Audio-Technica ATH-R70x - In-Depth Review & Impressions
Jul 10, 2020 at 11:09 AM Post #1,801 of 2,004

theaudiologist1

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If you get the chance and and are ok with planar bass you can wait for a used hifiman arya to pop up.
Is the arya neutral? More neutral than the ananda? And tbh I don't like hifiman's designs. The clear, on the other hand, looks HOT.
Btw which dac/amp is it. A quick google search pretty much only showed that kann kube had mini xlr.
The RHA Dacamp L1, RHA's only DAC.
Not sure where you're getting your numbers there but when listening to recorded tracks, I don't think the dynamic range would get past 10 dB from your listening levels (e.g. 85 dB). So I would suppose having about 10 dB headroom with your amp would suffice for such recordings.
Are you referring to classical? Because I heard classical recordings get very dynamic (40dB+ dynamic range).
I thought I was settled with the HE-500 before, but ended up checking out the Clear and liking it so far even with its own flaws. Only time will tell if I find the itch to try something new again, but it definitely won't be in the kilobuck headphones cause I like checking out mid-fi in general.
Is the clear a "neutral" headphone like the R70x? And is it better than the Elear?
 
Jul 10, 2020 at 1:30 PM Post #1,802 of 2,004

descloud

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Are you referring to classical? Because I heard classical recordings get very dynamic (40dB+ dynamic range).

I'm curious where you got this number from?

All I'm saying is that the dynamic range of hearing it live is not the same as hearing it through a recorded and mastered track. I find it hard to believe that a track will need a +40dB headroom to play its full dynamic range.

Is the clear a "neutral" headphone like the R70x? And is it better than the Elear?

Neutral is a term that's loosely used. If you say neutral that it has a flat frequency response even as per measurements, I would say the Clear is somewhat neutral, because there are dips and rises throughout the frequency response. They don't sound as neutral to my ears as the Alpha Dogs I have.

I can't compare it with the R70x since I never had them. Regarding the Elear, there are numerous anecdotes that the stock Elear pads has a dip in the upper midrange that makes instruments and vocals in that region sound muted, although I only demoed the Elear quickly but can't confirm this with my 5 minute demo. So I can't give any more comment other than the stock Elear seems to be not well received compared to the Clear. The Elex (Elear with different pads) seems to be more widely regarded than the stock Elear.

I'll sum up the Clear's sound based on my hearing and the graph from Tyll's measurements:
  • Bass has good sub-bass and mid-bass impact and cohesiveness
  • Mids are largely uncoloured and correct sounding, although they lack the smooth transition of notes compared to something like the HD650
  • There is a rise in the 6k and 8k - 10k that gives more air and detail to the presentation, but there are others who will describe these rises as giving a 'metallic' quality - which I don't quite agree. Those peaks give a slight edginess to consonants, but not something I would consider a negative to the tonality
  • Head stage is average to above average to my ears (my benchmark is the sound width reaching my shoulders from my perception)
You can look up Tyll's review here: https://www.innerfidelity.com/content/focal-clear-over-ear-open-headphones-page-2

I think our findings align with the Clear in a lot of ways.
 
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Jul 10, 2020 at 1:53 PM Post #1,803 of 2,004

theaudiologist1

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I'm curious where you got this number from?
All I'm saying is that the dynamic range of hearing it live is not the same as hearing it through a recorded and mastered track. I find it hard to believe that a track will need a +40dB headroom to play its full dynamic range.
I got 60db from here:
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/24bit-vs-16bit-the-myth-exploded.415361/
"The recordings with the largest dynamic range tend to be symphony orchestra recordings but even these virtually never have a dynamic range greater than about 60dB."
but if I'm listening at 90dB volume wouldn't the headroom at even 40db+ be 130dB aka death? So I'll have to decrease the volume to 70dB in that case?

Neutral is a term that's loosely used. If you say neutral that it has a flat frequency response even as per measurements, I would say the Clear is somewhat neutral, because there are dips and rises throughout the frequency response. They don't sound as neutral to my ears as the Alpha Dogs I have.

Well after I made that post I saw this review:
https://www.sonarworks.com/blog/rev...rofessional-studio-headphone-review/#use-case
which said that the Clears are very coloured and also this:
https://www.sonarworks.com/blog/reviews/focal-elear-studio-headphone-review/#use-case
which says that the Elears are more balanced than the Clears (albeit still colored).

The reason I want neutral (flat frequency) headphones is because I want to hear my music exactly the way it was recorded, whether good or bad, without any coloring which might make the music sound different in a way I won't like (like adding more bass to Pink Floyd, or more treble to Tool, just 2 of billion examples).
 
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Jul 10, 2020 at 2:09 PM Post #1,804 of 2,004

Kammerat Rebekka

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^If that is your primary goal, then you already own a fine headphone in the R70x. If you want something else just for kicks or indeed to find out whether or not you believe them to be truer to the source aka what went down in the studio, then I can only think of the HD600 and the Audio Zenith PMx2 (rev 2).
OR get a planar like the Ananda/Arya and EQ them to your target. You can generally EQ the living daylights out of planars because of the low distortion numbers most oftenly associated with the design (though there are a couple of misfits out there, so best to stick to manufacturors that by now seem to know what they’re doing...usually takes about a decade or so).

Edith:
I own an Elear and have on several occasions a/b’ed with a Clear. I always find the Clear unnaturally ‘clear’ similar to what I hear in Staxes. I thought I was nuts that I continuously prefered the Elear and found it to be the more linear sounding can...until I read the Sonarworks review. The Clear displays the same peak around 1 k that many a Staxes come with.
 
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Jul 10, 2020 at 3:31 PM Post #1,805 of 2,004

descloud

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I got 60db from here:
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/24bit-vs-16bit-the-myth-exploded.415361/
"The recordings with the largest dynamic range tend to be symphony orchestra recordings but even these virtually never have a dynamic range greater than about 60dB."
but if I'm listening at 90dB volume wouldn't the headroom at even 40db+ be 130dB aka death? So I'll have to decrease the volume to 70dB in that case?

I think you might be misunderstanding what the post was saying.

If you're listening at 90dB from your source, any instruments that from the live session may sound greater than 90dB, will not be played greater than 90dB volume level on your headphones. The recorded track will have a cut-off point of how loud any frequency is played. Otherwise, people will stop listening to any recording at 90dB listening volume (which btw you shouldn't generally be listening to for modern tracks because that is hella loud and can cause permanent hearing damage).

The dynamic range you referenced, from my understanding, is pertaining to the actual performance, not a recorded playback track. There can be a 60dB range from orchestras and symphonies when hearing it live, but this is usually quantified and processed differently when being converted as a lossless file.

Well after I made that post I saw this review:
https://www.sonarworks.com/blog/rev...rofessional-studio-headphone-review/#use-case
which said that the Clears are very coloured and also this:
https://www.sonarworks.com/blog/reviews/focal-elear-studio-headphone-review/#use-case
which says that the Elears are more balanced than the Clears (albeit still colored).

The reason I want neutral (flat frequency) headphones is because I want to hear my music exactly the way it was recorded, whether good or bad, without any coloring which might make the music sound different in a way I won't like (like adding more bass to Pink Floyd, or more treble to Tool, just 2 of billion examples).

I would say that these articles have different perspectives on how they interpret graphs and how they hear headphones. You'll have to find articles or reviewers that align with your own findings with your own gear to be able to get a reference point.

Assuming that the Focal Clear and Clear Pros are the same, I don't agree with their statement that the Clear is very coloured. It has slight deviations from what I would view as a flat frequency response. For example, the bass is a touch more emphasized than what I'd call neutral, but I wouldn't describe that as 'very coloured'. It adds just a good amount to make the music engaging. The overall tonality and timbre is still very much correct and uncoloured to my ears. But the dips and peaks in the graphs is representative of what you actually hear. A flat or "neutral" frequency response will sound dull at best, to unnatural at worst, in my opinion.

I'm not sure why they would say the Elears are more balanced given that hole in the upper mids that I've seen a lot of people have complained about (i.e. Lachlan's review).

A lot of people in this hobby is looking for that elusive "the way the music was exactly recorded, uncoloured, etc." The problem with this is, people usually have different benchmarks on what instruments and vocals sound like in real life.

You'll have to ask yourself, what is your reference point of audio sounding "real" or "natural"? Is it how you think you hear them in the recording booth/outside the studio room (which not many have the freedom to do so)? Is it hearing them in a concert where you're actually listening to their speaker system? Or are you listening to them live, without a mic and their instruments (minus use of amplifiers like electric guitars/keyboards/etc.)?

Having a flat frequency response is not representative of how they're actually recorded, because not all instruments and vocals are played at the same volume. You'll need to test multiple headphones to determine which sounds the most natural to you.
 
Jul 10, 2020 at 4:33 PM Post #1,806 of 2,004

theaudiologist1

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I think you might be misunderstanding what the post was saying.

If you're listening at 90dB from your source, any instruments that from the live session may sound greater than 90dB, will not be played greater than 90dB volume level on your headphones. The recorded track will have a cut-off point of how loud any frequency is played. Otherwise, people will stop listening to any recording at 90dB listening volume (which btw you shouldn't generally be listening to for modern tracks because that is hella loud and can cause permanent hearing damage).

The dynamic range you referenced, from my understanding, is pertaining to the actual performance, not a recorded playback track. There can be a 60dB range from orchestras and symphonies when hearing it live, but this is usually quantified and processed differently when being converted as a lossless file.

Oh THANK YOU. THANK YOU SO MUCH for explaining something I could not understand for 5+ years as an audiophile regarding headroom volume. So, If I play at a classical recording (notably symphonies and concertos) at 100-110dB I will hear all the instruments from all the frequencies?
A lot of people in this hobby is looking for that elusive "the way the music was exactly recorded, uncoloured, etc." The problem with this is, people usually have different benchmarks on what instruments and vocals sound like in real life.

You'll have to ask yourself, what is your reference point of audio sounding "real" or "natural"? Is it how you think you hear them in the recording booth/outside the studio room (which not many have the freedom to do so)? Is it hearing them in a concert where you're actually listening to their speaker system? Or are you listening to them live, without a mic and their instruments (minus use of amplifiers like electric guitars/keyboards/etc.)?

Having a flat frequency response is not representative of how they're actually recorded, because not all instruments and vocals are played at the same volume. You'll need to test multiple headphones to determine which sounds the most natural to you.

my definition of neutral is how the FINAL recording was recorded, regardless of if the instruments were mastered naturally. I don't want to color the sound more than they already are. Basically how you hear them in the recording room. Maybe a bit of coloring I don't mind (even my DAC and R70x'es are a bit warm) but I'm not a fan of headphones that drastically color the sound. It's also the least fatiguing for me, the bass/treble of the warmer/colder headphones mess with my head and sometimes give me headaches.

Regarding the Focals. I'll do more research. They look really nice and are really easy to drive. Only small gripe is that the max freq. is 28kHz. If I see that they're mostly balanced I might consider the Clear or Elear as my endgame option. There's no point of going higher than that.
 
Jul 10, 2020 at 6:08 PM Post #1,807 of 2,004
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$1000-$1500 is pretty much TOTL endgame tier, and anything more probably gives you only 5% better sound.

Although I agree that the range you listed is expensive already, I would increase that percentage by a fair bit in case of i.e. Susvara.
 
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Jul 10, 2020 at 6:27 PM Post #1,808 of 2,004

evonimos

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Hello,

I've been looking at this pair from Audio Technica and I'm pretty interested.
Is this headphone sort of similar to the HD600 in terms of sound signature?

If someone owns both, I'd appreciate a quick comparison between the two in the following areas:

- Sound-stage (width/height and depth)?
I have an HD600 and the sound-stage is not its strong point.
It would be nice if this AT pair beats it on that. It shouldn't be that hard I guess.

-Tonality?
Main areas of focus is low frequency band and bass and high frequency band.
Basically, I hope this AT pair has plenty more bass and highs that are not brighter than those on the HD600.

-Comfort?
Ear caps I hope are at least as large as the HD600.
 
Jul 10, 2020 at 7:26 PM Post #1,809 of 2,004

descloud

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So, If I play at a classical recording (notably symphonies and concertos) at 100-110dB I will hear all the instruments from all the frequencies?

You should be already able to hear them at even 80dB - 90dB listening levels, assuming your headphones have good detail retrieval and dynamics, which I'm not sure if the R70x has.

my definition of neutral is how the FINAL recording was recorded, regardless of if the instruments were mastered naturally. I don't want to color the sound more than they already are. Basically how you hear them in the recording room. Maybe a bit of coloring I don't mind (even my DAC and R70x'es are a bit warm) but I'm not a fan of headphones that drastically color the sound. It's also the least fatiguing for me, the bass/treble of the warmer/colder headphones mess with my head and sometimes give me headaches.

This may be a bit difficult to find because almost all headphones have some sort of colouration, even studio monitors are usually more treble emphasized to find nuances in a recording.

And usually what is uncoloured is person dependent to their baseline of what sounds correct to them. For example, my baseline threshold is the Hifiman HE-500, which to me plays tracks as real to what I hear live instruments and voices would be. For others, it's the HD6XX/HD650. Whereas for me, the HD6XX/HD650 series have that subdued treble that makes the overall presentation a bit unnatural because live performances are played in an open space. This is an unpopular opinion of course.

That being said, you would need to try a lot of headphones to be able to gather this perspective, and taking people's comments online will only give you more confusion with the conflicting opinions.

Regarding the Focals. I'll do more research. They look really nice and are really easy to drive. Only small gripe is that the max freq. is 28kHz. If I see that they're mostly balanced I might consider the Clear or Elear as my endgame option. There's no point of going higher than that.

The Frequency range shouldn't be a factor in your decision making. Anything beyond 20 kHz and below ~8Hz is already inaudible for the average human auditory system, and does not affect the overall audio presentation.

My personal take, the Focal Clear is well-balanced, but not exactly flat neutral. To my ears, they're not really colouring the sound, but have deviations from a "neutral" response that makes them sound correct in pitch and tonality. It has its flaws, such as the slight edginess in consonants if you're really sensitive to that, which fortunately I'm not but some find that annoying.

The Elear has its own flaws, such as the hole in the upper mids that makes certain vocals and instruments in that region muted. But this is not to say that you won't like them. If you can't demo them, you would have to take a chance with gunning for one from a reputable store with a good return policy (i.e. headphones.com).

If you really want the best headphone experience, there is a point going up, such as trying the Susvara or the Orpheus. But of course, that's all relative. All headphones have their own flaws, but I believe those two are TOTL with very little flaws in their overall audio presentation from what I've been reading so far. Whether they're worth their asking price, that's up to you.
 
Jul 11, 2020 at 4:35 PM Post #1,810 of 2,004

Hooster

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Hello,

I've been looking at this pair from Audio Technica and I'm pretty interested.
Is this headphone sort of similar to the HD600 in terms of sound signature?

If someone owns both, I'd appreciate a quick comparison between the two in the following areas:

- Sound-stage (width/height and depth)?
I have an HD600 and the sound-stage is not its strong point.
It would be nice if this AT pair beats it on that. It shouldn't be that hard I guess.

-Tonality?
Main areas of focus is low frequency band and bass and high frequency band.
Basically, I hope this AT pair has plenty more bass and highs that are not brighter than those on the HD600.

-Comfort?
Ear caps I hope are at least as large as the HD600.

I had the HD600 and found it to be a bit boring. To me the R70X is more fun with more bass and it is not bright at all. My ears just fit into the ear cups so these are comfortable to me but you may have problems if you have big ears... The R70X is a worthwhile step forward from the HD600. I use mine with after market cables and lamb skin ear pads, both of which are a useful upgrade.
 
Jul 11, 2020 at 4:43 PM Post #1,811 of 2,004

descloud

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Regarding the Focals. I'll do more research. They look really nice and are really easy to drive. Only small gripe is that the max freq. is 28kHz. If I see that they're mostly balanced I might consider the Clear or Elear as my endgame option. There's no point of going higher than that.

Just to give you additional resource, I think this post here very much aligns with how I would describe the Focal Clear (as well as the HD650 which I owned previously). I think it is a great reference review of how the Clear would sound in general.

https://www.reddit.com/r/headphones/comments/hoxtra/an_audio_engineers_first_headphone_review/
 
Jul 11, 2020 at 4:52 PM Post #1,812 of 2,004

evonimos

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I had the HD600 and found it to be a bit boring. To me the R70X is more fun with more bass and it is not bright at all. My ears just fit into the ear cups so these are comfortable to me but you may have problems if you have big ears... The R70X is a worthwhile step forward from the HD600. I use mine with after market cables and lamb skin ear pads, both of which are a useful upgrade.
Thanks!

And what about the sound-stage??

My main issue with the HD600 is that they lack depth and width making the music a bit 2D.
Is there an improvement with the Audio Technica over the HD600?
 
Jul 16, 2020 at 1:25 AM Post #1,814 of 2,004

prozonelayer

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I've had my R70x for about a month now and today I replaced the stock pads with Brainwavz XL micro suede pads with cooling gel. I did not mind the stock pads, but wanted to try out larger pads to try and replicate the comfort of my AD-700, and wanted to try out the cooling gel since its finally starting to warm up here. These are far more comfortable and much roomier than the stock pads and I think my R70x is now more comfortable than my AD700 was. I think they could address some of the problems others were having with their ears touching either the pads or the inner mesh lining. I also notice they take some of the load off of the headband wings, allowing the headphones to sit higher on my head. The headphones are a bit heavier with these pads, but I think the more even weight distribution more than makes up for it. The cooling gel definitely works so far, after about a 90 minute session I still noticed the effect. I will be interested to see how it fares in an all day session, which is the norm for me with these headphones. I think if you're not interested in the cooling gel, the regular XL pads would be a touch lighter, but otherwise the same.

I didn't closely compare the sound before after, but to me they sound pretty much identical, maybe a slightly wider soundstage with the new pads but that could be my imagination.

Attached some pics to try and show the size difference between the pads.
IMG_20200715_134210.jpgIMG_20200715_134242.jpg
 

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Jul 16, 2020 at 5:47 AM Post #1,815 of 2,004

CJG888

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In theory, with that impedance, they should work well with an OTL tube amp. Has anyone found a successful match?
 

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