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An 11 Years Late Review: Audio Technica W11R review vs Beyerdynamic T1 vs W11JPN/W2002/W1000 The Best of Audio Technica's Woodies

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by wind016, Jan 21, 2011.
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  1. wind016
    Hi Head-fiers,
    I've never really gone through the effort to write a review while A/Bing headphones for the purpose of writing a review. For this review, I actually spent several hours on several songs trying to pinpoint some minute differences that I hope would be helpful for any readers.
    I'll get straight to the point. I am a major vocal lover and I pick my headphones according to how well they make vocals sound. Audio Technica woodies coincidentally have done it for me, but before I discovered Audio Technica woodies to be so good with vocals, I really liked what AKGs did. Then I heard the W1000 and I was sold. The W1000 may have had lower treble resolution, weaker bass response, and overall more congested sound, but the way they portrayed vocals immediately persuaded me to head the ATH upgrade route. I think you probably understand my preferences by now. XD I have heard headphones like the Sennheiser HD800 and Beyerdynamic T1, but they do not give the intimacy of vocals that AT woodies give. The closed design and mid richness are probably the biggest aspects that make the AT woodies so good with vocals.
    The W11R was released in the year 2000 and Audio Technica had limited it to only 800 units, making it the most elusive Audio Technica W-series headphone yet. Unfortunately, it is a bit of a shame, because, in my opinion, it is the best model (I have not tried the L3000, but I have been told the sound character is very different from the W11R). The "R" in the name seems to refer to Reference.
    Woo Audio 6SE w/ Sophia Princess
    This amplifier has worked very successfully for me with Audio Technica woodies. The W1000 and the W11R definitely benefit from a transformer coupled tube amp. Both the W1000 and the W11R sound very dry on a solid state amp. My Sophia still makes them sound a bit on the bright side, but it is a major improvement than on a solid state. Transformers are also important to drive low impedance headphones as I have heard.
    I only have an Ibasso D10 as a source and my impressions may not be representative of these headphones on a better source. A better DAC may improve on instrument separation, sound stage, and clarity.
    The two W11 headphones have leather pads but they are soft. The W1000 and the W2002 have very similar pads like those on Denon D7000s. It's a matter of preference here, but I prefer the W2002 pads. I think the W2002 is probably the most comfortable of these 4 headphones. The polished cups on the W2002 and the W11JPN are gorgeous. In my opinion, the W1000 looks the cheapest and the W11R follows. The gold colored plastic on the W11R just doesn't look flattering.
    The W11R has incredibly rich mids. Vocals have the most clarity out of the other headphones I'm reviewing and all these headphones are some of the best headphones for vocals you can find. Guitars have incredible energy and clarity reminiscent of Grado signature.
    Song Comparisons
    I'm using high quality versions of the songs, but I'll upload the youtube versions so you have an idea of what I'm talking about. I only mention small aspects of each headphone in each song comparison, but they all translate into other songs as well. They are just more easy to discern on certain songs.
    Tanya Chua
    Day And Night

    The W11R was the most spacious sounding out of the other three headphones. It is a bit difficult to explain how the W11R sounds exactly because it sounds so natural to me. The W11JPN, on the other hand, sounded a bit overly warm. Sound stage was definitely not as wide as the W11R and the music doesn't envelope the listener in a spacious environment like the W11R does. The W2002 and W1000 soundstage is similar to the W11JPN in that they are feel a lot less "3-D" in comparison. On the W2002, the bright percusive clacking noises are a bit emphasized too much. On the W1000, the cymbals sounded very tiny and timbre was completely off. The timbre for cymbals is the best on the W2002. (Even tambourines sound the most accurate on the W2002) The soundstage on the W11R is remarkable and is very familiar if you have heard the W5000 soundstage. Cymbals on the W11R edge on tininess, but doesn't really get bad. Honestly, I haven't heard a headphone do cymbals well without recessing the sound of cymbals and I think many would agree.
    Olivia Ong
    All Out Of Love

    Again, it is difficult to describe the W11R with this song. It sounds effortless and natural. The sound of the guitar sounds remarkably natural. Vocals sound as if you are there in the room listening to her. There isn't an excess of bass. The song is a bit bright but doesn't sound off in one bit. The other headphones just are not spacious enough to sound "real."
    There are many "S"s in the song, but no sibilance with the W11R. The vocals remain clear as day and are upfront. The drum is very impactful and textured. On the W11JPN, the drum has more impact. The vocals are warmer and sibilance is also not a problem. The W11JPN overall sounds warmer and bit of treble detail is faded back. The guitar solo around 2:00 sounds veiled compared to the W11R. On the W2002, the soundstage is again much less wide compared to the W11R, but clarity is very similar to the W11R. Guitar solo and vocals has the clarity of that on the W11R but presented a bit differently with the percussion sounding closer than it is on the W11R.
    Leave Me (video is fan made. Just ignore the video =/)

    The W11JPN had a prominent bass response and an upfront soundstage. The W11R was more spacious. The tapping in the beginning of the song had bigger out of head experience than the other headphones. Vocals have the most clarity. Bass was extremely extended and textured.
    Rie Fu
    Stay With Me and Just Like You

    The W11R captures the grain from Rie Fu's microphone with the most resolution. The other headphones tended to blur the grain a bit together. With the W11R, Rie Fu's music was kind of a revelation for me as I didn't hear the grain this clearly, even from the bright W1000 and W11JPN. As always, the vocals sound very natural, but the vinyl-ish sound character of the recording came out the most obvious on the W11R showing it's resolving ability. The bass has plenty of impact and vocals are warm. The W2002 has brighter vocals and the grain in the recording is not reproduced as well.
    Rise Against
    Audience of One
    The W2002 had a weaker bass impact than the W11R and the W11JPN had more. The male voice lacked some weight on the W2002. THe bass drum hits hard on the W11R is very enjoyable to listen to. The guitar has a lot of clarity and energy. Male vocals also sound more natural and balanced. The W11R is surprisingly good with rock music and jazz. The W11JPN is the warmest sounding but it made guitars a bit too warm. Drums hit harder on the W11JPN. The W1000 is too bright and simply sounds weak with rock music.
    Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
    In Fate's Hands
    The W11R was clearly the winner with this song. The bass drum hits incredibly hard with so much texture that you can clearly see a picture of the bass drum being kicked and the tom toms being pounded. Once again, the guitars were magical.
    Epik High
    Map the Soul

    W11R- The bass drum is strong. Snare drums have a lot of impact. Male vocals sound very natural. The natural warmth of the male voice is reproduced very well. There is a VERY slight sibilance heard on the strongest S's in the lines "No reason to live without you." The sibilance happens on the "you." It may have been due to the recording.
    W2002-Vocals are a bit more upfront. Vocals seem more impactful if that makes any sense. Bass drum is quieter but is just as punchy. Spaciousness is small compared to W11R. The sibilance on the "you" in the same line as above is slightly less strong.
    W11JPN- Gave a different presentation that the W11R and the W2002 which were bright. The warmth of the W11JPN made this song more pleasant to listen to.
    One Minute, One Second

    The W11JPN had the best presentation for pop songs. This song is no different. The W11JPN makes me want to listen to this song the most. The bass kicks, vocal emphasis, and clarity makes this headphone one of the best pop headphones I've ever had.
    W11R- It sounds exceptional with natural accoustic music and vocals. The sub-bass extends very low and is the most textured of the four headphones. The treble also extends the highest compared to the other three and it has the highest detail retrieval ability. Mids are the highlight of this headphone, though the headphone is generally on the brighter side.
    W11JPN-This headphone sounds better than the other headphones with pop. For other genres, it is still comparable to the W11R and W2002, but it truly excels in pop where the other two don't do as well. It doesn't have the treble resolution like the W11R, but it is close. It is only at the highest highs where you can hear the difference. Bass is more pronounced and vocals are warmer.
    W2002-The clarity on this headphone is comparable to the W11R. There is excellent detail retrieval. The sub-bass doesn't seem to extend as far as the W11R, but it still punches. The bass response is also a bit lower than the W11R. The W2002 is similar to the W1000 in sound character, but it is a 100% upgrade over the W1000. The soundstage is larger, vocals sound more natural, and cymbals have a far more accurate timbre. It is just in a completely different league rivaling that of the W11R and above the W11JPN. For certain music, such as heavily electronic pop music, it is a better pop headphone than the W11JPN. It is a more exciting headphone but less accurate/balanced-sounding than the W11JPN.
    W1000-This headphone brought me this far in my hobby. It has its problems such as weak sub-bass, congestion, and low treble resolution at the highest frequencies. It's mids and vocals are excellent.
    From what I heard, I'd roughly rank them as this: (There's alot of 2nd places because I couldn't find them to be as versatile as the W11R. However they all excel in different aspects)
    1) W11R
    2) W2002- >clarity
    2) W1000X- >soundstage (IMO this is Denon D7000's arch rival, but a better headphone. There may be comfort problems compared to the Denons.)
    2) W11JPN->bass impact
    3) ESW10JPN
    4) W1000
    5) W5000
    All the negatives that I pointed out from these headphones were from being picky. You'd be hard pressed to find other headphones that perform as well as these do with vocals. I will be keeping the W11R for sure and I don't think I will ever be selling them. I would really LOVE to keep the W2002 too, but I do not know if I can. I will most likely be selling them or the W11JPN in the forum some time to make funds for a better source. Anyways, I hope you found this interesting at least and I hope Audio Technica comes out with a new woodie for the coming 50th anniversary. [​IMG]
    If you have any questions, don't be afraid to ask!
    P.S. I have also tried the W1000X and W5000 headphones. I strongly prefer the W11 brothers and the W2002 over those two.
  2. hozo
    Excellent review. Love how you include the songs.  W11JPN was one of my favorites.  Very informative hearing how it compares.
    Quote:  “W5000 headphones.  I strongly prefer the W11 brothers...”
    Care to do a quick comparison?  I've been thinking about a W5000, but not sure if it comes close to what I've heard in the W11JPN years back.
  3. wind016
    I'm glad you liked it [​IMG]
    It's been awhile since I've had the W5000, but I honestly could not get a good fit with them. They were too big. The bass was lacking probably due to the fit and they just didn't impress me very much sonically. They may technically have faster drivers than some of the headphones I mentioned, but I didn't care for the sound character. I can't remember the specifics of what I didn't like though. But what I remember was that both my friends and I did not like the W5000 with my music as much as my other headphones at the time, such as the W1000.

  4. winzzz
    thanks for the review...the w11R sounds interesting..
  5. REB
    Thanks for the great write-up! But now I have to get me some more ath woodies! [​IMG] Curse you, Head-fi... :)
  6. REB
    and kindly let me know if you decide to sell one of your woodies... ("NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" cried his wallet)
  7. TheMiddleSky
    hahaha finally you make a review of your woodies wind :D
    looks like you still enjoy W11R so much.
    well, I found that treble in W1000 is a bit weird, sound "thin" to me, is W2002 still remain that treble?
    and between W11R and W11JPN, which one is you like more for female voice?
  8. CFabian

    Very good impressions. I was a little reluctant to part with my W11R but I am glad to see you enjoying them so much. I agree with pretty much everything you've said re: W11JPN/W11R/W1000. I had no idea you had the W2002, how long have you had those? Do the W2002 sound relatively full-bodied like the W11R or do they have a thinner sound? It looks like between the two of us we've heard every headphone in the W-Series now.

    I had no issues with brightness out of my setup with the W11R but this was not the case initially and it took a bit of tube rolling to get them to sound just right. This was the headphone that taught me the importance of synergy. I found that they pretty much demand a warm tubey setup to hear them at their full potential, otherwise (like you have also stated) they sound dry and bright and not nearly as desirable. But get it right and they can sound amazing. I also feel these are the best of the W-Series with the appropriate source and amp, but they are definitely not a plug-and-play and enjoy type of headphone.

    I also think the W11JPN is probably the better headphone for pop out of those three. But my favorite for pop is still the W10VTG. It lacks the detail and refinement of the others but has such a beautiful midrange and enjoyable tone that it is easy to forget about such things. They also have one advantage over the W11R in that they sound good out of everything I've ever plugged them into, with no signs of listening fatigue whatsoever. These are my second favorite woody after the W11R, though it took me a while to realize this.

    I'd rank them W11R -> W10VTG -> W11JPN -> W1000 = W10LTD -> W100. I'll refrain from ranking the W5000 since I've haven't spent much time with them and didn't have a good fit either. I haven't heard the W2002 or W1000X yet. The W10LTD might would've ranked higher if I heard them with tubes, they sound an awfully lot like a slightly less refined W11R but without the upper mids boost. The W100 would rank higher if not for the W10VTG, which has some similar characteristics but sounds better across the board.
  9. wind016
    Will do sir!  XD My wallet has already given up and lost all its will to fight. As long as I don't file bankruptcy, I'm OK! hehe

    The W1000 has the harshest treble of the bunch, but the W2002 is almost opposite. The W2002 has clarity on par with the W11R, but its treble is more relaxed than the W11R and the W1000. The W2002 focuses more on the mids.
    For female voice, the W11R wins in my book for more clarity. However, the W11JPN will give you more warmth. They are both enjoyable presentations, so it depends on your preference. I know many people prefer warm vocals and I think they would enjoy the W11JPN more than the W11R.

    The AT woodie master, CFabian. Yes, thanks so much for these headphones. I'll treat them very nicely haha. I'm afraid I'll never find another pair if I need to replace it. I actually got the W2002 for just two days. I paid ALOT for them and I had to pay in installments, but my curiosity needed to be quenched. But now you know how they compare. XD I don't think I can afford to keep them though. Now it really seems we have heard every ATH woodie headphone. XD You're vintage headphone knowledge is incredible though. I've only heard the more recent headphones.
    As for the warmth, the W11R is definitely the warmer headphone. The W2002 sounds like an all-out direct upgrade to the W1000, while the W11R sounds more like a W11JPN and W5000. I prefer the W2002 over the W11JPN by a bit for their clarity since I value clarity a bit more over warmth. The sub-bass on the W2002 doesn't extend as far as the W11R and it has less punch (though still punchy).
    From what I heard, I'd rank them as this: (There's alot of 2nd places because I couldn't find them to be as versatile as the W11R. However they all excel in different aspects)
    1) W11R
    2) W2002- >clarity
    2) W1000X- >soundstage
    2) W11JPN->bass impact
    3) ESW10JPN
    4) W1000
    5) W5000
    I'll edit this in.
  10. REB
    the ad2000, esw10jpn and w1000 completely won me over to the ath camp. when I heard the w10vtg my friend has, i knew i was lost on a quest for more ath woodies. this thread isn't helping [​IMG] it's that special thing that ath woodies do to the midrange and especially female vocals...
  11. matthewh133
    Great review mate! I haven't had a chance to listen to the ATH woodies, but I am very impressed with my old AD-900 and the AD-2000 I recently heard at a meet, so I'm looking forward to getting an opportunity to check the woodies out. Now, if only I could find someone willing to sell me their AD2000s! :frowning2:
  12. CFabian
    It looks like the W1000 has fallen from your favor a good bit, though I'd imagine this is because you have heard the W2002 and W11R. Unfortunately you are right about the W11R's rarity, it would probably be very difficult to track another one down if you ever had to replace it. Indeed they are so rare that it seems even AT themselves were unable to locate one for their "History of W-Series" display when the W1000X was announced in late 2009.

    Such a nice picture, isn't it? You'll of course notice the W11R's absence.

    Thanks for describing the W2002's sound in more detail. Speaking of the W2002, you said you like their pads the most in terms of comfort. Are the pads on your W2002 as thick as the ones on your W11JPN and W11R? I ask because I am using my W10VTG w/ W11JPN pads currently and, while I have no problem with the comfort of those pads, they are starting to flatten out a bit, bringing the drivers closer to my ear. If the W2002 pads are of similar thickness I may have to order a pair.

    I am still interested in trying out the W2002 at some point, just to have the experience of hearing them for myself. It will have to wait though, no more headphone purchases for me until I get ahold of a DHA3000. Oddly enough I have next to no interest in the W1000X, this must be because they are so much easier to come by right now. I always find myself being drawn to the rarer/more obscure headphones for some reason :)
  13. wind016

    Exactly how I felt. XD  I'm in absolute love with my music and these headphone make sure nothing is lost with vocals. I completely forgot about the AD2000s! I haven't found an open headphone quite like them. They just sound good out of any portable source. I loved using them for travel.

    Haha, the AD2000s are a pair of headphones that quite unique. Upfront open spacious sound. Vocals are again at the spot light [​IMG]

    That's really interesting that Audio Technica didn't get a W11R up there. They probably just have one hidden somewhere haha Valuable asset XD The pads on the W2002 are almost exactly like the W1000 pads. The pads are more stiff and hard. I like it more because it doesn't feel as warm either.
    After some further listening, I feel that the W2002 is not really brighter than the W11R. The W11R has a bit more emphasis on the highest highs. The W2002 is pretty tame in that area. (ie: The timbre of cymbals is the most accurate on the W2002 than the other 3 headphones.) However, it's about equal brightness to the W11R, but the sub-bass is not as textured as the W11R (sometimes it seems like I can't really hear the sub-bass, but I feel it). The bass has lower punch than the W11R. So the W11R is not exactly warmer.
    I think I have chosen to keep the W2002 as my pop headphones. I appreciate it's more impactful sound compared to the W11JPN's warm sound. I will be selling the W11JPN and W1000. In addition, my W11JPN just sounds too similar to my W11R to justify keeping it.
  14. Ishcabible
    Thanks!!! I've been waiting a while for this, and it seems the W11R is pretty much destined for me. Now I just have to find a pair...
  15. Caphead78
    Thanks for the lengthy and detailed write up Wind!!
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