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Headphones

Upping the ante with the Audio Technica ATH M70x headphones

The Audiophiliac dons the Audio Technica ATH M70x, and likes what he hears.

I'm no stranger to Audio Technica headphones, especially their more affordable models, but this one, the ATH M70x over-the-ear headphone has a $419 MSRP/$299, £219, AUS299 street price, and faces stiff competition. Even so, first impressions were very positive, so before I knew it I had racked up quite a few hours on the ATH M70x.

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The Audio Technica ATH-M70x

Audio Technica

The headphone features proprietary 45mm large-aperture drivers, impedance is rated at 35 ohms, and the ATH M70x weighs a moderate 9.9 ounces (285 grams). It's a closed-back design and does a good job sealing out external noise. I found the headphone comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. And speaking of extended, the ATH-M70x comes with a two-year warranty.

This ruggedly designed headphone has user-replaceable cables, ear pads and headband padding. The ATH-M70x comes with three cables a 10-foot (3-meter) coiled cable, a 10-foot straight cable, and a 40-inch (1.2-meter) straight cable.

Listening first to the ATH M70x while streaming tunes from Tidal (44.1/16 Flac files) from my iPhone 6S, the sound was crisp, clear and beautifully balanced. The Beastie Boys' "The Mix Up" all-instrumental album sounded especially good -- the extra funky bass beats felt good, drums and percussion were lively as all get out, and the stereo imaging was surprisingly spacious for a closed-back headphone.

Moving over to an Audio Technica ATH M50x, the sound was still sweet, but resolution losses were significant. The ATH M50x was mellower and laid-back, which had the effect of softening the sound. Returning to the ATH M70x while listening to "Delirious" from Prince's "1999" album, the music's energy felt liberated. True the ATH M70x has a brighter balance, but the treble was never harsh or grating.

At this point, I connected the new AudioQuest DragonFly Red digital converter/headphone amplifier (review to come) to the iPhone and listened again. The ATH M70x' sound filled out and the treble was clearer than before; bass had more oomph, and stereo imaging opened wider. Encouraged, I returned to "The Mix Up," and my very positive impressions of the ATH M70x were bumped up a notch. The sound was even better with AC power headphone amps at home, like the Schiit Asgard 2. Clearly, this is the sort of headphone that benefits from pairing with decent electronics.

Back on the iPhone with the DragonFly Red, I compared the ATH M70x with an Audeze Sine headphone while listening to the Punch Brothers' "Phosphorescent Blues" album. This all-acoustic music emerged fully formed, sweet and natural over the ATH-M70x. Switching over to the Sine, the sound took on an even more full-bodied, richer tone, and resolution was still top-notch. The ATH-M70x sound was a wee bit livelier and airier. They're both good headphones, but I prefer the Sine's sweeter balance, but you might opt for the ATH-M70x. I did find that the Sine was less comfy to wear.

The Audio Technica ATH-M70x was a very pleasant surprise, it's very much an audiophile grade headphone, built to last, and sound great while doing so.