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Audio-Technica ART Monitor Series Refreshed: A2000Z, A1000Z, A900Z, A500Z

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by lalala6, Oct 8, 2015.
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  1. maheeinfy
    I tried my W5000 which is also a bright phone with my Project Sunrise 3, and it helped reduce the brightness. Sunrise is a tubey sounding hybrid amp and i imagine it will work well with A1000Z
  2. SoundTown
    I've gotten to try the A990Z, A1000Z, and A2000Z, and this is an interesting series for sure.

    Source: Foobar w/ 320 kbps mp3 & 24-bit flac > Fiio Q1 (Mk1) > headphones

    The A990Z is a bit thick for my preferences, and the bass can even seem a bit sloppy at times while the mids and highs seemed muffled. That said, imaging is rather good, not surprising since that seems to be a hallmark of the >50mm drivers that AT uses in their wing headphones in the AD and A line. Overall, not the best closed headphone I've heard, and at MSRP it's a definite pass for me. Some EQ might help, however, but I didn't have a lot of time to tinker around with that on Foobar with my laptop.

    The A1000Z is the stand-out model in the line-up for me, but it oddly didn't seem very Audio-Technica-ey to me. Upper mids / lower treble seem to dip, which made female vocals seem a bit blunted. Mid-bass also seemed a bit scooped in comparison to the hard-hitting upper bass and awesome, rumbly sub-bass. Very nicely smooth, mellow, relaxing yet balanced sound that reminds me of the Zero Audio Carbo Tenore. Also, red sexies are red sexies. My female friend who was with me said they looked "shocking but nice". Guess they have the wife acceptance factor. Being blind, I was naturally more interested in the sound, which I really enjoyed. If you made me sell all my headphones and pick just one right now, the A1000Z would probably be it.

    I honestly enjoyed my demo of the A2000Z, but my expectations from the Inner Fidelity review kept bugging me. I was simply trying to hear that supposed ringing / haze all the time, and sometimes I thought I heard it, but most of the time I can't say I did. Bass was thick, hard-hitting, and deep, and seems to solve the small gripes I have with the A1000Z's mid-bass scoop that I perceived. Highs were crisp and sharp, and the vocal range seemed more forward again than they did on the A1000Z. I was very conflicted about the A2000Z, but just looking at the price reminded me this headphone is definitely not a good value and remains hard to recommend, even to crazy audiophiles (like me). It sounds good, but nothing about it screams to me that it should be worth over US$500, in spite of me trying as hard as possible not to let my expectation bias from watching a bad review speak here.

    Still, despite the minor hiccups, I feel this line-up is a good showing from AT. Very happy to see more good closed headphones coming up, though that wretched non-detachable cable seems to haunt ardent AT fans...
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
  3. Magol79
    I completely agree. I have owned all three models simultaneously. I ended up selling the A990Z and keeping the A1000Z and A2000Z. These are my favorite closed back cans. I have the A1000Z driven by a Questyle CMA400i and the A2000Z by a Torpedo tube amp. The imaging and threedimensionality of these headphones just keeps me sucked in.
    SoundTown likes this.
  4. SoundTown
    Wow, nice set-up. Can't say I'm not envious. :p
    And yes, the Audio-Technica headphones under the Air and Art series seem to do something right with the large 53mm driver that makes imaging and 3D positioning great. I own the old AD700 (got an unboxed but completely unused pair from a defunked retailer for an awesome price), and though it's definitely not anywhere close to the A1000Z, it does imaging really well.
    Dammit, now I want to demo the A1000Z again. I really liked how relaxing of a listen that headphone was.
    Magol79 likes this.
  5. Magol79
    The hard qustion now is, do I keep the A1000Z or the A2000Z. One has to go. I'm dumping dynamic cans for my main head-fi setup. I'm keeping one of them for listening to music while working from the home office.
  6. Slim1970
    Just got the A2000z's and I must say that these are the best Audio-Technica headphones I've owned. I have to admit that Tyll's review of these made me a little hesitant to buy them. But after first listen I knew this was a good purchase. The bass is very good. It’s very present and had weight to it. But it doesn’t have the depth or impactful as my LCD-2CB. The mids on the A2000z’s has body and energy. Enough so to make these good headphones very good with rock and metal music. The LCD-2CB mids are lush sounding making them better with vocals. The treble on the A2000z’s is extended, clear and sounds more airy than the LCD-2CB’s.

    Overall these two headphones are different enough to warrant both. They will split head time depending on my mode. I'm currently listening through the Headamp Gilmore Lite Mk2. I’m switching between the Hugo 2 and DACPortable DACs. I like the warmer sounding DACPortable with the A2000z’s. While I prefer the neutral and transparent sounding Hugo 2 with the LCD-2CB’s.

    My only qualm with A2000z’s is the headband. It is angled in a v-shape leaving, which leaves an opening at the top of the ear cups. There’s no movement or adjustments to compensate for this. So the only way to fix this is to bend the headband, which I’ve done.

  7. Dorien
    You need better pairing. I am driving these with a Starting Point DAC3 (TDA1543 chip) and a Sense V1 headphone amplifier using JRiver Media Center on Win7 64bit.
    The synergy is magical - no sibilance at all, every recording has a special "LIVE" feeling, that I have never experienced before. Like I was on a concert with perfect acoustics and amplification.

    I have tried a lot of headphones (see the list on my profile page) and the A1000Z with this setup seems to be the final destination I was always looking for. I never thought that it would be a closed back can.

    The A1000Z sounds also great connected directly to a 5-year old Fiio E10 Olympus DAC/AMP.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2019
  8. SSandDigital
    Oh well, I have the A990Z coming. But I can't pay more than what I'm paying for A990Z on a closed headphone, since if I pay more, it's going to be either open-air or speakers. I use closed for specific reason of just wanting that extra isolation.

    But who knows, maybe I will jump for the A2000Z if I'm truly impressed with the A990Z. As it is, I try to find more ways to listen to my speakers vs any of my headphones.
  9. Slim1970
    I would try the A2000z’s first. I think they are the best of the bunch. They are really open sounding with a little bit of airy treble. I would also recommend getting a Schiit Loki Mini to add some subbass and balance out the sound. Audio-Technica are mid centric, treble happy headphones. The difference with the A2000z’s is they have decent bass out of the box but could use more. That’s were the Loki comes in. Once you add the extra bass this headphones goes from really good to great headphones. I like my 2000z’s a lot. They also have great energy for rock and heavy metal music.
  10. SSandDigital
    A990Z arrived and I am pleased. I am currently listening to Florence game OST by Kevin Penkin. The A990Z has more low end than I expected, but has a nice warmth to it. I like the treble is mellowed compared to some other closed headphones like SRH840, K553, MSR7 that I owned. These A990Z I appreciate were made for music appreciation, these are not studio headphones or tried to be as flat as a European model. These are headphones I can definitely appreciate music with and get lost in the music. These are a keeper. K553? Bye bye, A990Z are taking up your listening time.

    Compared to K553
    - Seal is more forgiving on the A990Z. These rest on my head comfortably and as the memory foam conforms to my head, good seal. The K553 I had to change pads and really bend the headband near the cups to get a decent seal.
    - Sound Stage. This is where K553/K550 seem to get a lot of praise, closed with soundstage. Well I have to say the A990Z is better. It's got a more airy sound that surround me with wonderful sound.
    - Imaging, as expected, K553 is superior. Overall K553 is the more detailed headphone. But then it is marketed as a pro studio closed headphone. So it would make sense it would have superior imaging and detail. A990Z is no slouch though.
    - Bass. A990Z yes. Just because of better seal, and I do think A990Z has more oomph. I think the bass from EDM like Hybrid - Morning SciFi - True to Form sounds much better on A990Z. But for rock K553 has more detailed bass from kick drums.
    - Mids. K553 has more detailed and better mids. But right now, I enjoy A990Z mids more.
    - Treble, same, K553, but I enjoy the slight roll off with A990Z.
    - Overall the K553 is technically superior, but A990Z is more enjoyable. The mids sweeter, the bass more weight, more airy expansive sound. A990Z is good enough, I don't feel the urge to hear the A1000Z.

    Also green is my favorite color, that's a plus.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
  11. Sp12er3
    anyone tried the new AT's Titanium Closed Flagship?
  12. Slim1970
    I have a set on preorder due to ship out next month. I liked the A2000Z's sound. I thought they were the best Audio Technica headphones I heard. But I sold them in hopes that the AP2000Ti's will improve upon them. If nothing else I'll gain a better headband, detachable cables, and improved drivers. The headband on the A2000z's was its weak point. I had to modify it to get a good fit.
    Sp12er3 likes this.
  13. blackdragon87
    glad you like them. quite enjoyed my a 990z when i had them as well
  14. SSandDigital
    I did massive amounts of dampening though and get rid of the stupid double bass system they used.

    I used car audio audio dampening on the circumference of the cups and some on the driver cage. I then placed a thin circular piece of foam, poly fiber stuff, in the back of the cup. And cut out another piece with a hole in it, doughnut shape to surround the driver cage. I also placed some shelf liner material in front of the driver.

    My god, now the A990Z sound similar to my HD58x IMO. And IMO it's better than the AD900x now too as well.

    A990Z harsh treble has been calmed down. The boomy bass has been controlled. The hollow echoiness, sibilance etc were all removed. The headphones definitely has a more balanced sound to me. And may I say the separation and soundstaging is more realistic from a small closed headphone now? It's not trying to do something it can't, it just does what it can.

    My goal for headphones is really to try and get them as close to sounding to the L20T3 monitors I use and I think I succeeded as far as I can with the A990Z and they are now actually my most listened to. I think closed headphones really should be treated similar to speakers and should be dampened. I think it's time more people look into how speakers are made and take those lessons to headphones. This is for CLOSED headphones, open headphones just another beast.

    For those who enjoy the boom bass from the A990Z, cause IMO it's definitely a headphone any basshead can enjoy, don't do what I did. This tones really does IMO make it sound more in line with the HD58x with bit of that AT sparkle.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2019
    Mad Max likes this.
  15. SSandDigital
    The weak point on the AD1000Z and A2000Z not the headband but the earcups IMO. The fixed earcup so it doesn't allow it to adjust was a massive flaw. A990Z for whatever reason does not have this design and therefore I have no issues with either comfort or seal. It's the reason why I wouldn't consider the A1000Z. I won't buy another AT headphone with that stupid dumb design. It's so dumb, can't emphasize enough how dumb I think it is.

    I can see the A2000Ti went with the A990Z design. I'm really baffled why AT spent decades with fixed cups on their AD and A series, makes no sense to me. When I look at my AD990X and see the fixed ear cups, I ask, WHY?!?!? What purpose does that have other than making comfort, fit and seal just fly out the window?
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2019
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