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ATH-A700 Review

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 
After much lurking here on the forum, I’ve decided to take a crack at my first headphone review…

I recently picked up a pair of audio-technica ATH-A700’s here in Taipei. As I know that this particular model is fairly difficult to obtain in the States & therefore few have had a chance to check them out, I thought I’d share my views on these cans with the forum.

Cost:
Price paid was approx $145 USD. This is probably not the cheapest one could obtain these cans since Taiwan imposes a fairly hefty import tax on Japanese electronics goods (presumably to help protect the domestic Taiwanese electronics market)…anyway, price-wise ymmv. To me, it seems like a fair price.

Link to pics & specs for the ATH-A700: http://www.audio-technica.com.sg/ath-a700.html

Appearance, Build Quality, Fit/Comfort, Isolation:
As a proud & loving ATH-W1000 owner, I find these to be very attractive cans (some may find them to be too big for their taste…I think they look pretty bitchin’). The blue cups have a deep, metallic finish which is not evident in the website photo. The paint treatment definitely adds a classy, attractive touch to what I think are an already nice looking set of headphones.

Aside from the cups & pads the cans are all plastic. Despite the large-ish overall size they feel light and very comfortable on my head. They feel durable and of good quality (certainly well in line with the cost). The cable is sleeved in a nice silky (actually nylon) over-braid (similar to the W1000) which helps prevent kinks & twists. The cable is terminated to an 1/8-inch jack & a ¼ inch adapter is provided. Pads are soft pleather.

Fit and comfort are outstanding (at least on my head). These are easily the most comfortable sealed cans I’ve ever worn. The circum-aural pads rest securely, fully surrounding my ears with no undue pressure. Isolation is quite good…I can play at fairly loud volumes without disturbing those around me.

Sound, Listening Experience, Comparison, etc.:
Before purchasing, I demoed these cans at my favorite little hi-fi shop here in Taipei (which, conveniently enough, is also an audio-technica distributor). They have a brand, spankin’ new Shanling CDT200 sitting there for demo use <drool>. Since they don’t carry any headamps there, I figured the tube stage headphone out on that little sweetheart would do just fine for demo purposes, so this was what I used. It was nice to be able to spend at least a little time demoing prior to purchase…a refreshing change vs. the typical leap of faith purchase. My first impression with the A700 was very positive…thirty seconds into the John Scofield demo disc I’d brought along with me, I was already pretty sure I was gonna buy these cans. Fresh out of the box, and with zero break-in, I was immediately impressed.

Bass is very good & a definite strong suit of these cans. It’s deep & punchy with good extension but nicely controlled…nothing sloppy or bloated here. I think audio-technica does “sealed-can” bass extremely well & the A700’s are no exception. To me the bass sounds neither over-emphasized nor under-emphasized…well-balanced would be the best way for me to describe it.

Midrange is well-rendered, coherent, smooth, and reasonably transparent... certainly not in the same caliber with the W1000, which has outstanding midrange IMO, but very good for a can in this price range.

Highs are also nicely rendered, although not the strong suit of these cans IMO. While there is no trace of sibilance, even at high volumes, they do seem a bit veiled and not the most accurate to my ears, and again nowhere in the class of the W1000. I’m a freak for highs, and nothing I’ve heard yet compares with the detail, accuracy & transparency of the ATH-W1000. That said, I again have to reiterate that for a set of headphones in this price range, the A700 does extremely well with highs.

Soundstage is wide, and reasonably deep. I’ve only been passionately into head-fi for around a year or so, and I have to say that “soundstage depth” is one listening skill I’ve not even come close to mastering. I really have to focus and project mentally to experience this listening phenomenon, but I’m getting there slowly. Given the limited number of headphones that I presently own or have listened to, I’d say that my preference at this point is for a fairly shallow to medium soundstage depth. I like immediacy & visceral impact in a headphone, and to my ears, the A700 has both of these characteristics.

Also available for comparison demo at the time I made my purchase were the A500 and A900. The A500 has similar sonic characteristics to the A700, however with a much shallower (in fact, almost no depth at all) soundstage, at least to my ears. I was duly impressed with the A900, but to my ears there was little appreciable difference between the A700 & A900. More skilled & experienced audiophile-grade ears may hear a discernible difference…I could not. Subsequently, I felt the additional cost of the A900 did not represent a commensurately better listening experience…again, ymmv.

I bought these headphones specifically for office use, and thus far (aside from the Shanling demo experience) I’ve only listened to them on my office rig. My office rig consists of the following:
Laptop-->Monkey’s Audio/Foobar2000-->M-Audio Audiophile USB-->self-built cmoy (actually, one bad mutha of a cmoy if I do say so myself...pics & details here: http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=82781).

My musical tastes run the gamut from jazz to metal…I’ve thrown pretty much everything I have in my collection from a genre standpoint at the A700’s and have yet to find a real weakness. They truly are a great multi-purpose sealed can for the money.

I have heard neither the Beyer 250 nor the AKG 501 (other good cans in the same relative price range), and I know that both of these models have a fairly faithful following on this forum. I’d love to give them a comparison listen, however I’m betting that the A700 would more than hold its own against those two. I’d be interested to hear input from anyone who owns, or has owned all three. I do own a set of HD555’s which are in the same general price range, and the A700 puts them to shame IMO. The 555’s sound extremely dark & veiled in head-to-head comparison…it’s no contest really. I presently have a set of HD280 Pro’s on order from HeadRoom, and I have half a mind to just cancel the order, but I’ve decided to at least give them a listen. I suspect though, that I’ll be taking advantage of HeadRoom’s return policy…

Obligatory Disclaimer:
The preceding represents the views and opinions of one listener (me)…etc., etc.

Peace,

Graz
post #2 of 54
This is a pretty decent review. I'd like to know whether you would be willing to add more impressions or details in how the ATH-A700 handles the all important midrange with more music samples.
post #3 of 54
Nice review. I have to admit I'm somewhat suprised to hear that you didn't find much difference between the 700 and 900. So many reviews make the 900's out to be only a small notch below Sony's CD3000's. That would kick a lot of @$$ if these provide a 9/10 CD3000 experience for sub $150!
post #4 of 54
Sounds like a good headphone.

I remain satisfied with my ATH-A900 .

My next headphone (should I purchase one) will be a Grado/Alessandro.

Currently Listening to: "Train Wreck" by Sarah McLachlan on my ATH-A900s.
post #5 of 54
Good review, good read. Not a whole lot on the A700's around here, so your impressions definitely help fill a void.
post #6 of 54
Yes, what is needed is a dedicated A900 nut to pick up the 700, and complete this picture by seeing how it compares. I'm getting myself one of these phones for my 25th in a couple of months, and the 700 has put itself back in the picture with this thread.

Much thanks for your input and experiences Graz
post #7 of 54
Hold on...I thought the A500/900 shared sound sig's...

But in Graz's POV, the A700 = A900.

I've read the the A700 has a different sound sig than the other two..
post #8 of 54
I've read exactly that 450, but noone seems to have given both a thorough test to back it up. And the couple of threads where someone has tried both before buying they have chosen the A700, as it sounds next to indistinguishable.

I suspect that this "700 has different sound signiture" is a product of lots of poeple posting stuff they haven't listened to, as the few who have listened have posted regarding the similarity. I think that this is a case of the Head-fi "Hive Mind" at work.
post #9 of 54
Thread Starter 
I'll ask my friend at the hi-fi shop if he'd be willing to loan me the A900 for a few days for eval. If he'll go for it, I'll post my impressions back here in a few days.

Again, bear in mind that mine are but one pair of ears (and semi-amatuer at that), so please don't take my word as gospel.

Peace,

Graz
post #10 of 54
Good review, I also own a pair of A700 and would agree with your impressions. The paint on the driver enclosures are awesome, true the pics on Audiocube's website doesn't show a good view of what the paint on the eclosures look like but it is a midnight blue color with fine silver metal flakes mixed in. Similar to what you would find on some automotive metal flake paints.
The A700 IMO has more bass than the pair of W1000 that I own but isn't as detailed and it's soundstage isn't as wide. The bass from the A700 is also nice and tight. I don't currently have a pair of A900 or A500 to compare it but I will be able to get a pair of A900's soon.
post #11 of 54
I (like just about everyone here) was thinking about buying a pair of A900s, now I'll consider the A700s as well, especially if you can do an A/B. What I'd like, though, is more information on these cans' open cousins. Any owners of the open versions? Takashi I think has a pair, are they better than the closed versions?
post #12 of 54
so would any rich members who own the a900's like to buy these and compare?
post #13 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by steel102
so would any rich members who own the a900's like to buy these and compare?
Just for the hell of it?
post #14 of 54
of course
post #15 of 54
btw how would you rate these things for rock music? im talking about a really wide range- from blink 182, to aerosmith, to metallica, to opeth, to cannibal corpse.
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