Short comparison between HD 280 and Audio Technica A55
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dohminator

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I'm on the ball today. I went down to the store that sell the senn's, and they let me plug my A55's into their system.

Overall there is very little differenct between the two headphones in sound quality.

Differences are:
Bass: The a55s had a deeper bass extension than the hd 280s. The bass was more punchy and less boomy than the hd 280s.

Soundstage: The A55s had a larger soundstage than the hd 280's. They just felt larger than the 280s. More spacious.

Comfort: The hands down winner was the A55s. The Hd 280s had that very annoying headband that put pressure on the top of my head. They just weren't comfortable at all. The A55s just rest nicely on top of my head.

Treble: The Senns win this. They had clearer treble than my A55s. clearer and more pronounced. Not a huge difference, but they did have a better treble.

The Senns have a brighter sound, and the ATH-A55s have a warmer sound. There really isn't a huge difference between the quality of the headphones. They both have strengths and weaknesses that are complimentary. Someone who likes a lot of treble should go with the senns. Someone who wants a warmer sounding headphone with good bass should go with the Audio technicas. If comfort is a big issue, then avoid the hd 280s at all cost.
 
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Hamsterball_Z

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Wow, you're the first person to ever call the 280 boomy. Tight bass is what they're known for, if anything, people consider them lacking bass because of it's tightness. Because of their flat, neutral frequency response the 280s are even being used as a reference set for a hearing analyser, if they were boomy that just wouldn't work. I just want to make sure you are using the right terminology. Boomy would describe bass that overpowers the other frequencies. Is that what you're saying? Could you clarify what you mean by boomy? Maybe you could let us know what equipment you're using and your test material, particularly if there's a song that really brings out the boominess you're describing. And please don't tell us you were using megabass, we'd hate to think you were blaming the headphones for what that crap does to the sound.

(HBZ)
 
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dohminator

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I don't think I'm using the right terminology. the hd 280 had less bass, and it wasn't as well defined. The a55 had more bass and more punch to it. It was better defined bass.

What I meant by boomy was not defined as well. Not overpowering. The hd 280 didn't have the extension of the a55, and when it got down there it didn't seem as well defined and clear.
 
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Hamsterball_Z

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Yeah, that makes more sense. Are you using them direct out of a computer or a portable device? I think those of us that like the 280 are hooking them up to more high powered equipment. Bass needs lots of power so it's the first to go if there's not enough juice.

(HBZ)
 
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dohminator

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It was hooked up to the demo station at the store. Also, keep in mind that this is comparitive. Compared to the A55 the bass wasn't as well defined. It wasn't bad, but to me there wasn't the extension and detail that the A55 had.
 
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Hamsterball_Z

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You never know what's driving those listening stations. I went to a Cambridge Soundworks to try some Grados since they were the only local store that carried them. The guy at the store had to start up the listening station so I got a peek at what they were using. It consisted of a portable CD with a REALLY big splitter to drive about eight headphones.

Be careful when testing headphones on different equipment, sources can color the sound so much you don't know what qualities are the headphone's and what's caused by the driving unit. The best way to judge anything is to make sure the only variable is the one piece you're testing.

Well, glad you like your A55s. It's good to know there's another good option under $100.

(HBZ)
 
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I haven't ordered the HD-280s like I said I was going to, because I have been busy. However, I think your mini-review comparing the two, and someone elses review of the senn HD-280, may have just changed my mind.

Are there places other than Audiocubes to get the ATH-A55s for a little cheaper? And if not, how much was the shipping, and how fast did you get them (I live in Kentucky)?

Thanks.
 
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j-curve

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I had an opportunity to evaluate the ATH-A55 a couple of days ago but my overall impression was negative.

I was pleased with its comfort as it is (fully) circumaural with angled drivers and soft vinyl pads, which also provide good isolation. The self-adjusting "wing support" design carried its 280 grams well for me too.

However, I wasn't so impressed with the sound. On the positive side, the A55 has really nice, clear but unobtrusive highs, extending all the way down to the upper midrange. Below that though, things get ugly. The lower midrange suffers "closed can colouration" around 200 Hz and the bass really booms, probably due to the port design, which I have to suspect is tuned way too high. With 53mm drivers a reflex port would hardly seem necessary...

These cans are easily driven by a portable player (60 ohms, 102 dB/mW) but are you really going to go portable with these? They look like protective headgear for some contact sport - kendo perhaps? It's not that they're ugly, just huge.
 
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wallstreet

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*sigh* I don't know what to think anymore. Maybe I'll just be better off if I stick to my KSC-35s.
 
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Magicthyse

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Quote:

Originally posted by j-curve
...but are you really going to go portable with these? They look like protective headgear for some contact sport - kendo perhaps? It's not that they're ugly, just huge.


You betcha!
(rubs hands in anticipation of the A9X... 'I think we'll have it in about six weeks...'? arrrgh darn it)

Having said that though, the HD280 looked OK in the photo, whereas in reality they make you look like a dork. I will reserve judgement whether to go out with them or not, until I actually have the phones...
 
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j-curve

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Mmmm, A9X you say. Judging by the price (double) and the lower impedance (only 32 ohms) it should be quite a different beast to the A55. You'll have to let us know if they got the porting right on the A9X though (hope you like your bass boom).

BTW Magic, have you irrevocably ordered the A9X yet? I just had a vision of you posting me a set of (new in box) HD580's and me posting you a set of (new in box) A9X's. If that sounds crazy then consider that here (Japan) the HD497 costs more than the ATH-A55 and you'll see where I'm coming from. If I understand correctly, you have exactly the opposite problem. Of course, it would require somewhat of a leap of faith in the "trusting stranger over the internet" department on both sides, but...
 
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Magicthyse

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I'm not 100% sure about the A9X to be honest with you. What I ACTUALLY wanted was the A100ti. But the shop told me they couldn't get it.

But the A100ti looks to be slightly less easy to drive - but not overly so. Do you know anything about the characteristics of THIS phone and whether it's still available in Japan?
 
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j-curve

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Well I haven't heard the A100Ti so I can't say anything about its most important characteristic.


It's a 40th anniversary limited edition of 2000 units, but I'm sure there are still a few floating around. The ATH brochure doesn't waffle on about the sound at all, but they certainly are proud of the titanium. They also mention a "super hard coated diaphragm" and 6N-OFC voicecoil (for what it's worth).

Just out of interest, would you buy any of these phones unheard? Given their rarity you'd have to be lucky to find a place which would let you demo them, no?
 
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j-curve

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OK, I got a chance to compare the Audio-Technica ATH-A55, A9X, A100Ti and W100 side by side. Caveat: they were all connected to jazzy muzak, but it was still a case of "Yeehar!". [Later I got to do a proper evaluation of the A9X against the W100 and HD280, but that's another thread].

What I can confirm is that the A9X and the A100Ti do not have the bass hump of the A55, at least not to the same extent. However, they are all quite bright sounding, and the A100Ti for its part has a particular push in the upper mids which I personally didn't enjoy. Not to write it off, but if I was going to stretch the budget that far I think it would be worth the extra 20% or so for the W100, which had the smoothest sound of the four for my preference of classical with a dash of hip-hop. Second choice would be the A9X which is also well behaved but has the extra bass punch and high-end sparkle which I think appeals to many.
 
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Magicthyse

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Quote:

Originally posted by j-curve

Well I haven't heard the A100Ti so I can't say anything about its most important characteristic.


It's a 40th anniversary limited edition of 2000 units, but I'm sure there are still a few floating around. The ATH brochure doesn't waffle on about the sound at all, but they certainly are proud of the titanium. They also mention a "super hard coated diaphragm" and 6N-OFC voicecoil (for what it's worth).

Just out of interest, would you buy any of these phones unheard? Given their rarity you'd have to be lucky to find a place which would let you demo them, no?


What would you expect - I bought a V700DJ. Could there be a more telling case of style over substance. Mind you I like the sound as well but it's true that you could get this kind of sound on way cheaper phones (although not, I've found so far, with the same noise attenuation. But as far as I'm concerned it's the whole package I'm paying for. The same with the A100Ti.

Still wanna A100Ti... Not too sure about the Hokkaido wood (OK, so some guy froze his balls off to chop the tree for the phone - big deal...) of the W100 as I'll be using these outside. Looking at the construction of both, I more or less expected the A9X and the A100Ti to sound virtually the same. But that magic gray metal - especially if it's anodized blue - has got my acquisitive senses going...
 
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