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Pomfinator

A Look at the Audio-Technica AD1000x and AD2000x

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Posted · Original PosterOP

First some official shots

product_000833_0001.jpgq2NJ6Nw.jpg

Disclaimer: I bought the AD2000x at a very discounted price of 39,420JPY, or about ~330USD, which may color my impression, since it is a mere 30 dollars more then my AD1000x.

post-41532-0-16400100-1421983389_thumb.j

 

Introduction

Audio-Technica’s Air Dynamic line of headphones has become quite popular these last couple of years.  The AD700 held a cult-like following with gamers, and the release of the ADx-series has catapulted this sleeping Japanese giant into the the limelight.  The AD500x, 700x, and 900x are all popular suggestions to people who want good sound without breaking the budget, and are popular among gamers for a wide soundstage.  However, two of the ADx line of headphones are often overlooked, the AD1000x and Audio-Technica's flaship open-back headphone, the AD2000x.

 

I’m going to preface this by saying I have not spent an equal amount of time with these two headphones, I’ve owned the AD1000x for about a year now and the AD2000x for a couple of weeks.  This is not a comprehensive review, merely my thoughts on them.  I don’t claim to have good hearing and the music I listen to is definitely not up to any sort of “audiophile” standard.  And as such I will not be giving any score, in fact this impression might not even make any sense, but I shall persevere. I have a tendency to ramble, if this were a school paper I'd probably far exceed the word limit by now, but I digress.

 

The Box

If you’ve ever unboxed an ADx headphone, you’ve unboxed them all really.  If you’ve had a 500x/700x, just imagine a door in front of the plastic window with some marketing lines written on it.  If you’ve had a 900x, it’s the exact same experience.  This is a bit disappointing in the case of the AD2000x since it normally retails for a street price of around $500.  But in the end it’s just a box, and it survived the plane trip to Hong Kong as well as back to my house, so it worked at least.

 

The 3-digit Trio vs the 4-digit Duo

There are a number of things that differentiate the 2 big boys from their little brothers.  The big boys have an unremovable dual-cable design instead of a single unremovable cable, which is pretty normal in terms of higher-end headphones.  Another major difference is that while the 500x/700x/900x all feature angled drivers as well as angled earcups, the 1000x/2000x only have angled earcups, and as a result the aluminum honeycomb on the outside is completely flat.  Fortunately the drivers don’t touch your ear like they did on the previous models, most likely to do with the new ADx-series earpad design.  Lastly they did not cheap out on the cable like the 500x/700x/900x, it doesn’t tangle easily and has the metal end with an included screw-on adaptor for 1/4in plug.

 

post-41532-0-40221500-1421983403_thumb.jpost-41532-0-36359600-1421983558_thumb.j

 

In terms of the driver, there is debate whether or not the ADx refresh actually upgraded the drivers on the lower models, as some have attributed the slightly better bass with the difference in earpad material.  However, the 1000x and 2000x are the only two in the ADx-series that have been confirmed to have an upgraded driver from the older models.  The diffuser has been changed a little, as you can see from the picture, the fins come out diagonally rather than straight, supposedly this reduces air turbulence.  As far as people can work out, the actual diaphram and voice coil of both drivers is exactly the same, the only difference is in the AD2000x, the magnet is made from permendur, a soft iron-cobalt blend that's supposedly the bee's knees for use in a driver.  Audio-Technica's flagship headphones often feature permendur, the AD2000x, A2000x, W5000, and CKM1000 are the ones I know of.

post-41532-0-59973700-1421983416_thumb.j

 

And most importantly the 1000x and 2000x are manufactured in Japan, evident by the large “JAPAN MADE” logos on the box and the Made in Japan sticker/etching on the headphones.

post-41532-0-45031500-1421983421_thumb.jpost-41532-0-15378600-1421983424_thumb.j


 

Appearance

If I held up these two headphones, told you to stand about 10-feet away and then see if you could tell the difference, you would probably give up after a few minutes.  However, closer inspection will reveal that there are actual quite a few visual and material differences between the two.

post-41532-0-85886000-1421983406_thumb.j

 

The 1000x has a completely black driver and a silver Audio-Technica logo

post-41532-0-59973700-1421983416_thumb.j

 

The 2000x has a chrome finish around the driver and a gold Audio-Technica logo

post-41532-0-42877300-1421983419_thumb.j

 

The 1000x has a magnesium frame but a mostly plastic outer-construction, with rubber surrounding the suspension bars

post-41532-0-84377000-1421983413_thumb.j

 

The 2000x has a mostly magnesium-alloy outer-construction, replacing the rubber-covered bars with thin magnesium uncovered ones.

post-41532-0-31386800-1421983411_thumb.j

 

Comfort

Audio-Technica is (in)famous for it’s proprietary 3D-Wing system, which employs 2 “wings” to grab onto the top of your head and letting the headphone sort of float on your head.  I’ll be the first to admit, despite my fanboyism, that it’s not for everyone.  The system relies on a sufficient amount of clamping force to be applied to the upper jaw area to stay on your head.  The elastic trick does work, but IMO, if you need the elastic to wear these headphones you should just stay far away.  It fits me just fine though, and I find that these are very glasses-friendly headphones.  The clamping force, like I mentioned previously, is usually centered around your upper jaw, not directly around your ear.  This does give the headphone a weird upward tilt when you’re using it, and that does mean that you will feel like it’s falling off until you get used to it.  It’s great for glasses however since it will not press your glasses nearly as much into your skull.

 

There’s nothing much to say about the AD1000x comfort.  The earpads with their fabric-suede material is fairly supple, and while the foam is a little firm, it’s not rock hard.  It will get warm, but not uncomfortably so, my ears certainly didn’t sweat.

 

But...man the AD2000x.  The biggest disappointment with these cans were the comfort.  And it has everything to do with the earpads.  The earpads are soft foam, which is good, covered in a silky-smooth suede that does feel very nice to the touch.  But my god are they itchy, and seems to have a random temperature mood.  Sometimes it’s nice and cool and other times it’s like my ears are in a furnace.  But that’s not the worst of it.

 

post-41532-0-69343100-1421983398_thumb.jpost-41532-0-04972100-1421983401_thumb.j

On the left is the AD1000x, and on the right is the AD2000x

 

If you take a look at the two shots above, you can notice that there is a slight difference in the shape of the area where your ear goes.  If you didn’t notice it, I don’t blame you, it’s easier felt than seen.  But while the earpad appears round in both models, they both have an “oval” shape because let’s face it, your ear is not round.  Imagine for a moment the shape of an upright egg.  That is the shape of the AD1000x earpads, now imagine what would happen if you rotated that egg 90 degrees right.  You see the problem now? For some reason, the engineers at Audio-Technica thought that our ears lay on their side on our head.  The result is a that my ear ever so slightly touches the top wall of the earpad, and over time it becomes really painful.  I realized this was why I was having comfort problems when I was browsing through the ADx-series thread on Head-Fi.  At first they believed it to be a fluke, but when multiple people did come out and say that the earpads were indeed uncomfortable and they had replaced them with alternatives, it was no manufacturing defect.

 

This is a grave, grave oversight by Audio-Technica and I really hope they realize this and fix it in later revisions on the product, but it seems nobody has gotten the word yet since my specific headphone was manufactured in October, 2014.  Fortunately, transplanting the AD1000x pads onto the 2000x fixed all of the problems and I’ve ordered a pair of new pads from Audio-Technica USA.  I have no way of returning the 2000x anyway, since I bought it physically in Japan.  I think I’m gonna shoot an email to Audio-Technica and hopefully they’ll read it.

 

All right...phew, cool down.  Rant is over now...lemme drink some water.

post-41532-0-20989900-1421984097.jpg

And show you how silly I look with headphones on.

 

Sound

Unfortunately, I have not owned a pair of lower ADx headphones, and my only experience with them is in a noisy store floor in Japan, so I’ll direct y'all to Lachlanlikesathing, aka a_recording on Head-Fi, though he is now retired from the site for good reasons.  He has a video about the 900x and 1000x, and a comprehensive writeup comparing these two headphones to the Sony MA900 on Head-Fi as well.  While I did come to the same conclusions even after listening in a noisy environment, it’s better to have an opinion from proper use of the cans  The links are below.

 

Writup: http://www.head-fi.org/t/654161/review-comparison-ath-ad900x-vs-ath-ad1000x-vs-mdr-ma900-its-still-over-900

 

AD900x

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-ycSwl5y84

AD1000x

 

If you don’t want to watch or read the comparisons.  I’ll quickly summarize that compared to the rest of the ADx line, the 4-digit boys offer a similar sound, Audio-Technica’s house-sound as many like to call it.  Not a ton of bass, forward mids, and sparkle in the treble.  However the 4-digit boys are ironically more colored than their little brothers, and have a particular emphasis on the upper bass, which give them a very punchy, fast bass, and on the upper mids, which really brings out female vocals.  The non-angled drivers also make the 1000x/2000x a more intimate experience, they have a smaller soundstage but the soundstage is less diffuse with more of a sense of 3D space. If you're looking for a V-shaped can, turn around and walk away, the bass is good, fast, and extends surprisingly well, but it isn't dominant.

 

Now to compare the 1000x and the 2000x.  All of my listening on these cans are done on Windows 8.1 in Foobar.  I have an ROG Hero, which means it’s a Realtek ALC1150 with SupremeFX.  I also have a Mayflower Objective 2 driving the headphones, which is more for convenience than anything else.

 

My general consensus is this, the AD1000x and AD2000x are very, very, very, VERY similar.  And fortunately very well suited for my particular tastes in music.

 

Both the 1000x and 2000x shine the best with songs that have stringed instruments, and more importantly female vocals, specifically, Japanese female vocals.

 

Surprised it’s so specific? You shouldn’t be, Audio-Technica is a giant in Japan.  It along with Sony make up a huge market share in the Japanese personal audio space, where obviously the main thing that people listen to is J-pop and classical.  That particular emphasis on the upper mids is probably the biggest reason why this is the case.  

 

Female singers in Western countries tend to have the most power right smack in the middle of the mid-range, but IMO, the majority of Japanese singers are most powerful right where the emphasis is, in the upper mid-range.  The fast, punchy bass is also very well suited to faster styles of EDM, which is the basis of today’s modern Electro-Pop.  But all gives way to the powerful female vocals of the song.  In a way, these cans are very aggressive, but never harsh.  One of the differences I was able to discern between the 900x and the 1000x in the noisy store floor was that certain aggressive electronic lines became very sibilant and harsh on the 900x, which was one of the reasons why I eventually bought the 1000x in 2013.

 

And finally, the difference between the big cojones and the little cajones.  Well first lets get power out of the way, my O2 is definitely overkill for these headphones, they are both 40ohms and have 100+ db/mW of sensitivity, I can drive them just fine on both my Nexus 5 and iPhone 6.  As far as loudness goes, the 2000x is a little bit more sensitive than the 1000x.  And as far as signature goes, they are exactly the same...

 

dramatic-pause.jpg

 

Except the 2000x’s mids are even more forward and even more pronounced.  It’s very slight, but it’s enough for me to invoke what made the AD2000 famous among its owners. “Magic mids.” Something about that slight bump just makes female vocals become magical. It’s as if the singer is right there, and she’s being illuminated by her own voice.  

 

If you don't really understand, here's my visual example (pls dont judge)

post-41532-0-45576300-1421985309_thumb.p

Also fuck Nagisa, Chieri is the best girl.

 

Because of the "magic mids," the AD1000x actually sounds laid-back in comparison to the AD2000x. It's like two sides of the same coin, one is in your face and hogs the spotlight, while the other is subtle, but just as sublime. And frankly I should have expected that, the design of the AD1000x is much more conservative, with it's all black driver, silver logo, and rubberized bars. The AD2000x screams "LOOK AT ME!" with it's chrome-finish and elegant metal build. It's not all good though, there are times where I do prefer the more laid-back signature of the 1000x.

 

It's ironic that the upper-tier ADx headphones are more colored than the lower-tier ones, and even more ironic that the flagship, TOTL model is the most colored of them all. And apparently the AD2000 were even more colored, the x-refresh dialed it back a bit. But in the end, the AD2000x is still a "better" headphone. It's direction is more clear, more precise. It's not a headphone that everyone will like, but it does things outside it's comfort-zone reasonably well and when it does shine, it shines brilliantly. The AD1000x may be a little better at all-rounding, but it's still only 99% of the headphone the AD2000x is. And I guess that's what you pay for in the 2000x, that last 1% to bring you to it's land of magic.

 

Standouts in my library included:

 

CLICK - ClariS, from the album PARTY TIME (I have the Mora.jp version, which is much better mastered then the CD)

Fuyu ga Kureta Yokan - BiBi (Nanjou Yoshino, Pile, Tokui Sora), from Love Live!

A/Z - Mizuki, Aldnoah Zero End Theme

BRE@TH//LESS - Kobayashi Miya, from Aldnoah Zero Original Soundtrack

Violin Sonata No. 9 (Kreutzer) Movement No. 1 - Shinohara Yuuna, Kawachi Eriko, from Your Lie in April

i Love - azusa, Amagami SS Opening Theme (IMO one of the best mastered anisongs in a while)

Chase the world - May’n, Accel World Opening Theme

Snow Promenade - P∴Rhythmatiq, from P∴Rhythmatiq Act. 01

We’ll Be Okay (Part 2) - Finish Ticket, from Shake A Symphony (probably the only male vocal song here)

Beautiful World -PLANiTb Acoustica Mix- - Utada Hikaru, from Evangelion 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance Soundtrack

 

Conclusion

And now, let's get back to reality. That's it really, the extra money is for the permendur (soft iron-cobalt) magnetic circuitry and the extra bump in the mids.  It doesn’t sound like much, but it was enough to convince me that the AD2000x is a great headphone. However, I must take into account the price for people who can't exactly visit Japan and buy it for the price I got it at. The AD1000x is a $300 headphone, which is already a lot for someone not used to spending $470 on a diamond USB cable (wink wink nudge nudge), but I think it's definitely worth the extra money over the AD900x, maybe not double the price but it's a noticeable enough increase in listening pleasure to warrant a price increase (when the 900x was about $200 the 1000x was better value). But at nearly $500, the AD2000x isn't exactly the best deal, paying $200 more for that extra 1% probably is not the greatest idea.  The price has also risen on Amazon Japan to about 54,000 yen so using a forwarding service isn't that cheap right now either.

 

I’ll end with this, I should’ve been satisfied with the AD1000x, it’s 99% of the headphone the AD2000x is.  But like many things in life, there are things you should buy, and things you just want to own.  I wanted to own the AD2000x, this headphone was not a rational purchase, but rather an emotional one.  And despite some bumps, I don’t regret it.

 

P.S. I almost was lured away to the Sennheiser Mustard Race...because of this:

post-41532-0-23070500-1421983307_thumb.j

At current exchange rates this is about $850, second hand...I was so tempted.


AD2000x Review  Fitear To Go! 334 Review

Speakers - KEF LSX

Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, Kumitate Labs KL-Lakh

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Nice review, the price tag on this headphone is a bit too high for me to justify adding to my headphone collection right now. However I am looking for open headphones at the moment, I'm most likely going to nab a AKG K 701 next.


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Posted · Original PosterOP

Nice review, the price tag on this headphone is a bit too high for me to justify adding to my headphone collection right now. However I am looking for open headphones at the moment, I'm most likely going to nab a AKG K 701 next.

In Mio white? :D


AD2000x Review  Fitear To Go! 334 Review

Speakers - KEF LSX

Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, Kumitate Labs KL-Lakh

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In Mio white? :D

Indeed, Miophones soon. 


Like watching Anime? Consider joining the unofficial LTT Anime Club Heaven Society~ ^.^
Open Giveaways: None at the moment!
Closed Giveaways: [Giveaway #1]LTT Forum Wide Giveaway | [Giveaway #2]LTT Forum Wide Giveaway | [Giveaway #1]Heaven Society Anime Club Giveaway | [Giveaway #2]Heaven Society Anime Club Giveaway

 

 

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Great review, eh, impression! B)  Nicely done, I have the AD700X which is a totally different 'beast' from the two you'd written about. Been looking at an ATH-W1000Z, kinda undecided about it due to the AD700X being too light, for my liking, in the bass department. Afraid it'd follow this signature sound....I've since put it aside for a while as I've just won a bid for an AKG K812. :wub:


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Damn, brilliant review! Thanks for posting your thoughts

 

I'd love to give them a go. That female vocal focus sounds awesome. 


Bleigh!  Ever hear of AC series? 

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The $850 HD800 is about what they go for used here in the US, got my pair for $900 off head-fi.

I really loved them, and they're dam near perfect, but I sold them to buy other things for my PC, and a different pair of headphones that competes with them VERY well, the AKG K712.

They're extreeemely similar, the HD800 has a bit smoother treble to my ears, and is more comfortable, but seeing as I got the k712's for $265, I'd take those anyday.

 

I started off with 900x's in my "audio career" I really loved those headphones, but I'm glad I kept searching til I found what I liked most.


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fellow AD2000X user here, and somewhat audio-technicaXbeyer fanboy. Gonna chime in a little bit.
The permendur circuitry is used to reduce the amount of treble, knowing that most AT headphones has super sparkly and shimmery highs.
Though i dont agree that this headphone is colored. from my pairing with neutral amp, it has almost perfect neutral coloration. At first listen, people think that the headphone is midrangey and has a dark tone with sparkle ( kinda like the HE400), but thats not the case, The harmonic distortion in the midrange(mostly vocals) are so low that boosting volume will not make the sound go south or north of neutral.
in a way these headphones sound like you're in a blob of water of vocals in the stratosphere...


When 2 things meet each other, Quantum stuff happens.

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Quick question, I have a chance to land the ATH AD2000 at about 280usd, worth getting?

Edit: Never mind, I went for it!


Rig 1: Intel i7 3960X | Asus R4E | 16GB Corsair Dom Plat 2133mhz | 2x Gigabyte RX VEGA 64 Gaming OC (CrossFire) | Oppo HA-1 + KRK Rokit5 G3 | Caselabs M8 | Seasonic X-1250 | Leopold FC660C + Logitech G502 |Acer XR341CK 21:9 Freesync | 64bit Win10 Pro

Rig 2: Intel i7 4770K | ASRock Z87 Extreme6 | 16GB RipJawsX 2133mhz | PowerColor Radeon VII 16GB HBM | iFi Micro iDSD BL + KRK Rokit5 G3 | Tt View 31 | Enermax 1500 MAX Revo | KBT Race II MX Blue + Armaggeddon SRO-05 Havoc III | Samsung C49HG90DME 49" 32:9 | 64bit Win10 Pro

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Nice! Tell me what you think of it when you get it.

Will do, but it may not be so soon though. I will be getting it, together with a couple of other higher end cans, too many shiny new toys to play with.

Rig 1: Intel i7 3960X | Asus R4E | 16GB Corsair Dom Plat 2133mhz | 2x Gigabyte RX VEGA 64 Gaming OC (CrossFire) | Oppo HA-1 + KRK Rokit5 G3 | Caselabs M8 | Seasonic X-1250 | Leopold FC660C + Logitech G502 |Acer XR341CK 21:9 Freesync | 64bit Win10 Pro

Rig 2: Intel i7 4770K | ASRock Z87 Extreme6 | 16GB RipJawsX 2133mhz | PowerColor Radeon VII 16GB HBM | iFi Micro iDSD BL + KRK Rokit5 G3 | Tt View 31 | Enermax 1500 MAX Revo | KBT Race II MX Blue + Armaggeddon SRO-05 Havoc III | Samsung C49HG90DME 49" 32:9 | 64bit Win10 Pro

Rig 3:  Intel i7 2600K | Asus Z67 Maximus IV Gene-Z  | 16GB RipJawsX 1600mhz | Leadtek GTX1080 Hurricane OC | Mobo optical + Samsung N650 soundbar | | Fractal | Corsair HX1050 | Logitech G613 + G603 Wireless  | Panasonic 65" 4K TV | 64bit Win10 Home

 

 

 

 

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I'll be ordering the AD2000x tomorrow along with the Oppo HA-2. I think that'll be a nice match. I'm very excited! The first song I'll be listening to is Blumenkranz from Kill la Kill. I'm sure that'll sound amazing on them.  :)

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