Open-Air Dynamic Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000

Rating:
4.33333/5,
  • Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000 Over-Ear, Opened back dynamic headphones.

    Features:
    58 mm integrated driver units utilize a Permendur magnetic circuit with exceptional magnetic characteristics
    Japanese craftsmanship: Each housing is carefully hand assembled in Tokyo
    Tungsten-coated diaphragm provides high rigidity for an improved transient response
    Integrated driver unit design combines diaphragm, voice coil, baffle and magnet in single unit to reduce unwanted vibration
    Each pair of headphones is individually identified by a laser etched serial number and comes with a specially designed hard carrying case
    Newly developed Core Mount Technology places driver unit in optimal position for improved airflow and excellent full-range audio reproduction
    Magnesium frame results in rigid, thin, lightweight construction
    New honeycomb-punched housing design blocks side ventilation to prevent undesirable air pressure loss
    Luxurious Alcantara material used on earpads and headband, providing amazing comfort and durability
    Detachable 3.0 m (9.8') cable with A2DC (Audio Designed Detachable Coaxial) connectors at the headphones and 6.3 mm (1/4") gold-plated stereo plug

    Specifications:
    Type : Open-back dynamic
    Driver Diameter : 58 mm
    Frequency Response : 5 – 50,000 Hz
    Maximum Input Power : 1,000 mw
    Sensitivity : 100 dB/mW
    Impedance : 420 ohms
    Weight : 270 g
    Cable : Detachable 3.0 m (9.8') cable with A2DC connectors
    Connector : 6.3 mm (1/4") gold-plated stereo plug
    Accessories Included : Hard carrying case

Recent Reviews

  1. Taisser Roots
    Intimate competitor to the hd800
    Written by Taisser Roots
    Published Jan 14, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Detail retrieval, the mid tone and timbre, imaging, clarity, seperation, comfort and fit
    Cons - Thin sounding, bass performance, lacks overall impact, staging can reach extremities
    I'm grateful for the people at audio sanctuary for letting me demo these headphones. I know a thanks is meaningless when my wallet should do the talking as they are a business.

    I got to try these running off of the Dave and with the skull amp at audio sanctuary, alongside a lot of other totl headphones.
    I feel like these compare most closely with the hd800 and to some extent the hek v1

    I don't really have set music tastes. Quite recently drake, Charlotte Cardin and Amy Winehouse have been the artist's I have listened to the most.

    Starting with comfort.
    These are on the comfortable light side of the spectrum. Anyone who knows me from discord knows that I am really sensitive to weight and clamp, to the extent that I find the utopia uncomfortable after a few minutes. This doesn't feel as rigid as the hd800 on my head but clamps a bit more and sort of dissapears like my hd580 does.

    Moving on to sound.
    Bass
    The bass levels aren't much higher than the hd800, if at all. It feels more punchier and more dynamic, and sometimes there is some minor bloat relative to the hd 800. It doesn't have the same level texture but matches a greater variety of genre, simply by having a greater sense of impact. This isn't a warm can by any means and at times can feelanaemic due to the lack of depth. Anyone who had visited a concert or been arounddrummers should know how a kickdrumfeels, while in recordings some mastering is at play, neither truely convey the impact of something like that.

    The mids are where the ad5000x really shine. I'm particularly sensitive to mid tone so it won't come as a surprise that the stuffiness of the hd800 really coloured the tone. Whilethe texture came through on it, it sounded really stuffy, as if there was no presence. Thead5000x isn't really weebfi by any means.The upper mids relative to lower mids ismore balanced, I'd go as far as saying the upper mids aren't as bumped in fr as the er4sr Charlotte Cardin's main girl (stripped) and Amy Winehouse's back to black both highlight the raw meatiness of the artist's vocals without getting shouty. It conveys this in a way which doesn't sound smoothed over in a very Romantic sweet way.
    While the upper mids can seem slightly emphasised compared to my hd580 it's so slight that I had to keep switching between them to notice the extra presence. The extra texture made it quite hard to discernbecause it didn't have the same overall relaxed balance as the 580. The mid timbreand tone between the two are different, butit's quite a subtle difference, just notsomething you have to work on to figure out. Pianos and accoustic guitars came through really well with an accurate tone. You had a sense of the individual strums and the air being pushed, overall there was a lot of resolution in terms of texture being conveyed. Aggressive pianos conveyed that sense of aggression with no attempt to hide the nastier parts of the sound. It allows asignificant amount of character to be addedto each instrument, as you would. Brass instruments have the raspiness that you get(why I never liked the trumpet), stringsresonate in the space and have the edge that they do when pushed. These doesn't smooth over detail, which makes it quite unforgiving with poorly mastered songs and anything using instruments which are usedaggressively which might not play into otherstastes. It does add character to instruments,which for people like me, makes me more involved in the sound.

    The lower treble provides a good amount ofair which is similar to that of the hd800. It doesn't feel closed in despite it's smaller stage and because of that sounds seem to exist within a space and decay into the space. The issue with the hd800 is that the airhighlights the stuffy mids by isolating them in space.
    In this particular instance I don't get it, but the lower treble of either doesn't bother me, like the x2 did, or the hs1551. Both conveysome form of sibilance in sibilant songs, but the air allows it to dissipate. The nature of the sibilance in both is quite different. The hd800 seems more subdued and dulled as opposed to veiled. The adx5000 has more sustain and more body making it a tiny bit more prominent, but the timbre of it is different. Which sibilance is natural is beyond me, I prefer the adx5000 here due to preference, I can't say which is technically better in this regard, only that they portray it differently. Neither has painful sibilancewhich bleeds into the rest of the sound, it'sjust there.
    In terms of mid treble and it's integrationwith lower treble, the headphone works really well.
    The cymbals have a TISHHhhhh sound as oppose to the TUSHH of the clear or the TISSsss of the he100v1. Treble is conveyed accurately with a good timbre. One thing tonote is that these headphones will spit glare at you when dealing with glarey treble in the mix because of this, they're definitely unforgiving
    I personally believe that technically superior unforgiving headphones still sound betterthan low quality ones on a poorly mastered songs, other people will focus on this more.
    I should mention most of my listening is focused around the mids, I'm not a treble head, so the treble glare isn't particularlyannoying to me.
    Coming back to the mid treble I can't help but feel it is ever so slightly veiled in comparison to the hd800, despite theresolution and accuracy. The treble of neither bothers me too much, so the veil hasn't meant that I think the glare is worse than it is, since both of these headphones do that.

    Being an idiot I mentioned air in the lower treble part, when it's upper treble. I'm not bothered to redo the structure of this so I'llcarry on. Both are quite airy headphones. But the hd800 is superior in this sense. Itconveys a greater sense of air which makes sounds seem more in place than theadx5000 at times. It's quite a stark difference. Both are more airy than the focals and to some extent the he1000v1 can sit in between the two.

    Presentation is slightly different on the two. The adx5000 had more body to the sound, it was quite noticeable. However it was far from the utopias which is the king ofheadphones in this regard. It maybe had more body than the he1000v1 but don't quote me on that. Nevertheless, it is still thin, lacks impact and dynamics.

    In terms of staging they are quite different.The adx5000 has a smaller soundstage and is therefore quite closer. I believe it's equal in width to the hekv1. In addition to the body itcreates a more intimate sound. The level of seperation and imaging created a good stage in which instruments and vocals came fromdifferent places with a good amount of depth to seem convincing. The sounds didn't seemrounded at the source and neither did they seem to dissipate all over the stage andsmother it. The good level of clarity added to this stage. But these stages were quite close and at times sounds could come 70° off from in front of you. It's disorientating and attimes annoying.

    This doesn't do the same thing the hd800 does with staging. The closest thing to thehd800 was the kuru da, but I believe that is a technically worse, thinner and a less enjoyable headphone. While I initially thought there was a limit on how close the sounds on the hd800 are from you. It wasquite clear that this is a result of the staging properties in general. It is an out of yourhead kind of sound, the stage is in front ofyou, not a metre a way but closer to what you get at a performance. On that stage there is a great amount of depth, it expandsfar and not at weird extremities to you. Because of this the superior imaging andseperation, alongside the air provides the most accurate sense of stage you could probably get in a headphone. It's quite unique and hard to describe. To some it can feel diffuse (kind of me), but for people who enjoy this, the staging capacity of this headphone is unmatched and the adx5000 doesn't touch this whatsoever. It's staging is more typical to a headphone.

    In conclusion I prefer the adx5000, I like the extra body and more accurate mid tone, as those are my preferences. I feel as though this tuning allows it to resolve slightly betterthan the hd800 by conveying a greater sense of texture.
    The hd800 on the other hand has it's unique staging akin to speakers. It's the thickest sounding of this kind of headphone and I feel as though the tuning aids it's sense of staging.
    Both are analytical and unforgiving headphones with accurate treble and a thin sound, but that's as far as the similarities go.

    Sorry for the wall of text.
  2. Aornic
    Airy Detail Retrieval
    Written by Aornic
    Published Jan 9, 2018
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Great detail retrieval and resolve, upper-midrange emphasis and air, very light in weight
    Cons - Bass performance, headband fitting a bit awkward, slight haze in the treble


    Thanks to Audio Sanctuary in New Malden, London, for once again providing me with their display model of a headphone for in-house review.


    Specifications

    Type: Open-back dynamic

    Driver Diameter: 58 mm

    Frequency Response: 5 – 50,000 Hz

    Maximum Input Power: 1,000 mw

    Sensitivity: 100 dB/mW

    Impedance: 420 ohms

    Weight: 270 g

    Cable: Detachable 3.0 m (9.8') cable with A2DC connectors

    Connector: 6.3 mm (1/4") gold-plated stereo plug

    Accessories Included: Hard carrying case

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    Build Quality, Comfort & Features

    The build quality of the ADX5000 seems to prioritize its light weight over all else. While not quite utilising flimsy materials, I wouldn’t call it the most robust headphone - it rattles and creaks a little when handled. The headband is an interesting design, although not one that I found entirely suitable for my own use. It kind of sits slightly above your head, no matter how much you adjust it - and it rests awkwardly if you pull it down for a closer fit as it digs into your sides slightly. It’s also covered in fabric that is quite the dust magnet.

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    According to the Audio-Technica website, the way they were able to achieve such a light weight was because the “58 mm integrated driver units combine a tungsten-coated diaphragm, baffle and Permendur magnetic circuit in a single unit to reduce unwanted vibration and, since no screw clamps are required, decrease the weight.” I can’t highlight this aspect enough, as this is the lightest pair of full-sized headphones that I’ve reviewed to date. Despite that, the awkwardness of the headband on the sides of my head took away from the experience a bit - but it still overall made my Utopia feel like goliath by comparison.

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    [​IMG]
    The connectors are A2DC, which stands for Audio Designed Detachable Coaxial. They’re so tiny that they feel more suitable for in-ear monitors, but I understand why they were chosen due to the emphasis on weight reduction. The provided cable itself is 3 metres long and terminated in a ¼ inch plug. I would have liked to have seen a balanced 4-pin XLR cable included as well, as I’m not sure just how easily one can find an aftermarket solution with these connectors.

    Sound

    The ADX5000 is a very resolving headphone in the upper-midrange and treble. It has fantastic imaging capabilities and decent staging width. This is in full effect in layered productions, for example the Siamese Dream album by the Smashing Pumpkins because this headphone’s ability to separate the tracks in a mix are highly commendable. Detail retrieval and air are the name of the game with this headphone, and I appreciate it for that.

    That being said, it was quickly noticeable to me that the bass performance was downright lacking by comparison to the rest of this headphone. While having more weight and body to it than the Sennheiser HD800, it lacks the texture and precision that I thought would be par for the course for a headphone that is attempting to accomplish this level of resolve. Not only that, but it seemed to lag behind a little in transients as well, leading to a plodding sound with several faster rock and metal tracks. I understand that the ADX5000 is tuned with the midrange and treble in mind primarily, but it really was like the bass performance was from another headphone without quite the same capabilities. It also lacks impact and dynamics in this region as well, with the thunderous introduction to Enter Sandman by Metallica feeling a bit thin – in terms of both the drums and the underlying bass guitar feeling muted.

    It may sound like I’m quite disappointed here, and initially I may have been, but I reminded myself that not all headphones need to adhere to a certain tuning – nor did they need to give the same priority to a sonic feature. With that in mind, I appreciated the other aspects of this headphone quite quickly. The midrange has a very nice amount of body, an aspect I found sorely lacking on the aforementioned Sennheiser HD800. Listening to the vocal layering in Dreams by Fleetwood Mac was a highly positive experience, for not only did the headphone bring out the nuance of each track – they were presented in a manner I found pleasurably realistic. On the subject of detail retrieval again, it was with this headphone that I heard the second, very subtle, humming (0:11 in) in the introduction for the first time. As the chorus hits and voices pile on with an acoustic guitar, I don’t get the feeling that this headphone is especially lush or even trying to be. It prioritizes a dry, analytical sound – which makes sense to me with just how much it seeks to bring out of a mix.

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    When it comes to instrument timbre on this headphone, I found that it’s very much tied to a few factors. As we’re on the topic of midrange, let’s highlight guitars as an example. I could throw on some early-2000s Nu-Metal, like In The End by Linkin Park and find myself thoroughly stabbed in the ears by thin and unsatisfying guitar work in the chorus. Poorly recorded/mastered songs don’t have a place on this headphone, to me, and will sound harsh and the opposite of a pleasurable listening experience. However, if you take the ADX5000’s analytical nature to a song like The Chain by Fleetwood Mac, you will enjoy every pluck of Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar playing thoroughly. While still slightly on the leaner side than a live acoustic guitar, the headphone’s sparkle and transients made for a very precise and accurate presentation – especially in that part where it rattles a bit.

    Indeed, the ADX5000 is a very open-sounding headphone and possesses more air than my Focal Utopia, which has better all-around balance, dynamics and impact. The upper-midrange emphasis can be heard from the first few seconds of Nefertiti by Miles Davis, with the trumpet having very nice, air-splitting texture – as it should. I don’t find the highs encumbered on this headphone at all, extension is well in place and not rolled. There is a slight dip somewhere that prevents it from being especially sibilant to me, I’m particularly sensitive to 6k for example, and I found it laid back overall without being too hot or forward in this region. Once again, I will recommend using well recorded and mastered music with this, because all my above praises fall short if you throw some brickwalled guilty pleasure music onto this. Cymbal work is especially impressive, darting from side to side as a result of this headphone’s imaging capabilities while maintaining the full amount of emphasis needed to not sound thin or rolled off in any sense. A bell cymbal sounds like a bell cymbal, and a crash sounds as full as it should. Indeed, it seems my complaints about the bass performance not being impactful enough did not quite extend to the treble region.

    My one nitpick with the treble, however, is that it seems slightly unclear sometimes. It’s as if there’s a tiny amount of film on the recording, one that disappears if I switch to my Utopia. I’m not sure how this came to be, but all the detail retrieval capabilities that this headphone possesses might not mean much to you if you hear this and are fixated on having the lowest noise floor possible in your listening experience. I did swap out several different tubes, and tried this on my solid state amplifier (a worse experience, I do recommend some nice detail-emphasized tubes for this) but I still felt this sensation.

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    Overall I do quite like this headphone – but I wouldn’t want it as my daily driver. Like some headphones that I’ve reviewed in the past, I can personally only really see it as a flavour can as my musical taste is so varied that I can’t only pair this with genres that gel well with it – jazz, classic rock, classical, female vocals etc. To date, it’s been the headphone to most take advantage of my reference source chain in terms of detail retrieval. A thought that often crept into my mind while listening, however, was that this headphone reminds me a lot of balanced armature in-ear monitors. My limited experience with them has taught me that they can really bring out the finer details in a mix, but the bass is sometimes a bit disappointing compared to dynamic-driver bass – to me anyway.

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    Sound Comparison to the Focal Utopia

    While the ADX5000’s staging width is clearly superior to the Utopia, I struggled when it came to evaluating imaging prowess and depth between the two. I honestly feel they go neck-and-neck, which is impressive considering the MSRP difference. Where the Utopia is the clear winner, however, is with its near-electrostatic level speed, thunderous impact and all-around dynamic sound. By comparison, the ADX5000 feels thin and slightly subdued, especially with some genres that call for some bombast.

    The Utopia also has more focused bass; textured, precise and fast in transient response. The ADX5000, while having the fullness and volume in this region that the Sennheiser HD800 might lack, misses all these marks quite a bit. My initial surprise at its bass performance gave away to being impressed with the rest of it, but I still do find it to be rather unsatisfying in this region.

    The Utopia’s midrange has bit more body to it, especially in the lower-midrange, than the ADX5000. This leads to more crunch with distorted electric guitars and slightly more woody bloom with acoustics. That being said, and while the Utopia has fantastic detail-retrieval, I feel that this aspect might slightly mask its ability to pull as much out of a mix as the ADX5000. The Audio-Technica flagship is the first dynamic-driver headphone that I’ve heard that slightly edges the Utopia out in this regard – it’s actually more analytical. What the Utopia does have is more clarity, relating to what I said earlier about the treble on the ADX5000 being slightly grainy. I’ve heard people complain the the beryllium driver of the Utopia might sound too cold and steely before, but I do prefer that to a slight graininess personally. To go along with its wider soundstage, the ADX5000 is also the more “open” sounding of the two headphones. It has airiness, and while neither headphone has a roof of sorts – it just seems to go further with its presentation. It’s also less forgiving than the Utopia, which itself isn’t very forgiving – as the ADX5000 can sound absolutely shrill from poor recordings rather than just harsh like on the Focal.

    Amping

    At 420 ohms, this required slightly more volume on my Dragon Inspire IHA-1 tube amplifier than other dynamic-driver headphones I’ve tried with it, but it wasn’t at an unheard of setting regardless. I did find that slightly smoother tubes rounded off the highs a bit on the ADX5000 to a level I preferred.

    Out of my Audio-GD NFB-28, I found the bass to be fuller but still lacking texture and impact. The detail retrieval aspect of the headphone was still impressive, but muted slightly due to the amp’s dampened-sounding nature.

    Conclusion

    While my concerns of this headphone make it so I wouldn’t want one personally, I really do see how it can be a great fit for someone who wants a dry, analytical and airy sound in their headphone. The ADX5000’s ability to separate a mix is its main selling point, as the detail retrieval slightly edges out the Focal Utopia. If you prioritise the genres that this headphone works well with, I do believe that you would enjoy it a lot.
      xxx1313, Taisser Roots and Sp12er3 like this.
    1. Mshenay
      Ick a real shame about it having a softer some what diffuse low end in general :/ My mid production Sextett is much the same, the only way I found to add some solidity and improved texture was to run it phase reversed through my Solid State amp. At 420 Ohms I imagine this might gain some real solidity with a Phase Reversed Solid State as well but it might loose some of that Airiness, get even harsher up top and have some problems with imaging, ick ick ick ick nice review though thank you!
      Mshenay, Jan 11, 2018
  3. earfonia
    Glorious Sound!
    Written by earfonia
    Published Dec 26, 2017
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Excellennt detail, transparency, transient and dynamic. Lightweight.
    Cons - Headband creaks. No shorter cable included, only one long (3m) cable with proprietary A2DC connectors.
    Shortest description I can give for Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000 sound signature is, Glorious! It is one of the few headphones that I’ve tried, that makes me want to listen to more music.

    Many thanks to Audio-Technica Singapore for the loan of Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000 for reviewing purpose!
    http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/headphones/13caf776f0ed2aa4/index.html/

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    Pros:
    Superb detail and transparency.
    Excellent transient and dynamic. Faster and tighter than both HD800 and T1.
    Natural tuning, highly recommended for Pro Audio applications.

    Cons:
    Headband creaks.
    No shorter cable included, only one long (3m) cable with proprietary A2DC connectors.

    Suggestions for Improvement:
    To fix the creaking headband.
    To include shorter cable and balanced cable.

    Recommendation:
    Recommended for those who are looking for very detailed and transparent sounding headphone with laser focus instrument separation and imaging.
    Not recommended for those who are looking for smooth and warm sounding headphone.

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    Sound Quality
    Perceived as slightly on the brighter side of neutral, but overall pretty natural sounding with very minimum coloration.
    Extremely wide frequency response. The sub-bass and upper treble extensions are incredible.
    Extremely fast transient with good dynamic.
    Superb detail extraction and very resolving.
    Lean on the analytical side but in a very good and musical way.

    I would put ATH-ADX5000 in the family of Sennheiser HD800 and Beyerdynamic T1 sound signature category. Rather on the brighter side of neutral with excellent transparency, clarity, and detail. Clearly not in the warm headphones category. Detail retrieval and micro-dynamic are probably the biggest strength of ATH-ADX5000. Very realistic presentation from the very high level of detail. I always think that my HD800 and T1 are very good in detail retrieval, but ATH-ADX5000 beats them both in revealing micro details and micro-dynamics.

    Thomas Örnberg's Blue Five - Black Beauty is one of the test track that I often use for treble peak test. And I’m glad to say that Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000 performs pretty well playing the Black Beauty. Being slightly on the brighter side of neutral it does sometimes slightly overemphasized the trumpet, but it is still below my threshold for ‘peaky treble’.

    I usually not a big fan of bright sounding headphones, because they usually sound thin around the midrange and bass. Fortunately, ATH-ADX5000 doesn’t sound thin. It has a good level of tonal density around the midrange and bass. Vocal presented in a natural manner, not too thin and not overly thick. I played my regular vocal test tracks from ‘The World Greatest Audiophile Vocal Recording’ by Chesky Records on ATH-ADX5000, vocal reproduction was very natural, and close to perfect to me. Bass is tight with good weight, punch, and beautifully textured. The sub-bass extension is simply awesome. The sub-bass from Jurassic Park soundtracks sounds deep and tight with realistic sub-bass rumble. It has very good quality bass, fast attack and very well controlled. But the bass level is more on the neutral side and far from being bass heavy.

    I would give 5 stars for the sound quality of ATH-ADX5000. It is clearly in the league of highly recommended flagship headphones.

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    Comparisons

    Sennheiser HD800 & HD800S
    Most of the comparisons below were done using Audio-Technica AT-HA5050H for the desktop setup, and Chord Mojo for the portable setup. At 100 dB/mW sensitivity, the ATH-ADX5000 has about the same sensitivity as the HD800. So volume setting is about comparable between the 2, with ATH-ADX5000 only sounds a bit louder at the same volume level. So as a high impedance headphone, ATH-ADX5000 is relatively easy to drive.

    Having HD800 for many years, although I admit it is a great headphone, but to be honest I’m not a great fan of it, especially when listening to vocal. As I would like to have more tonal density around the midrange and bass area from HD800. I was hoping HD800S gives the improvement that I’ve been waiting for HD800, but unfortunately, it is not there yet. HD800S less bright tonality is surely a welcome change, but the bass quality is not as tight, textured, and authoritative as I would like to hear from a headphone in that price range.

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    Comparing the 3 great headphones, HD800, HD800S, and Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000, I choose the Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000 as the winner for sound quality. While HD800 and HD800S win in the comfort department. In my opinion they are in the same family of tuning, clear, transparent, and revealing type of sound signature. Meaning, those who like HD800 type of sound signature would most probably like Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000. ATH-ADX5000 has about the same perceived treble brightness as HD800. Probably in between HD800 and HD800S, closer to HD800. When listening to saxophone tracks, ATH-ADX5000 sounds more natural than HD800. HD800 sometime may sound rather thin and ‘shouty’ on saxophone. ATH-ADX5000 has more tonal density in the mids and bass than HD800. Not too much, just nice to give more weight to the overall sound. Bass on the ATH-ADX5000 sounds punchier, tighter, with more dynamic than HD800. Although it is debatable if HD800 is a good headphone for vocal or not, for me it is clearly not my headphone of choice for vocal. I prefer HD800 for listening classical orchestras. But ATH-ADX5000 is different. Although it is not those warm sounding headphones that make vocal sounds full-bodied and lush, ATH-ADX5000 performs very well on vocal, IMHO better than HD800. HD800 vocal generally sounds rather thin for me, while ATH-ADX5000 vocal sounds fuller and has the right amount of thickness and weight while maintaining the high level of clarity and detail. Overall vocal just sounds more accurate and more natural on ATH-ADX5000.

    The main improvement I hear from ATH-ADX5000 over HD800 and HD800S is the dynamic and tonal density around the bass and midrange area. Bass has more punch, faster, and tighter with better texture. The midrange has more weight and body, and sounds more natural to my ears. I do feel ATH-ADX5000 has faster transient, more detail extraction, and has better overall dynamic than both HD800 and HD800S. Percussions sound more realistic with richer micro details on ATH-ADX5000. Piano sound has more weight, dynamic, and better percussive feeling to it. In short, ATH-ADX5000 is like HD800 with extra oomph. When comparing the 3 headphones with many different types of recordings, I keep wanting to go back to ATH-ADX5000 as it gives stronger musical engagement than HD800 and HD800S. To my ears, ATH-ADX5000 is the winner here.

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    Beyerdynamic T1 (First Generation)
    My T1 sounds smoother with more polite presentation (less dynamic) compared to ATH-ADX5000. ATH-ADX500 has more sparkling treble, therefore perceived as slightly brighter. ATH-ADX500 is also faster in transient and can be perceived as more aggressive and lively sounding than T1. ATH-ADX5000 wins in dynamic and transient and can be perceived as more engaging than T1. Bass and percussions sound weightier with more realistic dynamic on ATH-ADX5000. T1 bass is simply not as good and as realistic as ATH-ADX5000 fast and textured bass. But for the treble part, I prefer the T1 smoother treble. With some bright recordings, ATH-ADX5000 may sound a bit too bright, while T1 sounds friendlier to the ears. Overall I still prefer the ATH-ADX5000, especially for listening to audiophiles recordings and classical orchestra. Instrument separation is way better and more distinct on ATH-ADX5000, that makes classical orchestra sounds more lively and realistic. In summary, compared to Beyerdynamic T1, ATH-ADX5000 sounds more transparent and more realistic due to the higher level of detail, resolution, clarity, and dynamic.


    Focal Utopia
    I had a chance to compare ATH-ADX5000 with Focal Utopia. Utopia sounds less bright, slightly smoother and warmer while having pretty close level of speed, detail, transparency, and dynamic. ADX5000 has more sparkling treble and may be perceived as slightly more transparent. Utopia has thicker tonal density, and to me, more musically engaging especially with vocals. Utopia tuning is more friendly to the ears, makes it a better all-rounder than the ATH-ADX5000. While ATH-ADX5000 may be perceived to have a bit faster transient, probably due to the brighter tonality. My personal preference for tonality is closer to Focal Utopia, but at much lower price the ATH-ADX5000 competes pretty well with Utopia, especially in the detail, clarity, speed, and dynamic.

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    Comfort & Build Quality
    Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000 is quite lightweight and comfortable. I have no issue wearing it for a long listening session. But when compared to Sennheiser HD800, HD800 with deeper earcups and unique ergonomic does feel more comfortable than Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000. The Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000 earcups are shallower than HD800 earcups and touch my pinae slightly, but so far doesn’t cause any irritating feeling even after a long session. From what I feel the headband clamp is rather tight but not too tight. Tighter than the ATH-R70x.Probably because it is still new. I’m ok with the clamping force, but I guess some people might prefer a slightly less tight headband. My son who helped me to test it also said he is ok with the clamping force. I would say the overall comfort level is good.

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    Design wise, ATH-ADX5000 reminds me of ATH-R70x that I reviewed last year. It shares the R70x industrial utilitarian style, but overall ATH-ADX5000 feels more solidly built. At only around 270 grams (headphone only), ATH-ADX5000 is a lightweight headphone.

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    For build quality, I only have 1 concern, the headband creaks. Not too bad, but occasionally can be a bit annoying. I would say for a headphone at this price level, the creaking headband is not acceptable. Hopefully Audio-Technica will fix it soon.

    The A2DC connector provides tight and secure connection, seems better than other type of headphone cable connectors. Time will tell. I just hope that Audio-Technica will include shorter cable. The 3m included cable is too long for desktop use. And at the moment not easy to get replacement cable with the A2DC connectors.

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    ATH-ADX5000 comes with a fairly large suitcase style headphone case. I imagine smaller case might be more useful for Pro Audio people to travel with ATH-ADX5000. But it is not a big deal to get smaller headphone if necessary.

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    DAC and Amplifier pairings
    ATH-ADX5000 is relatively easy to drive. Any system good for HD800 will most probably pairs well with ATH-ADX5000. At rather loud listening level, I measured max output of the headphone amp at more or less around 1.2 Vrms. Most DAPs and DACs will have no problem to output 1.2 Vrms. So there is no special requirement to drive ATH-ADX5000 to achieve sufficient loudness. Most desktop Amp or even USB DAC Amp will be sufficient. But as expected, I personally would avoid analytical DAC Amp such as my ifi micro iDSD & Questyle CMA600i. The Audio-Technica AT-HA5050H pairs wonderfully with ATH-ADX5000. So are my Light Harmonic Geek Pulse XFi and Geek Out 2A.

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    Summary
    Audio-Technica did it again. ATH-ADX5000 is a serious contender to other flagship headphones. Personally, I think it is more competent than the widely acclaimed Sennheiser HD800 and Beyerdynamic T1, which is I consider as a big achievement for any headphone. ATH-ADX5000 ability to resolve details brings HD audio recordings to the next level of auditory experience. It is one of the most revealing headphones I ever tried. The large 58mm Tungsten coated diaphragm driver is capable to deliver a realistic level of dynamic and detail rarely heard from other headphones in this price category. ATH-ADX5000 deserves the place as a flagship reference headphone. Kudos Audio-Technica!




    Specifications:
    Type : Open-back dynamic
    Driver Diameter : 58 mm
    Frequency Response : 5 – 50,000 Hz
    Maximum Input Power : 1,000 mw
    Sensitivity : 100 dB/mW
    Impedance : 420 ohms
    Weight : 270 g
    Cable : Detachable 3.0 m (9.8') cable with A2DC connectors
    Connector : 6.3 mm (1/4") gold-plated stereo plug
    Accessories Included : Hard carrying case


    Equipment used in this review:
    Headphones:

    Beyerdynamic T1
    Focal Utopia
    Sennheiser HD800
    Sennheiser HD800S

    DACs & Headphone Amplifiers:
    Audio-Technica AT-HA5050H
    Chord Mojo
    LH Geek Pulse XFi
    LH Geek Out 2A
    ifi micro iDSD
    Questyle CMA600i


    Some recordings used in this review:
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