Pricey, but they do exactly as the designer intended
deliver a massive amount of insight into a recording
well-judged sonic balance
A slight lack of subtlety in the midrange and treble
Good headphones, such as these Audio-Technicas, are great value. That's right, we really are saying the £400 ATH-W1000s are great value. Why? If you tend to listen to music alone, you'd have to spend four figures on speakers plus a similar amount on suitable amplification to get similar results. These headphones are comfortable, too.
Audio-Technica's engineers have judged the sonic presentation well. These 'phones are vivid enough to squeeze every last drop of drama from Tchaikovsky's 1812 while having the refinement to keep a rough recording like Grinderman's debut set in check.
Judged by the high standards of the price we'd like slightly richer, better textured highs and a touch more subtlety in the midrange, but these are minor shortcomings. Budget around £300-£400 for a decent headphone amp from the likes of Creek or Graham Slee, ensure you've got a source at least as capable as Rega's Apollo CD player, and you'll end up with a sound that will be hard to better by conventional means.