Last week we introduced you to Audio Technica's ATH-W5000s -- a £700 pair of closed-back headphones for serious audiophiles. They stepped up to Denon's AH-D5000s with not only a remarkably similar name, but also the intention of dethroning the Denon's from their status as 'Favourite Crave headphones'. The AT's will need some big cojones to make that challenge, so we decided to do an extensive, trousers-down investigation.
The W5000s offer wooden enclosures, a frequency response of 5Hz-45kHz, 102 dB/mW sensitivity, 40 ohms impedance, 53mm drivers and a neodymium magnet. In addition, 3m gold-tipped, oxygen-free cabling helps ensure excellent delivery of sound to the sensitive drivers. We're used to these specifications in high-end cans, but what always differs is comfort and sound quality.
Although the W5000s are certainly comfortable, the D5000s are more so. We borrowed three audio fans' heads from the Crave office to decide between the two, and the D5000s were unanimously declared to be the most enjoyable to wear.
Bear in mind we're operating on first impressions here -- our full review after exhaustive listening and testing will be with you next week -- but we're pleased so far with the performance from these cans. Immediately, the W5000s demonstrate their strengths with clarity, high-frequency emphasis and an enjoyable mid-range, making them undeniably capable of conveying blistering detail.
Yet despite AT's patented 'Double Air Damping System', we feel the low-end performance was less prominent. It's an extremely clear bass, full of beefiness in the mid- and upper-bass, but that low-end rumble doesn't deliver the skull-shaking, club-mimicking explosiveness needed by bass nuts. This won't be an issue, we feel, to many listeners, but if you crave more boom for your buck, you may well prefer Denon's bass-heavy D5000s.
Overall, the W5000s deliver a crystal-clear sound with a fairly warm voice, but noticeable emphasis in the treble. Expect the full lowdown next week when our review drops, but the 'phones are on sale now for around £700.
Until the review's ready, feel free to check out our round-up of high-end heaphones, our article about why lossless audio is important (we're looking at you, iTunes shoppers) and of course, our review of two high-end headphone favourites: Denon's AH-D5000s and Sennheiser's open-backed HD 650s.
May peace and massaged ear drums be with you. -Nate Lanxon
Update: Read our full Audio Technica ATH-W5000 headphones review.