There aren’t too many high-end dynamic driver headphones that are particularly suitable for on-the-go use. Audio-Technica may have intended to fill this niche with the release of the AP2000Ti. But those were an expensive set of cans for a daily commute. And they were also on the larger side. Perhaps this is why Audio-Technica has decided to release a smaller, more affordable high-performance model, the WP900. What kind of sound signature does it deliver? Let’s take a look in this Audio-Technica ATH-WP900 Review.
Audio-Technica ATH-WP900 Review
IN the BOX
The WP900 is quite lightweight. The earcups, though sporting an over-ear design, are smaller in size than the pricier AP2000Ti. In fact, looking at the pictures, one might even mistake it for an on-ear design. Audio-Technica also seems to have hit the sweet spot with respect to the clamping force. It avoids being too firm (I hate when I can feel my jaw), but the soft leather earpads sit snugly enough to provide decent sound isolation.
The WP900 sports an eye-catching flame maple finish. In fact, Audio-Technica apparently partnered with Japanese guitar manufacturers, FujiGen, to apply the maple exterior.
The WP900 uses a 53mm dynamic driver with a DMC (Diamond Like Carbon) coated diaphragm, which may, in theory, improve the high frequency response. We’ll see how this plays out in practice. Audio-Technica has also angled the baffle (the front face of the driver). According to Audio-Technica, “this optimizes the ventilation of the driver’s front and rear chambers to achieve clear mid-low range playback without distortion.” Ugh. Listen, I won’t blame you if you skip the next three paragraphs.
With an impedance of 38 Ohms and a sensitivity of 100dB, these cans are very easy to drive, so they’re ideal for on-the-go use. The relatively small WP900 also folds flat and is easily portable in the included soft case. With fancy headphones like these, perhaps a harder case may have been more suitable. But hey, life is full of disappointments.
In the box, you’ll find two detachable cables, one of which is balanced with a 4.4mm termination. Audio-Technica employs A2DC connector jacks. And of course, if you can’t go balanced, you can stick with the unbalanced cable with a 3.5mm termination.
I decided to live a little and go with the balanced cable to see just how good these babies could get. And I paired the WP900 with my trusty Q5S DAC/amp. But again, the WP900 does not require a dedicated amp.
The WP-900 delivers only a moderate amount of bass presence. Perhaps not enough for some. And overall, there’s little warmth in the low end. Instead, the bass profile is characterized by speed and tightness. And it’s a light and impressively clean profile. And with all of these elements combined, funk tracks sound great on these things. If you’re a hip-hop fan, you may want to note that the sub-frequencies don’t get too down and dirty. So, you won’t be feeling the bass in your chest.
In this range, the high mids are favored over the lower-midrange. So, vocals have some added presence in the mix. Therefore, if you like a full-bodied or all-encompassing feel, the WP900 may not be for you. This certainly isn’t a lush headphone with fleshy low mids. Instead, the WP-900 presents the weightless, playful sound that Audio-Technica does so well. And if you’re a sucker for fantastic separation and transparency, you’ll definitely gravitate towards this very tidy profile. Classical strings reveal ample grip and substance, while guitar strums (even in the low-mids) show off immaculate, almost crystal-like definition.
Very crisp and sparkly in this range. Just listen to the intro of Daft Punk’s “Lose Yourself to Dance” and you’ll feel like you have glittering crystals flying around in your head. At the same time, the WP-900 avoids becoming uncomfortably bright. And there’s almost no sibilance to speak of. Female vocals may even levitate your off of your chair. No velvety thickness here. Just plenty of air and glowing light. The sound may feel too thin for some. But again, if you’re into precision, you’ll dig the WP900.
The WP-900 presents an impressively vast soundstage for a closed back headphone. The sense of height is especially notable. And perhaps because the separation is so clean, the imaging feels OCD accurate and nuanced. Instruments are spaced out into an abundantly colorful, multidimensional soundscape. And as long as it’s trippy, I’m happy.
PROS and CONS
Pros: Meticulously clean; tight; glittery highs; colorful soundstage.
Cons: Light on the low-end; not for listeners who prefer a warm and robust profile.
I’m not usually a huge fan of the Audio-Technica sound signature. But the WP900 sounds so tight and clean (not to mention the fun soundstage) that it’s hard not to enjoy. Add to that a really pretty face, and these headphones become quite enticing. Some audiophiles may be left hungry for a little more low-end. But what the WP900 does well, it does extremely well. And given that there are so few high-end dynamic headphones designed with optimum portability in mind, I think it’s a unique set of cans deserving of attention.
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