The Audio Technica ATH-PRO700MKII (ANNIVERSARY) – A Monster in Disguise
Opening the box….
The ATH-PRO700MKII’s packaging is fairly simple but nice. It has a nice little flap and window on the front and the method of opening the box itself is pretty nice. There is also another small window on the side to see one of the ear cups. The Anniversary version ATH-PRO700MKII looks beautiful and immediately catches your attention when you take it out, the regular ATH-PRO700MKII also looks nice, it is smooth and sleek in my opinion, and actually reminds me of the first time I opened my black M50s. It comes with two cables, a 1.2m coiled cable that unwinds to 3m and a 1.2m straight cable. It also has a nice pouch pretty much identical to the ATH-M50 pouch. The headphones feel very robust and stiff out of the box, and they do loosen up a bit over time, but I actually do like the stiffness; and I’m sure DJ’s will appreciate it, I’ll explain why later.
Build and aesthetics….
These headphones have been viewed as the M50s big brother for whatever reason, but to me this is most justified by its build quality. Take the great build quality of the M50, make it more robust and stiff, and you have the PRO700MKII. The one downgrade it the adjustment slider, which honestly is barely a downgrade. The adjustment band is plastic, as opposed to the M50s metal one, but it is still very durable and just as useful. Now that is the only thing I have a slight qualm with, everything else is built like a tank. Granted, they are made of plastic, but trust me they will keep up with some of the best built metal headphones, including the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pros. The joints are also a lot better than the M50 joints; they are larger and stiffer, which makes it them easier to manipulate if you are DJ’ing (which I personally like). I can really see myself having these headphones for a long time. The cables are even replaceable! This tends to unfortunately be something that is only abundant in the consumer market, but I absolutely love it when monitors or headphones with a focus on SQ include a detachable cable. The ATH-PRO700MKII’s detachable cable has a screw in mechanism, but you can use other cables without the screw too.
Comfort and convenience….
I’m going to avoid beating around the bush, and say that the headphones really aren’t comfy the way you receive them. However, there are a lot of ways to improve the comfort. The easiest way by far is to stretch out the band to whatever shape you desire and add cotton on the inside of the pads, as much as you need. If that doesn’t provide enough comfort for you, there are numerous pads you can switch into. There are a lot of threads on Head-FI with suggestions, but I have only tried them with the m50 pads. The M50 pads do make them a lot more comfortable and improve the fit on my head. They also seem to make them slightly darker, but only slightly; this changed based on how I wore them. The M50 pads don’t fit regularly, you have to glue them or something otherwise they will slip off with extended used. Now, these headphones are DJ headphones, and I must say the comfort factor really does show in this manner. If you put the adjustment band to the smallest setting and you monitor with one ear they will stay secure and they will not bother your head at all. This is a very weird thing, seeing that they are normally really comfortable, but the one ear monitoring is less troublesome than it is with the M50s and even the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pros. I’d still say that these have potential to stay cozy for long periods of use, but ultimately Audio Technica did not make these as comfy as possible, which is unfortunate.
(Unless I mention otherwise everything is with a flat EQ)
W/100 hours burn in……Source : Iphone 3GS, Gigabyte UD3 on board sound card (Realtek), and 7.1 Yamaha receiver with pure direct (I consider the sound of all of them)
The PRO700MKIIs are a relatively versatile and a very lively pair of headphones. For starters, the lows are very tight and clean. The sub bass extends very low, and can provide sufficient rumble. However, without EQ or proper amplification they will not feel like mini subwoofers on your head, but they will still provide sufficient bass impact for most people. The bass is relatively versatile, it can provide a very full bodied sound, but it is still one of the punchiest bass I have ever heard. It easily rivals the bass coming from the HD25s in terms of cleanliness, but then it also provides much better extension. The bass is pretty much right in your face, but it is not slamming bass. Moving on the mids, PRO700MKIIs are rather different, they possess a V shaped frequency curve, but the mids do not sound recessed at all. The mids are very lively and are always position up front, right in your face. However, the mids at times seem slightly dry or narrow, only if you are being picky. Ultimately, the midrange is probably one of the weaker frequencies of this headphone, but its presentation is no push over. The way the mids are presented works very well with the aggressive sonic characteristics of this headphone, but there are times when the presentation just won’t cut it. Moving up, the treble of the PRO700MKIIs are very vibrant and lively; yet, the treble is never harsh or sibilant. It can be fatiguing but never straight up painful. I do enjoy how the treble accentuates female vocalists, giving them a smooth and melodic voice in many occasions. However, the treble isn’t quite as flat as it should be, and there are many instances where the treble may sound a little off or eerie.
Now, these headphones also have a lot of potential to “bring the bass,” and with a little EQ’ing it really isn’t hard to do so. Do keep in mind that these headphones will not provide earth shattering bass unless EQ’ed, but when you do EQ them prepare to be blown away by the air being pumped out of these drivers.
The sound stage is pretty good, beating out the M50 in every way but not by much. The PRO700MKIIs doesn’t always use its relatively large sound stage, but it typically does not clutter instruments or mush them together. However, the forward presentation of these headphones will occasionally make it sound like there are too many parts of a song fighting for your attention; the dynamism of the staging isn’t lively enough. Still, the staging is very nice and has proven to be lively in many instances, it really does a good job when clearing up the rhythm of a song.
Music (strengths and weaknesses)....
I used my computer for this testing, and also a 7.1 channel Yamaha natural sound receiver with pure direct to match up the results, pretty much the same.
A perfectly flat and versatile headphone would be in the middle for all genres (this doesn’t necessarily mean the headphone is good, it just means that it doesn’t handle one genre better than another)
Weak Genre < - - - - - | - - - - - > Strong Genre
This should show how the articulation and frequency response of the headphones favor certain genres
< - - - - - | - x - - - > Hip Hop – The articulation of these headphones suits Hip Hop very well.
Empire State of Mind (Lossless) – Jay-Z and Alicia Keys – The drums really stand out at the beginning with great resolution. The bass is very tight, clean, and makes good impact. In terms of cleanliness, the bass rivals that of the HD25, but even deeper. The bass is tame and not elevated, but there is a lot of potential with very little EQ. Jay-z’s voice seems natural, but at the same time it holds a tint of sweetness. His voice has good presence, and while the headphones have a V shaped response, the mids are in your face because of the sound staging. Alicia Key’s voice is very smooth and at the same time vibrant. Her voice isn’t harsh for a moment, but it is still very lively. The Piano in the background isn’t too far off, but it isn’t taking the stage either. It seems like it’s almost exactly like it should, except for maybe some moments when the rest of the instruments and vocals are very forward. The imaging on these headphones is great, pretty good sound stage size. However, this perk ends up being a vice for the presentation as well. Everything seems to be fighting for the front row, and while it never becomes muddy; it does become very in your face aggressive, and even fatiguing. It isn’t unbearable, but it really won’t allow you to blast your music loudly for much longer than 30-50 minutes.
< - - - - - X - - - - - > Strings (I compare this to real string sounds, I have played the violin for 6 years) – sounds very lively and clean. Everything can be heard with abundant amounts of detail, but there are certain vices in the presentation.
Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, BWV 1041: I. (Allegro Moderato) (256kbps) – Julia Fischer & Academy of St. Martin in the Fields-
The orchestra is pretty good, the details are heard very well, and everything is placed nicely. However, there is a slightly inconsistency because the midrange is always more forward, but at the same time the headphone accentuated the lows and highs, having a V shaped frequency response. This makes the crescendos and diminuendos are just slightly unnatural, essentially they sound ever so slightly off. The headphones aggression also slightly throw off the midrange notes, the details and texture of everything is wonderful, and this is partly in due to the staging, but a more laid back sound would really benefit the reproduction of the whole orchestra. Still, the whole orchestra comes out very nicely, and every small detail is heard, but there are times when things that should be accentuated are not and vice versa.
< - - - - x | - - - - - > Jazz – The staging is very lively with jazz, but the mids aren’t quite the lush and vibrant mids I’m looking for.
New York New York duet with Tony Bennett (320 kbps) – Andrea Bocelli – The PRO700MKIIs really don’t excel in jazz, the mids and highs are great, but just not the best for jazz. You typically want a very smooth and prominent midrange and smoother yet vibrant highs (which the PRO700MKIIs do have). You also want a fairly flat mid-high range, but
e with the PRO700MKIIs you get a very forward powerful midrange, but at the same the time the highs are accentuated over the mids. Now jazz still sounds great, but the mids occasionally sound narrow, and the treble may seem too hot at times, but not lively at all at other times. However, the bass and drums in the background sound great and are positioned very nicely to accompany the vocalists. Again, the forwardness of just about everything hurts the presentation in more superficial moments of the track.
< - - - - - | - x - - - > Rock – Rock is definitely one of the strong suites of the PRO700MKIIs
The Unwinding Cable Car (320 kbps) – Anberlin – The guitar strumming at the beginning is pretty good, the detail and articulation is great, but the pitch is little eerie. The vocals are also slightly eerie, but still very well defined and detailed. The vocals unfortunately don’t take use of the space available and instead are focused to the front. However, this isn’t too bothersome because the overall tonality and detail is terrific. The strumming is wonderful in the background and the harmony is very dynamic and truly does harmonize the music. When the second vocalists come in the staging is really utilized, everything layers on top of each other very well. However, I couldn’t stop thinking about the slightly eerie tint over a lot of the song, but nonetheless it was difficult to distinguish. The detail kept up with the more superficial moments, and the outro part with the acoustic guitar really won me over, it took advantage of every bit of space as well as the forward presentation the PRO700MKIIs could offer.
< - - - - - | - - - x - > EDM – Good bass impact, speed, punch, clarity, power, and just about everything else that has to do with bass is great. Nice highs as well.
Juggernauts (Nero Remix) (320 kbps) – Enter Shikari – The PRO700MKIIs really do shine as DJ headphones. The treble is very lively and does great to accentuate the excitement of the track, but it is never sibilant or harsh. The forwardness of the PRO700MKIIs isn’t too much of an issue here because EDM never really has an aggressive midrange, so the PRO700MKIIs staging is absolutely great for this track. The bass line is extremely clean and powerful, the punchiness rivals that of the HD25s. There is a lot of power in the bass, and the PRO700MKIIs never skip a beat, and can take on even the most crowded moments in the track, never faltering in its perfectly clean bass. The vocals in the song are also executed very nicely, never actually taking over the track, but always there as you would expect in an EDM song, there to kind of harmonize the music, and even to make it more melodic (if you are willing to accept the two words without the technical denotation). I really love how the PRO700MKIIs present Nero’s track, and I can definitely see these as one of the best sounding headphones for DJ use.
< - - - - - | - x - - - > Dubstep – Again great bass depth, power, and pretty good rumble even without EQ. Bass power is great, and the articulation of the headphones can actually be beneficial.
Strange behavior (320 kbps) – Feed Me – The PRO700MKIIs portray this song very well, with great liveliness, but at the same never sounding artificial (yeah, even though it is dubstep). I found the bass to be very good providing just the right amount of body and power. The sub bass was terrific, but again without EQ don’t expect the bass to push a lot of air. The clap like sound near the beginning holds a very nice airy sound to it, and really sounds great with the bass. The vocals will really wash you away with a great robust and sweet sound. However, again the vocals are slightly eerie and narrow, just ever so slightly. This track sounds very dynamic with the PRO700MKIIs and everything just seems to fit together, but there are times when the staging of certain sounds and frequencies just don’t seem right. None the less the headphones still maintain extreme cleanliness down low, and again you can see the benefit of these being DJ headphones, with the bass always being audible. Even when the bass is supposed to be subordinated by the vocals you can still easily follow the beat of the music.
< - - - - - | x - - - - > Natural Pop (E.G. The Prayer with Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli)
< - - - - x | - - - - - > Pop with auto tune
< - - - - - | x - - - - > Modern Pop without auto tune
– I really can’t specify too much with pop because there are so many different kinds. For more natural sounding pop, like the Prayer with Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion, the PRO700MKIIs sound very good, with spacious and lush vocals. However, there are times when the forwardness of the mids and upper mids can be bothersome both in aggressiveness and in articulation. However, the vocals are always where I want them, in the front, and the staging works very well to portray the lush vocals produced by both Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. These headphones similarly to many other SQ focused audio products will emphasize the horror of auto tune, while it won’t actually bother your ears or anything, they will highlight the bad vocalists that use auto tune. However, they will still portray pop with auto tune in a very lively and light hearted fashion (except for the annoying auto tune). Granted, I am probably being a little bias against music with auto tune, but I just would like to point out that auto tune typically genuinely sounds good on smooth headphones, but with more articulate headphones you may get harshness or just be bothered by the sheer inaccuracy and inconsistency of the auto tune. That being said, modern pop without auto tune can be very enjoyable with the lively and clean pumping bass and the lively synthetic instruments. Again, the perks of using these for DJ’ing can be seen with pop, the bass is always powerful and in your face, never over shadowing or being overshadowed by other instruments or sounds. The PRO700MKIIs give a pretty good lively presentation of modern pop.
Wrap up, are they worth it?
The PRO700MKIIs are an overall great buy. They provide outlandishly good build quality, with a very convenient detachable cable. They provide easy one ear monitoring for DJ’s and stiff joints for easy manipulation. While the comfort of the headphones is unacceptable, they are easily fixed with a few modifications. Now, these headphones do offer exceptional sound, and for their intended use as DJ headphones I don’t think it can get any better. They are truly worth of an accolade as far as DJ headphones go. The cleanliness of the bass and the durability rivals that of the HD25s. They provide a fun an aggressive sound signature, which may not be well suited for everyone, is still technically sound and enjoyable. While I wouldn’t award these the title of the M50s big brother in SQ, they most definitely hold up a solid name as a good alternative for the M50s, preferably a DJ’ing variant.
Build and aesthetics – 10/10
Comfort (2.5/5) and Convenience (4/5) – 6.5/10
Isolation – 8.5/10 passive isolation
Sound and presentation – 8.5/10
Versatility – 4/5
Value – 8/10 – Being found at the mid-$100s these headphones offer a great alternative to many other monitoring headphones, and if you are into DJ’ing I would strongly recommend these headphones from a technical and usability standpoint. If you are looking for DJ’ing headphones I’d value these at a 9/10.
The Anniversary PRO700MKIIs typically come in at about 100$ more than the stock editions, I wouldn’t advise purchasing them solely for the looks, but if you are into collecting headphones and want a Limited Edition headphone from Audio Technica, I would say it is up to you whether you want to pay the extra money or not.
Edited by WakiDabeast - 4/27/13 at 8:11pm