Boasting four balanced armature drivers and true-to-life sound, the Audio Technica ATH-LS400 has me salivating at my review desk. And while moderately impressed by other LS models, I’m aching to hear how this upper-tier earphone really sounds.
Audio Technica ATH-LS400 Review
The LS400 arrives in the usual Audio Technica packaging – a cardboard box with a foam insert to hold the earphones. Inside that box you’ll also find four pairs of eartips, a carrying case, and a 1/4” stereo adapter plug.
Featuring a 4 ft (1.2 m) removable cable with an A2DC connection, the LS400 also sports memory cabling that loops over your ears for a more secure fit. A built-in mic and remote offer universal smartphone compatibility.
With those four balanced armatures nestled inside a plastic shell, the earpiece appears a tad bit bulky at first glance. However, once fitted inside your ear, you’ll notice that this earphone doesn’t sacrifice one iota of comfort.
Overall, the feel is solid and substantial, while still appearing feather-light during marathon listening sessions. (I should know; I can’t put these things down.)
Frequency Range: 15-20,000 Hz
Impedance: 20 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 105 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): NA
The LS400 makes use of a slightly narrow frequency range, though in actual use it seems much, much wider. The low nominal impedance of 20 ohms is perfect for use with smartphones or the FiiO X5 II I used for this review. Sound Pressure is decent. This, coupled with the low impedance, means you shouldn’t be experiencing any volume-related issues. Last but not least, Audio Technica doesn’t supply a rating for Total Harmonic Distortion, but it’s got to be low – right around <0.1%.
Details abound in the low end, while the bass can only be described as “subdued.” This isn’t the kind of bass that throbs and bleeds all over the low end, obliterating detail. Instead, the bass sounds more natural or refined. Fans of heavy bass may outright detest this low end, but the general lack of bleed or other aberrations – and the impressive level of detail – easily compensate for any perceived lack of bass.
The LS400 touts ultra-clear mids without a touch of compression or distortion. Like the low end, there’s plenty of detail at play here. Even the most cursory listening session will reveal this pristine, unblemished midrange shining through on just about any track. Equally competent with instrumentation or vocals, these are some seriously meaty mids.
Somewhat bright but never piercing or uncomfortable, the high end doesn’t skimp on any details. Strings sound absolutely amazing, and female vocals feel buttery smooth. Again, this part of the frequency range stays clean and articulate, without any noticeable compression or distortion.
The LS400 offers plenty of depth, but it also has some surprisingly good placement. As a result – and despite the inherent drawbacks of the in-ear design – this headphone offers some decent soundstage. While paling in comparison to an open-back, over-ear model, it’s still mighty fine for an earphone.
The general lack of amplified bass and the presence of a refined high end seem to naturally showcase the mids. Without any of the usual distraction, my ears are free to pick up all that detail and more. Then again, maybe my ears are playing tricks on me. Can an earphone at this price sound this articulate? We’re talking Shure SE846-level clarity here, folks. It’s some seriously impressive stuff.
Comfort hasn’t decreased, even after two hours of continuous use. With such an intoxicating sound, I keep cycling through playlist after playlist, revisiting stuff I only thought I’d heard before.
For a bassier, less articulate sound, skip the Audio Technica ATH-LS400 and opt instead for the $449 Shure SE535. Or, if you need a brighter high end without that detailed low end, consider the $649 Westone UM Pro 50.
Really though, if you’re after natural, balanced sound – and you don’t mind tons of detail or a decent sense of soundstage – you need to give this beast a listen. While the other Audio Technica LS models are actually decent, these things are downright dope.
Retailing for $579 and utilizing four balance armature drivers, the posh Audio Technica LS400 offers detail and realism in spades. Complimenting this sound, the build quality bestows an impression of quality and substance, while remaining lightweight and comfortable for hours on end.
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