Audio-Technica ATH-R70x by Reptil
I reviewed these headphones for Gearslutz. You can see the video review below.
These are open-back headphones, designed for mixing. Audio Technica calls them reference studio headphones and I understand what they're aiming for. I used the headphones on mastering a live recording of a local reggae band, editing videos of interviews and of street recordings, and mixing electronic music in my own and other studios. I tested them with the headphone preamps in my Speck Electronics XTRAMIX and Mytek ADDA 192 converter.
Build Quality and Ease of Use
With 210 gramms, 7.4 ounces, it’s pretty light for reference headphones. The grille covering the drivers is metal, and so is the headband. A pair of foam lined flaps keeps the headphones firmly on the user’s head. The earcups are round, not elongated and I was worried it wouldn’t fit my big floppy ears. The earpads are made of foam with a soft outer lining. After a few hours the R70x fit quite comfortably on my head, despite the fact the bottom of my ear is not quite covered by the cups. The marking of what is left or right side is on the inside just above the cups. Not very visible, especially in dimly-lit studios, but a simple piece of tape or a blot of red pait would make that obviously clear, if you so prefer. A bit quirky, but not a big deal in my opinion.
There’s one straight cable included, 3 meters or 10 inches long. two small twist lock plugs connect to the headphones, and a standard 3.5mm stereo minijack on the other end. a 6.3mm stereo jack adapter plug with a thread is included. The headphones do not have balanced connectors. the tip ring sleeve configuration on the plugs is for the purpose that the user can connect it either way. Convenient.
A small point of critique: I would’ve liked a coiled chord in the package, since I move around in my studio a lot, so maybe Audio-Technica can offer this seperately in the future.
The drivers on the R70x are 45mm diametre, just as the closed-back M70x. They’re rated at one thousand miliwatt maximum input. Impedance is quite substantial with 470 ohms. That would suggest a beefy headphone preamp is needed. But that is not the whole story: My Mac Book Pro managed to drive them as well and I could get some work done on it. Sensitivity is adequate and rated at 98 dB. Slightly more than the M70x which has an impedance of 35 ohms. When listening, plugged into the Mytek and the Speck Electronics headphone outputs, the difference in preamp was obvious. The R70x fared very well with both of these (better than with the MacBook Pro) and perhaps will do even better with dedicated, stand-alone headphone preamps.
The R70x are very capable headphones, sonically.
The bass is prominent but very controlled, dynamics are detailed as welll as the frequency response. There is no hint of distortion from the R70x itself but distortions are correctly reproduced. All in all it gave me a controlled feel, even when using it with some wild sounds from my modular synth.
The reproduction of the midrange is true to it’s source across the whole range. It turned out to be easy to find mud or sybillant parts and use corrective filtering. The sound is dynamic and alive when the source material is, and flat and uninspired when the source material is lacking. The relation between bass and midrange is easy to judge after some use. Vocals are reproduced very accurately, not flattered. Highs are present but not on the foreground. The R70x will not take every resonance of a cymbal and present it right in front of you. Instead it's all a bit more laid back. But it is there, all the highs are there. After a while my ears got used to the R70x and could hear more nuances without much effort. Some people would like their highs a little more upfront, I suppose, but for long studio days (and nights) I prefer these.
Reproduction of dynamics is without fault. I could hear transients, distortions, and could use these headphones to mix with compressors.
There's a limit to the soundstage left to right. But I did not percieve this as as a shortcoming: Within the presented soundstage, individual instruments are positioned very accurately left to right but front to back as well. There’s no guesswork there. I like how these headphones present the stereo image. Of course it's not a replacement of a good set of studio monitors, because the physics are different, but when I got used to the R70x, I could make calls how to postition instruments, and it translated well to my speakers.
I really couldn't find anything wrong with the ATH-R70x. These are non-fatigueing headphones, offer correct balances between various frequencies during mixing, accurate dynamics and (for headphones) a precise left to right and front to back soundstage. Bass, a critical part in modern music genres is handled with ease and verve. Never did the R70x leave me underwhelmed in their performance.
Minor minuspoints are that the cups might be a bit small for someone with big, sensitive ears (but it didn't bother me), and that there's only one straight cable included in the package, and I prefer a coiled one.
Overall they get the full 5 stars from me, because they do exactly what they're supposed to. The Audio Technica ATH-R70x are reliable open-back headphones for everyday studio use.