Last week, I had the pleasure of reviewing Audio-Technica’s latest wooden headphone models: Audio-Technica’s new flagship, the ATH-AWKT and it’s little brother, the ATH-AWAS. What are the main differences between these two models? And is it worth spending the extra money on the pricey AWKT over the more affordable AWAS? Let’s find out in this Audio-Technica ATH-AWAS vs ATH-AWKT Review.
Differences Between the ATH-AWAS and the ATH-AWKT
The ATH-AWKT employs sheepskin earpads, while the ATH-AWAS uses synthetic leather. Although I found both models comfortable to wear, unsurprisingly, the ATH-AWKT felt softer around the ears. That being said, the clamping force feels to be about equal on both models.
Both headphones are the same size, sporting 53mm dynamic drivers. And these two headphones are almost equally easy to drive. But what sets these two models apart is the type of wood employed for the housing. Japanese wood has been used in both of these headphones. But the ATH-AWKT uses Kokutan, which is a dense hardwood (ebony), and it’s often used for woodwind instruments and pianos because of it’s minimal resonance and expressive sound characteristics. For the ATH-AWAS, Audio-Technica has used Asada Zakura for its wooden cups. Zakura is a Japanese cherry wood, which is famous for its use in many high-end speakers. It’s also popular for its delicate acoustic qualities and low resonance.
The AWKT and AWAS reveal two quite different overtones in sound. Although I would consider neither of these models to be particularly warm in their sound signatures, the AWAS does have a warmer, more colored feel overall. Mixes sound fuller, and instruments are handled with a softer, rounder touch. And in general, the tone and timbre of instruments on the AWAS sounds richer in presentation than it is on the AWKT.
In contrast, the AWKT presents a “cold” sound. And the overall profile is edgier and more textured. It’s certainly the more transparent and precise headphone of the two, conveying more substance and nuance in string, brass and woodwind instruments. And if you mainly listening to acoustic tracks, know that the AWKT is the more skilled and expressive headphone. As I said in my full review of the AWKT, I’ve listened to very few cans that can match the level of emotiveness and articulation of the AWKT when it comes to classical music. In fact, this is probably true for most unplugged genres, including folk and jazz.
But if you’re branching into other types of music, the AWAS is probably the more versatile sound signature, as the AWKT can feel a little thin and austere when listening to rock or pop tracks. Still, at the end of the day, neither of these models can be considered ideal all-rounders. And both are best suited for acoustic performances.
With respect to acoustic music, few headphones in this price range can convey the kind of musical subtleties that the ATH-AWKT is able to emote so vividly. I will even venture to say that it’s an experience that should not be missed by any audiophile who appreciates these genres. However, I don’t recommend it for the more modern types of music. And if you like even a hint of warmth in your sound signature, the AWKT is not a headphone for you. This is where the AWAS comes in. Though it can’t match the AWKT in terms of resolution, it does offer a richer and more mellow feel. And if you’re willing to lose a bit of detail and magic for more color, then the AWAS is a worthy compromise.
|DRIVER||53 mm Dynamic||53 mm Dynamic|
|HOUSING||Kokutan (striped ebony)||Asada Zakura|
|FREQUENCY RESPONSE||5 – 45,000 Hz||5 – 42,000 Hz|
|SENSITIVITY||102 dB||99 dB|
|IMPEDANCE||48 ohms||40 Ohms|
|WEIGHT||405 g||395 g|
You can find both of these headphones here:
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