• Audio Technica ATH-AD700X
Our Verdict 
While they have their small flaws, these incredibly spacious and nicely detailed headphones are worth a listen
For 
Spacious, open sound
Plenty of detail
Good dynamics
Clear sound
lightweight build
Flexible fit
Against 
A stubbornly hard treble
Could be more agile and precise
Bass needs to be tauter
Rivals are more musical and offer better grip
Reviewed on

These Audio Technica ATH-AD700X headphones are huge.

With an open-back design that’s purely for home listening, these will make you look like a Cyberman. But are they the audio upgrade you’re looking for? 

Sound

If you’re after a wonderfully airy and open soundfield, these ATH-AD700Xs have it in spades.

Open-back headphones typically sound more spacious than their closed-back cousins and these Audio Technicas take full advantage of this design.

There’s plenty of detail on offer, although a slightly brash top end can curb the enjoyment somewhat.

Play the complex  60 Feet Tall by The Dead Weather, and there’s ample space for the instruments and vocals to breathe in the big soundfield.

The sense of distance and depth between the instruments is easily felt and heard, while the layers of clean detail keep you hooked into the song.

We would have liked more weight to the low end and a tauter bass for a punchier sound, though.

The pounding piano keys in Regina Spektor’s  Flowers are laden with subtlety, and you can hear the rasp in her melodic voice.

The ATH-AD700Xs have decent dynamics and attack too – crank up the volume and there’s plenty to enjoy when listening to tracks at home.

That treble can sound just a little harsh at times though, despite a couple of days’ running in. It’s not enough to make you wince, but there is an edge that stops us from truly relaxing and simply enjoying the music.

A bit more agility and precision would go a long way, too, as the Audio Technicas aren’t quite as controlled and cohesive as headphones such as the Grado SR80is (£100).

The Award-winning Grados sound more musical and capable of delivering the tension and drama behind The Dead Weather’s songs, while the Audio Technicas don’t have that same level of refinement and rhythmic precision.

More after the break

Design

The large size may seem a little preposterous, but it does serve its purpose in giving enough headroom for nearly all head sizes.

The little flaps (which Audio Technica calls ‘self-adjusting 3D Wing Support’) right under the double-hooped headband are flexible enough to adjust to any head shape, but they are a bit too loose for our liking.

Despite the feeling that headphones will slip down our ears, they don’t in reality. However, we still would’ve liked the springiness of those flaps to be tauter for a more secure hold around our heads.

Rival headphones, such as the luxurious Philips Fidelio X1s (£200) offer better grip.

On the plus side, the over-ear design and their soft earpads are roomy and comfortable.

Coupled with the lightweight construction of the ATH-AD700Xs, this means the headphones don’t apply too much pressure on your ears, making them easy to wear for long periods of listening.

Verdict

Our niggles with fit aside, these Audio Technica ATH-AD700X headphones are well suited for home-listening.

Their incredibly open and airy sound is the biggest attraction point – few other headphones at this price can match that scale of space.

They do face some strong competition in this category: the already-mentioned Grado and Philips headphones are simply more musical, more talented and more exciting.

MORE: Best headphones to buy in 2014

 

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