Audio-Technica New open and closed Headphone Designs!!!!!!!!

Audio-Technica founded by Hideo Matsusita in 1962 is a world-class company that builds quality products for broadcast and recording studios. AT microphones set new standards in the industry for live sound tours and many Grammy-Award winning recordings were made using their microphones and wireless systems.

The US division was founded in 1972 in Akron Ohio. In 1974 the company launched successfully the AT-700 series of headphones and have since that time established a reputation for outstanding consumer and pro headphones that have established the Japanese based company as the producer of one of the worlds best sounding transducers.

The ongoing evolvement of their products is evident in the development and design of two new world-class headphones and both models are exciting products with technology incorporated to resolve the new high-resolution digital formats that will lead enthusiasts on a new adventure.

ATH-ADX5000 $1999

The new Japanese made open-backed reference headphone utilizes new Core Mount Technology that positions the drivers within the housing to improve airflow efficiency. The 58mm integrated driver utilizes a tungsten coated diaphragm with the voice coil, baffle and Permendur magnetic circuit incorporated into a single unit to reduce unwanted vibration.

The new driver is really unique in that it has enhanced the midrange and highs while bass regions are more extended. Reducing the weight of the design was also a major goal with the ATH-ADX5000 hence the frame is constructed of strong, lightweight magnesium. The included 3-meter cable is made from high-quality copper with the trademark AT connectors used and detachable for enthusiasts who want to explore aftermarket cables.

The oversized 58mm driver is one of the largest in use and presents a high impedance load of 420 ohms, making this a reference headphone that requires quality amplification to get the best results from the driver. When I opened the box, inside was an attractive suitcase style carrying case that had a lining inside where the headphone was residing. The box is beautiful to look at and makes for a luxurious presentation. Once I removed the ATH-ADX5000 from the box I installed the supplied cable and was ready for listening.

Sound

The Auris Nirvana is my reference tube amplifier that can drive any headphone and get maximum transparency and musicality from any transducer on the planet except for electrostatic designs. Once I plugged the ATH-ADX5000 into the Nirvana I went to a familiar album, “Alison Krauss Forget About It” using the Marantz SA10 streaming from Qobuz. I noticed something was off with the headphones, the sound was neither what I expected nor musical and had a flat uninviting sound.

Immediately I thought maybe the ADX5000 was still breaking in and after listening to a few tracks, I  still was uncomfortable with the sound, so I looked at the specs and then it hit me that it had an impedance of 420 Ohms and my input selector on the Nirvana was set to 50 ohms, clearly a mismatch, so I made the adjustment and started to use the 600 ohm and 300 Ohm settings on the Nirvana,  immediately I heard remarkable differences in the sound quality. The ATH-ADX5000 was more open and defined and while still new, it now sounded vivid and had excellent music coming from the midrange and the treble and bass were both extended and the sound was remarkable and musical.

“Forget About It” had clarity and transparency and delivered Alison’s angelic vocal with conviction and clarity. I could hear the acoustic instruments within the soundstage in their own defined space. Instruments had excellent tonality and her seductive voice was captivating that I listened in entirety to this magnificent recording.

“Appalachian Journey” is another acoustic album I love to use testing soundstage and transparency. The Edgar Meyer composition 1B for violin, cello, and double bass” is as good as it gets for inner detail retrieval and treble extension.

Yo-yo Ma, violinist Mark O’Connor and Edgar Meyer on bass are all defined in a terrific soundstage. O’Connor’s violin starting the track is exceptional and the bass bow definable with vivid clarity when reproduced correctly. The fast presentation of the music is extraordinary and the DSD 64 recording is high resolution and memorable when reproduced correctly.

The ATH-ADX5000 was masterful with nailing the tonality of instruments and delivered soundstage as good I have heard in any headphone regardless of price. The dynamic ATH-AX5000 captured the tune with blistering speed and made the performances come to life. The DSD recording had excellent detail and the new technology made the presentation more of an experience with its 3D presentations of the music.

“Get Lucky” from Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” is a great upbeat tune with great vocals and instrumentation. The track likes to make people dance and the ATH-ADX5000 was up to the task of delivering blazing speed into this tune and made the electronic instrumentation with textured bass lines explode. The track came to life and was believable with blazing dynamics and deep grunting bass. If you like to dance, this tune will get you in the mood and the ATH-ADX5000 never missed a beat and delivered a magical listening experience while breathing life into this song.

Listening to the same tune at the lowest level and barely moving the volume level up I was treated to more of the same and the ATH-ADX5000 at low listening levels was much the same as at higher levels with a much safer volume to prevent any hearing damage. Much appreciated was the low level listening that never omitted any part of the performance and the music was still vibrant and exciting.

Spending many hours with the ATH-ADX5000 I came to appreciate the lightweight design but what made the experience exceptional and grew on me was the ability of this transducer to extract and present high-resolution formats. Noticeable with their new incorporated technology built into the ATH-ADX5000, familiar music now had more heart and soul with increased detail and dynamics.

Listening for long hours with the Audio-Tecnica ATH-ADX5000 I came to love and respect the transducer. If you’re looking for a great all-around headphone that can resolve detail, feel comfortable and provide an outstanding soundstage, the ATH-ADX5000 does that and with its expansive soundstage delivers excellent bass and treble extension with a beautiful midrange.

Listening to my favorite vocal recordings I left the volume level low and could hear detail in both male and female vocal. The ATH-ADX5000 was articulate in presentation and offered excellent dynamics at low listening levels. I felt comfortable at the lowest setting on the Nirvana without needing scorching volume levels to get the most from the sound.

Pairing the ATH-ADX5000 with excellent sources and amplification pays big dividends in performance. The high-resolution files I was streaming were all delivered flawlessly and more importantly, the musicality was off the charts good. If your looking for technology to resolve your DSD high resolutions recordings the  ATH-ADX5000 is an excellent choice and creates a  3D listening experience.

The Audio-Technica ATH-AP2000Ti $1250

The ATH-AP2000Ti is the closed version of the ATH-ADX5000 using much of the technology of the flagship in this design but with noticeable differences. With a smaller 53m driver the ATH-AP2000Ti uses the same permendur magnetic circuit found in the flagship for reproducing high-resolution audio recordings.

Diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating on the diagram helps to deliver full-range audio. The set comes with three detachable cables with the A2DC (Audio Designed Detachable Coaxial) connector including a 3.0-meter and 1.2 meter for portable usage. The headphones have a mirror black finish with soft leather earpads and fold up to fit in the included a carrying case. A 6.3 mm stereo adapter is numbered among the included accessories.

Listening

Joshua Bell’s DSD 64 recording of “Tchaikovsky” is an exceptional violin concerto. I was curious to see how the ATH-AP2000Ti would handle high-resolution audio on this demanding recording. I used the 32 ohm setting on my Auris Nirvana and hit the play button on the Marantz SA10. Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 35 2. I. Allegro Moderato” is 19:34 minutes and gives an excellent rendition of Bell’s violin. I immediately noticed the resolution of the body of the instrument. The bow going up and down the strings sounded alive but never harsh and tonality of the instrument was excellent.

Closing my eyes I had a vivid picture of Bell on the stage and felt the ATH-AP2000Ti was reproducing this amazing recording with a wide and extended soundstage. The music had air and space and Bell’s violin sounded magical. I never felt as if I was listening to a restricted soundstage commonly found in many closed-back headphones and was admiring the comfort of the design as well as the musical presentation it was producing.

The musicality of the big brother ATH-ADX5000 was there while listening to the closed ATH-AP2000Ti. Maybe not quite as open sounding as the flagship, but still able to recreate the recording with conviction and made the listening a pleasant experience.

Shelby Lynne’s performance on Just a little Loving” from her DSD64 recording is well known in audiophile and enthusiast circles. Her seductive sexy voice on this title track is transparent and Lynne’s vocal is captivating. The drum work on this track as well as the other musicians in the band are all exceptional and the ATH-AP2000TI did not disappoint with the delivery of their performance. Lynne’s vocal was pristine and every syllable was alive. The detail of the stick work on the drums was truly enlightening, I was consumed with the performance and it was accurate in delivery and once again 3D.

Switching to Stevie Wonder’s Hotter than July”, another DSD recording delivered from my library in Roon, was once again alive and on the opening of “Master Blaster” the drums were explosive.  Stevie’s vocal was delivered with conviction and had me jamming to the tune. The ATH-AP2000Ti was excellent playing this dynamic tune and making it an exciting listening experience.

Moving over to my Ipad streaming the “Game of Thrones” series on HBO the sound was amazing with deep extension and the battle scenes had explosive dynamics and made watching exciting. The scenes with the Dragon were delivered with conviction and the ATH-AP2000Ti  with its fast driver handled dynamic swings easily and never collapsed. The scenes are frightening and I could feel that fear while watching and listening with the ATH-AP2000Ti. Wow!

The AK240 digital player was a good match as well and loaded with about 800 albums I tested the transducer with a wide genre of music ranging through electronic, vocal, folk and jazz. The results were always good and musical with any genre, making this an excellent all-around headphone for portable players. The ATH-AP2000Ti really stepped up with better components. I noticed the difference with more inner detail and transparency, which is a testament to the ATH-AP2000Ti. The monitor is a reference caliber design that lets you hear the difference in components clearly.

Final Thoughts

Hearing loss is a major concern for anyone using headphones regularly and Audio-Technica has addressed it with offering two outstanding headphones that can be played at low levels without compromise and still make the performances an experience rather than a listening session. The ATH-ADX5000 and little brother ATH-AP2000Ti have new innovative technology that incorporated years of research into high-resolution digital music. The new innovative permendur magnetic circuit in both of the headphones was magical in delivering explosive dynamics and extracting detail with excellent transparency.

Both headphones delivered vivid midrange with excellent bass and instrumentation was always accurate with excellent tonality. The lightweight design of the headband on either model made long sessions easy and comfortable. Long listening sessions were never stressful and I never felt the urge to remove either model and man was I impressed with the delivery of high-resolution digital files. Listening to well-known music I had played on various other headphones I felt at times I was listening to the recording for the first time. I continued to be impressed with the 3D soundstage and inner detail on the two models which were exceptional.

The ATH-ADX5000 with its exceptional soundstage and new magnetic circuit made high-resolution files a new musical experience. Many times the recordings sounded as if I had never really heard them before and added new detail and increased resolution. While watching movies or listening on portable devices, the closed ATH-AP2000 TI had explosive dynamics and exceptional transparency, while able to also deliver outstanding 3D performance from high-resolution files.

High-Resolution Digital streaming is now a major part of the way we listen to music. The days of CD’s are now becoming niche and many feel they will become a specialty and eventually vanish.  New technology in headphone manufacturing designed to get the most resolution from the format is welcomed and Audio-Technica is one of the pioneers with their new circuits. The fact you can listen at low levels without losing any information is welcomed and necessary to help listeners protect against hearing loss.

Both the ATH-ADX5000 flagship and the ATH-AP2000Ti are exceptional products that provide explosive dynamics and musicality. The ATH-ADX5000 flagship is a magical headphone that is top-tier in performance and sets new boundaries for high-resolution transparency. The 3D soundstage is exciting and made all high-resolution music sound new and refreshing.

The ATH-AP2000Ti closed version with its smaller driver gave up little in soundstage and delivered exceptional dynamics and made portable listening on all devices exceptional and exciting. Audio-Technica once again has succeeded in offering two new and refreshing designs that set the bar higher for other companies. The innovative new designs create a musical journey into high-resolution recordings and both reference caliber designs are competitively priced and never disappoint with their performance. Highly Recommended.

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Frank Iacone

Frank started his journey in high-end audio in 1978 and was quickly hooked. Frank’s passion for music and great sound reproduction is stronger than ever. His main focus is with high-end headphones and portable related gear. He is a regular Head-Fi.org contributor and is a co-founder of Headphone.Guru.

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