Listened at low to medium volume (mostly low)
Audio Technica is making a statement here and they are putting all their effort in it. Totally out of the world build quality with exquisite natural material and sheer craftsmanship. The W3000ANV will not look out of place in an art exhibition.
The lush traditional Japanese Echizen lacquer-finished Hokkaido Asada cherry heartwood ear cups proudly displays the heritage of the county of origin. I have heard the cultivation of cherry wood is strictly limited, making it the only Audio Technica headphone that is using this rare wood since the last W1000 rolled out the production line. Pictures simply do not do justice to ever changing finish.
The attention to detail does not stop there. The ear pads are handcrafted from Spanish lambskin leather, the frame from magnesium, the dual entry 7N headphone cord braided with none other than 100% silk. All of that is finished off with the 6.3mm jack with matching wood inlay and the “Made in Japan” mark.
I can go on and on about the unrivalled build quality of this headphone. I must say, this is a near perfect blend of precision engineering available in large corporations and traditional craftsmanship that Japan is very proud of themselves.
Fit and comfort
The “hit or miss” fit of the newer Audio Technica headphones is still present in the W3000ANV.
It can be difficult to get a perfect seal without any adjustment, at least for me that mean I have to manually bend the headband to fit my head shape and adding a hairband to increase tension on the 3D-wing system, which I fit a bit too weak and making the headphones slide down over time.
That being said so; the fit without any adjustment is one of the best from the new line up. I do not have to resort to extreme yoga bending that my A2000X have to go through being getting an acceptable seal and the earcup is of a good size and depth to comfortably accommodate my ears.
However, for the faint hearted, forcefully bending the headband to shape in a headphone as expensive and rare might be a bit too much to take.
Overall sound impression
So how does it sound?
Well extended treble that does not sound harsh, deep bass that slams quite well, signature forward and lush mids, medium sized soundstage with good position definition, and excellent texture across the whole frequency range. Overall a mid centric, slightly warm and thick headphone, but have lightning quick response while still has a thick bass decay.
Throwing statements like “most accurate representation of recording”, “technically superior”, “best THD measurement” totally out the window. Instead of trying to be technically correct, Audio Technica focused on creating a headphone simply for the sake of music enjoyment.
I have not been wowed by a pair of headphones for a long time, the W3000ANV did it for me. Even after hearing “technically superior” headphones like SR-009, LCD-X, I found the sheer musicality of the W3000ANV even more spectacular than superior technical ability of other modern flagship headphones.
It is very accommodating in terms of recording quality and music type. From high quality audiophile recordings to low dynamic range modern pop; the W3000ANV never sounded harsh even on the worst recordings. Anything thrown at it you are getting an inviting and musical experience, with many of the modern flagships, it is simply not possible when they are presenting the cold hard truth back.
The W3000ANV is not any world beater if you take apart individual component of sound and start comparing. That is not what this headphone is about, if you are after an inviting and non-fatiguing musical presentation, the W3000ANV excels at making any music enjoyable. If you are looking for another audio microscope or for use in music production, look elsewhere.
Headphone designed from ground up for music enjoyment, while not lacking in technical abilities, it is not a winner in that department.
A speedy headphone while unusually having an enjoyable thick bass decay. Detail is at least on-par with other headphone in this price range; you won’t feel like you are missing much listening to it.
Excel for long listening session with the inviting and non-fatiguing sound, it is very involving headphone, yet being relaxing at the same time.
I guess I have to use the dreaded terms, Lush , Euphonic and PRaT.
For those are familiar with the FitEar MH334, it have a similar signature. The W3000ANV is less warm tilted than the MH334 and have more treble presence too.
Unlike AD1000PRM, AD2000, the mid coloration on the W3000ANV makes it suitable for both male and female vocal.
Great for vocal and long low volume listening sessions, natural instruments. Woodwind sounds exquisite on this.
I found my other headphones which have a faster bass presentation more suitable for electronics music.
Pros: Incredibly seductive and euphonic sound, luxurious look and feel
Cons: Not the last word in comfort, small differentiation to other AT products, slightly genre-selective
I’ve always been curious about the Audio-Technica woodies, and recently had the opportunity to spend some time with the latest one, the W3000ANV, thanks to an audiophile friend in Brazil.
I’m slightly on the fence here. In terms of appearance this headphone is spectacularly pretty and luxurious. The wood is extremely tasteful but discreet, since there’s a thick layer of varnish and a burgundy paint, that seem to mask a little bit of the wood’s natural grain.
My slight reservations are towards the fact that, apart from the wooden cups and some other details – such as the pads, colours of the plastic structure and the cable cloth and the plug –, it’s pretty much identical to the A700X that I reviewed a short while ago (not here). The W3000ANV cost 10 times the A700Xs price, so I expected more distinct differences between them. I’m not sure if it’s the younger brother that’s better built than its price suggests, but I guess I’d expect some more differentiation between them – such as metal instead of plastic in some areas.
Another issue is that I found the W3000ANV a little heavy, and as the pads that act as headbands don’t offer a lot of support, the headphones end up not being very secure and falling a bit – consequently, the cups go down and the pads make more pressure on the lower part of my ears than what I’d be comfortable with. Therefore, to me, it’s not particularly comfortable. I’m aware, however, that this is a personal issue.
Regardless of those problems, there’s no denying that those headphones are quite spectacular physically. The same compliments can be made to the packaging and presentation: Audio-Technica really know how to present a TOTL product.
The first impression I got was that it sounded pretty much like I expected: it had a very sweet, euphonic and delicious presentation. That comes, of course, at the cost of neutrality. But honestly, hearing what those headphones do to my music, I keep asking myself what the hell I’d want neutrality for. It’s quite difficult to put in words the sensation that the W3000ANV gives you... it’s a really incredible sweetness, and few times have I ever heard anything like it.
Another characteristic that’s immediately evident is the ability of not having any of the downsides normally associated with closed headphones. It doesn’t have the openness and sense of breath as open backed headphones, but then I see considerable spaciousness here and there doesn’t seem to be any nasal characteristics to the mids.
The bass is sensational, and just like with the AD700X, they remind me a lot the Sony EX1000 in-ear – that’s a compliment, as I find the bass on these to be fantastic. They have strong presence, at the proportion which I would consider ideal, but in a very subtle and delicate way, without sacrificing any definition. It very competently displays texture. There’s reasonable impact as well, but it’s not that usual dry, impactful bass –the lows are slow and silky. The only issue that I have here is that there’s a discreet lack of weight and substance. However, if this is a price to pay for the euphonic nature of the bass, so be it.
Regarding the mids... they’re also an example of how to enchant. The tonal balance is very natural and correct on these, therefore in terms of presence the mids are more or less precisely where I’d want them to be given the W3000ANV’s purpose. The timbre is irreprehensible, but what really makes the difference is the irresistible nature of the mids here. Once again there’s an incredible warmth that’s extremely seductive and makes the coldest systems sound like the most euphonic ones. Really, it makes it seem as if the cables and power outlet had tubes.
And that doesn’t come at the cost of transparency and definition. It goes quite a bit beyond what “sweet and euphonic” seem to usually suggest. Obviously these Audio-Technicas don’t present the levels of resolution of something like an HD800, but I was surprised to hear how it doesn’t make you feel like you’re missing anything. And if it does, really... I wouldn’t care.
However, there’s an issue here that’s quite hard to explain, but it sounds as if it didn’t have the mass that such warmth usually suggests – like I hear, for example, with the HiFiMAN HE500s. There’s also a significant tridimensional quality to these headphones, and it appears that those two characteristics and up making the presentation a wee bit light and distance. Consequently, I see myself frequently compensating by turning up the volume. It’s not a negative thing, just a characteristic, but I’m slightly on the fence about this.
The treble is, again, fantastic. Not for being perfect – they are undoubtedly coloured –, but for being totally in harmony with the W3000ANVs general sound and also for being what I’d precisely call euphonic highs. I think, in most cases, present highs are related to coldness, but in here this couldn’t be further from the truth. Not that they’re excessive or lacking – maybe it’s sounding a bit too good to be true, but I’ll once again refer to the classic “they are where they should be”.
Here, I’m impressed with these headphone’s ability to show perfectly present and well extended treble within a sonority well into the euphonic camp without causing any harm to this characteristic. Usually, I find that the sweetest headphones have relaxed highs, but the W3000ANV goes completely against this tendency with flying colours, and therefore doesn’t bring any of the disadvantages usually associated to it – such as lack of sparkle and of definition.
Speaking of sparkle, there seems to be a small peak – generally inoffensive, but that can, on rare ocasions, present some sibilance – that was put on the best spot possible. I really can’t explain well enough, but the highs in these headphones are also mesmerizing. They don’t have perfect timbre, but they can show presence, definition and extension along with subtleness and tenderness.
The results of all this, as should be clear by now, is that the W3000ANV is not an all-rounder. It wasn’t made to play rock or electronic music – it can, well enough, but it really shows what it’s made for playing Kind of Blue in a rainy afternoon. Any instrument that depends on sweet mids will find nirvana here.
I’m completely in love with it.
I’ve made an effort to show my enthusiasm in this review, but this is not because of a lack of it – quite the opposite. This is because the last thing I wanted to do with the W3000ANV was to analyze it. The only thing I feel like doing with it is to listen to music.
Frankly, to analyze this headphone is a bit nonsense. If there’s one thing it wasn’t made for, is to be analyzed. I don’t think I’ve ever heard such euphony and musicality in a sound equipment. It constantly reminds me the reason why I’m so much into music – because, to me, it was impossible not to be completely carried away by the way it presents it.
The W3000ANV is totally irresistible and is easily the most seductive means of listening to music I’ve ever had the chance of hearing. This makes it one of the best headphones I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.
When the ATH-W3000ANV was first announced, I was very hyped for it, knowing the reputation of AT and how good the mid on their woodies are. So after reading some reviews and recommendations I went for it.
Audio Quality (Since I am not able to be completely objective about the sound, please take my AQ rating with a grain of salt):
Low: Bass notes are clear, articulate and does not sound muddy in the least. Bass impact is good, never bleeds into the mid, and has good extension and decay. Its bass is well suited for almost any kind of music that I've listened to, but bassheads will thrive for more quantity and boom.
Mid: Mid is the bread-and-butter for this headphone. Because of the wooden cup, mid has a warm, intimate characteristic. Vocals are smooth, distinctively mellow and clear in such a way that induces a unique emotion with different genres/songs. The sincerity in an artist's voice, the grand atmosphere in a classical recording, the natural fastness of an EDM track, I can feel them all. It is also slightly forward, but not too much to make other frequency ranges fade into the background.
High: Treble has a really nice ring to it, and sounds fairly natural. However, I occasionally find the treble slightly harsh on certain tracks.
Soundstage: In term of technicality, soundstage is quite small compared to open-back models. However, its well-imaged soundstage make me prefer it over other bigger soundstage headphones, like the HE500.
There are only 2000 units of this headphone, so I think by the time of this review there is no more stock on it, meaning you'll probably have to pay more (which unfortunately make its rating for value lower).
What you get for this $1200 pair of headphone is an extremely classy box, with a letter of appreciation for buying this product from Audio-Technica, and the headphone itself. The cup and jack are made from Echizen laquer-finished Hokkaido Asada cherry heartwood, which is very appealing to look at. Unfortunately, if the headphone is exposed to sunlight frequently, its colour will begin to fade, so be careful. The headphone looks rather fragile compared to the HD800 or T1, mainly due to the wing system. I wouldn't recommend treating it roughly.
The pads are made from Spanish lamb-skin, which make it by far the most comfortable headphone I've ever worn. However, be advised that the wing system is not adjustable like many other headphones, so the fit is not for everyone.
If I have to describe the ATH-W3000ANV succinctly, I would use words like "pleasant", "musical". It is a great pair of headphone, but seems to be a bit picky when it comes to amp-ing and sound signature. On top of that, unavailability for demo and a $1200 price tag will make many to shun away from it. However, if you have a strong affinity for mid-heavy music, I strongly recommend it.