For the uninitiated, Audio Technica is a major Japanese brand and audio product manufacturer. Their proficiency in the field is made evident by the fact that the Grammy Awards use audio products manufactured by them for their events. They celebrated their 50th anniversary about a year ago and commemorated the event with the launch of a new range of headphones, of which the flagship from the line-up is the Audio Technica ATH-W3000ANV that we have for scrutiny today.
When it comes to giving the ATH-W3000ANV a premium feel, Audio Technica seems to have spared no expense. Each pair of headphones has its own unique serial number and there are only 2000 such products worldwide. The headphones we tried were also delivered in a sturdy, hard case with a clasp. It must however be noted that the actual retail packaging does not include it. The hard case can be purchased for an additional S$168 outlay.
Drawing on their history and legacy spanning across their half century of operations, Audio Technica has chosen Hokkaido Asada cherry hardwood finished with traditional Echizen lacquer for the construction of the ear-cups. The wood is known to have a warm tone with a sharp, piquant attack and we are definitely looking forward to seeing how it sounds when presented with our usual test suite.
The ATH-W3000ANV has a typical Audio Technica design. Noticeable by its absence, the headphones do not sport a headband. Instead, it is replaced with individual left/right pads for head-rests which adjust according to the size of your head. Ear cushions are made from Spanish lambskin.
On the whole, we were quite impressed with the aesthetics of these Audio Technica headphones. The dark brown and chocolate color scheme compliments the cherry hardwood gorgeously and the bare-bone, skeletal support structure makes sure that the lacquered ear-cups are the prime attraction.
If you are worried that the ATH-W3000ANV would be all style and no substance, your fears should be allayed by the fact that the headphones are equipped with 53mm drivers and have a frequency response of 5Hz to 42,000Hz. Both numbers befit this headphone’s billing as a premium product. Impedance for the headphones is 40 Ohms and you can hook up the cans via the gold plated 6.35mm jack. It must also be noted that the drivers utilize permendur magnets as opposed to the new-age neodymium magnets, further serving as a representative of Audio Technica’s history.
In addition, the product also comes with noise isolation (also sometimes referred to as 'passive noise canceling technology').
Seeing that there is no headband to speak of, adjustment options are different on the Audio Technica ATH-W3000ANV. By right the swivel of the ear-cups and the 'floating' head-pads should respond to the shape of your head to provide a comfortable fit. Unfortunately in practice, that was not the case. We found that the head-pads rested too lightly without adequate support on the top of the head, thus making the ear-cups clamp tightly. If you are used to traditional headbands, it will likely take a few hours for you to get used to the head-pad design which initially felt like tongs were gripping our head.
The choice for Spanish lambskin cannot be faulted. The cushioning for the ear-cups is immaculately soft and supple. Strangely enough, even though the headphones have 53mm drivers, we found the ear-cups to be small and shallow. In fact we even felt a pinch or two during our testing which was quite unexpected. Seeing that the headphones are intended for a dedicated listening experience, these faults with fit and comfort detract from the otherwise excellent design of the product.