Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000

Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000

Overview

The ATH-ADX5000 is the flagship open back headphone from Audio-Technica. As on of their top end models it is hand assembled in Japan. It features a 58mm Tungsten coated diaphragm driver. 

In the box

  • Carrying Case
  • 1/4″ 3m cable
  •  Headphones
  • Paperwork

Build quality and accessories

Build quality is very impressive, the headphones feel super light and yet extremely sturdy, the magnesium frame provides enough rigidity to not feel flimsy. The pattern on the cups has no sharp edges, all the materials are good quality. The case is something I’d like all manufacturers to incorporate at this price point, not only it’s useful if travelling or moving but it’s an amazing accessory to keep the headphones.

The cable however isn’t great, it’s stiff and due to very rare connectors, quite difficult to replace. Also a balanced cable should be provided at this price point.

Fit and comfort

The fit is very good, the headphones are one of the lightest I’ve used. At 270g the clamp force practically holds them on the head. Stock pads are a bit shallow and my ears would just touch the inner structure, however, with ZMF auteur suede pads this was a non issue.

Sound

With stock pads the sound leans towards bright, dry and analytical. Extremely detailed but slightly artificial.
With ZMF auteur swede pads it is more towards neutral with a touch of warm tilt in the bass. More natural but sacrificing a bit of detail.

Bass

Biggest drawback of this headphone, the bass with stock pads sounds quite anemic and subdued, it’s very clear because of the clear contrast between the bass and midrange/treble. On songs like “Infected Mushroom – Flamingo” the subbass lacks impact and feels quite slow (especially the decay) giving it a bit of a mushy characteristic. 

With ZMF pads the bass quantity increased and it no longer felt as lacking, however the technical performance still stayed sub par.

Midrange

Extremely detailed and clear, each sound has a texture to it. “Postmodern jukebox – Drunk in Love” gives a very good vocal presence while also presenting the minute details of the piano in the background. Instruments have a very good timbre, edging on being analytical and dry in case of stock.

With ZMF pads the midrange gains a bit of musicality and lushness to it.
The revealing nature of this headphone doesn’t however spare badly recorded music, “Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Stadium Arcadium” album is not very enjoyable to listen to as all of the compression is brought forward. 

Treble

Yet again extremely detailed and clear, with slightly unnatural transient response that feels too “rigid” and can render the sound a bit aggressive on tracks with a lot of cymbals. The notes sound crisp and even minute details are quite forward which can be both good or bad depending on the quality of the recording and master. The treble presentation is quite airy without a single hint of congestion even on the busiest of mixes like “Caravan Palace – Dramophone”.

With ZMF pads the treble gets a bit rolled off, which I believe for most people is a good thing as it can be to aggressive and bright with stock pads.

Imaging and Soundstage

Average soundstage width with very good depth. The images within the stage are very precise, the center image presents just a touch forward from the center of the head. The stage increases when using the ZMF pads while keeping most of the imaging accuracy.

Conclusion

At £1999 MSRP this headphone is hard to recommend, the bass performance doesn’t justify this sort of price point. It feels as if this headphone was made out of two different headphones, one that can deliver extreme detail and one which delivers average bass.  However if the crispy and detailed midrange and treble are what you’re looking for this is a great contender, even though I’d still recommend looking for a second hand pair at closer to a price of £1200. 

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