The Mid Fi Queen of Mod Backs


I’ve had my Audio Technica W1000X for a little over 2 years, and there have been some extensive changes to my set up over the years as well as this headphone! So I decided it was long overdue for a revised review!  Though, keep in mind I’ve been slowly upgrading an modding this headphone, and while most of the mods are simple to do… ymmv

Specs

Price                                      $350 stock $750 after Mods
Wearing Style                    Floating Mount style Head Band Over Ear
Frq Response                    5-42k
Housing                                North American Black Cherry
Transducer Principle       53mm Dynamic with OFC 6N Voice Coil
Impedance                         40 ohms
Sensitivity                           100 db/mW
Final Score                          76/100 


Build Quality [10/10]
The W1000X is very well built, the metal headband is firm yet springy. The plastic connectors attaching the cups to the headband are also very firm, not brittle or flimsy. Though, the finish on the cups is prone to scratching, so it’s not something you’re going to want to use portably, though I did for my first year of ownership an managed to only get one ding in the finish. I’ve also kept the original 6.5mm plug, which I always though was beautifully crafted!
For Mods, I have L3000 Pads, Dynamat Extreme Dampening in the cups, and my cable is also after market, built by Brian of BTG Audio a few years back, he also did a mini 3pin XLR Pig Tail mod, in addition to using the stock cable to make a matching 4pin XLR to 6.5mm adapter
Though, there are many Cable Builders now who can build a high quality cable, for less than what I paid for mine.  The down side, is I have no idea where you’d get a pair of L3000 pads now... 


Utility [5/10]
With it’s high sensitivity the W1000x is very picky, it does not play well with poorly mastered music, noisy sources and cell phones.  It has a very transparent sound so much so it’s what prompted me to sell my HM 801 an buy the HM 901, though in stock form it’s more forgiving. However I have a 3mm Patch of Dynamat over the two screw cavities in each cup of my W1000X, doing this mod dramatically decreased the decay in the bass an mids, thus making the headphone very revealing to noise or compression.  Also, while it's very comfy to wear it does move around a bit if you walk around with it on, I spent many days during my years in college doing just so, while a wonderful conversation piece it makes a poor portable...  though I did very much enjoy listening to it while studying in my College's Library! 


 Comfort [7/10]
The comfort on the W1000X is a very mixed bag, on one hand the floating mount style headband makes a fairly heavy headphone feel… as if it’s floating! The also clamp well, though I did have to bend the headband quite a bit to get it to adjust to my head, none the less in 2 years it’s retained the shape I bent it to my first weeks of owning it. My biggest gripe would be the pads though, my W1000X has L3000 Pads, genuine leather mind you an $100 a pair, while they are very comfortable… they are “on ear” they don’t sit over your ears but on them… kinda. I have to roll the back of my ears around the top edge of the pad to get them situated, then the bottom of the pads sit on my lower ear. I have a funny little motion I do, and it’s what I need to do to get a proper seal. Though honestly, after about 2 hours I start to have some fatigue due to the on ear pads. 

Isolation [5/10]
The isolation is very poor; it’ll muffle voices well enough and drown out the sound of people shuffling past you in a small library. Though I’ve found it to be limited to about 60 dbs of back ground noise, anything louder than that an you’ll start to notice a slightly degraded quality of sound. I did in fact use these most of my college career, they worked wonders in the Library, in the cafeteria depending on the day, and they were horrible in a full classroom of 30 people. Non the less a smaller classroom fit for 40 people, an only half full was the isolation limit I found them to have.

Ease of Use [2/10]
Oh man, so I had a very funny stiff way I used to walk with these on my head back in the day. Wish I had a video as I was told I looked very foolish, so using these as a portable can is not ideal. Not to mention how picky the W1000X can be with sources an amps, I find it to be to slow an sluggish on Tube Amps an I’ve tried a least half a dozen all with different tubes.  Then there’s the headband and pad modding, an the driver mods. So this is not a simple headphone to own, this is a project to undertake, however it’s one that’s been well worth all my time and energy! I also had the original wood 6.5mm Jack converted into a nice adapter as well, I liked the design of it so much I decided to make use of it! 

Sound Quality
Timbre [10/10]   Sound Stage [7/10] Detail   [10/10] Speed [10/10] Scale [10/10]

Sound is where the W1000X is king, I still use it as my reference for any closed back headphones as it’s the most transparent and the quickest closed back I’ve owned! It rivals my HE 4 on speed and detail as well!

The sound signature is very deep and well layered with a focus on the mids, meaning vocals, guitars, stringed instruments and the like take the center stage. With mods, the W1000X is very aggressive as well, giving a very quick an dry presentation with a lot of texture without being sibilant or edgy, the treble on the W1000X is equally as energetic an detailed as the HE 4 without the same tendency for sibilance the HE 4 has with very hot tracks.  For me, the W1000X has the same presentation of the mids an treble as a you’d expect from a tube, it’s very pleasant an while at the same time out of a solid state it’s very tactile an quick, it’s mid presentation is unique in that sense! The bass on the W1000X is punchy throughout the mid bass, with a good kick in the sub bass, though with a very solid attack and almost instant decay some may not appreciate the sub bass presentation. 
The sound stage is narrow when compared to my TH X00 Alpha, Denon LA D5k and HE 4 however it’s overall depth an spatial cues far exceed the previous two closed backs. It has the same 3D presentation the HE 4 has, while maintain a sense of intimacy the HE 4 cannot.


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