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Audio-Technica ATH-R70x - In-Depth Review & Impressions

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by earfonia, May 2, 2015.
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  1. pjyi
    would it make any difference in sound?
    i need some feedback :)
  2. hakushondaimao
    Will let you know in about a month   [​IMG] 
    Pokemonn likes this.
  3. Synthax
    Pokemonn likes this.
  4. Tomkat85
    A humble hello to head-fiers, I've just recently joined as a newbie (however have been a long time reader since the last 8 years), thought I'd let everyone know that on Monday afternoon here in down under Perth, Western Australia I've had a marvelous once a life time opportunity to listen to the R70X and compared it against:
    1. AKG612
    2. AKG702
    3. AKG712
    4. And Beyerdynamic DT990 250ohms
    Phew, took quite a while :) to listen through these and to write an indepth impressions of each! Whilst I *technically* have completed my write up unfortunately I wish I could start a new thread; although the forum rules prevents me from doing so until I have made 15 posts in total. So hopefully in good faith until I've reached this number I'll be able to post my impressions.
    I wish could even attach a coming soon picture...but it says I don't even have permissions for it.... oh well, Stay tuned!
    Suopermanni and Synthax like this.
  5. all999

    When You manage to start Your own thread, please leave a link here.
    Tomkat85 likes this.
  6. Tomkat85
    Ok, change of plan. Looks like for now I’m going to have to release few bits of information as a series of posts to help increase my count. 
    So From this point onward - HERE GOES  my impressions + any pictures as I go! Drum rolls…….
    But first, let me first express my sincere thanks and gratitude to the warm and really welcoming and easy going hospitality of Perth’s StoreDJ! Even though it took me a 45 minute trip it was all worth it. I am really appreciative once again to have been granted an opportunity for the extra time to listen to the headphones and (for me) to share my impressions and thoughts with them. 
    And again as an apology as this is quite a long series of impressions, my English can be somewhat all over the place. Hence it is difficult to coordinate to everything else outside this hobby whilst being informative to you guys at the same time. Thank you :)!
    R70X VS AKG612, AKG702, AKG712 & BEYERS DT 990
    Part 1/4
    Listening Volumes and setup

    The portable listening setup 
    Macbook Pro > Wireworld USB silverplated OFC > Audinst MX1  > Headphone auditioned
    Please Note! These listening volumes are based on an environment whereby there’s multiple sources of tension around me- noticeable but verifiable factors -  eg. people talking behind me, telephones ringing, traffic bleeding through front door/s, as well as other tension factors such as me clinching over a desk / bending down, standing up, etc. SO YMMV once you’ve got this on your most relaxing state.
    Volume listening ranges on the Audinst
    The R70X - 8- 9.30AM 
    The 612 - 9 - 10.30 AM (strangely enough, it’s slightly harder to drive than 702s or the 712s….)
    The 702 - 8 - 9.45AM (more or less the same the R70X)
    The 712 - 8 - 9.45AM (more or less the same the R70X)
    The Beyers - 7 - 9AM (this one is subjective as the signature is so distinct, it’s hard for me to determine a listenable range)
    The R70X Overall impression
    One word - Sublimely musical. Sublimely effortless with the bottom end that envelopes the rest of the soundscape evenly. If they are there in the recording and they are expressed beautifully as a basis to LIFT the rest of the musical spectrum without any emphasis on anything else. 
    Yet also intriguingly enough; the R70X allows me to still able to differentiate and delineate complex passages very well without any sort of muddiness being in the way. That; in itself is a trait that is incredibly difficult to describe. You simply had to put on the almost featherweight speakers on your ears and let your mind explain to you what and how it is meant to sound. 
    The personifying / the analogy word “LIFT”; I believe is important here; as the R70X tends to do nothing but simply uses the low frequency presentation as an “organic” soil / basis to lift everything else beautifully and evenly at the same time.
    But does that mean it brings everything else artificially forward to in-your face? No. I would not consider this to be a forward sounding headphone at all. 
    The R70X produces a pleasant, layered and deep staging that is beautifully just that - beautiful for each and every element of music to express fairly and not competitively against each other for attention. I am a believer that any parts of the musical spectrum, especially on the upper regions no matter how small if emphasised - is what I consider to be a potential factor to fatigue (though subjectively, some may enjoy this sound). However if anything - the R70X simply presents musicality without compromising everything else.  
    It is neutral, yet the warm bottom end is so inviting to listen to, it’s incredibly difficult to describe the experience as nothing short of complete, insightful experience at the same time.
    mmq2404 likes this.
  7. earfonia
    Thank you! Similar to what I perceived from R70x.
    Very well written!
    Tomkat85 likes this.
  8. woodpecker

    Go for it Tomkat85!
    What I especially like about the the R70x is, that they are probably the first piece of equipment that allows me to rediscover some of the (old) music that is not mastered or recorded perfectly. They're not trying to attack you with the technicalities of the music, they just present the music as it is.
    Synthax and Tomkat85 like this.
  9. Tomkat85
    @Earfonia and @woodpecker - sincere thanks for you both. I will try to submit the rest soon.  
  10. Tomkat85
    R70X VS AKG612, AKG702, AKG712 & BEYERS DT 990
    Part 2/4
    The Lows / Bass

    The lows of the R70X  just “envelopes” itself around the musical spectrum succintly but perhaps incredibly without any bleeding into mids or highs. It is clear at this point that I’m initially drawn to the bass, because I cannot help but thank that this is indeed - the most balanced of all presentation of bass - that is BOTH musical yet visceral and accurate at the same time.
    For those of you who are familiar with the LCD2 - you may very well indeed be infatuated by its’ effortless visceral, and TEXTURED bass.  I remembered briefly auditioning these a couple of years ago (with my Lehmann Black Cube) and quite impressively enough - that effortless, visceral sensation of the enveloping bass presentation - are amazingly reminiscent to the R70X. Though perhaps of course not as refined nor as deep as what my memory told me and given the price difference (1600 vs 500), but still the authenticity, textural make up of the low frequency presentation of the R70X is palpable and is definitely there.
    The only thing that is not existent here - is the sub-bass. You will definitely hear the viscerality of every lower regions of it all. But deepest of all sub-bass is not one of them. That remains only what the Beyers or what Audezes can do. 
    There have been anecdotal reports that the R70X is bass shy, lean, light, too neutral, etc. To my ears and level of tolerance - this is a myth. The R70X is never to my ears a lean sounding phone, considering that I've also been coming from the Alessandro MS Pro - in which that to me was I consider quite bass driven but also to my surprise - the R70X betters it by sounding more "complete" without being just simply an impressive thud.  Unfortunately I had to sell the Ms Pro before I get to listen to the R70X - but from what I can gather and compare from best memory - they are both roughly equal and just as "fun" sounding to each other in their equal merit.
    Never boomy but enveloping. But most important conclusion? Involving. 
    The mids

    The mids are extremely pleasing and unoffensive. It just doesn’t shout at me for attention / trying to beckon as though it is a mid centric phone. Nor is it an upper mid centric phone. Nor does it sound slightly ever “honky” (subjectively adjusted for a certain euphonic effect) like my parted W5000s. Vocals are simply sublime, just sublime and properly shaped.

    I believe Lachlan (as per to his review above) refers to his experience as how male vocals now sounded just as good females vocals do and I completely, completely agree through my observation.  I swear I thought after being brought upon audio technicals sound from AD700, and then W5000 then the Koss ESP 950 for years would had me convinced that all vocal performance sounded the “same”. The R70X changed that perspective for me completely anew. Quite particularly for instance - Amy Winehouse's Like Smoke (Feat. Nas) had Nas really spoke to me convincingly to the point where I feel more engaged to the voicing without glaringly or technically obvious to me. In fact, you could clear see the "outline" of where the voices are in relative to the soundscape.
    That to me - the separation of the voices as a trait alone - brings a new way of "understanding" the aesthetic, drive and intent of the voices themselves beyond just reading off lyrics.
    The mids are not as forward as everything else I’ve tried during the impressions. Yes, it blooms like a vintage good tube / valve signature and yet it doesn’t scream or shout for attention either. A real refinement in every senses over any dynamic phones I’ve heard thus far. And yet also - It’s never attunedly euphonic (though I believe is made / adjusted for a specific aesthetic purpose) or as coloured as the W5000 either if anything the R70X was just simply lush without a fat mid section at all.    
    There was no glare that I could detect as though it would detract the overall experience. The amazing thing altogether too, is - how it lets you listen in to any parts of the spectrum comfortably without somehow missing the rest of information. 
    The Highs
    …But what about the highs? Is it fatiguing? Absolutely not. The R70X completely passed through my sibilance and fatigue stress test (album - Samantha James - Subconscious) with flying colours in just one listening go. Just one-off listening without me second guessing whether or not the articulation ability of this HP is right for me. This headphone speaks musicality as is skilfully yet tactfully at the same time.
    Just one listen of the opening guitar riffs / beginning phrase, and violin solo of Samantha's Satellites remained sweet, extended and ethereal without digitally and glaringly obvious to the point of harshness.The amount of soundscape that is entirely attributed into presenting just the upper midrange in this song is quite frankly -  a revelation of the R70X talent / aptitude that it's able to coordinate the elements somehow or somewhat - just seemed coherent, layered yet still distinct from each other. Thus to my ears, that experience was honestly that convincing.  
    Compared to the other phones in the impressions - the top end may lack some bite or grain that excites some people. But to me; this is an unenduring trait for any phones to have and certainly marks a factor for fatigue.
    <coming next part 3>
  11. Tomkat85
    R70X VS AKG612, AKG702, AKG712 & BEYERS DT 990
    Part 3/4
    Ok now then onto the headphone comparisons with song selections in tandem:
    Samantha James - Subconcsious  (various tracks of the album / solo main feature track) 


    The ultimate sibilance and fatigue “stress” test album. Below are the comparisons against the R70X in mind:
    On the AKG612 
    The AKG612 unfortunately delivers a somewhat flatter layering of the imagery (almost think of it as though it is one depth of plane of sound). But believe it or not however - the AKG612 to my ears sounded a better value than the beyers DT990 due to the fact that all the detailing and precise, microscopic-like surgical light presentation over everything is there for you at roughly 30-40% OFF the beyers price if you look hard enough. What 612 does even better than the beyers - is that yes whilst it can be quite sibilant and harsh - the Beyers is even more so / more prone to be that way even more.
    On the AKG712
    Immediately; there is some sense of comfort being introduced thanks to the added bass (pronounced more so than the K702s), the 712 does show some attempt in trying to deconstruct the imagery / layering into separate elements distinctly for sure (it is after all, a detail oriented phone) but is it musical? Absolutely not. The mids and highs are altogether very etched, abrasive yet nonetheless textured to give you the impression that it is indeed detailed. 
    Is it enduring? perhaps again sadly not. 
    Pass or fail the stress test? Unfortunately failed. The added bass for some reason “merges” together with some of the spectrum which does often at times sounded like the beyers. Hence there is some V shaped signature apparent going on within the 712. But unlike the Beyers - the 712 at least have slightly more refined mids if however unfortunate that this is what I classify as the cold, “Hi-Fi” sound, which can sound “opaque” at times. 
    On the AKG702
    Interestingly, I feel the AKG702 shares more or less the same impression as the AKG712, but without this somewhat “artificial” added sounding bass  of the 712. It has the same expertise in delineating all instrumentation right to their detail without the lows or lower mids bleeding to the everything else. Where as the 712 to me sounds as though it is a somewhat “artificial” in the lower regions - yes the bass is there and yes it seems plentiful, but to my ears it was never as refined nor as "elaborated" or beautifully enveloping as the R70X.  
    Pass or fail? Hmm…somewhat subjectively failed. The mids and highs can be shrilly at times as well as its’ forwardness to me. Nonetheless - I believe without the added bass of the 712 brings - the 702 is as clearly what the AKG house sound is intended to do - deliver neutrality and transparency as surgically precise as possible. 
    For this reason and (as I believe it) displaying / retaining  AKG’s intrinsic signature purpose - I think the AKG 702 is SLIGHTLY better than the 712. I am confident that the The Woflson WM8740 DAC within the Audinst are honest and refined for neutral critical listening to ensures that what I’m hearing is and should sufficiently be transparent enough to the recordings and powerful enough for the headphones to show themselves through.
    On the Beyers
    Unfortunately and dearly sadly, the beyers did not even lasted on my ears longer than a minute or several songs in the album. Even though I try to wait, recuperate my ears,, and play again. The beyers to me did not produce a convincingly welcoming sound at all. It sounded brittle, congested, closed in. And perhaps the only way I do notice about the beyers is that it produces the sub bass, but unfortunately I find it does the same problem as the AKG712 - in that it somewhat merges together with other musical parts as though everything is presented as one plane of sound. 
    Pass or fail? Definitely failed. The overly and definitely V shaped metallic signature did not let me enjoy nor giving me an insightful experience at all. In fact, this signature is prevailingly strong, that I find it immediately too forward sounding and in your face in all spectrum of the music. This sadly, was clearly too fatiguing for my purpose.
    So that wraps up the electronica genres listening session, but what about soul and acoustics?



    Amy Winehouse - Frank /  Amy Winehouse - Lioness Treasure
    (various tracks)
    On the AKG612
    The 612 actually did not sound bad at all though still at times giving an occasional bout of shouty mids throughout Frank’s selection of tracks - but again quite surprisingly - I still find this a better value overall than the Beyers and even at times over the 702s and 712s. The 612 does render all the instrumentations well, and for acoustical performance overall I think it is a good value for money for detail & transparency lovers. 
    Besides from the shouty mids, the refinement aspects to the imaging and soundstaging is; as you’d expect - noticeably behind the R70X, and is noticeable behind K702, or the K712. But is it such a night and day difference? That is up to you to decide, to me; given the imaging and soundstaging of the K612 is somewhat different in that it's layered more intimately, whereas the K702 can sound at times sound lively and dynamic at times. However considering it’s the most affordable out of all the headphones I’ve heard in this session it simply does deserve a worthy mention simply for the fact that the acoustics are rendered with bite, and edge for those who prefer it this way without having to shell out more money for a slightly more refined imaging and sound staging of the K702 or even the K712.
    On the AKG702
    The 702 unfortunately fell on the bright, lean and upfront at times; for instance, the beginning vocals of Amy’s know you now turned me off almost instantly before even the first quarter. Thanks to the not so artificially added bass of the 712 - I feel the 702s DOES have the ability to paint a more honest picture better than the 712, allowing the light to be shown the mids and highs more clearly. Though again, it can be too precise to the point of slightly fatiguing. 
    The imaging and sound staging is nonetheless quite promising in that it tries its best in delineating complex passages, however, given with the above lean presentation quickly and immediately gives the mids a glaring, wildness / forwardness outlook.  Especially within Amy’s You Sent Me Flying - the beginning passages could easily show the downsides of any analytical based headphones, by which the 702s no doubt found in this category - in that it’s immediately apparent that you have prepare to “tense up” a lot in order to absorb its forwardness in full. 
    On the AKG 712
    Given 702’s more leanness than the 712, I believe the 712 gains an extra credit in giving you the bass as incentive to help somewhat fix the somewhat overly forward mids, but unfortunately this did not address the underlying problem of the inherent character of the phone itself in that the upper regions are still somewhat hot and given the price point, the K612 in my opinion still serves a much better value in rendering all acoustic instruments with just as much you would expect for a more reasonable asking price. 
    However in spite of all this, I do somewhat enjoy the 712 with the renditions of that extra edge and bite on all of the instrumentations across both albums. As this no doubt help create that illusion of “texture” from the grain - it is nonetheless the only emotional incentive for me to keep listening on the 712.  
    Is it worth it in my opinion to getting the K712 over the 702s? Can be subjectively difficult I'd say. However if you do own and expect to hear a lot of soul and with live / studio instrumentation recordings I would still nonetheless consider the an extra nod on the 712s.
    But is it musically enduring though that is the question? Unfortunately neither the 702s or the 712s did convince me so. Even with the 712's added bass to "mask" the excess brightness at times sooth me, but at times fails to sustain me as it also somewhat merges / bleeds to the glaring mids as well.
    On the Beyers
    Unfortunately since the Beyers did not pass my stress test I could not even bother testing on these albums. :frowning2:
    <next part 4>
    nick n likes this.
  12. Tomkat85
    R70X VS AKG612, AKG702, AKG712 & BEYERS DT 990
    Part 4/4
    For: Detailing, transparency, bite, and VALUE for money. Perhaps best for critical listening. Certainly not as refined as everything else, but an analytical sound that is neither too harsh as the Beyers nor as artificially bass enhanced AKG712 in the lower regions nonetheless reasonably paints a somewhat welcoming, likeable picture of the soundscape is enough to warrant anyone to give some second thoughts. 
    For: Some noticeable refinements over the 612 in terms of staging, and separation of the spectrum. But beware of the fatiguing factor/s in the upper mids glare as it is also well separated thus creating (to my ears at least) an even more forward mids sounding experience. The K612 is perhaps less excessively forward but still is presented a bit brightly, the K702 is refined in that it separates the layers well and away, but it also increases the fatigue factor since it also then brings some elements too forward and some elements a bit too backwards. Perhaps best for critical listening.
    For: Whilst I feel the added bass of the 712 sounds somewhat unrefined and artifically “merged” - it’s a subjective difficulty for me to recommend either the 702 or the 712. It is clearly up to you the listener and your source and ancillaries to determine whether the difference alone is worth it.  At least to my ears - with the 712 yes you do get some temporary comfort with the added bass - at the expense of the mids being slightly drowned with it at the same time which to me sound a little bit somewhat compressed feel. 
    As this can be considered simply a Bassier alternative to the 702 - perhaps suitable for gaming as gaming gives an extra psychological incentive to headphones that renders just certain right amount of V shaped sound? It is difficult to somewhat recommend the AKG712 for musicalities I feel because of the lower regions sounded somewhat “artificial” in that they are not as refined as I expect in the price range.
    The AKG712 VS AKG702 debate can be subjectively endless. However given to my ears and experience - if you do listen to a lot acoustics and live instrumentation recordings the 712 I’d feel maybe gain my slight recommendation over the 702 since you will definitely need that extra bass; anything will do - to help somewhat attenuate the excess forwardness of the mids. Or perhaps In other words -  If you are after an AKG house sound “simply” for more bass - the 712 is for you. Otherwise, the staging / imaging performance of these is so similar to the 702 I could not really tell whether the added bass is simply worth it over the 702. 
    For: Unfortunately, I am not a Beyer brand expert nor have I been well attached to the sound of the 990s, but perhaps best suited for very very critical engineering with mastering grade equipment?
    I may perhaps overly harsh on the Beyers so I do apologise to all who are the indeed personal owners of the 990s. However let us stop for the moment really consider the intrinsic applications of this headphone. It is critically bright. Yet it is also critically sub-bassy as well. So I would imagine; that for those who work very, very specifically in the fields of mastering or very specific sides of mixing and monitoring will no doubt find the DT990 useful to monitor any and technically assess the soundscape for any potential problems or issues.  
    I do again apologise that I’ve been truly unfair to the Beyers but unfortunately, my opinion is subjectively of my own and sadly the Beyers is clearly not within the realm of what I was looking for. If you already do have the 990s I would look start looking at either the K612 or the K712 as this gives you a favourable polarity of differences against the Beyers’ V shaped signature sound. 
    So leaving us with the winner - the R70X.
    I am convinced that in the last 10 years on and off in this hobby; as I’ve already begun the process of downsizing - the Audio Technica R70X could and very well be indeed the signature that blends musicality and detail at the same time; a trait that I don't think it exists; yet I know I do wish it to come one day. And that day has come.Thus perhaps, this could be the only “reference” or "master" phone I would ever buy and keep next to my Koss electrostatics.   
    The R70X wins over almost every category of what I am looking for - effortless musicality, and delivery of all elements, and details while incredibly it somewhat or somehow knows how to attenuate all manner of excess brightness and sibilance and anything of forwadness in the soundscape. 
    There is a huge sense of relief, after auditioning between the beyers and the AKGs and when once back onto the R70X. So much so that it did raised me a question “where’s all that bright detail I used to hear but all gone?”. With the R70X, I just simply could release the tension again and just letting observe the musical spectrums as they are. And I believe to my ears - as they should be. Both sensibly and practically.  
    The R70X pretty much delivered a toe-tapping experience no matter what tracks I throw at it. Bright or boomy, it just seemingly knows just what to do with every material fed to it and comes out of it - a musical spectrum that shows no bias.  
    Thank you for reading! <Phew> what a long way of typing...
    My Thanks
    Much of the above once-in-lifetime experience can not be expressed with enough gratitude to the wonderful staff at StoreDJ Perth to have granted me more than the usual time (1.5 hour+) to spend as much time with these headphones. You will surely be missing one more R70X from your store! Kindest regards.  Tomkat85.
    Vũ Thành and nick n like this.
  13. DomieMic65
    A question that has not been answered completely IMO...
    How does R70X compare with the HD600 (not 650 :)  )
    In the past I had the chance to hlisten a lot the 650s but while I aknowledge their strengths they never "clicked" in me...
    From the other hand every time I listened to the 600s I fownd them to be much much more to my taste! 
    The R70Xs got my attention a few days now and I am wondering if they could be an alternative to the HD600!
    Thanks a lot!! 
    Synthax likes this.
  14. Synthax
    I also would like to ask.
  15. woodpecker
    I did not perform a direct comparison between the HD600 and the R70x, however I did compare the HD600 with the MSR7 for some time and the MSR7 trashed the HD600 completely. Be noted, that because of a different type of headphones, this is not a fair comparison. As for the HD600, the basses are a bit lacking and badly controlled. The highs are ok, but not really engaging. Not sure about the mids. Maybe I can do a direct comparison of the R70x with the HD600 if you like, but I just can't understand all the hype about the HD600. From all of the headphones I had a chance to listen to lately, this were by far the most neglected.
    Tomkat85 likes this.
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