Audio-Technica ATH AD500X detailed review
More than two years ago we received the ATH AD300
from Audio-Technica for review. Those headphones left an indelible mark with their open airy sound and unmatched comfort; and when we got our hands on the AD 500X recently, it was sweet nostalgia all over again.
Design and Build
Carrying on the tradition of the air series, the AD 500X is as comfortable as ever. Most headphones, even in the circumaural category, end up causing some form of discomfort or the other. Either they’ll get warm, or the headband clamping pressure gets a little too much after a while, or the audio itself can lead to things like bass fatigue. The AD 500X with its lightweight honeycomb aluminum casing and magnesium frame structure, seems immune to these issues.
The soft fabric-lined earpads are comfortable for extended listening and the “self-adjusting 3D wing support” as Audio-Technica calls it, provides resistance to keep the cans on your head. Although it could’ve been a touch more like it is on most other Audio-Technica headphones. Because the resistance is not that much, the headphones tend to also rely on the clamping pressure to prop themselves up. This results in a bit of diagonal pressure being applied just below the ear, where the cable is attached to the earcups. People with larger heads won’t notice this niggle because for them the cups align vertically against the side of their face.
The cable is exceptionally long – almost 10 feet. This feature is often overlooked and remains underappreciated, but is a godsend for home use when you want to sit back while listening to some nice tunes. Even if you plug it into your entertainment station the cable will allow you to go all the way to your couch. The cable uses OFC (oxygen-free copper) and thick elastic rubberised sheathing which makes it tangle free.
Performance and Verdict
In terms of sound quality, the AD 500X takes off from where the AD300 left off, but manages to take the sound quality several notches higher. The 53 mm drivers reproduce crystal clear audio with just the right amount of bass. You’ll find that the drivers are further away from your ear than with most headphones. This adds to the whole “open” feel and the soundstage is fairly wide too. From the specification you must’ve noticed that the drivers are larger than what you’d find on most headphones. This in turn makes the housing larger, so yes the headphones are huge.
Like it’s younger sibling, the AD 500X shines in the higher frequency ranges. If ever you are looking for the definition of a bright sound signature these are the cans. Being open, there is quite a lot of leakage and little isolation. But that’s not really a complaint since they’re not meant to be portable. You’ll listen to them indoors and hopefully in a quiet environment. For the price, the AD 500X is the top choice in circumaural headphones for home use.