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Over-Ear item created by a_recording, May 23, 2013
Pros - Beautiful mid section, easy to drive
Cons - Little to no separation, no head support (all weight lies upon ears), non detachable cables, little to no adjustments available
Yet again (with several more to soon follow), I find myself owing a great deal of thanks (and at this point a steak dinner) to a good friend of mine (you know who you are) & also the company Audio-Technica. Not only has he been, by far, the most knowledgeable and personable representative I’ve ever personally met and shaken hands with, but also the most professional. Prior to his invitation I was only vaguely familiar with the Audio-Technica brand. Now, thanks to the plethora of products sent to me to review, I’ve a pretty sound knowledge base. So again, my friend I sincerely thank you for the kindness and trust shown towards me by sending me such a review sample. You’ve not just allowed my channel to grow, you’ve allowed me to grow as a reviewer and a larger source of help for others looking to find insight on a product they may be interested in.
Alright, now that all the pleasantries are out of the way, how about we delve into the substance of this review shall we?
Spoiler: A little about me
A little about me
I'm a 25 year old firefighter, currently for the U.S. Army North Carolina National Guard and starting January 2017, the beautiful city of Concord, North Carolina. The cliché of wanting to do this since I was born couldn't be more present with me. I've worked hard over the last several years to earn this position and now it's time for me to work even harder to keep it.
My interests/hobbies are power lifting, fishing and relaxing to audio products and reviewing them to help other decide on what products would work for them. Few things make me as an audio enthusiast/review feel more accomplished than when someone tells me that I helped them find the type of sound they've always been looking for.
Now, the sound signature I personally favor is a relaxing, warm and sensual sound that just drifts me away in the emotional experience of the music being performed. Yes, accuracy is still important but I will happily sacrifice some of that if I'm presented with a clean, warm sound that can wisp me away into an experience that makes me yearn for more.
My ideal signature are that of respectably forward mids and upper bass range with the bass being controlled but with some slight decay. I like my treble to have nice extension and detail reveal with a smooth roll off up top as to not become harsh in the least. Examples of products that have given me chills and keep giving me the yearning for more feels are the (in no particular order) Bowers & Wilkins P7, Oppo PM-1/2, Empire Ears Hermes VI, Audeze LCD-XC, Meze Headphones 99 Classics.
Spoiler: Equipment used at least some point during the review
Equipment used at least some point during the review
-Schiit Lyr 2 w/ matched '68 Amperex Orange Globe 6DJ8 tubes
-Schiit Bifrost 4490
-Luxury & Precision L3
-HP 15634 Laptop
-iFi Nano iUSB3.0
I am by no means sponsored by this company or any of its affiliates. They were kind enough to send me a product for an arranged amount of time in exchange for my honest opinion. I am making no monetary compensation for this review.
The following is my take on the product being reviewed. It is to be taken “with a grain of salt” per say and as I always tell people, it is YOUR opinion that matters. So regardless of my take or view on said product, I highly recommend you listen to it yourself and gauge your own opinion.
The Opening Experience
Spoiler: Why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience
Please allow me to explain why I feel so strongly about the initial unboxing experience with a product. Maybe it’s due to my southern roots in the hills of eastern Kentucky, but I’ve always been raised under the pretense of when you introduce yourself to someone for the first time you present yourself with confidence, class, character, pride, and competence. You greet the other person with a true warm smile, eye contact and a firm handshake. Anything less or short implies to other person that you either don’t care about them, are too full of yourself, too busy to be bothered by the likes of them, or worse, just generally disrespectful.
As a consumer, I take this same belief to when I open a new product. Why? Because think about it this way. How else can a company introduce themselves to their customers? How do they present their products? Are they packaged with pride and presented in such a way that makes the listener eager to listen to them? Or maybe they’re just wrapped up and placed in an available space. How about the box itself? Is it bogged down with jargon that says look at this, look what I can do. I’m better than anything on the market and here’s why read this and check out that. Or, is the package clean, simplistic and classy? As if saying to the customer ‘Good day, pleasure to meet your acquaintance. Please give me a listen and allow me to show you what I can do and allow my actions to speak louder than my words.’
This is why I feel so strongly about the initial presentation of a product, and I feel it’s truly a shame more people don’t. But with all that aside, let’s discuss how this products introduced itself shall we?
Unfortunately, these are quite disappointing from the start. At full MSRP of $599.99 from the Audio-Technica website I can give no excuses for the level of disinterest paid to the initial handshake presented towards me from the AD-1000X. The only excuse I can give this is that if you do any kind of shopping around at all you can find these between $250-300, and within that price range I’m not quite as irritated but I still feel like I was slighted. However, with what I’ve present before me being packaged in the exact same manor as their $120 ATH-A550Z I’m even more interested in what others opinions of this packaging is.
So now that we've opened it out of its box, how is the build quality? Well, it’s definitely nowhere near being called a tank but it’s also not poorly crafted either.
The wing system feels quite sturdy but still has enough play present that I feel that if it were to be dropped or something similar, I’ve little worry about it breaking /cracking.
The “headbands,” which consists of 2 separate pieces, are made entirely out of plastic & supported by a spring located at their base (to be discussed later in the comfort section). The padding is a respectably soft material that doesn’t shout cheap.
The driver housing is encased in a very solid plastic that I will say feels quite nice. I honestly thought it was aluminum from first touch. The only movement that’s present on these headphones is a very VERY slight side to side movement. There’s no up or down adjustment nor front to back (to be discussed further in the comfort section). The grills covering the open air dynamic drivers also offer pretty competent protection being made if hard aluminum. As a nice touch of class, Audio-Technica places an aluminum stamp of their logo.
The cable, which connects to each driver individually, in my opinion, is quite long for it to be non detachable measuring in at 10’. It’s also rather normal, nothing feels really special about it. Now on the inside of the cable, Audio-Technica does say it has 4 cores with each channel having its own independent ground. So just because it doesn’t feel special doesn’t mean it’s not. Lastly, it’s terminated into a standard ⅛” jack but does come with a screw on ¼” jack option for home amplification.
Overall I find the construction to be acceptable, regardless at full MSRP or at the prices found online. If taken care of I’ve full confidence that these will last their owners for a very long time. I just REALLY wish they had detachable cables.
Lately I’ve found myself personally finding this section to be second only to the sound quality. And this product definitely has some thanks for this realisation. The initial “handshake” is a great way for a company to introduce itself but the majority of us never puts the product back into its case so we’ll get over shortcomings. Also, the vast majority of us in this fine field take care of our products because they’re are quite often very expensive and we personally take great pride in what we’ve attainted, at least I do, so we’re apt to take care of our things which can counteract some shortcuts a company may take in the construction of their product. But the two things you likely can’t get over is how the product sounds and how comfortable they are to wear.
Remember when I said that the AD-1000X was a product that brought a good bit of this realisation to me? No?! Come on I just said it really? Well *hmph* how rude. Anywho for those paying attention, the ATH-AD1000X brought this realisation to me because these, to me, are annoyingly uncomfortable to wear. These place so darned much pressure on the ears that, again at least for me, your ears get sore. The “headbands” springs offer laughable resistance for holding the headphones up which causes the entire weight of them to be burdened by your ears and surrounding skull.
The wing system that’s synonymous with Audio-Technica products do provide beautiful clamping force that defines the goldilocks effect so zero complaints whatsoever there. In fact I most certainly commend Audio-Technica for maintaining their consistency in this aspect. They then immediately lose this gain when those of use with anything but smaller ears put them on and our ears are constantly scratching the mesh that’s directly in front of the drivers. This causes my ears to become very uncomfortable within a very short timeframe which sucks because the suede, angled, pads these are equipped with are super comfortable. My solution that’s actually a really easy fix to this is simply to put beefier pads on the ear cups. This, in my mind, will keep the drivers enough distance away from the ears that they won't scratch them.
Lastly, as I said early in the construction section, there’s close to zilch adjustments to these products. There’s a very and I mean VERY slight side to side movement and that’s it. No bigger/smaller head bar, no up/down swivel to accommodate those of us who don’t have massive square heads or average size triangle heads.
Alas, we’re finally to the most important part of an audio products merit. And honestly, this is what took me the longest to dissect with the AD-1000X. Many times while listening to these I listened to songs that sounded absolutely amazing while others sounded completely horrible let alone for a full retail price of these; and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why, until I had an epiphany and figured it out.
So starting with the positives that the AD-1000X’s really have going for it is they possess a really nice and vast soundstage that sound very lifelike and realistic in its space. I say this in reference to a headphone such as the HD700 which has a great and very vast soundstage but it’s as if it artificially extends that soundstage too far which loses some of its realism. It’s as if the headphone is trying way too hard to sound musical when it just isn’t.
This leads me onto an issue that I have with the AD1000X and that is it has very disappointing separation. And it’s not something that you’ll miss if you’re not paying attention either. When listening to pretty much any normal sized (or obviously larger) orchestra it sounds as if everything is trying to force its way into a single microphone. I actually laughed when it finally came to me the issue I had with these because they accell in so many other aspects but there was always just that something that made me rarely gravitate to it. But let me talk about the individual ranges because by themselves uncluttered they are all respectably impressive.
The highs in the AD-1000X overall are very pleasing and have wonderful extension. Horns and cymbals sound clean and can express themselves to their fullest degree. Now, with that being said, they may also even become piercing to your ears as well if you’re listening to a particularly spiky instrument. What I mean by this is take the cymbals. They get to their peak frequency basically instantly and the 1000X will drive that straight to your ears and, depending on your given hearing, will likely not be to pleasant if you have your volume turned up. But overall I think the treble in these headphones are very well done and beautifully revealing.
My goodness, the ATH-AD1000X hit a grand slam with the vocals. The voices sound so incredible and pleasant to listen to, especially the females. There’s air, there’s body, there’s a naturalness to the mids that even my personal reference headphones (Bowers & Wilkins P7) can’t produce. Then there’s acoustic string instruments. And dear gosh, do string instruments sound sublime through these. I heard every single reverb that sent chills to my spine they were so pleasing to listen to. I can very easily keep going but Audio-Technica, at least to me and my ears, did a splendid complaint free mid section.
The bass in the 1000X’s are controlled and have a presence to their impact but aren’t heavy. I wouldn’t recommend these in any regards to bass lovers or people who really enjoy the heavy rock genre but I think those who enjoy techno will feel rather at home in them for they do keep up with the beat rather effortlessly. I usually try to elaborate on my explanations a little bit but that actually summed up my thoughts pretty spot on in reference to the bass on these.
In summary, the Audio-Technica ATH-AD1000X is a very well done and made headphone (at the prices you can find if you shop around for, not the full retail price). They truly excel in audio that doesn’t have a lot of moving pieces and when played to their strengths will deliver a beautifully intimate listening experience.
Also, make sure to check out my unboxing and review videos. They’re pretty awesome AND you getta put a face to the Army-Firedawg name. If this review helped you out at all please hit that thumbs up button for it really helps me out a lot. Till next time my friends, stay safe.
Pros - Amazing upper mids & treble; nice soundstage with an 'upfront' slant; great detail without harshness
Cons - Steep bass rolloff; lower mids underpowered next to upper mid peak; shallow cups
Audio-Technica: Headphones for Weirdos. Unnecessarily complicated headbands; midrange skewed in favour of Japanese-schoolgirl sopraninos; bass left crying in a back alley somewhere. A model range whose tuning adheres or abandons these guiding precedents at random, further confused by special editions that disappear the same instant someone at head-fi.org notices them.
For fans of the brand, it’s exactly this unpredictability that keeps us addicted. When the dealer shows up on your block, you never know if you’re swapping your rent money for A-grade blow or laundry powder. But it doesn’t matter. Good trip, bad trip; it’s all part of the ride. Just gimme more and maybe I’ll see you in rehab at Christmas. Bring your own damn headamp.
Right now, I’m tripping balls. AD1000Xs levitate over bed hair, too-shallow earcups nipping at the corners of my dumbo wings, London Elektricity rolling hyper-languidly from the big 53mm drivers. Rain falls boredly outside. The low end rolloff leaves my drum ‘n’ bass as just drum, but oh Holy Lord, that manic percussion. And those vocals... This is twisted, but it’s so good.
Pause to listen closer and - dammit! that’s two overdubbed guitars right there, not one! - it’s the synth pads that get you right in the emotional nodes. So wide. So liquid. It’s low viscosity, maybe sometimes thin, running more like clean motor oil than mayonnaise, but that seems to leave transient details so much freedom to swim above it. Reverb tails swell almost to the point of obscenity. Anything in the upper mids (think finger noises on guitar strings, or the wet mechanical chuffs of a human larynx) that’s been treated to a touch too much compression in the studio become semi-distracting through the AD1kx.
It’s the strong emphasis on the upper vocal presence region that can make music selection an anxious ordeal. I fired up 2+2=5 from Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief, expecting Thom’s ecstatic caterwaul to be granted angel wings. Instead, Satan kicked me in the nuts and fondled my girlfriend. Thom’s keening was swallowed alive by a hungry, thin-sounding wall of distorted guitars. It was the midrange equivalent of peering through one’s mail slot at a nuclear explosion. Stay the goshdarn everloving ****** away from anything that’s mastered on the aggressive/dry/thin side.
On the other hand, cue up All That You Give from the Cinematic Orchestra and prepare to fire the water cannons. So much pain so simply put. A voice with such heft it cracks under its own weight, rendered with such tenderness and respect by the A-Ts. You will weep. The cat will notice and it won’t care.
Bass is a token inclusion. It’s there and you can discern pitch and rhythm with ease, but it’s a featherweight support act to the midrange’s heavyweight title. You don’t buy these cans if you want impact anywhere below 80Hz. If you must, a well-designed analogue bass boost, such as that you’ll find on the JDS Labs C5, will give you what you need, but your eardrums will never suffer a Denon-like inversion.
Treble is lovely, liquid. You’ll enjoy a mostly smooth extension into the upper octave without ever straying into sibilance, even with your knob wound past twelve o’clock. This, in concert with the twisted mids, is where these cans gather their much-advertised ‘air’. Details are detailed. Space is spacious. Glitches and artifacts are obvious and annoying. You can hear the room interactions change as the vocalist steps forward or backward in the booth. I am a tightarse with too many hobbies to afford many sets of headphones, but this is the best treble presentation I’ve ever heard.
Taken all at once, these things are a complicated but addictive proposition. All-rounders they are not. Some days will not be AD1000X days for you, no matter what you dig out of your library. But like any addiction, it can strike you down with a craving when you least expect it. You itchily wait out the remaining hours at your desk, rush home, bolt the door and sink into your listening chair. Those amazing, coloured mids and that shimmering, soap-bubble treble pour via your ears into your soul. If this is the fate of an AD1kx addict, you’re hooked.
Pros - Excellent build quality, comfortable, airy soundstage, mid colouration beautiful for female vocals
Cons - Bass still not linear, may lack transparency for some
The below review is a summary of a full comparison of the AD1000X to the AD900X and Sony MA900 found here:
I also made a Youtube review of the AD1000X. If you like the video check out my channel for more reviews!
The AD1000X has fantastic build quality with a magensium alloy frame. The 3D wing design is comfortable, though it does not work for everyone's head. The AD1000X features angled velour earpads that are quite comfortable. The angle helps the headphones conform to the shape of the skull. The AD1000X has a double entry cable unlike the AD900X. I actually prefer single entry cables but from a balanced channel design standpoint I suppose this is a good thing.
The AD1000X is actually quite different in signature from the AD900X, and in many ways reminds me of a less extreme version of the AD2000 (which was beautiful but could sound honky and grainy at times). First off, the AD1000X does not have the same sense of transparency that the AD900X has. It sounds immediately like a headphone that has been tweaked for a particular signature, with particular emphasis on two sections: an upper bass peak that gives everything a sense of solidity and punch, as well as a lower treble peak that emphasises the breathiness of female vocals and gives everything an emotive and exciting tone. To me the AD1000X has a beautiful and engaging tuning, and actually sounds a little less clinical and dry than the AD900X. It’s liquid and extended (but never harsh). What is also very immediately obvious is that the AD1000X does not have the same incoherency that the AD900X could have at times. The AD1000X sounds laser beam clean, and things just pop and burst on the soundstage.
I think the AD1000X is a pretty fantastic package, though it is definitely classic Audio Technica with a tuning that may not appeal to everyone. It sounds clean without sounding boring, and has great build quality to boot. For the current Amazon Japan pricing I would strongly recommend it to anyone after an airy, atmospheric and exciting headphone!