Audio-Technica’s headphone pedigree is without peer, offering models and styles to meet any requirement. We took the ATH-WP900 headphones for a spin.
Audio-Technica possesses a history in headphone design that’s almost unrivalled. It’s testament to the company’s hunger to innovate that they continue to make headphones that have the capacity to excite. This is very much the case with the ATH-WP900.
Crafted in Japan from the finest materials, it represents the best of Audio-Technica’s craftsmanship. But like a prestige sports car, it’s one thing to appreciate it’s aesthetic, quite another to feel the power under the accelerator. On both counts, this pair of headphones is a clear winner.
Sometimes, you might think that headphone manufacturers are in a race to win some kind of packaging war, never mind the sonics. Some are so convoluted that you have to ‘break in’ to the boxes, just to extract the cans. On this count, the ATH-WP900 is refreshingly easy to navigate. A no-fuss box, along with a black carry bag and two cables. This entreé sets the tone for the whole experience.
The portable headphone industry is incredibly competitive in terms of price and feature sets. Many mid-priced models come with numerous provisions for Bluetooth connection, active noise cancelling, bass boosting and more. The ATH-WP900 is free from any such bells and whistles. These headphones are for the hi-fi purist, as evidenced by the inclusion of 4.4 mm five-pole balanced plug, for connecting to a headphone amplifier (that’s not to say they aren’t versatile — its relatively low resistance of 38 ohms means it can be driven by just about anything).
The headphones themselves are surprisingly light. Some people might be understandably reassured by heft; it’s hard to beat that sense of satisfaction when you pick up a heavy piece of audio gear. After close inspection though, all the components — including ear cups that can be swivelled flat for easy transport — feel solid, well-engineered, and smooth.
The lightness well and truly pays dividends when you put them on your head. Designed for blissed-out hours in front of the hi-fi system, there are no continual awkward readjustments required, which can be the bane of heavier models. Put them on and you can almost forget they’re there. That is until, of course, you put some audio through those 53 mm drivers.
Listening to a range of material, I was expecting a fair degree of bass, as is customary for the Audio-Technica family of headphones. What was immediately better than most, however, was the clarity and separation in the lower octaves. Cheaper headphones can offer a lot of pleasing bottom-end, often at the expense of separation. Not so here. Different varieties of low-frequency material, from bass guitar, kick drums, trappy, overblown 808s, epic orchestral strings and more are easily identifiable in busy mixes.
Also notable is dynamic response of the ATH-WP900. Across a range of material, from low to high volumes, the headphones’ ability to render detail was admirable. Even when given quite a workout volume-wise, there was no distortion or the sometimes painful resonances associated with closed-back designs.
The potential drawback of this is that the isolation of sound within the headphone — and the ability to keep extraneous sounds out — is less than clinical. But then again, this really isn’t the model for casual public transport listening or tuning out the din of the office. This is headphone built for pleasure. Listening to your favourite music with them is a rare pleasure indeed.
Headphones at this price point aren’t made for everyone, but it seems that Audio Technica is comfortable with that. If they weren’t they wouldn’t have gone to the effort of collaborating with Fujigen to build the ATH-WP900’s striking maple ear cups.
But if you’re ready to take your listening experience to a new level of detail and connect with music in a new and exciting way, the ATH-WP900 from Audio-Technica is well worth auditioning.
Visit Audio-Technica for more details.