This past weekend, while bumping around CanJam in New York, I got a chance to sit down and demo the new Audio Technica ATH-ADX5000 - the new open-back headphone utilizing "Core Mount Technology" for driver placement. Supposedly, this facilitates improved airflow, resulting in wider soundstage and greater clarity. Retailing at a decent $1999 USD, expect to pay a pretty penny for the headphone - but is the juice really worth the squeeze?

The ADX5000 comes with a large, heavy-duty case that oozes an air of luxury.

The headphone's build quality smacks of quality, too, as the design features liberal use of Alcantara and a magnesium frame. When held in my hand, they feel just heavy enough to instil confidence. But once situated over my ears, I feel that same weight evaporate.

Where drivers are concerned, the ADX5000 seems well-appointed, sporting a whopping 58 mm driver - hopefully translating to a lively, powerful bass.

A removable 3.0 m (9.8 ft) cable with A2DC connectors connects with any device sporting a 3.5 mm output. Included with the cable is a 6.3 mm (1/4") gold-plated stereo adapter plug. And for accessories, that's the whole kit and caboodle; the ADX5000 doesn't come with a bunch of useless accessories because it's all about the sound.

Specs

Frequency Range: 5-50,000 Hz
Impedance: 420 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 100 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): N/A

As you can see from the specifications, the ADX5000 offers a mammoth frequency range. And remember that bit above about using this headphone with any device sporting a 3.5mm audio jack? Well, scratch that - I had no clue the impedance on this model was so high. You'll definitely want to pair this juggernaut with a decent amp to really drive it.

Sound pressure might seem low at 100 dB, but that's actually pretty usual for an open-back headphone. Finally, Audio Technica doesn't rate distortion on the ATH-ADX5000, but I doubt it's very high - the sound remains resoundingly clean across the board.

Low End

The low end of the ADX5000 hosts a lively bass with exacting impact, crawling and low. The detail verges on phenomenal here, doing any track justice. Without a trace of bleed, the low end owes much of its performance to those sick 58mm drivers.

Midrange

Not to be outdone, the mids show off strong fidelity. Clarity and separation prove present in spades, and you'd be pressed to find a song or test track that doesn't just bloom with nuances in this part of the frequency range. To boot, there's no distortion or compression at play here - just some damn fine sound.

High End

If there's a weak point on the ADX5000, maybe it's the high end. Maybe. But you'd be hard-pressed to argue such a claim because it does pull a great deal of weight. Slightly relaxed, it's the kind of high end I often prefer, though it may leave some audiophiles wanting more. Can you hear every nuance? Yes. Should some of those nuances be a little bit brighter or piercing when it comes to the highest high notes? Possibly.

Soundstage

An open-back Audio Technica with 58mm drivers? It would be surprising if this headphone didn't offer some next-level soundstage, and it really delivers in-depth and placement. The two work in tandem here to provide some crystal-clear imaging that borders on drug-like.

Other Observations

Comfort! These cans proved super-light, even though I spent a good chunk of time putting them through the ringer. But that being said, they still feel solid. If not for the price, I wouldn't be afraid to use and abuse them like I do the rest of my headphones.

The sound - it's just a fantastic, well-crafted sound that offers a wealth of detail and plenty of oomph in the low end.

Recommendations

If you have $2000 to blow and want exacting detail but natural-sounding bass, as well, there are few other headphones to compete with the ATH-ADX5000. The only headphone that might come close, I think, would be the new Sennheiser HD 820... but I couldn't do a true side-by-side comparison at CanJam. I'm thinking these two are going to be close competitors, and it will probably come down to personal preference, anyway. For me? My money would go with the Audio Technica.

Final Analysis

With ample bass and detail extending throughout the frequency range, the Audio Technica ATH-ADX5000 offers some impressive chops for the price. And while that price of $1999 might seem a bit steep, there are few headphones that offer this high fidelity at this (relatively-speaking) low price.

Carroll Moore is a Tech lover and audiophile headphone enthusiast, photographer and writer for the likes of Audio46.