Saturday, October 11, 2014

Audio Technica ATH-WS77: (Insert Clever Tagline Here)

by Blake Larson

Intro

     Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Audio Technica in any way (other than how I'm using their product). I was not paid for this review. These are 100% my opinions on this pair of headphones... If you haven't stopped reading yet from boredom, then congratulations. You don't have a short attention span.

     So what I got here is the ATH-WS77 from Audio Technica. As part of their "Solid Bass" series, I wasn't expecting much in the way of refinement... I am happy to say my expectations were completely shattered. These are a very mature bass can.


Packaging


     First off, the packaging... Superb. The front of the outer cardboard cover is white, shows you the brand "Audio Technica" and a picture of the WS77's. The sides are a copper color, and has an eye catching gleam. It reminds me of candy paint, but with a matte appearance rather than gloss. The back of the box is white again, features another picture of the WS77, specs, and says "Feel Closer to Your Music". Slide off the outer cover, and you have the box, which has the words "Solid Bass" emblazoned on the front in gold. The box has see-through plastic, and you can see the gorgeous circular aluminum sides these cans have. On the back, we have the specs again, and it points out the "Double Air Chamber System" and "Direct Driver Mounting". It states: "Internal double chamber design enhances air damping effect to provide defined, punchy bass" and "Mounting the high rigidity aluminum housing directly on the driver eliminates undesired vibrations. This contributes to high quality sound reproduction."

     Sound good so far huh? Because it also says above that "Comprehensive system provides 'Overwhelming bass sound’".

     Oh boy...overwhelming bass sound? No idea what to expect from the sound anymore.



Build and Design


     Before the moment of truth when I describe the sound, I must say... The build is excellent. Feels solid, just like its namesake "Solid Bass". It is mainly high quality metals. Under the plastic headband frame, there is a sub-frame of steel that is of a decent thickness. The aluminum on the sides of the cans has a premium look and feel. The plastic arms connecting the cups to the headband, though thin, actually feel extremely sturdy. They don’t bend at all if I push on it, and don't move around. Also, no creaking noises moving them around on your head. Very tightly put together with no loose parts. The headband has a decent amount of padding, but the ear pads are somewhat troublesome... I found it to be very uncomfortable and couldn't wear them for more than 15 minutes before I had to take them off because my ears felt like pieces of cauliflower. My ears stick out more than most peoples do, and a section of my ear goes inside the pads and gets shoved up against the plastic driver cover. This has since then lessened since the pads broke in and flattened a little. They may not be as thick as they were when I got them, but now the pads are wider and stop my ears from completely touching the plastic. I’m sure most won't have this problem, as most ears don’t stick out as far as mine. There are a few replacement pads online if you have this problem too and can't tough it out until the pads flatten somewhat. Also, no accessories? Seriously? Not even a carrying pouch? Would have been a nice touch since this is marketed as a portable.


     My only other gripe is the cable. It is double sided, has some memory to it, and it isn't the modern flat tangle free type cable that I would have liked. It is of decent thickness, and the strain relief is fantastic. The cable feels like it will last, but it just doesn't finish off the solid build quite right.




Sound


     The first thing I noticed when I placed it on my head other than the plastic touching my ears was DAT BASS! Extended well past 50 Hz, very fast and punchy, and with above average texture. While not dark sounding, they are not bright either. They are somewhat v-shaped in response, and as such I hear a slightly hollow midrange with a little bass bleed, and some sibilance, but it isn't a deal breaker. They are still neutral enough for audiophiles like myself however, and are less bassy than a lot of other portables commonly used by Head-Fi’ers, including the V-Moda M100, so I don’t see it being a problem. In fact, when my sister put them on she noticed they had less bass than her skull candy IEM's (UGHH I told her not to buy them and to get something else... She didn't listen) and had fuller vocals.

     The soundstage is above average, with fantastic positional cues. They surpass the UE6000 in this regard. The sound placement is almost as good as my AKG K240's, but not quite. These have more accurate vertical cues, but lack the width and depth of the K240. To be expected, as the K240 is semi open.

     These handled all genres I threw at them decently, including orchestra due to it having an above average soundstage and positional cues, but excelled at electronic. The combination of speed, texture, and extension makes them better in my opinion for electronic than cans like the Logitech UE6000, and the B&W P5. It keeps up with the fast volley of bass notes laid out in "Onvang" by Spag Heddy, which is very impressive, and gives the bass synths on "Outnumbered" by Rekoil and Devour plenty of weight, and stops the quick synths, drums, and cymbals from being muddled. It does admirably when things get complicated in recordings. When listening to "Oye Como Va" by Santana, the percussion has a timbre that is more in line with what real percussion sounds like than the UE6000. It lags behind the K240 in this regard however.


Amping

     These are very easy cans to drive, only needing about 20/30 volume on my Lumia 925 to reach listening levels. Additional amping widened the soundstage, and improved detail somewhat, so they do scale up if you feed them more power.







Summary


     At around 130$ (Amazon pricing), these offer an impressive bang for your buck if you like a little more low end to your music and want it to look good. These really hit it home with electronic, and will not disappoint sonically. The cable and lack of accessories may disappoint some, but the sound makes up for it.

Category
Score
Build and Design
8/10
Packaging
8.5/10
Accessories
0/5
Sound
8.5/10
Comfort (pre-pad break in)
Comfort (post-pad break in)
4.5/10
8.5/10
Value
9.25/10
Total (pre-pad break in)
Total (post-pad break in)
6.5/10
7.1/10

1 comment: