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Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Review (Headphone)

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 17 10.5%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 87 53.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 43 26.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 15 9.3%

  • Total voters
    162

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Audio-Technica ATH-R70x open-back headphone. It was kindly sent to me by a member and costs US $349.
Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Review Open Back Headphone.jpg

As you see the design is unusual with those support paddles. Even though the headphone is feather-light at just 205 grams, I found them uncomfortable to wear. The left cup was not quite large enough and bothered the edges of my ear. And the paddle above it felt like it was digging a hole in my head! Most headphones fit me well so this is one of the infrequent exceptions.

The connection to the headphones are locking 2.5mm connectors with long and thin cable which worked fine.

Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

Fitment on the measurement fixture was somewhat challenging. I could not get the top of the cups to seal due to those paddles holding them back.

Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Measurements
Let's start with our usual frequency response measurements:

Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Measurements Frequency Response Open Back Headphone.png

I was pleased to see the good compliance with our target in broad region between 100 Hz and 4 kHz. This should provide good bit of neutrality. Bass is obviously lacking and we have a trough around 4.3 kHz.

Relative response shows the same:
Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Measurements Relative Frequency Response Open Back Headphone.png


Low frequency distortion was quite high:
Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Measurements THD Response Open Back Headphone.png


Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Measurements THD Relative Response Open Back Headphone.png


Given the fact that we need to boost the bass, we likely won't have a good combination at higher volumes. Speaking of volume, this is the highest impedance headphone I have measured:
Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Measurements Impedance Open Back Headphone.png


Combined with below average sensitivity means you better have a good headphone amplifier with high voltage drive:
Most efficient open back headphone review.png


Group delay was messy in multiple regions:
Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Measurements Groupo Delay Open Back Headphone.png


Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Listening Tests
Out of the box fidelity was good as measurements indicate. It is not super exciting due to lack of deep bass and highs which collapse spatial effects. Still, it is more than usable and so a good fit for people who don't have EQ capabilities around. Just two filters are necessary to get a substantial boost in performance:
Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Equalization EQ Open Back Headphone.png


With the second filter, spatial quality became above average which was nice to have. Alas the bass boost caused static sounds at higher volume levels. Normal listening is fine but just know that you don't have much headroom here.

Conclusions
The $300 price range is quite crowded with many headphones with likes of Sennheiser and Hifiman dominating. From fidelity point of view, I like them better. And they are also more comfortable for me to wear. But the fit may be different for you.

Overall, I am ambivalent about Audio-Technica ATH-R70x so won't be putting it on my recommended list.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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Merkurio

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Sweet, another “favorite” reviewed.

I was concerned about the high levels of distortion at bass from what I’ve read in other technical reviews, as well as the comfort issues, and both cases seems to be true here.

Not terrible but definitively not competitive with the HE400SE and the HD560S existing at much lower price points.
 
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solderdude

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The wing system is not working equally well for all folks. I would recommend to try before a buy.

Glad to see it doesn't have elevated treble some other models have.
 

rkt31

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One of the flattest frequency response and least EQ points. Only issue of bass distortion. There is no distortion in other frequencies. If someone is a normal volume listener then bass distortion is little concern imo. Higher impedance is a big plus with dacs/amp having high output. Have been using this with mojo 2 with tiny EQ settings almost confirming to what suggested by ASR here. +1 click of 20hz, +1 click of treble shelf and -1 click of 20khz and it is like end game, it is so clean sounding combo.
 

Jimbob54

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A fair assessment. The pads are slightly too small meaning the back edge presses on my ear flaps rather than sitting behind. These are more "on ear" than "over ear".

Inoffensive sound but really need a desktop amp and aren't priced competitively.

Anyone want to buy a pair? :rolleyes:
 

GWolfman

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Surprised it didn't get higher marks due to surprisingly good compliance. But then again, if it's not comfortable to wear then it doesn't matter how good they sound because no one would want to ever wear them.
 

Robbo99999

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I voted these as "Not Terrible", too expensive for what they offer re the measurements & design: eg bad distortion in bass and no angled drivers or pads (doesn't bode well for soundstage), channel matching not great, but frequency response looks ok in terms of relatively easy EQ albeit with the limitations in the bass re praps not being able to boost that up as much as you'd like re distortion.

A curious fact on the manufacturers website (https://www.audio-technica.com/en-gb/ath-r70x ), they say in the specs that max input power is a massive 1000mW at 1kHz! I worked out using an online calculator what 1000mW would look like for this headphone:
ATH.png

How can the specs be right saying this headphone can take in 1000mW, that's the equivalent of 22V input and 126dB - surely the headphone would blow up with that kind of input and especially given the distortion in the bass we were seeing above 94dB! Anybody got any clarifications on this, something wrong with the specs or my interpretation?
 

staticV3

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I voted these as "Not Terrible", too expensive for what they offer re the measurements & design: eg bad distortion in bass and no angled drivers or pads (doesn't bode well for soundstage), channel matching not great, but frequency response looks ok in terms of relatively easy EQ albeit with the limitations in the bass re praps not being able to boost that up as much as you'd like re distortion.

A curious fact on the manufacturers website (https://www.audio-technica.com/en-gb/ath-r70x ), they say in the specs that max input power is a massive 1000mW at 1kHz! I worked out using an online calculator what 1000mW would look like for this headphone:
View attachment 197139
How can the specs be right saying this headphone can take in 1000mW, that's the equivalent of 22V input and 126dB - surely the headphone would blow up with that kind of input and especially given the distortion in the bass we were seeing above 94dB! Anybody got any clarifications on this, something wrong with the specs or my interpretation?
1. Audio-Technica's spec is 99dB/mW or 102.3dB/Vrms.
2. Amir measured 104dB/Vrms or 100.7dB/mW.
3. Headphonesty's power calculator seems to have some issues. For example it shows that a 104dB/Vrms headphone would require 1.19Vrms to reach 104dB:
Screenshot_20220402-104101.jpg

Edit:
Doing it manually using Amir's results I get:
104+20*log10(sqrt(474))=130.75

I doubt the R70x can actually do 131dB SPL.
It should be well into its compression zone at that point.
Maybe it's just built sturdily enough to not mind that as much, so that's what AT are advertising?
 
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Robbo99999

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1. Audio-Technica's spec is 99dB/mW or 102.3dB/Vrms.
2. Amir measured 104dB/Vrms or 100.7dB/mW.
3. Headphonesty's power calculator seems to have some issues. For example it shows that a 104dB/Vrms headphone would require 1.19Vrms to reach 104dB:
View attachment 197140

Edit:
Doing it manually using Amir's results I get:
104+20*log10(sqrt(474))=130.75
I've just checked three different online power calculators and they all give the same result that I included in my last post:

And if I use the dB/mw setting then I get almost the same results with 1000mw input equating to 21.7V and 129dB. So their specs must be wrong surely, how can you put nearly 22V into this headphone and for it not to blow up, and also the 129dB is hugely loud in comparison to the bad distortion Amir has shown at the comparitively miniscule levels above 94dB.........how can this headphone just not blow up, surely their 1000mw maximum input at 1kHz must be incorrect?!

EDIT: most headphones top out at 200mw input power, but they're saying 1000mw for this headphone!?
 
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charleski

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Higher impedances are often said to do well with valved amps, why not trying this 1000 Ohm piece with such a tubed amp? Just an idea ......
That was my thought as well, some of these tube amp headphone outs are over 100ohms. It would also be a good fit for amps whose 'headphone' jack is simply padded down from the main speaker outs. Having said that, the tube amp I have has an output impedance of 49ohms but (just about) manages to drive my 18ohm planars to an acceptable level, of course it helps that planars have a flat impedance curve and so don't change their frequency response.
 

Jimbob54

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I voted these as "Not Terrible", too expensive for what they offer re the measurements & design: eg bad distortion in bass and no angled drivers or pads (doesn't bode well for soundstage), channel matching not great, but frequency response looks ok in terms of relatively easy EQ albeit with the limitations in the bass re praps not being able to boost that up as much as you'd like re distortion.

A curious fact on the manufacturers website (https://www.audio-technica.com/en-gb/ath-r70x ), they say in the specs that max input power is a massive 1000mW at 1kHz! I worked out using an online calculator what 1000mW would look like for this headphone:
View attachment 197139
How can the specs be right saying this headphone can take in 1000mW, that's the equivalent of 22V input and 126dB - surely the headphone would blow up with that kind of input and especially given the distortion in the bass we were seeing above 94dB! Anybody got any clarifications on this, something wrong with the specs or my interpretation?
There is a slight angle to the pads- the rear edge of the cup that the pads hook onto has a circa 1cm elevated edge compared to the front edge so the pads sit higher at the back than the front. Its not a huge angle and best I can tell the drivers themselves are square on in the cups, not pointed backwards.
 

Robbo99999

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There is a slight angle to the pads- the rear edge of the cup that the pads hook onto has a circa 1cm elevated edge compared to the front edge so the pads sit higher at the back than the front. Its not a huge angle and best I can tell the drivers themselves are square on in the cups, not pointed backwards.
Ah, that's a plus point then in my book....I'm almost at the point of giving them a "Fine" rating rather than "Not Terrible", but I won't change my vote due to them being quite expensive, if they were more in the budget sphere then yes.

Is this the angling you're talking about:
vsavov_180705_2719_0012.jpg

and here:
vsavov_180705_2719_0007.jpg


So it's the following part of the headphone (circled in red) that creates the angling?
ATH2.png
 

phoenixsong

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These were actually more comfortable for my smaller head and ears than many other Audio Technica winged designs which simply sagged way too low for me. I once owned this but sold them off soon after. Sounded quite even in the frequency response but a little "warm/dark", and sounded really open yet not as clear or spacious as my other headphones, which is the main reason I sold it (possibly due to the distortion?)
 

Jimbob54

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Ah, that's a plus point then in my book....I'm almost at the point of giving them a "Fine" rating rather than "Not Terrible", but I won't change my vote due to them being quite expensive, if they were more in the budget sphere then yes.

Is this the angling you're talking about:
vsavov_180705_2719_0012.jpg

and here:
vsavov_180705_2719_0007.jpg


So it's the following part of the headphone (circled in red) that creates the angling?
View attachment 197141
Correct. That edge that the pad flange hooks onto is deeper at the back than the front creating an angle.
 

Vict0r

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This thing is still rather pricey, even second hand. It goes for around $250-$300 here. In that light, and considering it's rather hard to drive, the value isn't really there. I voted "not terrible".

Funny though; I see quite a few subjective reviews online praising its "deep bass extension" and "immersive spatial qualities". Some of them rank it higher than a HD600/HD650. Opinions, eh? :D
 
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