Audio-Technica Solid Bass Over-Ear Headphones (ATH-WS55BK)


New Head-Fier
Pros: Well Balanced, Build Quality, Clear & Smooth Bass, Crisp Trebles
Cons: 90 degree swivel makes noise when moving, Not for noise reduction
I love classic and rock music. And actually my kinds of music works really better through these. Each time I listen to music, I can feel the soul of the music. Honestly I used a SoundMagic ES18 budget pairs for 3 years I assume. And they worn out, one speaker is dead, unfortunately. Then I bought these and a pair of Audio Technica ATH PRO500MKII hoping for better bass. What I got from these DJ beasts is annoyingly recessed mids. I really spent some work with different DACs to get better bass and reduced mids. Trust me, the thing went BOOMBLASTIC. #selfie by chainsmokers, really made me stunned. 
Ok, lets come back to WS55. Compared to PRO500MKII, this has an amazingly well balanced sound. 
Its bass is solid, clear and 'non-annoying'. It pronounces middles of bass (10-60Hz) without any clutters. 
I hate mids being recessed, and I blame PRO500MKII for that. With these, I can't say it annoys me at all. Balanced with trebles, sounds that are bound to mids are clearly heard, without making it recessed.
Treble is impressively crisp. 
One word : The Beats by Dr Dre are nowhere near this legend.
The clamp is what make me sad. The 90 degree swivel is good, but not that much, if it keeps making that weird noise. Looks like it needs a lubricant. Plastic to plastic friction. It's dominant when listening to music too. 
The cans really cause pain. It's a design flaw. I'm really depressed with that too. But if I adjust it to some comfortable position, it doesn't pain at all. I used it almost 3hrs straight. I wont usually go that long. 
I never distressed by its clamping force. 
and by my rating, I am not evidently comparing this with anything far more superior than it's class, like senny HD800 or else! :) 
I know it's not made for noise reduction, But i'm disappointed. Neverthless, it slightly reduces noise, but not in a bus or in a flight.
If your light bulb is lit because of my review, I'm extremely grateful. Or If you find anything wrong in these, I'm extremely sorry. Do correct me.
i gave it 5 stars because i love its soundstage. 
i gave comfort full rating coz i use custom pad.
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500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Tight Bass, Detailed treble
Cons: Hard Clamp
This is my first review on head-fi. Please excuse if you don't find extensive or very helpful.
First I would like to explain sound signature. I am new to this audiophile business and will try to describe sound as best as I can.
Headphones have strong and impact full bass, not overpowering, clear mids, not very detailed but decent, clear and detailed treble. I have not heard a lot of headphones that have V shaped sound signature, so can't say if its V shaped but vocals and instruments don't feel recessed or in background.
But bass and treble are clear focus of these headphones. Decent treble presence and detail give these a bright character. They are very musical and fun sounding.
That said, I personally prefer dark sound. Listening to these for 8 hrs straight is rather fatiguing.
They are also quiet stylish but have a hard clamp.Stretching with hand and straightening then for few seconds have made them acceptable in comfort.
They are closed back so isolation is pretty good especially when fresh out of box as they are quiet tight.
Build quality is quiet good and they do look stylish. But plastic moving parts mean they make squeaking sound when moving your head around.
All in all, as they are fun sounding, decently detailed for price,  I recommend them if you need closed design and prefer bright sounding cans.
Amping: Recommend a dac and amp if possible. they are designed for portable devices but a lot more detail come out if used wit decent source.


New Head-Fier
Pros: Tight Bass, Overall nice consumer sound
Cons: Uncomfortable as all hell
Before I get into the gory details, I have to start with saying that I bought these refurbished for $34 on amazon, which is an absolute steal(boosting up my Value rating). If you can get them before they're out of stock, absolutely grab a pair. Now then, onto the good stuff.
The Look: I personally love the styling of the Vmoda Crossfade line of headphones over almost all others, but the minimalistic look Audio Technica uses I think is beautiful and not all up in your grill with branding like some other headphones. Matte Black with silver accents, making for a finger print free headphone. Brilliant.
The Build: The headphones feel really light for what is claimed to be inside of them. I don't think I'll personally have an issue with the build, but that's because I'm not taking these out unless I go to a LAN party, but if you plan an using these for mobile, be weary of the all plastic design. It has a small leather headband on top, which on most headphones wouldn't be acceptable, but these headphones weight is entirely on your ears.
Comfort: If these cans have one fatal flaw, it's the comfort. It's an on-ear design, with an over-the-ear style cup. I can imagine that doing it like that improved the sound quality because you're ears are further from the drivers. The clamp force is quite heavy on these as well, making them even less comfortable. Yay! Joking aside, the clamp makes it so that when you thrash these headphones around on your head, they won't fall off. All this adds up to not being able to wear the headphones for a long period of time, which is disappointing considering the sound.
The Sound:  Now what you all came here to read, the sound quality.
The Bad News: As I stated in the cons, the highs are painful. When I tried these on my HTC OneVX for the first time, the highs almost made my ears bleed. I thought the highs in my Crossfade Lps were harsh, but these brought it to a whole new level of pain. Listening to The entire Pax Vesania album by Yōsei Teikoku murdered my eardrums. As far as using these as mobile headphones, it's an absolute no. Hooking these up to my computer lead to other issues. While this may not be an issue to many listeners, I like to listen to my music loud, and that's impossible on these cans. It's not that they can't get loud enough, but they distort over 60% on my volume slider. 
The Good News: Even though the sound is unbearable on a mobile device, there is a light shining in the darkness: equalization! Simply decreasing the 500hz / 8k / 16k frequencies made these things sound fantastic simply on my MSI motherboard's on-board audio. The bass wasn't as overpowering as I thought it was going to be. Often "x" bass mode or level is a buzzword for horrible sound quality in cheaper headphones, but the WS55s don't disappoint. While the bass isn't as deep or fill the entire track with a lovely underlying low notes as the Crossfades, the bass is certainly there, and doesn't leak into any other parts of the track.
Now you may be asking yourself "Why, what genres do these headphones excel in, good sir?". Keep your pants on, I'm getting to it.
I mostly listen to Metal and various genres of EDM, and in one of these two, the W55s excel. Sadly, Metal isn't the one. While some bands like Protest the Hero and Coheed and Cambria do sound decent, more bass-oriented metal like Yosei isn't enjoyable. Without the lower end of the bass notes, the tracks lack the umf that can be doled out by other bass-centric headphones. "Curses!" you scream to your monitor as you shake your fist in rage. Hold your horses, I haven't gotten to EDM yet. This is where these headphones excel over deeper bass headphones. With the fast pace of Glitch Hop and other faster BPM genres, these headphones can keep up and reproduce the tracks with immaculate detail. Highs and trebles fit right into place on almost all tracks.
The Bottom Line: These headphones are amazing for the price. Compared to my $200 Crossfades, they kick their ass for at-home listening, but get wrecked in mobile applications. They need to be EQ'd and will be seen as uncomfortable to almost all, but they're worth a listen.
Edit 30/12/2013
After listening to AKG K550 Reference headphones...extensively...I've gone back to these headphones to see if I still agree with what I stated before. On the comfort side, they haven't gotten any better, obviously. Durability wise, I've brought them back and forth to class daily since I got them with no issues whatsoever. Even pulling rather hard on the cables when standing up from tying my shoes never caused a single issue. They are quite good for mobile use, as the terrible Beats Audio EQ on my phone doesn't butcher the sound signature that these headphones boast, and their compactness means I can throw them even in my small laptop bag. Sound wise, my opinion varies a bit. On the bass side, I still like them very much. It's a nice change of scene from a more flat response when listening to EDM. Rap, no matter how seldom I listen to it, is also enjoyable with all that extra bump. Even thought there's a lot of bass, It's not as overpowering and distracting as in the Beats Solos. The other parts of their sound however, heh. Not what I once thought they were. Even while I only had these headphones, I never really liked the way they treated other less bass-centric genres, and it hasn't changed one bit. Even when listening to music in FLAC, the tracks sound like the vocals and most of the highs sound like they were recorded on a toaster. 
The REAL Bottom Line: I admire Audio Technica's dive into the bass-loving-consumer market for headphones with the WS line. It's providing a line of headphones for people who love bass to not be embarrassed by(Skullcrushers, Beats Line), or having to use incredibly large headphones to aquire that bass(Sony XB500/1k). If you listen to anything besides bass music, stay away from these headphones like the plague. However, if you enjoy cheap, on the go headphones with a load of clean bass, look no further then the Audio Technica WS55s.
I want to make general observation. This headphones sound VERY good. Reasonable amount of bass, tight and punchy. Good treble. U/V shape?! Not at all. When you hear something wrong, it is a problem of bad gear and LQ tracks. This hp’s are fine enough to reveal all problems in one shot.
Also they are quite comfy, but the biggest problem lies in bad mechanical design and selection of plastic material. They become squeaky as hell very fast. Slightest movement and you hear cracks and whines. So I took them apart and used their drivers in other headset. Successfully.


1000+ Head-Fier
Pros: Nice, Well Defined Bass, Fashionable, Good Treble Extension
Cons: Recessed Mids, Slightly Sibilant at Times,
Accessories: These ship with a leather drawstring carrying bag and that’s it.
Design and Build Quality: The lightweight plastic construction of the headphones themselves is more durable than one might expect when picking them up but they fold flat for storage and the dual entry cable is thicker than many competitors I’ve tested and seems capable of dealing with day to day usage.
Comfort and Isolation: The WS55 is a supra-aural (on ear) headphone with decently padded earpads that are reasonably comfortable but I’d much prefer if they were a bit thicker and softer. Isolation is moderate, nothing special but likely good enough for most uses.

Sound Quality

Being part of Audio Technica’s “Solid Bass” line, the low end is expectedly powerful and full bodied, to the point of sounding bloated in some cases. It has the capability to extend down low pretty well but it loses out on texture for the sake of presence.
The mids are a bit disappointing in that they’re recessed and sound quite thin. Detail and clarity are pretty good because of the thinness of note and a somewhat dry texture but their position in the sound signature sounds off. Is this a big problem, overall? Not necessarily. During my testing periods, I adjusted to their sound and didn’t mind the recessed nature of the mids too much but midrange lovers are likely to be disappointed.
The highs are, like the bass, quite present and nicely extended. Personally, I found the lower treble to be somewhat sibilant, especially with female vocals and makes these rather fatiguing over extended listening periods but the bright and crisp highs add a sense of airiness and clarity to the sound that serves to balance out the aggressive bass.
These follow the signature V-shaped sound I’ve heard in my other Audio Technica headphones and earphones such as the Pro700MK2 and CKM50 and as such, should appeal to casual music listeners and Beats by Dre fans with ease. But be warned, these headphones take the v-shaped sound signature concept to the extreme, which can be a bit polarizing. The presentation is unabashedly forward in nature and sounds a bit closed in because of it but not excessively so.


Overall, I think the WS55 has a mostly agreeable sound signature that appeals to the masses without sacrificing too much quality in order to get there. Personally I wasn’t a fan of the recessed midrange but I imagine casual listeners aren’t going to mind that as much as I did. There are better balanced portable headphones out there like the V-MODA M80 but for the regular going rate of about $50 or so, the WS55 is a pretty good deal for people looking for a fashionable pair of portable headphones suited for bass heavy and electronic music.
This review was re-posted from my site Musical Musings


500+ Head-Fier
Pros: Very tight and controlled bass, energetic treble, excellent cup swiveling feature for portable functionality, makes electronic music come alive
Cons: Strong clamping force at first, build feels a bit fragile, V-Shaped signature not best for mid-centric music, treble can get a bit splashy
First, let me thank the people over at Audio-Technica for sending me a sample of these for review. You rock!

I was a bit skeptical at first about how these would sound, but when I put them on and started listening, I was instantly blown away. These headphones really make electronic music shine, especially with more atmospheric songs. DnB, electro and dubstep are perfectly reproduced.
However, these don't just make electronic music sound incredible, but everything I tried with them sounded incredible; from Mozart, to Styx, all the way to Skrillex, Rchetype and back. 

The Audio-Technica Solid Bass WS55 stands up to its name. These have some of the most controlled and detailed bass that I've heard, especially for a bass-heavy headphone. It is deep, impactful, and extends quite well. Even with a major bass boost from an EQ or an amplifier, the bass stays controlled. 

Build is a bit iffy. Overall, it feels a bit fragile, like it might crack if I were to accidentally drop it onto a hard floor.
The back of the cups are made of a nice aluminum with the Audio-Technica logo standing out.
These are excellent for portable use. The swiveling cups allow someone to simply turn the cup and listen to someone talk on either side of them. I find it very useful.
Comfort may depend on the person's head, but I found these to be a bit uncomfortable at first. The clamping force is really strong until you stretch it out a bit.Only took me a couple minutes of stretching to make them more comfortable for me.

The signature on these is more or less a V-shaped signature, but there's more upper-mid presence than I normally find with V-shaped headphones, so vocals don't really sound distant.
Separation is overall average with these. It's limited by the smaller cups.
Soundstage is also average. I wouldn't describe it as too congested, but it's not to spacey. I find there to be a bit more depth than width.

Bass - As stated earlier, the bass is very controlled and tight. It is really magnificent. Some of the best bass I've heard yet. Subbass extension is excellent.

Mids - Mids aren't too prevalent on these, but they're clean, clear, and overall a good presentation from them.

Treble - My favorite part of these headphones is the treble. It is energetic, lively, and sparkly, while not being sibilant or harsh. It can get a bit splashy with certain cymbals, though, but not too much. There's a good amount of detail provided here, but nothing to write home about.

Overall - I would recommend these headphones to anyone looking for something bass-heavy and clean-sounding to use on the go; especially someone that listens to a lot of electronic music. Build could be a bit better. Truly outstanding sounding headphones.


100+ Head-Fier
Pros: Looks(not on your head though lol), relatively clear, natural bass
Cons: comfort, build quality
I used and Htc One S and fiio e11 (no bass change)
*this is by no mean hi fi, but then again both of these headphones are entry level and not reall "hi fi" either


Well these things look great when you look at them straight on, but when you actually wear them the parts that connect the driver portion sticks out awkwardly and looks kinda funny. And as for the comfort the the ear pad size (half on/over ear) doesn't help, the ear pads seem to stiffen after a couple weeks of usage. I can only wear it for around 1-2 hours before my years start hurting.

Build Quality

The build quality is fine and doesn't feel like the headphone will break, but one thing that annoys me is that when the headphones are on your head and your rotate the earcups, they make a squeaking noise which concerns and annoys me...


So I guess I'll compare these to the m50s since they're really well known and easiest for me to compare these to...


I feel the m50s are a little less prominent when compared to the ws55s the ws55s are in no way sibilant they just have a larger presence, which I personally like. The highs extend decently and are fairly sparkly (can be a pro or con depending on your preferences)


Well as a beginning "audiophile" I'm not particularly good at describing mids... but what I will say is that the mids of the ws55s are less recessed and makes the music a lot more natural sounding compared to the m50s.


So... the bass pretty amazing in my opinion, its punchy and there when needed, but doesnt overshadow the music. This is probably the largest difference compared to the m50s... though many people say that the m50s have less bass to me i feel that the m50s seem a lot bassier and seems to bleed into the mids more while the ws55s seem to have less. Also, the ws55 bass seems to be less punchy than the m50's but is still good and outperforms many other headphones I've listened to for the price.


The ws55s are a pretty good value if you want a more portable headphone that still offers decent-good sound. When compared to the m50s it just sounds a lot more natural... for the price you can find this at I feel it is a better value than the m50s. When i first bought this headphone I thought I preferred the m50s, but over time I have began to lean towards the ws55s. One thing to take note is that for electronic genres I still prefer the m50s because of the punchier bass, but for just about everything else the ws55s are a clear cut winner.
PS sorry if this review is really disorganized, but I am new at this and still learning so cut me a bit of slack :wink:
LOL all the m50 has is more bass and still popular around here... glad you didnt completly fall for the m50 hype and got another good headphone , good review


Pros: Stylish, Build quality, Punchy bass, Clear mids and highs
Cons: Hard clamp, ear pad size is between an over-ear and on-ear style
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Fresh out of the box, with 0 burn-in hours, I put their headphones on my head I immediately noticed the signature hard-clamps of an Audio-Technica and an exceptionally clarity of its sound.
Demoed on FLAC quality audio using tunes from Daft Punk (dance), Lost Fingers (jazz crossover), Best of Chesky and Audiophile tests (jazz), Sitti Navarro (live bossa), Damien Marley (reggae/hiphop crossover), Deadmau5 (house), Norah Jones (classic jazz), everything played nicely.
Value: For an asking price of $70 to $105, this is a steal. The build quality is great, signature sounds of an Audio-Technica; clear mids and highs, punchy natural sounding bass, simply like a baby-M50s
Audio Quality: Lows: The volume of bass of the WS55s is definitely more than the M50s, in terms of quality? The M50s edges them in a tiny fraction. The bass aren't accentuated like the PRO700MK2s, it is definitely more refined, natural sounding, no vibrations, the dual air chamber does its job. Mids: Unlike the M50s where the mids are recessed, the WS55s have a more forward mids, you can definitely here the vocals more (and these babies are fresh out of the box). Highs: M50s are definitely better with the highs, but the WS55s are fine. The highs rolls off politely to the next note. They aren't over-extended, nor they are piercing. 
These are definitely an upgrade from the previous WS50 and WS70 models.
Design: I, an industrial designer myself is impressed with the minimalistic look of the WS55s. They are definitely stylish, but they aren't like an attention whore (like the Beats or other celebrity headphones). The WS55s are like the Mercedes Benz of headphones, beautiful, refined, and classy. While the Beats are like your typical sports car, I need attention, look at me. 
The headphones themselves fold flat, but they don't fold like a shell i.e. M50s. The cups only rotate by 30 degrees that's it, but they do rotate 180 degrees sideways. Also, I would have love them more, if these had removable cables. Another thing about these cans is that the band adjustment is small and it won't fit you if you have a very large head.
Update: I'll be doing my usual disassembly and stress tests. I must say these cans are mighty impressive when it comes to durability. I don't see any structural weakness having the cans disassembled. You can flex the aluminum base, but the plastic structuring were carefully thought about. Props to Audio-Technica for a job well-done
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Comfort: A step better than the M50s, the ear pad size is an issue for small and big ears. It has an irregular sized ear pads which sits on the ear, but feels like an over-ear on the tips. But, they definitely have softer cushions than the M50s. They are breathable, plush, almost comparable to the pads you find in the Beats Studio. The hard clamp is definitely a signature of Audio-Technicas mid-range lines. M50s, PRO700MK2s, PRO500MK2s, WS70s, WS50s, ES7s, they all suffer from that same clamping force which Audio-Technica argues that is used to seal the headphones.
But, since Audio-Technica have very rugged build, you can stretch them out flat or rest them into a couple of books to loosen them up.
Update: comfort improved significantly without the headband pads, since the ear pads were able to sit in your ear rather than outside of your ear.
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Overall: These babies are worth the purchase, they are definitely great sounding headphones, balanced mids and highs, very clear given a punchy bass to the package. Bass lovers will love it, as well as those who listens to acoustics, classicals, or ambient sounds. They are advertised as bassy headphones, but they are definitely a well-rounder.
If not for the comfort, this is going to be definitely 5 stars. For it's versatility, value for its class this is a 4.5 stars
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Alvin, guess you really appreciate Audio-Technica over-ear headphones, haha. you know what, I also like them, because of the midrange, the highs, especially on certain female voice. yeah, that is what the characteristic of the Audio-Technica headphones, I suggest.
If you still have these could you post internal pictures of the strain reliefs? I'm really curious. They seem kind of wobbly from the outside