" to you. 

In a word, I would say that it is a mid centric and slightly bright headphone. Although it is not overly bright (coming from grados). I feel that it has just the right amount of balance in the mids and the highs to complement each other. 

In the bass department, I feel that it does not sound anything like a dynamic headphone. The bass is impactful and accurate (for a lack of a better word). In the realm of IEMs, it feels closer to a BA type of bass then a dynamic type of bass which has plenty of sub-bass and bass quantity. However, it is precisely because of this reason that it does not have the bass quantity and depth of the LCD2s.

On the whole, it produces the whole frequency spectrum in a very balanced manner in which no range of frequencies overwhelm the whole song. (Ie. Not overly bright or dark) Which to me is extremely important since I like to listen to all the instruments in the song at the same time and at the same volume. However, I have to say that it does not come across to me as a neutral headphone. I find it slightly colored with the mids and highs being just slightly forward and the bass being quite prominent.

 

HD800: As I put the HD800 on my ears, I immediately noticed that the HD800 sounds harsh and overly bright for my tastes. As for the level of detail, I believe that it is on par with the W3000 or maybe even more analytical. However, because I find it overly bright, the treble and high-mids tend to stand out more then the low mids and the bass. In this area, I had to listen attentively in order to pick out the micro details in the lower frequencies department which is tiresome so to say. The HD800 is also able to produce a very good sense of space and has an extremely wide soundstage. However, I feel that it seems more like sitting in a large concert hall and listening to a live performance as compared to the W3000 where you are sitting in a indoor lounge where there is a slight sense of intimacy and the music is flowing to you from all directions in a 3-dimensional space.

 

LCD2: Initially I wanted to try out with the LCD3s but sadly, the headphone shop that I went to didnt have the LCD3. It was at another outlet on display. So I had to settle for its little brother. When I first put on the LCD2, the first impression I had was that it was extremely planar or linear. It has a relatively larger soundstage as compared to the W3000 but the music sounds very linear to me. Instead of having a 3-D type of instrumental separation, it has a planar instrumental separation in which you can feel that the instruments are far from you but does not create that sense of space or airiness. 

However, the LCD2 has a very deep bass which is their utmost strength I would say. The bass is also very impactful but not as accurate and crisp as the W3000 from my ears. 

 

T1: Lastly, I tried to T1. Honestly, the T1's sound pretty close to the W3000 in the sense that it has a similar sound signature that is mid-centric. It is also quite detailed but I would say slightly less than the W3000 and the HD800. However, I found that it has a very dynamic type of bass typical of a dynamic headphone. It also does not have an extremely wide soundstage nor is the instrumental separation phenomenal. All in all, I think that it seems to have a very beyerdynamic type of sound signature which is pretty balanced and mid focused but does not have any overwhelming strength that makes you so fondly addicted to it unlike the above 3 flagships. At least it didnt made me addicted. Needless to say, it is also a very excellent headphone, just that it didnt suit my taste!

 

Conclusion:

After trying these headphones, I think that it really boils down to personal preference. To be honest, I was so set on buying the LCD2 initially but as I heard the W3000, it immediately made me change my mind. I cant possibly describe the sense of space and uniqueness in its presentation that made me so addicted to this headphone.

I really want to recommend the W3000 to you guys out there but since there are only 2000 of these in the market, I DO NOT recommend them to ANYONE! (Until I have saved up enough money to get one of them of course!) 

Cheers and hope you enjoy the read! Feel free to pop in on any comments!(:

 

Nice evaluation and a pretty neutral and accurate assessment. The Audio Technica ATH-W3000 is certainly interesting. It's certainly different from the rest since it's a closed model whereas the rest are either semi-open or open.

 

The T1s didn't grab you instantly and do not seem to have any overwhelming strength because it is neutral headphone. As with any audition, first listening impressions may not paint an accurate picture of the gear concerned(especially the more balanced and neutral ones, since they don't provide all the fireworks), be it headphones, loudspeakers or any other hifi equipment. They can prove to be very musical and enjoyable with long-term listening sessions.

 

The HD800s are different as they are pretty colored although they possess greater levels of detail, resolution and 3D soundstage. As a result of this brightness in the upper registers, some folks carry out modifications to the headphones to improve upon the listenability aspects of it. Similarly I find listening fatigue to be high with the HD800s and they sound quite clinical(not very musical) to my ears. 

 

As some of us might have known, the sound produced by headphones can sound very unnatural as the path of sound from the drivers to the ears is very short, resulting in an unrealistic soundstage or high listening fatigue. Designers have to compensate for this anomaly and it is inevitable that all headphones are colored to a certain extent, though it isn't impossible or difficult to ascertain the more neutral or balanced ones from the rest of the pack. Listening preferences and the music that we listen to will also be a factor, and in this case I guess the Audio Technica ATH W3000ANV may have tick all the boxes for your listening criteria. I am curious about this closed design as I mostly prefer semi-open or open headphones to closed designs.

 

Enjoy!~

post #6 of 14
W3000ANV vs HE500 - My impression was similar to the LCD2 comparison above. I felt the W3000 was more accurate and natural than the 500. Robert Plant's sounded more like what I was used to in vintage Led Zeppelin recordings. Piano in a couple recordings was also more accurate to my ear. I have two older sisters that played classical piano for years, so I've listened to a baby grand piano live for hours and the W3000 sounded like it was right in front of me. Blue Jean Blues by ZZ Top sounded deep and rich with the 500s, but the W3000 again sounded like the real thing, The 500 is nice, a bit warmer, lush, more full sounding than the W3000, but to me it was a bit too much. On the other hand I can see where others may prefer that sound. If you prefer more bass the 500 would probably rate higher than the bass from the W3000. Hope this short description helps.
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by MLee View Post

W3000ANV vs HE500 - My impression was similar to the LCD2 comparison above. I felt the W3000 was more accurate and natural than the 500. Robert Plant's sounded more like what I was used to in vintage Led Zeppelin recordings. Piano in a couple recordings was also more accurate to my ear. I have two older sisters that played classical piano for years, so I've listened to a baby grand piano live for hours and the W3000 sounded like it was right in front of me. Blue Jean Blues by ZZ Top sounded deep and rich with the 500s, but the W3000 again sounded like the real thing, The 500 is nice, a bit warmer, lush, more full sounding than the W3000, but to me it was a bit too much. On the other hand I can see where others may prefer that sound. If you prefer more bass the 500 would probably rate higher than the bass from the W3000. Hope this short description helps.

Definitely. I'm curious about the fulll sound and mid of the HE-500, because the W3000 sounds full to me. It used to be on my buying list but then I decided to go with the W3000 instead.

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

I think the main difference to my ears for the W3000 is that since it has a closed design, it does not have a very wide soundstage as per my above impressions. This is with comparison with most of the other flagships that are semi/open cans. But to my ears, its musicality and intimacy makes me more "immersed" in the music! It makes me feel as if I was chilling in a lounge after work sipping my mojito and listening to some jazz (if you know what I mean) Pure bliss!(:

post #9 of 14

Of all the people I've spoken to, forums I've read, and professional reviews and comparisons I've come across, I have to say that your review in particular fatpooh had probably the most weight in getting me to finally pull the trigger on the ATH-W3000ANV.  I suppose it was in part that you compared these cans to a couple others I'd been considering.  The other part was your honesty in conveying what you liked and disliked, the only bias being your impressions, and the perceptions of your ears.  I ordered earlier today through Beach Camera on Amazon. Thanks for the awesome write up!

 

Of course, the reason I had to read all those reviews is because I couldn't find a place locally that carried any of the higher-end stuff.  I live in the Phoenix, Arizona area, and less than five years ago there were so many specialized home stereo and electronics stores around.  Many popped up during the housing boom to fulfill demand.  Then almost as fast, everything disappears and we're left with a couple national chain stores.  Even the exclusive mom and pop shops I grew up with are now by appointment, and for home installation only.  I'm sure it's a testament to the information age that we can now find out whatever we want on anything we want.  The trade off is that if we want to decide for ourselves, we must order the products online and--in the case of headphones--spend a couple weeks burning in to do a comparison on our own, just to see, feel, and hear them in-person.

 

Anyway, I’m new to this forum, and just curious where you and others go to either test out high-end headphones, and/or hear amp/DAC combinations?  I’ve been doing a bit of traveling lately and would love to make some stops along the way (you know, to do my own comparisons and check out amp/dacs as well).

 

Thanks for your input, and to everyone else who comments and writes reviews on this and other forums.  Will chime in with my own impressions as my process continues. 

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the kind words Peace train! I am sure you would enjoy the W3000 when it arrives and hope you could also give us your impressions on them! Sadly I'm still in the midst of saving up for them so I think it would take some time before I could get my hands on one! 

 

I live in Singapore so there are a couple of headphone stores that let you try out the headphones and dac/amp combos before you decide to buy them! I know how you feel about being unable to try out the headphones before purchasing them as I have lived in the states/canada for a couple of months before! It was really frustrating as I couldnt find a shop that even sells decent headphones in my area at that time. So if you do get a chance to come down to Singapore (though It is REALLY FAR from the states), do pop me a PM and I would tell you which shops to try out the headphones/amps/DACs that I'm sure would put a big smile on your face!(:

post #11 of 14

I would LOVE to come to Singapore some day--hopefully sooner than later!  I had a good friend in college who grew up there, and I just never got around to visit.  Maybe one day I could go with him when he visits his family, since it's always nice to see a new country with someone who knows the area and can show you around.  

 

Anyway, the ATH-W3000ANV did come in 4 days ago, and I have to say that I was not let down at all -- they really are quite spectacular!  I'm very impressed with the intimate soundstage and clarity.  Perhaps what first caught my attention is a certain depth and warmth, providing an overall richness that I wasn't expecting.*  The detail and instrument separation takes my breath away, and I pretty much agree with everything else you said in your review...which about sums it up!  And because I'm enjoying listening to the process happen, they're still not burned in yet!  

 

They are additionally very lightweight, super comfortable and fit my head just right.  And I can't say that I've seen a more beautiful pair of headphones.  They're really quite appealing in every sense of the word!  

 

*Note that the richness could be from the source I'm using: An early 80's Bang & Olufsen receiver.  I'm actually enjoying it, considering that every time an 80's or even 70's song comes on the stereo, it's like being brought back in time--these songs are reproduced that well!  I can't wait to hear them properly amped and dac'd with either a portable or desktop set-up.  I really love these headphones!

 

All in all, I'm not sure I would have pulled the trigger on $1,000 headphones sight unseen, but what got me to consider spending a little more for the higher-end, is the fact that I had a bunch of unused American Express rewards points just laying around.  So seeing as how I was primarily looking for a closed can, and Amazon has the W3000's for a great price...well, the rest is history.  

post #12 of 14

My impressions are similar to the excellent review and general observation of others above. I have listened extensively to the LCD-2 and 3, the HD800, T-1, Ed-8, Grado PS1000, and the HE-6. The T-I is good but sounds a bit too euphonic (i.e., sweet) to me. The Grado is exciting but less detailed than I like. The Ed 8 is good, but doesn’t quite do it for me. The HD800 sounds “accurate, but not very involving to my ears. The LCD-3 is more extended than the LCD-2 at the frequency ends and more transparent, but they are both darker sounding than I like. I love the HE-6 for its accuracy, transparency and sonic signature; but, alas, it is less versatile for me because of its power needs. Even so, I find the ATH-W3000ANV the most enjoyable (i.e., musical and involving), and most versatile of the group. 


Edited by Papagano - 3/14/13 at 7:59am
post #13 of 14
Just reviving a nice thread to say I also have preferred the 3000anv to my fav can, the T90.
I was quite amazed and in love with my T90, and considered it the best open can I ever herd in my life so far, when it came to vocals and jazz.
Then by chance I was lucky enough to aquire the w3000anv, a work of art and sonic wonder.
It has this " majic in the mids" and a more closed sound I realize I prefer.

On comparison to the T90, it had less bass, BUT I was constantly raising the volume on the T90 to get that musicality I was getting at low volumes on the w3000anv.
I realise that the larger open sound of an open can does not always mean better. The T90, although not the most open sound, did have the best mids I herd on an open can ao far. And I realise I haven't herd all the best yet.

The thing is that they are so different yet both so nice I just made a choice of preference on wich I would grab first.

So mainly because I was raising the volume on the T90 to have the same sense of musicality, I decided to let them go.
I now have trimmed down my stable of headphones to just this w3000anv and two portables (es700&esw9)
I am pretty amazed by Audio Technica portables and can't wait to see the next "limited edition" from them.
Edited by Maxx134 - 7/12/13 at 10:39am
post #14 of 14

This review is a year and a half old and with a hindsight of that time I have to say that the conclusions that you reached regarding comparing W3000ANV and LCD2 [and LCD2 V2 because they share the same sound signature and the same faults] is dead on. Even more, I would say that W3000ANV just blows LCD2/LCD2 V2 off the table [off one's head ?]. These headphones are in a different league to Audez'e headphones. Similarly, W3000ANV trumps HD800 if your priority is musicality of sound and enjoyment of music as opposed to interest in nitpicking the details of recordings. The somewhat harsh treble of HD800 helps in that effort. As for the Beyerdynamic T1 headphones I think that the pairing of T1 and W3000ANV is an ideal set up for the devotees of good sound presentation who look for an ideal duo of headphones to cover the varied demands of recordings and of sources of music. These two headphones complement each other so well.


Edited by zorin - 11/28/13 at 1:25pm
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