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Loaner Program: Audio-Technica AD2000X

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

This is the latest addition to my Loaner Program series, for Audio-Technica's new ATH-AD2000X. Not much is known about these headphones, so 3 people were subjectively selected to review them for the community at large!

This thread is the repository for reviews/impressions (plus pictures, if possible) of the headphone by each person.

The 3 participants:
1 - rawrster (NY)
2 - Mshenay (SC)

3 - TMRaven (TX)

Reviews/impressions follow below.


Edited by Asr - 1/1/14 at 3:29pm
post #2 of 9

First off I want to thank Asr for the opportunity to take part in this loaner program. 

 

Also please respect Asr's wishes for those in the loaner program to post in this thread first before making any comments.

 

BACKGROUND

 

I’ll start off with a quick background.  I have two setups at home and both I consider to be very good. They aren’t super high end but good enough where I am happy without any real desire to go up. I have an Anedio D1 DAC/AMP with my Sennheiser HD800 and also a Buffalo III DAC, Stax SRM-717 amp and Stax SR007 MK1. My Stax rig is used around 99% of the time so that is my reference. I have owned or heard the majority of what is popular and I know what I consider good and enjoyable. Some examples of headphones I like are the HD600, AD2000, D7000, DT880, HD800, SR007 and the list goes on. My preference leans towards balanced with a bit of warmth. I don’t need a huge bass like something from Audeze to enjoy a headphone but of course your preferences may be different.

 

For the entirety of this review I will be using my laptop paired with an Anedio D1 DAC/AMP and the AD2000X headphones. Since my setup is more geared towards Stax I don’t have anything else that I would want to use for review purposes. If you do not know what the Anedio D1 is don’t worry as many people here don’t but it is a very good DAC with a surprisingly good AMP. Both the DAC and AMP are fairly neutral and the AMP portion I found better than a Violectric V200 when I owned that amp so that should give you a general idea of how good I consider it to be.

 

 

I’m going to do this review very different than what I have done in the past so I won’t separate into highs, midrange, bass, sound stage, etc. but rather do everything as a whole.

 

OVERALL SOUND DESCRIPTION

 

I owned the AD2000 around a year ago and I absolutely loved it. It was fairly balanced, midrange was to die for (although very colored), fast, emotional and a headphone I have wanted to own for a long time until last year when I had a chance to buy it. It was what i expected but more. With the chance to audition the AD2000X it was a no brainer for me to jump at it. I had high expectations for the AD2000X given my experience with the previous model.

 

However I am disappointed in the AD2000X. From a bit of a search on Amazon Japan and Price Japan the price range these are going for is roughly $550-600 imported so they are not cheap. The magical midrange of the AD2000 is gone. I feel like the AD2000X wants to fit in more with the crowd and it tries to be more neutral and usually for me that is a great thing. I love headphones that are neutral with as little color as possible. Unfortunately there are exceptions to every rule and the AD2000X is the exception here.

 

On a technical level this headphone is good. It has good extension for a dynamic on both ends. There is good detail everywhere. The sound stage is nice, instrument separation is good and as a matter of fact it does well in most areas. If there was ever a list for an audiophile review for different categories the AD2000X would do well across the board with one exception. That exception to me is emotion and as a matter of fact I find it boring. It’s almost like this headphone is the equivalent of a disgruntled employee at a dead end job that does just enough where they don’t get fired (Office Space anyone?).

 

As far as the tone of this headphone it leans towards a fairly balanced headphone with some warmth. There is a drop in the midrange and actually a slight veil in the midrange but that’s about it. The bass isn’t huge in quantity but good enough for those of us who do not require a huge bass. It could do with more sub bass but every most if not every dynamic falls flat there. Due to that slight veil the clarity is not the best here.

 

CONCLUSION

 

This headphone should compete with the level of the flagships of yesterday in the HD600, DT880, etc. There is a large gap between the AD2000X and the HD800 or even the SR007 so comparisons between those two are moot. This headphone does many things wells and actually most things well but it is not spectacular in any area. It does sound like I am bashing this headphone but I’m not (well maybe just a little). I just don’t think it is very good at the price range when there are many good headphones that are just as good that cost less. If they cost around $350 then they would be a much better value but right now I’m not sold on them.

 

As always these are just my opinions on them and the next two people on this loaner could very well find this to be an excellent headphone but it certainly is not for me.

post #3 of 9

 

Song List (Click to show)

Music Used

 

             In addition, I always like details presented in all frequencies

 

Highs- looking for and evaluating air, nice extension and good energy and placement within sound stage

Mids- looking for and considering weight, body and tone

Bass- listening for, control, texture and punch/impact

 

            Sound Stage- reported after listening to all tracks

            Imaging –Track #3 and #4 are well mastered for 2D and 3D imaging

            Instrument Layering-reported after listening to all tracks

            Timbre- realism of sound, fun versus real

            Speed/Resolution - ability to retain mirco-details  in ultra-fast tonal shifts

 

Music Auditioned [All Lossless quality, tracks vary from 16 to 24bit]


Metallica [Master Of Puppets] Welcome Home (Sanitarium) {16bit 44100hrz sample}

        Metal, Rock

Speed- this track features a very simple layering of instruments, but the mirco details in the guitar solo's make or break the track. 

Highs- guitar, cymbals classic metal tune, smooth sweet highs in the guitar

Mids- guitars, vocals, also looking for speed in the quick tactile hits of the guitar riffs

Bass-Bass Guitar R.I.P Cliff, only the best quality for his bass lines!

 

Matisyahu- [Live At Stubb’s]- Exaltation

            Live Reggae  Rock

Highs- Upper range of the guitar and the cymbals

Mids- Vocals, guitar and upper range of the Bass Guitar also taking note of the drums

Bass- all about that bass guitar and Kick Drum

 

 

Gaming Run; I did some gaming with it today, I noticed the mids are indeed forward. And while playing an Action RPG it was nice, the slighty forward mids made grunts an gun fire stand out. The positioning was good. 

 

Audio Technica AD 2000xX

______________________________________

 

imgres.jpg

 

 

Prelude

Big thanks to Head Fi Member Asr for allowing me to give these a listen! I already own a DT 880 that I enjoy for at home listening; non the less it’s great to hear the high end Model for Audio Technica’s AD Series!

 

Pros: Organic and lush sound. Fantastic highs

Cons : Lack luster bass, 

 

Build [4/5]

Feels sturdy, I again miss the wing system that’s implemented on my W1000x, but the  quality is top notch. The metal head band has a nice snap to it. Overall a well built headphone. Sadly though, after a few hours the AD2000x began to clamp a little to tightly against my ears. They began to get uncomfortable after a while. 

 

Presentation

The box was very nice, a simple design though. A lot less… showy than some of the lower priced headphones I’ve gotten. Non the less, simplicity is always a plus!

 

Specs

Type Dynamic Open Back

Driver Diameter 53mm

Frequency Response 5-45,000

Maximum Input Power 2W [2,000 mW]

Sensitivity 103dB m/W

Impedance 40

Weight 265g

Cable 3.0m

Connector Detachable 1/4”

 

Ease of Use [Comfort/Fit/Isolation] [4/5]

Very comfortable, as an open back headphone they do not isolate. With regards to the fit, they do fit nicer than the AD 900X, which had a tendency to slide around me head a little. These have a touch more clamp and fit very nicely.

 

Price to Performance : [3.78/5]

 

Sonic Test Process

 

Source Win 7[Foobar2000 WASAPI] -> AudioGD NFB 10ES2]

 

Headphone reference notes- I like to demo all headphones against my Balanced Beyerdynamic Dt 880, as they are a well know reference can.  Reference notes will always be in italics, and are included in the Video Reviews and Head Fi review posts.

 

Sound

           

          Sound Signature- Smooth and relaxed sound. Good clarity and sense of depth and space! 

 

Dynamics- Tight and transient. 

Timbre- Natural, with a   slight colored warmth. 

Speed-  Quick, good sense of speed, very enjoyable with quick paced music. 

          Sound Stage: Nice width and depth, depth slightly veiled by forward mids. 

 

Highs-  Spectacular, nice sense of energy and detail. Neither forward nor recessed. Very natural timbre! 

Mids- Slightly forward, with very organic body. The mids also have a great detail retention and speed! 

Bass- While the bass like the mids, have a great organic body. Yet I find it lacking in deatil, the speed is good but again... it lacks a sense of tightness. 

 

Compared to the DT 880, I felt the AD2000x really failed with the bass. It was too relaxed... not overly forward or exaggerated but just to organic for me. I prefer'd the drier tighter more aggressive bass on the AD900X 

 

While is was not my preferred sound signature, aside from the bass, I really enjoyed the AD2000x. It has great mids, and a very nice spacial presentation. Additionally, the organic sound is complimented by wonderful details and a nice spacious sound.   

 

I honestly grew a little bored with it, to be completely honest. Had about a total of 12 hours of head time as well... While I LOVED the highs. I was not a big fan of the mids nor the bass. 

 

Amplification Need or Suggested – I enjoyed the AD2000X with my Audio GD Amp. When used with my HM801 I noticed a similar amount of detail as well, although I did prefer the AD 2000x with a very clean and lean amp! 

 

Metallica [Master Of Puppets] Welcome Home (Sanitarium) {16bit 44100hrz sample}

        Metal

 

The AD2000x is very awesome with metal. Again nice snap on the highs, and the forward nature of the mids combined with the speed results in a very taught and tactile guitar riff!

 

Speed-. Sufficiently quick!

Highs-  Starting to sound a tad recessed, yet smooth with a nice edge on them. As well a nice air.

Mids-  The shining star here,  good tactility on the guitars and vocals!

Bass-  Sufficient, pretty middle of the road presentation in this track.

 

I do like the DT 880 presentation here, there’s an equal amount of tactility to the mids, but with more crunch and edge on the guitars. In addition the bass has a nicer body and a little more impact on the DT 880.  The drier sounding DT 880 suits this metal track a little more nicely in my opinion.

 

Matisyahu- [Live At Stubb’s]- Exaltation

          Live Reggae –listening for the little bits of extra noise that are often present in live music [detail retention]

 

I enjoy the presentation; mids are slightly forward so the guitars stand out nicely. Bass response is good as well, taught and punchy with plenty of body and good decay.  Vocals have a nice body as well, and the drums have a nice snap to them. Although the drums do from time to time feel a little drowned out, although ironically the high hats are excellent, smooth, airy and with a great attack.

 

 

 

Highs-  The highs have are excellent, great energy and nice air.

Mids- Slightly forward, vocals take center stage with the guitar fleshing out nicely behind the vocals.

Bass- Very taught, with a nice touch of organic body and good decay.

 

Compared to the DT 880 is a little un fair, the balanced DT 880 has better mirco details, and an overall balanced sound. Still mirco details aside. Both headphones show a nice level of clarity, with different presentations. The DT 880s has a drier sound, with the AD2000X a little more organic. 


Edited by Mshenay - 12/5/13 at 7:19am
post #4 of 9

AD2000X impressions and comparisons

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Background:

 

I’ve been a headphone enthusiast for the past 4 years, quickly traversing a journey of personal audio through successive purchases of low and mid-priced headphones, headphone amps and dacs.  I tend to prefer a warm to dark sound with a meaty and impactful bass that extends really low, but I also highly value definition and clarity in sound as well.  Headphones I have liked include the Denon D2000, Beyerdynamic DT990, Mr. Speakers Mad Dog and Hifiman HE-400.   I’ve also tried many other headphones, including the majority of the Sennheiser lineup all the way up to their HD800, the majority of the Grado lineup, the Beyerdynamic T1, and the Audeze LCD2.  The HE-400 has been my reigning personal champion for the past two years and no headhpone I’ve tried so far has dethrowned it, due to sonic preferences or cost related issues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Associated equipment and albums for this review:

 

Late 2009 iMac 27; iTunes 11.1

Schiit Bifrost Uber Analog

Schiit Asgard2

Hifiman HE-400 White Driver (-3db at 8khz and -6db at 16khz)

Hifiman RE-400

Audio Technica AD700

 

 

Joe Hisaishi: Ni no Kuni Original Soundtrack

Infected Mushroom: Converting Vegetarians

Beck: Sea Change

John Coltrane: One Down, One up; Live at the Half Note

Johnny Cash: The Legend of Johnny Cash

Mumford & Sons: Sigh No More

Trentemøller: The Last Resort

Various Artists: Beethoven; 100 Supreme Classical Masterpieces

Jethro Tull: Aqualung

Two Steps From Hell: Skyworld

Hans Zimer: Man of Steel Original Soundtrack

Rage Against the Machine: Rage Against the Machine

Tool:  Lateralus

Loreena McKennitt: Live in Paris and Toronto

Modest Mouse: Good News for People who like Bad News

Arne Domnérus et. Al: Jazz at the Pawnshop 30th Anniversary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Packaging, build quality and presentation:

 

The AD2000x comes in a pretty ordinary cardboard box, with a couple of little gimmicks to make it appear a bit more elaborate than Audio Technica’s lower-end offerings.  There’s a ‘door’ on the front of its box that opens and closes via velcro to reveal a plastic ‘window’ showcasing the AD2000x off.  If you’ve ever opened a lower end open-air hedphone then you prety much know what to expect with the AD2000x’s packaging.

 

The AD2000x gives an aggressive and streamlined appearance over the AD700 with its all black aesthetic, completely open grills that showcase the drivers and baffles, and flat metal bands for the headband compared to the AD700’s rubber piping.   Its wing system has been trimmed out to save weight.  The frame encapsulating the grill and drivers is also thinner compared to the AD700’s structure.  Cup diameter is about the same on both headphones, but the pads on the AD700 are larger and more concave in nature.  Overall I really enjoy the AD2000x’s presentation.

 

 

 

 

Comfort:

 

For how light the AD2000x is I was surprsied at first when I put it on.  Its wing system isn’t quite as robust and stable as the AD700’s, which resulted in it feeling more clumsy and heavy on my head in comparison to the AD700, which feels like nothing’s on my head.  I still don’t get any pressure buildup on the top of my scalp thanks to the AD2000x’s wing system, but the overall fit around my ears is considerably clumsier than the AD700.  Compared to the HE-400, the AD2000x feels as light as a feather, but doesn’t win out in any short-term comfort tests.  The HE-400 fits snug and securely, while the AD2000x feels loose and bothersome.  In short every time I put the AD2000x on my head I get a different fit.  I think if the wing system of the AD2000x were as secure as the AD700 it would alleviate these problems.   Over time I’ve grown accustomed to the fit of the AD2000x, but I’m still dissapointed in its comfort and fit when compared to my AD700.  I highly doubt any full-sized headphone would dethrone AD700 in the comfort department.

 

 

 

 

Initial Sound comparison:

 

The very first thought that sprang into my head when I ran music through the AD2000x was ‘veil.’  It had more overall upper-mids than my HE-400 and a treble that was in nice balance, but there appeared to be a lack of definition in the overall presentation of the music compared to the HE-400.  However, that aside I found the AD2000x to have an amazing balance through its entire sonic signature.  It has a satisfying and natural warm quality, with an upper mid presentation that’s never too emphasized to the point of sounding tinny or unnaturally aggressive, or never underwhelming enough to the point of sounding too relaxed or grounded.  This came as a surprise, as it was a far cry from my AD700 and the collective impressions of what I’ve got from the AD2000. Treble response of the AD2000x is very controlled and never fatiguing nor ever under-represented.  There’s a good bit of solidity to the sound due to decent bass response down to about the mid-bass, but sub-bass extension seems to be lacking.  If I were to give a difining statement on AD2000x’s overall sound it’d be warm with a hint of veil and lacking in sub-bass extension.  However this does not mean I found the AD2000x to sound undetailed or slow.

 

 

 

 

Bass:

 

Frequency sweeps indicated a headphone that could extend down well with modest control and authority, but during songs the low bass gets lost with the AD2000x.  It’s not as bottomlessly effortless like other open planars such as the HE-400 and LCD2, but at the same time it’s also not completely anemic like the AD700.  There’s no mid-bass hump, which would be a plus for those looking for clarity in their music, but a negative for those looking for added impact.  In short I would not recommend this headhpone to anybody who even has the slightest question in their mind that they might be a basshead.  There’s not very much texture in the AD2000x’s low-mid bass to speak of either, but upper bass is pretty well controlled and sounds good, adding warmth to the overall sound of the headphone.  I didn’t find the bass to have the extension and presence required for large orchestral pieces or aggressive eletronic and rock, but I did like it for simpler acoustic recordings and less complex instrumentals.  I’d say the bass is the weakest aspect of the AD2000x.

 

 

 

 

 

Midrange:

 

The midrange of the AD2000x is really good.  The headphone conveys a very good sense of instrument separation and detail, but the entirity of the midrange apppears glazed over and veiled compared to something with more definition like the HE-400. I attribute this to possible slight colorations throughout the lower treble, or an overall lack of speed compared to the HE-400, which brings more controlled bass and treble elements to many instruments in comparison.  Lack of definition aside, the AD2000x has pretty good instrument separation and detail, nearly matching the HE-400 stride for stride.  Background instruments are easy to follow in complex passages, and subtle information like room echo is easy to pinpoint.  The midrange of the AD2000x is very balanced in my opinion, and has a lot of the warm quality the HE-400 holds, but also gives some more delicacy and presence to instruments like violins and trumpets, and does so without creating an unrealistic cold sound like the RE-400 does at times.  The soundstage of the AD2000x is immediately wider than the HE-400, but only slightly.  However I do not feel like it extends out in all directions as deeply as the HE-400, which has a knack for creating a good deal of layering and depth in instrumentals depending on the recording.  Overall it’s a moderately spacious sounding headphone.  The overall sound of the AD2000x reminds me a lot of the Mad Dogs, however it doesn’t have the rubbery/plasticky quality to its sound that makes the Mad Dogs suffocated and congested sounding at times.  The midrange is the AD2000x’s strongest aspect.

 

 

 

 

 

Treble:

 

The treble on the AD2000x is well controlled and possesses a decent amount of extension while never getting overly strident or exaggerated.  I find it to have a good bit of air, and it allows for delicate rendering of brushwork on percussion and sparkle for cymbal hits.  Vocals are for the most part well controlled and non-sibilant.  The HE-400’s treble is a huge fault, and needs EQ’ing to become more balanced with the rest of its sound signature, while the treble and upper-midrange of the AD700 is very grainy in comparison.  There seems to be a general lack of cohesiveness throughout the lower treble, and a lack of speed in general which makes the AD2000x sound less defined as the HE-400.  However, in general these are pretty realistic sound headphones. 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion:

 

The AD2000x has a very warm and natural sound to me, and it’s higly enjoyable as a headhpone you could just sit back and relax with.  It’d be an ideal headhpone for games and movies for me if it had the same wing system as the AD700.  It doesn’t have the ball-gripping bass, definition and imaging of the HE-400, but it does sport a very balanced and near-neutral sound signature that would please most any audiophlie who listens to it.  I think rawrster’s description of the AD2000x is pretty spot-on.  It’s a safe headphone with above-average performance in many areas, but it doesn’t have any absolutely strong traits that would otherwise push it over the edge for fidelity.  Coming in at a 5-600 dollar import from Japan, I wouldn’t consider it something I’d recommend because of its price, especially not when the Mad Dogs are such a strong contender for this type of sound at only 300 dollars.  I can’t speak too much about a comparison there as I don’t have the Mad Dogs with me right now, but I know I did enjoy the Mad Dogs a little bit more than the AD2000x.  Regardless of that this is a strong headphone with little faults.  At its current state I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars, if it had its wing-system reworked and price driven down to around 300 I’d give it a 4-4.5 star rating.  Both the HE-400 and Mad Dogs get a 4.5 stars in my book.  Much thanks to ASR for allowing me to audition this headphone and expanding my experience within the headphone enthusiast world.

 

 

 

 

This thread is now open for discussion.


Edited by TMRaven - 12/22/13 at 6:04pm
post #5 of 9

I own this headphone and I want to love it, but the fit is so awkward. I just really am not a fan of the Audio Technica wing headband. Unlike the HD800 or Mad Dogs, the headphone never "disappears" and I have to keep readjusting it. The worst thing I can do is move my head. I do find them very light, but they move a lot, which I feel affects the sound from time to time. That is probably the deal breaker for me. I'm planning on listing mine for sale in a couple days.

 

I do SLIGHTLY disagree with one impression here, I don't feel the jump between the AD2000X and the HD800 is that massive, I just think the sound presentations are different. AD2000X is more forward, but with rolled off treble and pretty mids. Guitars that are forward on the AD2000X are pushed back when I move to the HD800, as if its more properly aligned onstage with everything else. I'm guessing this is due to the driver placements. Bass performance, I find about the same between the two headphones. AD2000X didn't quite have the sibilance issues that HD800 has. I find the two compliment each other well.

 

Appreciate the reviews! There really hasn't been a lot of good ones on these cans.

post #6 of 9
The fit problem is easily remedied with a hair elastic across the wings. It stiffens the wings up and they won't slide around much at all.
post #7 of 9

I've seen people recommend the same rubber band/ elastic band mod for the old ADs too.  I think the bigger question for me would be why they went from the older, more sturdy wings to these newer, floppy flimsy wings.

post #8 of 9

I remember I tried one AT model at a Magnolia in Best Buy. Because of the way the wiring was, I couldn't keep the damn thing on my head. Just doesn't seem like a smart design choice.

 

I will look into the mod. I'm just tired of having the headphones move around when I breathe the wrong way. I find the AD2000X extraordinarily light (compared to HE-500), so sometimes the movement is very subtle and it affects the sound.

post #9 of 9

Decided to go ahead and list them. I need to fund a new DAC anyway. Hit me up if anyone is interested.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/696412/fs-audio-technica-ad2000x-excellent-cond-price-includes-shipping-and-paypal

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