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Audio Technica ATH-L5000

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by lalala6, Aug 18, 2018.
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  1. rickles
    Just secured a pair from Audio46. Will have them tomorrow. She thinks that it's probably the last US pair! :astonished:
    protoss and elton7033 like this.
  2. rickles
    *mini review*

    Been listening to the ATH-L5000 for a few hours! Here's my setup:

    Clearaudio Concept turntable
    Ortofon Cadenza Bronze cartridge
    Manley Chinook phono stage



    AMB Beta22 / Violectric v281
    KGSSHV Carbon

    Headphones I own: Abyss Phi CC, Audio Technica ATH-W2002, Grado RS-1, Stax SR-009
    Headphones I have owned: many more, including Sony R10 (bass light)


    Music sources: A ton of *very* well recorded / boutique level vinyl, Tidal streaming


    Now, whether or not you think break-in is real, of course, these impressions are of brand new headphones. So, please take that as additional context.

    Out of box experience:

    The headphones arrived from Audio46 in NYC with included next day shipping. There was an outer box, foam peanuts, then an outer Audio Technica box (which did have serial number stickers on it), inside of that was another Audio Technica box, that was more of a pretty display box (the white one in the pictures), then inside of that was the headphone case, and another box which included a beautiful balanced (XLR 4) cable in brown colored dyed silk. The long and short of it? Beautiful, well thought out, and very premium unboxing!


    Opening the custom headphone case, I instantly smelled expensive leather. Have you ever been inside a new (very) expensive car? Think Bentley, Rolls Royce, etc? That's the scent of these headphones. Ultra premium leather all over. The box contains a black silk wrapped single ended cable. Nice touch having the SE, and balanced cables with different colored silks... Inside the case is what appears to be silk, but I think it's probably just very soft material.

    Examining the headphones more closely, I was looking for build quality, materials, and attention to detail... After all these are not run-of-the-mill headphones! Everything is leather, and metal. No plastic to be found! Even the AT wings are made of what appears to be magnesium. No squeaks anywhere. Thick lamb leather abounds all over the parts that touch my skin. Each stitch looks like it was done by an artisan. Nothing about these things looks like it was done on an assembly line...


    Placing them on my head, they feel supremely comfortable. Resting ever so softly around my ears, and touching the pinnae softly. (would you expect different from Connoly leather?) The wings are more comfortable than my also limited edition ATH-W2002. They have big, supple leather pads, that feel not unlike a well conditioned baseball glove leather, but supported by strong magnesium. The earpads are similar to the ATH-W2002, but are thicker, and a bit softer. The fit between the ATH-W2002, and ATH-L5000 is similar feeling for the most part, but the latter feel more substantial on the head. More... premium feeling.

    Listening to Fleetwood Mac's Rumors on 45...

    I'm struck by the sense of space! The sound stage feels quite vast! I immediately take the headphones off and look at them feeling somewhat bewildered! These are closed headphones?! My brain is having a difficult time processing what I am hearing.

    (side ideas...)
    It's amazing what a quiet listening environment is really like. The ATH-L5000 isolate somewhat, but staggeringly more than an open headphone like my Abyss Phi CC. Not hearing the gently whoosh of my furnace, a quiet computer fan across the room, not even not a shushed conversation somewhere else in the home. My listening room is in a basement, and is fully acoustically insulated. It's pretty damned quiet down here, and yet... the ATH-L5000 found just a little more silence, and granted me a little more space. It's... blissful.

    Listening to "Hold me" I'm struck by how gentle the voices sound. Airy... spacious... human. I'm smiling. Listening to the guitar strings plucked... I can nearly touch them. How are these closed headphones?!

    Tom Petty's "Into the Great Wide Open": The soundstage is huge. The drums sound impactful, and yet not overwhelming. Very deep feel-it-in-your-throat bass, but it's not bass forward, or bass heavy. Tom's voice shines, and integrates with the music, the instruments never sound harsh. Yet... I feel I'm listening to Rock, and not to some sort of glazed over audiophile pablum.

    21 Savage's "a lot": Superb bass, textured, voice separates supremely from the music. I can feel the bass in my throat. I'm grinning. The backup singers sound like they're coming closer, and further from me. I'm noticing things I've never heard before in this song. I can hear a slight quivering in his voice at certain points in the song. The bass has this cool subwoofer quality to it. As though I'm feeling it even more than I'm hearing it. This reminds me of what I hear on the Abyss Phi CC at times. I love it!

    Ayako Hosokawa's "Wrap your troubles in dreams": Oh wow.... her voice is so gentle. I can hear her little vocal quirks as she sings a song in her non-native language. The beauty of the instrumentals is striking. Strings sound... exactly like they should. The piano has this impact to it that I *very* rarely hear other than on very high end speaker systems (for example, I own B&W 802D2, they do this!). Mental note, I need to hear more piano on these...

    Johannes Martens's "Carter: Sonata For Violoncello And Piano": <glancing at these headphones again> are these really closed headphones?! Huge sound. The violin is out in front, then beside me, it's deep, far. The airy quality of it is superb. Yet... it's not visceral like the Stax. It has heft behind it. You can feel the wood in the violin, and cello. The piano has impact, and weight behind the keys. I can hear the way the notes are reverberating in the piano. They've done something special here...



    So, I had heard of these headphones selling for a mint (1.5 - 2x retail prices!) in many markets. I thought, "not so weird... they're a 1/500 headphone, and Audio Technica is a well known company. hell, I recently paid >2x retail for a pair of ATH-W2002" Then, I heard the sound... I'll channel something a little crazy... I'm being reminded of the Sony MDR-R10 I used to own... <ducks> Maybe those folks looking desperately for these are onto something... a reprieve from the little noises even in a high end apartment in Singapore, or Tokyo? Maybe it's that special thing they do with piano? Maybe it's the smell of sitting down in a new Rolls Royce? Maybe though... Audio-Technica has done something special? Maybe they have figured something out. If you're a classical fanatic, or a jazz lover, or if you just love rocking out. You owe it to yourself to hear these.

    Wilashort, alegar, elton7033 and 2 others like this.
  3. skootb
    Play Whipping Post off The Fillmore East album. Where’s Berry Oakley?

    That’s what made me return them
  4. rickles
    Having never heard this before in my life, and having to look up who Berry Oakley is, the bass guitar is in the back mid-left. Sounds clear as day to me?
  5. skootb

    He should be much louder. The l5000 makes him a lot quieter
  6. rickles
    Maybe so. I’m not familiar with the song, or the band for the matter. :wink: I’ll certainly listen more though, it seems like a good recording.

    I primarily compared these headphones to the MDR-R10 due to their ability to image flawlessly, have huge soundstage, and beautiful midrange. They do not have the weight of the Abyss Phi CC in their bass, but it does go very deep, and has fantastic texture. But of course, in this price range, most people can have have it all, an Abyss Phi, and an ATH-L5000 probably. :wink:
    elton7033 and protoss like this.
  7. up late
    looking forward to the full review :wink:
    rickles likes this.
  8. skootb
    Haven’t heard of the Allman brothers? You need to listen to the whole album immediately.
    rickles likes this.
  9. rickles
    I know of them, I just haven't heard their stuff. Will certainly give them a longer listen.

    That said, the ATH-L5000 are doing something very special. I dropped by a family member's home who has the R10 this evening, and we've been going back and forth. We're both in agreement that Audio-Technica was very clearly targeting the sound of the R10 in the creation of these headphones. They both have this very precise, very wide soundstage. They have the sound of a superb open headphone, while being closed. In the drawbacks column, we both agree the cables, while beautiful, are highly microphonic. He also feels the headphones were created with non-pop music in mind, he also feels they try to "separate" rock music too much. I don't fully agree with these comments, but thought they were interesting. Another quote from him is "The L5000 do strings like the R10, and that's something I didn't think I'd hear in another can". FWIW, that's a pretty glowing statement from a guy that has owned the R10 since new.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2019
  10. protoss
    The Legendary L3000 was targeting, "The Mighty R10!", Audio Technica Japan vs Sony Japan.
    Why would L5000 also want to take a second jab at the king? That will be pathetic lol.

    Its sad that everyone still trying to reproduce the R10 sound!

    I am looking at you :smirk: Dr. Fang Bian. I see you over their with your plywood!
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2019
    elton7033, purk and rickles like this.
  11. rickles
    I think that the R10 sound is pretty interesting. I have spent some serious time with the L3000, and I feel they are much more similar to my W2002 than they are to the L5000. The R10 in many ways were sort of ahead of their time despite having read on here that they are an "old tech" headphone. They do fascinating things with musical timbre, and with sense of space. Not unlike the original SR-Omega actually. The R10 are a specialist headphone that does not try to do all things. Listen to piano, strings, acoustics, or vocals on the R10, and you're transported to a magical place. Listen to it on the Abyss, and it's sublime, but you lack that "I've just been transported somewhere else" quality of the R10. Many headphones today try to do all things, they want to provide deep, tuneful bass for EDM, soaring, airy highs, massive headstage, and all manner of other audiophile superlatives. I think that the R10, like the L5000 look to be phenomenal at what they do. The L3000, while a superb headphone (the market has clearly spoken!) is more of an "all things" headphone that happened to have a standout midrange, and great bass.

    As an aside, I think that it's impossible to get the R10 sound with planars, just as it is with ribbons, or electrostatics. The main headphone technologies sound quite different from each other, and while some might see one or another as technically superior, I'm not sure I'm totally bought in from an engineering standpoint. :wink:

    #myopinion :)
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2019
    Wilashort, elton7033 and protoss like this.
  12. elton7033
    At first congregations to you, welcome to the L5000 club. and indeed teh L5000 is a very pleasing headphone, the only thing i would like to point out is the serial number on the outer box is on the silver label and also is in the inner box as well. you can check my attached photo below.

    rickles likes this.
  13. elton7033
    why not both the R10/L3000/L5000 like me so you dont need to compare when you have it all. haha
    rickles likes this.
  14. elton7033
    but the point with R10 I have also said in the R10 page i am feeling the material deterioration around driver and how the biocellose driver heavily absorb moisture recently and cause problem, the R10 is showing its ages, a few japanese R10 owner including myself are thinking of getting rid of the R10 before it completely dies out, but again is hard to find a close back which does the thing that the R10 does, since every headphone have its own charismatic thing, none are the same. I personal own nearly most of the TOTL headphone available in the market, but i have nothing to replace my R10 which i can sell them yet, so sad.
    rickles likes this.
  15. rickles
    Would love to hear your impressions, particularly between the L5000 and R10.
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