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Audio-Technica ATH-A2000Z

  • Commodity Description ■ New development Fai53㎜ driver spun the sound of Audio-Technica tradition. ■ excellent rigidity, effectively suppress unwanted vibration at high magnesium steel baffle internal loss. ■ a double structure housing increase the damping effect of air DADS ※ structure (PAT.) By reproducing the relaxed bass. ■ new 3D method wing support to keep a comfortable fit with excellent head balance and fair sealed feeling. ■ thorough pursuit of sound quality both left and right out of the left and right independent ground wire (4-wire) the structure of the code specifications. ■ fatigue even during long listening foam material of the three-dimensional sewing sleeves. ※ double air damping system. ~ All in the lightweight Chita two Umm housing that combines acoustic characteristics and high rigidity with excellent - for accurate sound reproduction, with a Shijun drivers craftsman was crafted carefully of Japan. Magnetic force to transmit the power inherent loss without "permendur made in Germany" and, improve the reproducibility of the sound to improve the transient characteristics by "pure iron yoke", greatly improving the driving force of the driver. In addition, the diaphragm that has been subjected to special coating by OFC-7N bobbin-wound voice coil and ultra-hard carbon material, which boasts the purity of the highest peak, the top mount PCB method to draw the movement of the precise diaphragm no uniform flow of air distortion adoption. ※ We are recommended to bear a high-resolution logo to products that conform to high-resolution definition of Japan Audio Society.

Recent Reviews

  1. twister6
    The Art of full size Monitors.
    Written by twister6
    Published Jun 21, 2016
    Pros - very resolving reference quality sound, lightweight, comfortable 3D wing support system, good isolation.
    Cons - non-removable cable, no case or storage pouch, titanium earcups can scratch.

    I would like to Thank Audio-Technica US for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion.
    Manufacturer website: http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/headphones/bbe1ef398d50789e/index.html ($649 directly from AT US), and also available from B&H.
    Also, in my review I used a few of the headphone stands from Geekria.  Was hoping to find a case for A2000Z, but instead ended up with a few review samples of their stands.
    * click on images to expand.

    Some people take a break from listening to IEMs/CIEMs by really taking a break, while in my case I take a break by… reviewing a pair of full size headphones.  It has been awhile since my last review of full size cans, and I figured it will give me a perfect opportunity to dust off a few of my other full size headphones for test and comparison.  Actually, as much as I’m fond of using in-ear monitors, often I prefer full size headphones with my laptop for a quick dj-style single earcup listening.  For awhile it used to be M50x, until I upgraded to MSR7 which is great straight out of my laptop HO.  Sometime I like to spoil myself with R70x, though the open back design limits my listening environment due to lack of isolation and sound leakage, not to mention these 470 ohm cans require a more powerful driving source.  But anyway...
    So, I’m back in a full size headphone review saddle and this time got a chance to listen to a pair of newly introduced ATH-A2000Z (A2kZ) full size closed back model from Audio-Technica Art Monitor series.  I had A2kZ for over 2 months, and finally got to the review.  I know it will sound cliché, but I really didn’t know what to expect when they arrived since there was very little info available about these headphones.  A few months later and there is still hardly any info about A2kZ.  Perhaps not as mainstream as ATs other consumer oriented models, I actually found A2kZ to be more suitable for audiophile enthusiasts and able to go head to head with other higher price competition.  So let’s take a closer took to see what I found after spending the last few months with A2kZ.
    Unboxing and accessories.
    I have reviewed a number of AT products in the past, and always look forward to the packaging with “Made in Japan” stamp of approval which includes bi-lingual (English and Japanese) info and the proud display of internal design.  Call me a geek, but I find it fascinating when company shares a detailed diagram of the internal design and clearly labels every single component.  Of course, you can also expect a bold glossy cover shot, a full detailed spec, and not only the diagram but also a detailed description of the design and various components associated with it.  With many headphones you can’t wait to take the product out of the box, while here I actually took my time enjoying the read about what awaits me inside.
    As much as I found the provided info on the back of the box to be very useful, the actual unboxing experience was a bit disappointing once you take the outer packaging sleeve off and look at the plain cardboard box with A2kZ inside.  Don’t get me wrong, the headphone looks very impressive, but I was just sad to see a plain box and NO accessories.  Besides a matching 1/4” adapter which screws on the 3.5mm TRS connector, you are not going to find anything else, not even a storage pouch.  The earcups do look sturdy, but since they don’t rotate, and nothing is folding, and the headband along with 3D wing support looks rather delicate – for the price of these headphones I would have expected at least some basic case or just a storage pouch.
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    The first impression of A2kZ out of the box was how lightweight and durable they felt.  It almost looks fragile when you see a headband with just 2 thin metal springs and a 3D wing support (similar to R70x) attached to a meaty earcup joints with a rigid pure titanium earcup housing.  But upon closer examination you’ll find a decent build quality and a solid connection between all the pieces.  These metal springs provide a very comfortable clamping force, and 3D wings eliminate the need for a height adjustment mechanism where the spring-loaded foam-padded “wings” provide a gentle support and keep metal springs of headband from coming into contact with the top of your head. 
    For those not familiar with this support system, it takes a few minutes of getting used to it, but since I had plenty of experience with R70x - it felt like at home from the get-go.  The only available adjustment in here is a slight angle of earcup rotation, just enough to adjust to the anatomy of your head shape.  As I mentioned before, clamping force was very comfortable, but earpads do get a bit hot after an extended listening session which has more to do with the material.  Perhaps the replacement of pleather earpads with velvet ones can solve this problem, though you have to keep in mind the sound will be affected.  I did confirm that earpads were removable, but you have to be sure to replace it with another angled pair since the magnesium alloy baffle is wider in the back and narrower up front.  Left/Right sides were clearly labeled outside of the headband, across the joints.   
    The exterior pure titanium housing is reflective, and underneath you have a special structure which AT referrers to as double air damping system (D.A.D.S.) designed to reproduce a deeper and more natural sounding bass.  I’m glad that AT also covered that in their design diagram on the back of the packaging, showing how this air pocket structure looks underneath the earcup.  There are a lot of interesting details about the interior design, such as proprietary large-aperture 53mm hand assembled drivers, and a precisely bobbin-wound voice coil using very high purity OFC-7N oxygen-free copper.  Every component was handpicked for the best audio performance, down to OFC-6N purity four-core cable. Unfortunately, the cable is not removable and you have to deal with 3.0m long umbilical cord intended for a typical desktop/studio use.
    This really affects portability of A2kZ since I can’t imagine anybody feeling comfortable walking around with a hefty 3 meter cable instead of a typical 1.2m portable cord.  The decision to use non-removable cable really bothered me because its R70x sibling with a very similar design had it implemented without a problem, not to mention that other AT models and the rest of the competition utilizes removable cables.  Why not implement the same R70x earcup cable lock mechanism in A2kZ?  I can understand the argument that AT engineers fine-tuned every component of the signal path down to a cable length and wire material, but it would have been such a great opportunity to try the replacement cable, not just for a shorter and more portable use, but also to switch to a balanced wired version since these definitely benefit from extra power.  Plus, removable cable helps with a neater storage of headphones when you find a suitable case.
    Bottom line, I was very impressed with a design, comfortable fit, excellent isolation and zero sound leakage, but found lack of removable cable to be a negative.  Also, I have a feeling that shiny titanium surface of earcups will have a polarizing opinion where some might prefer a less reflective finish, while others will be OK with it.  Also, I already noticed a few scratches across the titanium earcup housing.
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    The fit.
    Sound Analysis.
    After over 150 hrs of burn in, I hear A2kZ to have a neutral signature with a touch of mid-forward bias, and highly resolving and revealing natural tonality which is leaning more toward the brighter coloring.  I would go even as far as saying these are very much of a reference quality without being flat or analytical.  At 44 ohms with 101 dB/mW sensitivity you do need to push the power a little higher to bring the volume to a decent listening level and to reach the full potential of sound quality.
    Starting with lows, I hear a deep extended textured sub-bass rumble.  Mid-bass punch is snappy and closer to neutral level, has a good speed with a decent attack and a bit shorter decay.  The bass is tight and articulate, and I actually hear sub-bass to have a little more impact in comparison to mid-bass; overall low end has an excellent control without spilling into lower mids.  Lower mids are more on a leaner side, but still have enough body, and upper mids are very detailed and highly resolving without being harsh or grainy.  Tonality is on a brighter side, very revealing with an excellent retrieval of details.  But at the same time it never crosses sibilance threshold or becomes harsh.  I would say that tonality feels natural, but not smooth organic and maybe would benefit from a touch more warmth, depending on ones preference.  Here it's more about accuracy and resolution, rather than smooth warm presentation.  Treble is bright, crisp, extended, and with a great level of airiness which is impressive for a closed back design.  I never found the sound to be fatigue over an extended listening period.
    Soundstage has a pretty good width for a closed back full size headphones, definitely above the average.  Also, a great height expansion, but depth is just average, bringing the stage closer to you which keeps it from reaching holographic level of expansion.  Imaging has a very good placement of instruments and vocals, and accuracy of positioning is actually very good as well.  The sound has a very good separation of instruments with a rather decent layering effect where I can hear and feel air between the layers.
    All these comparisons were done using Lotoo PAW Gold as a source.
    A2kZ vs T5p.2 w/alpha pads - both have a very similar soundstage with above the average width and height, though I felt T5p had a little more depth. Also, T5p has a deeper sub-bass with a little more quantity, and also mid-bass punch is stronger and overall low-end has more impact in comparison to A2kZ being closer to neutral.  T5p lower mids are warmer and with more body, and upper mids are not as detailed, and sound warmer and smoother in comparison to A2kZ.  A2kZ treble is more extended and has more airiness.  Overall, alpha pads played a big role in shaping up T5p warmer and smoother signature, while A2kZ is more reference quality with a thinner and brighter expanded sound in comparison.
    A2kZ vs EL8C - EL8C soundstage has less width but more depth.  Also, EL8C sub-bass is more rolled off in comparison while A2kZ has more quantity, though mid-bass is very close in both.  Lower mids are leaner in EL8C, while EL8C upper mids are as bright but also a little harsher in comparison (exhibiting some metallic sheen). Treble is very similar in comparison.  With A2kZ vs EL8C, I hear A2kZ to be more refined and a little more natural in comparison, also with a better sub-bass extension.
    A2kZ vs PM3 – these have very similar soundstage expansion in all 3 directions.  Low end in PM3 has deeper sub-bass with more rumble and higher in quantity, and the same with mid-bass - more impact, though not as fast as A2kZ.  Lower mids in PM3 are warmer and thicker, and upper mids are not as detailed and revealing.  PM3 treble doesn't extend as far as A2kZ and lacks airiness in comparison.  Overall, A2kZ is more revealing, more transparent, brighter and detailed, while PM3 is smoother, warmer, with more bass and a little veiled in comparison.
    A2kZ vs R70x - R70x definitely has an advantage of an open back soundstage with a better expansion in all 3 directions.  Sub-bass is very similar, but R70x has more mid-bass impact though overall R70x bass is not as tight or articulate and a little slower.  R70x lower mids are warmer and a little thicker and upper mids are not as bright or revealing, but still very detailed and smooth and natural.  Both have well defined treble, but A2kZ is brighter and crispier.
    A2000Z vs R70x and T5p 2nd gen.
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    Pair up.
    A2kZ needs a little extra power to drive them to a full potential, and they are not as forgiving when it comes to poorly recorded music.
    Lotoo PAW Gold - excellent pair up, deep punchy bass, clear detailed mids, bright airy treble, excellent retrieval of details, and overall great dynamic performance.
    Opus#1 – is very similar to LPG, though maybe a touch slower bass, but the rest is similar with a bright airy treble and a very resolving sound.
    Opus#1 + Micro iDSD (through optical mini-toslink) - this pair up takes it to a whole new level with an even more articulate bass and surprisingly even wider soundstage expansion.
    Note 4 (smartphone) - just a proof that it's not intended for a portable use, the sound wasn't exciting, lost its energy, got a little warmer and less detailed in comparison to above.
    X7 w/AM2 - soundstage expansion is similar to LPG and Opus, sound quality is very resolving and with a great retrieval of details, definitely a reference quality performance.  Sub-bass is extended but a little less rumble and overall bass feels more neutral, mids are on a leaner side, very detailed, and treble is bright crisp and airy.
    X5ii - good soundstage width, great sub-bass extension and punchy mid-bass, a little more body in lower mids, though upper mids a bit more upfront and harsher/grainier.  Treble is bright, crisp and airy. I like bass and treble in this pair up, while upper mids were not my favorite part.
    DX80 - great soundstage expansion, deep sub-bass with a punchy mid-bass, the sound has more body and a little bit warmer, but still with an excellent resolution and great retrieval of details.  The treble is crisp and airy.  A very good pair up where the reference revealing signature of A2kZ balances very nicely with an expanded warmer signature of DX80.
    A2000Z pair up w/LPG and w/Opus#1 + Micro iDSD (optical).
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    The opportunity to test ATH-A2000Z turned out to be a pleasant surprise.  There is so much to like about these, from a lightweight build to a 3D wings support system (which I personally found very comfortable), and a nearly reference quality revealing crisp sound signature with a spacious, expanded, non-fatigue sound.  In the past I have reviewed a number of AT headphones, both in-ear and full size models, and the term "reference" usually doesn't come up in the description of their house sound.  Here AT managed to push the envelope by making the sound brighter, more revealing, more transparent, while still keeping it non-sibilant and without a single hint of harshness.  These might not suite the fans who crave a warm lush sound or those who want more bass impact since A2kZ signature is neutral and the sound is on a revealing side.  The only real negative for me was non-removable cable where the stock 3.0m cord puts a brake on a portable use or a balanced wired option.  Otherwise, it's a very impressive performer at a very reasonable price!
    1. View previous replies...
    2. twister6
      @gab840 : if you want to squeeze every ounce of performance and money is no object, go for T5p2 w/mr. speaker leather pads upgrade.  But at almost half the price, A2kz are seriously good.  If you want to save money, go for Art Series!
      twister6, Oct 8, 2016
    3. gab840
      Got it!!  Thx Twister  :
      gab840, Oct 9, 2016
    4. Halimj7

      Anyone how these compare with the ATH W5000? Thanks
      Halimj7, Dec 3, 2018


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