Audio Technica ATH-W1000Z
Few headphones could claim to have the heritage of Audio-technica’s W series. The ATH-W1000Z marks the 11th generation of the range and is a careful evolution of its predecessor rather than a radical departure.
Audio-technica has succeeded in retaining the traditional look and feel of previous W products. These remain large headphones, intended for use in the home. They’re a closed-back design, good at keeping external sounds out and at not leaking the music being played.
Despite their size, the ATH-W1000Z weigh in at 320g, which is still light enough to remain comfortable over long listening sessions. Instead of a conventional headband, Audio-technica uses what it calls a ‘3D support system’, with cushioned paddles on the side of the head. For those with a smaller head, we suggest a test run before buying.
“Our first impression is of a spacious clear presentation. They also deliver plenty of power and punch”
The W1000ZS sport beautifully made teak wooden earcups. Inside each earcup is a 53mm drive unit, mounted on a magnesium baffle and decoupled from the wooden structure to control resonances. The ATH-W1000ZS proudly display a High-res logo on their box – a bandwidth of 5Hz-42khz is enough to qualify.
Plug the Audio-technica’s cable into a suitable headphone amplifier (we used a Chord Hugo) and they deliver fine results. Our first impression is of a spacious, clear presentation and that doesn’t change with extended listening. Play Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry and the Audio-technicas sound clear, detailed and articulate. They convey the easy-going flow of the music well, and though they lack a little rhythmic drive there’s enough energy to keep us interested. The low-end is a touch overstated, but not excessively so. It remains agile, and never threatens to dominate other elements. There’s plenty of power and punch when required.
Open-backed rivals from Beyerdynamic, Sennheiser and Grado offer more dynamic subtlety and rhythmic prowess. But if you want the isolating features of a closed-back design, there are few better alternatives.