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Universal Fit item created by kevingzw, Dec 12, 2016
Pros - Super bass, Super details, Super sound at a Super price
Cons - A bit big on bass; detail and instrument separation are not analytic level
Simple Man’s review – ATH E70 (Flagship model of ATH E series - 399 USD)
This is called a "simple" man’s review because they are based on how the earphones sound directly from my mobile phone (HTC One S9), using 320 Kbps mp3 tracks.
No expensive gears nor lossless tracks, no EQ, and all that hi-fi stuff.
Product Specs :
Driver: Triple BA
Frequency response: 20 - 19000hz
Impedance: 39 Ohms
Cable: Detachable 1.6 m (5.2') with A2DC connectors
Build – 5/5
Replaceable cables - check
Thick wires (durable?) – check
Neck Slider – check
The wires feel durable, and are flexible. The wire is quite long, and falls to my ankle when i let it drop freely. I need to roll the wires quite a bit when my mobile goes into my pocket. I’d have wished this to be foot shorter. Not a biggie, but an inconvenience it could be.
The ear loops are memory plastic with extra strain relief where they come in contact with the rest of the wire. This is really thoughtful, and I haven’t seen this elsewhere. Great job, ATH!
Accessories – 4/5
A zipper case is provided, right size and quality, which can hold the earphones without any trouble. The case can go into a generous denim pocket. 4 sizes tips provided, excluding the medium ones in the earphones itself, and one pair of comply foam tips. Plus, a 3.5 to 6.3mm adapter as well is included in the box.
Isolation & Sound leakage – 4/5
Isolation is not bad, and sound leakage is almost zero.
Microphonics – 4/5
I couldn’t hear any sound while walking with the music on. Maybe just a tiny bit. If any, it still doesn’t interfere with enjoying the sound from these earphones.
Fit – 4/5
Around the ears only, and this can’t be worn down. Personally, I didn’t find an issue with the fit. The housing rest, and stay, properly with a good seal. However, I remember an amazon reviewer wanted to “shoot” the ATH designer because they didn’t fit him at all. If you have regular ears like me, you shouldn’t have an issue here.
Before we get to the sound:
First, tips: This is a personal thing. I absolutely hate the ATH stock tips, they seem to make my music too bassy, with their narrow hole and short stems, which I don’t like. Each may have their favourite tips and mine are the SpinFits. I used to like the Spiral Dots before i was introduced to SpinFits. I’m using the spinfits on my E70s, and i would suggest any wide bored tip, like spiral dots as well. They sound fine with Sony tips too. However, i noticed not a very glaring difference with tip rolling. BA earphones don’t seem to be affected by tip rolling much (from my experience)
Second, Sound volume: they are easy to drive. I never find myself going above 60% volume on my phone. The impedance value just seems like a number here.
Alright now. Phew! I’m wasted already. But let’s get on with that which matters now.
Last, but important thing before we proceed. You must know that i don’t listen to trance, EDM, or bassy stuff, no metal stuff, so, take my opinion about the extremes of the sound spectrum, and speed,etc., with a grain of salt, as they are just based on the kind of music I listen to- namely Jazz, blues, some progressive rock from the 70s/80s. However, to give a fair review, i include some of my favourite Daft Punk, Tool, NIN, and some Pop songs among my test tracks.
Let me just say that they sound awesome, incredible, amazing, unbelievable, superb, excellent, fabulous, and all the like terms. These are my most expensive phones till date, and accordingly these are the best sounding. I’m a happy guy. Things are fair, and as they should be.
The signature seems to be mostly neutral, with a linear emphasis on the lower end of the spectrum.
There is no bloat in its bass. Neither is there a mid-bass bloat, nor a sub-bass emphasis. Bass in general is a bit elevated. If the song has a bass line, you will hear it in all the definition. The bass quality is just unbelievable, and the quantity is there to show it. You are sure to hear some great bass details here like you’ve never done, possibly, in any price range. Definitely can’t see this below 500 USD. There is great rumbly feel to the bass when the song requires it, although you don’t feel the bass pumping air as in dynamic phones. You still hear nice rumble nevertheless.
On the other end of the spectrum, things are pretty bright. Not splashy bright, but revealing with enough brightness to not make the earphones actually sound warm. Some have commented that these sound warm, very warm, etc., but these are in no way as warm as the JVC woodies, for instance. Treble details are amazing. In general, the detail retrieval is just excellent. You hear extended shimmers of the cymbals, tiny delicate sounds are made apparent, with all the details.
The surprising part is that they are not at all thin sounding. For such a revealing phone which displays so much detail, thin-sounding is the last word you would associate with this earphone. Treble appears to be a bit laidback because there is no like elevation in the treble frequencies to make this a V-shaped sound. Hence, you can’t call the sound very exciting. The treble is mostly in line with the mids, and shows its presence at all times. I never mentioned sibilance because there is nothing to speak of.
Mids are full, no recession here. If anything, it’s a bit mid-forward you can say. Because, as I mentioned, the bass has a very linear elevation to it, the mids don’t seem very obviously forwarded. The details in the mids are all present, and show themselves boldly.
The vocals are amazing, and you hear all the details in the human voice, and can clearly distinguish between multiple singers.
ATH E70 vs ATH E40
Why ? Because they are brothers, and i know those who own the E40 are curious about this comparison.
The ATH E40 itself sounds superb, with great clarity, instrument separation, timber and what -not. Moving from the ATH E40 to the E70, you directly perceive a vast difference in detail and clarity. If you initially thought that the E40 was very clear and awesome, moving to the E70 immediately afterwards will make you say that the E40 was muffled, and totally unclear. In this case at least, you would accept that increase in price is definitely worth every penny. (Whatever happened to the law of diminishing returns!) I would even go so far and say that the E70 sounds 4 times (atleast 3x) better than the E40! The change is simply surprising. Imagine playing ping-pong against the best player in your school, and then immediately after you face the best player in your country (assuming your school champion is not a national player). Such is the difference between E40 and the E70.
The only comparable area would be the wideness of soundstage, and even here the E70 would edge out its sibling. Enough said, and this comparison was unfair in the first place.
ATH E70 vs Sony MDR EX800ST
Why? Both of them are called studio monitors, and they’re from the 2 giants in the industry, and because I don’t have the EX1000 this should suffice.
The EX800ST competes very well with the E70. And we must keep in mind that the Sony is a single dynamic which was made about 6 years ago. It’s just amazing that it can still stand in front of the E70 released just last year. Anyway, switching from the Sony to the E70, i see that all the notes have better thickness straight away. Where the details were faint, and i had to focus my attention to hear them, in the E70, they were just apparent and more obvious. The E70 has a bigger bass while the treble of the Sony were a bit higher. The highs of Sony gave me more satisfaction compared to the E70. I feel, maybe, the slightly lesser note thickness also enables a slightly better timber going to the Sonys. Soundstage and separation were about the same. But overall, i must say the E70 are better with their triple BA setup from current technology. I still keep my Sonys because they have a certain magic to them
ATH E70 vs Zero Audio Doppio
Why? Because both are TOTL. And Doppio is the only dual BA that i have.
We must note that the E70 is about 3x or 3.5x more expensive that the ZA Doppio. This is the best value for money product that I’ve known.
Comparing the two, E70 has more bass in quantity, and consequently, i think, has lesser detail. Switching from E70 to Doppio, it is very obvious that Doppio shows more detail in music. The highs of Doppio are also higher, and vocals also more forward. There is no colouration with the Doppios. There is however a slight thickness missing in Doppio which can be enjoyed with the E70, but this at the cost of micro-detail. Instrument separation is also better in Doppio, where E70, i would say, sounds more musical with lesser separation. Doppio is a better analytical phone. I can’t choose a winner between the two.
Overall Sound rating:
Instrument Separation 4/5
If I have to nitpick, and I will, i would say that the one place where these earphones fall from grace is when the track has abundant bass, and with it also demands a clear mid section (possibly due to poor recording, or whatever) . For instance, in some progressive rock tracks with Sitars, I notice that i can’t enjoy the sound of sitar properly, and i see the bass intruding and demanding more attention. I don’t feel very satisfied with these earphones in this case.
Excellent earphones for the price, with amazing detail retrieval that is musical at the same time. If bass is important to you, and if you still need all the details that a monitoring phone demands,then this one is made just for you. If you want a strictly analytical earphone with no colouration, the E70 is not for you, and you can go the Etymotic way.
Please note that it is reported that the E70 improves in sound with better amplifier and DAC. Just so you know!
There goes my first review.
Thanks for reading.
Pros - Startingly Smooth Sound, Bereft of any Sibilance, Fast and assertive Bass, Mids sound wholesome and coherent, Realistic Sound-stage and Depth
Cons - Highs are muted, mid-bass bloom can be overpowering on loud tracks, Stingy on accessories, New connectors are a hassle
Before I start this review, I would like to reiterate that we all have different experiences when it comes to using earphones/headphones. YMMV and this is merely my "subjective opinion". I hope that helps and if there are any disagreements, feel free to comment . I'm all ears!
My 2 cents on Audio Technica as a Brand:
Japanese companies are an enigma to me. They are entities with unsure motives and the lack of marketing/communication with the international audio community leaves us with hazy expectations. When it comes to this conglomerate giant, their personal audio products always fall in the "hit or miss" category. "You never know what you're gonna get".
On the plus side, my experience with products from Audio Technica remain positive. In 2014, I used to work in a personal audio shop called Soundwaves Studios. Our "prized" in-ear monitors in the affordable price bracket were the Audio Technica IM Series line of IEM's. I purchased my first pair of "mid-range" IEM's AKA the IM02's on a staff discount at the store I worked in. They are highly regarded in the Head-fi community for being "a top-grade reference IEM with a tinge of added warmth". As I sit here writing this review, the IM02 remains an unchallenged victor in my personal top 3 list. Having said that, I remain unconvinced to call Audio Technica a "perfect"company.
A god-tier IEM! Highly Recommended
For example, I was left wanting after frequent demos of the cult-favorite ATH m50x over-ear headphones. They weren't the Remoir or the Sistine Chapel that everyone was painting it to be. It was a muddy mess, nothing more and nothing less. Don't get me wrong, I love a smooth, unfatiguing sound like the next guy but this was a poorly implemented sound in a misguided pair of headphones. I am a pretty tough cookie to break when it comes to getting a "sound" that i thoroughly enjoy.
Pop comes the E-series of IEM's, an unexpected follow up to their previous line of in-ear monitors. Announced in June 2016, the E40, E50's and E70's were unveiled at a few international audio festivals. It wasn't receiving gobs of attention like other cult brands (JHaudio, Noble etc.) In fact, the "no-frills" appearance of the shells looked underwhelming or rather dull in comparison to its bespoke counterparts. I wasn't expecting much, especially when the new TOTL E70 was a considerable downgrade to their previous flagship (IM04), lacking 1 extra balanced armature in its array.
At a $550 SGD Retail price, I should be looking elsewhere for better earphones (on-paper specifications at least). But the uncertainty surrounding their new flagship drew me closer. I bit the bullet and decided to trade my pair of Fender FXA7 (I'll write a short review in the future) for the E70 on a local forum in Singapore. Thankfully, the IEM's were pristine and almost untouched, with the accessories being brand-spanking new. I even got a brand new Null Audio Arete Cable from the opposite end without top-up!
Package and Accessories:
The cubic packaging was compact. I applaud Audio Technica for doing away with the ostentatious IM Series packaging that wasn't needed. Props to them for reducing the wastage of cardboard for excess packaging. Upon unboxing, we have the following contents:
Credits to Sonic Electronix
1 X Audio Technica E70
1 X Large Hardcase
3 X Different Sized Tips (S,M,L)
1 X Comply Premium Tips
1 X 1/4 inch Jack
The entire package and its contents serve their purposes well. However, at the $400+ USD price point, I would expect a more premium package, inclusive of extra cables. The brick-shaped Audio Technica hardcase is reminiscent of the cases used in the previous IM series, albeit a larger size. They're rigid and brittle, surely being able to stand the test of time with ease. The bonus tips are standard, but a wider selection of different sizes or extra pairs would be nice.
Breaking the bank for such an investment, I believe I deserved to be spoilt for choice. The comply's included are a plus point for me, especially when the market price for comply's are exceptionally high.
Overall. a decent package but one that doesn't leave a lasting impression like the much cheaper 1More Triple Driver.
The E70 in its glory!
On first impressions, the overall build quality gets an almost perfect score for me. The E70's are housed in an plastic shells, with a translucent window showing off the active crossover unit used as the triple driver array. The other half of the body that lies on the outer ear has a smoky-grey matte finish. The shells feel weighty and dense, a monumental improvement over the scratch-prone hollow acrylic used in the IM series.
The nozzle fits snugly in the ear with a deep insertion fit, providing excellent noise isolation. Unlike its dynamic driver counterparts, a vent is not needed to displace air, resulting in a better seal from environmental noise. The weight of the drivers themselves are distributed evenly across the outer ear. Worn cable down, the transparent memory wire is pliable and easy to mold. The chin-slider at the Y split is taut and easily adjustable. Strain-reliefs at the L-jack and connector points are well-sheathed. The cable retains some memory and does get into tangles pretty often. Nevertheless, they feel supple enough for daily use.
Audio Technica's new A2DC connectors feel tough and durable, with a shape akin to an MMCX connector, the difference being a smaller bore size on the male end. While I prefer this to the IM series 2 pin connectors, the ever-changing catalog of proprietary cables is a confounding experience for users who want to use their old IM series cables as an upgrade. Nevertheless, I was more than satisfied with the no bullsh*t design that gets the job done.
How they Sound:
Setup Used: Cowon Plenue D
Fiio X3 Mkii
Foobar 2000 v1.3.6 + Aune X1s
My Selected Playlist:
Bach off by Nicolas Godin (Imaging/Sound-stage)
Sex Beat by Katy Goodman and Greta Morgan (Female Vocals)
Wave Goodnight to me by Jeff Rosenstock (Fatigue)
Lost my Shape by David Bazan (Male)
As per usual like my previous reviews, scroll to the bottom for my summarized impressions. Do take note that I am not a firm believer in burn-in, especially so with balanced armature opinions. YMMV. The E70 has 39 ohms of impedance. However, be wary that multi-driver setups with an active crossover do experience wild impedance swings so hiss can be expected from some sources.
Imaging/Sound-stage: As my first review track on the E70, there is an eerie lack of highs in the foreground, with a "wet" sound replacing the unhinged crash of a hi-hat or ride cymbal. Usually, this serves as a foreshadowing for a potentially disappointing review. Instead, I was hooked by the viscosity of the sound on show. The maccaras alongside the tight rythym section pound with realistic timbre, with the best "balanced armature bass" I have ever heard. Thick yet nimble, the gloomy bass-line that shifts the track into a slow-burner/espionage thriller sounds rich and engaging, with instruments positioned in a realistic sound-stage (unlike awful faux left-right channel separation).
Female Vocals: Naturally, this song is drenched in reverb and unnatural hall-echo. The track in-itself is a smooth, engaging listen. Paired with the coherently rich sound of the E70, you get a dynamic sound that constantly focuses on the "fundamental tones" of the mids without sacrificing "detail". Unfortunately, the highs remain muted and the treble tamed. Katy Goodman's vocal range is a fantastic pairing with the E70.
Fatigue: Being my favorite test, I decided to play a emo/pop-punk track by the notoriously whiny Jeff Rosenstock. Jeff's wails and howls are perfectly suited for a fatigue test. Surprisingly, even at earth-shatteringly loud volumes, the tracks remains sibilant free and retains its fundamental signature, The E70 is perfectly suited for long listening sessions, even with the harshest of "dynamically compressed' recordings.
Male Vocal: David Bazan has an amazing baritone (to my ears at least) male vocal range akin to Bon Iver without the annoying falsetto. On the E70, his voice is eerrily realistic, backed by his reverberant guitar. David's vocals shine with gusto, each note dragged accordingly like reverberance in an echo chamber. A beautiful representation of what the E70 can do when given the right tracks.
My Conclusive Report after Ample "Research"
After my exhaustive tests, It is safe to say that the E70 can be described as mid-focused with ultra-large bass. The bass is the star of the show, with a slightly draggy quality to recreate the sub-bass prowess of a dynamic driver. The mids capture the fundamental tones needed to hear vocals in all of its glory. Sound-stage is expansive, with a realistic 3D sphere that sounds and feels coherent. Treble is splashy and tamed compared to reference IEM's. The downside for most people (I presume) are the muted and distant highs, lacking the sparkle and energy that most people admire in IEM's, Do take note that amping did not result in a monumental difference in sound-quality.
Yes or No?
I can't believe I'm saying this, but this is a definite yes! I have a penchant for hating dry sounding balanced armature setups (which is almost all balanced armature setups). I was proven wrong for the first time and this is easily my new favorite daily driver. You may not be into a "bombastic" sound, but do give it a chance to impress you with it's mystical dark qualities! I give it a 4.5/5, one of my highest scores! . Can't wait to get a pair of E50's as my spare driver! Here's to Audio Technica for hitting way above the mark this TOTL IEM! If anyone is interested in purchasing a pair, you may visit the following links:
BH Photo and Video:
kevingzw, Dec 12, 2016
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