Instead of an introduction, I’ll tell you a little story. I love over- ear headphones . Most often I had to deal with open (or semi-open) mid-range headphones from Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser and Grado. The first two German companies are mainly represented in this segment by professional headphones. American Grados are more focused on listening to music than on working with it. About 4 years ago, I noticed Audio-Technica ATH-R70X – another open model of the “Professional Open-Back Reference Headphones” level. At that time, due to circumstances, I never had a chance to get to know the ATH-R70X better. After that, these headphones disappeared from stores for a very long time.
And just recently, ATH-R70X again appeared on sale, which, of course, I was delighted with. And this time I did not hesitate any longer and immediately took these headphones for review for two reasons. First, I love Audio-Technica’s over-ear headphones . Secondly, according to official information, ATH-R70X are the first open professional headphones in the history of the company. Isn’t that enough to get to know the model better?
- Type of a design: full-size open;
- Driver type: dynamic;
- Speaker Size: 45mm;
- Resistance: 470 Ohm;
- Sensitivity: 99 dB;
- Frequency range: 5-40000 Hz;
- Removable cable, unbalanced – 3.5 mm, length 3 m;
- Weight (without cable): 210 g
Packaging and equipment
Audio-Technica ATH-R70X headphones come in a large, and much larger than the headphones themselves, cardboard box. On top is a dust jacket made of thin white cardboard with a profile photo of the ATH-R70X. On the reverse side – general information, including technical specifications. The box states that the headphones are made in Japan. Under the white dust jacket is the main box made of black cardboard. In my version, a hologram was glued on the top end of this box: Audio-Technica Ukraine. The packaging, despite its size, looks quite reliable.
Inside the box, the headphones are placed in foam protection (or foam rubber) glued onto a cardboard base. At the bottom of this base, in separate cardboard compartments, there are: a removable cable and a soft storage case, reminiscent of velor in material. The cable is three meters, relatively rigid, connected to both bowls. It terminates with a 3.5mm straight plug and attaches to the headphones with a twist lock system like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x . Also included is a threaded adapter from 3.5 to 6.3 mm. This is where the accessories end. The kit is not the most generous, but everything you need is there.
Design and ergonomics
Audio-Technica ATH-R70X stands out from many other models. With their appearance, the headphones remind me of something futuristic. And given the perforated metal arc and two “legs” that lie on the head when putting on headphones, they may well pass for an apparatus for studying brain activity or something like that. All these are jokes, but the design of the headphones is really original. The ear cups are round and covered with a mesh with a large number of small hexagons on the outside. The ear cushions are filled with filler and are made of combined materials – probably eco-leather (puts on the headphones) and black soft fabric (adjacent to the ears).
A thin metal headband with slots (perforation) in the form of rectangles with rounded edges has no upholstery. Instead, a system of two springy “legs” is used on the right and left sides. Under the left “foot” is the inscription – Japan – and this inscription is clearly visible. As you remember, it is Japan that is indicated as the place of production of headphones. But the labeling of the right and left channels is very difficult to find. It is located on the inner mount of the bowls and is indicated by black letters R and L on a black background. As a result, I was guided by the Japan inscription above the left bowl.
Probably, these design features are related to the manufacturer’s desire to lighten the weight of the ATH-R70X. Indeed, given the model’s size, the ATH-R70X are some of the lightest over-ear headphones I’ve ever heard. Their downforce is not the greatest. However, the earbuds stayed securely on the head. Soft, tactilely pleasant ear cushions and low weight allowed you to stay in the headphones for a long time. For me, the ATH-R70X proved to be one of the most comfortable over-ear headphones.
The Audio-Technica ATH-R70X headphones are labeled “Professional Open-Back Reference Headphones”. That is, they are primarily designed for use with studio equipment. In addition, the resistance of 470 ohms, as it were, hints at the pointlessness of connecting to low-power sources. And this must be taken into account. After all, some players, all kinds of bluetooth receivers , portable amplifiers, and even more so smartphones, simply cannot “rock” the ATH-R70X. I used stationary systems as the main sources: Denon Ceol N10 and FiiO K5Pro . The headphones are open, there is no sound isolation, which must be taken into account when choosing the R70X.
“Precise and natural sounding” is how the company defines the sound of the ATH-R70X. And looking ahead, I will say that this is not just a standard advertising slogan. The headphones build a good stage width, although not the largest. On the other hand, there is no such synthetic sounding, which some models sometimes sin, chasing a wide stage and excessive detailing. Naturalness, which is not always enough for other open headphones, the ATH-R70X really worked out at a decent level. The stage is a little distant from the listener, there is a sense of space.
The “openness” of the headphones did not go to the detriment of the bass sound. The bass is delivered relatively evenly and accurately. It does not go into the very depths, but is outlined and has a corporality. At times, a slightly softened pitch was felt at low frequencies, which slightly affected the readability of this range – sometimes I wanted to add a little sharpness and analyticity. I do not rule out that this is a special case. For lovers of increased bass, the R70X is hardly suitable; it is quantitatively moderate here, although it is heard everywhere. Headphones can be a good choice for music with “live” low-frequency instruments.
This range in the R70X is not so much a failure as it is not highlighted. Mids are neutral and natural. The sound is detailed, but without going into dry analytics or micro-detail. Vocals, both male and female, sound natural. At the same time, headphones are not very suitable for vocal genres, since vocals, in most cases, are not highlighted.
HF are present in sufficient quantity and well developed. Their sound is natural, but devoid of brightness and sharpness. On the one hand, some details may slip away, on the other hand, such presentation allows you to listen to music for a long time without overwork. If it were necessary to characterize the ATH-R70X’s high frequencies in two words, then I would choose the phrase – calm presentation.
I have been waiting for the opportunity to get to know the Audio-Technica ATH-R70X better and it turned out to be not in vain. The model is really interesting. The original design, light weight, thoughtful ergonomics, detachable cable are the clear advantages of the ATH-R70X. But the main thing, after all, is the sound. In my opinion, the sound delivery of the headphones is quite universal.
They can be used both in the professional field (subject to certain features) and for listening to music. Personally, I love the headphones, they combine technicality and a pleasant, moderately musical presentation. While the ATH-R70X may not be new, it will remain the first open professional headphone in Audio-Technica’s history. Therefore, when choosing open headphones of the middle price range, I recommend, among other things, to pay attention to the Audio-Technica ATH-R70X.