The ATH-R70x is Audio-Technica’s first foray into open back reference monitor headphones territory, and stands as their flagship professional headphone model — and what an entrance it is. Designed in partnership with Parisian product design specialist studio Arro, upon whipping them out of the box you’re greeted with a gorgeous balance of aesthetics and function, with distinctly premium materials.
IN THE BOX
It’s a pretty no nonsense package here. Included is the headphones, a single 3-metre cord (with TRS connector) and a small carry bag. The cord is an interesting point of difference to competitors, with dual outputs that connect directly to each ear cup. Not only that, each plug outputs a stereo signal, rather than only left or right, while the ear cups are wired so that they’re only capable of picking up the correct audio signals — right or left. Put simply, it’s impossible to muck up stereo orientation with these headphones, unless you manage to put them on backwards.
THAT WEIGHT THOUGH...
These headphones are astoundingly light. Really, really, really light. Constructed with aluminum mesh ear cups and a carbon resin composite, they weigh in at 210 grams, around 100 grams lighter than most of its competitors. Putting them on, it’s like you’re wearing nothing at all (insert sexy Flanders reference). Combined with breathable fabric pads, I could comfortably wear these headphones all day.
SOUND AU NATUREL
Generally speaking, one opts for open back headphones when looking for a more natural spacious sound, akin to listening with monitor speakers. Sound leakage and the complete absence of any noise cancelling make open back headphones strictly for reference and monitoring purposes — you’re not going to be able to hear much music if you use them on a train. The sound is wonderfully natural, flat, but not lifeless. There is no brain melting bass or screeching trebles, they’re not overly warm, nor do they feature that incredible clarity that sometimes comes with high-end closed-back headphones. The frequencies are just ‘there’ and beautifully balanced in a smooth and polite manner. Apparently Audio-Technica created the 45mm drivers specifically for this model, and it shows. I found using the R70x’s to be far less fatiguing than my usual headsets; a testament to their sound quality and comfort, making them perfect for long sessions. It should also be noted, at 470-ohm impedance, you’ll need to use an audio interface or headphone amplifier to really drive these properly.
As far as high-end headphones go, these are pretty damn good value price-wise, sitting around the middle of the open-back headphone price spectrum. I’d absolutely recommend anyone looking into their first or tenth pair of open-back headphones to check the R70x’s out, giving back the pair I reviewed after a few weeks was very difficult.
For more details on Audio-Technica products, head to tag.com.au.
Hits and Misses
Beautiful, natural, spacious sound
Did I mention they’re insanely light?
Only a long 3m cable being included is a minor, but valid gripe.