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Advice Please: ATH-W1000X ($399) vs. HE-400 ($399)

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 

Okay, so the ATH-W1000X is on sale and I need a little extra advice.

 

Prior to encountering this sale, I was looking at HE-400s at the same price, $399. My problem is, I live in a very remote coastal village--no HiFi shop within 1000km--and cannot personally audition these two phones. So instead, I've been nerdily creeping back and forth, gobbling up as many reviews as I can. I've encountered far more people raving about the He-400 than the ATH-W1000X, but the ATH-W1000X's strengths and price are compelling. Open vs. closed. Planar-Magneticy-goodness (whatever that is) vs. refined acoustics/vocals. I'm looking for a little help jumping over the edge, or backing away...

 

First Question: I've heard the HE-400 build quality is poor, and since I live in the middle of nowhere I want a pair of headphones that will last a long time. HE-400s are made in China. ATH-W1000X Japan. Any durability issues with either phone?

 

The last time I was in civilization, I listened to some mid-grade Grados (RS-2i, RS-1i), and absolutely hated them. They sounded all congested and nasty. Since the ATH-W1000X is also a "woodie" will it too sound congested and nasty?

 

I've heard of the AT house mids, but I'm hoping they will compliment the details, not bury them alive. I hear it works well for classical/acoustic/vocals--and I love all of those things--fingers squeaking over guitar strings, breathy, female vocals, a fiddler running wild--Yes!

 

But how complicated a sound can the ATH-W1000X handle? For example, would a band like Vampire Weekend be too layered, and come out muddled? If there's an orgy of vocals/keyboards/guitars/strings, are we in the land of the planar-magnetic?

 

The source (at least for the near future) will be an Asus Xonar Essence STX. I don't have tube amp yet, but I'll be looking forward to one eventually. Seems like the ATH-1000X would be easier to drive than the HE-400, though I've heard someone comment that the HE-400 wasn't all that bad coming straight from the STX.

 

I'm imagining the ATH-1000X will add some warmth to the otherwise neutral STX sound? Has anyone listened to either straight from the STX? I also have a Cowon X9 and I'm hoping it would have enough juice for the ATH-1000X, if not the HE-400.

 

The last thing is the closed vs open nature. Back when I was in civilization, I also heard a Sennheiser HD 600, and thought it was far more tolerable than those Grados. Is this just because one was open and one was closed? Is the Grado sound truly quarantined to the Grado brand, or do all closed headphones have the same disease?

 

Despite my love of acoustical music (think Iron & Wine), female vocals (Feist), and listening to music without disturbing my wife, I would almost go with the HE-400 if it saves me from that dreaded Grado-itis.

 

Thanks for reading. Any and all advice welcome!

 

 

I have to make up my mind in the next 3 days.

 

Thanks everybody, and apologies to you Grado-lovers; no offence intended =]

post #2 of 44
I can't really answer all your questions, but I will say this: The Grado sound is somewhat specific. It's not just the wood - it's the entire driver design and the whole package. I'm not a big Grado fan either - which really surprised me the first time I heard them. From the reviews and descriptions of their strengths and weaknesses, I expected to like them - but I didn't. I've heard both low-end and high-end Grados and concluded they are just not for me. They seemed lacking in areas I find important and over the top in areas I find annoying. *shrugs* Different strokes for different folks!

Anyway, my point is that I would not dismiss other, completely unrelated 'phones just because you didn't like the Grados.
post #3 of 44

HE-400 is totally open and will most likely disturb your wife if she is in the same room. I find the HE-400 to be built very solidly, but the small touches are a little rough. Like the cut of the headband pad for example. I don't get the sense that they will break though. But I've only had mine for a couple of months. 

post #4 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Giancoli View Post
 

Okay, so the ATH-W1000X is on sale and I need a little extra advice.

 

Prior to encountering this sale, I was looking at HE-400s at the same price, $399. My problem is, I live in a very remote coastal village--no HiFi shop within 1000km--and cannot personally audition these two phones. So instead, I've been nerdily creeping back and forth, gobbling up as many reviews as I can. I've encountered far more people raving about the He-400 than the ATH-W1000X, but the ATH-W1000X's strengths and price are compelling. Open vs. closed. Planar-Magneticy-goodness (whatever that is) vs. refined acoustics/vocals. I'm looking for a little help jumping over the edge, or backing away...

 

First Question: I've heard the HE-400 build quality is poor, and since I live in the middle of nowhere I want a pair of headphones that will last a long time. HE-400s are made in China. ATH-W1000X Japan. Any durability issues with either phone?

 

The last time I was in civilization, I listened to some mid-grade Grados (RS-2i, RS-1i), and absolutely hated them. They sounded all congested and nasty. Since the ATH-W1000X is also a "woodie" will it too sound congested and nasty?

 

I've heard of the AT house mids, but I'm hoping they will compliment the details, not bury them alive. I hear it works well for classical/acoustic/vocals--and I love all of those things--fingers squeaking over guitar strings, breathy, female vocals, a fiddler running wild--Yes!

 

But how complicated a sound can the ATH-W1000X handle? For example, would a band like Vampire Weekend be too layered, and come out muddled? If there's an orgy of vocals/keyboards/guitars/strings, are we in the land of the planar-magnetic?

 

The source (at least for the near future) will be an Asus Xonar Essence STX. I don't have tube amp yet, but I'll be looking forward to one eventually. Seems like the ATH-1000X would be easier to drive than the HE-400, though I've heard someone comment that the HE-400 wasn't all that bad coming straight from the STX.

 

I'm imagining the ATH-1000X will add some warmth to the otherwise neutral STX sound? Has anyone listened to either straight from the STX? I also have a Cowon X9 and I'm hoping it would have enough juice for the ATH-1000X, if not the HE-400.

 

The last thing is the closed vs open nature. Back when I was in civilization, I also heard a Sennheiser HD 600, and thought it was far more tolerable than those Grados. Is this just because one was open and one was closed? Is the Grado sound truly quarantined to the Grado brand, or do all closed headphones have the same disease?

 

Despite my love of acoustical music (think Iron & Wine), female vocals (Feist), and listening to music without disturbing my wife, I would almost go with the HE-400 if it saves me from that dreaded Grado-itis.

 

Thanks for reading. Any and all advice welcome!

 

 

I have to make up my mind in the next 3 days.

 

Thanks everybody, and apologies to you Grado-lovers; no offence intended =]

Lucky for you I owned both the HE 400 and W1000x at the very same time! I sold my HE 400 and I kept my W1000x

 

First, NOTHING sounds like a Grado... only a Grado sounds like a Grado so hopefully there won't be any worries about "grado-itis" 

 

Secondly, both have a nice sound. The HE 400 has a more focus on Low mids and bass, where as the W1000x has a much nicer central and upper mids. 

 

I enjoyed the HE 400 for Techno and Electronica, and my W1000x for Vocal and Accoustic music.  Not to mention the HE 400 will leak sound and disturb the wifey! 

 

Non the less, the BAD news lol both benifit from a little modding and new ePads. Depending on your intial impressions of the W1000x OR HE 400, there are two sets of ear Pads for both that change the sound enough to imo warrent their purchase

 

Non the less, I owned both and sold my HE 400. I just didn't use it as much as I would have hoped so. That said, both offer an equal amount of detail, neither the HE 400 or W1000x "BURN" in the mids. And the w1000x is one of the more balanced Audio Technica Cans ironically lol 

 

Lastly though, make sure you get all the paperwork for the W1000x ... and lastly if you don't mind used, you can get an W1000x used here at head fi for about $350 or less dollars! Plus buying on head fi usually results in a nice friendship as well! 

 

Still, I think the W1000x would suit your tastes a little better 

 

How ever the last thing to note, is IMO the HE 400 is a little more ruggard than the W1000x. I've NEVER dropped my w1000x and I'd FREAK if I did... the HE 400 is pretty tough, it's all Metal and Leather with VERY little Plastic. I might have dropped mine once [shame on me] but my point is for BUILD toughness I'd say the HE 400 is a little tougher. Although it's also heavier. Still if you buy new MAKE SURE you get a warrenty, as the Headphone SHOULD come with on from the Factory. Worse come to worse, so long as you have a Mail service you can ship ur W1000x back to Japan for Repairs, the same can also be said of the HE 400. Both Audio Technica and Hifiman have good build quality and customer service imo 

post #5 of 44
Good point - I've seen a few posts on the forum from W1000X, Fostex & Audeze owners crying over their nicked or dented cups from a recent "oops". Those wooden cups are beautiful, but if you are the type that would require resuscitation after seeing a scratch, you might want to think twice... tongue.gif
post #6 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by billybob_jcv View Post

Good point - I've seen a few posts on the forum from W1000X, Fostex & Audeze owners crying over their nicked or dented cups from a recent "oops". Those wooden cups are beautiful, but if you are the type that would require resuscitation after seeing a scratch, you might want to think twice... tongue.gif

Indeed, although I'm pretty careful with mine! So just treat your headphones like you treat your wife :3 [oh wait actually take that back... you never know with ppl these days LOL]

 

Ehm treat your W1000x like a Infant Puppy :3 be gentle with it! Although it can TAKE some physical impact, still you wouldn't want to damage that wood! 

post #7 of 44
Thread Starter 

Good to hear the HE is more robust than I thought, and that the Grado sound stays with the Grado!

 

I do listen to mostly vocals and acoustic, and one of my favourite songs is a mash up of synthesizer/classical (you remember "Ping Island / Lighting Island Strike Rescue Op" from Life Aquatic? I love that song!).

 

I am interested in the Purrin mod and ear pads, but I'm hoping I'll be able to stand the stock version for a bit, and move onto the $80 pads after I've invested in a tube amp. I'm also hoping the pleather won't bother me much as it doesn't get too hot around here. Though sounds like the SQ is much improved with those $80 pads. Have you tried the HE Velour pads on the W1000X? Sounds like they fit with a bit of finicking.

 

As for paperwork, I've already emailed [Mod Edit: Name of site removed.] and Audio Technica. AT says [they are] not an authorized dealer and therefore, the manufacturer warranty will not be upheld at the factory. [They] says, they'll offer the 2 year warranty themselves and repair/replace if anything goes wrong. This was all in a flimsy email though, no paper.

 

Are you worried about the paper, cause you think they may be fake, or because AT may not recognize the warranty?

 

The HEs sound compelling, but I'm thinking more and more that closed would be the way to go. Course, if I went with the HE-400, I could have a factory warranty... 

post #8 of 44
Thread Starter 

Hehehe, well, I actually accidentally stepped on my puppy a week after we got him. Screamed so loud I though I'd killed him!

 

I guess I will have to be more careful with those 'phones... =]

post #9 of 44

I really like the HE-400, but IMO it's not the best suited for acoustic. Yes, it's fast and detailed and reproduces textures and plucks of strings well, but I just don't think it's optimized for acoustic. It's optimized for complex music with lots of bass. I have no real complaints about the midrange, but it's not forward. It's not the star of the show. I haven't heard the AT's, but comments about them I've read suggest that their strengths line up with acoustic music and vocals more than the HE-400's do. FWIW. 

post #10 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by manbear View Post
 

I really like the HE-400, but IMO it's not the best suited for acoustic. Yes, it's fast and detailed and reproduces textures and plucks of strings well, but I just don't think it's optimized for acoustic. It's optimized for complex music with lots of bass. I have no real complaints about the midrange, but it's not forward. It's not the star of the show. I haven't heard the AT's, but comments about them I've read suggest that their strengths line up with acoustic music and vocals more than the HE-400's do. FWIW. 

Yea this is very true, Vocals are not the best thing on the HE 400 recessed upper mid range honestly. That said, I think the OP will very much enjoy the W1000x, as I have. And as fars as amps go... spend some time with it stock before you buy an amp for it. As the W1000x has a very low impedance and high sensitivity. That said, depending on your price range sub $200 tubes tend to be a little noisy imo, and I found most of them to have... to little volume control, I got Quiet, loud or LOUD. I can understand you live on an island so buying and re selling might not be to optimal. Non the less, do try a nice solid state before you go for a tube! 

 

I really like the Matrix M Stage with my W1000x, 

post #11 of 44
Thread Starter 

Done. W1000x here we come!

 

Time for me to finally retire my undying AKGs (a thoroughly loved, repaired, and re-repaired pair of 270s).

 

Sigh... I love spending money... =P

post #12 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Giancoli View Post
 

Done. W1000x here we come!

 

Time for me to finally retire my undying AKGs (a thoroughly loved, repaired, and re-repaired pair of 270s).

 

Sigh... I love spending money... =P

Yea I like spending cash to :[ I have a bad habbit of BUYING and selling a lot... my local post office must think I'm some kind of "smuggler" of goods 

post #13 of 44

Guys, discussion of group buy sites isn't allowed here. The very site you were talking of recently sent headphones to people without serial numbers, and we've talked to a number of manufacturers who told us that sales on that site weren't authorised. That means that you have NO warranty and no idea if the headphones came from a legitimate source (though if they aren't authorised, then obviously they didn't).  We don't want to be part of promoting that kind of thing here. 

post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Currawong View Post
 

Guys, discussion of group buy sites isn't allowed here. The very site you were talking of recently sent headphones to people without serial numbers, and we've talked to a number of manufacturers who told us that sales on that site weren't authorised. That means that you have NO warranty and no idea if the headphones came from a legitimate source (though if they aren't authorised, then obviously they didn't).  We don't want to be part of promoting that kind of thing here. 

 

that said.... yea guys buying used from Head Fi is always a much better idea! Head Fi members take great care of our headphones and prices are usually pretty stellar.

 

That said OP I hope you have a legit headphone >.> coming your way

post #15 of 44
Thread Starter 

That's pretty horrible info. Too bad I found all that out too late. Maybe if some kind of discussion was allowed, people could be warned? Fingers crossed.

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