Audio Technica ATH-TAD500 Review and Comparisons
- Overall a well-balanced, pleasing, and unfatiguing sounding headphone. Pretty good genre bandwidth
- They have some midrange emphasis, so they're probably a nice choice for mid-range lovers.
- Forward sounding soundstage.
- They sound very different from the AD700 and AD900.
- They're signature reminds me of a cross between K702, and an HD5xx, with an SR80i soundstage (see the comparisons below).
- At 35 ohms, they're very efficient and sound good out of a variety of sources - easy to drive, and easy to listen to.
- They have a lot of plastic, which is typical Audio Technica. They don't creak though and feel light and solid. The grills are a mesh honeycomb material, and they have an aluminum ring which is supposed to help the sound somehow???
- The styling reminds me of a mix between the M50 and AD500. The cups are shaped sort of like the M50 but with AD grills. They're all black expect for the grills which sort of a gunmetal gray.
- They have a similar cord to other Audio Technicas. The cable feels high quality and is on the large side. It feels very smooth and unlikely to become tangled.
- I never had a problem with the AT wing system, apart from it causing mohawk hair. AT has gone with a wide pad all the way across the top for the TAD series. The cushioning for TAD500 headband is actually the same material as used on the normal wing system, just spread all the way across.
- The cups definitely adjust better than the AD series due to the extra pivot points/gimble. No more uneven pressure on the jaw or temples due to a lack of vertical pivoting.
- The cups are smaller and shallower than AD700. This means the driver is closer to your ear, and also it isn't angled. This probably contributes to the more intimate soundstage. They also leak less than the AD700, so they're probably less open (which could explain stronger bass and smaller soundstage width).
- The pads are slighly smaller than the ones for the Adxxx series, but I believe they use the same velour material. They're still "3D," which means they taper inwards. Although there is a little less room inside the cups for your ears than AD700, but it's hardly noticeable and the pressure on your ears still isn't too bad at all
- They definitely have more bass than AD700 or AD900.
- They have similar bass to Grado SR80i or the PC360, maybe a tad more.
- Some people would probably still consider them bass light, but IMO they're sort of bass neutral.
- I don't really have any complaints about the bass (keep in mind I rarely complain about a headphones bass ).
- The mids are probably the highlight of these phones. They are very nice.
- There is some emphasis in the midrange, and listening to the TAD500 for a while then switching to another phone makes the latter's mids sound recessed/sucked out.
- They have a bit of an "n" shaped signature. Probably similar to HD5xx. Sort of like K701 but with a bit more mids.
- A very nice choice for midrange lovers!
- The best way to describe the highs are "unfatiguing".
- They are not dark, but just a bit smooth.
- Similiar to my PC360s, but perhaps a tad warmer treble.
- Surprisingly intimate and forward soundstage - for an Audio Technica.
- Good soundstage height. The overall soundstage is medium-ish sized.
- The soundstage reminds me of the Grado SR80i.
- A little flat sounding, perhaps because of non-angled drivers.
- I like them for music, but to be honest there are better choices for gaming. Although these have a good signature for gaming (leaning more towards competitive gaming), their soundstage isn't anything special.
Comparisons to other headphones
Compared to AD700 the TAD500 trade off the famous ADxxx soundstage size and separation for a fuller and more balanced sound: smoother treble, fuller bass, and a more forward midrange. They have smaller and flatter soundstage but better soundstage height. Less separation as well. They have much better genre bandwidth than AD700s (due to the fuller sound and added bass) which really only work well with classical IMO.
The TAD500 soundstage is actually similar to a Grado SR80i. The TAD500 are warmer then the SR80i. Soundwise compared to the SR80i, the TAD500 have smoother treble and fuller mids. I find the Grado signature a little fatiguing (sparkly and grainy) after a while (also not a fan of their pads), and the TAD500 are a smoother sounding headphone that I can listen to longer. Bass is on par with each other, TAD500 might have more. TAD500 sound slightly taller soundstage wise. The SR80i sound "smaller", more like clip-ons. TAD500 sound more refined to me, where the SR80i sounds a bit grainy. SR80i seems slightly metallic on some treble (symbol hits), I think the Grados have a bit of sibilance. SR80i seems like it's lacking mids in comparison. The SR80i sound smaller, more like clip-ons. Definitely prefer the TAD500 overall. I found the SR80i a little annoyingly bright and thin sounding. I don't think the Grado's do anything better, unless you want a thinner, sharper sound (more aggressive). If you like the SR80i, but would rather it have smoother treble and fuller mids, the TAD500 is a good choice.
Vs. Koss KSC 75/35
The koss clipons are more "V" Shaped, while the TAD500 sounds flatter The Koss have a shorter soundstage which makes them sound "smaller", although the KSC's have more soundstage width and separation then the TAD500. The KSC's have slightly more hump to the mid-bass. Going from the TAD500 to the KSCx5 makes the latter sound grainy and overly sparkly in the treble and recessed in the mids. The TAD500 is smoother and warmer, and sounds "bigger", but has a flatter soundstage.
The Q701 sounds out-of-head, while the TAD500 sounds intimate and close. The Q701 have punchier bass (which also extends deeper, more rumble). The Q701 treble can extend higher - the TAD500s treble drops off at a lower frequency. The Q701 has slightly weaker mids than TAD500, but the Q701 has better body throughout the range. You can tell the Q701 are more detailed and the TAD500 are grainer (but the Q701 are over double the price). Overall Q701 is warmer sounding and the TAD500 a little thinner sounding.
> TAD500 sounds a bit like a K702 but with Sennheiser HD5xx treble and a more forward Grado-ey soundstage.
Edited by chicolom - 10/10/12 at 10:50pm