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Old 03-09-2008, 10:23 AM
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Almoxil Almoxil is offline
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Post Audio Technica ATH-AD2000 Air Dynamic Headphones Review

Package and accessories

They come inside a nice black box with a flip cover. The cover gives way to a plastic window, revealing the phones behind it in a burgundy velvety platic stand (it doesn't work outside the box). There's a small window at the right side of the box too; it shows the right can.

<RANT>
The only included accessory is a 1/8" to 1/4" screw-type adapter (*cough* Grado *cough*). These cans are around $500, not that cheap, so I expected at least a pouch to keep them from getting dust when not in use. Even low-priced Audio Technica's (CK7s, for example) come with a bag. Heck, even my $40 PortaPros came with a bag when I bought them!
</RANT>


Build-quality and looks

The AD2000s are very well built phones. The driver housings are well assembled, and the covers are strong metal honeycombs. The plastic used in some pieces is of high-quality. The only places that seem a bit weak are the 3D wings, but they're protected by the metal supports, and I really can't see anyone dropping 5 Franklins for these to toss them in backpacks and boxes with lots of junk. The cables are just right: neither so thin that they could break easily, nor so thick that they could be heavy and get in the way. Strain reliefs on the bottom of the cans will protect the cables from being bent, and the 1/8" plug looks sturdy. Overall, they will stand normal use and a some degree of abuse without problems.

I have only one word to describe their looks: "classy". They're damn beautiful! That beautiful. Actually pictures don't do justice to them. The all black finish is very sober; nothing overly shiny or flashy, and the matte-finished plastic parts have a nice feel to them. The chrome-finished pieces inside the driver casings and the golden Audio Technica logos on them give some nice contrast to the set, making for a gorgeous looking set of headphones.

Comfort

Although being a big set if cans, the AD2000s aren't very heavy. The 3D wings do a great job adjusting them to fit the owner's head and keeping them in place: they can stretch up and down, and also tilt a bit, which makes small adjustments very easy. The velour pads are very soft. Some users have reported pressure from the drivers on the ears due to the lack of internal padding, but that wasn't the case with me. Anyway, this is easily fixable by adding some internal padding (cotton blobs or some foam stripes will do). Overall I can wear them for around 4 hours straight, without having to take them out. Longer listening sessions demand breaks, though.

Sound-quality

Disclaimer: I'm not an audiophile, so the impressions are my subjective view on how they sound. Your mileage may vary.

I bought these cans for listening to my rock and metal collection. I soon discovered that they're not the best cans for those genres, which was a disappointment. There are some rock albums that sound great (mostly those with a good deal of accoustic guitars throwed in), but not all of them. The midrange is too forward, and the bass needs more "impact". Also, they're not very "fast paced" headphones, like some Grados or Alessandros. Recordings from Porcupine Tree and Blackfield sound great with them. Dream Theater, Threshold, Opeth and <complete here>-metal albums, on the other hand, need less emphasis on the mid section. Not the best cans for metal subgenres.

The AD2000s do jazz, accoustic and some electronic music really, really well. I can say I'm rediscovering my old MPB albums (Brazilian Popular Music). The midrange is lush and renders vocals (especially female vocals) in a beautiful way. Acoustic guitars sound very natural. The same goes for Jazz (at least the small collection I have). Surprisingly, the bass impact seems much better with those genres. Electronic music, although sometimes lacking bass impact, fully benefits from the deep and detailed bass response. A lot of low-frequency sound effects become more noticeable through them than any other phones or IEMs I have. Trip-hop, electronic pop, lounge-y stuff and other similar genres also sound awesome with them. Highs are there, very clean without harshness. Crystal Method's "Tweekend" has great bass slam.

Their sound is detailed. You can hear subtle notes and effects within the music (and flaws as well). This means they will shine with well recorded material, but badly recorded stuff can be unbearable to listen to -- they'll have no mercy with those recordings.

Since they're open cans, sound leakage may be an issue. The AD2000s aren't the best choice for listening to music at your job or when your partner is trying to sleep at night. Closed cans are much better for that. Although they don't isolate from external noise, it's hard to hear others talking when music is playing (at reasonable listening levels).

They have an impedance of 40 Ohms, so most DAPs should be able to drive them with no problems. That said, any improvement to the rig will reflect positively on their sound. Well ripped and encoded music will sound much better than anything ripped through WMP, for instance. A good amp will help as well: it should increase the low-end impact while keeping the mids as unaffected as possible. Here are the two combinations I tried:
  • Cowon D2 > Meier Corda Move > ATH-AD2000: good extra bass slam due to some tweaking with the Mach3Bass setting (value ranging from 6 to 8). No hiss at all.
  • iRiver SlimX iMP-550 (CD player) > Meier Corda Move > ATH-AD2000: a little more detailed, at the cost of less bass impact.

Conclusions

Are they great cans? Yes, they're truly excellent. Are they worth $500? It depends: if you want cans for genres like rock and metal, or an "all-arounder" which will play anything you throw at them, you will be able to do better for less money. On the other hand, if you listen to jazz, acoustic and electronic (loungey stuff, trip-hop and other similar sub-genres) you'll be in for a real treat; they're simply AMAZING for those genres. They play a few of my rock albums very well, but not all of them, and are said to be great for classical, although I haven't tried them with that genre.

One should be careful and evaluate both the recordings and encoding quality before hitting the "buy now" button on these: they have enough detail that they'll let you know exactly which recordings are good and which are bad, and you'll be able to hear compression artifacts with poorly encoded audio files.









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  #2  
Old 03-09-2008, 10:46 AM
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Excellent, honest review, Almoxil - thanks for the nice read!

Good thing their gorgeous technocratic looks didn't seduce me enough to pull the trigger on them - they sure don't sound like the right cans for my taste.
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Old 03-09-2008, 11:18 AM
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Thanks for your comments, dfkt! Overall I'm very happy with these cans. After them, I started buying more Brazilian MPB albums and loungey stuff , and they sound excellent. Not that I don't listen to rock and metal through them, but they don't render every rock/metal album I have well. The ESW9 "woodies", although not being as refined as the AD2000s, have punchier bass. Those are great for rock/metal.
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Old 03-09-2008, 11:24 AM
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nice review Almoxil,
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Old 03-09-2008, 11:25 AM
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As far as closed cans go, I hope a store near me gets the new Ultrasone HFI-780 next week... those sure sound like the perfect closed cans for me (at least by all the over-enthusiastic fanboy comments I read so far). They're incredibly ugly and don't look too comfortable, though. Maybe I'm gonna stick with my Beyer DT770/80 for some more time.
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Old 03-09-2008, 12:05 PM
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Wow, nice review, Almoxil.
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