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Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Review (Headphone)

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 17 10.4%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 88 53.7%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 44 26.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 15 9.1%

  • Total voters
    164

rkt31

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I had hd650 but sold in favour of r70x , reason too much clamping pressure by hd650, closed in sound with too much mid bass. Very surprising that people found r70x uncomfortable fit. It's one of the lightest open back around but that does not mean build is poor. To me only the swiveling joint is a weak point. I have no problem with wing system as weight of headphones is so low. It is far more musical than hd650 due to more balance approach than hd650. As someone pointed out distortion in bass is very similar to hd650 and better than hd650 in treble. Imo one can use it as his only audiophile headphones it is so good due to very balanced and flat fr.
 

PeteL

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The Audio Technica wing system is one of those things that either works for you or doesn't, you really have to try it to know. Some hate it but others love it.
I love the R70x, it's lightweight, comfortable and has a nice, pretty well balanced sound signature. It needs an amplifier to go loud but you don't need that much power if you avoid going loud. They're not cheap, but in today's headphone market they are not outlandishly expensive either.
A-T has been moving away from that wings system on their new headphones, obviously that don't mean they would discontinue all headphones using it. Personally It feels ok on my head, but I can't say it's a great idea. It's physics 101. Relying solely on spring pressure and a fixed radial shape to comply to all head shape or size is doomed to produce different results. I guess it's the Idea of automatic adjustment vs user adjustment. Custom makes a lot more sense. And to be honest it's not like it's a great looking feature neither, kinda break the Feng Shui if you ask me.
 
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Jimbob54

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I've had the R70x for about half a year now, so I'll share some of my impressions thus far. Hopefully this won't get too meandering.

From the get-go, there's the same main issues as Amir listed: Comfort and Bass extension. I solved my personal issues with both using different Ear Pads.

Comfort:

Amazingly light, great foundation for long wear periods. Thankfully, I quite like the springed arm design as it helps prevent any soreness compared to a traditional headband. My HE400se pair, even though well padded (and admittedly substantially heavier), can cause a quite the sore spot after a while. The design avoids the Parietal Ridge, and the accompanying pressure that often is exerted there. I did have the paddles poke my head once or twice, but have learned to look and make sure they are level and not at some odd angle.

Ear pads seem to be the main issue cited for these headphones. Size skirts being almost as small as on-ear, but not quite as big as over-ear. Ear folding is likely necessary with the stock pads. Right away, this was my biggest issue with the R70x. So I set about trying other pads. It's quite easy to destroy the slightly warm, and for me enjoyable, tonality. Not as ridiculously so as say the HD6xx family or the K550/K553s, but still a challenge. The go-to Shure SRH-1540 and SRH-940s were the first I tried, and are decent options, but personally I didn't like the fit or the sound. I settled on a pair of M50x Choice Hybrids from Dekoni. These are oval, so some minor fiddling is needed to get them positioned correctly. On the R70x they are shortened some in height, but they still have increased inner height compared to the stock pair. For me, no more ear folding or pressure. What's more, they sound like an improved version of the stock pair. Including an improvement in...

Bass Extension:

Depending on the song, the R70x often do not sound like they are lacking in bass. Per the old open-back shortcoming though, they lack sub bass extension. As Amir's distortion chart implies, digital equalization of the bass is problematic. The above mentioned Dekoni M50x choice hybrid pads remedy this in a much more graceful manner. Extension is much improved. It pounds in places it should, where it may have previously only thumped. We don't suddenly have closed-back bass, but it is markedly improved. What's more, distortion is not problematic in the way EQ can cause it to be.

I highly recommend trying the M50x Hybrid pads. Since I have a pair of M50x and M40x, I also already had the Elite Velour version. These are another good option. Less Midbass, so a more linear bass response. They also have more in the upper Midrange/lower treble. One could argue it's closer the stock sound profile. I find them less plush and comfy to wear than the Hybrids though. They still have the better shape for the ear though, so no folding. I also enjoy the warmer sound of Hybrid. But it's good to have options, and you can't go wrong with either. BTW, I should share that I'm a chronic earpad "roller".

Wild Card: That Cable

Aside from the ear pads, the other thing that irritated me was the cable. I hate that cable. It's stiff and microphonic. Combine those qualities with a 3 meter length, and you have a recipe for irritation and distraction. Is it perfectly functional? Yes. Did it bug the crap out of me? Yes. What's more, the dual cable with locking 2.5mm connectors was designed so it didn't matter which was left and which was right. A neat concept, it works no matter which cable is connected to which side. The down side is it's a proprietary design used by only a solitary headphone model. "Boutique". Looked around at Amazon, Ali, Ebay; few good options, and none for less than an arm or a leg. AudiophileNinja offers a glorious customizable cable. It's also a reasonable price considering the quality.

On the topic of driving power, I have a few of the headphones on Amir's chart. Oddly enough it does not seem any more difficult to drive than the AKG K7XX. This is on a Topping DX3 Pro+.

After the changes, these are one of my favorite pairs of headphones. Neutral tonality with a slight warm tilt, lightweight, and (now) comfortable. Lack of aberrant peaks means they minimize listening fatigue. Combine this with light and comfy and you have some great extended listening headphones.
Thanks for the prompt re pads. I had some Brainwavs oval (poor mans Dekoni) that advertise as being for the M50 lying around (on a pair of Meze 99, urgh) so tried those on the R70- fit fine with a bit of wriggling the skirt. Ears now fit IN the cups and sound fine- you rescued the R70 for me! Just ordered a pair of their micro suede which I think may be more like the stock pads. Will report back.
 

ShiZo

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A slightly worse og clear imo
 

Robbo99999

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OK, but maybe we don't need that 129 dB, my point was just that doubting the validity of the spec because it won't happen in real world is an arbitrary statement. Again, why do you restate it's badly distorting at 104 dB when this specification is made by feeding a 1 kHz tone. I am not saying it SHOULD be measured at 1K, some don't mention that and it maybe could be a reason their number is lower. Do you see this headphone badly distorting at 104 dB SPL at 1 kHz? You are repeating what you said before, but you don't explain the reasoning, you are just repeating the same statement. Again this headphone is inefficient, but not more so that a HD650 or a DT990. So what you are saying that in most amplification gain structures, a 2V at 0 dBFS Dac can't bring this to 129 dB SPL, that is true, but why should we care about that, 129 dBSPL at 1k is unbearable. Yes those need a powerful amp, so do the comparable headphones I have mentioned. All that said is that you can feed it a 1 kHz tone at 22V and it won't break. It does not say nothing about doing so at other frequencies.
I'm assuming that the manufacturer has enough sense to ensure that when they say 1000mw at 1kHz as a max input power, that it would also not break the headphone at other frequencies (and that is my understanding of the situation too, in terms of what the specs mean) - since when do you listen to 1kHz tones in your music. So, given the frequency response of the headphone, if we say they're stating 1000mw for 1kHz (which we've already worked out to be 129dB), then at the 3kHz point it will be outputting an extra +5dB and so would be outputting 134dB at 3kHz, that's the difference between 3kHz and 1kHz on the following frequency response graph:

index.php


So when they state a max input power, I think they just choose one reference point on the frequency response as a means of providing a common reference point - 1kHz is just a common reference point used by "everyone" in specs, it doesn't mean that they disregard what happens to the headphone in the rest of the frequency range at that input power. Therefore, they're indicating that the headphone is safe to handle the 129dB at 1kHz and likewise 134dB at 3kHz, and 129dB at 100Hz - these are all points I'm taking from the frequency response graph above when you reference 1kHz at 129dB.

And so it is still non-sensical to have a 22V & 1000mw as max input power when it already distorts terribly in the bass above 94dB and when most top end audiophile headphone amps top out at about 8-10V on High Gain......it's just such a crazy spec that I doubted it's validity, which was my initial post......and if it's not a mistake it's still a nonsense for the reasons stated.
 
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confucius_zero

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I guess this settles another debate. HD600 wins. yay
 

MiloTheFirst

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And so it is still non-sensical to have a 22V & 1000mw as max input power when it already distorts terribly in the bass above 94dB and when most top end audiophile headphone amps top out at about 8-10V on High Gain......it's just such a crazy spec that I doubted it's validity, which was my initial post......and if it's not a mistake it's still a nonsense for the reasons stated.

I don't think they expect anyone to listen to this device at a 1000mw, when I read the specs at their website what came to my mind is the following:

these are not marketed as audiophile headphones they are intended to be used for professional use. the "maximum input power" spec, is likely there to give the managers (and other people who might sign up a purchase list) some piece of mind that this headphone can withstand an oopsie or two. Sometimes people besides the operator disconect cables by mistake and just plug it back in the closest 6.3mm jack they find, which in a studio or control room/desk can easly be a device a lot more powerful than a personal headphone amp
 

Robbo99999

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I don't think they expect anyone to listen to this device at a 1000mw, when I read the specs at their website what came to my mind is the following:

these are not marketed as audiophile headphones they are intended to be used for professional use. the "maximum input power" spec, is likely there to give the managers (and other people who might sign up a purchase list) some piece of mind that this headphone can withstand an oopsie or two. Sometimes people besides the operator disconect cables by mistake and just plug it back in the closest 6.3mm jack they find, which in a studio or control room/desk can easly be a device a lot more powerful than a personal headphone amp
That's a good idea.
 

Maiky76

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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.
View attachment 197100
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:

View attachment 197101
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:
View attachment 197102

Low frequency distortion was quite high:
View attachment 197103

View attachment 197104

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:
View attachment 197105

Combined with below average sensitivity means you better have a good headphone amplifier with high voltage drive:
View attachment 197106

Group delay was messy in multiple regions:
View attachment 197107

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:
View attachment 197108

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/


Here are some thoughts about the EQ.


Notes about the EQ design:


  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
  • The resolution is 12 points per octave interpolated from the raw data (provided by @amirm)
  • A Genetic Algorithm is used to optimize the EQ.
  • The EQ Score is designed to MAXIMIZE the Score WHILE fitting the Harman target curve (and other constrains) with a fixed complexity.
    This will avoid weird results if one only optimizes for the Score.
    It will probably flatten the Error regression doing so, the tonal balance should be therefore more neutral.
  • The EQs are starting point and may require tuning (certainly at LF and maybe at HF).
  • The range around and above 10kHz is usually not EQed unless smooth enough to do so.
  • I am using PEQ (PK) as from my experience the definition is more consistent across different DSP/platform implementations than shelves.
  • With some HP/amp combo, the boosts and preamp gain (loss of Dynamic range) need to be carefully considered to avoid issues with, amongst other things, too low a Max SPL or damaging your device. You have beed warned.
  • Not all units of the same product are made equal. The EQ is based on the measurements of a single unit. YMMV with regards to the very unit you are trying this EQ on.
  • I sometimes use variations of the Harman curve for some reasons. See rational here: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...pro-review-headphone.28244/page-5#post-989169 NOTE: the score then calculated is not comparable to the scores derived from the default Harman target curve if not otherwise noted.
Good L/R match.

Score no EQ: 66.2
Score Amirm EQ: 76.3
Score EQ: 92.6

Code:
Audio-Technica ATH-R70x APO Score EQ [email protected] 96000Hz
April062022-135027

Preamp: -6 dB

Filter 1: ON PK Fc 29.27 Hz Gain 6.12 dB Q 0.68
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 181.54 Hz Gain -3.24 dB Q 0.79
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 1397.50 Hz Gain -1.26 dB Q 3.64
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 3598.76 Hz Gain -3.68 dB Q 5.95
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 4383.00 Hz Gain 6.49 dB Q 1.93

Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Dashboard.png
 

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ExEnemy

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Thanks for the review. This seems to be one of the least wonky Ath in term of FR but comfort and portability are disappointing. Too bad Audio Technica always are very good looking, i still own an old Ath woody( w1000 sovereign), that thing looks like a piece of art.
 
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sfdoddsy

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I had hd650 but sold in favour of r70x , reason too much clamping pressure by hd650, closed in sound with too much mid bass. Very surprising that people found r70x uncomfortable fit. It's one of the lightest open back around but that does not mean build is poor. To me only the swiveling joint is a weak point. I have no problem with wing system as weight of headphones is so low. It is far more musical than hd650 due to more balance approach than hd650. As someone pointed out distortion in bass is very similar to hd650 and better than hd650 in treble. Imo one can use it as his only audiophile headphones it is so good due to very balanced and flat fr.
I'm with you on this. I owned HD580s for many years but always found the fit called too much attention.

I recently did a comfort shootout with the HD580s, the HD560, Hifiman Devas and the r70x.

I find the lightness of the r70x much less intrusive. The HD580 clamps, the HD560 hurt the top of my head, the Deva just felt huge and heavy.

I bought some after market pads which make the r70x even more comfy (they are a bit larger and deeper).

Sonically all were good (albeit different) without EQ. I could live with any of them although the errors of the r70 were slightly more acceptable.

But I EQ. And with EQ, as one would expect, they all moved from good to very good and were increasingly similar.

I use slightly tweaked Oratory EQ and the r70x need a bit less than some of the others to match it. Which I guess is good.

As for volume, I guess I listen at lower levels than others here.

I get acceptable output when run direct from from Macbook Air.

However I usually use a Qudelix for wireless listening and it gives more than enough in standard mode. I have a balanced cable as well and the extra output is more than more enough.

Given how easy things like Roon and Qudelix have made EQ, I find the price difference between good 'mid-fi' and good 'state of the art' pretty hard to justify. Especially for my use, which is basically when the presence of other people means I can't listen to my speakers.

So the r70x hit my sweet spot now in the same way the HD580 did 20 years ago.
 

rkt31

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I'm with you on this. I owned HD580s for many years but always found the fit called too much attention.

I recently did a comfort shootout with the HD580s, the HD560, Hifiman Devas and the r70x.

I find the lightness of the r70x much less intrusive. The HD580 clamps, the HD560 hurt the top of my head, the Deva just felt huge and heavy.

I bought some after market pads which make the r70x even more comfy (they are a bit larger and deeper).

Sonically all were good (albeit different) without EQ. I could live with any of them although the errors of the r70 were slightly more acceptable.

But I EQ. And with EQ, as one would expect, they all moved from good to very good and were increasingly similar.

I use slightly tweaked Oratory EQ and the r70x need a bit less than some of the others to match it. Which I guess is good.

As for volume, I guess I listen at lower levels than others here.

I get acceptable output when run direct from from Macbook Air.

However I usually use a Qudelix for wireless listening and it gives more than enough in standard mode. I have a balanced cable as well and the extra output is more than more enough.

Given how easy things like Roon and Qudelix have made EQ, I find the price difference between good 'mid-fi' and good 'state of the art' pretty hard to justify. Especially for my use, which is basically when the presence of other people means I can't listen to my speakers.

So the r70x hit my sweet spot now in the same way the HD580 did 20 years ago.
I see except bass distortion which is not a concern anyway for normal levels, the treble distortion is one of the least. Fr is also one of the flattest in headphones. High impedance is extremely well suited with high output dacs/amp like mojo 2. With tiny EQ of only one click it can beat even the most expensive desktop set ups with mojo 2.
 

_theLaughingman

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Where is ATH-R70x in review made from ? Made in Japan or Taiwan ? Thank.

ATH-R70x.png
Are you alluding to variation in units that has been observed with AKG headphones manufacturing moving from Austria or China? Just searched around and have noticed that they are Made in taiwan at the moment.
 

Craigslue

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Hmm everybody getting their panties in a bunch on the bass distortion. All the 600 series have similar distorion as well as most openback headphones, its the nature of the beast, many have far worse. More than likely most using openback headphones have been listening to this distorion without realizing it. If you think about it like any ported speaker once you get to far out of the tuning of that port distortion goes through the roof. The HD560s have pretty low bass distortion for an openback. Heres some food for thought.

HD650 https://www.sonarworks.com/soundid-reference/blog/reviews/sennheiser-hd650-review/#pros
HD660s https://www.sonarworks.com/soundid-...s/studio-headphone-review-sennheiser-hd660-s/
ATH R70X https://www.sonarworks.com/soundid-...io-technica-ath-r70x-studio-headphone-review/
HD560S https://www.sonarworks.com/soundid-...nheiser-hd-560s-studio-headphone-review/#pros
DT900 Pro X https://www.sonarworks.com/soundid-...c-dt-900-pro-x-studio-headphone-review/#specs

Heres one I was interested in until I seen the distortion on it!
SRH 1840 https://www.sonarworks.com/soundid-.../shure-srh1840-studio-headphone-review/#specs
 
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rkt31

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Hmm everybody getting their panties in a bunch on the bass distortion. All the 600 series have similar distorion as well as most openback headphones, its the nature of the beast, many have far worse. More than likely most using openback headphones have been listening to this distorion without realizing it. If you think about it like any ported speaker once you get to far out of the tuning of that port distortion goes through the roof. The HD560s have pretty low bass distortion for an openback. Heres some food for thought.

HD650 https://www.sonarworks.com/soundid-reference/blog/reviews/sennheiser-hd650-review/#pros
HD660s https://www.sonarworks.com/soundid-...s/studio-headphone-review-sennheiser-hd660-s/
ATH R70X https://www.sonarworks.com/soundid-...io-technica-ath-r70x-studio-headphone-review/
HD560S https://www.sonarworks.com/soundid-...nheiser-hd-560s-studio-headphone-review/#pros
DT900 Pro X https://www.sonarworks.com/soundid-...c-dt-900-pro-x-studio-headphone-review/#specs

Heres one I was interested in until I seen the distortion on it!
SRH 1840 https://www.sonarworks.com/soundid-.../shure-srh1840-studio-headphone-review/#specs
Problems with most so called audiophiles is that they think through their wallet. I have been saying for so long that r70x can be the only headphones one will ever require for ultimate reference listening. Currently I have been pairing it with chord mojo 2 with very slight EQ of +1 click of 20hz, +1 click of treble shelf and -1 click of 20khz and I would have to say it becomes the end game set up beating everything including Uber ultra expensive dac+ head amp combo. As I said all those audiophiles listening through their wallet wouldn't agree but r70x with mojo 2 and it's lossless EQ with slight adjustment is the end game at any price.
 

melvinjames

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Yet another product I own that didn't make the recommended list. I purchased these headphones back in January 2016 and have been very happy with them whether in use with an Asgard 2, iPad, or EarStudio ES100. They replaced my old Sennheiser Ovation 565's, which I loved until they went tits up.
 

Craigslue

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Problems with most so called audiophiles is that they think through their wallet. I have been saying for so long that r70x can be the only headphones one will ever require for ultimate reference listening. Currently I have been pairing it with chord mojo 2 with very slight EQ of +1 click of 20hz, +1 click of treble shelf and -1 click of 20khz and I would have to say it becomes the end game set up beating everything including Uber ultra expensive dac+ head amp combo. As I said all those audiophiles listening through their wallet wouldn't agree but r70x with mojo 2 and it's lossless EQ with slight adjustment is the end game at any price.
I'm thinking of picking myself up one of these. Surprising how little info there is out there on these headphones. What I read seems contradicting. I read it has a small soundstage then I read it has a huge soundstage?! How much amp is really needed for these? I have a Geshelli E2 that I believe is 2W. BTW I believe you may be correct about audiphiles and the high end as an ex wannabe audiophile high end player but never really dabbled with headphones until now.
 

staticV3

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@Craigslue Here's how much amp you need. "Voltage needed" is the key value:
Screenshot_20220416-104656_Chrome.jpg

The Erish2 has a gain of 1x/6x.
With a 4.0Vrms XLR DAC and gain set to 6x, you will (theoretically) get 24Vrms output.
I say theoretically because in practice, some part of the Amp will run out of juice before you can reach 24Vrms output. Still, it'll be more than enough to power the R70x.

The Erish2 has 2W per channel @32Ω, but that is irrelevant as the R70x is a 470Ω headphone.
 
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gmoney

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I know people are stating the bass distortion is not audible with these but I can clearly hear it. I tried these out with a RME ADI 2 DAC FS and got rid of them for that reason alone.

Comfort was the best I've experienced next to the Sony MA-900 but I just can't get over its farty bass response. Yes I tried 2 thinking something was wrong with the first. An HD650 has pretty high bass distortion but it's no where near as audibly offensive as these (just sounds bloated).

At $349 I'd rather recommend a open box Edition XS for $420 direct from Hifiman which to me is like 95% of an Arya Stealth.
 
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