Audio-Technica ATH-R70x | R Series Professional Open Back Dynamic Reference Headphone

Rating:
4.45/5,
  1. zellous
    ATH-R70X, great sounding & extremely comfortable
    Written by zellous
    Published Aug 5, 2018
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Reference comfort, really excellent sound quality, detachable cable, great value
    Cons - Stock cable is too long for me, obscure left and right markings on the headphone, lack of optional accessories, not the largest ear pads/ear cups
    My audio connective trail and setup:

    16 & 24-Bit WAV lossless files,

    Foobar2000 with WASAPI event output,

    Digital optical toslink cable,

    Gustard DAC-X10 (with a HiFi Tuning internal fuse) connected to a custom solid core silver power cable,

    custom pure silver XLR cable/Oyaide Neo d+ class B XLR cable,

    S.M.S.L SAP-10 amplifier connected to a custom SOLID CORE PURE SILVER 99.999% 5N 2MM 12 AWG power cable,

    all connected to a custom Russ Andrews Yello power mains extension with a Supra gold plated UK mains plug with a gold plated AMR fuse inside.


    Hi everyone, mine is the made in Japan version (there is a made in Taiwan version too).

    These cans are the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn!

    They may be the lightest full size open back circumaural headphones I have ever tried too.

    They only weigh an astonishingly low 210g!

    And don’t think they are cheaply made or are fragile, no. They seem sturdy, robust and durable.

    I will quote what their site says:

    "Carbon composite resin improves structural rigidity.

    Acoustically transparent, aluminium honeycomb-mesh housings.

    Carbon fibre which improves rigidity and transient response.

    Perforated aluminium earcups (Honeycomb structure).

    Acoustically transparent, the aluminium honeycomb mesh housing delivers airy and natural spatial reproduction."


    The ear pads are not too thick, they are very comfortable and do not make you hot.

    The headband wings are so light but amazingly they keep the cans in place.

    For me it does not excessively clamp or put too much pressure on any part of my head.

    You can honestly wear these cans for many, many hours without any fatigue whatsoever. I know I have, you can very easily forget you are wearing them.

    I have even been able to lie down listening on my iPod on occasions relaxing with ease, if I tried that with an Audeze LCD headphone it will probably rip my ears off and fall on the bed and brake it!

    I have owned so many headphones, quite a few of them are pretty light and quite a few of them are very comfortable also but these are the undisputed kings and the reference for comfort.


    A massive well done to Audio Technica here, a truly great achievement : )


    Now the not so good stuff.

    I think the stock cable should not be so long at 3 metres, I prefer 1.5 or 2.

    The locking cable connectors are a good idea as they secure the plugs in place extremely well but this makes buying 3rd party cables very difficult.

    I do appreciate the detachable cable though.

    Audio Technica, please create a 4 pin XLR balanced cable for this headphone. I will buy it immediately.

    The left and right markings are on the inside of the frame, this is silly and should definitely be on the outside and clearly visible.

    I hope the ear pads are user replaceable and spare ear pads of different materials are available to buy too (I didn’t try to remove them).

    Some people may find the ear cups/ear pads not large enough to envelope their entire ears and the pads may press a little on your ears (this was not the case for me).


    Onto the sound quality.

    Oh my goodness! What a shock! I was not expecting this at all.

    I absolutely love them.

    I had a couple of Audio Technica cans before but these cans are so different and it’s made apparent immediately.

    Almost startling.

    They are unusual as they are pretty neutral in tonality but have some warmth, they are not analytical or boring but captivating and engaging.

    They are airy, spacious, detailed, clear, not bright and are natural sounding.

    They have great mids, deep and impactful bass, the vocals sound very good, they have great separation, they image well, have fast transients and are just very enjoyable to listen too.

    And all this with it’s stock single ended cable!

    Pretty amazing to be honest.


    All things considered I believe they are excellent value for money for what they offer:

    reference comfort with brilliant sound quality.


    They are very difficult to put down, not because they are heavy (they are the opposite being extremely lightweight) but because they are so awesome.


    Anyone who is looking for a pair of open back cans, please just get one.

    It is not a huge investment and I hope you will be as impressed as I have.


    Now where did I put them? Oh that’s right, they’re still on my head ; )
      havagr8da and Pokemonn like this.
    1. havagr8da
      I really like them too. Great headphone for the money. They take some power to drive them but I have even found some portable amps the work good too. Mojo for sure and the Aune B1 for example. With the Woo Audio WA8 they really shine.
      havagr8da, Aug 10, 2018 at 9:10 PM
      zellous likes this.
    2. zellous
      They are very impressive cans and I recommend them pretty highly. They got to decent volume levels from my iPod but obviously lack power and life compared to a decent headphone amplifier.
      zellous, Aug 10, 2018 at 10:19 PM
  2. Asr
    Audio-Technica's spiritual successor to the Grado HP1000
    Written by Asr
    Published Apr 30, 2016
    2.5/5,
    Pros - Ultra-light; comfortable to wear; bass/mid-bass presence; cohesive imaging
    Cons - Lack of clarity & distinction; unable to handle complex music; limited dynamic range
    published on April 30, 2016
     
    - download a printable 8-page PDF version of this review (link goes to a location on my Dropbox)
     
    r70x_1.jpg
    (click any photo in this review for a larger version)
     
    Intro
     
    Ever since I discovered the original AD2000 in 2006 (which I still own & love), I’ve owned or otherwise heard a variety of Audio-Technica’s headphones over the years—some great (like the AD2000, and more recently the MSR7), and some not-so-great (the FC7 comes to mind). When the R70x was released last year, I was curious enough for an impulse purchase back in June 2015. However, that first purchase left me underwhelmed & disappointed, and I promptly sold that set after a few weeks. But when Black Friday 2015 came around (that’d be the retail madness that was November 27-30, for the non-Americans), and Amazon offered a surprising discount, I thought: why not, maybe I’ll give it a second chance with some better equipment this time! So I proceeded to not only try out the R70x for a second time, but I also bought some better equipment to use it with, along with two of its biggest headphone competitors to compare it to, the Sennheiser HD600 and AKG K712.
     
    This review is based on approximately 6 months of ownership (3 weeks from the first purchase + 23 weeks from the second purchase).
     
    Handling & Fit
     
    The first thing that most people will probably notice about the R70x—before even putting it on, I mean—is its weight, or actually the lack thereof. It was downright amazing how light-weight it was, and certainly by far the lightest full-size headphones that I’ve ever gotten my hands on!
     
    One of the next things that most people are likely to notice will be either Audio-Technica’s distinctive “3D wing” suspension system or the non-labeled detachable cable. As far as the wings, I’ve personally had zero issues with them on every Audio-Technica headphone that I’ve ever used, so I’m not sure why it’s an issue for so many others. I guess that just comes down to everyone’s individual head size & shape. As for the non-labeled cable, it will almost certainly be confusing for anyone looking at it for the first time because Audio-Technica didn’t label the Right headphone connector from the Left one. How are you supposed to know which connector goes to which side? As I discovered, it doesn’t matter how they’re plugged in—either way, somehow the cable is wired to always send the left channel to the left ear and the right channel to the right ear.
     
    And now for an admission: the first time I bought the headphones, I didn’t realize that the ear pads were actually circumaural (around-the-ear) and not supra-aural (on-ear). I mistakenly wore the headphones supra-aurally the first time around and found the ear pads to be quite uncomfortable for long periods of time, despite the material being plushy velour, and the sound wasn’t very clear either, especially in the bass. But the second time I bought the headphones, I realized that I could actually fit my ears completely inside the pads, which greatly improved long-term comfort and also improved the sonic clarity.
     
    Headphone Comparisons
     
    To start with the sonics, the below diagram is my attempt to help show the “big picture” of how I viewed the R70x and K712 versus the HD600, using the HD600 as a baseline. The plus (+) and minus (-) symbols are solely meant to indicate “more” and “less” respectively, not any kind of quantifiable amount. This diagram is extremely simplified and is not meant to include any sub-ranges in the bass, mid-range, or treble—bass is meant to span 30 to 200 Hz, mid-range is meant to span 200 Hz to 2 kHz, and treble is meant to span 2 kHz to my audible threshold (which was ~16-17 kHz on a recent check). Finally, the bass levels on the R70x and K712 are only level with each other in the diagram for simplicity and are not meant to be the same as each other. As the title on the diagram indicates, it’s intended to show the deviations for the R70x and K712 solely from the HD600, and not against each other.
     
    r70x-hd600-k712.png
     
    - HD600 (both amped by Valhalla 2 and Solstice)
     
    The R70x had a general similarity to the HD600 but was also crucially different in several areas. First, the similarity: the R70x was just about as natural-sounding as the HD600, which was particularly noticeable with classical & jazz. Both headphones sounded very realistic in tone and conveyed very natural-sounding timbres on all of the key instruments in the symphony orchestra. Strings, brass, woodwinds, and piano all simply sounded “authentic” to my ears, based on my experience from performing in orchestras.
     
    That’s about all the R70x and HD600 had in common though, as they were very different in other aspects. The R70x sounded like a more “full-range” HD600 and actually had quite the amount of audible bass/mid-bass from 30 Hz up to 200 Hz, while the HD600 didn’t have anywhere close to the same quantity and almost sounded like it had a hole in its bass/mid-bass in comparison. Basically, this translated to the R70x being more capable of reproducing low cello notes with more tonal depth and giving other instruments like bass guitars a thick, almost fat sound that was incredibly direct and engaging. Additionally, this made the R70x much better able to play electronica that relied on bass-driven beats or rhythms otherwise, a genre which the HD600 just didn’t manage well at all. So while both headphones sounded great with classical & jazz, the R70x also sounded great with rock/metal and electronica, which made it much more versatile.
     
    The two headphones also presented very different soundstages with the HD600 projecting more of a traditional concert hall-like stage, but the R70x projected virtually no stage at all. It sounded more like a headphone without a soundstage, and was a prime example of the classic “throwing you in with the band” kind of presentation. I’d imagine that most listeners of classical music likely won’t sit well with the R70x’s presentation, but it still worked great for me personally and would likely work for anyone who wouldn’t mind an intimate chamber music-sized feel on all of their classical music. And with other kinds of music, the R70x’s direct straight-up style was just awesomely engaging—that “throwing you in with the band” presentation worked equally great with jazz, rock, metal, & electronica, and almost perfectly replicated the feel of a tiny club or recording studio.
     
    Although the R70x and HD600 weren’t exactly complementary, I ended up concluding that they sort of went well together as a pair, as each of them played certain genres for me better than the other (classical & jazz coming across better on the HD600, and metal & electronica sounding better on the R70x). However, with that said, I don’t think it makes all that much sense for anyone to own both of them, as they effectively canceled each other out on the natural tonality and relative neutrality. The HD600 would make more sense for those who listen solely to classical & jazz and very little else; the R70x would better serve those who also listen to contemporary rock, metal, and electronica.
     
    - K712 (amped by Solstice w/ 6SN7 | R70x amped by Valhalla 2)
     
    That above 3-way diagram may not exactly show it, but the R70x as a whole felt several shades “darker” than the K712. The difference was substantial enough that I almost felt like the two headphones were on nearly opposite ends of the spectrum at times, with the R70x as the bassy headphone and the K712 as the trebly headphone. Not that the two were really polar opposites though, because they weren’t, but they could easily be considered sonic complements to each other, as the R70x had a deep mid-bass & lower mid-range that the K712 didn’t. The K712, on the other hand, had more upper mid-range (specifically in the area of female vocals), audible harmonics, and stronger treble highlights, which almost made it feel like a breath of fresh air coming right after the R70x.
     
    Despite the somewhat large tonal shift between the two, both headphones seemed to have roughly the same amount of sub-bass (30-60 Hz), but the R70x had a mid-bass that made it sound heavy & thick, almost “fat,” while the K712’s mid-bass was recessed in comparison and sounded lean & taut. As a result, the R70x sounded way more appropriate for music containing low-pitched male vocals and/or bass guitar, like rock and metal. Not that the K712 was bad with that kind of music, but it was clearly out of its element with those genres.
     
    However, despite their differences in the lower frequencies, both the K712 and R70x were surprisingly “natural-sounding” with classical and jazz. They were shockingly natural-sounding actually, which convinced me of the sonically complementary nature of the two headphones—it was almost like the R70x simply conveyed the lower frequencies, and the K712 conveyed the upper frequencies. Strings (particularly violins) sounded more brilliant and flashy on the K712, while the R70x provided richer, deeper tones that reflected the natural resonance of the instruments. Yet, although both headphones were missing something critical when it came to classical music (string instrument bow-movement inflections on the R70x, and tonal depth on the K712), somehow each of them ended up sounding really quite amazing in their own way.
     
    The two headphones contrasted quite a bit from each other spatially as well, with the K712 sounding significantly more airy and spread-out than the R70x, which felt very up-close & intimate in comparison. Additionally, the K712 separated the left and right channels by quite a bit to generate quite a wide stereo image, which the R70x didn’t do nearly as well and sounded very narrow in comparison.
     
    In short, for anyone who can afford both headphones (along with a proper amp for each, because no single amp can drive both of them equally well due to their electrical characteristics), I recommend buying both. They were very sonically complementary and filled in for each other’s weaknesses nicely.
     
    - DT990 (both amped by Valhalla 2 and Solstice)
     
    I felt the DT990 was more similar to the K712 than any other headphones that I had, and thus the K712 comparison to the R70x applies for it as well. It was another case of near polar opposites, and it too could be considered sonically complementary to the R70x in the same kind of way. Not that the DT990 and K712 were identical, because they weren’t, but their sonic signatures were loosely similar and can probably be considered somewhat equivalent for the purposes of this review.
     
    In fact, for those who already have an OTL tube amp and don’t want to get another amp, the DT990 may be a better choice as a second headphone as opposed to the K712, which would require a non-OTL tube amp for optimal results.
     
    - AD2000 (amped by Gilmore Lite | R70x amped by Valhalla 2)
     
    Although the R70x and AD2K looked similar visually, they had almost nothing in common sonically. The AD2K was substantially more agile- & faster-sounding and was much lighter on bass quantity—in fact, it almost felt like it was tuned “higher” towards the treble than the R70x, while the R70x felt tuned “lower” towards the bass. There was also a dramatic difference in the soundstage presentation between the two—the R70x did have a small-scale soundstage that felt relatively intimate, but it wasn’t nearly as intimate as the “I’m all up in your face!” style of the AD2K. In a sense, the R70x was more “polite” with its more distant and outwards placement of the musical elements, while the AD2K was “rude” and made everything sound way too close for comfort.
     
    But the AD2K ended up being way more fun-sounding, especially with fast aggressive metal and other music that involved a lot of percussion, where it just dialed up the percussive impacts to 11. Granted, I enjoyed both the R70x and AD2K with metal and electronica, but the R70x simply wasn’t as much fun for me to listen with for those genres. On the flip side, the R70x was more versatile as it played classical & jazz quite well, which I’ve never bothered to listen to with the AD2K due to its unnatural-sounding mid-range.
     
    - MSR7 (amped by Gilmore Lite | R70x amped by Valhalla 2)
     
    As with the AD2K, the R70x had very little in common with the MSR7, Audio-Technica’s new portable closed headphones from last year. If anything, I found the MSR7 to have more in common with the AD2K—they were both upfront-sounding with very similar soundstaging, and their shared low-impedance high-sensitivity electrical characteristics allowed me to optimally use them out of the same amp, the Gilmore Lite.
     
    Unlike the R70x, I found the MSR7 quite suitable as a “monitor”-type headphone due to its high amount of clarity throughout the spectrum allowing everything in the mix to be easily & distinctly heard. Clarity was simply something that the R70x consistently failed at delivering, as it just didn’t sound clear on any amp, amp settings, or tubes that I tried. And despite the MSR7 not sounding neutral (due to emphasized treble relative to a lightly-recessed lower mid-range & mid-bass), I actually found it to be even more versatile-sounding for my musical preferences. Not only was it incredibly enjoyable for me with metal and electronica in general, I was able to reliably use it for ambient electronica (which has unique sonic requirements and just didn’t play well on the R70x at all) and folk/bluegrass (which didn’t go all that well with the R70x for my tastes, due to not enough treble to highlight guitar-string actions).
     
    - MT220 (amped by Gilmore Lite | R70x amped by Valhalla 2)
     
    The R70x was shockingly similar-sounding to the MT220, so much so that I couldn’t believe it at first. I had to compare them again and again and was blown away every time! The two headphones were so close to each other sonically that I could say that the R70x is like an open version of the MT220, or vice versa (that the MT220 is a closed version of the R70x). Not that they were completely identical of course, but their overall signatures were extremely close to each other that it almost didn’t matter.
     
    What were the differences? The MT220 had just a bit more welcome clarity throughout the spectrum, which made everything simply sound clearer and more distinct. It also sounded just a bit closer to neutral to my ears, as it had more treble quantity and less-boosted mid-bass. Finally, the MT220 also exuded a more powerful sub-bass (30 to 50 Hz), which ultimately made it sound more authoritative.
     
    - TH-X00 (amped by Solstice and Gilmore Lite | R70x amped by Valhalla 2)
     
    In response to a question asked by another Head-Fier, I wrote a TH-X00 versus R70x comparison in one of the large R70x threads on Head-Fi: http://www.head-fi.org/t/765004/audio-technica-ath-r70x-in-depth-review-impressions/840#post_12412738
     
    Sonic Assessment
     
    For those who haven’t heard any of the above headphones, I’d describe the R70x as a headphone that sounds like a headphone—that is, it doesn’t try to pull off anything like a speaker-like soundstage, and the music is simply placed directly around you, close enough that you could virtually reach out and almost grab it if it were live, but not so close that it’d be uncomfortable (like the AD2K). I consider it firmly a headphone for either of two camps: (1) the camp seeking a supremely natural-sounding tonality and relative neutrality for use with predominantly acoustic instrumental music such as classical & jazz, or (2) the camp seeking a supremely headbang-worthy headphone for rocking out to rock, metal, and/or electronica. To that point, Tool’s “Parabola,” Porcupine Tree’s “.3,” and Megadeth’s new “Fatal Illusion” all sounded absolutely awesome on the R70x, mostly because of how it drove the bass guitar.
     
    To list what I view as the primary pros & cons, in as best order as I can place them (with the major ones at the top and the minor ones at the bottom):
     
    + Extremely light-weight
    + Comfortable to wear for long listening sessions and during the summer months due to the velour pads
    + Powerful and thick bass/mid-bass extremely capable of giving a hefty & heavy-handed presence to instruments like bass guitar and synthesized bass
    + High amount of instrumental texture & tactility
    + Very cohesive, integrated imaging that doesn’t lose the proverbial forest for the trees (in contrast to something like the Sennheiser HD800, for example, which IMO does lose the forest for the trees)
    + Sonic spectrum that nicely covers the full range from treble to low bass
    + Sort of a modern spiritual successor to the Grado HP1000 for fans of that headphone
     
    - Severe lack of clarity throughout the spectrum
    - High lack of distinction between multiple instruments/elements operating in the same frequency band
    - Tendency to merge musical elements on increasingly-complex music
    - Moderate lack of upper treble quantity
    - Excessive blunting of percussive impacts to the point that impacts sound rounded-off and not sharp
    - Moderate lack of musical dynamics—constrained from mezzo-piano (mp) to forte (f)
    - Masking of low-level background noise like analog tape hiss (like on Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”)
    - Unable to accurately capture variance in room acoustics
    - Unable to capture a sense of reverberation
     
    Amplification
     
    Based on the amps that I was able to try with the R70x, I’d highly recommend using it with a high-voltage amp with a high output impedance setting, like an OTL tube amp. The Schiit Valhalla 2 was the best amp pairing by far, as it maximized the R70x’s pros and minimized its cons. The biggest positive differences the Valhalla 2 made for the R70x included solidifying the bass and making it feel truly “earthmoving” and hard-hitting, enhancing texture & tactility, and adding some clarity throughout the spectrum.  However, not even the Valhalla 2 really made any of the R70x’s cons go away, and although it did improve the clarity, it didn’t improve it enough for the R70x to sound acceptably clear and distinct.
     
    The Garage1217 amps weren’t bad, but I wouldn’t really call any of them ideal, even with their adjustable output resistance. They were good at propping up the R70x’s pros but none of them minimized the cons as much as the Valhalla 2 did, and unlike the Valhalla 2, did nothing to help with improving the clarity. While the Garage1217 amps would be acceptable solutions for those who need a versatile amp to handle a variety of headphones that includes the R70x, I recommend another amp specifically for the R70x if budget allows, or specifically an OTL tube amp for those whose collections consist of solely high-impedance headphones.
     
    Gaming & Movies
     
    Equipment setup for gaming & movies varied according to the headphones being used. The Schiit Bifrost 4490 was connected via USB to bypass the internal sound card and then to the listed amp as needed:
    - Garage1217 Project Solstice w/ 6SN7 for the K712
    - HeadAmp Gilmore Lite for the TH-X00 and MT220
    - Schiit Valhalla 2 (high gain to enable high output impedance) for the R70x
     
    Game audio on the R70x sounded acceptably ok, but it was also fairly obviously not at the level of the other headphones that I also had. In the FPS games I played, gunfire sounded considerably muffled compared to the MT220, TH-X00, and K712, and lacked a sharp & quick report as well, which made machine guns and sniper-type rifles sound especially dull. On top of that, explosions didn’t sound very boomy on the R70x, and it also lacked the capability to make thuds and other impact booms sound convincingly heavy. In contrast, this “boom factor” wasn’t a problem on any of the other three headphones (note that the K712 needs to be properly amped for full bass response, though).
     
    The R70x further negatively affected game audio by effectively making every virtual environment sound like a small soundproofed room spatially & acoustically. Of course this wasn’t a problem with indoor environments, but in outdoor environments, the background ambient effects (like wind noise, bird tweets, chirping insects, etc.) weren’t spaced far away enough to sound like background ambience. Only the TH-X00 and K712 were able to make outdoor environments convincingly sound like being outside.
     
    Finally, the R70x wasn’t very good at positioning either and was really only able to separate left enemy positions versus right, as it lacked the ability to position sound sources like they were directly in front of you. All three of the other headphones provided a better sense of direction on the left and right sides, as well as the front.
     
    As far as movies went, the R70x’s best sonic trait was providing a very cohesive mix of the dialog, sound effects, and musical soundtrack so that none of them stuck out. But the spatial imaging on the K712 and TH-X00 allowed both of them to provide a more cinematic presentation and their clarity worked great to better hear everything going on in the mix, and the MT220 (my usual headphones) simply allowed me to hear more detail in background noises that went missing on the R70x.
     
    Closing
     
    The R70x certainly brought something new to the table when considered alongside the HD600 and K712, but I have to clarify that as being “new as in different,” and not really “new as in better.” Because unfortunately for the R70x, I ended up quite disappointed and unimpressed by it overall, as not only did the cons simply outweigh the pros for me, my cheaper Yamaha MT220 ended up being a near sonic equivalent.
     
    I’m left somewhat hesitant to recommend the R70x even for those seeking either natural tonality or a headbang-worthy experience due to the various caveats, which is why I give it 2.5 stars. I feel like Audio-Technica could have made it sound so much better, and as it is, I don’t consider it an especially good value at its $350 MSRP. I think it would be a much better value at $250 or less.
     
    r70x_2.jpg Equipment Setup
     
    - Source component: NAD T533 (DVD player) and Windows 7 desktop & laptop PCs as transports to Schiit Modi 2 Uber and Bifrost 4490 (via coaxial & USB, respectively)
    - Analog interconnects: Emotiva X-Series RCA
    - Headphone amplifiers: HeadAmp Gilmore Lite w/ DPS; Garage1217 Project Ember v2, Project Polaris, and Project Solstice; Schiit Audio Valhalla 2
    - Comparison headphones: AKG K712; Audio-Technica ATH-AD2000 and ATH-MSR7; Beyerdynamic DT990 600 Ohm; Massdrop/Fostex TH-X00; Sennheiser HD600; Yamaha MT220
     
    Evaluation Music CDs
     
    Daft Punk - Random Access Memories
    Dave Brubeck - Time Out [50th Anniversary Legacy Edition]
    Devour the Day - S.O.A.R
    In Flames - The Jester Race
    Infected Mushroom - Vicious Delicious
    Julia Fischer - Bach Concertos
    Lucius - Good Grief
    Machine Head - Through The Ashes Of Empires
    Massive Attack - Mezzanine
    Medeski Martin & Wood - Uninvisible
    Megadeth - Dystopia
    Nickel Creek - A Dotted Line
    Olafur Arnalds & Alice Sara Ott - The Chopin Project
    Porcupine Tree - In Absentia
    Periphery - Juggernaut: Alpha
    Sierra Hull - Weighted Mind
    The Crystal Method -Tweekend
    Tool - Lateralus
    Trifonic - Emergence
     
    Evaluation PC Games
     
    Crysis
    Half-Life 2
     
    Evaluation Movies
     
    Black Hawk Down (DVD)
    Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Blu-Ray)
    Mad Max: Fury Road (Blu-Ray)
      stalepie, seanwee and Hi-Fi EDU like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Bombik
      Why natural tonality is not in PROs? These are one of best in this aspect.. Also They sound very relaxed and not fatiguing - Superb for long sessions. For me at least 3,5 stars.. 2,5 is terribly low and underrated..
      Bombik, May 5, 2016
    3. Bombik
      I would also add in CONS poor attached cable. There is audible difference between original and some common but good DYI cable  (KLotz/Neutrik in my case). I noticed much better instrument separation.
      Bombik, May 5, 2016
    4. Soundsgoodtome
      These fly under the radar in Head-Fi like no other! IMO a gem of a headphone from ATH! Everyone who's ever liked an extremely well done warm signature needs to get their hands on these. Yes, it's not going to give you 100% crystal details like a Beyer or HD800 but it will give you an accurate hearing experience that is comparable to a live performance from the crowd. To liven it up a bit, a neutral sounding tube amp really does wonders on them.
      Soundsgoodtome, Aug 9, 2018 at 12:59 PM
  3. Suraki
    A joyful goodness
    Written by Suraki
    Published Feb 20, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Detailed sounding, light, headband
    Cons - Small ear pad, soundstage
    I tried with this sources :
    Samsung S4 mini : The S4 simply don't have enough power for enjoyable performance with this 470 ohms headphone.
    desktop Mac, iPad, Fiio X1 : Mostly usable but far from the R70x limits.
    Fiio X1 + iFi iCan nano (low gain) : This is where the R70x begin to shine. Good dynamics, details, well balanced sounding.
    Fiio X1 + Fiio K5 (mid gain) : The bigger output power help to improve the bass extension. Very pleasant combination for longer listening sessions.
     
    With bigger ear pads and better 3D soundstage this would be the prefect headphone for me. 
  4. keanex
    Quality mid-fi Reference headphone
    Written by keanex
    Published Nov 2, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Clarity, balance, detail, and extension.
    Cons - Pad comfort
    Pros: Sturdy build, secure/light, clean and balanced sound, accurate and wide soundstage.
    Cons: The pads aren’t very comfortable.
    Tonal Balance: Slightly warm leaning neutral
    Style: Open circumaural
    Cost at Time of Review: $350
     

    Reviewing Process

    The R70x have been solely listened to at home through a Schiit Magni 2 Uber/Modi 2 Uber and a Matrix HPA-3u with high-quality FLAC files. I have used these for a mixture of gaming, passive listening, and active listening. I have spent enough time with them to feel comfortable sharing my opinion, but my experiences may differ from yours. It’s always best to demo a headphone before purchasing, but if you’re unable to I recommend at least reading other views in conjunction with this review.
     
    Thanks to Audio Technica for the review sample.
     

    Build & Fit

    Build
    The R70x feel light, flexible, and sturdy when held in hand, I can not find a reason to be worried about the longevity of them when handled. Not a squeak or a creek, a solidly built headphone from top to bottom. In addition to the solid construction, the cables are removable which allows for one of the most damage prone parts to be easily replaced. Oddly though, the cables can be inserted into either earcup without orienting the signal wrongly. I’ve switched the cables a few times and the left earcup always plays the left signal and the right earcup always plays the right signal. That’s pretty neat.
     
    Fit
    The Audio Technica wing design has undergone a heap of changes throughout its tenure. Due to this it’s impossible to compare the R70x to past designs without making the review excruciatingly lengthy. I’ll gladly compare the fit to any other Audio Technica wing design in the comments, but as for now I’m going to judge it solely as it’s own entity.
     
    Without going into excruciating detail, the R70x have their issues with comfort. The headphones are super light so that there is little in the way of downwards force, and the clamping force makes for a tight and secure fit. Unfortunately the pads aren’t comfortable enough to stand up to the clamping force for extended listening sessions. I felt an immediate upgrade in comfort when wearing the HD600 after taking off the R70x, for instance.
     
    The Audio Technica wing design has always been polarizing for comfort and while the R70x solve many past issues, it still lacks as a whole.
     

    Sound Quality

    Bass
    As always I test the bass with the Bass Shaker test located here as my first means of seeing the driver capability for bass extension, presence, and linearity. The R70x respond from the press of the play button with a gradual volume increase towards the midbass. In comparison to the HD600, they react very similarly with the R70x seemingly having a stronger midbass presence than the HD600. Neither are bass heavy though, but I’d put the bass quantity of the R70x slightly above the HD600 based on this.
     
    With music played the bass responds nicely with a variety of genres, providing a warm and full low-end that’s unobtrusive to the midrange. The texture of the bass leans soft and fuzzy which has me favoring the likes of Portishead, Steely Dan, and West Montgomery. The sub-bass is quick and extended, as evidenced by listening to James Blake’s Limit to Your Love, but it lacks the visceral slam of the ZMF Vibro that I look for when listening to the likes of Above & Beyond, Flight Facilities, or Disclosure.
     
    Overlooking the texture of the bass, the R70x driver does a great job of being quick and controlled regardless of whether I’m listening to Rage Against the Machine or James Blake.
     
    I do find something euphoric about the bass of the R70x, in the same way that I find the midrange to be within the Ad2000 - there’s something that puts me at ease which I can’t put my finger on.
     
    Mids & Highs
    The midrange of the R70x is clean, quick, detailed, and nearly linear across the spectrum. At times vocals lean a touch forward, but overall the sound is presented clearly, sharply, and accurately. When comparing it to the Sennheiser HD600 the R70x performs admirably next to it, sounding sharper and quicker with slightly better detail retrieval. The HD600 sounds more linear in comparison, while having a touch of warmth that’s lacking in the R70x midrange. The R70x is not sterile despite lacking warmth, but it lacks the euphoric midrange that drew me to the Audio Technica sound to begin with. The midrange is an honest to the recording though, and I respect that.
     
    The treble is extended nicely, cleanly, and with a good level of detail retrieval. There’s a hint of air throughout, moreso than I find in the HD600, which gives the feeling of a more spacious sound.
     
    Presentation
    The R70x have an exceptional soundstage in every aspect that I can think of. The R70x has an above average left and right range, music extending fully around the perceived head space. Instrument separation is top notch, I can’t find a song that sounds congested in the least. Sense of air is here, modestly, but giving the music a sense of soft dissipation into the space around it. The weak spot would be soundstage depth, but even then I feel that it performs almost as well as the HD600. Lastly I find the soundstage to be accurate in positioning, making pinpointing audio cues within games a breeze.
     

    Conclusion

    The R70x is a fantastic first effort reference quality headphone that rivals the fierce competition that it faces - Sennheiser HD600, Beyerdynamic DT880, and AKG K7xx. Despite costing as much as, if not more, than all of those options, I find myself easily recommending the R70x for those wanting a balanced, detailed, and clear sound at an affordable price.
      zellous likes this.
  5. NA Blur
    Audio-Technica ATH-R70x: The Flagship
    Written by NA Blur
    Published Oct 27, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Excellent build quality, awesome fit, great open sound
    Cons - Extreme open design, lacking in deep bass, shallow earcups
    ATH_R70x_Box_head-fi.jpg
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    INTRO
    Audio-Technica has been in the business of making great audio gear for over 40 years. They have several headphones available including this new flagship, the ATH-R70x. Being very familiar with the ATH-M50 I wanted to review their newest headphone because I was curious to see if they have improved on their already stellar M50. I also have listened to the ATH-AD700 which was my gaming recommendation for a few years because it had wonderful instrument separation, directionality, and treble. Let’s dig in and find out how it sounds, how it’s different from their other headphones, and if there any shortfalls.
     
    SPECS
    Type                                        Open-back reference
    Driver Diameter                       45 mm
    Frequency Response              5 - 40,000 Hz
    Maximum Input Power            1,000 mW at 1 kHz
    Sensitivity                                99 dB
    Impedance                              470 ohms ( 1,000 Ohms peak )
    Weight                                     210 g (7.4 oz), without cable and connector
    Cable Length                          3m ( 10 ft )
     
    OVERVIEW
    The ATH-R70x is considered a flagship headphone. Typically when I see this mentioned in the product literature I look for explicit goals laid out by the company for the headphone. A company might say it is designed for studio use, has extended bass, or may even talk about comfort issues that the new flagship addresses. In this case the R70x strives for accurate and extended treble along with prolonged comfort. If you have heard a few of Audio-Technica’s headphones then you know that their headphones can sound bright especially if they are an open-design headphone. The R70x is the most open headphone I have seen. It is also one of the lightest. These two facts make large strides in accomplishing their goals.
     
    ATH_R70x_Earcup_head-fi.jpg
     
    AESTHETICS
    As you can see the driver is very exposed and by the large amount of venting on the back this headphone is extremely open. The earcups are comfortable, but perhaps a bit shallow for larger ears. I have small ears and have no fit issues of any kind. For 45mm diameter driver the R70x is wonderfully light. It weighs a mere 7.5 oz and is currently one of the lightest headphones in my collection. The wing fit system for the headband is superbly executed and alleviates pressure points that tend to develop at the top of the head. A few other headphones out there use this type headband, but it has not caught on fully. I find it unique and a welcome improvement.
     
    The headphones are labeled for left and right, but the labels are on the inside of the headband and etched in as black on a black background making them difficult to spot. I would like to see this changed by making the color white for the labels and by moving the labels to the outside of the headband. The cable is unique in that it does not matter which side of the headphone cable you use for a particular earcup. The left and right channel separation will always match. This is accomplished by sending both channels to each side of the headphone connectors and selecting the necessary channel from within the headphone earcup. Pretty cool! One drawback is you cannot use a different cable with these headphones. The cable is too long for my taste at over 3m. It is too unruly for portable use which is shame because the R70x sounds great from a portable. Including two cables, one 3m and one 1.5m, should be considered in any flagship package.
     
    The earcups swivel and contour nicely to the face and the pads are very comfortable. I found no comfort issues, but a few users report having the pads being too shallow and feel the driver cover to resting on their ears. Aesthetically these are awesome! I did notice the stitching on the earpads is very light and the longevity of the stitch comes into question.
     
    ACOUSTICS
    Sonically the R70x comes in as slightly bright sounding with a smooth and even midrange. The bass is impactful at times, but does not go as deep as the closed ATH-M50. I would like to see 3dB more emphasis from 20-100 Hz to beef up the low end. The midrange is clear without being too up-front sounding. The treble extends very well and is capable of revealing detail in music not easily recognize with other headphones. The chimes in John Williams’ Double Trouble from the Harry Potter Soundtrack are easily discernable. The boom of the bass drum is airy and the instrument separation is excellent. I do hear some roll-off to each side of the frequency spectrum which is typical of extremely open headphones.
     
    The R70x is rated at 99 dB making it efficient enough to be used on a portable player. At 470 Ohms ( 1,000 Ohms peak! ) many will wonder if it is possible to drive it with a portable, but it is more about the sensitivity than the impedance. I found that in order to get 110 dB SPL of loudness I needed over 3 volts RMS and had to run my BUDA amp on medium or high gain. A higher impedance indicates more wire wraps in the coil as an attempt to generate higher field strengths for better control of the driver. I found no loose sounding drivers or sibilance. I would like to see the impedance of the R70x be at a peak of 300 Ohms making it less amp picky.
     
    Compared to the AKG K712 Pro I had at my desk the R70x sounds a bit more laid back and pleasant. The R70x has a smaller soundstage, but this was expected due to the treble roll-off. The R70x was much less sibilant in the treble and smoothed out the harsh treble of the K712. The bass actually reminds me a bit of a planar in that is it is very quick. The K712 is sluggish compared to the R70x.
     
    The R70x does especially well with jazz, acoustic, and due to its soft sound signature even rock. Tony Rice & Peter Rowan’s Shady Grove reveals how fun and exciting the R70x can become. One caveat I have is that due to its extremely open design louder than usual volumes must be used to get the full potential out of this headphone. This can cause listening fatigue during busy music like rock and metal, but for almost all of my reference material the R70x sounded easy on the ears.
     
    The R70x has some very cool features. The headphone itself is ridiculously light and the earcups are some of the most comfortable I have had the pleasure to review. The headband can be worn for hours. I hardly knew I had them on. The sound is dynamic, bassy enough to get you moving, and extends enough into the treble to be revealing and resolving. It is not as bassy or boomy as the closed M50, but the R70x remains a more even-sounding headphone. The slight roll-off in the treble contracts the soundstage, but the open design makes the R70x sound spacious. The midrange is up-front as to not hide vocals. The Audio-Technica signature remains intact, but they could use a bit more bass extension as I found them to roll-off steeply below 60 Hz. The bass is impactful and full sounding spite this fact.
     
    CONCLUSION
    Having one of the highest impedances for any headphone I have tested makes it a bit amp picky. As found in Big Sound 2015 the higher the impedance of a headphone the more it tends to reveal the flaws of an amp’s design. The bass can become boomy making a headphone sound sloppy, but the R70x does very well unamped and sounds a bit more boomy which can make it sound more fun. A good tube amp should make these sound even better. The R70x is easily one of the coolest headphone designs I have seen in a while and add in the sound quality I have no problems recommending it.
     
    SUGGESTED CHANGES
    After using the R70x for a few weeks I realized there could be some excellent tweaks made to the headphone to make it even better.
     
    1.)  Increase the thickness of the pads to at least 3.5 cm at the thickest point and then taper it towards the front of the head. This should smooth out the bass response as well as provide more room for larger ears.
     
    2.)  Make the pads easy to install as it took me a lot of time and a little frustration to get the pads seated properly. This may involve allowing the earcup gimbals to swivel more than just a few degrees so better access is granted during the install process. I challenge any sales person at Audio Technica to change the pads in under a minute each.
     
    3.)  Include a 1.5 m cable in addition to the long stock cable
     
    4.)  Smooth out and attenuate the treble peaks at 3.5 kHz and 7.0 kHz as they make the headphone sound bright / harsh with certain tracks
     
     
    LINKS
    ATH-R70x at Audio-Technica
    ATH-R70x Measurements
     
    TRACKS THAT SOUND PARTICULARLY AWESOME WITH THE R70x
    Beirut's Santa Fe on The Rip Tide album
    Benni Chawes' Always On My Mind from the Bang and Olufsen Benni Chawes concert
    Jen Chapin's Master Blaster (Jammin') from the Revisions: The Songs of Stevie Wonder album
     
    January 2016 Update
    At a local head-fi meet the ATH-R70x really stood out as an awesome-sounding and very coherent headphone. Not a single listening disliked its signature and almost all of them came back for a second listen. Many commented on the midrange texture especially for female vocals and guitar while others noticed how clear the bass was especially for such an open headphone.
      mmq2404 likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Tomkat85
      Excellent review mate! Rep to you.
      Tomkat85, Oct 27, 2015
    3. mmq2404
      Very helpful!
      mmq2404, Nov 3, 2015
    4. NA Blur
      January 2016 Update
      Added some local head-fi meet impressions
      NA Blur, Jan 31, 2016
  6. maikuirock
    Music will be the soundtrack to your life
    Written by maikuirock
    Published Jul 2, 2015
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Neutral, Lightweight, Transparent, Separation, Soundstage, Engaging
    Cons - Hard to Drive, Needs Good Amp, Cord Build Quality, Detail and Imagery with Heavily Layered Music, Cord Build Quality
    This will be more of my impressions/comparisons and less of a review. I will be comparing them to the HD800 & K712 Pro ran over USB to the Cayin Spark C5 DAC/Amp (HD800 - Low Gain, K12 - Low Gain, R70x - High Gain between 3-4 on the volume pot). I picked the songs i picked because they're what I listen to. Why not introduce people to new music?
     
    20150702_134054_HDR.jpg
     
     
    A bit about my tastes:
    What are my musical preferences? I now mostly listen to Acoustic Folk Pop Americana (yes, this is what music has come to), Country, Pop, Indie/Alternative, Jazz/Blues/Bluegrass. Much different from what i grew up on, Hip Hop, R&B, Screamo, Pop Punk, and Musicals (weird right) which i still appreciate and enjoy. I enjoy a wide variety of music because of my influences around me growing up and I was actually in a symphonic band for 7 years and was very passionate about it and a Green Day/Yellowcard cover band for 3 years. I'm all over the place...
     
     
    As others have commented about the neutral signature (flatness), don’t think of it as nothing standing out over the other or hearing peaks or even the lack of anything else in the FR. Think of it as a great balance and harmony of the tonality of the phones.
     
     
    +Pros - Neutral, Lightweight, Transparent, Separation, Soundstage, Engaging, Comfort
     
    -Cons - Hard to Drive, Needs Good Amp, Cord Build Quality, Detail and Imagery with Heavily Layered Music, Cord Build Quality
     
    20150702_140513_HDR.jpg
    Plastic interlock seems questionable as well as the longevity of the base.
     
    Sound:
     
    Tonal Balance - I would say mids are best presented, I would compare them to UE 7’s to my knowledge. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ahead of anything else. Everytime I think to myself, “oh this has really good bass, but wait, it doesn’t overpower the mids” i say the same for the highs, “the drums and strings sound full and extended, but don’t hurt my ears and aren't really in the background”.
     
    Soundstage - Above average. K712’s reach is just a smidge further than the R70x. The big thing I would like to note is the Soundstage Signature of each is presented differently. R70x brings a different approach IMO to how it’s presented, as most may be used to the feeling of the sound like being in a room and the sound is being imaged in front of you, you notice the distance between you and the music. I try explain a little later about what listening to these sound like. To give another image, HD800s you are in the conductor's position, with the R70x it’s like you’re in the middle of the band.
     
    Transparency - These are where they excel. All instruments/vocals sound the most natural of the 3.
     
    Isolation - The most open of all 3 compared in this impressions post.
     
    Comfort - The most comfortable of any I've worn. I used to think HD800 we're top in comfort, but that was after rotating through a few planars. Put these on and they be like the sunglasses you forgot you put up on top of your head.
     
    Bass - I think bass is a preference, if you’re expecting it and it’s not there, you must be used to signatures with more bass. When you’re presented with “flat” headphones what do you expect? These do have nice rich, well presented bass. It’s not “booming” and definitely not overpowering, fatiguing or really feint. For my tastes, it’s just right.
     
    Mids - Full bodied, thick, seemingly forward.
     
    Highs - Full bodied natural tone. Nice extension.
     
     
    Here are a few selection of categories, just to give an idea, what I heard listening to the 3. YMMV.
     
    Jazz
    John Coltrane - Locomotion
     
    ScreenShot2015-07-02at2.10.02PM.png
     
      HD 800 - Great airiness, that Soundstage! That Ride is a tad harsh. The Bass Guitar is really lacking almost hidden and has an emphasis on the upper mid tones. Piano has a great transparency, but again getting to those higher notes becomes harsh. The response and sound of the drums during solo is best, except for the kick drum sounding like an empty 5 gal bucket.
      K712 - Ride sounds a little thin, Brass a little lacking. Better sepration of instrumentation. Piano near end of track sounds unnatural (tinny like). Drum solo sounded like listening to a recording of the drums.
     
    R70x - High hats are nice and tight, Ride is natural and has nice extension. Sax and Trumpets have nice punch to them and quickness in trills. Snare has a nice distance from the the symbols. Bass is well present and just behind and not overpowering, energetic. Mids are pronounced. Piano has nice tone and fullness during the solo. Favorite of the 3.
     
     
     
    Classical
    Frederic Hymen Cowen - Indian Rhapsody
     
    ScreenShot2015-07-02at2.11.53PM.png
     
      HD 800 - Best soundstage and detail. Liveliest of the 3, most energetic and speed. Tight and the best extension of the 3.
      K712 - Nice airiness, soundstage, whimsical and engaging woodwinds. Lacking in Bass presence. Nice punch to brass and quickness all around. Favorite of the 3, but still lacking that fullness.
     
    R70x - Worst depth and separation performance on this heavily orchestrated recording. Least engaging. Least transparent. Nice fullness, tonality and extension to singled out instruments. The soundstage signature of the R70x was not suitable for this song. The imagery was muddied and not comparable to the other 2.
     
     
    Acoustic
    Beta Radio - First Began - I chose this song because it’s from one of my favorite records of 2014 and has a good mix of stringed instruments.
     
    ScreenShot2015-07-02at2.13.12PM.png
     
      HD 800 - Lacking in fullness and warmth in the strings. Weakest in kick drum presence.
      K712 - Favorite of the 3. No uneasiness in the FR. Good separation, airiness and space. Most engaging on this song. Nice fullness to vocals.
     
    R70x - Most natural tonality of the strings of the 3. Not as spacious between instruments. Almost “veiled” too warm sounding (could be my amp though).  Best Bass presence. Mid focused.

     
    Live
    Ben Howard - Small Things (Spotify Sessions): I picked this song for the really intense hammering and spacious reverb and tenor range vocals. Actually, I could listen to all the Spotify Sessions on the R70x, all day!
     
    ScreenShot2015-07-02at2.14.24PM.png
     
      HD 800: Most spacious stage of the 3, more distance between the music and listener. Hammering and vocals in the higher registers become a little harsh. Better tonality and clarity.
      K712: Slightly colder than the R70x. Flatter signature, less engaging. More distant that the R70x, but something about R70x being a little more forward gives you a greater sense of space within the music.
    In a diagram sense: more of an out of your head experience.
        K712:   .(....o....).
        R70x:  ….(.o.)....
     
    R70x: Hammering and vocal harshness is balanced out by slightly rounded warmer signature. Most balanced of the 3. No increase in sensitivity within the FRs. Most engaging of the 3. Favorite of the 3.
     
     
    Rock
    Boston - Foreplay / Long Time
     
    ScreenShot2015-07-02at2.23.54PM.png
      HD 800 - Crashes sound slushy, best soundstage, but weaker lows don’t give a great image. Thin highs. Best control and tightness.
      K712 - Favorite of the 3, best performance of soundstage, great imagery. very flat balanced signature.

    R70x - Weakest in sense of imagery, smaller soundstage, excels in transparency, but once guitars jump in, things gets muddy. Best Mids performer. Takes control of the song after the blaring jam session during the intro and into Long Time, but when the guitar goes into distortion it loses the separation. 2nd favorite.
     
    Pop
    Kygo w/ Parson James - Stole The Show
     
    ScreenShot2015-07-02at2.25.59PM.png
      HD 800 - Massive Soundstage, Bass not tight, Vocals thin, symbols thin
      K712 - Bass doesn’t go that low (muffled), good airiness, nice soundstage, vocals just a bit behind the bass. Synth sounds lacking in engagement.

    R70x - Excellent Soundstage, Excellent Controlled Bass, good vocal presence. Favorite of the 3
     
     
    My Usual Initial Test Tracks:
     
    These are my go-tos to test soundstage and some bass. My usual test track for imagery is Amber Rubarth's - Don't You. The first time i listened to HD800 out of a Schitt Stack was on this track and i literally turned to the left cause i thought someone turned a speaker on next to me, the R70x represents this very well. My usual bass and sub bass track is Metronomy - The Look (Two Inch Punch's Shook Shook Refix) because the synth bass is hard to produce well, and again, the R70x replicates a very deep full bass.
     
    Final Notes:
    Listening to the R70xs doesn’t feel like i’m listening to headphones or speakers at that. It feels like the sound is just there, that kind of natural sound presentation. It may also partly have to do with how lightweight the headphones are. When zoned into the music you really can’t tell you’re wearing them. Listening to the K712 i can tell that the sound is coming out of each speaker, i am aware of it. The HD800, beside having the more open staging and their front angle signature design. It sounds as if you’re listening to really fantastic speakers, but still, i am aware of the presence of the sound coming from the drivers. The R70x soundstage is certainly not as expansive as the HD800s, but it gives you a unique out of your head experience in it’s own way. Listening on the R70x is really an enjoyable experience. It’s a joyride for the ears. It’s like walking the the stage of movie set rather than watching an IMAX experience of the HD800s. It excels more than it disappoints and can be thrown at most genres. I recommend them for Acoustic, Pop, Jazz/Blues, and especially well recorded Live Music. I recommend staying away from heavily layered music and crunchy guitars. Get yourself a pair and enjoy!
     

    1. altofame
      Great review/comparison. Been deciding between K712 and R70x, both are not available for demo where I live. Might go with the latter.. for now.
      altofame, Mar 5, 2016
  7. SunByrne
    Smooth and neutral; exactly what I wanted!
    Written by SunByrne
    Published Jun 9, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Smooth and neutral, works well across genres. Very light. Great for long sessions.
    Cons - Some usability bugs
    Preface
    In general, my impressions of these headphones line up pretty well with the other people who have reviewed it. In general, I’m really happy—no, maybe “thrilled” would be a better description—with how they sound and think Audio-Technica has a winner here, though there is some room for improvement, particularly on the ergonomics front. What is definitely not in my review is a detailed comparisons with other headphones, as I don’t own/haven’t recently heard very many other things in a similar price range.
    I’m also not going to bother with pictures of the unboxing, either, because this already been done very well by previous reviewers: @earfonia, @twister6, @hakushondiamao all have good pictures of it. I will have a couple pictures later on, though, when I discuss build quality.

    Sound
    General Sound Signature
    To echo the other reviews: these are very neutral-sounding cans. That is, there’s no particular frequency range that seems either pushed or recessed. I’m really looking forward to seeing good measurements on this because the impression I have is that the frequency response is very flat. Not bright, not dark, just neutral. Well, maybe just a small touch of warmth, but it’s pretty subtle. I’m very familiar with the Audio-Technica V-shaped “house sound” and these do not have that. It’s a whole new sound signature for AT.

    Bass is very tight, well-damped, and clear. Not muddy at all. Extension is very good. They are not, however, particularly bass-heavy. For example, if you’re familiar with the AT M50s, well, these don’t sound at all like that. If you want a lot bass, you should look elsewhere or be ready to hit the EQ. On the plus side, these deliver more bass than my HD595s, and that’s a good thing.

    Highs are not harsh and again very well-controlled. Good clarity, in good balance with everything else. @earfonia has commented that he’d like more treble for classical recordings, but I don’t find that to be the case. However, my classical tastes are more for quartets and chamber music, not full orchestral music, and that may be a factor. I generally find bright headphones to be a little too much for me with violin-heavy recordings, which is what you typically get in string quartets. However, I haven’t heard the HD800s that earphonia prefers for classical, and those are out of my price range anyway. I’m perfectly happy with the R70x for classical, though I will concede that it isn’t their absolutely best genre. (I will guess, though, that these are, in fact, really good for opera. I personally can’t stand opera, but these do such a great job with vocals that I would think they should do well there.)

    Where these cans really shine is in the midrange. Good articulation, very natural tone. Vocals and guitars sound particularly good. If you really live in the midrange, but don’t want to really compromise the highs and lows to get them, then you should definitely give the R70x a listen.

    Now, the danger with with some transducers is that, in an attempt to get something that sounds flat in terms of frequency response, everything sounds kind of washed out, or sounds too analytic. AT did not go that route here: these are involving headphones that really draw you into the music. They are neutral without being boring, which I think is a real achievement for $350.

    Imaging and Soundstage
    These are not detail monsters but they image very well. Great separation between instruments, everything distinct from each other. These headphones have a particular property that I’ve never really heard in other headphones that’s a bit difficult to explain. They render acoustic instruments very well and in such a way that the difference between real and synthesized instruments are particularly noticeable, especially drums. I am much more aware than usual when a drum machine is being used, and I find myself wanting to listen more to music with natural percussion.

    Soundstage is nice and wide with good clear placement, but maybe a little less deep than would be ideal. They do have the strange property that sometimes—not often by any means, but every once in a while—things stage such that they actually sound like they’re coming from the back. It’s a little weird, but not unpleasant.

    Smoothness
    This is another place where these headphones really shine. Smoothness vs. detail is a place where non-kilobuck headphones typically struggle. My HD595s, for instance, were pushed too hard to try to get more detail than I think they could really manage, and the result was grainy. Detail retrieval for the R70x is very good, but it’s well within the capability of the headphone, meaning the sound is very smooth. (This is the single biggest improvement over the HD595s I’m used to: dramatically improved smoothness while at the same time with better detail). Silky smooth. They really get out of the way and let the music come through.

    One of my earliest sessions with these headphones was a “well, I’ll just listen to my standard test tracks and then stop” and ended up listening for three solid hours before noticing that it was 2 a.m. High marks for being involving, non-fatiguing headphones.

    Driveability
    They are 470-ohm headphones; you’re going to want an amp. To be honest, I expected these to sound absolutely horrible without an amp and was somewhat surprised. Sound quality is definitely compromised, no doubt about it—bass response and detail retrieval definitely suffer—but it’s not a total disaster. Still, if you are planning on listening without an amp, I’m sure there are better choices than the R70x.

    Usability
    Comfort
    They are light, they have comfy pads, they don’t make a lot of head contact, and they don’t clamp particularly hard. So, as you might guess, they’re very comfortable. However, I don’t think they’re more comfortable than my HD595s, even though the HD595s are heavier. I think the 595s have better cushions. Still, though, I’ve always thought the 595s are the most comfortable full-size headphones I’ve worn, so being tied with those is still high praise.

    Sizing
    I have a pretty average-sized head, and there is not a lot of clearance left on the top of these headphones. I can easily imagine that people who have somewhat larger heads would not find these headphones comfortable at all. So, if you do have a larger-than-average head, definitely find a pair of these and try them on before you buy, because they might not work for you.

    Labeling
    If your goal was to label left and right on a pair of headphones, but do so in a way that would be the most difficult possible for someone looking for those labels to find them, you’d probably end up doing something close to what they actually did. It’s a terrible location with horribly low contrast—simply inexplicable. Seriously, someone should lose their job for this. You will either need to mark the headphones in some way or rely on some other aspect of them to know which one is which. It’s not like that’s the end of the world or anything, but this would be so easy for AT to fix. Bad design is bad.

    Cable
    Other reviewers have complained about the fact that these only come with one cable, and it’s rather on the long side. This isn’t an issue for me, but I can see how it could be for other people—if this is the kind of thing that bothers you a lot, be warned. My only real beef with the cable is that it’s a Y-cable, and I much prefer a single-side cable.

    Isolation
    I think it’s really weird that people comment about this for open-back headphones, but I’ve seen it. Here’s the scoop: they’re open-backed headphones. They isolate almost not at all. That’s how open-backed headphones work. I guess maybe some isolate a little, but that’s not to be expected, and these don’t isolate much at all.

    Build Quality
    As of this writing, there aren’t many reviews of the R70x on Amazon, and the overall score isn’t very high because of a couple reviewers who have issues with the build quality. I think it’s hard to really know exactly how well-built something really is until it’s had to face the test of time, though if something feels bad right out of the box, that’s not usually a good sign.

    The R70x certainly don’t feel particularly substantial. I don’t take that as them being flimsy or poorly-built, instead it strikes me as an intentional design decision to save weight. AT wants these to feel light on the head, and one way to do that is to make them, in fact, light. So they aren’t very substantial. They don’t feel particularly fragile, so I don’t have any immediate concerns about build quality, but I do think there might be cause to put them in the “wait and see” category.

    That cause, as raised by one of the Amazon reviewers, is the stitching on the pads. When viewed from the front, these actually look fine:

    IMG_1939.png

    However, when viewed from the back, well, things aren’t quite so neat and tidy:

    IMG_1940.png

    Now, I don’t think pad stitching is in and of itself a huge deal. However, it does make me worry that other parts of quality control that are less obvious may also be compromised. So, I’m going to wait and see how they hold up. Now, I’m not particularly rough with my at-home cans (different story for the mobile stuff), so the bar doesn’t have to be all that high, but still, it is at least a potential concern.

    Conclusions
    So, the ergonomics are less than ideal on some scores, but the sound signature and overall sonic performance are pretty much exactly what I was hoping for. These are, for my money, terrific headphones. Now, I haven’t ever heard any of the modern flagships (e.g., the HD800 or the HE-6) and I’m not looking in that kind of price range anyway, so I can’t say how well they compete with the top end, but I don’t think they’re really intended to.

    I think these are aimed more at the midrange, like the HD650 or the Beyer 880/990 or the AKG K701. It’s been a while since I listened to anything like those, but from what I remember, I’m pretty confident that I’d take the R70x over any of them, simply because the neutrality of the R70x is so appealing to me. So if that’s what you’re looking for and have $350 to burn, I’d highly recommend giving these a listen.

    Background Info
    Review Equipment
    My primary listening rig is:

    • “Wastebasket” style Mac Pro running iTunes and BitPerfect (almost entirely lossless 16/44.1 with some 256AAC and some high-res stuff as well)
    • Optical out
    • Schiit Bifrost Uber
    • Schiit Magni 2 Uber

    I also gave them a whirl unamped from my iPad Air (256 AAC) and amped from the Air with a FiiO E11.

    Review Music
    I listen to a moderately but not extensively wide variety of different music, mostly rock, electronica, classical, new wave, new age, and world. I detest country and opera, and while I don’t dislike blues and jazz, I own almost none. There’s a little rap/hip-hop in my collection, but not a ton of it. Here’s my current “test gauntlet” that I put all new gear through multiple times, which has a good mix of different genres as well as different things I’m looking for when I listen. Some of these are fantastic recording and some are, on purpose, somewhat subpar, because I want to know how things perform there as well:

    • The Art of Noise, "Il Pleure (At the Turn of the Century)" from The Seduction of Claude Debussy (1999)
    • Nine Inch Nails, "Into the Void" from The Fragile (Right) (1999)
    • Tool, "Stinkfist" from Ænima (1996)
    • The Cult, "Wild Flower" from Electric (1987)
    • Tears for Fears, "Start of the Breakdown" from The Hurting (1983)
    • Michael Hedges, "Breakfast in the Field" from Live on the Double Planet (1987)
    • Rodrigo y Gabriela, "Hanuman" from 11:11 (2009)
    • George Winston, "Spring Creek" from Summer (1991)
    • Janine Jansen, "Concerto No.2 "L'estate", RV 315; III. Presto" from Vivaldi - The Four Seasons (2004)
    • Hahn/LA Chamber Orchestra/Kahane, "Concerto for 2 Violins, Strings and Continuo in D minor, BWV. 1043: I. Vivace" from Bach • Concertos (2002)
    • The Power Station, "Some Like It Hot" from The Power Station (1985)
    • Underworld, "Little Speaker" from A Hundred Days Off (2002)
    • Thomas Newman, "Root Beer" from American Beauty (2000)
    • Shadowfax, "Oasis" from The Odd Get Even (1990)
    • Tori Amos, "Precious Things" from Little Earthquakes (1991)
    • The Police, "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" from Ghost in the Machine (1981)
    • Propaganda, "Strength to Dream" from A Secret Wish (1985)
    • Pink Floyd, "The Happiest Days of Our Lives" from The Wall (Disc 1) (1979)
    • Zoe Keating, "Escape Artist" from Into the Trees (2010)
    • Rene Lacaille & Bob Brozman, "An Dio" from Dig Dig (2002)
    • Fleetwood Mac, "The Chain" from Rumours (1977)
    • Paul Simon, "Homeless" from Graceland [Bonus Tracks] (1986)
    • Sting, "Driven to Tears" from Bring on the Night (Disc 1) (1986)
    • Nine Inch Nails, "Came Back Haunted" from Hesitation Marks (Audiophile Mastered Version) (2013)
    • Deepsky, "View From a Stairway" from In Silico (2002)
    • Pink Floyd, "One of These Days" from Delicate Sound of Thunder (Disc 2) [Live] (1988)
    • Moby, “Bodyrock” from Play (1999)

    Reviewer’s Background
    I will admit that I am first and foremost a speaker guy. My most prized possession after my car are my Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1 NrTs. Nonetheless, before I had those, I first got into headphones back in 2004 when my second child was born. I like to listen to music while I work in the evenings and he was a light sleeper, so I got into headphones a little—only a bit, as my budget was a little tighter than it is now. At the time the big battle in the Head-Fi world was Sennheiser vs. Grado, though Beyer and AKG and Audio-Technica were around, they weren’t the big noise at the time.

    I auditioned the HD600s and whatever the similarly-priced Grado was at the time (I want to say 325s). I couldn’t stand the Grados—far too aggressive and bright, horrible bass roll-off, and also really uncomfortable. But, to be honest, I wasn’t really thrilled with the HD600s, either. A little too dark. My ideal audio setup is completely neutral and accurate everywhere. No coloration. I want to hear what the engineers recorded, not some modified version of that. The best amp, as far as I’m concerned, would be “wire with gain.” (I don’t like tubes for this reason.) I want speakers/headphones with as little coloration as possible. I don’t want them to be “fun” or “laid back” or “bassy” unless that’s what’s on the recording. I listen across several genres and I’m not interested in having one set of cans for genre X and another for genre Y. The best way I can see to do that is to be as neutral as possible.

    Now, unsurprisingly, I’m not alone in wanting this, but unfortunately it’s probably not quite achievable at what I consider to be realistic price points. There are always compromises. What I’m usually looking for is the least compromised piece of equipment I can get at any particular price point. That’s not for everyone—and that’s fine. I just want folks who reads this to know where I’m coming from.

    Anyway, back in 2004, as far as I could tell, the best compromise for under $250 at the time was the Sennheiser HD595s. Not as dark as the HD600 family, certainly less bright than the Grados, and very comfortable to boot. The compromises: grainy, a little plastic-y, and not quite enough bass—but great for the money and for what I wanted at the time. We ended up moving to a new house in 2006 with my study not so close to the young one’s bedroom (and he grew into a sounder sleeper), and I spent dramatically less time with my headphone rig and invested in a pair of speakers that I adore.

    However, for a variety of reasons, I’m back to headphones for a while every night, and have a little more spending money, so I wanted to jump back into something nice. The R70x had just come out, and the early reviews from @earfonia and @twister6 suggested this would be a headphone I’d like, so that’s how I got here.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. earfonia
      Very nice write up! Thanks!
      A good cable will improve it further :wink:
      earfonia, Jun 10, 2015
    3. eimis
      Nice. I can agree with most things. This is a nice purist headphone.
      eimis, Jun 11, 2015
    4. FullBright1
      Nice review.
      I decided to buy these as i just bought the ATH-MSR7s and really liked their brightly analytical and surgical presentation, so, i thought i'd get some (more) open backed Headphones that are being reviewed again and again as "neutral" and "excellent".
      Following these and subsequent to reviewing them here, i'll probably get the Senns 630VBs and review those as well.
      FullBright1, Nov 19, 2015
  8. hakushondaimao
    Sonic perfection, right out of the box!
    Written by hakushondaimao
    Published May 24, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Gorgeous, clear, natural tone; light and comfortable; design and build quality
    Cons - Right/Left markings not clear; no hard case or short cable; requires amplification
    This is a review in two parts, with an initial, excited set of unboxing and listening impressions, followed up several days later with more considered comparisons to other headphones, requested by other Head-Fi’ers in various forum threads.
     
    Introduction (May 24, 2015)
     
    My wife returned from two weeks in Japan today. While I was glad to see her after time apart, and excited to have her back, a part of me was more excited about what she had brought with her: my Audio Technica ATH-R70x! I’ve been drooling over and dreaming about this headphone since reading very early reviews, and finally, here it was!
     
    6OutSIdeClose.jpg
     
    About Me
     
    Before getting into the review, a little about me. I’m 50 years old, and so probably have deficiencies in my hearing (in a recent, entirely non-scientific test I discovered I can’t really hear anything over about 15 kHz, with roll-of starting around 12 or 13 kHz). While I’ve been a music lover for decades, I am still relatively new to the MidFi/HiFi/Head-Fi game, and only bought my first over-ear headphones in November of 2014. I haven’t listened to a lot of different equipment (certainly nothing in the high price, TOTL realm), and I’m not really an expert on the technical aspects of electronics or musical terminology. I have read a lot of reviews and threads on Head-Fi, and spend a lot of time on the site, but this should be considered a review by a relative newbie, for the benefit of other newbies and more experienced listeners.
     
    I listen to a variety of music genres, in particular, Classical (mostly mid 1700s to mid/late 1800s), Jazz (late ‘50s to early 70’s), Rock and some Prog-Rock (‘70s), ‘80s New Wave/Electro, and Trip Hop/Acid Jazz (90’s into 00’s). My preferred sound signature would be characterized by a good sub-bass presence, tight mid bass, and relatively linear, detailed mids and highs. I like my music quite lush and rich, but with a good level of detail. I’m not a bass-head, am not a big fan of anything too boomy, and don’t like highs that are too intense or harsh.
     
    Review
     
    In the two stages of my review I listened to a number of tracks from several albums in my collection (from CD, Apple-Lossless AAC and 256 kHz AAC), using home Hi-Fi (Marantz NR1501 receiver and BD5004), portable rig (Fiio X3ii and E12A or JDS Labs O2) and laptop (MacBook Air and Matrix Mini-i Pro DAC). Using various equipment combinations, I also compared the R70x with the Sennheiser HD650 and the AKG K7XX First Edition. All equipment is my own, with the exception of the Matrix DAC and HD650, which are currently being loaned to me. Initial listening impressions come after unboxing info, followed by the headphone comparisons.
     
    Unboxing, Look and Feel (May 24, 2015)
     
    Well, I was almost trembling opening this up. The R70x comes in a large, rigid black cardboard box inside a white sleeve with graphics and product information. I had some trouble getting the sleeve off (it’s pretty tight, and I was impatient), but once removed and the box opened, there were my lovely new headphones cradled in egg-carton styled foam.
     
    1BoxClosed.jpg
     
    3BoxOpen.jpg
     
    4BoxOpen.jpg
     
    Lifting them from the box, I was amazed at how light they are. The main material for everything is high quality carbon composite resin, which seems quite strong without adding weight. The driver housing is a distinctive, attractive honeycomb aluminium, designed for acoustic transparency. Ear pads are a velour-like fabric, and 3-D wing supports on the headband provide comfort while keeping weight down.
     
    5OutSide.jpg
     
    7OutHeadband.jpg
     
    Under the foam headphone cradle is light cardboard sleeve containing the detachable cable (3m long, obviously designed for home use – there is no short cable), velour cloth pouch (no hard case), and miscellaneous warranty and item information.
     
    8Accessories.jpg
     
    The dual-sided locking headphone cable is L/R signal independent, meaning you don’t have to worry about which cup you attach each end to. This is a good thing as there are no markings on the headphones to indicate which side is left and which is right. I discovered that it’s not difficult to tell which side is which based on a slight slant to the ear pads – the thin side goes to the front and the thick to the back. Not actually that difficult.
     
    9OutWithCable.jpg
     
    First Impressions (May 24, 2015)
     
    I couldn’t wait for burn in or diaphragm loosening or whatever break-in certain people believe in, so threw them on for a quick listen. I planned to give the R70x just a few minutes on my head so I could say I’d listened to them, but… wow… right out of the box I felt these were ready to go.
     
    So straight into playing music, with Norah Jones up first with Come Away With Me on my home stereo (Marantz NR1501/BD5004). Incredibly clean and natural. Articulate, with beautiful vocal and instrumental texture and presence. Norah’s voice shone, with no artefact, colour or echo… just Norah. Instruments beautifully balanced. No boominess to the bass, but bass is there, nice and tight. No sibilance, but highs are very present, detailed but not jarring in any way. And Norah… voice of an angel…
     
    Jumped to my portable set-up. First Fiio X3ii and some Pearl Jam (Ten). Maxed the X3ii volume, and set to high gain, but body and loudness were severely lacking. Added my Fiio E12A to the mix. Was worried the E12A (being built for IEM’s and rated to 150 ohms) would struggle with the 470 ohm R70x, but no. With E12A at high gain and with bass boost off, sound is fantastic! Eddie Vedder’s vocals nicely articulated, though perhaps with his gravelly throatiness a touch smoothed over. Grungy lows a touch muddy and acoustic guitar slightly recessed on some louder tracks (but that’s the recording more than the phones, I think). On softer tunes, kick drums, electric guitar and bass are detailed and clear. Overall impression is power and energy, with no irritation. With bass boost on for a few songs, sub-bass certainly enhanced, and overall sound a bit warmer.
     
    Moved on to Talk Talk’s Colour Of Spring album. Love this album as it’s very atmospheric, with rich, lush sound.  Almost Roxy Music-ish, but with more trebly vocal (Mark Hollis is no Bryan Ferry). With bass boost off, sound is beautifully balanced across the whole spectrum. Vocals are clear and neither prominent nor withdrawn. Bass, left hand of piano, drums are full, textured and dynamic, but not overpowering. Highs again are clear and detailed, with no harshness. R70x seems like it will be completely non-fatiguing, but still detailed and musical.
     
    10MusicMaestro.jpg
     
    Final stop on the initial impressions tour? A little Steely Dan, of course. Aja or Gaucho? I chose Aja. This was a revelation. Perhaps two hours of burn in had helped? Who can tell…? To me, Steely Dan are all about atmosphere, lushness, and little sonic details sprinkled all over. Sound here is authoritative, with great attack on bass, real depth to bass drums, and super clear snare, hard hat, piano and electric guitar. Sax has lovely texture, piercing but not overly penetrating. Donald Fagen’s vocals are lively and atmospheric, rich and also textured (he has an airy throatiness that comes through nicely here). An engaging, absorbing listen!
     
    So, my overall sonic impressions? I’m not an expert on V-shaped or U-shaped or flat sound signatures, but to me the balance of tonality and emphasis from low to high is very linear. Male and female vocals sing, bass presence is just how I like it – tight but not boomy (bass-heads need not apply, this is not a headphone for you). Highs are nice and detailed without harshness.  I can see these being great for long listening sessions, with no danger of ear fatigue.
     
    I’m also no expert on soundstage, but the feeling I get listening to the R70x is open and spacious, and with eyes closed I can picture approximate location of instruments and vocals, and I feel distance (not too much) between me and the “stage” they’re playing from.
     
    Comparisons to Other Headphones (June 1, 2015)
     
    When I wrote my initial impressions, I knew that I would soon be receiving an HD650 on loan, which is one reason I held off on any comparisons on Day-1 (it’s easier to add a whole section to a review than jury-rigging in bits and pieces here and there). Since my initial impressions were based primarily on more popular music genres, I tried to add some variety with the inclusion of some classical and instrumental jazz.
     
    Dire Straits – Love Over Gold (from Love Over Gold)
    256 kHz AAC > Amarra 3.0.3 on MacBook Air > Yulong CU2 SPC USB cable > Matrix Mini-i Pro > Headphone
     
    The song is characterized by a delicate piano and acoustic guitar opening, low bass heartbeat, intimate vocal from Knopfler with great vocal texture, an interlude of dynamic electric guitar and drums towards the middle of the song, and quietening to an intimate solo marimba fade out.
    Rather than focus on all the details of each instrument with each headphone, I’ll just pick out some elements I noticed. Comparing the three headphones, HD650 mid-focused with tight bass, rolled off treble and fast decay (notes less sustained). K7XX upper-mid and treble focused, with rolled off bass; notes more sustained. R70x more bass-prominent but not bloated, with detailed mids and treble, and less texture.
     
    Quality of strings on acoustic guitar very different between three: K7XX strings sounded like a rough, natural gut (dry, delicately plecked… sense left hand manipulating strings for effect), HD650 like synthetic gut, and R70x more steel-like. Piano on HD650 lovely; can almost feel the pianist caressing the keys. Knopfler’s vocal textured and nuanced with HD650 and K7XX, slightly less so with R70x (though still well detailed). Bass hummed with life with R70x; could feel it physically! HD650 had good, tight quality, but felt like coming from the basement so less impact. Through middle of song, snares, toms, marimba well presented with all headphones.
     
    Let album play through to “It Never Rains” (next track) several times (lost while typing notes…). Roused partially each time by organ, and then jolted at around 2:45 as song picks up to a bit of a crescendo with wall of energetic drums, electric guitar, organ and Knopfler picking up the volume. K7XX on the harsh side, HD650 less harsh, more controlled at the upper end, and R70x more pronounced treble than HD650, but less harshness than K7XX.
     
    Dvořák: Symphony No. 9, Op. 95 "From The New World" (Philharmonia Orchestra, Carlo Maria Giulini)
    ALAC > Amarra 3.0.3 on MacBook Air > Yulong CU2 SPC USB cable > Matrix Mini-i Pro > Headphone
     
    1. K7XX: Dry, textured great instrumental definition. Spacious soundstage with good instrument placement. Bass recessed, but present. Strings are stringy. Brass is brassy. Drums are drummy. Etcetera. Good detail. Bit harsh with noisier passages involving prominent brass.
    2. HD650: Lush mids. Slightly less airy presence than the AKG, with staging a little more congested. Great body, texture and definition of each note. Overall impression is of more body and energy than the AKG, and less harshness in the trebles due to some roll-off. Brass texture comes through without being irritating.
    3. R70x: Lush, smooth and natural overall, but not syrupy. Excellent instrumental definition. Noticed lovely tone to reeds. Sound stage more open than Senn’s, not as big as AKG. Great body and overall acoustics. Handles loud passages very well, without low-end muddiness or high-end harshness. Has the bass that the K7XX lacks, and the treble detail missing from the HD650.
     
    11.Testing.jpg
     
    Miles Davis – Blue In Green (from Kind Of Blue)
    ALAC > Fiio X3ii Line Out > JDS Labs O2 (High Gain) > Headphone
     
    1. K7XX: Bass a dry and recessed. Piano clear, though left hand a bit soft. Snare rustling pleasantly throughout song. Lovely, nuanced tone on trumpet; beautiful raspiness. Reed of the sax is textured and detailed nicely. Can pick out location of instruments easily. Intimate delivery.
    2. HD650: Bass punchy but tight. Piano full and nuanced in left and right hand. Snare rustle less prominent, less dry. Trumpet and sax brighter and rounder, still nicely textured. I LOVED Coltrane’s little sax solo through this phone, and just wish it was longer! Beautifully resonant and warm. Again, instrument placement nicely defined, though performance less intimate, more friendly.
    3. R70x: Bass less punchy (less quick?) but more prominent than HD650. Right hand of piano sparkled more than AKG or Senn; clean and delicate. Trumpet sweet, less full than HD650 but rounder than K7XX. Missing some of the textured quiver of the mute, though it can still be heard. Sax also less textured (though not smoothed out completely), warmer sound.
     
    IMG_6163.jpg
     
    Overall comparison summary
     
    I’ve tried to summarize as best I can my impressions of the three headphones tested below. As already mentioned, I’m no sonic expert, and I have some rather particular sound preferences, so you may disagree with my judgments, and that’s fine with me. In my opinion, this is how the three headphones stacked up in some of the more commonly discussed sonic areas:
     
    1. Bass (Quantity): R70x > HD650 > K7XX
    2. Bass (Quality): R70x > HD650 > K7XX
    3. Mids (Quantity): HD650 > R70x > K7XX
    4. Mids (Quality): HD650 > R70x > K7XX
    5. Treble (Quantity): K7XX > R70x > HD650
    6. Treble (Quality): R70x > K7XX > HD650
    7. Texture: HD650 > K7XX > R70x
    8. Details: HD650 > R70x > K7XX
    9. Balance: R70x > HD650 > K7XX
    10. Sustain: R70x > K7XX > HD650
    11. Body/Envelopment: R70x > HD650 > K7XX
    12. Stage breadth/space: K7XX > R70x > HD650
     
    Initial Conclusions (May 24, 2015)
     
    In case it isn’t totally obvious, I LOVE this headphone. When I read early reviews, I was pretty sure I was going to like it as those reviews were hitting all my sonic pressure (pleasure?) points: natural, clarity and detail, balance throughout sound spectrum, open sound stage. Now that I have a pair of my own, I am overjoyed.
     
    I was pretty sure coming in that my Fiio X3ii wouldn’t be able to handle the R70x on it’s own, and wondered whether 470 ohms would require a desktop amp, out decided to hold off on such a purchase until after having a chance to try it with my portable amps. Happily, my E12A handles them beautifully at 6/10 volume setting (so room to spare still if I really want to crank things to ear-splitting levels).
     
    Yes, I’m sure there is an element of “new toy syndrome” happening, but I am very happy with this purchase, and can with 100% certainty say the R70x is, for me, an absolute keeper. YMMV, but I doubt it!
     
    Addendum (June 1, 2015)
     
    Yesterday in Calgary we held a Head-Fi meet, and afterwards three of us retired for a beer or two, and listened to and compared more music and headphones. Our opinions varied widely on the R70x and the HD650, and I fully understand their conclusions based on their preferences, but haven’t changed my opinion on which headphone I prefer.
     
    13Image.jpg
     
    My two friends both love texture and micro detail, and both preferred the HD650 on everything we listened to (jazz, female vocal pop, acid jazz, funk, you name it). They found the quick decay on the HD650 (especially in the bass) more to their liking, and were satisfied with its treble even though they both admitted it was more subdued. For them it was all about the little things revealed by the HD650, and they found the R70x too “polite,” as one of them put it.
     
    I on the other hand like the detail and linearity of the R70x. As other reviewers have also mentioned, it’s a very natural headphone. I like to think of it as very democratic; while some phones focus the listener on a certain frequency zone of the music, to the detriment of others, The R70x handles bass, mid and treble beautifully, and highlights everything and nothing at the same time; I found it really easy to shift my attention from one instrument to another as nothing was too prominent or assertive. Yes, I may lose a little on the texture side, but I’m okay with that as I find the R70x thoroughly engaging and enveloping.
     
    Hope this review was helpful. Feel free to comment or ask questions below.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. hakushondaimao
      @mikek200: Hope you're enjoying your new toy. Looking forward to your impressions.
      hakushondaimao, Jun 6, 2015
    3. volly
      Wow, great review! Well written and easy to understand and read! 
       
      The R70x has peaked my interest of late, I'm not sure on the conclusion if I was to choose between the HD650 or the R70x as the HD650 are a little cheaper where I live but none the less Audio Technica has delivered a compelling headphone!
      volly, Aug 21, 2015
    4. hakushondaimao
      Thanks for the comment, @volly. Either phone would make a good choice, depending on your preferences. For me, I just keep reaching for the R70x.
      hakushondaimao, Aug 22, 2015
  9. twister6
    Natural Sound Perfection!
    Written by twister6
    Published May 3, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Excellent natural tonality, very lightweight and comfortable, removable cables, beautiful design
    Cons - high impedance, no hardshell case, no sound isolation (due to open back)

    Before I start my review, I would like to Thank Audio-Technica US for providing me with a review sample in exchange for my honest opinion.

    ### I also want to point out Bram's (earfonia) in-depth review of ATH-R70x which you can find here: http://www.head-fi.org/t/765004/audio-technica-ath-r70x-in-depth-review-impressions ###

     
    I can’t imagine a better way to wrap up a series of my recent Audio-Technica reviews, featuring an impressive lineup of M50x, M70x, and MSR7, than by looking into their latest professional open back R70x headphones.  In the past year AT has been on a roll with a lot of new releases, everything from in-ear to full size, and sometime it could be confusing and even overwhelming when you are presented with all these choices.  Fortunately, AT simplified this decision task by offering their new full size headphones each with a distinct sound signature to suit different listening needs.  Let me first take a closer look at R70x design and sound characteristics, and follow it up with a comparison to other models.  Without a further ado, here is what I found.
     
    Arrived in a rather large box, similar size to the latest M-models, the main focus of the cover image was to showcase the back of R70x earcup design.  A mesh grill is very common in open back headphones to bring out characteristics of an airy sound, but AT went an extra mile to make this grill more transparent for a better visibility of internal design pattern.  Otherwise, there is not much writing on the cover, just a bold image with a clear statement.  Turning box to the side reveals another very interesting design element I haven’t seen before, a headband with a spring-loaded wing mechanism (more about it later).  The back of the packaging box reveals a plethora of info about the design and sound signature (btw, found to be quite accurate – not the usual marketing hype), description of included accessories, and a detailed spec.  I had to do a double take when I read 470 ohm driver impedance, but trust me – it’s not a typo.
     
    Under the cover, you will find R70x in a foam egg crate setting with cutouts for earcups and headband wings.  With this “egg crate” removed, there is a slim accessories box built into the base of this crate.  It's a rather simple packaging but it felt already "airy" light and still perfectly secure!
     
    Unboxing.
     
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    Moving on to accessories, you will find a straight 3.0m audio cable and 6.3mm adapter, and also a soft storage bag.  Though it's rare to see 1/4" adapter nowadays, keep in mind these headphones are intended for professional use where pro amps and some outboard gear still uses 6.3mm headphone outputs.  The same deal with a cable, it's rather long for portable use and more appropriate for desktop or studio application where you don't want to be restricted by a typical short 1.2m cable intended for a smartphone or DAP use.  Still, if you want to take it on the go, maybe use a velcro to make it shorter or look for 3rd party replacement cables.  The connector is their typical 2.5mm TRS with a twist-on lock, but there is a special "twist" to it.  The cable splits going to L/R earcups and each connector is perfectly symmetrical so there is no designated Left or Right sides on the removable cable.  Cleverly designed, each side of the cable has TRS connector with L/R/Gnd, and L/R earcups make contact only with corresponding channel.  You can flip cable around and it still works correctly.  My only gripe here, L/R markers inside of headband are very hard to spot.
     
    Oh, and the storage bag...  It has been a consistent "negative" comment in most of my AT full size headphone reviews (except for M70x), why not a hard shell case?!?  So many headphones with a sub-par performance come with awesome storage cases, but AT with a stellar audio performance leaves storage to just a bag.  In case of R70x, it's actually A BIG deal because these headphones don't fold flat, earcups swivel just a bit along y-axis for a more comfortable adjustment, but they don't swivel full 90deg for a compact flat storage.  I was able to stuff R70x in the provided bag and it's actually quite a nice soft draw string pouch, but I would have to find an aftermarket case for a more secure storage if I want to transport these outside of the house.
     
    Accessories.
     
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    I already mentioned a little bit about the design since it's a focus of the cover box - a beautifully crafted "transparent" aluminum honeycomb mesh covering the back of earcups and revealing the inside design.  I absolutely LOVE this look which serves both aesthetic purpose and acoustic purpose to enable 3D open back expanded sound.  The actual housing around it is made of a super lightweight carbon composite resin to improve structural rigidity while also providing a detailed transient response.
     
    The earpads are made from a soft breathable fabric material which doesn't get hot or sweaty during extended listening session.  They are very  comfortable, plush, and have enough depth for my ears not to touch driver cover inside.  The base of earpads is made from pleather and earpads are attached to the earcup slightly angled for a better seal behind your ears.  The earcup attachment to the headband is at a single point with a restricted small degree of vertical swivel which helps in a more comfortable fitment around your head.  Add to that a balanced clamping force from a steel spring headband, which btw I was able to bend/expand just a bit by applying some extra pressure to it, and at a about 210g of weight these were the most comfortable feather-light full-size headphones I have ever experienced.
     
    Some might consider 210g is not feather-light relative to small IEMs, but for a full size headphones with a perfect distribution of weight - you can hardly even feel them.  Another important factor of this comfortable fitment is their unique wing support.  Again, this was a new one for me since I'm used to a traditional headband design with a height adjustment where the yoke attached to earcup extends to adjust to my head size.  Here you have a spring-loaded short arm with a small swivel foam pad which self-adjusts to a perfect fitment.  This way only foam side of those pads make a contact with a top of your head, headband itself is up in the air.
     
    Design.
     
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    Audio-Technica labels R70x as their first pair of professional open-back reference headphones with high-efficiency magnets and pure alloy magnetic circuit design which reduces distortion and ensures accurate and extended high-frequency response.  What does all this translates to?  I'm hearing a neutral sound signature with a natural tonality and a very accurate retrieval of details, a great extension at both ends of the spectrum, and very non-fatigue sound (no sibilance or harsh analytical brightness).  I know it's a mouthful, but I just never heard anything that sounded so crystal clear, accurate, and natural, and at the same time enjoyable for extended listening period.  There are no cuts or boosts, no extra warmth of low end or extra sizzle at top end, just accuracy and quality.
     
    Starting with a low end, there is no lack in bass response though it's more about quality than quantity.  The bass does extends down to sub-bass level which is nicely balanced with mid-bass and both of which have a high level of accuracy with quantity approaching neutral level where you hear the bass rather than feel it, yet still it's tight and well controlled.  Nothing is exaggerated, nothing spills into mids, and it's surgically separated from the rest of the frequency spectrum.
     
    Mids are crystal clear, surprisingly not as thin as I expected with just a touch of warmth in lower mids to give them some body and high level of detail retrieval without too much of analytical brightness.  Vocal delivery, both male and female, is crisp and organic.
     
    Treble extends high up with a very crisp and clear delivery of sound that is not too harsh or sibilant.  Any instrument that falls within treble range sounds natural and transparent, absolutely no harsh peaks.
     
    With a help of open-back design, soundstage is open and airy, with a great width and depth.  Sound separation is phenomenal with layering/separation of each individual instrument and vocals that could be easily singled out in a mix.  Also, the imaging is very accurate with a precise position of every sound in the open 3D space.  For studio mixing and mastering - this is a valuable tool that can substitute (though not replace) monitor speakers.  At the same time, isolation is very poor since an open back design will let all sounds in from outside.  The same is the other way around where sound leakage is very noticeable since there are no boundaries to confine a sound within earcups.
     
    Amping is definitely something you need to consider, though I found a number of my portable DAPs to provide plenty of power to drive R70x to a comfortable listening level.  For example, N6 and X3ii had no issue what so ever, while AK120ii and my Galaxy Note 4 needed to get closer to a volume ceiling level in order to drive them loud enough.  The reason why I found amping to be necessary even in cases where my audio source had enough power is because it's not just about "loudness" but the actual "power" to drive it with authority to a full potential!  The best pair up I found was with Cayin combo of N6 + C5 where soundstage expanded even further and bass became tighter and punchier.
     
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    I started my review with a comment about AT lineup of the latest headphones offering a distinct sound signature, so here is a summary with a brief comparison to other AT models as well as a few other manufacturers.
     
    R70x vs M70x - M70x sound is a lot flatter, bass is anemic in comparison, mids are thinner, treble is a little harsher, soundstage is surprisingly very similar, though width is a bit narrower.
     
    R70x vs MSR7 - MSR7 has a little more bass quantity and in particular a stronger mid-bass punch, mids have a bit less clarity and pushed a little back, treble has a little more sizzle, soundstage depth is the same but width is a little narrower, and overall tuning is more balanced.
     
    R70x vs M50x - M50x is more balanced and smoother, it has a deeper sub-bass and more mid-bass punch, mids are a touch lower, treble is not as extended, similar soundstage depth but width is a little narrower.  Overall, not as detailed.
     
    R70x vs HP150/HP200 - HP low end is very similar, closer to neutral level but not as tight, mids are a little more forward and a little brighter, treble has a few harsher peaks - overall spectrum is not as coherent, staging is very similar with HP200 open back design offering level of airiness that comes close but still not at the same level of natural transparency as R70x.  In comparison, HPs are a bit more colored.
     
    R70x vs MH40 - MH40 has a more balanced sound, stronger bass with a more mid-bass punch and some spillage into lower mids, mids are thicker, warmer, and more recessed, treble is smoother and not as extended.  Also, nowhere never the same level of detail retrieval.
     
    Conclusion.
     
    It's very easy to make a decision which AT headphone is right for you: if you want more bass with a balanced sound and less top end extension you go for M50x; for a more balanced sound with a leveled off bass and a great treble extension you should look into MSR7; for a flat reference sound intended for accurate mixing/production rather than enjoyable listening, the M70x would be your best choice; and if you want a neutral transparent sound that is natural and accurate and don't mind open back design with a great soundstage expansion then R70x should be at the top of your list.  For me personally, I have been enjoying neutral sound tuning more and more (even for EDM, crazy, uh?), and no longer prefer boosted bass or analytical treble.  Unfortunately, my listening environment is not ideal for open-back headphones since I need more privacy, so I have been using MSR7 exclusively.  But listening to R70x just blew me away with a perfection of natural sound quality.  AT presents R70x as Professional Reference cans, but I think adding Audiophile in their description would really do a justice to these headphones since I found them to be essential tool not just for professional audio production but also for everyday listening pleasure on audiophile level!
      Baycode, Brooko, lalala6 and 5 others like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. SunByrne
      Thanks for the review. Based on yours and earphonia's, I'm taking the plunge. Should be here soon.
      SunByrne, May 19, 2015
    3. vlenbo
      @twister6 I couldn't stop reading your r70x review after constantly hearing the msr7s. Now that I own it, I want to help you and the other reviewers out by putting my comparisons as well.
       
      I agree about the headband design, the a900x (which also has the same design) is worse with the clamping force on the 3d wings, as it almost has no clamping force, thus making the headphone slide on my head (not to mention its that much bigger than the a900xs).
       
       
      Great review, and glad you enjoyed the ath-r70x
      vlenbo, Jul 3, 2015
    4. ngominhhoang132
      nice review. how do this pair of headphones compare to the AD2000x?
      ngominhhoang132, Feb 7, 2017
  10. earfonia
    King of Natural Tonality!
    Written by earfonia
    Published May 2, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Almost 'perfectly natural' tonal balance, & feather-light weight (approx. 210 g w/o cable).
    Cons - Obscured Left and Right markings. Only one long (3 meters) stock cable is included.
    This review is a summary section of In-Depth Review I posted here:
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/765004/audio-technica-ath-r70x-in-depth-review-impressions
    Please visit the link above for more information.
     
     
    Many thanks to Audio-Technica Singapore for the demo set loan of ATH-R70x! By the time i post this review, i have had it with me for about a month.
     
    http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/headphones/f39784ce643a82e6/index.html
     
     

     
     
     
    I was quite surprise of how light ATH-R70x was when I took it out of the box. Lighter than other headphones in my inventory. The matte black finish and the utilitarian design gives it a modern and professional look. A nice blend of form and function. ATH-R70x is designed in conjunction with Paris-based design company, ARRO Studio. When I listened to it for the first time, ATH-R70x gave me another surprise with its natural tonality. Not bright, not warm, it just sounds natural to my ears. From the beginning ATH-R70x feels, looks, and sounds professional.
     

     
     
     
    When mentioning of professional open-back reference headphone, some of us might think of the well-known flagships, such as Sennheiser HD800, Beyerdynamic T1, or AKG K812. Is ATH-R70x competing with those flagships? Does ATH-R70x sound like any of those? The answer to both questions is simply, No. I have HD800 and T1 for years, and auditioned K812 a few times, and I'm glad ATH-R70x sound tuning has taken a different approach. In my opinion, it is complimenting those flagships rather than competing them. I explained that in my In-Depth Review. Meanwhile for those who doesn't have much time to read the whole review, here is the summary, pros & cons, and some suggestions for improvement.
     

     
     
     
     

    Summary:

    ATH-R70x has a very smooth, polite, and balanced sound signature. Tonality sounds natural and very pleasing without any annoying peaks or dips on the frequency spectrum. Sometime may sound a little too smooth, depending on recording. Tonality leans a little, to the warm side, just a little, not as warm as HD650. Bass and mids are balanced, with good bass presence & low bass extension, but it doesn't sound bassy. It has more bass than Beyerdynamic T1, but less bass than Philips Fidelio X1. Treble is only a tad softer than the midrange, but not lacking and overall still quite balance. I do prefer to hear a little more clarity, especially for my music. If HD800 brightness is North Pole, and HD650 warmness is South Pole, ATH-R70x tonality is probably Australia. ATH-R70x is not for basshead, and also not for those looking for HD800 or T1 transparency, but an excellent choice for those looking for natural and balanced sounding headphone for long period of music listening. ATH-R70x is especially good on vocal. Vocal sounds smooth, natural, and full bodied.
     
    Detail and resolution are good, slightly better than HD650, but not yet at the level of HD800 or T1. ATH-R70x is rather a little forgiving when it comes to revealing detail, especially when compared to HD800 and T1. Dynamic is pretty good, but a little hard to drive. With 470 ohms impedance ATH-R70x need a good amplifier to sound lively. When compared to T1 & HD800, ATH-R70x is not as fast sounding as those flagships, and not the best choice for extremely fast pace & complex music. But regular pace music, pop and jazz, sounds gorgeous on ATH-R70x. I definitely enjoy vocal on ATH-R70x better than HD800 and T1. For example, ATH-R70x is my favourite headphone for albums from Stockfisch Records. ATH-R70x does classical as well, but performs better with small orchestra and chamber music. As an open-back headphone, ATH-R70x imaging size is around average, not very spacious, but also not congested. Imaging is accurate, but not as big and spacious as HD800.
     
    I have burnt-in ATH-R70x for about 100 hours, no changes in sound quality. So, no burn-in is required for ATH-R70x, which is a good thing. Headphone that changes it sound after burn-in, to me is indicating inconsistency. As with DAC and amplifier, I didn't find ATH-R70x to have good chemistry with tube amp or warm & smooth sounding amp, and matches better with neutral to slightly analytic solid state amplifiers. With my ifi micro iDSD + iCAN, ATH-R70x is simply music. At 210 grams, ATH-R70x is feather-light and very comfortable. Headband pressure is pretty light, less pressure than T1, about the same as HD800. ATH-R70x fits really well on my head, always stays in place.
     
    Some factors of ATH-R70x that in my opinion make it suitable for professional applications:
    1. Very balanced, almost ruler flat tonality, makes ATH-R70x very useful for tonality observation & equalizer adjustment.
    2. Light weight and comfortable for long sessions. Headband pressure is light, but it fits very well, and not easily moved from position even with lots of head movement.
     
    I gave 5 stars for ATH-R70x, is that mean that ATH-R70x a perfect headphone? There is no such a thing as a perfect headphone. 5 stars are mainly for its performance, in comparison with other headphones within the price bracket that I've ever tried. Best achievements of ATH-R70x are the very natural tonality, almost ruler flat tonal balance, and the light weight and good fit of the headphones. ATH-R70x is probably not the one headphone that fits all music, but it really excels on what it does best, which are vocal, pop, and jazz. Generally modern recordings with closed miking sound wonderful on ATH-R70x. What I think can be improved further to match other open-back flagships mentioned above are the clarity, detail, speed and dynamic. Overall ATH-R70x is a very pleasing & comfortable headphone. Some headphone may sound technically right, but not necessarily emotionally involving. Not with ATH-R70x. With the right DAC and amplifier, ATH-R70x sounds gorgeous and emotionally involving. For under $500 bracket, in my opinion, ATH-R70x deserves 5 stars. An excellent sounding headphone for both professionals and audiophiles. Kudos to Audio-Technica!
     
     

     
     
     

    Pros:

    Almost 'perfectly natural' tonal balance.
    Feather-light weight (approx. 210 g w/o cable).
     

    Cons:

    Obscured Left and Right markings.
    Only one long (3 meters) stock cable is included.
    Headband size might be a little short for extra-large size head.
     

    Suggestions For Improvement:

    Clearer Left and Right markings.
    Larger & thicker earpad for greater comfort.
    Shorter cable (approximately 1.5 m - 1.7 m) to be included.
    Semi-hard case protective carrying case.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. earfonia
      @aluweer IMHO, I would like R70x to be improved on speed and transient to handle big orchestra better. So I still prefer HD800 for big and complex orchestra. Not HD650, for me it is too dark for classical, and not as detailed as HD800 and R70x. So for your question above on big orchestra, my preference will be as the following: HD800 > R70x > HD650 
      earfonia, Jun 2, 2015
    3. vlenbo
      @earfonia your review was the first to make me continue feeling hyped about the ath-r70x! I hope to provide the most detailed comparison between the R70x, the open mesh in-ear signature acoustics o-16, and the audio technica products that I own!
       
       
      Nice review, and thank you for posting it on time, I enjoyed it.
      vlenbo, Jul 3, 2015
    4. earfonia
      @vlenbo Thanks mate! Looking forward for your comparison!
      earfonia, Jul 3, 2015