Firstly, fit and finish:
I am able to wear these guys for upwards of 7 hours in any day. The ATH "wing" mechanism is excellent, and one of the best headphone fit devices on the market. Perfect fit, every time, even if someone else tries them out. Totally amazing. Unlike the W5000, these suit my head nicely (I have a fairly large noggin) and stay in place even if I shake my head about.
The cups are still super nice looking. No change there, of course.
The pads... the pads. I'd say that's the one physical part that isn't up to par. The pleather is very clearly NOT leather and while that itself isn't particularly unremarkable, it isn't particularly nice looking pleater. It's comfortable, sure, but it I can already tell it's of the type that isn't gonna last more than a year or two. It's also hotter than the blazes of hell. At some point this summer, I'm going to break down and get L3000 or W5000 leather pads for these.
The cable is a little long but pretty tangle free. I like the wood housing on the plug, but I keep a bit of foam around it since I tend to be relatively careless with plugs and this one is way too nice to be careless with. I KIND of wish it was metal like the W5000 plug; it's not as nice looking, but I'll be damned if I've ever seen one of those broken.
Long story short: Minus my pad quibble, this is the kind of thing we think about when we hear "Hand Made in Japan."
(Note: These have well over 300 hours on them)
Genres that Work Best:
Audio Technica headphones are usually considered best with female vocals, and these are among the best female vocal-izin' headphones I've ever heard. There's a particular lush sweetness in even some of my poor Neko Case recordings; their quality had been an issue with the K701, RS1, and a few other headphones. The only downside here is that if your recording has sibilance you're going to hear it. They don't add any, but it will be accentuated like any bright headphone.
Another particular point of excellence for the W1000X is any and all classical music. Ranging from modern Nobuo Uematsu live symphonic recordings to older operas (I have a very nice recording of the Magic Flute I happen to like a lot) the headphone handles space and position of indivual instruments better than nearly any headphone I've heard... an R10, Orpheus, Stax Omega, K1000, or properly matched Qualia 010 certainly can do a slightly better job, but at much higher cost. I like a lot of "pluck" in my string sections and extra attention on soloists; the W1000X gives it to me with lovely timbre and a general smooth delivery. Excellent.
Bottom to Top:
The W1000X is at first a very bassy headphone. Before you adjust to it and it is allowed to settle in (this happened at around a hundred hours for me, YMMV) the bass is front and center. However, unlike other bassy headphones during burn-in, (DT770 and HD650) the W1000X is deep and tuneful. While the bass is eventually balanced with the rest of the spectrum, you never lose that lovely musical nature. I don't know too many headphones that do textured bass (The GS1000 did, on my first run pair) but the W1000X is one of them.
I've heard the W1000X called a "Romantic" headphone before. I think that's relatively accurate, as the lower-midrange has a little extra warm omph to it. This too balanced out very nicely after a few hours were pumped through it. They also have a very particular midrange coloration (and bear in mind that I have never heard a headphone that I didn't think had coloration, including the K701 and HP1000) that I'd equate as the "Audio Technica House Sound." It's difficult to describe but almost always sounds ever so slightly "nasal" when a headphone is fresh out of the box and ends up being ever so slightly sparkling and musical after a while. It really works spatially once you listen to a song or two, and contributes greatly to the positioning and space of things around you. It's a like it or dislike it thing.
In the end, I'd classify the W1000X as being ever so slightly bright due to the high resolution sparkle that exists. This can bring out sibilance if it exists in recordings, but generally accentuates female vocals and gives wonderful bite to percussion. I don't know if I've classified any headphones as having "warmth" in their treble before, but these do. Piano music is absolute heaven when someone's really lightly tickling the higher ivories. They just sing.
Dynamics and PRaT:
The W1000X isn't a fast headphone, and it isn't a slow headphone. I'd put it about on par with the K701 in speed, and most definitely above the HD650. It's not as quick as a Grado, but has a very similar PRaT (Pace, Rhythm, and Timing). My love of these is partially related to the smooth nature they share with older RS1 headphones; Truly Vintage RS1s have this lovely way of being smooth and gentle with even the quickest of cutoffs. The W1000X can't QUITE match that, but they come damned close.
And that brings us to what these are: a relatively well balanced if slightly bright headphone that has a very distinct house sound. If you've ever enjoyed an Audio Technica... in particular the L3000 or early W series, you're going to absolutely adore these. They do so much more correctly and have none of the glaring issues that many later W headphones have. I have absolutely no idea why the W1000X is priced lower than the W5000. These are a well balanced and caring love letter to anyone who has enjoyed a W 'phone in the past. They're super easy to drive and sound good out of even the lowliest iPod, but scale very well with the more expensive equipment I've tried. It should be noted that I've never tried them with any tube gear; only solid state. It's entirely possible that they may be sensitive enough to pick up the hum of the tubes. Dunno though, I'm sure it's very dependant on the gear.
Gaming Side Note:
I played through Portal 2 in its entirety last weekend with these and was incredibly pleased by the experience. The positioning and deep soundtrack were just awesome.