Recording - September 2015 - 26

B Y M I K E M E T L AY

do microscopic listening to tracks while editing and checking mixes, or if
you're in a place where sound from your headphones might disturb others
(think: sleeping family members), closed phones might be ideal.
However, closed-back headphones can be less than optimal for some users. The
sealed earcups tend to enhance bass frequencies... great for listening to dance
music for fun, but perhaps not so good for critical listening and mixing. Also,
sealed designs can be heavy and fatiguing to wear for long periods. The alternative is an open-back headphone, where the drivers are suspended over the ears
in enclosures that are permeable, even transparent, to sound. They tend to be very
light and comfortable, and many listeners believe that they can present a more
honest and unforgiving picture of a song's balance and frequency spectrum. They
can't be used near microphones, of course, and require a quiet room to perform
at their best, but if you're checking your mixes on headphones, hopefully you're
doing so in a quiet environment with your monitors muted, right?
Since this issue of Recording features a variety of tools for making better mixes, it seems appropriate for us to take this opportunity to review the
other new Audio-Technica headphone introduced at Winter NAMM.
Here's an in-depth examination of the firm's first-ever professional openbacked headphone-the ATH-R70x.
Open the box
We'll start with a few relevant specs. The ATH-R70x is an open-backed
dynamic headphone with 45 mm drivers. Its stated frequency response
(no tolerances given, as is common for headphones) is 5 Hz to 40 kHz,
making it highly suitable for listening to high-resolution digital audio and
the cleanest of analog signals. Its maximum input power is 1 W and it has
a sensitivity of 99 dB.

Audio-Technica ATH-R70x Headphones
This new open-back design is both revolution and revelation
Our readers may remember that for the past year or
two, we've been reviewing a steady stream of new
headphone designs from Audio-Technica. The ATHM50x (reviewed March 2014) was a rethink of the
now-classic ATH-M50, preserving its clear and honest
tonality while improving its utility in the working studio
with easily removable and replaceable components.
Following that, in May 2014 we brought you a look
at not one but four new designs that filled out the new
line in more affordable formats. Of special note was
the remarkably solid entry-level ATH-M20x. Most
recently, in May 2015 I reviewed the top-of-the-line
ATH-M70x, which had just been introduced at the
Winter NAMM Show in January.
But all six of these headphones have something in
common... and, in fact, they have it in common with all
of Audio-Technica's pro headphones to date: they're all
closed-back designs. For the uninitiated, closed-back
headphones are sealed around the ears; they provide
isolation from outside sounds, while sealing in the
audio being listened to so it's less likely to bleed into
nearby mics. As a result, closed phones are by far the
most popular designs in tracking rooms. They have
their advantages in small home studio setups as well; if
you live and work in a noisy environment and want to
26

RECORDING September 2015

Perhaps the most significant spec, however, is its impedance: 470 ohms, not
unusual back in the days of 600 ohm headphones used in orchestral recording
sessions, but nearly unheard of in today's world of headphones with impedances
well under 100 ohms. Low-current headphone amplifier circuits like those found in
inexpensive audio interfaces and portable audio electronics will have difficulty driving these phones to high volumes. In my listening sessions, however, I found that
they responded well to a wide range of well-designed audio interfaces, providing
clear and balanced sound that was detailed and revealing even at lower levels.
The ATH-R70x is eye-catching due to its very unusual design. The driver
earcups are attached to a lightweight metal band, and they are suspended on the head by a pair of spring-loaded curved pads that rest on the
sides of the head just above the ears. This design looks elegant and intriguing, but more practically it results in a headphone that instantly fits heads
of all sizes without fiddling or adjustment, sits comfortably over the ears,
and gives the impression of weightlessness. At 210 grams (7.4 ounces), the
ATH-R70x isn't precisely a heavy headphone to begin with, but the suspension system makes it feel light as a feather, even after hours of listening.
The combination of lower level and lighter weight makes for a listening
experience that is completely non-fatiguing and almost sinfully enjoyable.
The only downside to this design is that the earcups move only a small
amount to conform to the skull; they neither swivel flat nor fold for storage.
The no-headband design means there's no place to pass an electrical connection from one earcup to the other, so the ATH-R70x requires a connection to
both earcups. The included detachable locking cable is a generous length,
around 10', and ends in a gold-plated miniplug with screw-on 1/4" TRS adaptor.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - September 2015

Contents
Recording - September 2015 - Intro
Recording - September 2015 - Cover1
Recording - September 2015 - Cover2
Recording - September 2015 - 1
Recording - September 2015 - 2
Recording - September 2015 - 3
Recording - September 2015 - 4
Recording - September 2015 - 5
Recording - September 2015 - Contents
Recording - September 2015 - 7
Recording - September 2015 - 8
Recording - September 2015 - 9
Recording - September 2015 - 10
Recording - September 2015 - 11
Recording - September 2015 - 12
Recording - September 2015 - 13
Recording - September 2015 - 14
Recording - September 2015 - 15
Recording - September 2015 - 16
Recording - September 2015 - 17
Recording - September 2015 - 18
Recording - September 2015 - 19
Recording - September 2015 - 20
Recording - September 2015 - 21
Recording - September 2015 - 22
Recording - September 2015 - 23
Recording - September 2015 - 24
Recording - September 2015 - 25
Recording - September 2015 - 26
Recording - September 2015 - 27
Recording - September 2015 - 28
Recording - September 2015 - 29
Recording - September 2015 - 30
Recording - September 2015 - 31
Recording - September 2015 - 32
Recording - September 2015 - 33
Recording - September 2015 - 34
Recording - September 2015 - 35
Recording - September 2015 - 36
Recording - September 2015 - 37
Recording - September 2015 - 38
Recording - September 2015 - 39
Recording - September 2015 - 40
Recording - September 2015 - 41
Recording - September 2015 - 42
Recording - September 2015 - 43
Recording - September 2015 - 44
Recording - September 2015 - 45
Recording - September 2015 - 46
Recording - September 2015 - 47
Recording - September 2015 - 48
Recording - September 2015 - 49
Recording - September 2015 - 50
Recording - September 2015 - 51
Recording - September 2015 - 52
Recording - September 2015 - 53
Recording - September 2015 - 54
Recording - September 2015 - 55
Recording - September 2015 - 56
Recording - September 2015 - 57
Recording - September 2015 - 58
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Recording - September 2015 - 60
Recording - September 2015 - 61
Recording - September 2015 - 62
Recording - September 2015 - 63
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Recording - September 2015 - 65
Recording - September 2015 - 66
Recording - September 2015 - 67
Recording - September 2015 - 68
Recording - September 2015 - 69
Recording - September 2015 - 70
Recording - September 2015 - 71
Recording - September 2015 - 72
Recording - September 2015 - Cover3
Recording - September 2015 - Cover4
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