Pros: Excellent SQ with very good performance in all frequencies, very clear detail, powerful bass, sleek design, excellent wireless range.
Cons: Poor comfort for people with protruding ears (solved with alternative earpads), leak some sound, no extra functions.
I have tested quite a few BT Headphones, and I have found many which are very good, and even excellent in some aspects.
These are the ones which excelled in more aspects.
They have an amazing detail, excellent transparency, good soundstage and instruments' separation, very good frequency response, very good dynamic, and can get very loud.
They are one of the very few BT Headphones which sound equally good in wireless and wired mode.
SOUND OUT OF THE BOX:
The bass is advertised as solid. So at first I was expecting a bassy headphone and I was surprised to find out that their bass is quite neutral. Never too much, never too few.
It is gentle like a pulsation on normal music and powerful like a punch on bassy music. There is a good rumble too, although not as deep and dense like I was used with the Fidelio M2BT and UE9000.
The mids are clean and present, somehow forward in the soundstage, a bit warm, with a little accent on the low-mids but without muddiness.
The highs are quite neutral, not the most crispy around but still very clear, a little rolled off but not lacking.
Overall a well balanced clear present and warm sound.
Although as an audiophile I was impressed by the quite neutral bass, as a basshead I wanted more. So I have started pushing with EQ and experimenting with the amazing "Real Bass Exciter" plugin in Foobar2000 (which EVERY basshead need to have).
And I am glad I am one of those clever guys who use EQ. Otherwise I would be the most frustrated basshead around, given that no other BT Headphone can really give a bass power which could please a real basshead. No one but these.
Their bass can be pushed a lot before starting to affect other frequencies and it never distorts. It is very impactful, very punchy, and with a good rumble (which very notably increases with the Real Exciter plugin).
I still wish they had also the deep dense vibration of Fidelio M2BT and Logitech UE9000, but I would never go back to them. Not only because the overall performance of the ATH is much better, but because the bass (apart for that one detail) is overall more powerfull. Maybe also because the ATH have larger drivers and get louder
On the mids there is really nothing to improve, but if you wish more upper mids and less low-mids, the EQ can give you that.
And the highs can be notably improved with EQ. You have to push hard but you get some much crispier, never harsh, never sibilant highs which do not steal the mentioned warmth away.
Although if you like a bright sound signature you can get it by also reducing the mids.
Overall the most dynamic and powerful, impactful yet also gentle BT Headphone I have ever tried. Without any possible little doubt the most complete, with the potential to please the widest audience.
This was at first my biggest complain. The earpads are soft but a bit small and quite thin, and at same time the plastic of the drivers have a pronounced outward curve, so that my ears touch the drivers and this causes a discomfort after not so much time.
I do have some a bit protruding ears, but I am not the only one. So, this is really a design fail.
Luckily not without fix. The earpads can be very easily replaced with the Brainwavz HM5, which you can either find in Amazon or (generally cheaper) directly by MP4Nation.
They are much bigger and thicker, and improve not only the comfort (dramatically) but also the soundstage and even the sound, in different ways depending on which material you choose:
- leatherette: the sub-bass is stronger, a little bit boomier and with a bit less punch and impact but not too much. There is more accent on the low mids which come close to but do not reach the muddiness, but you can easily solve it with EQ.
- velour: it absorbs some mids and bass, making the sound brighter and possibly more balanced. Given the softer material they get more compressed and result finally a bit thinner. They add a little bit of sibilance on the 6k.
- hybrid 3 materials: the leatherette on the outside gives them a good look, the velour on top gives them a nice feel on the skin, and the perforated leatherette inside makes them sound like a middle way between the leatherette and velour versions. The bass is neutral, they absorb a bit of mids, there is some added sibilance on the 6k.
- angled leatherette: for me the best option unless you have large ears which extend a lot horizontally, because they have a little less horizontal inner diameter. For the rest, they improve the bass without adding boominess and respect the impact of the original sound because they get closer to the ear duct due to the angled form. There is no muddiness, the mids are not touched, no sibilance on the 6k. There is some improvement in the soundstage. Overall, only good things!
There is a smaller solution if you want: the Razer Kraken earpads fit ok, and are not much larger than the original ones but are at least thicker. They will not solve much for people with large ears, but will help people with protruding ears. I still prefer the sound and comfort of the HM5 angled, though.
The Headband is well padded and the clamping force gentle. You might not do inversions upside down but you can safely do some jogging with them.
Anyway the core of the headband is of metal, so you can alter the clamping force by playing a bit with it. I did it.
The Cups swivel horizontally and vertically, so they'll adapt to virtually any head.
CALL QUALITY AND NOISE ISOLATION:
The call quality is very good but not excellent. You hear very well, and are heard very well, but a bit distant (as with almost all BT Headphones).
The isolation from outer noises is good, but when you listen to music at very high vol you will definitely be heard by those in your very proximity (bed, bus).
No ANC (thanks God).
MATERIALS AND BUILD:
It is all made of good resistant plastic and of good (albeit not premium) leatherette.
The build is definitely solid. I do not see how you can possibly damage them if not by throwing them against a wall.
ACCESSORIES and DESIGN:
The design is maybe the weak point of these headphones. Apart for the mentioned problem with the earpads, they controls are also not the most immediate and practical.
You have a few buttons, one for play/pause, two which control the vol when pressed and released or change track when pressed and hold, and one to power on/off and pairing.
They are all very close and you have no chance to find them and the speed of light, you will have to help yourself feeling the point on the play/pause and the space between vol down and power.
But, I am ok with it. After all nobody is perfect.
You get an ok carrying bag, the standard USB cable, and a well done audio cable with track and volume control and an integrated mic (so you can call also in wired mode).
WIRELESS RANGE, BATTERY LIFE AND EXTRA FUNCTIONS:
The range is wonderful, one of the best I have found, together with the Plantronics Backbeat Pro. You can walk in the house and unless you live in a bunker or in a old house with 50cm solid rock walls, you'll be fine with a couple of rooms in between.
The Battery life is around 12 hours. For some strange reason it is written 6 hours on the international website. I can assure this is a mistake, I have informed them.
The Audio Codecs are SBC, APTX and AAC. I could not try AAC, but surprisingly they sound as good in SBC as in Aptx, which shows that ATH used the best version of the SBC Codec.
BT 3.0 (which only differs from BT 4.0 in a potentially greater consume of energy).
Nothing else. No extra functions, no jingles, no bla bla.
These headphones "only" make one thing: play music.
But they do it better than most (if not all) other BT Headphones.
I have tried 40 BT Headphones of the best. I have found several which were so amazing that I wished I had the money to keep them all.
But having to choose one, I have chosen this, because they are soundwise the most complete and overall best performing.
I think this is enough to convince you giving them a try
And for those of you who buy them from Japan and get a Manual in Japanese, there is now also an English version online: